Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 17 May 2022 –
After receiving and vetting over 650 applications from promising start-ups from over 65 countries — including 158 startups that were founded in the UAE — Flat6Labs, the MENA region’s leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm, this week commenced its 4-day Bootcamp for 20 of the most innovative entrants. Over the course of the week, these start-ups will receive extensive training by seasoned instructors and the Flat6Labs team, based on the ‘Lean Start-up’ approach, following which they will vie for just 10 spots in the third cycle of the Flat6Labs flagship seed program in Abu Dhabi.
With Flat6Labs having already successfully nurtured 18 start-ups, that have cumulatively received over AED18 million in funding, in the previous two cycles of Flat6Labs Ignite — a specialised AED120 million seed program run in partnership with DisruptAD, ADQ’s venture capital platform, to support up to 60 start-ups in Abu Dhabi over three years — this announcement marks a crucial stage in the third intake cycle.
With operations across the MENA region, Flat6Labs has found the start-up ecosystem in Abu Dhabi to be especially active. “25% of applicants to Cycle 3 of our Ignite program were UAE-founded organisations which is not surprising given how the UAE government actively creates policy and reforms to actively promote entrepreneurship. Flat6Labs in partnership with ADQ is here to support this thriving start-up ecosystem and the resounding success we have had over the first two cycles – which have seen companies like RemotePass and Dharma rapidly grow to become dominant players in their respective industries – is testament to the effectiveness of our program,” said Ryaan Sharif, General Manager at Flat6Labs UAE.
The mentorship offered to the start-ups over the course of the Bootcamp includes unparalleled insight on creation of the minimum viable product/service, customer discovery, marketing, go-to-market strategy development, and financial modelling. In conclusion of this training, each start-up will have the opportunity to present its pitch to a Selection Committee comprised of Flat6Labs Management, ADQ’s representatives, veteran venture capitalists and top executives from the region’s leading enterprises for a coveted spot in the third cohort of the Flat6Labs Ignite program.
The companies that are chosen by the Selection Committee will be eligible for seed funding of up to AED1.15 million, and follow-on funding of up to AED2 million. Furthermore, inclusion in the Flat6Labs Ignite program gives selected start-ups tailored support, world-class mentorship, and access to ADQ’s considerable network and resources.
“It’s an exciting week ahead as the 20 start-ups we have shortlisted to participate in the Bootcamp each have the potential to revolutionise critical industry sectors ranging from Health Tech and Agri Tech, to Energy and Logistics. We are confident that the organisations that successfully make the cut will help advance the UAE’s digital economy by becoming drivers of innovation and positive change,” said Jeremy Shorter, Program Director – Abu Dhabi at Flat6Labs.
Over the past few months, we conducted a survey to gain more insight about Saudi startups, including early-stage funding, specifically pre-seed funding, as well as the overall challenges facing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in KSA.
We gathered the responses of 100+ full-time startup founders in KSA, who shared their diverse experiences and perceptions throughout their entrepreneurial journey, and reached the following summary:
Challenges facing entrepreneurs:
Among the many challenges that founders face, is the difficulty of securing the capital required to establish a startup in KSA. About 50% of the respondents were unable to raise funds or finance their startups through independent parties. Instead, they relied on their own funds and support from family members.
In addition to the high operating expenses, 50%+ of the startups, in the case that they actually succeed in securing funding, manage to secure no more than SAR 375,000. This amount isn’t sufficient in financing the operations of any business for more than five months. Based on our estimations, such an amount would often be sufficient to cover business operations for only 3-5 months.
It is worth noting that 17.2% of the participants managed to secure more than SAR 3 million in funding, notwithstanding the limited resources and funding amounts available to most participants. This may indicate that funding opportunities are only focused on some specific sectors.
The scarcity of qualified talent for reasonable wages can also be placed at the forefront of the challenges facing startup founders in KSA, where 23.8% of respondents expressed that they are experiencing difficulty in recruiting talent with the funding cap available.
