MAD Mentorpreneurs: A pitching competition for start-ups, by a start-up

MAD Mentorpreneurs pitching competition took place on Saturday, September 30th, where 10 innovative startups competed for awards worth over AED 4 million on the 42nd floor of Media One Hotel. The Mentorpreneurs program is created by MAD Talks, a digital content platform for innovation and entrepreneurship in the emerging markets.

“Being in the start-up space ourselves, and interviewing young entrepreneurs alongside industry leaders, we saw that there is a gap in business planning, marketing, legal compliance, and many other aspects that won’t be filled by funding alone”, says MAD Talks CEO, Tariq Qureishy. MAD Talks have set out to create an acceleration program that helps start-ups to succeed in building a sustainable business, with a mix of support services covering the foundational needs of an early stage start-up.

“We want everyone to be a winner”, says Tariq Qureishy in response to having 6 winners instead of the typical one. Program partners Virtuzone, IBM, Support Legal, ArabNet, Wamda,, MAGNiTT, and others have united to support the initiative by offering extensive services to the Mentorpreneurs winners for a period of 12 months.

The industry-agnostic competition had one main selection criteria for the applicants – how they are making a difference through their business for their customers, their community, and the world.

Entrepreneurs from over 20 countries have been carefully reviewed before the selection of top 20 participants in the first round. Since September 13th, they have gone through a workshop boot camp and mentoring sessions covering everything from financial strategy, legal advice, social entrepreneurship, business planning, value proposition, digital communication and marketing, leadership, and team building.

Semi-finals took place in Sheraa Hub, Sharjah on September 23rd, and the 10 finalists presented to a panel of stellar judges including Joy Ajlouny (Co-Founder of Fetchr), Neil Petch (Chairman of Virtuzone), Kushal Shah (Managing Partner of Roland Berger and Founder of Dubai Angel Investors), and Philip Bahoshy (Founder & CEO of MAGNiTT) with a backdrop of Dubai from ON42 in Dubai Media City. The presenting teams were in industries ranging from IoT and medical tourism to F&B and construction.


Amongst the 6 winners are two international start-ups, RxTravel from Los Angeles, and oPerception from Khartoum, who have received an opportunity to enter a new market and will develop and grow their businesses in the UAE over the next 12 months. Other winners include Wunba, Rvltoo, Al Keewar, and ARTA. All six will receive company registration and business setup, financial consulting services, legal support, cloud services, digital marketing and advertising, as well as access to investor networks.

You can follow the MAD Mentorpreneurs channel for panel discussions with program partners, judges, and mentors on the making of MAD Mentorpreneurs:


MAD Mentorpreneurs trailer: