Banque du Liban (BDL) Accelerate 2014 – First Startup Conference in Lebanon


Banque du Liban (BDL), or the Central Bank Of Lebanon, is organizing the first international startup conference in Beirut, Lebanon. The conference is known by “Banque du Liban Accelerate 2014”. Accelerate 2014 will be a melting point for entrepreneurs, startup companies, investors, and a select of highly prolific and successful people including ambassadors, ministers, industry leaders and professionals. And there will be fifty speakers (see below) who are mostly successful entrepreneurs and startup founders.

It is an invitation-only conference whose theme was chosen to be Blueprints for Success. BDL is aiming that the conference be a building block that supports current and new startups in Lebanon and help to accelerate their development and success, hence the “Accelerate” name and the theme “Blueprints for Success”.

Support during the conference comes in the form of activities and panels and the demonstration of startup success stories. For example there will be a panel on creating startups and one on Big Data. The latter will includes Ramzi Rizk, Imad Riachi, Rand Hindi as speakers given their success in the Big Data and Data analytics field.

It’s Importance

This initiative by the central bank also aims to support the Lebanese economy in one more way by stimulating the founding of new startups and giving these startups a chance to a find funds from investors and entrepreneurs by bringing both together under one roof for two complete days. A startup will have the opportunity to present itself through one presenter, usually the CEO, for a duration of 6 minutes and a 4 minute Q&A. Regional media coverage is one of the many benefits startups will get. The main criteria for the participation of a startup is to have a minimum viable product (MVP) and its foundation date does not exceed two years.

Startups and such initiatives have a great deal of effect on the economy of any system including the Lebanese system. Such starting companies could turn out to become huge and profitable businesses that would further support the economy in Lebanon and help guard it against the negative effects of inflation and economic instabilities. In short, supporting and investing in startups is support for the economy and an investment in the future.

Furthermore, Beirut, through Accelerate 2014, is now another city in the Seedstars World international startup competition. Each city has a a finalist that is invited to Geneva, Switzerland where the startup is represented for a chance to meet with European investors and win an equity investment.

Why am I writing about it?

Two reasons drive me to write about this event. For one the BDL Accelerate 2014 is a first of its kind in Lebanon especially that it has been initiated and being organized by the Banque du Liban. Moreover, I was invited by Banque du Liban and the Accelerate team to attend the the conference as a Blogger Partner with privileged access to most parts of the conference. As such I will be writing about the event on this blog and tweeting @astrobob_tk


As mentioned the speakers are limited to fifty and they are as follows:

  • Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon
  • Tom Fletcher, Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Lebanon
  • Francois Bassil, Chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon
  • Alexander Asseily, Founder of Jawbone & State
  • Rand Hindi, Founder & CEO of Snips
  • Marianne Hoayek, Director of the Executive Office at Banque du Liban
  • Paul Bragiel, Managing Partner at I/O Ventures
  • Mike Butcher, Editor at Large of TechCrunch
  • Hala Fadel, Chair at MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab
  • Vitaly Golomb, Founder & CEO of PrintMo
  • Charlie Graham-Brown, CFO at Seedstars World
  • Walid Hanna, Managing Partner at MEVP
  • Yasser Akkaoui, Editor-in-Chief at Executive Magazine & Founder of KConcept Holding
  • Marwan Kheireddine, Chairman & GM of Al-Mawarid Bank
  • Khater Abi Habib, Chairman of Kafalat
  • Gary Stewart, Director at Wayra UK
  • Ramzi Rizk, Co-Founder & CTO of EyeEm
  • Jean Nehme, Founder & CEO of Touch Surgery
  • Michael Lints, Venture Partner at Golden Gate Ventures
  • Mark Haidar, Founder & CEO of Vinli
  • Stefan Gantchev, Partner at LauncHub
  • Nicolas Sehnaoui, Former Minister of Telecom
  • Dimitris G. Kalavros-Gousiou, of Found.ation
  • Henri Asseily, Managing Partner at Leap Ventures
  • Ivan Hernandez, Co-Founder of The Digital Loop
  • Sridhar Solur, Managing Director Next Gen Computing at HP
  • Thijl Klerkx, Founder of
  • Imad Riachi, Chief Scientist at Essentia Analytics
  • Maroun Chammas, Chairman at Berytech
  • Paul Papadimitriou, Founder of Intelligencr
  • Hafez Virjee, International Arbitration at Dechert & Co-Founder of Delos
  • Jambu Palaniappan, General Manager of Middle East & Africa at Uber

You can find a short bio of each speaker on the conference’s website.



When and Where?

The conference will be held at the Forum De Beyrouth – Expo. Doors will open at 0800 hours on the morning of Thursday 21st of November for early registration and the conference will proceed with the formal opening and ceremony at around 1000 hours. The first speakers will be Riad Salameh, Governor of the Banque du Liban followed by François Bassil, Chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon. Afterwards will be a word by British ambassador in Lebanon Tom Fletcher and finally a word by Marianne Hoayek, the director of the Executive office at Banque du Liban. The first day ends at 1930 hours to commence again on Friday 22nd of November at 0900 hours and ends at 1930 hours.

Who Can Attend?

The target audience includes successful entrepreneurs, industry leaders, venture capitalists, angel investors, professionals, startups, and students.

As I mentioned above I was invited by the Banque du Liban to attend the conference as a Blogger Partner. The attendees will be limited to 1000. As such the conference is an invite-only event and the application for invitation can be accessed from the Accelerate 2014 website.

On the left you you can find a countdown for start of the event. The Accelerate 2014 website also includes one.

To keep up with the event updates you can follow the conference Twitter account @BDLaccelerate and the hashtag #Accelerate2014 You can also follow me @astrobob_tk or use the tag BDLAccelerate2014 on this blog: as I will be covering the event.

If you read this post then I would like to invite you to visit the BDL Accelerate 2014 website And if you are a startup I invite you to apply here. Finally if you wish to apply for an invitation you can fill out an application here.

Do you think that this conference will have a positive impact on Lebanon? If so in what way? Please share your ideas below.


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