Under the scope of emerging markets and modern-day entrepreneurial endeavours, nine Egyptian startups talk to Staff Writer Ahmed Budalama about how they sky-rocketed to success after their RiseUp experience over the years.
The Middle East and Northern Africa's leading entrepreneurship summit is around the corner and is set to hit AUC New Cairo between December 5th and 7th, with tips and tricks from not only the region's biggest names, but some internationally prominent figures attending to make speeches, give workshops and offer mentorship opportunities to budding entrepreneurs. The annual RiseUp Summit, organised by Egypt's most prominent entrepreneur and startup network, RiseUp, has become a staple in the industry and a place where like-minded innovators and modern brands can come together for a weekend of sheer creativity and the high potential of growth. With Egypt's fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, RiseUp Summit features a wide variety of opportunities, whether you're looking to network, make friends, connect with investors, or meet the region's next big-thing.
As is customary, Startup Scene is collaborating with RiseUp to bring you a blend of nostalgia and inspiration, where we talk with Egyptian entrepreneurs whose lives were changed and aspirations were met during RiseUp Summit. Just in case you grew tired of the greatly earned, but over-the-top success stories of Careem, Souq.com, and others, here are some startups who took advantage of their spotlight at RiseUp Summit over the years.
Up-Fuse is an Egyptian startup that promotes a sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle through designing and producing fashionable items made out of upcycled plastic bags. Yara Yassin, the co-founder of UpFuse was on the speaking panel at RiseUp Summit 2016 and has been a part of RiseUp’s list of startups that visited Silicon Valley. Since then, they have launched their products across the region in Cairo, Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and all the way across borders in San Diego and Berlin.
"Winning the RiseUp Explore competition and getting the opportunity to visit Silicon Valley in San Francisco, was a highlight in the emergence of our startup. As a sustainable and eco-friendly solution to modern-day fashion, our participation and the role that RiseUp played allowed us to position ourself as a high-potential startup in today's ever-changing industry, ultimately allowing us to grow from the inside out," says, Co-founder & Managing Director, Rania Rafie to StartupScene.
Nawah Scientific is an Egyptian bio-tech startup that aims to empower scientific research in the region. Their online platform receives experiment requests where a team of leading, multi-disciplinary scientists carry out said tests and return results online. The startup has been under the scope of scientific excellence since they've won the pitch competition at RiseUp Summit 2017, and going on to close its pre-Series A funding round with $1 million.
"Since the startup's inception, we have faced a variety of obstacles, including the hesitation faced by investors when asking for funding, due to the fact that there haven't been any outstanding startups in the ecosystem specialising in the life sciences and bio-tech field, and little knowledge to be conveyed,” Founder and CEO, Omar Shoukry, tells Startup Scene. Initially, we were able to acquire funds through friends and family, which allowed us to push further and create a proof of concept to showcase our rising numbers. It was a significant milestone when we bagged the first prize award at RiseUp Summit 2017's pitching competition, despite the presence of many other powerful startups. Potential investors gained interest in our startup after the exposure and success we've faced, which helped us overcome the struggle of securing funds.”
Trendster is an Egyptian influencer marketing platform that leverages tech to provide a comfortable and accessible experience to influencers by connecting them to brands all within the same marketplace, for the ultimate social media impact. Trendster facilities the process of finding a client, creating content and more, all the way to accessing funds through the application, and filling a gap in the fast-growing market, allowing brands to easily find the right fit for their campaign. The startup graced the Creative Stage with their presence at RiseUp Summit 2018 to talk about unlocking the untapped potential of influencer marketing in the region, and how to use those tools in your benefit.
"Before we even launched our platform, we attended the summit and met with fellow entrepreneurs and attended workshops, which gave us great insight on how to launch and create our startup,” says Co-Founder and COO, Clorinda Siag, to StartupScene. The following year, we booked a booth and were exhibiting community partners of the summit. In 2018, I was also granted the honour to be one of the speakers at the Summit's creative stage, where a couple of female entrepreneurs and I talked about the intersection of traditional and digital media, specifically in public relations and influencer marketing."
