Mena Startup Ecosystem Releases 2016 Accelerator Agenda

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The First Mena Digital Startup Accelerator: We accelerate 100 companies to market each year. Our 3-day accelerator program is open to all small businesses, startups, and freelancers connected to the Middle East. Each application round is rolling admission until we select our top 100. We then select the top 10 companies from the applicant pool to pitch investors on demo day. The top 3 are announced the next day and proceed to get capital investment with our investor network.

The program has several components.

  • Part 1 Startup Development: First is the accelerator program that includes intense startup development training followed by an online demo day for the top ten companies to pitch investors, press and global accelerator directors.
  • Part 2 Mentorship: Once companies complete the program- they are given access to monthly startup development training with mentorship from successful Middle East entrepreneurs.
  • Part 3 Progress & Investment: Companies are given an opportunity to submit updates on their companies 2x per year to and pitch our investor network for capital.

Accelerator Program Dates:

Agenda :

December 17, 2016, Saturday

Part 1: Business Boot Camp 
10am: Orientation
10:15-10:30: How to Launch a Company in 24 hours
10:30-10:45: How to Ideate, Beta Test, & Pitch
10:45-11:00: How to Build an MVP in 30 Days
11:00-11:15: How to Market Your Product in 30 Days (Customer Acquisition-Growth Hacking)
11:15-11:30: How to Raise $250k in free prizes, grants and partnerships
11:30-12:00pm Q/A

Part 2 Entrepreneur Panel Keynotes

1-2pm Startup Ecosystem Panel- Moderated by Tamara

  • Aman Merchant (Impact Hub)
  • Walid Singer (Presella)
  • Tena Pick (Sustainability Platform)
  • Claudia (1776)
  • Tamer (Bold Talks)

2-3pm Entrepreneur Panel- Women Disrupting the Norm – Moderated by Amelia

  • Ambareen Musa (Souq)
  • Mona (Mompreneurs Middle East)
  • Sahar (Dumye)

3-4pm VC Capital, Acquisition & Fundraising- Moderated by Tamara

  • Micheal (Property Finder)
  • Kivanc (FoodOnCLick)
  • Joshua Rajkumar (VentureFinn)

December 18, 2016, Sunday 

  • 6:00-6:30pm: Day 1 Recap + Top 10 Announcement 
  • 6:30pm- 7:00pm: Keynote Speakers
  • Keynote: Mohamed Amine Belarbi 
  • Keynote: M. Veronica Murguia
  • 7:00-8:00pm  Online Pitch Demo Day w/ Startup Judges
  • 8:00-8:30pm  Q/A with the judges; Final closings, offers, and announcements

Guest Judges: 

  • Alia Badr El-Din (Strategy Lead, IBM Digital Business Group – Middle East & Africa)
  • Kristi DePaul (Contributor, Inc Arabia)
  • Tiffany Obser (Seed Stars Middle East)

Current prizes include:

  • SendGrid Package: $1,560 worth of credits with SendGrid ($129.95 / month for 12 months)
  • VIP tickets to Haiti Tech Summit- the largest conference in the Caribbean with 1000+ attendees and 100+ investors (valued at $995 each).


Community Judges+ Speaker Networks: 


Mohamed Amine Belarbi is a serial entrepreneur who launched his first venture in second year of undergrad, started his own publication a year later with over 40,000 monthly readers, and published 2 books by the end of university. He is currently co-founder and CEO of a cybersecurity startup that counts amongst its clients UAE tech giants as well as Government entities such as the ministry of Interior and Defence. Mohamed has been recognised “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by Arabian Business, “10 top African change leaders” by African Leadership University and “One of 7 youth transforming  the world” by Spain-based organisation Pangea.

M. Veronica Murguia: Venture Development Consultant for Envestors MENA: Envestors MENA is a consultancy company based in Dubai which advises startup, SMES and businesses and operates an international angel network of sophisticated investors, VCs, Private Equity, Asset Mangement and fundraising experts.  Typically investments range from a minimum of $25,000 for seed-stage up to high growth companies seeking to raise $500k-10m in equity funding.

Tiffany Obser completed her Master of Architecture degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. During her studies, she participated in the Global Entrepreneurship Lab at MIT, gaining insight into the opportunities and challenges facing entrepreneurs in frontier markets. Working post-graduation for King Abdullah Economic City, a “startup city” in Saudi Arabia, she applied this research on the ground, establishing ways to attract enterprising residents to new a city of 2,000 inhabitants on the Red Sea aspiring to a population of 2 million. Her professional interests lie in entrepreneurship and innovation at the urban scale. Having worked in design, research, and development capacities prior to joining SSW, she has contributed to projects in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East, where she became intrigued by the implications of new technologies, entrepreneurship, and big data in a quickly urbanizing world. Tiffany is a city enthusiast, passionate about maps, infographics, and nonfiction, when she’s not on the road with Seedstars in MENA or CEE, she’s exploring new eateries or experimenting with new recipes.

