In December 2019, Sia Partners, a global management consulting firm, and BIAC, Business Incubators and Accelerators Company based in the KSA, launched APIficator, an Open Innovation Challenge for Startups. After a successful launch in New York, Paris, and Hong Kong, Sia Partners decided this year to target entrepreneurs in the Middle East and chose the theme “Tech for Customer Experience,” to identify innovative projects that can help companies and government entities enhance their customer and citizen journeys.
APIficator is an annual innovation challenge targeting young startups across three continents. With its Open Innovation programme, Sia Partners gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to apply their technical know-how and their vision to develop an innovative API and co-create a business-oriented offering. The programme has been ongoing for three years and will be held on a continuous basis.
Sia Partners works with the programme winners to:
1. Accelerate their time-to-market.
2. Test their solution and product appeal via POCs hosted by our client.
3. Provide access to the synergies of our API ecosystem and a robust technology framework.
The programme spans for three months usually, but was extended to six as a result of the pandemic, where applicants submit a complete application providing Sia Partners the details about their startup and ideas. The applications go through a rigorous review process by our experts to identify the top three to five finalists. In the last step of the programme, the finalists are asked to pitch their offering to a panel in charge of selecting a finalist.
Meet the finalists
In the Middle East, the decision was tough as all applicants had unique and innovative offerings. The startups that were selected as finalists were:
- Kanari CX - an enterprise customer experience management technology platform that helps brands listen to customer feedback and turn it into valuable, actionable insights for the business.
- WideBot - a conversational AI Platform.
- Gamiphy - a digital loyalty and gamification platform designed for eCommerce businesses to offer their customers incentives and rewards that ensure high engagement and retention levels.
After reviewing their applications and listening to all pitches, the judges made a final decision and announced Kanari CX as the 1st place winner. While all ideas were innovative and unique, Kanari CX stood out the most due to its high potential for scalability as an organization and through its digital offerings.
Kanari CX leverages a powerful CX data collection, reporting, and insights platform to help measure, manage, and improve customer experiences. This analytical toolkit allows Kanari’s clients to manage their customer experience as well as review the results of digital sentiment analyses.
With the conclusion of the challenge, Kanari CX is excited about the next steps and are looking forward to beginning a new chapter from Sia Partners: “We are very happy and excited to announce that Kanari has won the Middle East edition of Sia Partners' Open Innovation challenge. We are looking forward to collaborating with the Sia Partners team to advance customer experience adoption in the region!”
Roberto Wyszkowski, Sia Partners’ partner in the Middle East and leader of the APIficator challenge said, “The Middle East APIficator challenge attracted several innovative startups and it was a tough decision to pick a finalist; however Kanari CX proved to be a unique finalist, representing the digital revolution that is currently being witnessed in the Middle East region. We look forward to working alongside Kanari and hosting more iterations of the APIficator challenge to support innovation and the digital revolution.”
Elsa Martineau, the head of Sia Partners’ startup investment fund – Sia Studio, manages the APIficator Challenge and its programme globally. She was extremely excited to unfold new stories with the winners of the challenge, “Sia Partners recognizes the need to invest not only internal entrepreneurship but also in external young startups that can make an impact in their regional markets. The entrepreneurship spirit that Sia Partners is proud of is built by combining our efforts with external ecosystem partners. The APIficator challenge is an initiative that embodies this belief and we are excited to work on building the digital playground together by partnering with startups that deploy innovative ideas.”
BIAC, the partner to the challenge for the Middle East, expressed its commitment to working with regional entrepreneurship ecosystem partners, “BIAC is always excited to support entrepreneurship to flourish within the KSA and the Middle East region as a whole. We will always take the opportunity to support innovations that accelerate the adoption of holistic digital transformation. The APIficator challenge is a unique project that will help us create a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Arab World”.
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Pakistani startups saw $18M invested in H1 2020, with the overall number of deals increasing by 13% to 17 deals from H1 2019, illustrating the potential of Pakistan to become the next big South Asian entrepreneurial hotspot. Discover more trends in our H1 2020 Pakistan Venture Investment Report.