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Growing the Region’s Start-Ups in the Largest Entrepreneurial Conference in the Middle East

5 December, 2017
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BY May El Habachi
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The RiseUp Summit 2017 just concluded its three-day startup conference in the heart of Downtown Cairo, Egypt. From December 1 to December 3, the summit gathered entrepreneurs, investors and media from across the world to share their experience and insights on entrepreneurship in the region. From panel discussions, talks, workshops to pitch competitions and networking, this event helped foster the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt and across the Middle East.

Under this year’s theme, “Innovation to Support the Human Experience, “(#thinkHX), the summit focused on using technology, creativity and capital to improve the collective human experience. “If we’re not trying to improve our daily lives, then why are we here?” said Dalia Kamar, RiseUp Summit Manager, in the opening ceremony.

Supporting Kamar’s statement, Con O’Donnell, Co-Founder of RiseUp Summit, explained that the need for entrepreneurs is more important than ever to solve today’s problems. Problems are not going to be solved by big corporations or governments, but by entrepreneurs stepping in and making a change. And while technology is the means to spread the solution, the fuel for any start-up is people. “If it’s not about people, then we don’t need it,” said O’Donnell. “It shouldn’t be just about you, it’s about your society and the human species.”

This inspiring and high energy event was attended by more than 1,000 people and attracted over 200 local and international speakers ranging from established start-ups, inspiring entrepreneurs to investors and writers.

Clarissa Shen, COO of Udacity, an educational organization that provides students with tech skills to help them have better jobs and career opportunities in the tech ecosystem, took part in the event as a speaker.

“Our experience here at RiseUp has been tremendous. I’m so impressed with the energy I see here; it’s creative, raw and young. There is also a lot to be learned just by listening to the panels and seeing what people are doing.” Shen told BECAUSE. “As a woman, I’m also really impressed with how many women entrepreneurs are in this region, and how many were presenting in this summit.”

Having just launched in Egypt and with an office in the Greek Campus, Udacity intends to continue attending RiseUp in the coming years.

More than 150 start-ups also showcased their ideas at the summit, each getting one day to reach out to participants and talk about their innovative start-up. One of these start-ups was iCommunity, an app for managing gated communities. Mohamed El Hagry, Co-Founder of iCommunity, explained that he’s been attending RiseUp for the last few years. “It’s the largest entrepreneurial event in Egypt. It’s great for connecting start-ups and entrepreneurs in the region and for accelerating their growth,” said El Hagry.

While entrepreneurship seems to be growing exponentially in the region, it is not without its challenges. From navigating the legal landscape to selecting the right talent, there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome. One of the most common hurdles for start-ups is funding, particularly attracting investors. It is for this reason that this year’s summit included ample panel discussions, talks and workshops on the subject to guide start-ups on investing and attracting the right investors.

A successful start-up that secured investment during the summit was Elves, Egypt’s first ‘human series’ that connects customers to assistants. It successfully closed more than $2 million seed investment. Participating investors were from across the region and the US. By having access to the world’s best resources, start-ups can now accelerate their own entrepreneurial growth.

“There is great energy here…It’s great to see interests from abroad, particularly from Silicon Valley and other countries. Everyone is impressed by what we’re doing here, and I’m happy to have been able to experience it,” said Aleia Salem, a professional marketeer and a participant at RiseUp.

 

For those who missed this year’s event, RiseUp Summit 2018 will take place next year. Stay tuned!