Bloom in the UAE

Bloom launched an Accelerator Masterclass Series to provide short-term intensive support and training to local and MENA regional accelerators. This program aims to mobilize world-class talent to share knowledge and expertise with accelerators in Lebanon and the region. 

Bloom invited their accelerator partners to Dubai for an exploratory trip to meet potential stakeholders, visit other accelerators and relevant groups, and partake in Expo 2020 and Step Conference activities to kickstart the Accelerator Masterclass Series. 

This effort is part of The Lebanon Growth Accelerators program, supported by the European Regional Development and Protection Program. It aims to create employment by running direct enterprise accelerator programs, running joint accelerators in partnership with other accelerator organizations, and increasing ecosystem collaboration. 

Here’s what they shared about this initiative:

Thank you, Bloom Team, for offering me this opportunity as part of the partnership with Nucleus Ventures. We had a very fruitful trip to Dubai, joining the Step Conference, meeting with key players, and expanding our network to the UAE market. Step Conference was the first conference I attended, and it met my expectations! It is also a great time with no screen in between! I was happy to meet you!

  • Israa Asaad, Nucleus Ventures

The visit to UAE with Bloom LGA helped change my perspective on innovation, the potentials of several industries, and opportunities for acceleration-level entrepreneurs. The connections inspired me to look beyond the support we provide in Lebanon and prospects for connecting our entrepreneurs internationally. The trip also fostered a “one-team” spirit with LGA acceleration partners, paving the way for future collaboration, knowledge exchange, and the blooming of ideas.

  • Johanna von Toggenburg, cewas

Table of contents


Astrolabs

We had a beautiful gathering for lunch with Astrolabs experts Nidhin Abraham (Startup Success Associate) and Steven Thama (KSA Expansion Consultant). It was an excellent opportunity to get to know each other and share fantastic Persian food. The Astrolabs team then walked us through their services for soft-landing options for our teams and discussed the different registration solutions available. After a short coworking session, we then had a tour of the facilities.


Atolye 

The inspiring team at Atolye walked us through the different components of their community, mainly:

  1. The Studio: an agency working on design projects that later branched out into
  2. The Academy: as many clients were inquiring about learning design, and
  3. The Community: a creative hub for aspiring designers, artists, and the likes.

It started through their school connections at Stanford, and then their founder later connected to the Kyu collective and launched a purpose-driven design collective in Istanbul, Turkey. By embedding through larger communities like Kyu, they gained access to partner members. They designed rituals for the community and partnered up on projects that led to a thriving community. 

Later, the DFF/Area 2071 invited them to create a space to attract more creative talent to Dubai. They launched events, activations, rituals, and projects to animate the space and engage the community. They explained that to measure engagement, you look at the interaction quotient: how often the community participates and engages with each other. To help the community, they offer awards and incentives for more engagement and encourage community contributions. 


Dubai Chamber of Commerce

In this meeting, we met with Natalia Sycheva, Senior Manager – Special Projects and Entrepreneurship; Faisal Alshehhi, Project Manager – Entrepreneurship; and Fatma AlMadani, Senior Executive – Special Projects.

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce has had a portfolio of 10-12 startups for yearly programs since 2017. The number varies depending on the needs of cohorts and the constant iteration of programs. We learned that 42% of MENA scaleups are located in Dubai.


Edukaan

During our lunch break, we invited Catherina Ballout, founder of Edukaan and previously COO of MITEF, to join us and share her insights on launching a startup in the UAE, handling registration, logistics, and more. 


Elevate Greece 

We were invited to a presentation of the ‘Elevate Greece’ project, one of the benchmarks in Young Entrepreneurship in Europe. The Deputy Minister of Development, Mr. Christos Dimas, highlighted the objectives, innovative thinking, and aims. We also watched a few greek creative entrepreneurs present their solutions.

Lunch followed at the restaurant of the Lebanese Pavilion, where we got a chance to meet with the antwork team that is powering the innovation space of the pavilion. 


French Tech: The Future of Food & Agritech Forum

The future of food & agritech forum on the French pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020 was a massive success with a full house, the presence of the Emirati government, and innovative French startups that are a real source of inspiration on the food of the future and offer ecological & sustainable solutions to meet the challenges of the growing global consumption.


Jordan Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship

This event was an opportunity for our group to explore the roles of public, private, and academic sectors in positioning Jordan as a digital and innovation by identifying, analyzing, discussing, and exchanging knowledge and experience related to technology and entrepreneurship.


Motivate Academy and Partners

Mark Dickinson, head of Motivate Academy, invited our group to meet his partners in the Motivate Media Group.

