This is the third article in a series covering ArabNet Beirut 2014, the most recent ArabNet conference. ArabNet is, in my opinion, the only worthwhile conference in the region for developers, investors, and entrepreneurs in the fields of mobile, Web, e-commerce, and content creation to attend.
The second day of ArabNet Beirut included, among many other attractions, 18 creative entrepreneurial pitches by entrepreneurs with different levels of experience. This post will summarize each pitch.
First, at an 11:30 a.m. session, came the Ideathon pitches. As the name implies, this event featured pitches for entrepreneurial ideas that had not yet come together as start-ups. The Ideathon format provided 3 minutes of valuable stage time to 9 entrepreneurs.
The first pitch was for Instalist, an app described as “Instagram for classifieds.” With Instalist, users will be able to browse classified ads by scrolling through a simple, visual interface that will emphasize photos of the items or properties up for sale or rent.
Next up was House Styles, a service that aims to simplify architecture for renters. House Styles will use digital modeling to help users choose apartment layouts.
Afterward came Fairy.li, a social discovery and suggestion engine. Fairy.li will allow the user to enter general information about themselves, such as their office location, favorite hangouts, lunch spots, and weekend hobbies, and also collect this information from each user’s social media profiles. It will then allow users to find each other based on these day-to-day commonalities.
Next up was Lifeline, a mobile app for off-duty emergency personnel. After downloading Lifeline, each first responder’s phone will connect them to the emergency chamber, allowing them to be dispatched to the nearest emergency whenever first aid is needed.
Another socially-focused pitch was for DeeDream, an online fundraising platform that will give users the chance to win prizes while supporting humanitarian causes, starting at the $5-donation mark. 85% of proceeds will go to charity.
The pitch that followed was for U3abber, an online database that will connect users with life coaches, therapists, and mental health professionals. On this website, each user will be able to communicate with a life coach or mental health professional through messaging, voice messaging, or video conferencing. Communications will be private, or if the user wishes, can even be anonymous.
Next in line was Turny, a queuing app and website that will allow users to check the status of any queue remotely, as long as the business or office in question has signed up with Turny. It will also allow users to join the queue remotely, letting each one step in when their turn comes.
Along the same vein as Lifeline, My Herooz will be an augmented reality platform that seeks to connect people who need help with those who can provide it, but with a focus on average people instead of first responders. My Herooz will be set up as a gamified platform where users can both seek assistance and provide assistance to others on problems ranging from car trouble to math homework, earning achievements and rewards along the way.
Next came DeRecipe, an online platform for connecting designers with the resources they need, such as printing presses, executors, and suppliers. Among other interactive features, designers will be able to view and rate the profiles and portfolios of resource providers.
Wrapping up the pitches, ر م ا ز is a service that will help people learn to code in Arabic. ر م ا ز will teach Arabic programming through a three-step strategy that can be summarized as “see, learn, do.”
The Ideathon event ended with the moderator announcing that 2 out of last year’s 3 Ideathon winners are now running businesses, one of which was accelerated by SeedStartup and granted its first round of funding.
The next pitching session, entitled Startup Demo, ran from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. This session featured 9 start-ups that were already and up and running, but sought funding to fuel further growth.
The first pitch was for a social organization app named Kablaow. Kablaow allows contact information to be simultaneously traded between smartphones using the front camera, automatically tags contacts entered according to the time and place they were added, and groups all conversations according to sender regardless of the medium through which they were sent.
Next came Crowd Analyzer, a social media monitoring platform that tracks and analyzes what users are saying about brands. Crowd Analyzer can read different dialects of Arabic, detect whether social media posts have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation, and distinguish words that are spelled the same way, but have different meanings.
The next app, Smart Document Scanner, turns each user’s smartphone into a scanner that creates cropped, digitally-enhanced PDFs out of any document photographed. SD Scanner also automatically backs up each document, gives the user the option of syncing it with Google Drive, and employs a multi-level file storage system.
Back in the B2B sector, the pitch for a digital marketing platform called Ta3rifah offered businesses the chance to target customer segments as well as track and analyze customer behavior through a 360° dashboard. Customers gain the benefit of promotions customized for them, while companies are able to target and communicate with each customer directly.
Another ambitious pitch was that of Sohati.com, an Arab health care portal that provides physician-verified medical content and an online patient-doctor interaction platform. These interactions can take place through e-mail, live chat, or video. Demand for online interaction has been especially high among patients seeking help in the fields of gynecology, sexology, and psychiatry.
Next up was Fashion Encore, an online marketplace that not only allows users to buy and sell used clothing, jewelry, and accessories online, but checks items to see if they are in good condition and authenticates all high-end pieces. Users can search by brand name, condition, size, color, and material, as well as ask sellers questions, require details that verify authenticity, and request discounts.
Another marketplace facilitator, Handasiyat.net, focuses on making remote engineering support services more accessible and affordable in the region through an all-female team of more than 9,000 engineers. Handasiyat is particularly focused on construction projects, but can provide engineering solutions in a variety of fields.
Along the same lines as Fashion Encore, Mini Exchange is an online consignment store that allows parents to buy and sell used children’s clothing, accessories, fancy dress outfits, and school uniforms that have been examined for quality. However, Mini Exchange also takes care of the task of photographing, describing, listing, warehousing, and shipping on behalf of the seller. It also allows sellers to direct proceeds to the charitable causes they care about.
Last but not least was Limo ‘N Taxi, a cloud-based tracking and dispatching system for taxi, limousine, shuttle, and delivery companies that just needs to be installed as an app on each driver’s mobile phone. Limo ‘N Taxi includes solutions for customer data management, booking, reservations, manual and automatic dispatching, and unlimited free messaging through a dedicated messaging service.
Seeing a pattern? These pitches focused on using apps or websites to improve the lives of people in the region, often by connecting people in the ways they need most. Listening to these pitches, it seems our greatest resource is each other, and technology’s role is to remove barriers to communication so that we can fully utilize this resource.
If you liked this post, please check back as the series on ArabNet 2014 continues. You can also check out @ArabNetME on Twitter. Additionally, now is the time to register for the ArabNet Digital Summit in Dubai this June.
Finally, if you have an innovative start-up pitch to share with me, please submit your pitch today.