Flat6Labs hosted its First Regional Demo Day during ArabNet Riyadh on December 10, 2019, which took place at the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center. The Regional Demo Day is a first of its kind for Flat6Labs on a regional level, following more than 30 successful local Demo Days across Flat6Labs locations in Egypt, KSA, UAE, Lebanon, Tunis and Bahrain.
The Regional Demo Day showcased 18 investor-ready, high-growth, scalable startups from Cairo, Beirut, Tunis and Bahrain , who presented their products and services to a select audience of potential investors and the media from Saudi Arabia, the MENA region, and the international entrepreneurial community.
The selected Flat6Labs startups were handpicked from a pool of 240+ startups from the past 30+ cycles, providing them with the opportunity to scale and expand into the MENA region and beyond.
The startup founders and teams were tackling solutions across an array of industries including Clean Technology, E-commerce, Ed Tech, Health Tech, IoT, SaaS, Logistics, Recruitment, Sports Tech, among others.
Flat6Labs startups go through several stages before they are selected to become a fully developed startup, powered by Flat6Labs funding, network and expertise. They also have the privilege of using the Flat6Labs office space as their own, where they are connected to mentors, consultants, investors, business workshops, training sessions and perks, amongst many others.
The First Regional Demo Day solidifies Flat6Labs’ aim to accelerate the growth rate of entrepreneurship in MENA, and to provide a steady pipeline to the region’s rapidly-growing venture capital ecosystem.
Flat6Labs’ mission is not only to serve startups as an early stage investment vehicle, but much more than that: we are our startups’ institutional partner. As Flat6Labs’ footprint and impact grows across MENA and even beyond, we make sure that this leading stance within the region directly helps our startups and partners to achieve their goals in reaching their customers and scaling across their required markets” said Ramez El-Serafy CEO at Flat6labs.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing with our first Regional Demo Day. We’re bringing together 18 brilliant Flat6Labs startups from across our offices in MENA to enable them to take their next step towards follow-on funding and scalability” added El-Serafy. Omar Christidis, CEO of ArabNet said, “We’re thrilled to be hosting the first ever Flat6labs Regional Demo Day at Arabnet Riyadh this year. The conference is the ideal platform for these promising startups to access the region’s largest digital market — Saudi Arabia — by connecting with over 6,000 attendees and 150+ investors, and forging relationships with potential partners and clients.”
Here are the 18 graduating startups that showcased their products and services during the First Regional Demo Day:
- Akalati: Food ordering app for parties and gatherings.
- Bexel: Cloud-based Inspection Software for Oil & Gas and Construction companies.
- Boostiny: A performance based advertising platform linking brands with nano-influencers
- Chefaa: On-demand application to scan and deliver prescriptions to patients, locate the nearest pharmacy, and order from pharmacies online.
- Clean2O: Clean2O designs products that make water safe for cooking and drinking anytime, anywhere.
- GoMyCode: High-end computer Science Education with a unique learning experience that leaves lasting impressions and positively impact our students’ lives.
- Illa: lla is a digitally operated multi-sized platform that provides transportation and distribution services.
- Majara: A career platform that focuses on matching young professionals with employers on the basis of culture fit.
- Mint Basil Market: An e-commerce platform for healthy natural products.
- Schedex: Smart, automated, and flexible employee scheduling SaaS for shift-based companies and hourly workers.
- Springring: Springring is a School Communication Management Platform linking admins, parents, teachers, and students together.
- Tamarran: Tamarran helps you find and book sport venues, fitness classes and recreational activities in town.
- Tap4Glam: Tap4glam.com is an innovative solution for booking beauty and wellness services at home, for companies or during events.
- Telp: Telp is an online platform which helps students find and book lessons with private tutors instantly.
- Untap: Untap is a submission management tool used to efficiently launch and manage online competitions and calls for applications.
- VRapeutic: VRapeutic develops virtual reality software for learning disabilities and developmental disorders.
- Wattnow: Wattnow’s mission is to support companies and building operators visualize their consumption in real time and helping them reduce their electricity bills by up to 30%.
- Zima: A cost-saving SaaS that enables Internet Service Providers to manage their user bandwidth, billing and subscription– with no need for hardware.
