Start-up of the Week: 'Blossom' — Showing the way to women entrepreneurs

Updated 19 September 2018

Start-up of the Week: 'Blossom' — Showing the way to women entrepreneurs

  • The accelerator gives early-stage startups the opportunity to participate in a boot camp and a demo day, while providing them with resources, knowledge, networking, and access to nearly 35 mentors in various business fields over a two-week program
  • Applicants are evaluated on the experience of the founding team, the product’s value, the business’s scalability and its current stage of operations

JEDDAH: Blossom, a Jeddah-based accelerator that focuses on female-led technology startups in Saudi Arabia, was launched in Dec. 2017.
It is the first and only accelerator that aims to empower and enable female-founded startups in Saudi Arabia.
A lack of resources to support growing women-led startups in the Kingdom prompted Eman Shakoor, the CEO, to establish Blossom to help other women to overcome the challenges she faced when she tried to build her own startup earlier in the same year.
Shakoor told Arab News: “I realized the growing potential and ambitions among Saudi women to start their own businesses. However, I also noticed the need to provide more access to resources and networking for them to really build up something amazing and sustainable.”
The accelerator gives early-stage startups the opportunity to participate in a boot camp and a demo day, while providing them with resources, knowledge, networking, and access to nearly 35 mentors in various business fields over a two-week program.
“A total of 28 applications were received during our first round earlier this year, shortlisted to 12 suitable applicants. From these, only four (Maison Glamour, Noorah Kareem, Passioneurs, and Ewahimprov) were selected to be part of Blossom’s first cohort,” the Blossom chief said.
Applicants are evaluated on the experience of the founding team, the product’s value, the business’s scalability and its current stage of operations.
Shakoor said: “We are looking for early-stage existing startups that have at least one female founder, an innovative tech-product that solves real problems and is backed up by market research, with a good understanding of competition, scalable future growth and, finally, the team’s experience and commitment to the business, and its product.”
As for the program’s objectives, the startups can expect guidance in refining their business models and improving their technical strength. During the two-week intensive program, participants are provided with 24/7 access to a co-working space, one-on-one sessions with expert mentors to help them in improve their businesses.
The entrepreneur said: “Startups get mentorship on everything from business models, introduction to entrepreneurship, lean principles, product design, marketing, accounting and financing, legalities, and pitching/presentation skills.
“We also organize public events and workshops focused on networking, idea-sharing, and inspiration throughout the year.”
She said: “Our main goal is to promote entrepreneurship and make it trendy among Saudi women by using Arabic names for our events.”
Since its launch, the accelerator has arranged three events: Techpreneurship Sprint (a one-day business plan competition targeting technology startup ideas); the SELLA Event (a technology entrepreneurship networking event focused on idea-sharing, inspiration, and networking); and the THIQAH Event (a female- empowerment event that teaches women how to become more confident, and to create the company they deserve).
“Going forward, and sponsored by SEDCO, Bin Dawood and other organizations, the accelerator is aiming to accept three to seven applicants in two rounds every year, for a three-month acceleration program that ends with the opportunity to pitch their ideas and products to well-known investors at the demo day,” Shakoor said.


Pentagon awards United Launch Alliance, SpaceX launch contracts

Updated 09 August 2020

Pentagon awards United Launch Alliance, SpaceX launch contracts

  • The two companies lay claim to billions of dollars in lucrative military contracts for a span of five years

WASHINGTON: The US Air Force said it awarded United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Elon Musk’s SpaceX $653 million in combined military launch contracts under the Pentagon’s next-generation, multibillion-dollar launch capability program.

The contracts are for launch service orders beginning in 2022 and allocate $337 million to ULA, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., and $316 million to SpaceX for the first missions of roughly 34 total that the two rocket firms will support through 2027.

ULA will receive a contract for approximately 60 percent of those launch service orders using its next-generation Vulcan rocket, while Musk’s SpaceX, using its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, will receive approximately 40 percent, the Air Force’s acquisition chief Will Roper told reporters on Friday.

The awards are part of the Pentagon’s 2014 mandate from Congress to curb its dependency on rockets using Russia’s RD-180 engine and transition to US-made rockets for launching Washington’s most sensitive national security payloads to space.

The program, called National Security Space Launch Phase 2, is aimed at “building a competitive industry base that we hope doesn’t just help military and national security missions, but that helps our nation continue to compete and dominate in space,” Roper added.

“Today’s awards mark a new epoch of space launch thatwill finally transition the Department off Russian RD-180 engines,” Roper said in a statement.

The two companies lay claim to billions of dollars in lucrative military contracts for a span of five years that competitors Blue Origin, the space company of Amazon.com Inc. owner Jeff Bezos, and Northrop Grumman also competed for.

Blue Origin Chief Executive Bob Smith said in a statement he was “disappointed” in the Pentagon’s decision, adding that the company will continue to develop its heavy-lift New Glenn rocket “to fulfill our current commercial contracts, pursue a large and growing commercial market, and enter into new civil space launch contracts.”