Entrepreneurs prep for Startup Battlefield at BDD
TechCrunch has been in Beirut this week to discover the next big thing in the MENA region. Representatives of the technology media company gave presentations Thursday evening at the Beirut Digital District to an audience of Lebanese entrepreneurs, providing them with information on how to apply, pitch to judges and explain their products for the region’s first Startup Battlefield competition, which TechCrunch is holding in partnership with Facebook.
“We’re super excited to be here, and we can’t wait to uncover leading startups.
“This is a new opportunity for TechCrunch to look under the hood of what’s going on here in a much more organized fashion,” TechCrunch’s editor-at-large Mike Butcher told The Daily Star during the roadshow, which has included stops in Cairo, Tunis and Dubai.
“Let’s use this opportunity to get a deep dive of information on the ecosystem,” he added.
The competition, whose deadline for entry is July 31, will take place at the same location in Beirut in October. Applications are being accepted from early-stage startups from over 20 countries throughout the MENA region, 15 of which will be selected for the chance to be the region’s Startup Battlefield winner, earning the entrepreneurs $25,000 in non-equity cash, mentoring and important international exposure.
Two members of the winning team will then go on to compete at Startup Battlefield in San Francisco in 2019 for the chance to win $100,000 in non-equity cash.
Priscilla Elora Sharuk, founder of the identification authentication company Myki, was the first entrepreneur from the MENA region to compete in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield competition in 2016.
“The impact of competing in Startup Battlefield for our company was huge – we received 50 thousand sign-ups in less than 48 hours,” Sharuk said.
At her BDD presentation, Sharuk explained how she and her co-founder used to stay up all night watching the livestream of the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield pitches, taking notes and learning how to pitch like them.
“That was a big boost to our product,” said Sharuk, who returned to the TechCrunch stage in 2017 to launch her ID management for blockchain offering.
She will be opening her new company headquarters in New York City next month.
For Nour Atrissi, a Beirut-based entrepreneur attending the TechCrunch event, the competition means the chance to turn her company into a global online platform.
Through her program, Teens Who Code, she runs summer camps in Lebanon for young developers.
Her next step will be to launch an app that teaches teens to code through gaming.
“What I’m hoping is to get exposure and mentorship because the product is shaping up. Mentorhisp from TechCrunch and Silicon Valley is very valuable to put us on the right track, because our plan is to go global. We still haven’t launched in Lebanon,” Atrissi said after watching the presentations.
“We want to fill the gap that exists in the market in Lebanon and the region. Everyone is looking for developers. We want to be a tech hub, like India or Russia, full of talent. The product and the camp will complement each other. It keeps students engaged and it doesn’t take much time. Schools and universities are way behind.”
Indeed, Lebanon’s talented workforce and multitude of problems that inspire creative business solutions was an important draw for TechCrunch’s choice of Beirut for the competition venue.
“Beirut is a historic creative capital producing art, music, poetry and other creative capital for the region and beyond.
“Creative capital breeds entrepreneurship and is fueling startups,” said Samantha Stein, director of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield and Startup Battlefield editor.
“The entire region is known for its rich diversity of ideas and this intellectual and creative diversity has yielded more than 60 exits since 2014. Startup ecosystems across the region are budding and blossoming as successful entrepreneurs are giving back by mentoring the next wave,” she said.