Cairo, Egypt – 26 September 2022
Flat6Labs, the MENA region’s leading seed and early-stage venture company, announced today the appointment of Yehia Houry as Chief Programs Officer. His appointment and move to Egypt follow a successful five-year journey as the Managing Director of Flat6Labs in Tunisia.
Mr. Houry spearheaded the launch of Flat6Labs and its operation in Tunisia during the past few years. In his new capacity, he will work as part of the executive team on planning and implementing new programs and products for Flat6Labs globally.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Yehia to his new position, with confidence that he will continue to play a vital role leading Flat6Labs’ next chapter of growth and success in his capacity as CPO.” said Ramez El-Serafy, CEO of Flat6Labs.
“Flat6Labs’ success has always been rooted in putting entrepreneurs at the center of our efforts. I look forward to working alongside the executive team as well as colleagues at headquarters and across country offices to expand our operations and grow our impact globally.” said Yehia Houry, CPO of Flat6Labs.
Yehia joined Flat6Labs in 2017 with more than 15 years of experience in venture capital investment and tech-driven startup entrepreneur support. Prior to Flat6Labs, he was leading tech-driven initiatives for youth employability and entrepreneurship at a regional organization working across the Arab world. Throughout his career, he notably held various roles in research, multilateral organizations in Africa,Asia and the Middle East before joining the World Bank’s Microfinance division. As an Acumen Fund Fellow, he was an advisor for a large-scale health-tech company in India. Yehia holds a BSc in Computer Science from McGill University in Canada and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York.
Omgyno’ founded by Doreen Toutikian and Elisabeth Milini in Greece and Lebanon, ‘Siira’ founded by Sandra Salame in Lebanon, and ‘Maternally’ founded by Yasmin El Mouallem in the UAE, were announced the winners of the region’s first digital-health FemTech accelerator, marking the culmination of the program that was launched by Organon and Flat6Labs at Expo 2020 to advance women’s health
The winners were announced at the ‘Demo Day’ event in Cairo Egypt, which saw the participants pitch their ideas to a panel of eminent judges from across the women’s health world
Cairo, Egypt, 13 September 2022 – Omgyno founded by Doreen Toutikian and Elisabeth Milini in Greece and Lebanon, Siira founded by Sandra Salame in Lebanon, and Maternally founded by Yasmin El Mouallem in the UAE were crowned the winners of the MENA region’s first digital-health FemTech Accelerator Program. Launched in October 2021 during Expo 2020 by partners Organon and Flat6Labs to address unmet women’s healthcare needs, the winners were announced after the program’s ten finalists from across Egypt, Lebanon, UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Jordan pitched their ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of prospective investors.
The pitches took place at the ‘Demo Day’ event, hosted at the GrEEK Campus. The panel of judges selecting the final winners consisted of Dina El Shenoufy, Chief Investment Officer at Flat6Labs; Ramy Koussa, Associate Vice President of MENAT at Organon; Dr. Amr Alashkar, Chief Information Officer at Cleopatra Hospital Group; Jailan El Messeiry, Group Digital Marketing & Communications Manager at UN Women; and Frederika Meijer, Country Representative at UNFPA.
Omgyno, the start-up that won first place, is a FemTech platform redesigning the gynecological experience. After identifying the causes behind gaps in testing for the potentially cancer-causing HPV virus, including fear of judgment and accessibility, the two entrepreneurs worked on a user-centered platform offering home testing and telehealth, tailored to promote self-care and privacy.
Siira, the start-up that sat in second place, developed a mental health platform designed to accompany women in their daily struggles related to parenting, relationships and work. Conscious that only 30%-35% of people with mental health problems seek professional support, Sandra Salame’s start-up is focused on addressing this gap.
Globally, one in five women experience mental health issues during pregnancy, and/or following birth. Seeking to plug this gap, Maternally, which was adjudged third runner-up, is an online platform being developed to cater to women’s specific mental health needs during their motherhood journey.
“At Organon, we understand that prioritizing women’s health is tied to long-term productivity and resilient societies. That’s why, as part of our ESG Economic, Social and Governance-driven purpose to achieve her promise, we are committed to investing in programs, partnerships, initiatives, and ideas that work to fill that gap. The best ideas for addressing these gaps truly come from the women who experience these challenges first-hand,” said Ramy Koussa, AVP MENAT, Organon.
“With vast unmet medical needs, today, women across the MENA region cannot fully participate in the economy on account of a lack of adequate healthcare. Shockingly, the region loses $575 billion yearly due to the lack of female economic participation,” he added.
Dina El Shenoufy, Chief Investment Officer at Flat6Labs, commented, “At Flat6Labs, we have been delighted to participate in and support this female empowerment initiative. Participating start-ups have received over 65 hours of training sessions led by top local and international advisors, and 27 hours of one-on-one coaching sessions, helping them gain a solid understanding of the FemTech market, connect with key leaders and grow their networks.”
