2016 Middle East Startup Ecosystem

We launched 3 pilot accelerators this year and will offer 4 more accelerators across Europe, Asia, Africa, and America in 2017. This is the summary report for the Middle East Startup Ecosystem.


In an effort to increase exposure of Middle East startups to global investors and resources, Middle East Startups announced the launch of the first digital accelerator for the region. The accelerator program begins with a full startup development boot camp covering ideation, product development, marketing, customer acquisition and funding. The boot camp is followed by workshop keynotes from Lean Launchpad, Forbes list entrepreneurs, and key investors. The program concludes with a demo day where the top ten companies pitch in front of judges from across the region for top prizes.“The future is digital, so startup ecosystems in emerging markets need to take advantage of that with programs like this one” says Christine Souffrant Ntim, “we launched digital accelerators for entrepreneurs of the Middle East and the diaspora to close the resource gap and diversify global startup success stories”.The pilot accelerator program on December 17-18, 2016 accepted 100 startups.Here is a review of the program.
  • Check out the 100+ companies selected for the 2016 Batch.
  • Check out the top 10 companies selected for 2016 Demo Night.
  • Check out the top 3 companies selected as winners of the 2016 Accelerator.
  • Slide show presentation of the program is available here.
  • Check out the 2016 Review Report 
  • Apply to the 2017 Digital Accelerator.
  • Join the global network here.
The Applicant Pool: Over 75% of the companies were founded within the past two years. Industries represented included,  e-commerce, education, social apps, transportation, communications and travel. Amazingly- the majority of the applicant pool had traction in terms of users, revenue, and product development. Which leads us to believe that startup founders are leveraging resources and mentorship in the region.

In seeing the great resources provided within the region, Middle East Startups surveyed the applicant pool to determine the top needs and interests pertaining to startup development. As expected funding and customer acquisition was the most requested topic for mentorship. Since we customize programming based on applicant needs, we provided a multiplicity of speakers, content, and resources around those two topics.

Day 1 Review: Day one of the accelerator was 8+ hours of jam packed content.Christine Souffrant Ntim kicked it off with a 2-hour business boot camp covering all stages of startup development. Here is the agenda for

  • Part 1: Business Boot Camp 
    10am: Orientation
    10:15-10:30: How to Launch a Company in 24 hours
    10:30-10:45: How to Ideate, Beta Test, & Pitch
    10:45-11:00: How to Build an MVP in 30 Days
    11:00-11:15: How to Market Your Product in 30 Days (Customer Acquisition-Growth Hacking)
    11:15-11:30: How to Raise $250k in free prizes, grants and partnerships

The intense nature of the business boot camp is to provide tactics, strategies and top learnings around building a company while leveraging free resources. From Y-Combinator’s free 10 week online program to raising millions with database searches to coding an MVP – the program covered many areas. The boot camp was then followed by 3 hours of speaker panels from entrepreneurs, VC and influencers who can inspire our cohort with their stories of success and failures. Videos from panel 1 (startup ecosystem), panel 2 (women disrupting the norm) and panel 3 (VC, Acquisitions & Fundraising) are available on our Facebook page. The program ended with 100 founders attending the live event in Dubai and 100 applicants viewing the digital program from Facebook and Online Meeting.

Day 2 Review: With a night of rest, the program continued with an intense 3-hour finale of keynotes, pitches, and reflections. We kicked off the program with a brief workshop on fundraising and pitching. Our two keynote speakers presented great content with Mohamed presenting top lessons for entrepreneurs and Veronica presenting top insights of the MENA startup ecosystem.

The keynote series was then followed up with a 1-hour pitch demo of the top 10 companies selected from the program. Each company had 1 minute to pitch their company with slide show presentations and receive q/a from our guest judges (representing IBM, Seed Stars and Inc Arabia).

It was a tough competition but the top three winners are YallaParking (UAE) with 31.5 judge points, judge Uliq (UAE) with 30 points and Akla-Baity (Egypt) with 28 judge points. NewShifts was the winner of the popular vote.

About: Middle East Startups is the home of the Middle East startup ecosystem hosting digital events, boot camps, accelerators and startup expos for the region. It is a subsidiary of Global Startup Ecosystem, which provides digital programs for startup ecosystems in Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. The MiddleEastStartups is the first ever digital accelerator of the region, selecting a 100 companies every year. Please apply to the 2017 cohort now. 

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