Furthermore, approximately 17% of the entrepreneurs participating in the survey have highlighted another challenge, mainly the statutory fees and requirements imposed by legislative bodies and authorities in order for them to be able to launch their businesses within a legal framework, which limits the opportunities for some startups. It is also worth noting that 40%+ of respondents cited legal, regulatory and PR services as an alternative to cash funding, in return for 3% of equity.
Funding Sources Available:
Due to the scarcity of funding sources for startups, self-funding is the most common source of pre-seed funding, which 30% of startup founders relied on. Angel investors rank first among independent sources of seed funding, at 15%, among other various independent sources that the founders often resort to at the beginning of their journey, such as business accelerators, venture capital funds, etc.
According to the founders participating in the survey, one third of startups were founded within the past year, representing a positive reflection of the economic landscape in KSA, following the repercussions of COVID-19.
50%+ of the participating founders have developed and launched products that are customer ready with more than one third of the startups having generated sales upon introducing their products to the market. Moreover, 17% of the businesses managed to generate sales exceeding 1 million Saudi riyals within the past year.
More than half of the respondents believe that their startups are worth SAR 10 million or more, and noted that they may be willing to give up only 5% of equity against SAR 500,000.
Looking to apply to our Riyadh Seed Program? Applications are open here.
Saudi Venture Capital (SVC), one of the most prominent venture investment ecosystem development companies in KSA, has signed a new investment agreement with Flat6Labs, the leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm in the MENA region, to introduce the “Startup Seed Fund”. The fund aims to support startups with growth potential and provide more than 20 Saudi startups annually with seed capital over the next three years, in addition to a number of other benefits.
BLOMINVEST, one of the leading investment management companies in the region, will manage the distribution and marketing of the “Startup Seed Fund” as it will be the exclusive partner for marketing the fund’s units in Saudi Arabia and raise up to SAR 150 million, within 12 months starting from the fund’s launch. The fund will adopt a highly diversified systematic investment plan that aims to reduce the risks faced by VCs along with the administrative and legal costs faced by startups at early stages. The fund is also designed to provide support and investment in Saudi startups, provide various ways to support innovation, and create space for pioneering Saudi youth to develop their technology startups and expand their scope in the region.
The fund’s size is SAR 150 million and is allocated for the investment of early-stage startups operating in the technology and innovation sectors within KSA. The investment provided to companies will range between SAR 937,500 to 1,500,000 per company, as well as follow-on funding that will enable companies to complete their expansion inside and outside KSA.
In addition to the cash investment, the fund offers the Flat6Labs Riyadh Seed Program, which is a 4-month seed program held twice a year for over a span of 3 year. The program will support entrepreneurs to develop their business skills and provide them with a supportive environment to build their products, test market fit, improve their business models, and pitch to external investors; the program’s first cycle is expected to be held in the beginning of the third quarter.
Dr. Nabeel Koshak, CEO of SVC, stated: Our investment in the ‘Startup Seed Fund’ with Flat6Labs is a part of SVC’s implementation strategy to launch the “Investment in Accelerator and Startup Studio Funds” product, this partnership is built to enhance the creation of high-growth startups and to support the investment in their seed and pre-seed stages. This product was developed to foster the growth of the venture capital ecosystem in Saudi Arabia at all stages, in an effort to fill a funding gap that resulted from the focus of venture capital funds and angel investors on investments beyond the seed stage.
The fund aims to support more than 180 entrepreneurs, create more than 6,000 jobs in the private sector of KSA, and enable Saudi companies to expand in the region through the Flat6Labs regional offices. It will contribute to completing the structural transformation process that KSA aspires to by increasing the digital economy’s share of GDP and enhancing the contribution of the non-oil private sector.
Ramez El Serafy, CEO of Flat6Labs, added: “We are pleased to provide investment opportunities to early stage startups based in KSA, which constitute the cornerstone of the private sector in KSA. We look forward to launching the Flat6Labs Riyadh Seed Program, a program dedicated exclusively to accelerating the economic transformation in KSA, being the location of our first regional expansion out of Egypt. We are proud to transfer Flat6Labs knowledge of initial investments and seed programs to our team in KSA led by Eyad Albayouk, our General Manager in KSA, and Lujain Nassif, our Program Director in KSA. We also look forward to strengthening the team in KSA with more young Saudi talents.”
