Last week, Cairo’s impressive Zamalek Cinema played host as a wide audience consisting of investors, mentors and some of the best minds in the Egyptian entrepreneurial scene witnessed the presentation of business models from ten promising Egyptian startups. The startups, whose areas of specialization cut across such fields as e-commerce, healthcare, art, food & beverage, and a number of other fields, were found pitching the stories of the motivation which resulted in the establishment of their respective ventures, their unique business models, and how much would be required in the way of capital injection to accelerate, scale-up, and penetrate their respective markets. These presentations represented what could be considered the high point of the maiden edition of MINT Incubator’s Demo Day; an event that was brought into fruition as a result of a partnership between EG Bank and Cairo Angels.
As pointed out in EG Bank’s official website, the MINT Incubator is designed to support Egyptian startups that appear to hold significant potential with “no strings attached”. The pitching programme represented the culmination of an intensive three-month incubation process which sought to afford a number of businesses which already have a recognizable, marketable and innovative product the opportunity to add that needed pep to their business’ step, in order to facilitate expansion plans and make them more attractive for startup investors.
The ten startups, who were selected from an initial group of thirty, took advantage of the rare opportunity of being paired with mentors who weighed in with support and guidance, as the budding entrepreneurs were exposed to a series of workshops which laid emphasis on areas which focused on such details as accelerating the startup business and improving team expertise in areas such as finance, sales, marketing, growth hacking, accounting basics, legal and governance basics, how to attract and retain talent, how to channel thoughts about one’s brand, as well as a number of other important topics. Without any attempt at prioritizing and in no particular order, here are the ten startups that championed the course:
The Meal Kit
The Meal Kit is a startup which was founded on the idea of serving up a hassle-free experience which would enable people to prepare quick home-cooked meals at a price that is very affordable. The business targets a select class of individuals which include students and single persons who are looking to save up on food costs whilst losing nothing much in the way of healthy dietary intake. The business functions in the area of sending fully-prepared (fully-washed, sliced, and weighed) meal ingredients to customers, promising a forecasted maximum cooking time of thirty minutes. It would also appear that the business leaves customers spoilt for choice as they can order individual meal kits or make weekly subscriptions from a variety of healthy meal kits, depending on their preference. Abdel El-Mahdy, Meal Kit’s representative at the pitching event, argued that his startup was poised to take over the food industry as it affords healthy food options to customers at prices that appear to be significantly subsidized when juxtaposed with what is on offer from competing brands.
This startup is looking to raise USD 300 K in funding as a means through which it can further what could be thought of a big dream. CyberTalents is a platform that has made it its business to rank cybersecurity professionals across the globe by running what the company has termed “Capture The Flag” contests. According to the business’ model, the competition – a central feature of the company’s blueprint – which will be powered by large tech companies, will involve providing flawless solutions to very tough challenges which the company will put out. Some of these challenges might require several hours to solve and the ranking of the cyber security professionals will be a function of the time taken and the results achieved. This can be used by large tech companies as a talent acquisition tool for recruitment purposes. The company will function on a commission basis for all of its hires.
As pointed out by the company’s representative at the pitching contest, there is an ever-growing need for highly-skilled cybersecurity talents and this is buttressed by the reported shortage in personnel that is believed to be in the region of 2 million. The company also noticed that the top-rankers in Capture The Flag contests (CTFs) have a tendency to land nice jobs in the aftermath of being recognized as potential talents by companies that attend conferences where CTFs are held. In view of that, CyberTalents is poised to bridge that apparent disconnect that exists between the talent pool and the companies that require such talents across the globe by providing an automated medium which will enhance the creation of CTFs and provide it as a service to unearth the best talents, rank them across the globe and bring them into the big time. The company’s vision is to build the largest cybersecurity community in the world so as to be able to solve problems that exist in the form of the dearth in the workforce, as well as future problems that could arise in the world of cybersecurity.
Direxiona is an online platform which enables women to book professional driving instructors. The female driving instructors in question, are those ones who are willing to use their own cars for this purpose in real time, based on their time and location. It appears the company is taking a cue from recent developments in Saudi Arabia where women are now allowed to take the wheel. Nayrouz Talaat, the company’s representative, gave credence to this notion, while also giving a detailed insight of the company’s expansion plans, which include some of the company’s other services such as mechanic tips, rules of safety, and defensive driving tips. She also explained that the company offers different packages of teaching hours at prices that are a function of the hourly rate. This startup is seeking an investment of USD 55 K to take the business to a whole new level.
NIoTEK is a startup which has set its sights on maximizing operational efficiency in manufacturing facilities. Using the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning technologies, it puts real-time data to use by gathering information on machine lines’ productivity, as well as carry out analysis. The company came into existence in 2017 and it is the brainchild of a team of experts in software development, production processes and electronics. Incorporated into the company’s vision is a move which will assist production companies in making not only better, but also faster decisions when it comes to manufacturing operations. Central to NIoTEK’s operations is its analytics platform which is custom-built for discrete and process manufacturing. Using such features as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and advanced analytics, it aids in eliminating critical challenges that impede productivity and quality along the production chain. The company is looking to account for as much as 75 percent of the IoT market share in the Middle-Eastern/North African (MENA) region by 2022.
