As many as 14 technology startups from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), including two from Qatar, have been able to better uncover new marketing channels, and identify untapped opportunities.
This was made possible at the third edition of the Mena Dojo Series A Programme in Kuwait where these entities recently worked with internationally renowned growth mentors. The two Qatari-founded startups are ADGS and MaktApp.
The event concluded with ‘Investor Day’, an exciting opportunity for the most promising tech-based startup participants to pitch their business ideas to a global audience of industry leaders and potential investors from across the Arab world.
The regional spin-off of the internationally-coveted 500 Startups Series A Programme was organised by global venture capital firm ‘500 Startups’, in partnership with Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) – part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI).
During the five-week accelerator growth programme, these 14 firms learned to execute highly effective marketing techniques designed to rapidly grow their customer base, thereby increasing their likelihood of securing Series A investments and ensuring the success of their businesses.
For over two decades, Qatar Foundation has planted the seeds of entrepreneurship in Mena and inspired a generation of home grown tech entrepreneurs in Qatar and beyond, according to Haya al-Ghanim, Investment Director, QSTP.
“Our partnership with 500 Startups reflects Qatar Foundation’s mission to advance innovation on a global scale. This collaboration allows us to sponsor and support the Mena Dojo Programme. We are confident that the Mena Dojo will continue to be the driving force for the next billion-dollar startup, forever changing the entrepreneurial landscape of the region,” said al-Ghanim.
Sharif El-Badawi, ‘500 Startups’ Partner, said the Dojo programme is a post-seed stage growth accelerator focused on driving scale through a structured and disciplined framework to enhance their distribution, marketing and sales strategies. It is led by a team of seasoned entrepreneurs, engineers, growth hackers, and investors.
ADGS — a beneficiary of QSTP’s Product Development Fund that provides funding for small and medium enterprises and startups developing products and services relevant to local market needs — sells a suite of products that use artificial intelligence, behavioural biometrics, and emergent behaviour.
MaktApp, which is currently based at QSTP, is a startup established by an alumnus of XLR8 – QSTP’s flagship accelerator programme that takes tech-based services or products from the idea stage all the way to a validated prototype. The MaktApp team has developed fatora.io, an invoicing platform driven by AI that streamlines online payments.
"Innovation is essential in the development of any economy, and QSTP is honoured to collaborate with 500 Startups to provide promising innovative entrepreneurs the support that will enable them to become important contributors to the economic growth, and diversification of the Mena region," said Yosouf Abdelrahman Saleh, executive director, QSTP.
Startups that develop innovative products, services, and solutions to address societal needs and national priorities are key to building a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Qatar, according to Dr Richard O’Kennedy, vice-president (Research, Development, and Innovation), Qatar Foundation.
"Through platforms like the Mena Dojo, we are empowering such startups to make an impactful contribution to the socio-economic growth of Qatar and the region," he said.
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