“These startups are as good as any in Toronto, Barcelona, or
London,” said Palestinian entrepreneur extraordinaire Dr.
Abdulmalek Al-Jaber at the Arabreneur angel pitching event in
Jerusalem last Monday April
7th. The afternoon gathering, hosted at the Notre
Dame Center, featured top talent from Palestine's startup
community. The quality of the startups was matched by the beauty of
the venue, an open-air rooftop overlooking East Jerusalem and the
Dome of the Rock. As the sun set over the city, seven
entrepreneurs pitched their startups to a crowd of angel investors,
government officials, and venture capitalists. I was there to check
out the investment opportunities for Oasis500, and
here’s what I saw:
SooShef is a recipe engine that could
either be its own stand-alone site or integrated into other recipe
platforms. Instead of guiding users to make recipes based on what
they want to eat, Sooshef helps them make recipes based on what
ingredients they already have on hand. One thing they have going in
their favor is that they already have a large database of
Blue Engine is a multi-lingual website
builder for the Arab world. This is a competitive market space with
several global players (and regional player Websity) but the team
claims to have a more powerful solution that can build anything
from a personal blog to a corporate website.
Jobreneur is a freelancer website that
connects SMEs with job seekers in the MENA region. They’re focusing
on tasks like graphic design, web design, and software
Fadfid is impressive because they have
traction already. This web service connects therapists with
patients via online therapy sessions. By bringing this
traditionally offline experience online, Fadfid is helping people
in the Arab world avoid the negative stigma that often accompanies
IMAGRY is an image recognition platform
that lets you use photos to search the web. Imagine taking a photo
of a t-shirt you like and immediately being linked to the vendor’s
website. Cool stuff.
MobiBox is developing mobile games
specifically for the MENA region. Their flagship project, City of
Mecca, aims to build an Arab and Muslim community around relevant
settings and gameplay.
iSurface was the only hardware/software
startup at Arabreneur. The product is a projector that turns any
surface into a multi-touch surface. Imagine a Smart Board but less
costly and more convenient.
These pitch events will be hosted on a quarterly basis,
according to an Arabreneur press release. The organization has
committed to investing in 12 companies during its first year.
In an email to Wamda, Arabreneur co-founder and Program
Director Radi Fassed said that "several investors" have approached
the program regarding co-investment in the new batch of startups.
"We will hopefully announce the startups [selected for investment]
in the coming weeks," he added.
English Managing Editor Stephanie d'Arc Taylor contributed
to this post.
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