Photos: Misk and 500 Startups
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud attends the first Demo Day staged by Misk and 500 Startups
Misk and 500 Startups celebrate the Demo Day of the first batch of the joint Misk 500 Startups MENA Accelerator on May 13, 2019, featuring 19 innovative companies spanning a number of countries across the MENA region including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, and the United Arab Emirates.
Sectors represented by the batch include agtech, developer tools, ecommerce, edtech, fintech, health tech, HR technology, security, transportation, travel and hospitality and social. A remarkable 37% of the companies have at least one female founder. “The excitement in the room was inspiring from both the startups and the founders,” said Prince Khaled, founder and CEO of KBW Ventures, commenting on the buzz that the event generated both in the auditorium and online.
“I personally was impressed and learned a lot about the business models presented, two or three really stood out as exceptional. The percentage of Saudi youth that are starting businesses is noteworthy; these entrepreneurs won’t be taking over the family businesses, they will be starting their own. This is fantastic for our economy, and I couldn’t be happier to see this integral shift in mindset in our youth,” Prince Khaled continued.
During Demo Day founders pitched their companies in front of an audience of investors from Saudi Arabia and the MENA region that were invited to this closed event. Approximately 200 guests attended the event and had a chance to speak directly with the founders following the pitches.
Over the course of the Misk 500 program, participating companies have experienced exciting results including between 10-200% month over month growth in revenue, achieving their stretch target goals set at the beginning of the program, and growing their customer bases from one country to five or more countries in the MENA region.
To highlight a few, Denarii Cash achieved 200% MoM growth while being in the program and placed first at the Enterprise Agility Forum pitch competition. Gathern, led by a female founder, achieved their stretch targets over the course of the program and experienced 20% MoM growth. Kenz, led by two female founders, achieved a 40% MoM growth in revenue since beginning the program. Finally, Quizzito, an Algerian company, won the STEP Saudi Pitch Competition.
The program brought the best practices and experienced mentors of the 500 Startups flagship Silicon Valley Seed Accelerator program to the MENA region in partnership with Misk Innovation. Each company also received an investment from 500 Falcons.
The program received more than 20 visiting mentors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal, and Germany. Over 50 hours of lectures were delivered, and a phenomenal number of 512 one-to-one office hours were conducted with the 19 companies.
As part of a shared mission to build local capacity, contribute to job growth, and increase skills for the next generation, Misk and 500 have organized a series of public monthly Tech Talks held at Misk Foundation to discuss emerging technologies as a developing tool, with the visiting 500 Startups mentors.
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of SMEs, Monsha’at, acted as a strategic partner for the program, in addition to the event’s official travel Partner, Almosafer, a Saudi-based online travel platform.
500 Startups and Misk Innovation will host the second batch of its accelerator program based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to fuel startups throughout the MENA region. Batch 2 of the Misk 500 Accelerator Program will bring experts from Silicon Valley and beyond to educate 15-20 early-stage startups from MENA.
The program will consist of 14 weeks of mentorship and workshops that will have an emphasis on growth hacking techniques, product design, and fundraising. In addition to the educational component of the program, participants will have a unique opportunity to make long-lasting connections with investors and corporate partners from the region.