Flat6Labs has an open application process, allowing founders to apply at any time to receive feedback and enhance their selection opportunities for upcoming cycles around the region. Founders can learn more and apply at www.Flat6Labs.com
Flat6Labs Bahrain’s portfolio of startup companies has officially raised USD$1m in total follow-on funding through the support of the accelerator’s network and ties with local and regional investors and VCs. Over the course of its operations in Bahrain since March 2018, Flat6Labs Bahrain, in strategic partnership with the Labour Fund “Tamkeen”, has invested in a total number of 21 startups, half of which have now gone on to receive follow-on investments from other VCs, Angel Investors, and High-net worth individuals.
Ryaan Sharif, Managing Director of Flat6Labs said: ‘We are proud to announce that our portfolio companies have raised a collective amount of $1m in follow-on funding over the course of a year and a half. This milestone highlights our hands-on approach with supporting our startups throughout the programme and post-graduation, especially in utilising our expansive network to connect them to other investors and generate new opportunities for them to scale their businesses into neighboring countries.’
The Chief Executive of Tamkeen Dr Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi stressed the importance of the support extended by this program and its worth in effectively and directly addressing the needs of start-ups in Bahrain”.
“This success attests to the unique attributes that distinguish Bahrain’s economic environment and make it such a business-friendly and lucrative place for growth,” he continued.
Flat6Labs Bahrain has begun the Bootcamp for its 4th Cycle, taking place at their offices in central Manama where 17 startups have been selected to participate. A record number of over 380 applications were submitted for the 4th Cycle. The team has scouted some of the most promising international and local businesses to continue to this next round of the selection process from various industries such as Health-Tech, Fintech, E-Commerce, Ed-Tech, F&B, Automotive services, Children’s Entertainment. A world class Startup coach has been flown in from Silicon Valley to provide mentorship for the Startups as they proceed to the selection committee.
The Flat6Labs Bootcamp is a compressed version of the accelerator programme, designed to teach the participating startups about lean startup principles and how to utilise them in their growth and business development. The Bootcamp is the final phase of the selection process, following which 6–8 startups will be selected to receive a $32K investment each, in addition to several other perks such as co-working space, access to Flat6Labs’ expansive network, $15K in AWS credits, mentoring, coaching, legal and financial counsel, company registration and more.
In strategic partnership with Tamkeen, Flat6Labs Bahrain aims to foster a dynamic and sustainable entrepreneurship environment and investment vehicle, support job creation, and help position Bahrain as an innovation leader in the Gulf and MENA region at large.
Flat6Labs Bahrain has utilized its expansive regional network to attract innovative startups from Bahrain, the region and beyond, which aims to boost the local economy, and venture capital industry with a steady pipeline of high-impact and scalable businesses in multiple industries.
Funds to aid augment its infrastructure expand its team and regional footprint to MENA countries
Tunisian-based peer-to-peer fashion marketplace Dabchy, today announced that it has closed a seed round of US$300,000. The funding was led by 500 Startups with participation from Flat6labs Tunis, Saudi Venture Capital, Vision Venture Capital, Daal Venture Capital and a group of leading angel investors. Dabchy is an online platform that facilitates its users to sell both pre-used and new clothes online at low cost.
Dabchy, a Tunis-based peer-to-peer (P2P) fashion marketplace has raised $300,000 in a seed round led by 500 Startups and joined by Flat6Labs, Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), Khobar-based Vision Ventures and Daal, and a group of angel investors.
Dabchy, was launched in January 2016 in Tunisia, by Amani Mansouri, Ghazi Ketata and Oussama Mahjoub. Today, the platform has built a large community of more than 400,000 users. Over the past six months, the catalog of items listed on the website has doubled to 420,000. This makes Dabchy the largest online stores in Tunisia, with more than 2,000 items being listed per day and is expanding its operations to the Mena region.
