Tag Archives: Seedstars World

Day 2 – Wrap-Up

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Panel: Accelerators
Speakers: Gary Stewart, Stephane Gantchev, Ramez Mohamad, Mike Butcher
Moderator: Paul Bragiel

The panel started off by discussing whether there are too many accelerators today and got mixed reactions.  Areas such as Europe do have too many accelerators and emerging markets such as Lebanon do not have enough.

  • All panel speakers agreed that some people have no business running accelerators. They are many accelerators out there who don’t know how invest properly so they possibly should be educated and trained, or work together.
  • There was a debate on whether accelerators would last or become useless. An opinion was shared that if accelerators don’t start accelerating from universities, grass root, they shall become useless.
  • Paul supported government investments into the sector however Mike disagreed and said he would rather governments put better regulatory frameworks and regulations instead.
  • Ramez shared from his experience that at Flat6Labs, they have learnt that it is more essential to pick the team and not the idea. Teams stay, ideas change. Remaining panel concurred.

Paul summarized the panel with the following 3 points.

  • Hopefully the bad accelerators will die out
  • It’s all about the team
  • Everyone has a role to play in the ecosystem.

Fireside: Shaping Entrepreneurs
Speaker: Kalina King
Moderator: Gary Stewart

In the fireside chat, Kalina shared some important advice and tips.

  • Lebanon should be thinking very seriously about educating and providing the platform so there’s the tech talent to fuel startups.
  • Stay hungry. Keep learning. Go online. Find like-minded people. Stay curious.
  • Lebanon is very similar to Hong Kong in terms of education and community for startups.

Panel: Expats as Entrepreneurs
Speakers: Ivan Hernandez, Jonathan Giesen, Alina Gratschner and Rani Saad.

Moderator: Leen Segers

This panel discussed what lead them to become expats whether personal or business focused. They also discussed how being an expact impacted their personal relationships back home.

In terms of how challenging it is to move somewhere new and start from scratch, Ivan highlighted that you should identify the opportunities, network, engage, and learn all about the society you are in. You have to take the opportunity that you have, of where you are, and make something out of it.

Ivan added that if you want to have an ecosystem, you need to build it. You have to take action. You can build it gradually over a few years.

Jonathan emphasized that we are talking about a huge opportunity that is available in Lebanon where the ecosystem is rapidly changing and growing, however we have to work on our infrastructure. Also, BDL Accelerate has created something similar to a club where likeminded people have come together and networked but the challenge will be sustaining the enthusiasm.

Ivan concluded that BDL Accelerate 2014 could be the catalyst to create the momentum to build the Lebanon ecosystem.

The intervention session consisted of 5 stellar speakers presenting topics they are passionate about within a total of 70 mins.

Gary Stewart presented The Case for Corporate Accelerators

Mario Berta presented Sell, Sell, Sell

Hafez Virjee presented De-Risking Startups

Till Ohrmann presented Connecting Entrepreneurs

Vitaly Golomb presented Blueprints for Success

Closing Speech: Blueprints for Success
Speaker: Marianne Hoayek

In the conference closing speech, Marianne summarized the 2 day events:

  • More than 50 industry veterans shared success stories, insights, how to attain and retain talent, and more.
  • In the past two days countless entrepreneurs met with Angels, VCs, Investors, and pitched to them.
  • Lebanon will have soon have a stock exchange market dedicated to the industry.
  • UK Ambassador Tom Fletcher revealed the Lebanon-UK Tech Hub.
  • Entrepreneurs seemed eager to work and Banque du Liban will work to provide access to resources under one platform.
  • She thanked all the prominent speakers who came from around the world, as well as the partners who made it all possible and the audience for fueling the enthusiasm.

Seedstar Competition

The 8 selected finalists pitched for 6 minutes each in front of the jury: Charlie Graham-Brown, Mario Berta and Hafez Virjee.

The 8 starts up were:

  • Presella
  • Feedeed
  • Go Ijaza
  • Ki
  • Saily
  • Tari2ak
  • Yellow
  • So7ati

The jury then took 15 minutes to deliberate and the results were:

The runner ups:

  • So7ati
  • Presella

The Beirut Regional Winner is:

  • Ki

Congratulations to the startups!

That is a wrap from us! See you next year!

Day 1 Wrap-Up

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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!

Q&A With Charlie Graham Brown

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Charlie Graham Brown
CFO, Seedstars World
Geneva, Switzerland

Charlie Graham Brown is the CFO of Seedstars World. He studied at the University of Leeds, UK with a year at the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and holds a Master of Engineering First Class Honors degree. He transitioned into finance following an MBA at the Collège des Ingénieurs, Paris and became a CFA charter holder. Charlie has six years of experience in innovative financial institutions. Working as an investment officer for four years at BlueOrchard Finance, he analyzed and invested in microfinance institutions across Africa, MENA and Asia. When he’s not working on Seedstars World, Charlie can usually be found in the mountains or doing a triathlon!