We were joined by Tariq Shalabi, Partnership Director at Vamp, a platform for influencer content with a reach of over 150 million through a network of influencers. They work closely with Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok to understand influencers and engagement. We learned about the different types of influencers and how startups can engage with them. 

A presentation followed by Shelin Hakki and Bassel Soufan, business setup advisors at Creative Zone, one of UAE’s largest and most trusted business setup advisory firms. Creative Zone’s registration professionals have helped over 45,000 aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs grow their businesses in the UAE since its inception in 2010. We talked about incorporation, tax management, residency, and other details related to local registration. We also discussed the differences between the free zones and various registration bodies available. 

Gulf Business Editors Neesha Salian and Divsha Dhiraj Bhat then joined us to share some of the exciting initiatives they’re working on to promote startup companies. In addition, they’re working on expanding partnerships to help make the UAE a hub for global talent and innovation. 

Lastly, Mark Dickinson shared his tale of three cities through the three Ps: Patience, Perseverance, and Passion. These guiding principles have led him to pursue three different entrepreneurial ventures in three cities. We learned about the power of cold calling, discipline, and consistent follow-ups.


Rainmaking + Startupbootcamp 

We met with Karan Deep, Venture Builder, and Jude Hamod, Principal at Rainmaking, to discuss the venture studio model: an incubator space for ideation stage ventures. Essentially a shared pool of resources is made available to start a business idea. Pooling entrepreneurs to explore the right opportunity allows them to derisk ventures by diversifying and then spinning off the most exciting one. 

They build ventures with corporates under these principles: 

  1. Corporates must be a culture fit; they must be humble enough to engage with startups and external people 
  2. Corporates must want to diversify their assets and put their trust in the people who know how to build companies 
  3. Corporates must have assets they can leverage to hack the growth of the company; fleet of vehicles, warehouses, IP, customer base, user list/contact info, etc. 

Everyone in venture studios has been through entrepreneurship failures several times. Nevertheless, they generate hundreds of ideas, scope out eight of them, and build around half. 

They also run Startupbootcamp, a standard accelerator program of 6 months. They prefer to run industry-specific programs with different partners. They mainly focus on fintech and intelligent cities in Dubai. They’ve run over 100 in-person programs through Startupbootcamp as they believe that peer-to-peer collaboration has a higher impact. 


Step Conference

Joining the Step Conference in its 10th edition was an eye-opening experience that entrepreneurship has not only survived the pandemic but is also now thriving, with more founders building globally relevant ideas.  

Step Conference 2022 was focused on four key verticals, tackling fintech with an emphasis on payments, crypto, and E-commerce; future innovations with a focus on AI, mobility, energy, and cloud; digital with media, marketing and content; and lastly, wellness, deep-diving into health tech and wellbeing.

One talk that particularly impacted us was The Ycombinator effect on MENA featuring panelists: Firas Jalbout (Baraka) – Sonia Gokhal (Venture Souq) – Omar Kassim (Nomod) – Rayan Dawud (Outliers).

YC is currently entirely virtual, providing great exposure beyond what you can expect in a traditional accelerator. The day-to-day life at YC includes doing things over and over again, like pitching repeatedly. They’re very focused on metrics and how it affects the businesses. The pandemic accelerated the shift to having an increasingly international reach. 

Bilal Ghalib, co-founder and head of research at Bloom, led a workshop on open-source entrepreneurship education with over 20 attendees diving deep into our assessments frameworks and methodologies and discovering the Bloom platform. 

David Munir Nabti, co-founder, CEO, and GM of Bloom, intervened in a panel on mental health for founders moderated by Ally Salama, founder, and CEO at EMPWR, alongside Nadin Karadag, COO & Co-Founder at Valeo Wellbeing, and Mariam Farag, founder, and managing director at Humanizing brands.

He was also joined by Tamara Ghandour, head of CSR and ESG at Stardust Concepts, to announce our latest partnership with the Fazal-Karim Family Foundation to launch the HerMeNow Accelerator supporting women-led social enterprises in MENA and Africa. 

We had a chat with ​​Veronica Murguia, Global Community Manager at the Unreasonable Group, a social impact accelerator with a global reach focused on ecosystem and venture development. They have a fellowship program for growth-stage founders that curates exclusive experiences for the community to grow and develop at this more mature stage. They believe in a human-centered approach focusing on empathy and wellbeing to support their founders and create a strong community. Through their interventions, they hope to build resilience and persistence in the founders. 


OIF / Pionnieres de la Francophonie

The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and their partners organized an event to promote the enterprises of their program “Les Pionnieres de l’Entrepreneuriat Francophone”. This project aims to support over 30 entrepreneurs based in Africa to grow their enterprises and access financing. We watched 5 of these enterprises pitch their solution, had the chance to engage with them and explored that blooming market further. 

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