Saudi startup competition encourages innovation among youth

Saudi startup competition encourages innovation among youth
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Ahmed (L) and Mohammed Jaleesa. (Photo/Supplied)
Saudi startup competition encourages innovation among youth
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Osama al-Matrafi
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Updated 14 November 2020

Saudi startup competition encourages innovation among youth

Saudi startup competition encourages innovation among youth
  • Mohammed Domais, whose Jaleesa app — which helps parents find qualified babysitters — won the Social Enterprises track last year, told Arab News that the win had saved his business

JEDDAH: The fifth edition of the MITEF Saudi Startup Competition opened for registration on Friday, under the slogan “Innovate, Inspire, Connect.” Registration will be open until Dec. 10.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, this year’s competition will be held virtually. It will also include the second Startup Investment Forum (SIF), which is expected to include innovative startups from around the world, as well as the launch of the Saudi Alumni Network Council — a group of competition alumni, Bayan Al-Ghamdi, the head of entrepreneurship programs & MITEF Saudi at Community Jameel, told Arab News.
The startup competition has three tracks: Startups, Social Enterprises, and Ideas. The competition offers a cash prize of SR325,000, in addition to mentorship at the MITEF Saudi Accelerator, a six-week program in collaboration with the MIT Entrepreneurship Center.
The nine winning teams from the MITEF Saudi Startup Competition will also be invited to participate in the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition.
The winner of last year’s Startups track competition, Ahmed Bukhamseen, told Arab News how his Fruits360 software — which integrates point-of-sale systems to provide real-time analysis — has benefited from MITEF’s prizes.
“The monetary award helped us in hiring some of our needed resources as well as raise our marketing exposure,” Bukhamseen said.
“That’s besides the intangible values gained from the workshops and bootcamps and how that helped us fine-tune many aspects in the product, as well as the network gained from the StartSmart Conference and Exhibition.”

The monetary award helped us in hiring some of our needed resources as well as raise our marketing exposure. That’s besides the intangible values gained from the workshops and bootcamps and how that helped us fine-tune many aspects in the product, as well as the network gained from the StartSmart Conference and Exhibition.

Ahmed Bukhamseen, winner of last year’s Startups track competition

Mohammed Domais, whose Jaleesa app — which helps parents find qualified babysitters — won the Social Enterprises track last year, told Arab News that the win had saved his business: “If we hadn’t won the SR100,000 from the competition, we probably would have shut down the company. Now we have 10,000 users and 3,000 babysitters and over 6,000 parents have subscribed to our platform. We achieved big numbers thanks to the competition.”
Even some of those who did not win last year say they benefited greatly from the entrepreneurial competition. Osama Al-Matrafi was one of last year’s finalists in the Social Enterprises track for Waste Turn — an app that offers rewards for safely disposing of electronic waste — and told Arab News that MITEF had given him invaluable information about creating a sustainable business.
“There are some efforts you waste in searching for investors rather than focusing on implementing your business. I identified the real needs of my customers and improved my business model and learned what investors are looking for and how to pitch the idea in front of them,” Al-Matrafi said.