Posted on April 20, 2022
Berytech wraps up another cycle of the Agrytech Accelerator Program with a Demo Session for the eight startups who have completed the third and last phase of the program. The eight entrepreneurs took the stage during AFID2022 to pitch the culmination of the work they have done on developing their solution in the past eventful year.
Their ideas spanned across the agri-food sector covering farming, food, fintech, digital marketplace, crop optimization, import substitution, packaging innovation and improving product shelf-life.
The first phase of the program onboarded 28 startups who went through a two-month support cycle during which the teams were introduced to market validation, team dynamics, and how to manage startups, including one-on-one clinics with business advisors and field and technical experts to support each team. After working on their product-market fit, the validation phase ended with an expert jury selecting the top 15 teams to go into the four-month Acceleration Phase.
During the second phase, the selected startups worked on validating their solution and building their minimum viable product (MVP). The teams had access to Berytech’s FabLab to build their prototypes, and to a peool of early adopters, experts, and product developers who helped to test and refine their products as they built their MVP. The teams were also able to establish their businesses from financial, marketing, management, and operational standpoints. At the end of the Acceleration Phase, an expert jury selected the top eight startups to go into the Incubation Phase for five months.
In the final phase of the Agrytech Accelerator, the eight startups received support in scaling, fundraising, negotiation, intellectual property, legal, terms sheets, and market access. Additional support was given via MIT’s Confideo Venture Mentoring to nourish creative “out of the box” thinking. The startups tested and validated their solutions by adopting the Living Lab approach.
“I am proud of all the entrepreneurs that have been part of the Agrytech Batch IV journey and I’m especially proud of the final 8 teams. They have shown passion, dedication and commitment to the program and more importantly to their ventures taking them from mere ideas to a solid and scalable businesses. The past year was not easy, and they rose above every obstacle and hurdle they faced giving us hope in a better future of Lebanon knowing that the country harbors such innovative and committed talents. Berytech and its team is always there to support the Agrytech entrepreneurs during the program and beyond. We welcome them to the Berytech family,” says Lara el Khoury, Deputy Program Director. “I would also like to thank the accelerator team, previous and current team members, who have supported, encouraged and pushed the entrepreneurs forward to reach their utmost potential. Their devotion and commitment is just remarkable. ”
The Demo Session gathered professionals, investors, stakeholders of the agrifood value chain and attendees of AFID2022. The eight startups, who also exhibited their solutions in the expo section of AFID2022, had three minutes each to pitch their solutions to the eager audience.
Agricom is a digital platform facilitating direct communication in the agri-food sector. They aim to build a solution that would be beneficial to shareholders, farmers, retailers, and NGOS by leveraging their experience in supply chain and data analytics to transform how food is procured and distributed within cities.
Nadim Khoury, co-founder of AgriCom, stated: “The accelerator program helped us build our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and test it in the market providing us with invaluable insights from customer feedback. We improved the efficiency of our business model and achieved significant visibility in the market. Following the program, we got selected to participate in the third batch of the Circular Economy Accelerator. This is a great achievement and an entry into a unique exchange with high-caliber partners from industry, science, and politics. All the support we have received from the Berytech team helped us push that far!”
BRB is a Lebanese Fresh Pasta brand that takes you on a trip of flavors from Beirut to Rome and back! They joined the Agrytech Accelerator Program with an idea to build a local pasta production as a solution to the current crisis since the Lebanese market used to depend only on imported pasta.
Their aim is to be the go-to choice for customers, accessible for everyone including households with kids, young couples and health-oriented individuals.
May Abou Charbine, co-founder of BRB, stated: “We were supported completely across various fronts such as: financial, technical requirements, product development, business planning, and marketing strategy, which accelerated the launching of our factory and the pasta brand. Bringing our dream to reality.”
CrowdFarming Lebanon is a fintech startup aiming to help Lebanese farmers and alimentary initiatives secure financing via crowdfunding in the form of loans. They are driven by the fact that traditional financial institutions tend to neglect the agriculture sector and believe the agriculture sector to be one of the pillars that can revive the Lebanese economy.
Currently CrowdFarming are looking to meet and onboard investors who share their passion.
