UAEpreneur – the initiative designed to support young entrepreneurs from the Middle East – selected 13 startups from more than 100 applicants to present to potential angel investors at the recent Investor Day in Dubai. Each startup made a five-minute pitch concluding with the ‘ask’ – the investment required to take their business to the next level. The 13 startups asked for a combined total of USD4.75m, with individual pitches ranging from USD100,000 to USD1million. Some of the startups are already in discussion with potential investors in the UAE.
UAEpreneur attracted interest and applications from startups in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and the UAE. Most of the startups are digital businesses targeting the b2b and b2c sectors. The prospective investors were both individuals and entities willing to invest seed funding of USD50,000-250,000 to help start up or scale the businesses.
One of the participating startups was Cairo-based Foorera, a mobile application that connects riders with car owners to create carpool to work or university or even travel between cities. Speaking at the Investor Day, Mohamed Shehata, CEO & Co-founder of Foorera, said: “It was a good opportunity for us to be accepted and invited by UAEpreneurs to Dubai to pitch our business. We have been contacted after the event by VCs and investors who see a big market and good potential in what we provide. The event gave us a chance to meet with a high profile investors and get exposure to a big market like the UAE, where we see good potential for our startup.”
UAEpreneurs is an initiative to support young Middle East entrepreneurs and startups, launched by Dubai-based Innovest and supported by The University of Manchester Middle East Centre in Dubai, which helped screen and select the applications and will provide access to professional development opportunities for the startups.
Moatassem Moatez, partner at Innovest Middle East, commented: “Entrepreneurs and startups represent the future of every economy, creating jobs and driving innovation. UAEpreneurs attracted some outstanding digital business ideas from among the 100 applications. Our original plan was to select 10 startups but in the end we invited 13 to the Investor Day, reflecting the quality of the business ideas. The investors attending have already showed interest and we are now helping the startups get the practical support, finance and skills they need to succeed.”
Randa Bessiso, Middle East Director at The University of Manchester, added: “Our team was impressed by the quality of the entrepreneurs, who all presented their ideas with passion. They had found market opportunities, developed workable solutions to real-world issues, and built business models that they now want to scale through additional investment. They certainly demonstrated the quality of young entrepreneurs across the Arab world and the business creativity found in even the most challenging regions.”
UAEpreneurs is an initiative by Innovest Middle East, a business Incubator that accelerates high potential Entrepreneurs and SME founders during their startup and growth stage. UAEpreneurs is also supported by Johnson & Johnson Middle East, Startupgrind, and MENACatalyst.