“With this investment, Dabchy will accelerate its investment in product development, expand its team and regional footprint, and scale our platform to continue to make it easier for our users to buy and sell, “ said Amani Mansouri, CEO of Dabchy, who has been lately featured by Forbes Middle East’s 30 under 30 list in 2019. “ At Dabchy, we operate as a trusted third between buyers and sellers and have facilitated more than 100,000 transactions to-date. Our ambition is to become the number one fashion marketplace in the region and to empower a new generation of women to become microentrepreneurs by creating their own businesses online and to take a lead role in sustainability. “
Commenting on the announcement, Hasan Haider, Partner, 500 Startups said: “We’re pleased to back the team behind Dabchy and make this our first investment into the Tunisian market. What the team have managed to achieve so far has been amazing, and we look forward to Dabchy continuing to lead the way for used fashion online in North Africa. There is a significant market need and demand for the product, and that has already been demonstrated by their traction so far.”
Dabchy has already begun celebrating its achievements as a leading product. In 2019, Dabchy was the first Tunisian and African startup to join the European Fashion Tech Incubator,Look forward by Showroomprivé in Paris. The company also participated in the second cohort of Womentum, a women in tech accelerator by Womena in partnership with Standard Chartered.
In 2018, Dabchy.com was listed among the first 100 top African and Arab promising startups by IFC- International Finance Corporation and the World Economic Forum. In 2017, Dabchy joined the first acceleration cycle of Flat6labs, Tunis. Following the program, the company also launched Dabchy Kids that year.
For the three venture capitalist firms, 500 Startups, Vision VC and Daal VC, Dabchy is their first investment in a Tunisian startup.
Kais Al-Essa, Founding Partner and CEO of Vision Venture said : “ We’ve been eyeing the North African market beyond Egypt specifically Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. This market is starting to boom and the community is your and tech savvy. Dabchy’s business model proved to be needed in the market with a limited investment, we expect it will dominate soon with further investment especially in the leadership of the talented Amani Mansouri”,
On the 4th of September, we bore witness to the official press conference of the acquisition of the matchmaking app Harmonica by the tech giant, Match Group; as well as, Flat6Labs full exit from the marriage app. Harmonica’s CEO, Sameh Saleh; Match Group’s CEO of EMEA & APAC, Alexandre Lubot; Flat6Labs’ Co-founder, Ahmed El Alfi; and Hona Al Shabab Presenter, Lamees El Hadidy, along with a number of other renowned investors, journalists, and supporters of the application were there to celebrate the occasion and talk about the future plans of Harmonica.
During the press conference, Sameh Saleh, CEO & Cofounder of Harmonica, highlighted that their belief “that every culture is unique on its own, is why we created the Harmonica App.” He also added that he is delighted to be part of the Match Group, which will eventually enable Harmonica’s team to further develop the application and expand beyond the bounds of Egypt, and even the MENA region. On another note, the matchmaking guru, said,
“I want to thank Flat6Labs because they believed in us and supported us since the very beginning.” — Sameh Saleh, CEO & Co-founder of Harmonica
Shortly afterwards, Alexandre Lubot, Match Group’s CEO of EMEA & APAC, said that “there is nothing more important to us than helping people find love,” and that through the acquisition of the conservative marriage app they are planning on expanding their reach to more MENA and South-East Asian countries.
The plans of expansion and this acquisition deal pay testament to the capabilities of the young Egyptian entrepreneurs, whom Lamees El Hadidy, Presenter of Hona Al Shabab thoroughly supports through her TV program.
“We should always talk about the future. We should always talk about our startups and the young founders we have,” Hadidy said.
Being one of the early supporters of Harmonica, especially after they ranked 2nd in Hona Al Shabab competition, Hadidy had few words to say about the progress they have made in only 18 months after the Flat6Labs Cairo acceleration period. She also highlighted the role that accelerators play in supporting this ecosystem, and stressed that
“Ahmed El Alfi, Flat6Labs’ Co-founder, role is very important in this ecosystem, and I commend him on continuing to provide space and support for entrepreneurs to innovate and scale.”
By the end of the press conference, El Alfi had a closing word to celebrate this milestone, and to congratulate the Flat6Labs, Harmonica, and Match Groups’ teams on coming this far. El Alfi’s belief in Egyptian startups is what got him and other Co-founders to kick off Sawari Ventures, then Flat6Labs Cairo. This belief is also restated in
“Ideas are open source, execution is proprietary,”
where he emphasised that Harmonica’s efforts, diligence and hard-work is what got them to the point where a $20bn company acquired them.
After El Alfi’s last words, the day concluded with a party that hosted all those who have taken part in this success and key players in the local and international startup ecosystem.
