Apply for Batch 2

Applications for batch 1 are now closed. Batch 2 details have not yet been determined, but you may still apply and we'll notify you when we've set a date.

Wamda X is a grant-based programme for founders with the aim to safe-route the often financially grueling and solitary path to entrepreneurship.

We have designed an environment to help founders build their startups through a 4-month relationship-focused programme.

Our goal is to co-found businesses with Fellows by providing them with grants and opening up the Wamda network of mentors to help ease the process of starting and scaling a business. Wamda X will be the initial financiers for founders and offers access to Wamda Capital, which can continue financing these businesses as they grow.

The Programme

Who we are looking for?

We are here to help co-found businesses from their earliest stages. Be it an idea or a revenue generating startup, we want to be a part of it.
Successful businesses are often started by mature founders who have several years of work experience but do not conform to the status quo. That’s why we are looking for mature professionals who have a knack for solving market failures and those who embody leadership and efficient problem-solving qualities.
The qualities that make a great entrepreneur are often present before they even start a business. The best businesses are founder-run, so Wamda X is looking to partner with these founders from the early days of starting up. We want to partner with hungry entrepreneurs, willing to take a leap of faith regardless of whether or not they make it through Wamda X.

What makes this programme unique

How it works

Selection process

  • Applications

    Applications are open for
    the second cohort

  • Screening

    We’ll be in touch to schedule a call

  • Meet

    Full day of interviews and exercises at Wamda X Dubai

  • Programme starts

    Meet your buddies and mentors on orientation day

The Network

Wamda X Mentors

  • Hosam Arab

    Co-Founder & CEO
    Namshi

  • Ahmad Hanandeh

    CEO
    Switch

  • Hussam Khoury

    Co-Founder
    Jabbar Internet Group

  • Mona Ataya

    CEO & Founder
    Mumzworld.com

  • Rabea Ataya

    Founder & CEO
    Bayt.com

  • Zaid Farekh

    Co-Founder & CTO
    SiTech

  • Nader Museitif

    Fromer Head of Business
    Uber MENA

  • Ola Doudin

    Co-Founder
    BitOasis

  • Anass Boumediene

    Co-Founder & Co-CEO
    eyewa

  • Mehdi Oudghiri

    Co-Founder & Co-CEO
    eyewa

  • Kunal Kapoor

    Founder
    The Luxury Closet

  • Eric Ouisse

    CTO
    ASWAT Telecom

  • Jon Richards

    Founder & CEO
    yallacompare

  • Hussam Hammo

    Founder & CEO
    Tamatem Inc.

  • Renaud de Gonfreville

    CEO & Co-Founder
    ASWAT

  • Loulou Khazen

    Founder & CEO
    Nabbesh

Wamda Buddies

  • Fadi Ghandour

    Executive Chairman

  • Khaled Talhouni

    Managing Partner

  • Sarah Abu Risheh

    Investment Principal

  • Walid Faza

    Partner

  • Fares Ghandour

    Partner

Any questions?

wamdax@wamda.com

For partnership inquiries

partnerx@wamda.com

FAQs

    General

  • When will the programme start?

    The inaugural batch will begin on March 3rd, 2019. We have not set a date for Batch 2 yet.

  • What happens at the programme?

    We believe that you know what is best for you. While we'll be here to guide you, this is a relatively hands-off programme that emphasises relationships over programming. That means what you do with your time and during your meetings with your Wamda Buddy, mentors, and peers is entirely up to you. Having said that, we will be conducting events regularly and providing you with plenty of workshops and educational seminars.

  • What am I expected to do at the programme?

    The ideal outcome involves building an initial team, as well as formulating and validating your business idea, so that by the end of the 4 months, you are able to launch your business and receive your first round of investment. Having said that, this is a fellowship programme. All fellows are part of the Wamda community for life, and not launching a business by the end of the programme is totally fine. You got in because we liked you as a person, and value you being in our network. If you go on to join another team, or join one of Wamda Capital's portfolio companies, or even go back to your previous job, that's also fine. That is why this is a grant-based and not equity-based programme.

  • What if I do not launch a business by the end of the programme?

    Not a problem at all. There are multiple options at that point. One option is to extend the grant on a monthly basis until you are ready to launch your business. Another option is for you to join one of the other fellows as they launch their startup. A third option involves joining one of Wamda Capital's growth stage companies. Finally, you may decide to go your own way and do something totally different.

