They are stealing the show at every startup competition; reaping the fruits of ingenious business ideas to tackle their countries’ most pressing problems. These startups are recycling cans, helping children with autism, and raising the bar for the handcraft industry. We’ve scoured some of the latest startup competitions across the Middle East – from Innoventures, to RiseUp, to the Arab Mobile Challenge - to find some of the most creative, vivacious, and promising companies looming on the horizon of an already buzzing 2017. Here are 9 startups to look out for this year:
1. ZeroWaste: Their brand new project, Canbank, made waves at the Innoventures competition, nabbing the first prize for their attempt to disrupt the industry that is related to one of Egypt’s most pressing issues: garbage. What distinguishes Canbank from other businesses working in this industry is their consumer-centered philosophy. It’s something like a reverse vending machine; they encourage people to recycle cans in exchange for phone credit, a win-win deal for consumers and companies alike. Having recently won the Innoventures, competition the startup took home a seed funding of 5,000 Euros to accelerate the launch.
2. Tripdizer: Aware of the hurdles that organising a trip often implies - from places to be visited, to hotels to book, to calculating the budget - Tripdizer is trying to eliminate that hassle through a one-stop shop website that helps travelers arrange their trip in one place. Having started as an online channel called “Hezaha w Safer,” the startup later developed to be an online application for people to share their travelling experiences. Founded by world traveler Sameh Salah, the startup also won the Innoventures competition Startup Nova: Entrepreneurship Explosion – held on December 2016 in partnership with VC4A, ABAN, Epic 101 Studios, Bayt.com, DailyNews Egypt and IDEER - landing the second place.
3. Perligos: They define themselves as Egypt’s first customer feedback platform, offering customers a one-stop site where they can file their complaints to companies without having to deal with their call centers. The startup, which won the 3rd place at Innoventures’ last competition, aggregates the complaints - as well as the company’s response - tracking them through a rating system so that companies are liable for their response. The startup, founded by petroleum engineer Yehia Eldarawy, also provides a competitive edge for the service providers by analyzing user demographics, providing an analysis of both the industry and purchaser behaviour.
4. Ta2heel: One of the top three winners of Microsoft Egypt’s competition hosted at the RiseUp Summit, the social enterprise focuses on children with special needs, especially with autism. The startup, founded by Tarek elFakharany, had previously won TIEC’s Start IT programme in December 2014, for their innovative proposal to bring e-learning as a tool for autistic children, providing training on social interaction, facial expressions, and the importance of eye contact.
5. Fixawy.net: A sort of Uber for craftsmen - or fixers - the platform resorts to crowdsourcing by facilitating communication between a customer and craftsmen across different areas – the platform counts with eight main industries, including electricity, plumbing, and carpentry - enabling rating features for fixers and their work. With currently over 100 handymen on their system and more than 5,000 customers using the service, the startup founded by Amr Ibrahim won the second place at the Microsoft Egypt competition held at last year’s RiseUp Summit.
6. PreCogs: Founded by four entrepreneurs from Mansoura, PreCogs specialises in technical solutions; their first venture, Beacon, is an emergency app that allows an individual to contact the most trusted people they know during emergencies at the press of a button.
7. Mogassam: Having graduated from both TIEC and GESR incubation programmes, the startup hogged the podium at the EITESAL – EBNI competition hosted at RiseUp Summit 2016, with their cool 3D-printers. Mogassam is a 3D-printers manufacturing company with Egyptian material and Egyptian know-how, aiming to make 3D printers available not just in stores and print houses, but also in homes, schools and universities.
8. Smart Pro Star: In a nutshell, Smart Pro Star is all about making your home smarter and controlling everything through your smartphone - from lighting, to curtains to home appliances to temperature and power sockets. The startup aims to use technology to enable the existence of smart homes with remote control, security system and centralized management facilities, a model that earned them a prize at the EITESAL – EBNI competition held at the RiseUp Summit.
9. Blink: The platform, a life saver considering Egypt’s roads, is one of the 5 winning ideas of The Arab Mobile Challenge (AMC), the largest mobile competition not just in the region but also across the world. The startup created an automatic system that assists when there is a car crash, by detecting the accidents and notifying the emergency units immediately.
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