How can we help Syrian youth who need to talk about their problems? Or how can we create a travel experience for Arab millennials to identify with? These are just some of the questions the entrepreneurs in the Startup Roadshow 2018 asked themselves. These questions ignited their entrepreneurial spark; they kept them focused on their mission, and in many cases, inspired an entire audience to crown them as winners.
Last year, as we embarked on the Startup Roadshow, along with SPARK and in partnership with Startups Without Borders, we went on a mission to support the next generation of groundbreaking Syrian entrepreneurs.
We left impressed by their businesses; inspired by their eagerness to make a change. These entrepreneurs are battling the odds to disrupt industries and create ground-breaking solutions – all the while changing the narrative on what it means to be a refugee around the world. We’ve listed 5 awe-inspiring ideas we saw at the Roadshow last year:
Fadfed: Find mental health support through a chatbot
Ibrahem Ahmed is one of the most passionate entrepreneurs you’ll meet. Driven by the relentless will to solve a problem, this young entrepreneur aims to provide access to mental health to youth across the Arab world.
His startup, based in Jordan, is a bot-powered platform, for people to start a conversation with a mental health professional, in a manner that not only ensures their accessibility, but also confidentiality and privacy, hence tackling the taboo surrounding mental health in the MENA region. The chatbot also includes a feature for life coaching.
Smart Marionette: Bring marionettes to the 21st century
What if we could bring puppets into the 21st century? Smart Marionette combines education with entertainment, through a program which allows users to input a story that will later be enacted by puppets.
The EdTech startup founded by Juman Jamal Sakkae in partnership with Hamadah Gubran, was the winner from Gaziantep city and the winner of the first prize of the Startup Roadshow’s second Demo Day held in Beirut. The startup focuses on combining education with entertainment through a program that allows users to input a story that will later be enacted by puppets.
“The project a game to guide and monitor puppets with strings, controlled through a program. So the user is able to write a story on the program, and the puppet will move according to the scenario that he entered,” she explains.
Uniqon: Find animated icons for your presentations
Founded by Mohanad Al-Helwany and Alaa Al-Nuaimi, won the first place in the Idea Stage track. The startup is an online marketplace for animated icons, offering users the chance to get download icons with animations which they can use in their presentations. The idea emerged as its founder, Mohanad, was working at a tech company in Istanbul, and realized there were no platforms where he could easily access and download modern, animated icons to use. So he decided to create them himself!
Agri-answer: When farmlands meet tech
Agri-answer is an AgriTech application that offers farmers solutions to manage their crops, founded by Masaoud Ali and Doaa Al-Ibrahim. The startup, based in Erbil, is the winner of the second prize, with a fund worth $4.000 of the second Demo Day that was held in Beirut on December the 14th. “Our aim is to connect farmers through internet and its applications, providing them with the best solution for them at the least cost through a seasonal subscription,” says Ali.
Torever, the app for Arab Millennial Travellers
Yusuf Kabbara is the mindmaster behind Torever, a mobile app built for Arab Millennial travellers, helps them plan their trip while accessing services on the go. Taking home $3.000 at the Startup Roadshow in 2018, the entrepreneur aims to fill the gap between the tourism market and the quality of services provided to fulfill travellers’ needs, tapping into a $30 billion industry.
Yusuf was born in Damascus and set off to Istanbul in 2013, starting a new life where he had to learn a new language, settle in a new world, and find a job. It was his experience learning the language, and his awareness of the difficulties that come with it that inspired him to conceive Torever, the “virtual tour guide” for Middle Eastern millennials.