George Salloum, co-founder of CrowdFarming Lebanon, stated: “On the startup level, the benefits were huge, the main value that we got from the Agrytech program and Berytech was the exposure. It was a door opener in many ways. The one-on-one clinics forced us to look deeply into every aspect of the business and ask pertinent questions, which is something people tend to overlook when starting up on their own. We were able to tune the business model further, adjust it, discover the weak points we have and address them.”
Dooda Solutions is a women-led earthworm farm specializing in vermicompost, an organic soil amendment that restores soil health, increases the yield per plant by more than double, increases the seed germination by 40%, and reduces irrigation requirement by 30%.
They aim to provide a 360° solution to farmers that will cater to their needs along the entire cycle of plant life. Dooda’s solutions enhances the food supply chain by improving farmer yields, cost reduction, and the export of crops.
Nada Ghanem, co-founder of Dooda Solutions, stated: “Before joining Berytech, Dooda’s focus was to supply solid vermicompost to indoor planters and home gardeners; However, after receiving the technical support from Berytech team, now Dooda supplies solid and liquid vermicompost to small, medium and large-scale farmers.”
Grains and Pulses uses innovative technology to produce healthy and convenient products. Their signature product, Fast Freekeh, is a high-quality super grain that can be cooked in 10 minutes without any cleaning and soaking, an innovative version of the traditional freekeh.
They aim to scale up and start exporting their product by the end of the year and internationalize the freekeh grain that originates form the levant region 4000 years ago to become the go-to healthy meal.
Ali Ammouri, co-founder of Grains and Pulses, stated: “We started with an idea and a proof of concept, but now we have a production line, a product, and everything needed to enter the market successfully.”
NaturaChem provides consulting and advisory services to companies that need reliable scientific support by providing sustainable and valid solutions. They consist of a team of multidisciplinary consultants, that combine more than 60 years of experience and knowledge with scientific skills to provide clients with consulting expertise and R&D services to make the right decisions.
They aim to grow the food and cosmetics industries in Lebanon, regionally and establish their presence in the MENA market.
Hiba Rajha, co-founder of NaturaChem, stated: “Going through the Agrytech Accelerator program, we were able to discover and find out that the need of the market is very different than what we thought, so we had the courage to shift our idea from a product to a service solution.”
Xtend provides an organic, food grade patch that can be added to the packaging material of fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers to help extend their shelf life. The solution decreases food waste, increases savings, opens new market opportunities through export, while being affordable and effective.
They aim to find investors to help them continue their work, penetrate new markets, and generate a name for themself as a local solution.
Naji Beyrouthi, co-founder of Xtend, stated: “At the beginning of the program, over a year ago, our idea was just an idea with no clear vision of how to proceed to make a business out of it. Now, it has grown into a startup with a production line and MVP on its way to becoming a full-fledged business.
The support wasn’t only limited to financials but also included expert guidance and knowledge to help us understand every aspect of starting our business. Such as the importance of a company image, proving our business plan, financial model and marketing aspects.
Our next steps, after getting all the needed certifications, will be to start selling locally and then scale up by increasing our production lines, widening our range of products as well as selling internationally.”
Yummi Tummi aims to make tasty and healthy Lebanese cuisine accessible for babies worldwide. Their baby food is produced from fresh Lebanese ingredients. They are shelf-stable, natural, and free of additives. Their products are ready-to-eat, containing a variety of ingredients covering all the essential nutrients for a baby’s growth, development, and learning.
They aim to be present in key pharmacies across the country and become the go-to baby food for parents.
Christelle Bou Mitri, co-founder of Yummi Tummi, stated: “The program provided us with full support technically and financially.”
Berytech designed and developed the Agrytech program to make sure Lebanon has the most competitive companies that are sourcing, solving, growing and transforming food, as well as feeding the world from Lebanon. The Agrytech Accelerator Program is under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub, a new out-of-the-box approach by Berytech, co-funded by the Kingdom of The Netherlands, aims at strengthening business advancement and job creation in the Agri-food and Cleantech sectors in Lebanon. Berytech supports innovations across these sectors by offering startups the resources, knowledge, support, and funding worth around $100K, necessary to scale their ideas and grow them to penetrate international markets.