What advice do you give the applicants to Seedstars World?

This isn’t your typical startup competition so don’t treat it as such! We’re looking to add one Lebanese startup to our global network. Remember we invest in the top startups so we’re really interested in the traction. Get your timing right for the pitch. We’re Swiss so you know our timing will be strict!

What type of ideas would you like to see?

We like ideas that have the potential to be global (or at least regional). That’s where we can add the most value with our expansive network. As for the sector we are open. We like the diversity and if you look at the regional winners to date you will see a bit a broad coverage.

Has there been a trend towards certain industries/innovations? Are there any pitfalls entrepreneurs should be aware of?

Each region and country has had its own specialty. SaaS has been popular around the globe with services adapted to new segments or local markets. High social impact businesses have been common on our stages as we tend to cover regions with a large BOP population, which provides an interesting market where both financial and social returns can be found. FinTech startups in Africa was a clear theme and of course web/mobile startups have been well represented.

Charlie Graham-Brown – Switzerland – Seedstars

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Charlie Graham-Brown
CFO, Seedstars World
Geneva, Switzerland

Seedstars World CFO, Charlie Graham-Brown, has six years of investment and analytical investment experience in innovative financial institutions primarily focused on developing countries.  He studied at The University of Leeds (UK) with a year at the Georgia Institute of Technology (USA), where he secured a Master of Engineering First Class Honors degree. He later got an MBA at the  Collège des Ingénieurs in Paris then became a CFA charter holder. Now working at Seedstars World, Charlie manages business development and the investment fund.

Seedstars, the parent venture firm, is a business development and investment fund management for startups and investors focused on emerging markets. They wanted to identity startups in emerging markets that they could invest in and started the Seedstars World Competition, as a method to scout out startups from around the world.

Seedstars World is a global startup competition being held in 35 emerging cities around the world this year, and is crucial since they also offer startups from different areas exposure to European and U.S. investors. It is a great way for venture capitalists to scout for potential investments from emerging markets. The 35 winning startups will make it to the global competition in Geneva, Switzerland where they will spend 3 days at a workshop to work on their pitch, then compete for a $500k investment from Seedstars.

The final showdown happens in front of a panel of European investors, which earned last year’s laureates an additional $6M investment.

Seedstars has truly been uplifting startups in emerging markets, providing them with global exposure, the opportunity to find financiers on a global scale, and a real chance to compete in much larger markets. For the entrepreneurs, the risks are a lot higher, but so are the potential rewards!

All in all, Charlie has spent most of his post-academic life empowering the global startup ecosystem and is far from done. Seedstars is expanding every year and has just made its way into Lebanon for the first time.


Seedstars World Coming to Lebanon For The First Time

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Seedstars World is an exclusive worldwide startup competition traveling to over 30 cities in 2014 and taking place in Beirut on November 20-21.

The competition aims at finding the best young entrepreneurs in emerging and fast-growing startup scenes such as Lebanon.  The pitching event is exclusively sponsored by Banque du Liban and hosted by Lebanon’s first international startup conference, Banque du Liban Accelerate 2014. The bank has been supporting startups in Lebanon for the past couple of years, providing them with a boost and turning Beirut into a strategic hub for them.

Up to 50 startups will be selected to participate in the competition. Each one will have an exhibition stand at the conference, and will conduct a 1 Minute Lightning Round Pitch on the main stage on November 20.  The top 10 startups will then enter the Finalists Round on November 21, from which the winner will be selected.

The winning startup will be crowned “Seedstars Beirut Regional Winner“ and flown to Geneva, Switzerland for a 3-day boot camp and the Seedstars Final Event. They will represent Lebanon and compete for the prestigious title of “Seedstars World Best Startup”, which will grant them a $500,000 investment as well as the opportunity to pitch in front of a wide panel of European investors. Last year’s winner was able to raise $6M thanks to this final pitch.The winner will also receive $20,000 worth of hosting services from Softlayer and $60,000 worth of prizes from our global partners. The 2nd and 3rd runners-up will get $50,000 worth of prizes.

The 50 competing startups will receive regional media coverage and have the opportunity to meet with potential partners and peers. The startups can come from any field but have to be for-profit and prepared to pitch in public, in English.  The company must have been founded less than 2 years prior to the competition, and have a maximum funding of $500,000.  If your startup fits the criteria, you have until November 14th to apply; Seedstars World will inform you if you have been selected 5 days before the event.

Seedstars World is after the next big thing and is willing to push it as far as it can through training and pitching opportunities. This is a rare opening that can change the future of your startup.

Apply here