Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 14 November 2018: 500 Startups has partnered with Misk Innovation to launch a flagship early-stage accelerator program for the Middle East and North Africa region. The program is a 16-week course which will focus on bringing growth hacking techniques and Silicon Valley expertise to emerging companies in the region. This is a significant step forward in our mission of building entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world and continuing to support founders and technological innovation. 500 runs programs all around the world, helping to build local capacity, improve conditions for prosperity and opportunity and solve real everyday problems.
Applications are now open and the program will start on January 27, 2019.
500 Startups has been an active investor in the MENA region since 2012. Having launched the 500 Falcons fund in 2017, 500’s MENA-based fund has been consistently ranked as the most active investor in seed-stage companies throughout the Arab world.
“Adding to our focus on investing and supporting great startups in the MENA region, this program aims to provide a nurturing environment for founders to learn world-class best practices and standards for starting and growing technology companies and needs-based innovation,” said Sharif El-Badawi, Managing Partner of 500 Falcons. “We hope to accelerate innovation, facilitate job creation, improve cross-border operations and build local GDP across the region. To take these efforts to the next level, and provide founders with training and skills at scale, it was an obvious choice for us to develop a strong relationship with the talented team at Misk.”
Misk Innovation is one of the initiatives of the Misk Foundation, which aims to raise the level of training qualifications for youth and enable them to achieve the highest international standards for training in the areas of technology and innovation.
“It was a natural choice to team up with 500 Startups who is a leader in building thriving ecosystems around the world alongside their presence in the MENA region as a top investor,” said Deemah
Al-Yahya, executive manager of Misk Innovation. “We are committed to amplifying innovation and it is our goal to invest in our remarkable founders and provide them with all opportunities they need to strive in this fast-paced world.”
500 believes that economic opportunity and innovation for everyone takes time and aims to help pave the way for underrepresented founders. 500 is focused on the long term benefits and positive impact of supporting high-impact founders in emerging markets. As such, 500 is tasked with looking through a lens where international politics sometimes present issues to consider about where to build out entrepreneurial ecosystems. 500’s priority in the MENA region is to provide the local founders with the tools for innovation to help make positive change on the ground. 500 will be scouting for founders who are building technologies and products to impact B2B, B2C, E-Commerce, FinTech, EdTech, HealthTech, IoT, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, SaaS and Messaging services.
The 500 MENA Accelerator Program will select 15-20 technology startups from across the MENA region that have a working product and demonstrable initial traction. Companies accepted to this program will be given the opportunity to meet with some of MENA’s leading corporations and will be considered to receive an investment from 500 Falcons.
There will be a number of Silicon Valley-based team members flying out to the region for the duration of the program. Members from the accelerator team will also be staffed on site full-time to aid in mentorship and growth strategies.
About the Misk 500 MENA Accelerator Program
● Early-stage technology companies
● Startups based in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, which already have a working product
● The founders are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program. In addition to the founders, a maximum of two additional team members per company will be allowed to participate at any given time.
2. Number of Startups
● Each batch will have 15-20 startups.
We are now accepting applications to the 500 MENA Accelerator Program through December 15th. If you are a MENA-based startup interested in participating, apply here:
4. Program Summary
500 Startups will bring experts from our global team of partners, mentors and entrepreneurs to work closely with the startups over a 16-week period in Riyadh to accelerate their development through best operational practices, growth hacking, data driven sales techniques and tailored advice from successful Silicon Valley and global entrepreneurs. Our main goal is equipping startups with the tools they need to become growth experts, to help get their startups to the next milestone.
● Areas of focus: early-stage tech-enabled startups in the following fields: B2B, B2C, E-Commerce, FinTech, EdTech, HealthTech, IoT, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, SaaS and Messaging services.
● Acceptance criteria: Startups with some traction, and which already have a working product.
o Participants in this program will receive mentoring on starting and growing a startup, growth marketing frameworks, and access to 500 Startups’ extensive ecosystem.
o Participating startups that wish to set up operations in Saudi will be offered training and licensing assistance.
o Each of the 15-20 participating startups will be considered for an investment by 500 Falcons.
Please Note: This program is provided in English. Participating startups will need to have a strong understanding of the English language.