For the second year in a row, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab held the training bootcamp for its flagship Arab Startup Competition as a fully virtual program designed to prepare participants to face the challenges and seize unforeseen opportunities. The bootcamp was designed to provide hands-on technical modules in addition to learning the latest trends in the circular economy, digital transformation, and fundraising in a post-COVID economy.
The 35 semifinalist teams who have received the training bootcamp joined from various parts of the world and shared their experiences working in multiple industry verticals to create an engaging and thought-provoking discussion with the trainers. Also, the trainers have provided real-life examples and case studies to ensure that the semifinalists are well prepared for the final round of judging and beyond. The three-day training bootcamp culminated with private 1-on-1 sessions that connected the semifinalists with over 45 mentors, consisting of industry experts, investors, accelerator managers, and more. The mentorship sessions have long proven to be an invaluable source of knowledge, where the participants get the opportunity to ask any specific questions related to their business or industry.
Before moving forward with the breakdown of the bootcamp training, MIT Enterprise Forum would like to thank its partners for helping in organizing the competition and making the 14th edition a success: Community Jameel (Main Partner), Zain Group (Strategic Digital Partner), Microsoft for Startups Middle East (Technology Partner), Oracle Middle East (Technology Partner), Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (Accelerator Partner), Roland Berger (Knowledge Partner), and GrowIN Portugal (Prize Partner).
The first day of the training bootcamp kicked off with a quick introduction from MITEF Pan Arab Managing Director Maya Rahal, followed by a technical session from Microsoft for Startups Middle East’s Sania Kaddoura, Cloud Architect. The session was titled ‘Modern Apps on Azure - How the team contributes to a flexible adaptive model. The techno-commercial modeling session provided the participants with insights into how to design a well-architected framework to maximize ROI on the cloud. Afterward, the day continued with a session from the team at Roland Berger which addressed the ongoing shift from a linear to a circular economy and what that means to startups. The session, which was facilitated by Hani Katerji (Partner and Head of Sustainability Middle East), Elias Akiki (Consultant Middle East), and Kushal Shah (Senior Partner and Head of Digital Asia and Middle East), introduced the incumbents to how the act of balancing economy with ecology maximizes value creation to all stakeholders in the value chain. Furthermore, the session highlighted how startups have the ability to leverage their agility to ‘close the loop’ and rethink design, ownership models, and material flows.
The second day of the training bootcamp started with another session from MSFT4Startup’s Sania Kaddoura titled ‘Architecting applications on Cloud - The natural evolution of cloud applications to SaaS, the trends and the pitfalls’. The discussion went over the ‘shared responsibility of cloud hosting’ and why the nature of cloud hosting pushes entrepreneurs to use it as a platform rather than infrastructure.
Moving forward, the day continued with a training session given by Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund’s team Nabeel Javed and Hasan Badea. The session was particularly interesting for the attending entrepreneurs, especially as it highlighted the opportunities offered by MBRIF such as the guarantee scheme and acceleration program, as well as the recent trends in investment dynamics in MENA. The participants took this opportunity to ask questions directly related to the fundamentals of fundraising and what considerations to take before deciding on the source of funding: grants, angel investors, crowdfunding, venture capital, or loans.
The day did not end there, especially as the semifinalists were looking forward to Oracle Middle East’s session which was given by Petah Green (EMEA Digital Transformation Director, Oracle Digital - Tech) and Zaid Al Qaddoumi (MEA Digital Transformation leader, Oracle Digital - Tech). The training module was titled ‘Digital Transformation Enablement: Advisory Services, Methodology & Approach’ and introduced the semifinalists to a holistic approach to digital transformation, digital maturity models, information dimensions, in addition to a baseline maturity assessment.
The third and final day of the training bootcamp revolved around a mentorship session. Each team was virtually connected to a mentor for an hour, where they discussed specific topics related to each startup’s industry and maturity.
The winners of the 14th edition of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition will be announced during the upcoming virtual conference and awards ceremony to be held on March 25, 2021. Registration for the event will soon be open, stay tuned.