Apply to Riyadh Seed Program by clicking here.
Riyadh, KSA: 15 February 2022 – Taibah Valley, owned by Taibah University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and one of the investment companies investing in innovation, modern technologies, building emerging companies, and venture investment, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Flat6Labs, a leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm.
Taibah Valley will collaborate with Flat6Labs on several projects to promote and invest in entrepreneurs in the information technology sector which will contribute to promoting the initiatives of the national system in the research, innovation, and information technology sectors. In addition, they will share expertise and knowledge in order to further empower technology entrepreneurs in the KSA.
Dr Jaber Al Mutairi, Chief Executive Officer of Taibah Valley, stated that the efforts of Taibah Valley in the upcoming period will be focused on building a comprehensive system to support and empower the human capital in modern technologies. In addition, they will develop an environment that supports innovation in order to contribute in promoting the development of emerging companies and create opportunities for entrepreneurs working on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies in the KSA, which is considered the largest regional technology hub in the MENA region.
Eyad Albayouk, General Manager of Flat6Labs KSA, added “we’re thrilled about our partnership with Taibah Valley, which we believe is a very valuable one as it will help us in contributing to the localization of technology in a way that serves the national economy in KSA.”
The partnership between Taibah Valley and Flat6Labs is an active step forwards actualizing both organizations’ directive of supporting innovative emerging technology companies in the KSA.
Cairo, Egypt. 19th December, 2021 –
Flat6Labs, in partnership with ESLSCA University, has launched a new innovation and entrepreneurship incubation program to empower undergrad students to develop viable and sustainable businesses upon graduation.
The partnership was signed in October this year, marking the commencement of the program for the current semester’s business students. The program is set to provide capacity building for the business undergrads and equipping them with primary knowledge and tools, enabling them to develop competitive products and companies.
Ramez El Serafy, CEO at Flat6Labs, added, “In addition to enhancing entrepreneurship education, this reinvented university acceleration program will be a significant resource not only to the ESLSCA institution, but also to the community at large in innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and regional technological and economic development.”
The incubation program spans over two phases in an 8-month period. In the first phase, 100 selected students grouped in 25 to 30 startup teams, will be given general entrepreneurship awareness and the basics of design thinking all the way to marketing and customer discovery, and offered multiple services and perks including expert-led training and coaching sessions, workshops, and mentorship by market experts.
This will be followed by dividing the startup teams into two main tracks. The TopX track will consist of 10 startups that will receive intensive entrepreneurial training in order to accelerate their growth within the subsequent 3 months, and the Frontier track, which will allow the remaining 15 to 20 startup teams to further develop their entrepreneurial learning sets and skills. The program will culminate with a showcase event, where startups will pitch their ideas and startups to a panel consisting of ESLSCA and Flat6Labs personnel.
ESLSCA took its first year of undergrad students in Egypt in 2019 and since then they have been offering accelerated, rigorous and innovative programs that allow students to move forward in a successful career. Commenting on the program, Dr. Mohamed El Essawy, BBA Program Director at ESLSCA University said, “We’re very excited to be launching this program with a partner that has such an extensive experience and track record in the entrepreneurial sector, both locally and regionally, such as Flat6Labs. At ESLSCA University, we take pride in readying our students for the modern business world in an unparalleled innovative manner, and with this program we believe we’re set to be the launchpad for the next generations of successful entrepreneurs.”
Cairo, 30 November 2021 – The DICE Program Demo Day launched in Cairo where 24 startups unveiled their remarkable products and services to investors, prospective clients and guests who were looking forward to providing additional support. This day is a culmination of all the effort and work done by the participating startups on their products and services in the past few months.
Funded by the British Council and in partnership with Flat6Labs and Hatch Ideas, the DICE program focuses on building and developing creative and innovative youth and entrepreneurs’ capabilities, encouraging them to establish innovative and social startups. The program also enables craftspeople and established startups, which provide innovative products and solutions in various sectors, such as visual arts, design, performing arts, handicrafts, movies, media, educational toys and architecture.
