From left to right: Ahmed Saad CEO and Bahaa Galal CTO, happy winners. (Images by Maya Rahal).
New startups need contacts, and the bigger the better.
Helping those in the creative sector make their mark, Wamda organised the 'Startup Alley' at this week’s Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity.
Ten startups, most UAE-based, got the chance to exhibit their work and directly interact with some of the biggest advertising agencies in the region.
The core Startup Alley event was a pitching competition with Arabic-focused social media monitoring platform Crowd Analyzer taking first prize - a ticket to attend international creativity festival Cannes Lions in June.
Dubai Lynx main stage and exhibition space.
“We are delighted to have partnered with Wamda to bring the startup community to Dubai Lynx for the first time,” said Emna Farmer, the festival director, in a statement.
An annual event now in its 10th year, Dubai Lynx brings together the advertising and communications sectors; it gives clients an opportunity to connect with the creative community and gain useful advertising insights for their own campaigns.
The festival, which took place March 6-8 at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena in Dubai, is part of the Lions Festivals stable, which also includes Cannes Lions, Spikes Asia, Eurobest and the Asia Effectiveness Awards.
Many startups attending Dubai Lynx received for the first time mentorship from regional and international experts from the creative industry.
The 10 startups at Startup Alley were 360MEA, AlphaApps, Crowd Analyzer, Et3arraf, Kanari, Metaphorio, Mini Exchange, Seez, Tarifah and Taskspotting.
On March 8, the last day of the event, Wamda organized a pitching competition, during which each of the startups presented a five minute pitch to three international experts: James Welch, managing director of Blue Logic, Kei Shimada global director of innovation and business development at Dentsu, and Matias Penas, scouting partner at Turn8.
After the pitching competition Wamda had a quick chat with the entrepreneurs and the mentors, discussing the good and the bad in startups' pitches, here are some of the insights gathered.
“Pitch your startup as if you are telling a story in three stages; beginning, middle and end. Start with why it is great and who would benefit from it. You need to look happy and enjoying every second, while staying away from arrogance and ignorance.” - James Welch.
Most entrepreneurs agreed that learning the pitch by heart makes the presentation go smooth and feel easier.
“You either improvise all the way while working on strong transitions, or learn it all by heart if you have enough time. Middle ground is very risky when pitching. Rehearse several times, study the tone and jokes.” - Cedric Maalouf, CEO Et3arraf.
“Practice makes perfect, and being funny was a good element of us winning many competitions so far, like once I was running out of time, so I just skipped a slide in a funny way.” - Bahaa Galal, CTO Crowd Analayzer.
“The more you do it the better you get at it. Preparation goes a long way, prepare, prepare, prepare. Give yourself twice as much time and make sure you practice one day before to sleep on it.” - Subhi Farah, managing director Kanari.
Khaled Zaatarah, founder of 360MEA during his pitch.
Focusing on the innovation and achievements of the technology linking them to revenue numbers and time restrictions, is also a strategy followed by many entrepreneurs.
“Highlight the business value and achievements, in addition to your next steps and milestones.” - Mostafa Khalifa, chief business development officier Ta3rifa.
“Knowing your business with confidence and delivering in a real honest way makes the message come across as authentic. Know your numbers by heart and get very comfortable with them to deliver them positively.” - Sarah Jones, CEO Mini Exchange.
Energy and confidence are key.
“Put a lot of energy to show your passion, be fearless because you are the one to know the most out of your company.” - Khaled Zaatarah, 360MEA.
“People who are embarrassed don’t do good. If you are the brand ambassador of your startup you have to be proud of pitching, and have the ability to convince.” - Kei Shimada, managing director Blue Logic.
Dubai Lynx awards
Dubai’s Impact BBDO, won Agency of the Year, and also won gold for the Twitter Live Young Lynx Competition and for an interactive campaign ‘Goodbye bad luck’ for Loto Libanais.
J. Walter Thompson MEA was named Network of the Year, with their Beirut office taking home three Grand Prix prizes for 'The Good Note' for Bou Khalil Supermarket in the categories of PR, Direct and Integrated.