Kristi DePaul (Contributor, Inc Arabia) and Founder of Founder Marketing. On a mission to eradicate boring content, tired cliches and unresponsive campaigns. I was a content marketer before that was a ‘thing’ (and still am, now that it has a name). By managing interesting global projects with talented remote teams, I honed critical operational and strategic skills. Now, my team and I help start-up clients in industries such as cyber security, IoT, and edtech to better understand their own unique value and to more effectively tell their stories — not just to convert, but to inspire, motivate and empower. Social media & digital communications are the worlds I live in, but I also know (more than a little) about channel marketing, event planning & oversight, vendor sourcing & management, and localization projects.

Alia Badreldin: Digital Strategy Leader, IBM Middle East and Africa- Alia has over 12 years of Strategy and Consulting Experience in IBM. She has shaped business model and process innovation for various clients across the Pubic and Private sectors, in Egypt, UAE and Saudi. Alia has helped build the entrepreneurship ecosystem enabling innovation and new business and partnership models empowered by IBM Cloud Platform.In her current role, Alia supports IBM build its Digital Business Group across digital sales, marketing and ecosystem business functions led by the customer experience.

Irina Heaver (Ellevate Dubai)

Irina Heaver serves as Managing Director & Chief Legal Advisor of AdRem Legal, a legal services provider established based on demand for cost effective and flexible legal services. With over 13 years of in-house experience, she represented major corporations in the construction, maritime and oil&gas sectors on multibillion JV, M&A and Funding transactions, before starting her own practice. Now she specialises in representing Entrepreneurs, SME’s and their Investors, advising on a myriad of matters including corporate, commercial and funding issues. Irina is an Australian qualified lawyer, she holds a Juris Doctor Degree from Monash University (Australia) and earned her Master of Laws Degree from the University of Melbourne (Australia).


Kıvanç Arkaç is the CEO of considered as one of the leading and promising e-commerce companies in the Middle East in the online food delivery space. “ is one of the largest online food delivery portal in UAE and is operating in Qatar, KSA, Oman and Lebanon. With 13 years of experience from the parent company in Turkey (one of the world’s largest online food delivery website as well as the first practitioner of online food delivery in the world), is bringing the best service for it’s users throughout the Middle East. Kıvanç holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from İstanbul Technical University and a Masters in Marketing and PR from Marmara University.


Aman Merchant is a Dubai-based serial entrepreneur passionate about creating better futures through the power of ideas & disruptive thinking. With an entrepreneurial journey that began in 1991 even before he entered uni, he brings over two decades of experience to the various ventures he is associated with, having launched nine & led three others in markets across the Middle East & Asia regions. Most recently, he co-founded INOS, the world’s first global leadership strategy consortium. In 2011, he launched Future Leadership Academy, a pioneering social venture that is a greenhouse for preparing future world leaders, thinkers & entrepreneurs aged 3-24. In late 2010, he co-founded Impact Hub Dubai, part of a global network that ispart-campus, part-incubator & part-innovation hub for over 8000 impact-driven entrepreneurs. He is founder & CEO of Leading Concepts, a boutique leadership strategy consultancy, focused on helping CEOs optimize their organization’s leadership engines. He is also the Chief Disruptive Thinker @ 10x Futures, a boutique advisory firm that partners with C-level teams to create bigger futures through disruptive thinking, strategic alignment & holistic innovation. In 2002, Aman launched the region’s first ever performance consultancyParadigmz through an exclusive regional alliance with Mercer. He is also an executive director & board member at Dubai 9 Group. He holds a 1st Class Masters Degree with Hons from Oxford University in Politics, Philosophy & Economics as well as a Diploma in Marketing from London School of Economics. He is a lifetime member of the Stanford Business School Alumni Association, Oxford Business Alumni as well as past President of the UAE Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization & a past Regional Learning & Membership Director. Between 2009-10, he also served as a board member of the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Multinationals at the World Economic Forum.

Joshua Rajkumar is the Chief Operating Officer of VentureFin. He is a development economics specialist with international experience in the for- and non-profit industries. He is highly skilled in social enterprise project design, implementation, communications, and scalability. Rajkumar is committed to bridging the gap between the organizational efficiency of the private world and the social mission of social enterprises, specializing in social impact measurement. As a result, he co-founded The Sustainability Platform, a social impact consultancy based in Dubai, and heads the Hult Prize for the Middle East and Africa. Joshua holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Journalism from NYU and a Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship from Hult International BusinessSchool, and competed in the Hult Prize 2012 finals after winning the European regional finals.