Hassan Mansi, the Executive Director of the DICE Program, shares “entrepreneurs of Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies (DICE) form a significant part in the structure of entrepreneurship in Egypt. They positively contribute to promoting the national economy and creating employment opportunities for the youth, especially female entrepreneurs outside Cairo. Currently, the entrepreneurs in the Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies use technology to develop and market their products and keep up with the times while maintaining their heritage at the same time. Flat6Labs is proud to be in a partnership with Hatch Ideas, our partner in the UK and the British Council, which always supports entrepreneurs in the Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies field and through other different programs. The British Council and Hatch Ideas have enriched the program with their ideas and suggestions and their distinguished speakers gave the Egyptian entrepreneurs valuable insights and feedback.
“The range, quality, and professionalism of the creative entrepreneurs on this program have been inspiring and demonstrate why we should be so excited about the massive growth and economic potential of Egypt’s Creative Economy. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Flat6Labs and British Council to deliver a program that strengthens and realizes the potential of this creative powerhouse”. Yemisi Mokuolu, Founder & CEO Hatch Ideas Worldwide
The Demo Day paved the way for a great opportunity to meet our guests who were invited from various creative industries as well as investors, notable entrepreneurs, companies, governmental entities and the media. It also created a space for sharing experiences, advice and networking opportunities through the diverse discussion sessions that addressed some of the most significant challenges that the creative and handicrafts industries face in Egypt.
“The British Council’s Inclusive and Creative Economies program has been proud to work with the unwavering support of our partners – who created the space for the co-design of policy and community-led initiatives. Together we have been able to connect 25 emerging companies from artists and entrepreneurs with policymakers, intermediaries, investors, and funders. We congratulate all and have every confidence in their success and their contribution to an inclusive and sustainable economy”, shares Elizabeth White, Director of the British Council in Egypt.
Out of 91 startups, 24 companies have qualified, and the day ended with an exciting competition for them to present their businesses to a jury where EGP 225,000 was distributed to the top 3 startups.
First Place: “Adaptive Appeal” won a monetary prize of EGP 100,000.
Second Place: “Banana Art” won a monetary prize of EGP 75,000.
Third Place: “Mavericks” won a monetary prize of EGP 50,000.
– Cairo, 2nd of December, 2021
Flat6Labs introduced nine of their most innovative startups publicly at the Fall 2021 Demo Day in Cairo, their first in-person demo day since the COVID-19 outbreak, that took place on November 24th at the Nile Ritz-Carlton hotel. The graduate startups from the 17th cycle of the Cairo Seed Program took the stage to present their new products and services to a range of potential stakeholders: customers, investors, corporates, and more, who will be willing to further support the scalability of the business.
“Flat6Labs Cairo seed program is highly tailored to offer our cohort the maximum value in order for them to grow and create impact. We offer training and coaching sessions, multiple networking opportunities, perks and services, and legal support,” says Albert Malaty, Managing Director of Flat6Labs’ Cairo Seed Program.
Flat6Labs seed investment in Cairo is a ticket up to EGP 1.5 million in cash funding in exchange for up to 10% equity. “Our current Fund size allows us to provide a more suitable investment to our startups at current times, helping them attract the right talent and survive longer. Flat6Labs Egypt now offers seed tickets up to EGP 1.5 million and follow-on funding tickets to select startups can reach 3 million Egyptian pounds,” says Marie Therese Fam, Managing Partner of Flat6Labs Egypt.
The Fall 2021 cycle of the Cairo Seed Program took off on August 24th, 2021, where the outstanding cohort of graduating startups has worked on further developing their solutions across multiple sectors including Health Tech, E-commerce, Food & Beverage, IOT devices, SaaS and Education Technology.
Edupay’s fintech aims to simplify transactions and interactions in education, by empowering education seekers and assisting them throughout their journey.
Edupay’s website: https://www.edupayegypt.com
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-Edupay
Elmawkaa’s B2B e-commerce web/mobile app helps contractors connect seamlessly with suppliers, get accurate quotations, and order their building materials from their vetted suppliers all in one platform.
