Posted on January 8, 2018
From November 14th to 16th at the Matmut Stadium in Lyon, BigBooster welcomed 100 startups from all over the world during the first Booster Camp of the season. 44 made the cut to the next round: the coaching and internship phase. All three participating Lebanese startups made it to the next round. Carpolo, a car sharing app, won in the Global Impact category, while Slighter, a smart lighting device, and Meacor, cardiovascular solutions won the Bio & Health category with the latter landing first place.
All part of the Berytech Community, Carpolo and Slighter were nominated by Berytech through the the Next Society project, while Meacor was chosen directly by the Big Booster organization. More than 150 mentors, judges and experts worked hard with the startups, during 3 intensive days, to help them fine-tune their pitches and their strategy, both on the form and the substance. The startups went through group sessions working on their business plan, value proposition, etc… They took pitch crash-tests with mentors to perfect their pitches. They also received valuable insights and networking opportunities.
Carpolo aims to become a search engine for un-used car space by incentivizing members of the same community to list their empty car seats. Founders Mohammad Nabaa and Ralph Khailarallah won several competitions with their carpooling idea including third place in the GSVC competition which landed them six months of incubation at Berytech. Two years into its growth, the startup has partnered with local mobile communication company TOUCH in its “Don’t Drive” campaign, encouraging people to use different alternatives than texting while driving. With Carpolo’s gamified approach, passengers and drivers can collect points to exchange for TOUCH Magic lines and recharge vouchers. All users will also participate in a leaderboard, with prizes for the top 5 carpoolers with the most points collected over 3 months.
The Big Booster was a big eye-opener for the team of Carpolo. They were able to validate their gamification approach while learning that international carpooling applications were not valid in the local market. Carpolo is better positioned to serve the MENA region. “Big Booster connected us with the city of Lyon who has set a law for businesses obliging them to invest in carpooling. It was both an opportunity to validate the technology infrastructure that we have created in the app and an access to a new market with a huge potential,” remarks Ralph Khairallah.
SLIGHTER is a smart, connected, “learning” lighter that offers a tailored solution to reducing or quitting smoking based on its patented AI algorithm. The young startup has raised $800K from Berytech Fund II and has already started Beta testing the prototype. The smart lighter is a non-invasive solution that analyzes a smoker’s habits and assists in cessation taking into account physiological, psychological and social needs. SLIGHTER develops a personalized notifications program that gradually reduces the number of cigarettes per day. It is connected to a mobile app that ensures motivation through personalized visual feedback and community engagement features.
Samer el Gharib, founder of SLIGHTER used his participation in the Big Booster as an opportunity to bring together his team of five to challenge their ideas in a new context. Accordingly, the team decided to remove the word ‘lighter’ from their product description and focus on ‘a device that lights’. The change is a response to the price point challenge where customers view the product as an expensive lighter rather than a device cost-effective enough (cost of two weeks of smoking in Europe) to help them reduce their smoking habit. The team had great networking opportunities with contacts for product certification and a product engineering contact that would ensure the quality of production and the protection of the idea as it is being produced in China.
Meacor is developing a novel catheter-based repair device that replicates the open-heart gold standard for the treatment of mitral valve regurgitation (MR). Meacor’s device targets the cohort of fragile patients with severe MR that currently are not surgical candidates. Since the etiology of the diseases are many, several therapies are being developed. Meacor has chosen to focus on replicating the open-heart standard of care, ring annuloplasty; being the primary repair on patients with functional MR and secondary for Degenerative MR. Meacor has raised $45ok to date from VCs including IM Capital.
The Big Booster provided Toufic Azar, founder of Meacor, a networking opportunity with a range of professionals including a medical device veteran, other medical device and pharmaceutical start-ups, lawyers and Venture Capitalists. The sessions helped him fine-tune his pitch and update his business plan while planning for the upcoming phases of his startup, including preparing for his next financing round.
The 44 selected startups, including the three from Lebanon, are now entering the personalized training and coaching phase with BigBooster partners. They will have four months to work with top-notch experts and get ready for the Demo Day (April 2018) where BigBooster will select only 25 start-ups to go to its signature Booster Camps.