“Our partnership with Organon not only works to redress many of the gender inequities we see in the start-up world, particularly around access to funding, but also to support better women’s health. We know that female health and economic empowerment go hand in hand. By investing in the women in our communities and supporting greater gender equality, everyone across our societies benefits,” she added.
The FemTech accelerator program, announced shortly after Organon’s launch in the MENAT region, is the first regional Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) initiative by Organon that is committed to addressing unmet women’s needs. Inspired by Organon’s purpose to help women and girls achieve their promise through better health, the program was designed to support female entrepreneurship and digital health start-ups that advance women’s health by providing support to build products, test market fit and improve business models, as well as access to investors.
Women’s healthcare looks uncertain in the future. But, the femtech industry is still developing and you’ll find out why.
The lack of research into the health of women led to the need for femtech. Despite the fact that women spend $500 billion on medical costs each year, just 4% of research and development funding was allocated to problems that directly affect women. Cultural taboos that create barriers for women to get treatable illnesses may be directly responsible for this lack of investment in women’s health.
By the end of 2022, the Global Femtech Market is anticipated to be worth USD 28.77 billion. “You know a topic is hot when VC’s money goes into it once they see opportunities in a field,” mentioned Hana Besbes, the Investment Manager at Heal Capital in Germany.
The largest funders of health tech businesses that concentrate on issues affecting women’s health have been early-stage investors. Since 2015, VC funding for the Femtech industry has increased threefold, rising from just over $600 million to about $1.9 billion in 2017, according to CNBC.
In this post, we will be tackling the opportunities, challenges, and recommendations that were mentioned in our panel talk “The Current State of FemTech Worldwide” in partnership with Organon, which took place on August 10, 2022.
Opportunities that could lead to growth in the Femtech industry:
Turning startups from offline to online has its upside due to better visibility, constant accessibility, and brand development. “The next wave of femtech is what Sophie is trying to do here with Nabta Health, in how we can radically change the standard of care of those women,” emphasized Hana.
Companies specializing in gynecology, fertility, and pregnancy have received the most funding. Infertility was identified by the WHO as a disease and a public health issue, and its rate is steadily rising according to CNBC. With the amount of data and studies done on that, it’s been spoken about and therefore investors have an interest in helping startups tackle this issue through funding.
Challenges that professionals face in the Femtech industry:
Speaking of data and studies, there isn’t enough R&D that could help with clinical support. Women are underrepresented in clinical trials, and their concerns have been disregarded in medical device development according to MedCity News. “Deep tech innovation”, as Hanna calls it, is needed. She is looking for a startup that aims to create the biggest bio-market platform for women’s reproductive health. There are many things that could be done once this is achieved.
“We need more data… from their genetic data to their medication, reactions, compliances, and clinical pathways in order to comprehensively improve women’s health outcomes” shared Sophie Smith, CEO and Founder of Nabta Health.
Another challenge is that male investors lack adequate knowledge related to the femtech industry and its impact. With more awareness of the impact of Femtech products, investors, researchers, and business owners have a real opportunity to support this rising innovation trend and usher in a new era in women’s health.
“We need a lot more support from people who understand the need and value proposition of femtech companies at the early stages” shared Sophie.
If you want to close the gap in the Femtech industry, awareness is a crucial first step, but the problem goes far more profound. The industry needs further development in terms of investment in the R&D sector to access more resourceful data which is critical for any startup’s innovative tech product and service. Farah Kabir, Co-Founder of HANX, expressed that founders should discuss their ideas with as many people as possible as early on as they can so they can tweak and produce more wonderful products
If you’re a startup founder, find out what insights our panelists had to share based on their own entrepreneurial journeys:
Nour Emam, the founder and CEO of Mother Being shares this advice since she went through this hiccup of perfecting her service to avoid failing again. So, she decided to lift her business up by expanding and spreading more awareness about what her business is about with partnerships and workshops.
“Move fast even if you fail quickly so you can try again.” shared Nour.
Echoing what Nour said, Eric Dy, the Co-Founder and CEO of BloomLife, adds that a lot of founders choose to start by focusing on the product, which is obviously crucial, but don’t lose sight of your commercial plan. He emphasized this point so founders can remember to understand their market and any potential stakeholders who may need to support their efforts throughout their growth journey.
“You may have an amazing product that a patient might love and support, but without doctors on board or a way for people to pay for it as they normally would, then you’re going to have a hard time. Understand the full pictures and not get super obsessed with just the product ” mentions Eric.
Don’t miss our upcoming Femtech Accelerator Demo Day, a part of our Femtech Accelerator Program in partnership with Organon. It’s the first of its kind in the MENA region where you can have the opportunity to learn more about the industry and the 9 global startups that will pitch their innovative products in various sectors.
