Ten startups competed for awards worth four million Emirati Dirhams (US$ 1 million) during MAD Mentorpreneurs pitching competition, which took place on Saturday, September 30, at the Media One Hotel.
The Mentorpreneurs program is created by MAD Talks, a digital content platform for innovation and entrepreneurship in the emerging markets.
The industry-agnostic competition had one main selection criteria for the applicants, which weighed the difference their business concept would bring to their customers, their community, and the world.
“We want everyone to be a winner,” said MAD Talks CEO, Tariq Qureishy, n response to having six winners instead of the typical one. He added: “Being in the startup space ourselves, and interviewing young entrepreneurs alongside industry leaders, we saw that there is a gap in business planning, marketing, legal compliance, and many other aspects that won’t be filled by funding alone.”
MAD Talks have set out to create an acceleration program that helps startups to succeed in building a sustainable business, with a mix of support services covering the foundational needs of an early stage startup.
Entrepreneurs from over 20 countries have been reviewed before the selection of top 20 participants in the first round. Since September 13, they have gone through a workshop boot camp and mentoring sessions covering a plethora of topics and interests, from financial strategy, legal advice, and social entrepreneurship, to business planning, value proposition, digital communication and marketing, leadership, and team building.
Semi-finals took place in Sheraa Hub, Sharjah on September 23, and the 10 finalists presented to a panel of judges including Joy Ajlouny (cofounder of Fetchr), Neil Petch (chairman of Virtuzone), Kushal Shah (managing partner of Roland Berger and founder of Dubai Angel Investors), and Philip Bahoshy (founder & CEO of MAGNiTT) with a backdrop of Dubai from ON42 in Dubai Media City. The presenting teams were in industries ranging from IoT and medical tourism to F&B and construction.
Among the six winners are two international startups, RxTravel from Los Angeles, and oPerception from Khartoum, who have received an opportunity to enter a new market and will develop and grow their businesses in the UAE over the next 12 months. Other winners include Wunba, Rvltoo, Al Keewar, and ARTA. All six will receive company registration and business setup, financial consulting services, legal support, cloud services, digital marketing and advertising, as well as access to investor networks.
Program partners Virtuzone, IBM, Support Legal, ArabNet, Wamda, Bayt.com, MAGNiTT, and others have united to support the initiative by offering extensive services to the Mentorpreneurs winners for a period of 12 months.