  • What if I change my mind during the programme?

    We understand that the process of starting a business might seem more appealing than it actually is. We also understand how frustrating the early days can be. Perhaps you are not getting value out of the programme. We're OK with terminating the agreement at any point during the programme if either party is unsatisfied for any reason whatsoever - no strings attached.

  • Is this programme for me?

    The programme aims to capture a broad range of fellows. There is much debate in what makes for a "good" founder, and the characteristics attributed to successful entrepreneurs are diverse. We want Wamda X to include driven fellows, eager to disrupt the status quo, but also mature enough to know how to maneuver in the real world. If you feel like that describes you, and the market failure you are trying to solve can mean the opportunity you are working on is sizeable, please go ahead and apply!

  • Is this a startup accelerator programme?

    This is not a startup accelerator programme. We do not accelerate startups, nor do we have a curriculum. We invest in fellows and individuals. Startup accelerator programmes are good, but they often focus on the post-launch stage of the startup cycle, the point after which founders have built an early team, have put together a polished pitch deck, and maybe even have a product. Not that we're averse to including any of those in our programme but Wamda X is pre-idea, pre-business and far more interested in the individual than in the startup. We are different to accelerators in that we are a programme that focuses on businesses at an earlier stage than the typical accelerator.

  • What does the screening process entail?

    The process is designed to allow us to screen for the qualities we believe exist in good founders. The best founders we've invested in often come by referral, so if you know anyone we know or we've invested in, get them to refer you to the programme. It may feel more like a job interview, with questions that may not seem relevant to your business idea, but we are interested in getting to know you as a person. Founders are the single most critical factor that contribute to the success or failure of a startup, and therefore our screening process is centred on getting to know the fellows. Having said that, you may expect the following: 1) online application, 2) another round of online questions, 3) a quick phone/Skype interview, 4) an initial screening in-person interview in Dubai, 5) a full day of interviews and exercises where you'll be tested on your ability to work under stress while keeping your eye on the big picture. In all of these steps, we're assessing your problem solving skills as well as your propensity to keep your cool under stress.

  • How are fellows selected?

    Based on their ability to think critically about a problem and solve it in a smart manner, their ability to work under stress, their ability to work with their peers, and how driven they are to solve a market failure.

  • What stage should my business be at to apply?

    You can apply at any stage you like. You can have a vague idea of what you want to do, or at the point where you already have a product generating revenue.

  • Is there a deadline for applications?

    Applications for the inaugural batch are closed. You may still apply for Batch 2, but we have not set a start date for that yet.

  • Economics

  • What are the programme economics?

    You will receive $4k monthly for 4 months if you're applying as an individual, that comes to $16k in total. If you apply as a team, you will be receiving $6.25k monthly for a total of $25k. The agreement will be monthly renewable, so either party may terminate or extend the grant period. You will also receive about $9k worth of in-kind support, in the form of incubation space that you may use for 12 months, along with workshops and seminars that will be paid for by Wamda. The grant money will convert into 5% equity if you form a business within a 12 month duration of programme completion. We also have the right to invest $100k in your business in return for a 10% stake. An aditional 1% of the business will be distributed to the mentors of your batch to ensure they are aligned with us and incentivised to maximise their support. So, in total, we will receive 15% equity in return for a $125k investment (with a post-money valuation of $1m) along with an aditional 1% that will go towards the mentors from your batch.

  • Is Wamda taking too much equity?

    Not at all. Let us explain why: The startup stage is often the toughest, and founders often depend not on financing, but on a network of peers and mentors to help incentivise them to launch their startups. We also know the most successful businesses are often launched with a solid support network, often in the form of a founding team. Having said that, Wamda X is a co-launch programme. We want to partner with you from day 1, and are able to continue to financially support you as you grow. We will put you in touch with successful mentors who have gone through the startup process. Financially, the initial grant of $16k converts into 5% equity. That grant is matched with $9k of in-kind support which includes workspace, programming, etc... 5% for 25% means your business is being valued at $500k from the very first day! In addition, we're giving 1% to the mentors of each batch in order to ensure they are sufficiently incentivised to engage with fellows. The following $100k ticket is for 10% of the business so in reality, we are valuing the business at $1m from the day it launches. While seed round companies in the region often raise ~$500k at a $1.5m-$2.5m valuation, that is a round that usually comes at a later stage. Think of the $100k as a pre-seed investment, and the $25k grant and in-kind support as a family and friends round.