The Story Behind Amounting Millions of Investments From Laundry
Leaders are catalysts of change, they innovate after years of wear and tear to civilisations-old manuals. After graduating from Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi’s Spring 2015 cycle, the laundry startup, Washmen, was already on a path to becoming one of the leading laundry shops in the UAE. We sat with its CEO & Co-founder, Rami Shaar, to talk about how they are revolutionising the laundry industry, the backstory to their success, their plans for the future in regards to their services, and how they plan on allocating the most recent investments towards scaling and development.
Why did you decide to localise your service in a plant of your own instead of outsourcing to local laundry shops?
There isn’t a lot of good quality, or big players in the market who’d give us a price that makes sense for the business and the quality. Hence, we thought that it’d be a good idea for us to build our own facility, which would eventually give us a 5x scaling opportunity. It helped us — significantly — improve the quality. Also, we had gotten into a stage in the business where running a very large facility is equal to the cost of outsourcing. It just didn’t make sense to outsource anymore. Especially given that if we start scaling further past it, it will give us more gross profits; since we will have the ability to acquire new customers with more items for laundry. So the reasons are mainly financial and operational.
Do you think owning a plant brings with it more operational complexities?
There is a certain limit to how much we can force our suppliers to use our tech, and to integrate them deep into their operations because they are not willing to accept certain ways on how to do business.
We can say that the way we do things is more operationally efficient, and we collectively have decided that the best way to move forward and to manage our supply chain was by owning the facility. In addition, owning our own facility allows us to build tech that was very deep into the supply chain, and to be consistent with out quality.
Hence, with our dependence on our own factory, our services can be more customisable, especially given that we can build more tech within the operations to be able to follow up on specific instructions of our customers.
We are also working on developing a camera monitoring technology that will allow us to monitor, pinpoint and know where to put accountability when it comes to damages and lost goods. It goes towards monitoring employees and processes to see how efficiency can be improved.
What differentiates your services from similar ones in the market?
If something gets damaged or lost, in this industry, consumer rights dictate that companies are to pay 10 times the price of the service. For us, we are more confident that we won’t damage or lose any goods, so we offer 20 times the price of the service. Sometimes we even go above and beyond if we know that there is negligence on our part. That’s really the overall quality, the overall operations, and how it translates to lower risk towards the customer.
Moreover, in our app, we have a call centre and a live chat function; and we also have founders who are very involved with our customers. Having a direct channel of communication with our customers allows us to also improve our services through feedback, and to understand what is it exactly that our customers want in order for us to have a better product-market fit.
Logistically speaking, using the app is much easier than calling somebody. This can be attributed to having a pickup and drop off service, so the customer doesn’t really need to drive anywhere. We also have online payments, and not a lot of players in the market offer that, and we have a much higher quality that is non existent in the market at the moment.
Something that really stands out now at washmen, is that we have introduced commercial hand washing, and commercial hand drying. Basically, it is a process that mimics hand-wash, and hand dry, but we do it industrially in the facility. This is mainly done through very special machines. Also, we have plans for a shoe cleaning service because a lot of our customers have been asking for it, so that’s next in line.
Do you think that your service can be integrated into AIs like Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, etc…?
That’s actually coming out in the next two weeks. We’re working on being able to have a conversation with Siri to order your laundry. It is actually part of the iOS 13 launch; and we’ve partnered with Apple to become a part of their Siri Conversations. Later, we will be moving to Google Assistant and Alexa and all that. The idea here is not just to be cool, but the idea here is how we can make the process even more efficient to our customer through the use of AI. There are also a couple of interesting things out there like IBM Watson, and we could integrate it alongside our service agents, where IBM Watson learns from how our service agents work and he can take part in managing our customer complaints, feedback, and give them support, all using AI.
What is the biggest challenge that comes with over $6m worth of investments?
We were pretty confident after we have done our R&D that we will be capable of putting any amount of investment into good use. However, I think the biggest challenge is always growth and scaling demand. It is great to have a “kickass” facility, but at the same time you are building for scalability, so if you don’t achieve that growth and scalability then the story ends. It is very important to be operationally excellent and have scalability in hand. The major challenge going forward, is continuing to scale the demand side of the business, not just the operational. Regardless, we’re very data driven, and we have a lot of tech tools that aid our quest in scaling and growing.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Besides the +$6m of investments and getting amazing partners like Henkel, I think that would be building the strongest know-how of laundry in the whole world, whether it is offline or online.
