CEO Sami Abou Saab during a meeting at the Speed@BDD offices. (Images via Maya Rahal)
Yesterday, a collection of Beirut’s entrepreneurial ecosystem players announced the launch of a new tech accelerator called Speed@BDD.
A Y Combinator-style accelerator, it has drawn together thus far three funds and two support organizations: Berytech Fund II, IM Capital, MEVP Impact fund, Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program and Lebanon for Entrepreneurs (LFE).
“We want to give back to the community and create a high quality ecosystem for startups,” said CEO Sami Abou Saab, who not long ago returned from Seattle after serving as Product Manager for Skype at Microsoft.
Speed@BDD’s Board of Directors is currently composed of Maroun Chammas Chairman of Berytech, Fadi Bizri Managing Director of Bader, Walid Hanna Managing Partner at MEVP, and Abdallah Jabbour Managing Director of LFE.
After 18 months of preparation, Speed@BDD is ready to accept applications from Lebanon and the MENA region, to launch the first batch of the program on September 15th. The acceleration program will have two cycles per year, each for 10 early-stage startups focused on Web and mobile apps.
Each accepted team will get $30,000 in cash for the 3-month acceleration program, in return for 10 percent equity. Speed@BDD will offer free working space, product development and business development workshops, accounting services, legal services, and mentorship.
“We will be very strict in our selection process, and the first element we will look at is the team: team members have to be fully dedicated and completely focused on their start-up, and preferably have some industry experience,” said Abou Saab.
The top two start-ups in each batch will get follow-on acceleration in Silicon Valley (names of partner accelerators will be announced soon). “A great value we’ll be offering are the mentors and speakers. We are working on having on board top-caliber local and international mentors to help the entrepreneurs,” Abou Saab added.
The CEO doesn’t deny the fact that he is intending on pushing the accepted teams as much as possible to have them deliver a beta version of their product/service within the first month of acceleration. “We will encourage them to adopt the lean startup approach and make sure they are on the right track, even if this means getting involved in their daily work,” he told Wamda.
Being physically present at the accelerator and attending all mentorship sessions is crucial for this program. Accepted teams that are based outside of Lebanon are expected to move to Beirut and register their companies there.
“The one thing that keeps me up at night is managing to keep entrepreneurs in Lebanon,” added Abou Saab.
Speed@BDD is now accepting applications here.