Maroun Chammas speaks at Oracle Entrepreneurs Day Beirut
Berytech Chairman and CEO Maroun N. Chammas was a keynote speaker at the recent Entrepreneurship Day organized by Oracle, where he was invited to describe the journey of high tech entrepreneurship in Lebanon since the foundation of Berytech. The event brought together startups, inspirational speakers, as well as Oracle and industry experts.
A serial entrepreneur
Chammas began by sharing his own journey part of the Chammas Group of Companies, which include Medco gas stations. He explained that the company had started using Oracle software very early on. “We started using Oracle products in 1999 and currently more than 95% of the software we use in the group are built in-house using Oracle database and Oracle development tools.”
He went on to explain that any business today, if it is not transformed on a daily basis is going to fail. “We do not sell gasoline at Medco, we sell high standard services at each station. That’s what distinguishes us. We are constantly changing, updating and upgrading.”
Chammas commented that “if you have the focus, the drive, the motivation, if you believe in what you do, and you have a good team, you will succeed. This is the philosophy is have followed and try to instill in others as well.”
He also shared how he had established, with his brother, the Lebanese Internet Service Provider IDM in 1995, regarded as being among the pioneers in bringing the digital universe to the country. He went on to describe the current situation and how he was confident it would improve drastically.
Chammas explained that despite years of conflict, this strong entrepreneurship spirit enjoyed by the Lebanese has been essential to surviving repeated economic crises, helping limit the brain drain, creating jobs and contributing to the development and rise of various sectors particularly in Technology.
In response to this innate entrepreneurial drive in the Lebanese people, support structures started rising in the early 2000s, to strengthen the entrepreneurial scene and build an adequate environment in Lebanon for the support of startup creation.
Berytech’s proven success
This began with the founding of Berytech, developed by visionaries at the Saint-Joseph University, to be the first technology pole in Lebanon and the region that provides a conductive environment for the creation and development of Lebanese startups and SMEs.
Chammas explained that Berytech’s model had proven successful, and “thanks to our sound corporate governance that respects international standards, Europeans and Americans trust us with their funding and investments.”
Chammas proudly boosted that it is Lebanese entrepreneurial success stories that have attracted international donors, contributing to the growth of the ecosystem through key initiatives, access to networks, grants and capacity building programs.
With Intermediate Circular 331, the Central Bank also gave a major boost to the Lebanese entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem which in turn led to the rise of new support partners, structures, funds and networks, supporting the journey of Lebanese entrepreneurs.
“But there are sceptics. Those who say the region and the country are going through difficult times and that Lebanese internal politics will always divide us. I tell them with confidence that Lebanon’s ingenuity and innovation will always unite us in a common goal to see us succeed locally, regionally and globally,” added Chammas.
Designed in Lebanon, Manufactured in China, Sold in The World
Chammas also explained that there was a need to develop hardware accelerators in Lebanon, and that “we are now looking into creating this accelerator and investing $5-7M in it.” He also mentioned that Berytech had set up a Fabrication Lab, where makers today could develop their prototypes. “Designed in Lebanon, Manufactured in China, Sold in The World”, Chammas said with confidence on how Lebanon would regain its rightful place on the global ICT map.
“The future today is in ICT, and we will increase our support for innovative Lebanese companies and create the right environment for innovation by unifying all the efforts being done today within the Lebanese and regional ecosystem.”
Finally, despite all the factors working against Lebanon’s progress, Chammas says it is the entrepreneurial ecosystem that is remolding the Lebanese economy. “Lebanon has always been a hub for talent… now with funding, high profile networking, and an ultimate goal to play a role in the future of ICT, nothing can stop us”.
Chammas was joined by H.E Nicolas Sehnaoui, Chairman of UK Lebanon Tech Hub and David Munir Nabti, Co-founder & GM of AltCity/Bootcamp/Elevate Impact Accelerator, as well as many Oracle experts including Orla Ni Chorcora, Oracle ECEMEA A&C Leader, and Alain Nohra, Oracle Country Manager for Lebanon.