Speed@BDD sends two startups off to Silicon Valley

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Two of Speed@BDD’s first six startups are off to Silicon Valley.

The accelerator’s CEO Sami Abou Saab said Rational Pixels and Next Automated Robots (NAR) would be off to the Golden State in February, during the first demo day on Wednesday.

The startups will be taking part in the LebNet Ignite Powered by Blackbox Connect programwho work to connect startups from around the world with US investors.

Rational Pixels, which is currently seeking a $1.8 million Series A investment, has created software that allows for the automatic placement of products into already-shot videos (typically movies). They said they were entering an online advertising market worth $170 billion.

“We’re excited to be gaining exposure and making an impact,” cofounder Rida Sadek told Wamda. Moving from his base in Barcelona to join Speed, he said the program surpassed his expectations.

“They [Speed] really take the time to listen to you and guide you. We come from a technical background, and we needed to add a business development aspect to our [idea] and they were great,” Sadek said.

For Charlie Khoury, cofounder of NAR, the sentiment was the same. “The US is our target market, so this brings us one step closer.” Their drone-based solution for detecting wildfires is their first project. “Before joining Speed we were pitching our ideas like they were school projects,” laughed Khoury, “now we know better.”

The other startups who made it through the first three-month acceleration program with Speed were gaming challenge crowdfunding platform Blitz, carpooling app Carpolo, modular DIY furniture solution Modeo, and social activities app Rafiqi.

 First announced in July 2015 and running for three months from September to December, Speed’s acceleration program is another example of Lebanon’s efforts to become a hub for tech startups in the region.

Speed CEO Saab felt that things went great, especially for their first run.

Speed's first batch of startups. (Image via Speed)

“We really made a lot of improvements, and we learned a lot,” he told Wamda. “The startups were very engaged and learned a lot from one another, and this made a big difference.”

Any learning curves? “After starting the program we found we were still finalizing some of the logistics, but it was our first time,” said Saab. “You have to finalize anything that has anything to do with the startups logistics-wise so as to not lose any time during the three month program.”

Blitz told Wamda that being part of the program actually caused them to pivot from the original idea.

“We were into challenges like the ice bucket challenge,” said cofounder and CTO Mazen Al-Wafai. “But then we were encouraged, as we’re all gamers, to focus on game-specific challenges.”

For their platform, which offers gamers the ability to crowdfund challenges, they are initially seeking $150,000 to be spent over the course of six  to 12 months.

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