Posted on August 30, 2016
Along with all the services that Berytech provides to create a comprehensive, nurturing environment for emerging innovative entrepreneurs, from hosting and business support to networking and funding, Berytech has created an incubation track to help create and grow young businesses by providing them with necessary support and financial and technical services.
The on-going incubation program at Berytech currently hosts 7 different startups that have joined the program through winning competitions organised by Berytech in partnership with local and international organisations.
– The ‘Femme Francophone Entrepreneure’ with AUF Agence Universiatire de la Francophonie competition allows women with innovative, viable business projects at the startup or idea level to win an incubation support for a period of 6 months, in addition to a financial reward.
– The Global Social Venture Competition is an international yearly competition that provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure, and financial rewards to transform their ideas into businesses that will have positive real world impact. This year the winners of the GSVC competition benefited from an incubation support through a grant from Diane Foundation.
– The ‘Mount Lebanon Youth Entrepreneurs Competition, funded by UNDP, aims to support young entrepreneurs in developing new and innovative ideas and launching their start-ups that would also create job opportunities in the Mount-Lebanon area.
– The ‘Digital Energy Revolution Competition’, part of the Shaams program, aims at encouraging green innovations, technologies and startup projects in the field of renewable energies with a special focus on solar energy.
Additionally, incubation is offered to winners of competitions organised by ecosystem partners and supported by Berytech such as the ‘Startup Weekend Beirut’ which allows entrepreneurs, within a course of one weekend, to create ideas & startups that solve an environmental problem.
Entrepreneurs joining the incubation program are given the opportunity to be hosted in one of the 3 Berytech sites. The incubation track starts with a ‘needs assessment’, letting the entrepreneur prioritise the focus areas of his business and allowing him to develop his opportunities and properly grow his idea or startup.
Areas of the business that are evaluated cover:
The incubation program then provides the entrepreneur with a track of trainings and workshops in finance, business legal aspect, marketing and sales, design thinking, etc.
Working sessions with a business development specialist are set to create and follow up on the startup’s business plan. The incubated entrepreneur is also assigned to coaches and business mentors providing their support and experience in areas relative to the startup’s requirements and core business.
Because Berytech believes that a successful business is all about connections and relations, one of its priorities during the incubation period is to link the entrepreneur with organizations and platforms that could catalyze the growth of the startup.
Currently part of the incubation program, RIEGO, is a solar powered irrigation controller that monitors the weather, soil and tree parameters; in order to optimise the irrigation schedule and reduce the consumption of water in agriculture. Antoine Skayem, founder, explains how the idea of Riego was developed: “In 2013, a huge drought hit Lebanon that rendered a 60% damage to the production yield. As a result, we joined forces with ‘Arcenciel’ to come up with a proactive solution to reduce the water consumption on a 33000 sqm apple orchard. The project consisted of combining several sensors and a platform in order to optimise the irrigation schedule.
The concept proved to be effective and reached around 20% of reduction. Consequently, we decided to leverage on the project and develop a plug & play product that is capable of rendering the same result, with a lower cost. We want to impact the environment and agricultural sector by helping to manage our resources for the future.”
“We have faced and we are still facing several challenges on several fronts, both technical and financial,” continues Skayem, “Lebanon is poor in providing the technical support to develop and test a prototype. We have to import the sensors and electronics; accordingly we lose time and money due to delays and miscommunication. On the other hand, gathering the investment to build the product and test it requires a lot of time, and the investment tickets available are trivial and do not allow us to survive for more than a couple of months. The incubation with Berytech was priceless. It helped us refine our business plan, exposed us to life changing mentors and ameliorated our skills through workshops and customized sessions.”
Carpolo is another startup incubated at Berytech. Having relied on carpooling to tour Europe during his studies abroad, founder Mohamad Nabaa was behind one of the many initiatives to promote the carpooling concept in Lebanon. And so the idea of a ride-sharing app was born. Carpolo is a smart platform that creates tools to promote carpooling. It is a platform that acts as a search engine for unused car space by incentivizing drivers to list their empty car seats.
NAR (Next Automated Robot) is an innovative start-up developing drone-based solutions to analyze and interpret data on-the-fly for real-time updates of safety-critical applications. The idea came to founder Nicolas Zaatar as he was helping the local firefighters put out a fire in the forest of Baabda and saw how hard it was to locate the fire. “We decided to build a drone that that is able to detect wildfires autonomously and alert the authorities about the fire’s location. After that we saw a bigger opportunity in the drone technology and broadened our vision to create software that turns drones on the market to smart drones so they can be used in multiple safety-critical applications,” explains Zaatar. The main challenge he faces, as an entrepreneur, is his race against time: “The only thing that can’t be bought or controlled. Everyday new challenges on the business or technical level appear and we have to deal with them within a certain time limit otherwise we might lose an opportunity.”
“A lot of value was received from the incubation program at Berytech. We got a wonderful working environment, a great mentorship from business specialists and a very helpful community of entrepreneurs whom we get to exchange knowledge with,” confirms Zaatar, who is currently hosted in Berytech Technology Pole in Mar Roukoz.
Lebtivity.com, also an incubated startup, is a calendar for all events in Lebanon. Lebtivity is a responsive web-app allowing event creators to promote their events and event seekers a clear interface to personalize their schedule based on their preferred events. It also gives back to its user the power to sort events, deciding which ones get the most exposure.
Another incubated startup is Modeo Systems, founded by Emile Arayes and Aline Gemayel. It’s a Do-It-Yourself furniture solution based on a mobile app for anyone to customize, visualize, and order modular parts that are very easy to assemble. The parts interlock together easily – much like Lego – to create any furniture around the house. It can be for example a TV set, a wardrobe, and even a kitchen. Modeo is an easy and quick way for anyone to get good quality, customised furniture, at an affordable price.
Winner of the Beirut Startup Weekend, LIMM, offers a free garbage management platform aiming to connect Lebanese households to municipal workers in order to facilitate the collection of sorted, recyclable waste. Limm would also reward households and individuals based on the quality and quantity of their output, through programs funded by private companies’ CSR programs. “In the next stage, LIMM will allow individuals to integrate the platform based on an “Uber concept,” explains Nicolas Farah, one of the entrepreneurs behind this idea, “this would allow truck owners to register as freelance collectors and earn additional income.”
Another innovative e-commerce startup incubated in Berytech is ESSMAK.com, an online platform that allows the customization of washable and durable labels for kids’ belongings, aiming to facilitate a mother’s life. Essmak founder, Stephanie Hanna, was preparing five-year-old twins to enter school when she realized that everything she sent with them needed to be labeled.
The busy financial executive certainly wasn’t going to find time to sew labels onto all their clothes, shoes, and schoolsupplies, so she ordered labels online from a company in the United States, as there were no local options. School was well underway by the time the labels finally arrived – nearly three weeks later – leaving her wondering, “How do all the other mums out there do this?” Hanna then decided there had to be a better way to handle the task, and set out to create a better, more stylish, and way more convenient labeling system catering to mums living in the Middle East. Hanna has faced many challenges in her entrepreneurial journey including access to capital, access to cheap courier services in the Middle East, finding the right business solution partners for SEO and SMO, … “Berytech really helped me better organise my business not only financially but through sound advice and mentoring. They were the ones who encourage me to approach the Kafalat ISME team to apply for a grant, which I managed to get!”, says Hanna.
The Berytech incubation program is open for all startups wishing to apply for the 2017 track. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.