With every edition, MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition receives thousands of applications from eager MENA-based entrepreneurs who are working on groundbreaking projects. Out of this significant batch of applications, only a handful of around 60 startups, ideas, and social enterprises make it to the semifinals. These applications are carefully screened at least twice by our judges who come from various professional backgrounds.
The application form is the first impression you will make on the judge, so how can you make it stand out and fairly reflect your idea/startup and who is better than us to give you those tips?
1- Make sure you pick the right track
Entrepreneurs compete across three different tracks. This allows for a better evaluation of startups from different stages giving everyone a fair chance for competing. Read the track guidelines carefully when you start the application and go for it.
2- Choose the language you are comfortable with
We offer the option of applying in three different languages: English, Arabic, and French.Pick the language you are comfortable explaining your ideas through and make sure you don’t switch languages as you answer different questions throughout the application.
3- Include a brief and clear description of your startup
Your startup description is the first thing that judges will look at, so make sure it's precise, unique, and clearly describes who you are and what you do. Instead of saying you are the Uber of peer to peer lending, for example, say you are an online peer to peer lending platform that offers x y z.
4- Don't be reluctant to get a little personal
When you explain why you started your business/idea, give a little personal background story. Judges look for signs of dedication and commitment from founders who are passionate about what they do. Judges are human after all.
5- Know your numbers and use them well
When you talk about your market segment, scaling plans, and revenue streams, make sure your numbers are realistic and reflective of your due diligence.
6- Let us know if you’ve done this before
If you've been part of an accelerator, a startup program, or a tech competition, share it! It gives judges an idea about your level and the type of support you have received.
7- Who is your team?
“Team relevance and aptitude” is a significant judging criterion. Make sure you include all your core team members and explain in detail how each of them is adding value to your startup and business model. For example, Ahmad is our lead web developer, he has been developing our e-commerce platform from scratch. Ahmad's role is to make sure the platform is user-friendly and the customer journey is perfected. Ahmad also extracts the data needed to better understand our customers’ needs and behavior patterns and put them into use.
Our team and judges look for signs that your startup can survive beyond the competition. Show the judges you have a well-thought-of business model that is financially sustainable and that you will make good use of the competition’s monetary prize if you were to be selected among the winners.
9- Don’t wait for the last minute to submit your application
The Arab Startup Competition deadline for submissions is set for December 10. We will share reminders but make sure you have enough time to send in a comprehensive application and allow for a buffer to change some answers, make them better, and add pieces of information that can help you qualify to the semifinalists.
10- Make a killer video pitch
We ask for a 2-minute video pitch where you describe your startup to the judges.
Even if it’s a homemade video, there are plenty of ways to make it pop out and hook the judges. Use graphs and images and if you have a prototype show us how it works. You may use any video sharing website but make sure that your video does not contain any copyrighted material and is set to public.
For further information on the application process, we recommend you review our FAQ section, where you could find a detailed description of each question.