Announcing Coffee Meetup + Basics of Digital Marketing Talk

This Wednesday, the StartupQ8 Coffee Club Meetup will take place at The VIVA Coded Academy, Kuwait’s first coding school. The meetup is a chance  for local entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to meet, network, share ideas and collaborate.

This week, the Coffee Meetup will proceed a talk on the Basics of Digital Marketing by Abdulaziz BuKhamseen as part of the VIVA Coded Academy’s speaker of the week event.

Abdulaziz is the creator of, one of the top blogs in Kuwait. He has worked as head of digital marketing for payment startup Next Payment, and is currently handling major parts of online marketing for the Al-Babtain Group.

The talk will be most useful for those who want to understand how to best utilize paid online marketing via search engines and social networks. These basics are a must for anyone involved in a startup, so don’t miss it!


Here are the details:

When: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015


7.15 pm- Coffee Club Meetup (More info here)

7.45 pm- Basics of Digital Marketing Talk (More info here)

9.15 pm- Networking and, of course, pizza!

Where: The VIVA Coded Academy in Al-Tjaria Tower 35th floor (Al-Soor Street, downtown Kuwait)


See you all there!

Coverage of the 8th MIT Enterprise Forum – A few pictures

A few pictures of the participants and judging phases of the 8th MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition that took place in Kuwait, April, 2015.

Credit and special thanks to Mariam Al-Rayes and the MIT EF Pan Arab organizing team for the pictures and for putting together truly inspiring, thought provoking, and informative event.

Coverage of the 8th MIT Enterprise Forum – Day 2: How We Move Forward

The agenda for the second (and, unfortunately, final) day of the 8th MIT Enterprise Forum in Kuwait promised a wealth of ideas, speakers, and inspiration.

I can safely report that it did not disappoint one bit.

The morning session kicked off with the ever ingenious Dr. Naif Almutawa, creator of “The 99” (the first group of comic superheroes born of an Islamic archetype). Dr. Naif seldom ends a talk without leaving the crowd thirsty for more, and this time was no different. The clinical psychologist’s talk highlighted the importance of mentorship as it relates to leadership. In essence, he delivered the message that “every leader needs a mentor”. From the onset of this forum and the Arab Startup Competition, this idea has been the undisclosed theme of the event. Dr. Naif’s talk helped resonate that idea even further.


Following Dr. Naif was a panel on the role of private business in supporting the startup ecosystem. Zain Group’s CEO Scott Gegenheimer and Ericsson VP Patrik Melander led the panel. I was pleasantly surprised to find out about the initiatives both Zain and Ericsson were working on to support connectivity in rural areas; something that will have a big impact on the potential market for any startup. I was also surprised to find out that Zain had an initiative in Jordan that acted as an accelerator for statups (called ZINC), and that they were planning on rolling it out in more cities across MENA. In the QA, a few members of the audience voiced their opinion that these private companies have benefited from government support and public infrastructure, and it was their duty to support startup initiatives even more. I completely agree.


I was looking forward to the panel on Access to Capital in MENA, which hosted leaders of the VC industry in the Arab world. The panel discussion was thought provoking. The panel’s message was heard loud and clear, “there is a lack of capital flowing into the tech scene in MENA”. There was one stat in particular that I found surprising: in the US, 5% of capital is invested in technology and startups, compared to 0.1%-0.6% in MENA. The panel called for more openness to startup failure, and a shift in risk assessment in light of the dwindling opportunities in traditional low-risk investment vehicles such as real estate. The discussion was an important insight into the availability of capital for startups.


The other two panels I would like to highlight were on creating a knowledge economy and the long-term energy outlook for the region (attended by Mr. Nizar Al-Adsani, CEO of KPC). The goal of both panels was to look forward and see where the Arab world was heading. The falling oil prices has been a topic of debate among participants, and it was intriguing to find out what perspective Mr. Al-Adsani had to offer. One sentence Al-Adsani mentioned struck me in particular, “Oil at $60 is an opportunity”. Perhaps now more than ever, the technology sector has a chance to prove itself as a true cornerstone of a thriving economy. With oil continuing its fall from grace, there is room for new sectors to shine and show the way forward. Ultimately, the technology sector is about the entrepreneurs who are courageous and talented enough to take a chance on creating the next global giant.


The Arab startup community needs to rally today more than ever to showcase the plethora of original ideas and abundance of ingenuity to pave the true alternative to an economy overly dependent on oil. That was the message and call of action for the way forward.


As MITEF came to an end, I couldn’t help but feel a renewed optimism coursing through my veins. I am now sure, more than I have ever been, that leaders on all levels and across all segments are embracing the need to support the startup ecosystem in the Arab world. My hope is that this continuous drive will reap it’s rewards in the very near future.


Special thanks to MIT and the organizers for putting together a terrific event. And special thanks to Mariam Alrayes for allowing us the pleasure of covering the forum.


(Reminder: pictures of the entire event will be posted soon… stay tuned!)




Funding rounds in startups

Internet startups are different than regular small businesses. In an internet startup you don’t have assets, you only have a bunch of people working on their laptops hoping to build a product that people will use. You don’t need to buy a machine or build a factory. You don’t need to rent a shop or even to establish a company. So the only cost you have is people, in other word salaries. And if you are a programmer and your friend is a designer for example, then you can build your business for free!!! And that’s the beauty of online business, you can start any where any time with a small amount of money.
But, you’ll say OK, I’ll still need some money to survive and pay my bills. True, so how does the fund raising process goes for a startup. It goes through the following rounds:
1.Seed funding
2.Series A & B
3.Sometimes series C & D

Seed funding: in this round startups get between US$20,000 to US$100,000 in funding. The money is for your startup to cover its expenses (mostly salaries for founders team) for 6-8 month. The company is considered in a very early stage and the product is still not fully developed and the idea is still not tested. It is also called the Searching Stage because in this stage the startup is still searching and discovering its customers, market and business model. Basically all you have is built in assumptions, and you are given some money to survive for around 6 months to validate these assumptions. Most of the investors in this stage are either Angel Investors or incubators. Also you always can raise some money in this round from the three F’s: Friends, Family and Fools.

Series A/B: Startups get a varied amount of money in this round, it all depends in the founders reputation, market type and the potential opportunity. Usually its something between US$100K and US$10M. The money raised is for the company to cover its expenses for a period of 12-18 months. This stage is also called the Building Stage. In this stage you should have validate most of your assumptions and you have a much better idea on your final product, customers and business model. The focus here should be in hiring more engineers and building the product. Investors in this round are early stage VCs or a group of Angel investors.

Series C/D: This is considered a late stage round. Money raised here ranges from US$10M to US$300M. This stage is also called the Growing Stage. In this stage most of the money is spent in acquiring new customers and expanding to new markets. Investors in this stage might be Late stage VCs or Private Equity companies. Their goal is to prepare the company for an IPO to make crazy big money.

The slide below summaries the whole funding rounds. Click here to see in slide share.

Lately we saw many interesting investment activities happening in the MENA region and many high quality VC companies. For example N2V from Saudi Arabia, Oasis 500 from Jordan, Riyada Enterprise – Abraaj Capital from UAE. However, we don’t have any good VC company in Kuwait 😦

But, honestly money is not the biggest problem we have here in Kuwait. The problem is with the ecosystem and our mentalities. More about that in later posts…..

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