AstroLabs announced the graduation of 17 Saudi-founded technology startups from its Forward KSA Accelerator program.
The three-month program culminated in the top five startups pitching their products at a closing ceremony, which took place at the AstroLabs Riyadh office last night. The startups that presented on-stage included GetMuv, Hoplay, Speero, IFF Machine and Dailymealz.
At the event, AstroLabs celebrated the first anniversary of its Riyadh office opening. AstroLabs Riyadh was inaugurated in December last year after AstroLabs was granted the first-ever international incubator license by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA). Under this license, AstroLabs operates a co-working space, capability building learning academy, and business setup services. AstroLabs has assisted over 60 companies, whose market value exceeds US$2bn, to expand into the Saudi market with 100% foreign ownership.
The accelerator program is the culmination of a two-year capability development campaign to build the digital and entrepreneurial skills of over 1,000 Saudis. It aims to promote entrepreneurship, and its benefits to the economy of Saudi Arabia by providing high-quality training, access to mentorship, and building connections to the right partners. The Forward Program was made possible by the support of the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Google for Startups, and Latham & Watkins.
Mustafa Nabelsi, Country Director of AstroLabs KSA said, “AstroLabs is passionate about enabling tech entrepreneurship and developing the digital economy across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Through the Forward KSA Accelerator program, we’ve been able to harness our key strengths and resources to support early-stage Saudi entrepreneurs accelerate the growth and scale up their tech- or digital-based ventures. We are proud of the startups that have graduated from our program and look forward to witnessing the immense success and value that they will bring to the KSA economy.”
The application process for the Forward KSA Accelerator program kicked off on March 31st, 2019. AstroLabs received 120 applications and 13 high-potential startups were shortlisted based on a pre-defined criteria and a meticulous interview process. A further four startups were nominated to join the Accelerator by the KSA’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology through its ‘Tech Champions’ program.
The final 17 tech startups were enrolled in the program in September of this year where AstroLabs and its partners helped them scale up and accelerate their journey to growth by providing a one-of-a-kind practical and tailored curriculum that specifically catered for their unique needs and challenges.
At the start of the program, AstroLabs defined specific objectives for each individual startup and developed a customized approach to improve the startup’s scalability and investment potential, the strength of their team, and tangible traction to help them become high-growth startups. In addition, the program helped the startups overcome challenges, provided training in critical subject matters, and connected the entrepreneurs with the right stakeholders in terms of mentors, investors, and potential clients. Some of the topics covered during the program include accounting and finance modelling, digital marketing, legal advisory, fundraising, scaling up and growth, human resources management, and setting OKRs (Objectives and Key Results).
Ibrahim Yousef, Co-founder and CEO of GetMuv, one of the startups graduating from the Forward KSA Accelerator program, commented: “The Forward KSA Accelerator by AstroLabs provided a very unique curriculum that specifically addressed GetMuv’s challenges and objectives. Moving beyond just presentations, AstroLabs provided an opportunity for us to interact with like-minded startup founders, industry experts and experienced mentors. Overall, the program was incredibly valuable, and I would recommend this to other Saudi entrepreneurs as well!”
The participants of the Forward KSA Accelerator program benefited from 1:1 mentorship from over a dozen senior-level executives from various organizations and start-ups in the Middle East