RIYADH: After the spin of four rounds in four different Saudi cities, the international seed-stage startups competition, Seedstars World brought its Saudi round to a successful close during Seedstars Riyadh on Sunday.
Almost 55 startups participated in the first Saudi round of the world’s biggest startup competition in emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes this year. It was organized in partnership with the Misk Innovation, Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), and Bader Program for Technology and Incubation (Bader).
Every participant went through a three-day intensive boot camp, which included mentoring sessions, theme panels and dynamic pitching sessions in each city. That provided them with the opportunity to be mentored by top-notch local and global experts in growth, pitching and acquisition channels.
The eight best startups from Riyadh, Abha, Dammam, and Jeddah were invited to pitch on Sunday in front of an investment panel and compete to be crowned the best seed-stage startup in the Kingdom. The top four will be awarded cash prizes and all-inclusive trips to the Seedstars world and regional summits.
The first place winner receives SR100,000, with the second, third, and fourth-placed winning startups taking SR50,000, SR25,000, and SR10,000 respectively.
This year, Wasel Lee, Bright Up, Supplium, Al-Maha Systems, YNMO, MARN, Mathaqi, and Labayh were recognized as the most promising startups in Saudi Arabia and were invited to the Seedstars Saudi Arabia in Riyadh — an event filled with disruptive tech, inspirational discussions and networking sessions.
In addition to seeing the top startups pitch, the event’s agenda included an opening keynote by Mohammed Al-Haqbani, vice president of enterprise accounts at STC, who highlighted the great potential of the entrepreneurship and startups in the country, and some of the services and support that STC provides. The event’s agenda also included a panel discussion on SMEs’ growth using disruptive technologies.
YNMO, the first Arabic/English digital solution that aims to improve the quality of care and educational services for individuals with special needs, was awarded the first-place cash prize of SR100,000, in addition to a plane ticket to Switzerland to compete for more than $1 million in investments. YNMO will also have the opportunity to meet the 65+ winners from other fast-growing economies, as well as investors and mentors from around the world.
MARN (a tech startup specializing in point-of-sale solutions across multiple platforms and modern technologies), Supplium (an AI-driven e-procurement management system where restaurants can buy all their supplies from one portal), and Labayh (a mobile app that provides psychological therapy sessions for users anonymously) won second, third and fourth places respectively.
Al-Haqbani said: “Seedstars is a very well-known initiative that promotes and help startups to grow globally. Being in Saudi Arabia for the first time is a very good opportunity for young entrepreneurs to learn and understand global standards, while having the chance to participate in similar international competitions.”
He added: “We have high-quality startups where teams are dedicated to their ideas and businesses, and understand their business models. We can see huge potential and room for improvement, which is the aim of such an event.”
Nawaf Al-Sahhaf, CEO of the Bader Program, said: “Seedstars Riyadh is another initiative that has been organized to support the booming of the Saudi startup and investor activity. The competition showcased the promising level of our young entrepreneurs and startups.
“We at Bader are supporting this initiative, and we hope to see our winner representing Saudi Arabia at the Seedstars World Summit in Switzerland.”
In addition to the cash prizes and invitations to Seedstars summits, the four winners will be incubated by the Bader Program and get business services worth almost $70,000.