Elmawkaa’s website: https://www.elmawkaa.com
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-Elmawkaa
KoKens is a KaaS (Kitchen As A Service) platform that transforms online food recipes into a menu available to everyone, enabling food bloggers & entrepreneurs to instantly launch their virtual food brands.
Kokens’ website: https://www.kokens.com
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-Kokens
PacknSave is a web/mobile e-commerce store that provides online bulk grocery buying for families with up to a 15% discount delivered directly to their doorsteps. Users can simply add items to their cart to get an instant price drop when increasing product quantities.
PacknSave website: http://www.packnsave.com
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-PacknSave
Qubx is an on-demand 3D radiological service provider that helps surgeons to easily plan out their surgeries, by providing on-demand 3D radiological services for diagnosis and surgical planning, miles beyond normal 2D radiological data.
Qubx website: https://www.qubxview.com
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-Qubx
Venu’s platform provides a modern tech solution to enhance users’ experience with restaurants, all while increasing the restaurant’s productivity, profitability, and customer engagement.
Zatona Eats is an all-in-one meal planning and ordering app which offers an end-to-end solution for personalized meal plans, cooked meals, scheduled delivery, nutrition therapy, and medical supervision.
Zatona Eat’s website: https://www.zatonaeats.com/en
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-ZatonaEats
Zr3i’s Web/Mobile app provides crop monitoring, management, and Farm-to-fork product traceability services to the Egyptian Market and the Arab world.
Zr3i’s website: http://www.zr3i.com
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-Zr3i
Waseya is an online will maker that allows users to write a legally binding will, calculate one’s Net Asset Worth, and compute the Islamic shares of each inheritor, all while complying with local laws and the Islamic jurisprudence.
Waseya’s website: http://www.waseya.me
Contact founder form: https://f6l.co/Contact-Waseya
The Flat6Labs team was honored by the presence of his excellency Dr. Amr Talaat, Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, and Ahmed El Alfi, Flat6Labs’ Founder, who commended the creative solutions that the startups provided to tackle some of Egypt and the region’s most pressing issues.
The next cycle in our Cairo Seed Program will commence in February – prospective startups can apply through this link.
On November 19th, 2021 (Cairo, Egypt), His Royal Highness, Prince Charles of Wales, was the guest of honor at StartEgypt’s Third Annual Forum 2021 at the GrEEK Campus in Cairo. The program is funded by the British Embassy in Cairo in partnership with the IFC and is powered by Flat6Labs. Ten startups were selected to present at the event after being part of StartEgypt’s incubation program in Cairo, Asyut and Alex during 2020 – 2021.
This visit was part of the two-day visit to Egypt that HRH Prince Charles of Wales had in his first tour abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Mr. Ahmed El Alfi, the Founder and Chairman of the GrEEK Campus and Flat6Labs, had the honor to welcome HRH Prince Charles of Wales in the presence of Dr. Yasmine Fouad, the Minister of Environment and Mr. Gareth Bailey, the British Ambassador in Cairo.
During the visit, HRH Prince Charles of Wales met with a group of entrepreneurs and founders of the StartEgypt startups from different industries such as Sustainable Development, IT and Digital Transformation and more. HRH commended the ideas and solutions presented by the entrepreneurs which were aligned with HRH Prince Charles of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative.
Leading KSA-based Asset Manager BLOMINVEST has announced a new partnership with Flat6Labs, one of the MENA region’s largest seed-stage VC firms, to launch funds targeting early-stage start-ups in the Saudi market. Flat6Labs runs some of the region’s most notable startup programs and invests in 100 tech startups a year. Its seed-stage VC funds and programs support startups during their initial operations, through a highly diversified and structured investment process that aims to reduce the challenges and costs typically faced by early-stage startups.
Abdullah Al-Rashoud, CEO of BLOMINVEST, added: “This partnership came in light of the recent structural reforms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which has positioned the country as major contender for establishing and operating regional startups, supported by the significant increase in venture capital funds and the increase in merger and acquisition activity targeting emerging companies in the Saudi market. We expect greater market depth to come as more international companies look to launch their regional businesses from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to serve the rest of the Middle East and North Africa region.”
