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7 Exciting New Startup Opportunities to Look Forward to in 2018

From the $5 million angel fund HIMangel, to the new VC power player Bakery and Udacity landing in Cairo, the Middle East's startup world is on to a promising start this 2018.

Just as 2017 came to a close crowned by the massive RiseUp Summit - which hit a record 5,159 attendees - a flurry of new initiatives and supporting entities launched this past month, elevating the entrepreneurial scene to a whole new level. From a new Venture Capital power player led by Abraaj, to Stripe Atlas and Udacity landing in the Middle East, to a new Egyptian $5 million angel fund, we round up seven key launches to keep an eye on these coming months.

1. Dubai's brand new VC Bakery

Launched during Cairo's RiseUp Summit 2017 last month, Bakery is a growth market early stage ecosystem curator and investment platform, powered by The Abraaj Group. Bakery will provide entrepreneurs with an ability to build scalable solutions and gain access to its platform of global resources and local support, leading to a toolkit for operational excellence. Bakery convenes ecosystems through both its physical spaces across key cities and digital portal. Check out the platform here

Bakery's founder, Faaris Naqvi, at a panel with RiseUp's co-founder Con O'Donnell and Organizational Consultant's founder, Maha Aboueleinein.

2. Udacity's opening in the Middle East

Clarissa Shen, COO of Udacity, revealed the company’s launch in the Middle East during the summit, as well as its partnership with the American University in Cairo (AUC) for the launch of Udacity Connect at AUC Campus. Udacity, which collaborates with companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, offers educational programmes specialised in fields such as machine learning and robotics. The new programme in collaboration with AUC will focus initially on data science and mobile development by combining online curriculums with physical classrooms for a ‘turbocharged’ experience. “Udacity is honored to work with the American University in Cairo, the leading academic institution in Egypt. Together, we will help students to learn the skills that are in demand in the tech industry as we bring the most future-ready technology courses from Silicon Valley tech giants to the region,” Shen said.

3. The Legal Clinic at The GrEEK Campus

Levari LLC also announced the opening of The Legal Clinic at The GrEEK Campus where startups and entrepreneurs will have daily access to lawyers whom they can make an appointment with and receive free legal advice. They will also have access to a wealth of materials such as MOUs, employment contracts and NDAs free of charge. They will be able to walk into the office and have a full legal meeting in private on any corporate issue for free. The Legal Clinic will also be accessible via a chat app by where anyone can ask legal questions and get answers from qualified lawyers.

4. Stripe Atlas' landing in Egypt

During her visit to Egypt at the RiseUp summit, Sarah Heck, a senior leader of global technology company Stripe - who is also a former White House advisor on entrepreneurship to the Obama Administration - officially opened up Stripe Atlas to founders in the RiseUp community. Stripe Atlas is an invite-only service, but all entrepreneurs attending the summit gained immediate access. Stripe Atlas is the easiest way for entrepreneurs - anywhere in the world - to establish an internet business. From incorporation to legal and banking infrastructure, Stripe Atlas equips founders with essential tools and resources to start new ventures on a solid foundation.“Starting a company is a complex and daunting process for first-time founders - but it doesn’t have to be. With Stripe Atlas, our aim is to open source the expertise of starting and running an internet business, offering one consolidated place to manage every aspect of starting up. By removing barriers for more founders across MENA, we hope to help accelerate their businesses on the global stage.” Entrepreneurs across the MENA region have already used the service to scale internationally.

5. Khaled Ismail's newly launched $5 million angel fund, HIMangel

Khaled Ismail, one of the key players in the Egyptian startup ecosystem, has recently announced the launch of HIMangel, a $5 million angel fund to invest in early-stage Egyptian startups. With his first non-profit fund, Kiangel, Ismail has already invested in 12 startups such as FilKhedma, Fustany, Mogassam, Iqraaly and Shezlong, and is now launching a second phrase with the new fund HIMangel. Ismail has also helped over 100 other startups with mentorship.

6. RiseUp Connect

Launched during the mammoth event in December 2017, RiseUp Connect, is the startup's new online platform to connect entrepreneurs with resources to scale their business all year long. By creating a profile, and joining the community, the platform enables startups to get access to exclusive offerings of tools and services that are tailored based on their needs at different stages. These offerings are to support the ecosystem from startup to another or from corporates to startups. Perks include tools and service such as: hosting, marketing, ads, payment solutions, legal services, financial services, mail, office space, transportation, office furniture, recruitment, consulting sessions, health and lifestyle. Check out their newly launched page here.

MO4 Network's CEO Amy Mowafi introduces RiseUp masterminds Con O'Donnell and Dalia Kamar.

7. CBC's New edition of Hona Al Shabab 

Led by CBC's front woman Lamees El Hadidi, Hona Al Shabab aims to provide a platform for young and aspiring entrepreneurs, helping them reach investors, develop their ideas – and most importantly, gain widespread exposure. With a prime-time slot, the programme is watched by millions across the Arab region, and this year they will be offering sizable cash prizes on a weekly basis. Eligibility depends on a number of points; your startup must be less than three years old and at least one of the founders must younger than 35 years. 

Photography by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.

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