Beirut, March 27, 2018 – Speed@BDD held its fifth Demo Day, on Monday March 26 2018, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut. 7 startups pitched their businesses and presented their products to a wide audience comprising 250 officials, investors, experts, and media representatives. Demo Day V marked the completion of the accelerator’s fifth program and was the occasion for Speed@BDD to announce its new collaboration with Techstars, the renown worldwide startup accelerator, as well as the winner of the second Seed Boost initiative.
Following an intensive 2-week selection program, 7 teams were selected to join the fifth acceleration program which began in November 2017. During the cycle, Speed@BDD invested $30,000 in cash in each startup and its equivalent in-kind services covering free hosting, product and business development, financial advisory, legal services, and mentorship from key experts in various industries. The startups gained access to market expertise from the accelerator’s network of 100+ external mentors who dedicated 250+ hours to help the founders grow their businesses. The startups also received a $15,000 equity-free grant through Speed@BDD’s partnership with the iSME Program by Kafalat.
During his welcome note, Speed@BDD’s CEO, Mr. Sami Abou Saab, summarized the accelerator’s busy last 6 months and shared updates from portfolio companies, ranging from taking the MENA’s startup competitions by storm, to the latest investment news. Abou Saab then welcomed on stage Mr. Jag Singh, Managing Director (MD) of Metro Accelerator – Techstars in Berlin, for a discussion about the local startup ecosystem and the future of retail technology.
The fireside chat ended with the announcement of Speed@BDD’s new collaboration with Techstars. “I am very proud to announce today how we are taking Speed@BDD to the next level! We will be working with multiple Techstars programs, a first of its kind collaboration in Lebanon, to provide Lebanese startups and the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem with new and exciting opportunities. In practical terms, Techstars MDs will share their best practices and open their networks to the Speed@BDD management team through an in-person exchange with their accelerators around the world. We are starting with the retail program in Berlin and we will be looking to send our best startups into the Techstars recruitment pipeline,” said Abou Saab. “I evaluate thousands of startups from around the world every year for our programs, and I kept seeing startups coming out of Speed@BDD’s program in the top brackets of our evaluation pipeline”, shared Singh on stage. He added: “I would like to find a way to help grow and expand the safe-haven that Speed@BDD provides to young startups. Angel investors and accelerators are a crucial part of the recipe for innovation, and as more startups in Lebanon find exits, we will see them spur more growth in this country. Techstars is about relationships and equipping entrepreneurs, and I look forward to strengthening the relationship with Speed@BDD”.
For the second cycle in a row, each startup was introduced on stage by its guardian, a Speed@BDD mentor who accompanied its founders throughout acceleration. Following the pitching, Abou Saab announced that Spike and TeensWhoCode were the 2 startups that Speed@BDD fully sponsored to attend the 2-week “LebNet Ignite powered by Blackbox Connect” immersion program in Silicon Valley earlier this month.
The event ended with the much-awaited announcement of the Seed Boost initiative winner. Building on last cycle’s success, Speed@BDD replicated the follow-on investment opportunity for its Cycle V startups in a full-day event on March 21. The startups pitched in front of 2 angel investors (Mr. Elias Houayek and Mr. Mouhamad Rabah) and 3 venture capital funds representatives (Cedar Mundi, MEVP Impact Fund, and Phoenician Funds) who then deliberated and chose Spike as the winner of the second edition of the Seed Boost. The $50,000 equity investment (5%) will help Spike further grow and develop its product in the upcoming months prior to securing the next round of investment.
Speed@BDD is currently accepting applications for its sixth batch on its website: www.speedlebanon.com.