Tag Archives: Day 1

Day 1 Wrap-Up

Written by


Keynote: Investing in Asia
Michael Lints, Venture Partner
Golden Gate Ventures

The second half kicked off with a keynote on Investing in Asia by Michael Lints.
Michael discussed the different reasons on why Asia is the new land of opportunity for entrepreneurs and also discussed how different ecosystems, currencies, languages, and mindsets all play a role in cross border challenges.

Panel: Asia’s Startup Ecosystem: Opportunities & Challenges
Speakers: Adrianna Tan, Kalina King, Darius Cheung, Mario Berta, and Elias Ghannam
Moderator: Michael Lints

The panel discussed the opportunities and challenges they have faced in Asia’s Startup ecosystem and shared some of their personal experiences and provided the audience with some tips.

Interesting stories:

  • Mario once hired gogo dancers to convert taxi drivers in the Phillipines
  • Adrianna shared that if you’re signing a business document with an Indonesian partner you have to take a selfie in front of the Indonesian embassy!
  • Elias shared a story about how someone requested cash on delivery rather than online payment because of some of the online obstacles that are being faced.

Takeaway points from panel:

  • Government funding is essential and great to develop an ecosystem, however the ecosystem shouldn’t sustain on it on the long term.
  • Adriana advised entrepreneurs that they need to prepare for all the ups and down. To learn their business well and be well informed. You need to stop thinking about startups as a glamorous thing.
  • Michael Lints ended panel with a quote by his friend “Being a startup is as romantic as chewing glass.”

Keynote: The Knowledge Economy
Jean Nehme, Co-Founder, Touch Surgery

Jean Nehme started off by informing the audience that most surgeons conduct their first surgery on someone.  Which really is why, along with his colleagues, they came up with the idea for Touch Surgery. Surgeons are about 25% technical ability and 75% content knowledge – he added that he would rather have a surgeon who knows what to cut rather than just how to cut.

He also showed how Touch Surgery is taking it to the next level with virtual reality.

Worth noting is that Touch Surgery is free since Jean believes that in the knowledge economy, knowledge is free. He told entrepreneurs that they need to create smarter business models and share content/knowledge for free.

Panel – The Other Knowledge Economy:

Speakers: Hind Hobeika, Hassan Slaibi, Antoine Saad, Jamil Corbani

Moderator: Mark Haidar

The speakers each started off by introducing themselves and explaining their inspirations behind their products.

  • Hind Hobeika used to be a swimmer when she considered Instabeat
  • Hassan said they funded on Kickstarter and ended up raising triple what they were asking for
  • Hind and Hassan both agreed that being in Lebanon was not really challenging to create their products. Everything is accessible and it’s all doable, they agreed. IT would be better if the internet was faster though
  • Jamil noted that the strongest asset that Lebanese have is instability – it makes Lebanese creative and disruptive
  • Antoine Saad agreed and added that when you work in a chaotic environment and it succeeds, your product would succeed anywhere else.
  • Hind noted that the Lebanse ecosystem supported her and does not see any issues with starting up in Lebanon. She is also optimistic about raising large funds in Lebanon such as $20 million thanks to Circular 331.
  • Antoine Saad agreed and added that he has seen lots of progress in Lebanon during the recent years and is optimistic about the way forward

Keynote: Big Data and Business
Ramzi Rizk, EyeEm

The last panel of the day was given by Ramzi who started off by introducing EyeEm and how data plays a role in it. He then unveiled his ambitious aim to index the world, through algorithms that determine things like the person, composition, subject, event, etc in the picture.

Lightning Round:

28 exceptional startups took the stage for 1 minute each to pitch their startups as part of the Seedstar World Competition.

You can view all startups here.

Announcing Finalists:

The jury selected 8 startups to go to the finalist round tomorrow.

Cardio Diagnostic, Saily, Yellow, Ki, Presella, Go Ijaza, Feedeed, Tari2ak.


That’s a wrap for today. See you all tomorrow!

Day 1 – Morning Recap

Written by


BDL Accelerate 2014, Lebanon’s first international startup conference kicked off today.
Opening Ceremony

Marianne Hoayek

Speaking to an audience of over 1800 attendees from over 20 countries, Marianne Hoayek, Director of the Executive Office at Banque du Liban gave a powerful opening speech highlighting Banque du Liban’s aim to ensure Lebanon’s position as a true hub for knowledge – and not just for the region, but also for the world. Whilst acknowledging that launching a startup is exceptionally challenging in the boiling Middle East, Marianne emphasized that it is time to change the trend of graduates leaving, to reverse the trend from ‘brain drain to brain gain.’

