BDL Accelerate 2015

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Banque du Liban (that is Central Bank of Lebanon) is, for the second year, organizing the BDL Accelerate 2015 startup conference following the success of the BDL Accelerate 2014 which I attended last year and wrote about (click for the posts). The conference will be help on December 10, 11 2015 at Forum de Beyrouth. Registeration is free, what are you waiting for?

Here’s a taser from last year:

 

Fadi Ghandour of Aramex on Education & Startups in the MENA Region

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On conquering and crossing borders in the MENA region, Fadi said:

“It took me 15 years to do that” –Fadi Ghandour

And on attracting a team for a startup, he said:

Being able to build a team is an obstacle most startups face, Aramex included. People in the region look for stability in their jobs; it is engraved within the culture.

He added that people would think or say:

“Arabs delivering packages on time; they don’t go together” –Fadi Ghandour

He was spot on, indeed. We lack the right “mindset” in this region. There are many people with the right mindset but the surrounding mindset is very vital for the start and development of startups.

source: Inspiring a Generation of Entrepreneurs with Fadi Ghandour, Step Conference 2015

Slides by Vitaly Golomb, Founding Partner of CCC Fund

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BDL Accelerate 2014 – Day 2

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The morning session covered

  • Lebanon’s Ecosystem
  • Innovation in Emerging Markets
  • Lebanon’s Investors
  • From Silicon Valley to the World
  • USA’s Startup Ecosystem
  • Investing: How to

For a recap on the sessions I refer you to Day 2 – Morning Recap blog post.

And for the afternoon session, it covered:

  • Accelerators
  • Shaping Entrepreneurs
  • Expats as Entrepreneurs
  • Interventions
  • Seedstar Competition

Here’s the wrap-up.

As mentioned in the post of Day 1, the eight finalist startups in the Seedstar Competition were:

  •  Presella
  • Feedeed
  • Go Ijaza
  • Ki
  • Saily
  • Tari2ak
  • Yellow
  • Sohati

The judges and SeedStar announced the winner and the second and third places went to:

  1. Ki
  2. Presella
  3. Sohati

KiPresellaSohati SAL

Congratualtions to Presella and Sohati for all the free prizes they will receive and to the winner Ki.
As the winner, Ki will travel to Geneva to compete with other SeedStar winners from different cities.

BDL Accelerate 2014 – Day 1

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In the opening keynote, British ambassador Tom Fletcher quoted Michael Angelo:

“It’s better to aim high and not achieve than to aim low and achieve your goal”

a modified version of the original quote:

 The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

I was looking forward to hear Rand Hindi but apparently he didn’t come. On the other hand there was Imad Riachi, Chief Scientist at Esentia Analytics and Alexand Asseily, CEO & co-founder of “Jawbone” & “State”.

Asseily quoted George Bernard Shaw

“…all progress depends on the unreasonable man…”

He articulated on this by repeatedly stressing about the importance of “confidence” & “perseverance”

“Knowledge economy is not transferred with books and facts but digitally”.

One important issue that was raised by Asseily and was repeated by nearly all speakers was importance of a high-speed internet service. It cannot be stressed enough how vital high quality internet is for startup and entrepreneurs especially that we live in a knowledge economy.

For this there’s a need for Lebanese and startups in Lebanon to demand better internet quality and speeds than ever. The improvements that we saw in the past two to three years are good but they are not enough if we are to have the slight chance of even thinking of having a Lebanese “Silicon Valley” or to be part of the worldwide tech industry.

Jean Nehme, founder of Touch Surgery asked him self

“How do I share knowledge with other surgeons?”

He also wanted students to be able to practice surgeries without risking patients because as per his saying:

“Surgeons are 25% technical ability and 75% knowledge”

The answer turned out to be the Touch Surgery app which simulates and let’s you practice surgeries before applying it on patients.

To be able to bring the app to life he had to

“take a very complicated surgery and break it down to steps”

Jean mentioned that we are now living in a “Knowledge economy” after having traversed from the Agricultural economy to the Industrial economy.

What is nice about knowledge is its power to be shared. If you share an idea with me you are adding to my knowledge without loosing that knowledge. In other words we are both gaining.

Another interesting and already promising startup founder and entrepreneur is Hind Hobeika, a Lebanese female innovator, the founder of Instabeat. I was happy to see a Lebanese female involved in innovation, tech, and entrepreneurship.

Though she did mention that it was hard to work in Lebanon but she did say that

“Lebanon is a great place to start from.”

She added that a few years ago she wouldn’t have thought that she could raise enough money for a startup, but that now, with BDL’s accelerate initiative, it is possible.
Hind and Instabeat are already successful. Her Instabeat, a device that fits on swimming goggles and monitors the swimmers heart rate, is already being manufactured.
They also have a team in San Francisco. She had an Indiegogo campaign and the pre-orders and returns exceeded the goal.

Antoine Saab, founder of “enery24” is another interesting Lebanese innovator and entrepreneur. He developed a battery-based energy saving system to counter the regularly recurring power-cuts in Lebanon.
At one moment during the panel talk he said

“In Lebanon you train at altitude”
“If you make it here you can make it anywhere.”

In other words he was implying that if you can have a minimum of success here in Lebanon under the “Lebanese” (tough and chaotic) conditions then the success will be achievable anywhere in the world.

It’s like going for a way in the  park.

The 30 Startup finalists were (8 finalists are in bold):

  1. Presella
  2. 29 letters
  3. Cardiodiagnostix*
  4. bitfeed
  5. Eventus
  6. Feedeed
  7. Game cooks
  8. Go Ijaza
  9. Green Studios
  10. Integreight 1Shield
  11. Jobalist
  12. Ki
  13. Nawaya Network
  14. PiSlice
  15. Referd
  16. Rouladfouni
  17. Saily*
  18. Shoop
  19. Sohati
  20. Spectapp
  21. Tagaddod
  22. Tari2ak*
  23. THe Outpost
  24. Yellow
  25. Virtuosi
  26. waste
  27. Urbacraft
  28. Zawarib

All startups can be found at this page.
Today the 8 startups will be narrowed down to one startup which will travel to Geneva. The results and details can be found at the SeedStars Beirt Startupup Competition page.

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

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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”.

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