Laundry has always existed since the beginning of civilisation, we were always washing clothes and after all those decades, we as a company have done things better than all civilisations have ever done. We’ve innovated in four years, much more than any other civilisation has done.
If you look at the dry cleaning and laundry services in the last few years, they haven’t changed. They use the same machines, the same chemicals, and the same processes. We’re a global leader in our know-how of how to do laundry. Research and interviews have been conducted in everything related to laundry, and they concluded that what we’ve developed here is miles away from a lot of players out there.
So yes, we are a company based out of Dubai, but we are a global company in the know-how that we have.
How do you think this industry in the MENA will change in the upcoming years?
It is similar to how the food online delivery business were back in the day, it wasn’t that easy to order food from your phone. You needed to call someone, pay cash, etc.. People were cooking at home and bringing their lunches to work, but now as we become more consumed with work, having access to such apps saves us time and effort that we’d rather spend on work. That kind of convenience can be replicated in laundry, where in the future people might actually stop using and depending on home appliances or even buying them to wash their stuff, and instead outsource them to a company like us.
Do you have any plans of expansion inside the MENA or Dubai?
Currently, no. We’re actually looking for bigger markets outside Dubai and MENA, since most of our investors, are invested in laundry operations located inside: London, New York, and South Korea. These places have huge competition and opportunities for high growth, but none of them have the technologically efficient and standardised quality that we have.
SINC, a Bahrain based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) mobile platform that simplifies the management of a mobile workforce by operating timesheets, location tracking, staff scheduling, and job tracking, has raised US$250,000 in a pre-seed funding round led by Dubai Angel Investors and other prominent regional angel investors. The funds will be used in the short-term to expand SINC’s development team and build out the job tracking functionalities that small businesses in North America desperately need.
One of the main problems facing blue-collar small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is that with labor costs growing exponentially compared to revenue, the accurate analysis of such data can be difficult and traditional timesheets may result in employers overpaying staff. Furthermore, payroll administration tasks can consume up to 20% of the business owner’s time and staff scheduling systems can be complex to manage.
Overcoming such issues, the SINC mobile app or web platform improves the reporting on staff tardiness and no-shows, as well as improving productivity and accountability with job costing analysis capabilities being placed at employer’s fingertips. Additionally, the application reduces payroll administration time by 98% and reduces payroll costs by 10–15%.
SINC is built with mobility and convenience in mind as the mobile app allows human resources management and staff to undertake their in-office functions on-the-go.
Sam Dolbel, Co-Founder and CEO of SINC commented, “Basically, we are trying to win the domain of blue-collar SME job tracking and costing, so nailing this feature is the next big priority for us and what we have been working towards since we started building SINC two years ago. We are now on the cusp of implementing the solution, so it is a very exciting time for us.”
Dolbel continued, “There are currently over 4,000 businesses using the SINC platform and while 90% of these users are based in the U.S. and Canada, the company has decided to build out its engineering team in Bahrain where skilled engineering talent abounds, and operating costs are relatively low.”
Sam Matthews, Co-Founder and CTO said, “We believe we have a unique strength in that we are scrappy and cost-effective. By strategically positioning ourselves in the MENA region to take advantage of the labor market and available subsidies through organizations such as Bahrain entity Tamkeen, we are confident we can compete with some of the large US-based competitors and win our vertical of blue-collar small businesses.”
SINC has ambitious targets, looking to initially expand its presence and customer base across North America, targeting a sizeable portion of the estimated 1.5 million small blue-collar businesses in that geography. The company then seeks to develop tailor-made solutions for the ever-growing and unique labor environment in the MENA region.
Dolbel concluded by recognizing the proactive efforts of the Bahrain Economic Development Board in providing an attractive and conducive environment for setting up in the Kingdom as well as acknowledging Flat6Labs Bahrain support and mentoring in many aspects of SINC’s growth strategy.
SINC is available on both Google Play and iOS App Store. More information can be found at https://sinc.business/