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8 Most Promising Startups in Lebanon, According to Forbes

From beekeeping startups to data-gathering drones and interior design marketplaces, the international magazine identified these 8 startups as some of the most promising ventures in the Levantine country.

As Forbes released its list of 50 startups to watch in the Arab world this year, gathering those changemakers who have not yet received big-ticket funding, but are looking promising for the future. According to data powerhouse Magnitt, 20 percent of the top 100 funded startups in the Middle East hail from Lebanon, radically surpassing other hubs like Egypt and UAE. But who are the next big startups breaking boundaries and securing massive funds? This list may offer a quick glance. 

1. L’Atelier du Miel. Ranked 7th by Forbes, the startup was founded by Marc-Antoine and Ralph Bou Nassif, Rabih Trabolsi in 2011, who began an adventurous journey matching their passion for beekeeping, nature and crafts. The boutique brand - labelled an 'empire oh honey' - is exclusively dedicated to the production, import, packaging and sale of natural honey and honey products. Having raised $600,000 in funding so far, the startup is distinguished by its unique production method, which relies on the movement of hives every two to three months to follow the flowering seasons, allowing bees to feed only on the nectar of flowers and trees (honedew). 

2. Zoomaal. Ranked 8th by Forbes, the leading crowdfunding platform in the Middle East was founded by intrepid entrepreneur Abdallah Absi, is an unstoppable young man who founded over six companies and an NGO at the fresh age of 23. His offspring Zoomaal, founded in 2012, has funded over $1 million in different projects, stimulating creativity and innovation across the Arab world, and raised a total $580,000. 

3. NAR. One of the most exciting startups to come out of the Lebanese ecosystems, NAR (Next Automated Robots) was created following a long-term vision of integrating drones in various industries. Kick-started in 2015 by Nicolas Zaatar and Charlie El Khoury as a final year project at the Lebanese American University, the startup was incubated by Speed BDD and is now breaking boundaries in the field of drone software for the oil and gas industry. Their current model works on detecting gas and oil leaks, but their aim is to go beyond oil and gas to tackle other fields like wildfire monitoring, agriculture, rescue, surveillance, shipping and traffic monitoring.

4. Kamkalima. Born in Lebanon and launched in September 2014, the platform adopts a multi-contributor model to create short stories and academic conten for K-12 children in Arabic. It founders, Siroun Shamigian, and Nisrine Makkouk, set off to address the lack of digital Arabic content both at the educational level as well as the public one, winning the Best Women-Led Project at the MIT Enterprise Forum in Cairo in May 2013. 

5. Moodfit. The brainchild of Ghassan Abi Fadel, Tarek el Jaroudi, and Mohamad Sabouneh, three entrepreneurs who met during an AUB MBA entrepreneurship course in 2014, the online interior design platform ranks 22nd in Forbes' list. Setting off to revolutionise the interior design industry, the company personalises online decorating service leveraging on crowdsourcing, giving users the chance to experience the luxury of an interior designer. Named as one of Executive Magazine’s ‘Top 20 Entrepreneurs in 2015’, the startup not only operates in Lebanon, having completed projects in the USA and UAE, with plans to cover the entire MENA region.

6. Brate. Brate is an online business social network and a local search engine that accurately searches the entire universe of businesses based on their products and services (regardless of their category) and shows their Consumers’ reviews. Its Advanced Business Intelligence allows subscribed Business Owners to identify early trends using live analytics and to capitalize on them using Brate's live and weekly deals. With over a million users, the startup secured $400,000 in capital for its Seed Financing round in 2016 to continue to drive growth and dominate the Middle East and North African region.

7. FeedeedOriginally a freelance marketplace where experts could set up shop on the platform to sell their skills to SMEs, the startup evolved towards a matching system model, where hiring companies write what they’re looking for from a variety of services and skills offered by almost 150 freelancers. “We set a standard of accepting the best freelancers we had, with a minimum of two to three years of experience and established portfolios; thus the number of experts shrank from 400 to 50 at the early stages, and now we have between 150 to 200 freelancers who’ve gone through a thorough screening process,” co-founder Dany Abu Jawdeh told Annahar. The entrepreneur, whose startup ranks Ranks 27th in Forbes' list, founded the company in 2014, alongside Romy Saber, Fidaa Ghibreel and has raised raised $355,000 so far, including a $30,000 round from Jordanian accelerator Oasis 200.

8. Troy Dimension. Founded in 2016 by Marwan Al Chaar, the startup created a 3D printer that allows designers to manufacture prototypes seamlessly, in a very user-friendly manner which is 10 times faster and costs a fraction of the price of current printers in the market. It is the first affordable real time high-definition printer and ranks 31st in Forbes' list across the region. 

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