For their 1-year podcast anniversary, Berytech partnered with Entreprenergy, who brought together more than 800 people for the Entreprenergy Summit, organised by Entreprenergy founder Andre Abi Awad, on October 31 at the Palais Des Congres.
The summit provided a platform for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to network, get inspired by innovative ideas and successful businesses, validate their startup ideas and get support from investors from around the Arab world.
The day kicked off with interviews and panel discussions with words of wisdom from businessmen running successful businesses for more than 10 years.
“I have launched 37 startups and 35 of them failed,” said Ahmad Alkhatib, CEO of MarkaVIP, who confirmed that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, you need to have the passion and the drive to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
Similarly, CEO of Fiesta group Wissam Akkawi explained: “We all get opportunities in business but it takes passion and dedication to turn an opportunity into success.”
Elias Ghanem, Chairman of Zoomaal who has solid track record of breakthrough results in senior regional leadership roles at PayPal-eBay Inc, Visa Inc and Accor Group in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America;
Samar Hawa, senior advisor in Berytech Fund II, moderated the panel.
The FinTech industry is composed of companies that use technology to make financial systems more efficient. They are generally startups founded with the purpose of disrupting incumbent financial systems and corporations that rely less on software.
The panelists discussed how finance is seen as one of the industries most vulnerable to disruption by software. While finance has been shielded by regulation until now, and weathered the dot-com boom without major upheaval, a new wave of startups is increasingly “disaggregating” global banks.
Panelists agreed that in order for Lebanon and the MENA to ride the global wave, openness of the banking sector is a key: Traditional banks should embrace disruptive FinTech startups instead of putting them aside. Looking at how Airbnb and Uber disrupted the hotel and commuting sectors without owning a single hotel or car will put into perspective how the biggest online banking platform will have no banking branches. As an example we look at how crowdfunding links crowds to global capital slowly shifting them away from banks. Fintech is also changing the consumer behavior with money being transferred direclty from consumer to consumer.
Since the rise of the FinTech startups is driven by data, panelists agreed that startups must first understand how consumers are paying what they are purchasing in order to offer the right FinTech solutions. Data will be monetized because of data mining and data security will pause an issue that regulators need to address because of the threat of hacking as well as the need to protect sensitive consumer and corporate financial data. Any data breach, no matter how small, can ruin a FinTech company’s reputation.
In the end, the panel concluded that overcoming regulation and institutional inertia, and gaining the public’s trust will be key to ensuring widespread adoption of new financial technologies.
The second conference organized by Berytech at the Entreprenergy Summit was the Digital Energy Revolution Conference and the launch of the Green Energy Challenge.
Tarek Safwan, Branch Marketing Engineer at National Instruments (NI) , revealed how the IoT industry is vastly expanding and is expected to reach 2 trillion dollars in year 2020 in both consumer and industrial markets. Physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, enables these markets to collect and exchange data. This data once analyzed results in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit for any ‘thing’. National Instruments provides end-to-end industrial IoT solutions for a various scope of industries and applications including green engineering: ranging from the development of more energy-efficient systems to enhanced environmental monitoring and solutions.
Ashot Minasyan, Co-founder & CTO at Bitlis-MEN an NI alliance, recounted of how his company was created in 2004 with only 8 people on board working from his house to now serving the MENA region with solutions in energy sector automation and more than 500 employees on board. Ashot reminded us that “Nothing is impossible”. His company has already designed and prototyped a number of educational stands for hands-on works and one power quality analyzer. He lately felt most proud of his work when he visited a green oasis in the middle of the KSA desert, made possible through an automated irrigation system that his company had developed.
Co-Founder of Earth Technologies, Georges Abboud talked about his inspiring journey in the green energy entrepreneurial world. George resigned from a very well paid job in marketing to start his own business in green technology and energy efficiency, while others were laughing at his big idea. Today Earth Technologies is a multinational. Noticeably, his favorite quote is: “If people aren’t laughing at your dreams, then your dreams aren’t big enough!”
At the end of the conference, Krystel Khalil, Head of Communication and outreach in Berytech, kicked-off of the “Digital Energy Challenge” (shaams.berytech.org), a competition that targets engineers – students and professionals – and aims at encouraging green innovations, technologies and startup projects in the field of renewable energies with a special focus on solar energy.
This challenge is organized in the context of SHAAMS EU-funded project that aims at raising public awareness on solar energy to facilitate the take up and implementation of solar technologies in the Mediterranean countries. (www.shaams.org)
Berytech and National Instruments partnered to provide the needed support track to help promising startup projects and SMEs in that field develop their technologies in the right direction and maximize their impact.
The Entreprenergy Summit ended with high energy as participating entrepreneurs and startups left with the network of support they found in this ecosystem, advice to implement in their businesses and inspiration to drive them to the highest peaks of success.