Learn How TASMU Accelerator Is Catalyzing The Growth of Innovative Startups


Startups require a lot of support, mentorship and guidance to grow and scale, with many founders venturing into entrepreneurship without the required backing. Based on global statistics, it is estimated that between 80 to 90% of startups fail, with 10% failing within the first year – regardless of the industry. Whilst this figure drops if the startup makes it past the fifth year, there are many key components that can determine the success or failure of a startup.

We sat with Mohammad Shahin (MS), Accelerator Manager at TASMU Accelerator, based on Doha Qatar, to uncover the vital support that the organization is extending to startups, its successes to date, along with the core challenges and opportunities prevalent in the startup community.

BDD: Can you tell us a bit about TASMU Accelerator’s mission and how it is fulfilling it?

MS: Launched by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), TASMU Accelerator is designed to catalyze the growth of startups that are innovative and capable of contributing to the development of key sectors in Qatar. TASMU Accelerator fulfills its mission through:
– Inspiring Innovation: By targeting the 2024 Cohort, TASMU Accelerator aims to inspire startups to be pioneers in their fields, encouraging them to think creatively and develop groundbreaking solutions.
–   Nurturing the Ecosystem: The accelerator provides an environment that nurtures the innovation ecosystem, offering support and resources that help startups to thrive.
–   Focusing on Key Industries: TASMU Accelerator has a clear focus on key industries for Qatar’s future, such as transportation and logistics, healthcare, environment, and tourism. By taking this approach, it ensures that their support for startups aligns with the nation’s strategic goals.
– Providing Tailored Support: Startups in the accelerator program receive tailored support that can include mentorship, funding, networking opportunities, and access to technology and expertise.

Through these efforts, TASMU Accelerator is not just fueling the growth of individual startups but also contributing to the broader goal of transforming Qatar into a smart, connected, and technologically advanced country.

BDD: How has TASMU Accelerator been instrumental in supporting startups to grow and scale?
MS: Based on its unique model and our belief that one size does not fit all, we tailor our program design to fit the needs of each participating startup. We are proud to offer our startups “100% enablement, 0% equity” through the below-listed benefits:
–   Funding – The top 3 startups of the cohort will get a QAR 200,000 cash prize each.
–   Investors – Start-ups gain entry to 45+ investment entities.
–   Equity – Start-ups keep full ownership; we claim no equity.
–   Flexibility – Start-ups get global access to our virtual acceleration platform.
–   Market access – Startups get direct entry to the Qatari market and key players through TASMU Accelerator’s Piloting Partners, Cohort Champions, and Sector Custodians.
–   Tools – Over 1 million QAR in free tools and software.
–  Soft-landing – No-cost Qatar registration and an extension of one-year hub access or one-year hub access is granted.
– Extra hand – Assistance from Qatar’s leading university talent.

BDD: What does your 6-month program entail? And what can startups expect to receive after completing it?
MS: The 6 month journey consists of:

–   Specialized hands-on capacity-building program with focus on growth hacking, go-to-market, and investment readiness.
–   Access to a pool of industry experts and business leaders with a mission to support startup businesses in penetrating the Qatari market and expanding their operations to the region.
–   Direct access to investors, and the market through our wide network of partners from national and international VCs, public and private sectors entities.
–   The opportunity to compete for three QAR 200,000 awards.

Post graduation, startups continue to receive TA support through a specialized support program designed to:

–   Facilitate soft-landing and incorporation of graduated startups.
–   Investment facilitation.
–   Securing deals and ensuring market expansion.

BDD: That’s impressive. Do you have any success stories that you can share with us?
MS: Since their establishment, the 2023 cohort startups have been successful in raising an impressive USD36 million in funding and generating sales exceeding USD100 million – resulting in a combined portfolio valuation of USD500 million. As part of its mission to build capacity and foster networking, TASMU Accelerator has also facilitated over 150 sales meetings between startups and key local entities.In addition, over 150 interns from Qatar’s leading universities have been strategically matched with start-ups, allowing them to gain practical experience in a real business environment, while offering start-ups access to a pool of emerging talent.

BDD: So, from your experience, are there any common challenges you see amongst startups in the region? How are your programs addressing them?
MS: Startups in the MENA region face several common challenges, which TASMU Accelerator is actively addressing:
The most common challenges are:
– Funding: Access to investment and cash flow is a significant challenge for startups in the MENA region.
–   Market Access: Legal and logistical roadblocks can hinder the efforts of entrepreneurs.
–   Skills and Talent: Acquiring the right talent and expertise is crucial for the growth of startups.

So at TASMU Accelerator, we address these challenges through:

–   Financial Support: TASMU Accelerator provides significant financial backing and investor access, helping startups overcome funding challenges.
–   Regulatory and Logistic Guidance: The program offers guidance on navigating regulatory landscapes, reducing legal and logistical hurdles.
–   Talent Development: By connecting startups with university talent and providing mentorship, The Accelerator helps startups acquire the necessary skills and expertise.
Through these strategies, TASMU Accelerator is not only helping startups to overcome regional challenges but also empowering them to contribute to Qatar’s digital transformation and innovation ecosystem.

BDD: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur, at the start of their journey?
MS: First, don’t take obstacles personally; failure is a natural part of the path to success. Second, identify your passion and pursue what you love, but ensure that there is a market demand for it. Third, remember that you are not alone in this journey; many incubators and accelerators are available to provide guidance and support. Finally, don’t wait for your product to be perfect or spend excessive time planning; take action and move forward.

If you are a startup and are interested to gain strategic support, learn more on https://accelerator.tasmu.gov.qa/

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