  • I do not like the terms, can I negotiate?

    It is highly unlikely that we'll accommodate alternative terms than the ones set out here. However if you believe your case should be treated differently, please feel free to make the argument for it. We'll consider different terms if, for example, you've already raised money, or are at a later stage than most other fellows, or perhaps you have some deep-tech patents registered that are critical to the business' success. If you are at the pre-revenue stage, we will most likely stick to the terms above.

  • Will Wamda help me secure financing for my business?

    Absolutely! We have a venture fund and can finance your business all the way through Series B if we maintain alignment and we like the traction you've achieved. We will also help you fundraise from the wider investor network in the MENA region and beyond at every stage of financing.

  • What happens with the grant if I apply as a 2-person team?

    If a 2-person team applies, you will receive a $25k grant as a team. This will not dilute you beyond 5%, in order not to discourage you from applying as a team.

  • Mentorship and Network

  • What is a Wamda Buddy?

    A Wamda Buddy is someone you can count on during the programme for anything you may need. You may depend on your Buddy to bounce off ideas, or use them to open up the Wamda network. You can also think of the Buddy as a counselor in case you need any support. Your Wamda Buddy has likely seen many companies over the years, and will be able to help you get on your feet in the early days of your business. You and your Buddy must have chemistry, and we will not force you to work with a particular Buddy. This relationship must naturally occur, and while we will help facilitate this process, you need to find your own Buddy at Wamda.

  • What does the mentorship programme look like?

    Mentors are core to Wamda X. The programme would not exist without them. Much like the Wamda Buddy system, the relationship you build with your mentors will be organic and not unforced. You must naturally find the right mentors for you, and you must "sell" them your idea and vision much like you would any other supporter of the business. We encourage you to research our mentors before the programme, and even reach out to them if you like, so that when you meet them during orientation day, you have an idea of who you'd like to work with.

  • How will I be matched with mentors?

    We will facilitate introductions during orientation day and beyond, but the relationship must naturally make sense for both mentors and fellows. You must work on finding the right mentor for you. We will not match you with mentors.

  • How are mentors incentivized?

    Mentors will receive equity at the accelerator batch level. In addition to the 5% Wamda receives in exchange for the grant when you form a business, a pool of mentors will get 1% of each business from that batch. We also encourage fellows who successfully found a business to carve out 1%+ to distribute to mentors they really like, be they from the Wamda network or beyond.

  • Who will be mentoring me?

    Mentors at Wamda X are founders themselves, often still working at their scale-ups. You will find that most mentors have built startups that have achieved significant traction, in the form of millions of dollars in revenues and who have received multiple rounds of financing for their businesses. They know what it is like building a business in the region, and are going to be invaluable to your business.

  • Follow On

  • How can I increase my chances of receiving follow-on financing?

    Three primary ways: 1) show us that your idea is worthwhile, and that it is scalable and solves a major market failure. 2) Show us that you are capable of putting together an early team, with a diverse skill set. 3) prove that you are receptive to feedback and are able to work with our network and team

  • What if I want to raise more than $100k after 4 months?

    We encourage you to do so, and may even invest more than that ourselves! We can work with you to find the right amount of financing for that stage of your business.

  • Logistics

  • What if I'm not based in the UAE?

    You'll need to be in Dubai for the first 2 months at least in order for you to benefit from the programme.

  • Do I need to be there for the entirety of the programme?

    You'll need to be in Dubai for the first 2 months at least in order for you to benefit from the programme.

  • Do I need to be in Dubai for the in-person interviews?

    Yes. We need to get to know you, and you need to get to know us! If this poses a logistical problem, please reach out so that we can try and help find a solution. We cannot cover flights or accommodation at this stage.

  • Can you help get me a visa to the UAE?

    Sure, that is usually a straightforward process and we can help facilitate it.

  • What sort of a time commitment will the programme require?

    You are building a business, so you are expected to dedicate 100% of your time to it. That means you'll have to be free of all prior commitments as of the day the programme starts.