5d-VR is a Cairo-based digital studio and virtual reality/augmented reality-based startup with an extensive portfolio of clients that includes partnering up with RiseUp Summit and providing an outstanding VR/AR experience to attendees over the years. The mastermind behind it all, Creative Director and Managing Director at 5d-VR Maged Farrag, graced the Tech stage at RiseUp Summit 2018 to share some pro-tips.
"We have been partners at the RiseUp Summit for as long as I remember, with each event allowing us to up our game when it comes to covering the innovative views of portraying virtual reality/augment reality technology such as the Talal Harb hologram and the mapping projection of the summit. Since then, our relationship with RiseUp has expanded beyond us being just a startup. When we won the RiseUp Explore challenge and took to Silicon Valley, the opportunity allowed us to witness first-hand the global ecosystem, and it was great exposure for us. We unlocked plenty of networking opportunities that seemed naturally-generated, which goes to show that every opportunity that the summit provides is one not wasted, and plenty of those opportunities arise at the summit with each passing year, so you’re only limited by what you can make out of it.”
Egyptian rental platform for high-end designer dresses, La Reina Exchange, scored Series A investment from Algebra Venture after winning a pitch competition at RiseUp in 2016, and went become named among Egypt’s top startups. The premium luxury service has been the most prominent refurbished fashion marketplace, which provides an accessible and affordable experience for brides-to-be. The startup's team of fashion and tech-experts exude a high level of professionalism that makes them among Egypt and the region's rising startups.
Eventtus is the leading events management application in Egypt have been a vital role in being a partner in many RiseUp Summits over the years by using their application to make a specifically tailored experience for the summit’s official mobile application since 2015. The partnership allowed for RiseUp Summit 2017’s massive success due to the application’s outstanding 95% engagement rate. Each year, Eventtus pairs up with RiseUp Summit to provide an excellent user experience, with this year's innovative gamification approach of the summit. The innovative startup isn't afraid to up their game and promote its platform's features to make a sensational event.
The Cairo-based marketplace for homemade food was the second winner of an AstroLabs-sponsored trip to Dubai to learn about UAE’s ecosystem in 2017. Founded by Waleed Abdelrahman in 2015, the startup currently delivers in Cairo and has raised more than $200,000 in funding from 500 Startups and A15. Abdelrahman was quite vocal about the experience gained through RiseUp Summit, where he took the stage to speak about in 2016 after meeting his investor and pitching at the Summit in 2015. Since then, the startup has gone on to release a variety of services that caters to the modern-day foodie, but the biggest accolade they've received was due to their efforts in unlocking the nation's talent pool of talented refugee women and supplying them with job opportunities. The startup also caters for corporate businesses and other entities, providing an accessible solution and revolutionising the Egyptian food industry through technology.
Egyptian on-demand delivery startup Bosta met their investor at RiseUp Summit 2016 and finalised the deal right after. The startup went on to score a six-digit-dollar seed investment from fellow Egyptian startup and electronic payment provider Fawry the following year. Additionally, Bosta was among the startups that went to visit Silicon Valley as part of RiseUp’s Explore competition winners. The go-to delivery solution provider allows individuals to receive and send packages under 10kg with a click of a button through a seamless user experience. The 'Uber-for-packages' returned from their trip from Silicon Valley with high expectations and an even higher desire to modernise the transport-tech industry, unlocking talent in the market and providing hundreds of jobs as part of their mission to tackle unemployment in the region.
Cairo-based Wasla is a tech startup that has built the Wasla Browser, which is an Android mobile browser that provides users with free internet by leveraging digital ads through subsidising data costs. The product was launched at the RiseUp Summit in 2018, and went on to garner thousands of downloads that month alone.
“What happened is that we played it very well, it was a very successful soft launch for us,” Wasla's co-founder Taymour Sabry tells Startup Scene. “We took a booth and we did a competition among our users that we gained when we pre-launched the service without any announcements just a few weeks before. We were growing organically day-by-day, and we already had some slight, initial traction. It was interesting because, when we launched, our goal was to get over 10,000 users over a six-month period, and our campaign paired-up with the blend of all the different things that we gained at RiseUp. We managed to hit the 10,000 target by the end of the month, with roughly 3,000 - 4,000 users gained at the summit itself.”
Don't miss out on the regular tickets for RiseUp Summit 2019. Get them here.
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