Governor Riad Salameh
In his opening speech, Governor of Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh stated that Banque du Liban issued Circular 331 to encourage Lebanese banks to invest in the knowledge sector, as it could be the main pillar of the Lebanese ecosystem. He highlighted that 15 Lebanese banks have already allocated funds to invest in Lebanese startups. Banque du Liban’s aim is to create a synergy between the banking and knowledge economic section. He added that Lebanon can benefit from the human resources to grow and increase its GDP.

Francois Bassil
Chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Francois Bassil continued on the same promising and encouraging rhythm highlighting that entrepreneurship is a key future of Lebanon and its economy plays a crucial role in the overall economy. He continued that the establishment of an enterprise is deeply rooted in the culture and habits of the Lebanese. He emphasized that it is vital for local startups to access regional and international markets and hopes that BDL Accelerate can ease that journey for them.

Mohamed Choucair
Mohamed Choucair, Chairman of the Federation of the Chambers of Commerce stated that Lebanon is filled with talented people who produce innovative ideas that deserve to be financed. The region is undergoing major transformation that creates major opportunities that we need to grasp.

Tom Fletcher
UK Ambassador, Tom Fletcher gave a remarkable, inspiring and empowering speech. He announced that in January 2015, along with Banque du Liban, the British government will be launching a Lebanese/British tech hub. The aim is to build and develop the Lebanese tech capacity and put Lebanese entrepreneurs on the map. He hopes that this initiative will lesson any obstacles Lebanese startups tend to face.

Opening Keynote

Alexander Asseily
Alexander Asseily, the Co-Founder of Jawbone and State gave the opening keynote.

Some of the most noteworthy points were:

  • It took Jawbone 6 years to become an overnight success.
  • Tools evolve – before we had cars, we had horses. Before mobile phones, telegraph.
  • We (the region) created one of most important communication tools – phonetic alphabet
  • The region was responsible for bringing other tools, tools of the mind – mathematics, astronomy, chemistry
  • Starting a company requires confidence in your region and this region has what it takes.
  • We are in the age of horses when it comes to the internet, we need to move to the age of cars.
  • Knowledge economy today is not transferred with books and fax. It’s digital. The internet has to get faster!
  • Always think global, aim high, aim to be number 1.
  • Find issues you want to change and aim at changing them. State is an opinion network – connect the world with what they think rather than who they know.
  • Perseverance and confidence is essential for startups. Do not give up!

Panel: Startup Success Stories

Speakers: Jean Nehme, Mark Haidar, Ramzi Rizk and Imad Riachi
Moderator: Alexander Asseily

The young Lebanese speakers each shared their inspiring story of where they started from and how they got to where they are today. They continued by debating some of the challenges they have experienced.

  • Vinli found the opportunity to build an app with smartphones independent from the automotive industry. Scaling the business by leveraging a platform that is widely available rather than building an independent platform.
  • The speakers got into a debate on whether the location of the launch is essential for your business to go global.
  • A second debate that ignited was on whether Lebanese entrepreneurs should leverage Lebanese diaspora.
  • “If you told me 10 years ago that BDL will invest $400 million to support startups, I would have said no way!” – Mark Haidar

Keynote: Lorraine Habib – Big in Europe

Lorraine Habib shared a keynote on how to scale and grow globally.

  • BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing service that has been building a massive transportation network through ridesharing, providing passengers with a most cost-effective method of transportation.
  • She discussed how acqui-hiring competitors early accelerate the growth of BlaBlaCar and is a great strategy to accelerate the growth of any company.

European Ecosystem Panel

Speakers: Karin Venneri, Thijl Klerkx, Dimitris Kalavros, Aiste Lehmann, Leen Segers

Moderator: Jean Nehme

Dimitris sees many similarities between Lebanon and Greece in terms of the diaspora and brain drain.

Before the financial crisis entrepreneurship was not an option for youth in Greece. The crisis created the opportunities.

They continued discussing the challenges and opportunities they all face in Europe and how they try to overcome them.

One of the main challenges is that there is a huge gap between the ease of receiving early funding and difficulty in receiving late round funding.