In partnership with Facebook, leading tech publisher TechCrunch is bringing its first startup competition for entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa to Beirut Digital District (BDD), the heart of Lebanon's vibrant startup ecosystem . Scheduled on October 3, 2018, the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield, brings early stage startups together for a chance to compete and win a $25,000 prize, as well as being exposed to a big global investment community. ArabAd met with TechCrunch's CEO, Samantha Stein, to learn more about this initiative.
Could you brief us a little about the startup battlefield contest?
Startup Battlefield has existed for as long as TechCrunch has been putting on events— over 10 years! It started out under a different name and then became formally known as Startup Battlefield as the competition started growing in prestige and popularity. The 765 alumni companies have produced over 105 exits and raised over eight billion dollars.
How is the battlefield organized?
For each Startup Battlefield, companies apply through our online application. The TechCrunch Editorial team then reviews and selects the companies they think are most likely to produce an exit or IPO Startups go through intensive pitch coaching and mentoring from the Startup Battlefield team, before launching on stage at the main Startup Battlefield event.
How do you select the top 15 entrepreneurs?
The 15 companies are judged by several members of the Selection Committee. Startups are judged on the strength of IP developed potential for IPO or acquisition. Selections will be announced mid-September.
What kind of start-ups are you looking for? Any specific sector/ industry?
TechCrunch is looking for early stage, pre-series A startups in any vertical or industry. Companies must have a minimally viable product to participate as the pitches require live demos.
Who are the judges?
The judges will be top investors and entrepreneurs who will judge startups based on their 6-minute pitches and 6-minute question and answer session.
Obviously this competition highlights the work of regional start-ups. Where does TechCrunch's interest lay here?
TechCrunch's mission is to highlight founders, venture, and the startup ecosystem all around the world. It's our core DNA.
We all know Silicon Valley doesn’t have a monopoly on entrepreneurship — so much innovation is happening all around the world.
TechCrunch is so excited to shine the spotlight on founders across the Middle East and North Africa.
This event is sponsored by Facebook. What role do they play?
All TechCrunch events have sponsors or a set of sponsors that make the event possible through a much-needed financial support. They do not play an editorial role in TechCrunch editorial programming or startups selected. We are thankful to all of the sponsors who make it possible for TechCrunch to enter these markets.
It’s the first event of that kind in the Middle East and North Africa. What interest do you see in the region?
TechCrunch has been interested in highlighting the region through Startup Battlefield for quite a while and we are excited to do so this October thanks to our partners.
The MENA region has a long history of valuing creators - artists, poets, architects, and in recent past entrepreneurs. We’ve to see angel investment and VC rise across the region in the past ten years. We’ve also startup to see larger exits, acquisitions, and funding rounds as the region’s venture capital and startup ecosystem mature.
Why choosing Lebanon ? Why not Dubai for instance?
Beirut has a strong culture of creative industries. We are so excited to host the first ever Startup Battlefield MENA in Beirut. We host our events in many static and evolving locations all of the world.