Keynote Speaker Steve Johnson signing his book "Where good ideas come from: the natural history of innovation". (Images via Khaled Kamal)
Dreams of an Arabic search engine, founded in Jordan, or an app that takes over the world, were in the thoughts of attendees at the Zain Innovation Campus’s (ZINC) first birthday last week.
The event took place at, of course, the ZINC HQ in the King Hussein Business Park (KHBP) on December 17, with a guest list that included names such as ICT Minister Majd Shweikeh.
The theme of the event revolved around the role of the private sector in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem - a good fit as in just one year ZINC, a high-tech incubator developed by Zain, has hosted 22,000 people during 253 events.
Zain CEO Ahmad Hanandeh said ZINC’s success was building and he expected that to continue as certain events took shape:
Dedicating $140,000 for startups
Selecting three Jordanian entrepreneurs in collaboration with Intaaj, to participate in a telecom conference in Barcelona
Build three ZINC branches in the Kingdom by the end of 2016
Wamda approached a few of the 60-plus startup partners that Zain has forged corporate entrepreneurial responsibility (CER) relationships with to get their feedback on what it’s been like working with Jordan’s latest startup supporter.
ME Shows exhibiting at the event.
CashBasha (ecommerce cash payment platform) Fouad Jeryes - cofounder
Thoughts on 2015 “Zain considers us to be a partner company [so] they’ve supported our participation in regional events and conferences that would be difficult for a budding startup to afford. These opportunities allow us to expose new investors and partners to link up with us which is invaluable at this stage. It’s [now] not uncommon for Jordanian startups to be the largest delegation of participants at events in the region today.”
Expectations for 2016 “[We want] Zinc to expand regionally. The direct result of providing a welcoming space for entrepreneurs and tinkerers without any expectations in return is infinitely valuable. Conversations, ideas, and open-knowledge exchange is something that is lacking in common areas of our culture.”
Eureeca (crowd investing platform) Sam Quawasmi - managing director and cofounder
Thoughts on 2015 “ZINC is a breeding ground for the type of businesses we aim to host on the platform so there has been an obvious synergy between ZINC's aim of facilitating entrepreneurial growth, and our aim of providing our investor network with high-quality, high-yield potential deals. Because of initiatives like ZINC, entrepreneurs come to Eureeca better prepared and more suited to raise growth capital.”
Expectations for 2016 “We expect ZINC, through the many great thought leaders and educational events that they host, to continue educating Jordanian entrepreneurs on what it takes and what it means to be a successful business leader.”
I3zif.com (music learning platform) Bisher Abu Taleb - founder and CEO
Thoughts on 2015 “Zain gave me access to their expertise. It is absolutely great to know that everyone at Zain is accessible, we can meet anyone anytime… no matter the title... Zain was one of five entities in Jordan to cover the cost of subscription for 100 Jordanian public schools to learn music for three years through the ‘i3zif fi Madrasati’ music education program.”
Expectations for 2016 “I expect Zain to connect us as Jordanian startups to Zain in other countries such as Zain Bahrain and Zain Kuwait. I expect Zain to launch more ZINCs!”
Coding Circle (children’s coding academy) Jida Sunna - cofounder of Jordan’s Coding Circle
Thoughts on 2015 “Zinc was instrumental in helping us realise our startup. By providing us with access to an amazing coworking and training facility, the students of The Coding Circle benefited from a real startup environment as they undertook their own journey in learning code. Through the community they have built within and outside Zinc, we benefited from learning from other entrepreneurs, had access to channels in which to promote our business, and most importantly had the support of the amazing Zinc team in all that we did.”
Expectations for 2016 “The expectation for Zinc would be to continue to push the edge of innovation in terms of its support for the ecosystem, and to continue to expand and enhance the wonderful community they have built.”