Twelve Saudi startups were chosen as finalists to pitch in the first 9/10ths Startup Accelerator showcase at the Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski in Riyadh. The startups presented a range of new business concepts, including online marketplaces, mobile apps, high-growth service businesses and consumer products. Notably, half of the final teams chosen were led by Saudi female entrepreneurs out of an original cohort of 24 startups.The Takamol-funded startup accelerator, which is managed by the KAUST Innovation and Economic Development (I&ED) Entrepreneurship Center, is a full-time program that develops early stage Saudi startup teams into high-potential companies. The accelerator drew an audience of over 300 attendees, 50 of which were regional investors.
"We are proud of the accomplishments that the startups achieved in international and local conferences and competitions," said Amjad Idris, vice president of 9/10ths Startup Accelerator. "The teams managed to be highly recognized in their participation and harvest international awards."
A panel of judges, including representatives from Wamda Capital Partners, Bab Rizq Jameel, Doroob, Riyadh Taqnia Ventures and the Qqal Angel network, Riyadh chapter, selected the following four teams to receive grant funding:
1st Place: Fixtag is a female mobile devices repair store that ensures privacy of data and targets female clients.
2nd Place: Innoras is a personal care innovative products company started with a personal bidet called TeshTesh.
3rd Place: Dhad is an Arabic electronic publishing house producing audible Arabic books recorded at their studios.
People's Choice: Magadeer is a business that delivers a box of ingredients to your door along with a recipe so you enjoy preparing your meal.
"9/10ths has become a true Kingdom-wide collaboration to drive economic development through the creation of new high-potential startups," said Gordon McConnell, head of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center and professor of practice in entrepreneurship. "The overwhelmingly positive response from Saudi entrepreneurs as well as the backing from a variety of ecosystem partners has demonstrated to Takamol and KAUST that now is indeed the right time for a cutting-edge startup accelerator like 9/10ths."
Each year, the 9/10ths program runs two startup accelerator cohorts of up to 30 startups each. In each case, the startups receive seed grant funding and spend an intensive month at KAUST during the pre-accelerator phase, which was followed by five months at a major city in the Kingdom. In addition, the startups are provided support from highly experienced members of the KAUST International Mentor Group as well as innovation training to help launch and scale the new ventures.
"It is amazing to witness firsthand how far the teams have progressed. They are well-prepared and ready to create real impact for the economy," said Hattan Ahmed, entrepreneurship collaboration manager at the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center. "The development of the Takamol relationship with KAUST that led to 9/10ths is a perfect example of how organizations within the Kingdom are working together to deliver real results."The 9/10ths Startup Accelerator is a major expansion of both the Takamol-KAUST collaborative relationship as well as I&ED’s in-Kingdom activities to support economic development and startup creation. The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center continues to work with organizations, companies and universities across Saudi Arabia to support national objectives while delivering strong support for the emerging startup sector.
The Saudi startups that pitched at the showcase included Cura, a tele-medicine platform; Saydl, a pharmaceutical products delivery platform; Munjiz, a print services platform and aggregator; Quick Drop, an on-demand, high-quality, door-to-door laundry service; Serviis, a platform that connects clients with service providers; Ironix, a comic book publishing house; OMcare, a business aimed at simplifying the prenatal care process; and Ajeer, a platform that connects users with trusted technical service providers.
Applications are already being accepted for the second 9/10ths Startup Accelerator group. The application deadline is August 31, 2017. Startups that are chosen for the second group will enter a pre-accelerator program at KAUST during the month of October before moving to a co-working space in Jeddah for five months. Further details and an online application can be found at https://910ths.sa.