You can tune in to the Demo Day which will be live streamed on September 12, 2022 here.
Written by: Dana El Melki
Amman, Jordan – September 6, 2022 Flat6Labs, a leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm in the MENA region, celebrated its second Demo Day in Jordan, showcasing the seven graduated startups of the Amman Seed Program’s second cohort. The event took place on September 5, at the Four Seasons Hotel Amman.
During the event, the seven participating startups—which included Arab Therapy, Bloom Cart, Ipass, Khareta, QuiqClaim, Shop4me, and Sukoon—presented their innovative products and solutions in front of a large audience. The graduated startups cover a wide variety of industries and sectors, including Health and Wellness Tech, E-commerce, RealTech, FinTech, and Cyber Security.
Commenting on the occasion, Flat6Labs’ General Manager, Rasha Manna, said, “Once again, we are extremely proud to see our participants showcase the culmination of their tremendous effort, commitment, and resilience—not only during the last four months of the program but through all the hard work that led them to this point. It’s incredible to see how our seed program has developed and expanded in our second cycle. This kind of growth—and the individual achievements of our participants—encourages us to continue seeking out new, promising entrepreneurs from the local community, so that we can equip them with knowledge, skills, and tools that will support their long-term success.”
The second cycle of Flat6Labs’ Seed Program kicked off on May 8th, 2022, bringing top-notch international consultants, coaches, and mentors to work closely with each of the startup teams, empowering them to achieve their business goals. The program facilitated networking opportunities to help the startups build and grow their networks and connect to global leaders. Over the past four months, the seven startup teams have been working on growing their customer base, refining their offerings, expanding to new markets, and building strategic partnerships.
About the Seed Program Startups
Arab Therapy: A web platform and mobile app offering digital mental health services and consultations in the Arabic language by highly qualified Arab therapists.
Bloom Cart: A try-before-you-buy software that automates returns for e-commerce websites in the MENA region, while integrating with local logistics companies, couriers, and payment gateways
Ipass: An onboarding solution provider that aggregates world-class anti-fraud tools on one platform, allowing businesses to eliminate the risk of fraud while guaranteeing a high-quality client experience
Khareta: A data-driven real estate marketplace that helps both buyers and sellers complete transactions faster and with greater confidence
QuiqClaim: A fintech startup offering peer-to-peer financing for the medical insurance industry, bridging the liquidity gap for healthcare providers
Shop4me: An online B2B marketplace that simplifies the complex procurement process by helping businesses find, order, and receive supplies from prequalified suppliers
Sukoon: A mobile mindfulness app that offers users tools and techniques for mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing, in the form of Arabic audio recordings designed to enable personal transformation and growth
Flat6labs, the region’s leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm, in collaboration with SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy launched an agritech accelerator program to assist 10 to 12 startups in each cycle to improve their business models, product development, customer relationships, marketing plans, and financial management. The collaboration marks the beginning of Flat6Labs’ mission to support emerging businesses in the agri-food, food security, and rural development sectors while highlighting the value of the agritech industry in Egypt.
The agri-tech program will give startups access to capital, to grow faster and efficiently, encouraging the development of technologies that make the agriculture industry sustainable, safe, and environmentally friendly. These technologies optimize service quality in the agriculture industry, by facilitating data collection and analysis to quantify performances, while limiting overprice of products/services.
‘’With digital transformation progressing rapidly across industries, and the agriculture industry being a core pillar of the Egyptian economy, the need to digitize the agriculture industry has increased dramatically. We are glad to launch this agritech accelerator program in collaboration with the SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy, as it will serve this need by supporting the startups that provide innovative technologies in the agriculture sector and will contribute to the sustainable growth of the Egyptian economy.” stated Hassan Mansi, Flat6Labs Head of Ecosystem Development Programs.
Empowering and promoting Egypt’s Agri-digital sector would result in advancements in automated machinery and robotics, increasing the efficiency of agricultural productions by precisely locating nutrient availability, checking for diseases, predicting them, and many other useful facilities.
Kim Reichel, Chairperson of the SANAD Technical Assistance Facility Committee said, ”We are very much looking forward to our cooperation with Flat6Labs as they have shown strong commitment to supporting innovative and technology-driven entrepreneurs across MENA. Together, we will create a positive impact by providing targeted support and enabling business owners to thrive. We believe that focusing on the agricultural sector, and specifically agri-tech, is vital in these challenging times and will contribute to increased food security across the region.”
Flat6Labs Egypt and SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy will continue to support bright, passionate, and tech-driven entrepreneurs in Egypt, by providing funding, technical assistance, and networking opportunities across the country and beyond. The venture capital firm will continue to be a cornerstone of the digital transformation of the Egyptian economy building successful job-creating startups that contribute to the economic development in Egypt.