The Dubai Smart City Accelerator, Startupbootcamp’s leading smart city program in the MENA region, just wrapped up its 4th cohort with a virtual demo day and a series of virtual events connecting the accelerated startups to investors across the region.
While the acceleration program traditionally ends with the accelerated startups pitching their products on stage on Demo Day where they get to connect with partners, investors, mentors, and ecosystem players, this was not possible with this cohort due to the current COVID-19 situation.
The Dubai Smart City team put their entrepreneur hat on and tackled this challenge by turning the traditional format of a Demo Day event into a Virtual Demo Day website, where interested people can watch the startups’ pre-recorded pitches, download their pitch decks, and even schedule virtual one-on-one meetings directly with the founders to discuss their business.
Additionally, the startups also had the chance to pitch to 10+ VCs and 15+ angels across 3 virtual panels where they not only gained exposure to these potential investors, but also received priceless feedback from them.
The results did not disappoint. Since the launch of the Demo Day website on April 15th, it has received significant interest and traction with 1,000+ unique site visits, 850+ pitch views on Youtube, and several startups kicked off serious fundraising discussions with potential investors.
Leen Nabulsi, Managing Director of Dubai Smart City Accelerator, said: “Despite the unprecedented pandemic challenges facing the global community, we have remained committed to giving our 10 startups the exposure and support they need in a situation like this. Our 4th cohort’s achievements and impact so far reflect the importance of programs and platforms like ours in facilitating innovation and driving forward Dubai’s vision of being the happiest city in the world by enabling and empowering solutions that bring about positive change in the region and ecosystem.”
For Cohort 4, the Dubai Smart City program carefully selected the 10 startups from a pool of 1,300+ international applicants to undergo the 3 months immersive acceleration program from January to April 2020. The startups spanned multiple industries including SaaS, Foodtech, E-commerce, Gig Economy, Legal tech, Fintech, Edtech, Proptech, and Mobility & Logistics and by the end of the program, the 10 Startups have collectively raised $1.7M. It’s also worth noting that 8 out of the 10 startups have incorporated their companies in the UAE at the time of writing this article.
Lars Buch, CEO of Startupbootcamp MENA said: “The Dubai Smart City program is the leading Smart City program in the MENA region. Over three years and four cohorts we’ve been able to source 41 of the best smart city startups globally with a regional focus to come and implement their solutions in Dubai to support his H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum vision for the year 2021; making Dubai a nurturing and sustainable environment for quality living driven by innovation.”
Throughout the program, the 10 startups successfully attended 20+ workshops, participated in 120+ hours of mentoring, and sat on countless meetings and investor connections along with receiving 40+ hours of pitch training. All this left its mark on the founders’ vision and business plan.
Speaking of her experience in the Dubai Smart City program powered by Startupbootcamp, founder of Shiftling, Bella Bowler said: "The Startupbootcamp experience was a game-changer for my startup. The team was incredibly hands-on and helpful and were genuinely invested in helping us succeed. Also, the quality of people running the workshops and the content itself really helped recontextualise some of the challenges we were facing."
Sami Elayan, Founder of FinDiner added: “The Startupbootcamp Accelerator Program was an amazing experience, it gives you a reality check on what you think might have been a good idea! The experts and mentors test your business model and give you precisely what you need, honest, constructive feedback. This helps shape the business and make it much more likely to succeed. We pivoted 3 times before we established our M.V.P and proof of concept. This, however, is exactly what you need! Startupbootcamp tells you how ugly your baby is, and it works”.
The ten Smart City startups have come a long way in the past 3-months, they were serious about developing solutions that bring about positive change and help drive Dubai’s vision of becoming one of the leading smart cities in the world that continuously strives to improve social, economic and environmental sustainability outcomes.
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