Startup MENA seeks to bridge the gaps between Egyptian startups and European VCs

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Startup MENA, the initiative funded in part by the Danish government, will hold a pitch event for Egyptian startups on May 14th, as part of its ongoing efforts to help grow the country’s startup ecosystem. The event will provide an opportunity for growth-stage startups to pitch in front of Egyptian and European VCs, who will provide feedback in the form of professional guidance, coaching, and business model assistance – and possibly even Series A funding for a lucky and well-prepared few.

The event, branded Investor Lounge, is the brainchild of Startup MENA and VentureScout founder Jakob Kistorp, whose extensive interviews with Egyptian entrepreneurs, investors, and other key players on the startup scene alerted him and his team to a lack of connectivity between the well-established, yet insular, Egyptian entrepreneurial ecosystem and European investor networks.

“There’s a wish on the part of local entrepreneurs,” he said, “to get on the radar of European and U.S. based VCs.” Investor Lounge, which will host London-based VC Hoxton Ventures, and Nine Point Capital from Berlin, is a direct attempt to bridge this gap.

Kistorp stressed, on a call yesterday, that this event will be of particular use to Egyptian startups whose product has potential to appeal to European markets, or those looking to pitch to a fresh audience that might be unfamiliar with the Egyptian ecosystem.

"One of the hopes,” Kistorp said, “is that a European VC would make an investment in an Egyptian startup," as of course it is with any regional pitch event. Another, slightly less obvious, hope is for Egyptian and European angel investors to make inroads with each other, to potentially make syndicate investments in Egyptian together.

“The larger goal is to open up the ecosystem to Europe… and get much more embedded with the [Egyptian] investor ecosystem,” Kistorp said. This broad approach is reflected in the other events and workshops Startup MENA has on its schedule. The team has organized a hackathon to push “very early idea stage entrepreneurs” to refine their concepts, as well as a series of workshops each focused on a different topic in entrepreneurship – including “lean [ideology], SEO, term sheets, legal financing,” and others – for 20 early growth stage startups trying to scale (the application period for the latter opens next week).

But Kistorp is careful to emphasize the exploratory and agile nature of the operation; his team is not wedded to one approach to Egyptian startup ecosystem development. “We’re very open and want to engage and learn and see how we can add value,” he says.

Click here to for more information, or to register your startup for Investor Lounge (the deadline to register is May 7th).

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