WALID SINGER (PRESELLA) Having worked in events all his life, Walid dropped out of college, one semester before graduating, joined an accelerator and was awarded seed funding for Presella. Presella is an event technology startup, launched in Beirut now in Dubai, focuses on Event ticketing, Guestlist Management and digital marketing for events. With a wide network of friends in the international event scene, Walid started out booking international artists to his hometown city of Beirut, then launched with an Estonian partner one of today’s biggest House Music News portals Walid was able to mix his love for technology and his passion for music in the hopes of becoming a pillar in the event & music technology industry.

Mona Tavassoli (Mompreneurs Middle East) – an initiative by Mom Souq to support female entrepreneurs in the Middle East – is a B2B platform that caters to female entrepreneurs to promote and grow their business. The website provides a platform for female entrepreneurs to connect with each other, share expertise, advice, and recommendations and contacts. It is a one-stop information portal where members can access information regarding various events and exhibitions taking place in the region or find suppliers and partners in various fields.

“Claudia is the Campus Manager at 1776 Dubai, responsible for campus growth in the UAE and the MENA region including membership, programming, and expanding the 1776 global network of mentors, experts, and investors. Claudia spent her first 3 years in the tech and startup ecosystem as part of Step Conference, the largest tech and interactive event in the Middle East, heading operations. 1776 Dubai, recently launched in September 2016 alongside the Dubai Future Accelerators, aims to collaborate with incubators in the region as part of the Startup Federation and form institutional partnerships with strategic innovation departments. 1776 is a public benefit corporation that scouts and funds high-growth startups around the world focused on solving society’s most fundamental challenges in sectors like health, education, energy, transportation and financial services.”

TAMER NAHAS(CEO OF BOLDTALKS) Tamer, has transformed the conversational dynamic of Dubai with the launching of his innovative series- Bold Talks. Similar to TedX, Bold Talks host event series of acclaimed international speakers that inspire conversation about today’s most pressing topics. It is one of the most prominent talk series on innovative thinking within the Middle East. “Now in its 5th year, BOLDtalks is established as a large scale event and is regularly sponsored by various blue-chip organisations, including: Airbus, Ericsson, GE, Thomson Reuters, BMW, Emirates, Accenture and Canon. The event was aired live on Al Jazeera Live Television and has reached a total viewer audience of over 32 million households, consecutively in 2010 and 2011”. (More Information at


Tena Pick: is a social impact consultant passionate about applying her skills to help start ups in the developing world. She is the co-founder of The Sustainability Platform, Head of Media at C3-Consult and Coach for a Cause and Dubai+Acumen chapter leader. She also holds various workshops on the theory of change and social business basics. Tena’s main interests include women empowerment, economic inclusion and community development, as well as social impact measurement. She is an international board member of two South Asian NGOs and core team member of Social Enterprise Week, an annual social enterprise conference held in Dubai. Tena hold a Masters degree in Social Entrepreneurship from Hult International Business School. Prior to working in the social enterprise sector she has worked with one of the biggest Central European banks and Boston Consulting Group. The Sustainability Platform is a social impact consultancy that helps companies integrate social business principles into their core operations. At The Sustainability Platform, we believe that the move from a purely for-profit business model to a more sustainable business practices has a positive impact on the business’s triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. The Sustainability Platform focuses on three main areas: CSR consulting, NGO consulting and small and medium enterprise consulting. In each of the tracks the focus is on maximizing the impact of every dollar invested in social business practices and on scaling of the social impact. Our clients include The Sameness Project, Wonderbag Turkey and Anubandha, an Indian NGO that deals with urban slum education. We work all over the MENA region, India, Pakistan and Palestine.

Sahar Wahbeh (Dumye) -founder and creative director of Dumyé, a doll company dedicated to bringing love and light to not only our children but the children who have not been spoken for. For every beautifully handcrafted, heirloom quality doll sold, Dumyé pledges to gift a doll to an orphan in need, so that they may make it their own through an art workshop. It is my belief that through design we have the power to shape our culture for the better and through Dumyé I am putting those ideals to work. Since launching in June 2013, Dumyé has nurtured a loyal following of customers in more then 15 countries spanning the globe. Our dolls are currently retailed in the USA, UAE, UK & AUS. My work with Dumyé has been featured in numerous publications such as Entreprenuer, Arabian Business Startup, Harpers Bazaar, Grazia, Global Citizens, etc. Ahlan! magazine acknowledged me in their 2014 annual ‘Hot 100’ for being one of the leading entrepreneurs in the region and in August 2014 Good Magazine named me their ‘Home Grown Hero’. Most recently Dumyé has been selected as a global finalist, representing The Gulf, in The Venture – a worldwide search for the most promising social entrepreneurs worthy of a piece of the $1 Million USD cash prize

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