“We are really thrilled to have this prize, but what’s more important to us is the work we do in building Arabic bots that connect clients to their customers online and help them to serve in their own language,” said Iyad Alshami, one of the cofounders who pitched at the competition.
The competition was held on Monday, April 10th at the Beirut Digital District (BDD).
The second prize ($7000) went to Artilla, an artistic educational program aimed at teaching drawing and visual arts through short videos, and the final prize ($5000) went to LiBeiroot, a carpooling app that books taxis across the Damascus-Beirut road.
“We’ve been active for three years now,” cofounder of Artilla Yaman Sadeq said, “And we’ve helped thousands of designers and aspiring artists through digital [programs] publish their work.” He added that their business model relies on subscription and partnerships with NGOs.
Meanwhile LiBeiroot are still in their early stage, but they hope to reach 50 trips per day in November.
The winners were among the 13 contestants who came to BDD to receive their training on all aspects of entrepreneurships, They were shortlisted from 225 applications.
“We have hosted more than 60 startups so far [in three years],” Ahmad Sufian, the main organizer of the program, said, “and they vary from Artificial Intelligence (AI), to ecommerce, to hardware, to app development and other domains.”
The Panel of speakers
A panel of speakers was held before the competition with the aim of giving advice to the contestants and sharing stories with them.
Ghalib advised the audience to experiment with an entrepreneurial mindset and to travel abroad to experience different ecosystems, having been an Iraqi refugee himself. Rowley spoke of the importance of staying positive and resourceful through adversity.
As for Nabti, he stressed the aesthetics of the Syrian culture, particularly the arts found in Damascus, which several startups in the contest focused on. Finally Mrs Zein, who has had more than 25 years of experience in serving Aramex, advised the audience to have a contingency plan. “There’s no way you can survive without it,” she said.
Who were the other 10 competing teams?
- TabeebApp: a mobile app that solves the problem of doctor and patient communication in all fields through a direct feedback online system. The app also works on IoT through in-house medical machines that monitor vital signs.
- DecorNerd: an online marketplace that enables furniture designers, craftspeople, and artisans to sell their hand-made pieces online.
- Mujeeb: A platform for building Arabic chatbots for the purpose of customer support for Arabic speaking customers. It utilizes machine learning technology to process and answer messages in Arabic.
- Manarti: an interactive educational app for kids that contains series and amusing stories via augmented reality.
- Ana Safe bracelet: A bracelet delivering news of conflict to family and ambulance in case of mortar or blast.
- Ifrit: An Arabic spoken dialogue system designed to replace call centers.
- Artilla: An entertaining, educational program aimed at teaching the fundamentals of drawing and visual arts within a unique presentation.
- LiBeiroot: Carpooling app to book taxis that can cross the Damascus-Beirut road.
- EM-Syria: a platform that provides online commerce deals.
- Dr. Score: Online service that helps students studying for TOEFL by scoring the essays automatically and giving feedback. A premium and golden service will be available. .
- Innovast Technology: An educational center to help educate children and refugees through the use of an educational robot.
- Find A Nurse: a home-care technology company that matches patients with qualified, vetted caregivers in their vicinity.
- Homie Hon: An app that provides online searching services for real estate clients and founders and integrates google maps.
- Nahy: An app that helps families in foreign countries verify dietary ingredients and avoid dietary restrictions in foods through a simple scan of the products' barcode. They have over 125.000 recorded products in their database.