Eyad Albayouk, General Manager of Flat6Labs KSA, also explained that “We are excited about our partnership with BlomInvest and look forward to being an active contributor to the KSA ecosystem. Flat6Labs sees KSA as one of the very few markets in MENA that combine key elements for startup success – namely: size, political stability, growth, and a relatively well-structured and digitized business environment. It comes as no surprise that KSA has recently experienced a 6-fold increase in VC funding since 2016, in light of these structural reforms.”
BLOMINVEST is one of the leading Investment Management companies in the region, providing investment services to KSA investors, including real estate funds, asset management, advisory, and corporate finance.
BLOMINVEST Saudi Arabia started operation on May 30, 2009 under commercial registration No. 7001564553 (1010254040) and with a paid up capital of SAR 245 million. On July 27th, 2008, BLOMINVEST was granted the Saudi Arabian Capital Market Authority’s license number: 08094 – 37 to offer the following securities services: dealing as principle, as agent and underwriting, managing investment funds and client portfolios, arranging, advising, providing custody in securities business.
During the past twelve years, BLOMINVEST launched distinctive investment products in the Saudi market with the aim of growing capital and achieving attractive returns for investors. These products included more than 22 funds in various fields.
Learn more about BlomInvest through the website: www.blominvest.sa
Organon and Flat6Labs launch the Femtech Accelerator Program to help female-founded digital health start-ups, across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), succeed by providing support to build products, test market fit, and improve business models.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 26 October 2021: A global healthcare company with the vision of creating a better and healthier every day for every woman around the world, Organon, in partnership with Flat6Labs, the MENA region’s leading seed and early-stage venture capital firm, launched the Femtech Accelerator Program to support female-led start-ups operating in the digital healthcare space in MENA. The partnership was signed in the Expo 2020, USA Pavilion, marking the launch of Organon in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. The partnership is the kickoff of the company’s vision to work closely with partners in the region to empower innovative women’s healthcare programs.
Commenting on the program, Susanne Fiedler, Chief Commercial Officer of Organon, said, “As a new regional healthcare entity with a commitment to advancing the health of women in this region, we are very excited to launch this program supporting female entrepreneurs. We know that investing in women has far-reaching benefits, reaping dividends for families, local and national communities, and economies. We will continue to listen to women’s needs to better understand the gaps and identify the right solutions for a better and healthier every day for her.”
Ramy Koussa, Associate Vice President at Organon MENAT, added: “COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation across industries, including healthcare. Due to restrictions on our movements and the strain on healthcare services globally, digital transformation has served as an important tool to enable both management of the coronavirus, as well as maintaining essential healthcare services. The future of healthcare is digital, and this accelerator program has been created to help facilitate that transformation in our region by delivering new and innovative digital tools to improve women’s healthcare. Organon is committed to building a company based on Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles and today’s announcement represents an important milestone in our commitment to working in partnership with key stakeholders across MENAT to advance women’s health”
Dina El-Shenoufy, Chief Investment Officer at Flat6labs, added, “Globally, both the current start-up landscape as well as the healthcare industry are male-dominated spaces. If we are to achieve greater gender equity, while supporting economic development across MENA, we need to do more to support female entrepreneurs and advance women’s healthcare. Our newly launched Femtech accelerator will meet this need and that of greater digital innovation in the healthcare space while demonstrating the importance of cross-industry collaboration to further the goals of female economic empowerment.”
Those start-ups selected to participate in the accelerator program will be female-founded and demonstrate that they can address unmet women’s needs in line with Organon’s mission to advance women’s health. Ten of the best start-ups will be invited to join the two-month intensive accelerator program following a selection process and receive support in turning their idea into a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and securing venture funding.
Flat6labs will provide business and technical training and access to their local and regional partner networks. Participating start-ups will be connected to businesses, local and international experts, and access big data and new opportunities. Organon, meanwhile, will mentor participants, connect them with global industry experts, and provide access to their entire business network, including internal teams and external partners.