Andalla Amin, Emad Zowail, and Omar Ibrahim acted on a rare need. These young entrepreneurs were overwhelmed with the reality of mainstream consumerism as they watched many of their friends produce some fine pieces of art while being unable to find a market for it. Thus, Flareinn was birthed.
Flareinn is an online marketplace and community for amateur arts. The platform affords its customers the luxury of going through their catalog of artwork by simply filtering their search feature by artwork type, price or artist. This enables them to find the best pieces that check all the boxes in terms of their needs. And it gets even better as the company has provisions which make for the delivery of these pieces of art to the doorstep of their customers.
As a community, Flareinn also allows artists to create profiles and get a shot at showcasing their work for higher exposure. The company is designed as a commission-based platform and it offers premium services which afford artists added exposure whilst also offering advertisement via its blog.
Named in StartupScene’s 25 Under 25, the young entrepreneurs are looking to land funding in the region of USD 83 K which will be channeled into their recruitment process, marketing and general development of the business.
As illustrated by Farah Emara, a 21-year-old entrepreneur and co-founder of the startup, Jidar aims to connect wall artists to businesses and individuals that are looking to create wall art and murals. According to Sara Gaafar, Emara’s partner in the business, “our greatest aim is to turn every wall into a canvas since walls are the most practical kinds of canvas.” Through its community of artists, Jidar offers its clients varieties of art styles guaranteed to suit their different tastes and needs. The company, which came into existence in 2017, claims to have painted over 70 walls across restaurants, startups, coworking spaces and hotels. It also boasts a burgeoning roster of artists and designers believed to be in the region of over a hundred across Egypt. The team believes its expansion plans will be done a solid by a capital investment of around USD 55 K.
As suggested by Ahmed Hassan during the first few minutes of his pitch, doctors have a huge knowledge gap, even though popular opinions will tend to support the contrary. From his offering, this is what spurred the creation of his mobile app; Roshetta.
Roshetta is an assistant which works with healthcare professionals to make better treatment decisions. It also aids pharmacies in the management of their inventory. All these in a bid to fill the apparent chasm that exists in the knowledge resource. The app offers a database of local drugs, as well as their substitutes. Together with each drug’s prescribing information. It also has provisions which allow pharmaceuticals to display targeted advertisements to doctors, pharmacists, and other health sector professionals.
As illustrated in the company’s pitch, X-Venturer is driven by the vision that will see it assume the position of the world’s largest sports, crafts, and tourism integrated network. It is designed to deliver the consummate experience to its clients by taking advantage of the power of technology in connecting the stakeholders of these industries. As pointed by Omar Gaballah, his company has set its sights on an investment of USD 70 K which will cater for the needs of the company in such aspects as marketing, hiring, and business development. The company charges a commission on every transaction performed on its platform.
And here is something for the trendy, vogue-conscious, and fashion-forward. Sheyaka is an online department store with interest in the offerings from local designers. During the company’s pitch, which was presented by Yousra El-Ghor (who was herself clad in an apparel designed by the delectable Amina Ghali), the platform which is envisaged to blaze trails in the e-commerce sphere allows retailers and designers to showcase their wears and accessories. Products advertised on the platform range from fashionable couture to exquisite home decors. The company also has provisions for home deliveries and overseas shipping, which comes as good news for local designers as they are afforded the opportunity of having their wares featured internationally. In the latter stages of her pitch, it was revealed that the startup also has some interest in providing digital marketing expertise in a bid to offer more coverage to a customer-base which transcends boundaries.
Finally, here is something for those who are big on automobiles and four-wheelers. Ahmed Omar, the company’s CEO and founder, stepped up to podium on that evening of many firsts to unveil Odiggo; an online platform that is in the business of helping customers fix and service their vehicles by providing them with affordable and genuine auto spare parts, as well as automobile repairs and maintenance services for customers who want to have the car parts installed by the company’s car service centre.
Oddigo functions on a commission basis for car parts purchased via its platform and it boasts a catalog that incorporates a wide variety of car types and models. As illustrated by the CEO, the newest addition to the company’s chain of services is a hardware that works in tandem with Odiggo’s mobile app, which functions to carry out thorough vehicular inspection so as to ascertain the faulty components within an automobile. He also revealed that the Artificial Intelligence system has already passed pilot tests with satisfactory results in a few car models and expansion plans are also in the pipeline to integrate and validate more car models into the system. According to the entrepreneur, this novel innovation is the first of its kind as it features an integrated system which provides information, helps to diagnose faulty components, and directs customers with regards to where to find these parts on the platform.
The company’s pitch culminated with the indication that the company is eyeing a funding of around USD 128 K which will enable it to expand and reach the next phase of its development. It is envisaged that the capital injection will help the company add an entire department to its sales unit and also help the refine its technology so as to provide higher quality services to a wider clientele.