Cairo Innov-a-thon Event Boasts Great Turnout, Amazing Ideas

On May 16, the TURN8 team traveled to Cairo, Egypt for another Innov-a-thon Startup Idea Pitching event. The selection panel and young, friendly crowd of nearly 50 people listened attentively as 14 ideas were presented by those hoping to earn a spot in the TURN8 seed accelerator in Dubai.

Innov-a-thon Cairo Cairo Innov-a-thon Innov-a-thon in Cairo

After the initial idea pitches, attendees worked to refine their ideas and business model, with the help of a few regional mentors and coaches in attendance. After the final pitches at the end of the day, five teams were pre-qualified for the TURN8 seed accelerator, and will be further interviewed by the selection panel.

Some of the outstanding ideas from the event included:

  • A device that translates sign language into audible words
  • An environmentally friendly, longer-lasting light bulb
  • A new way to abbreviate physical addresses for easy sharing
  • A consumer service to verify that a product is genuine
  • A social sentiment analysis tool to improve customer insightsAlMaqarr in Cairo

The Cairo event was held at the AlMaqarr coworking space, with the generous assistance of the AlMaqarr team!

The next TURN8 Innov-a-thon will be held on June 14 in Ankara, Turkey as part of Android Developer Days. The team will also visit Minsk, Belarus and San Francisco, CA (USA) this month.

Video from Cairo Innov-a-thon

Find more photos from the event on the TURN8 Facebook page!

TURN8 Participates in Global App Summit

The TURN8 team is pleased to be at the Global App Summit in Dubai, June 4-5. We’ll be looking for entrepreneurs, startup teams and creative geniuses who want to take their ideas to market, so stop by and see us in booth #8!

TURN8 at Global App Summit

On June 5, at 1 p.m., TURN8 is hosting a short idea pitching session in the App Lounge. You can sign up at our booth.

Also on June 5, Kamal Hassan, TURN8 director and founder/president of Innovation 360, will be speaking about “Mobile Innovations for SME Sector.” His talk begins at 11:30 a.m. in the summit conference room.

We hope to see you there!

Inspiration from TURN8 Innov-a-thon Events

TURN8 has hosted two successful idea pitching events so far, in the UAE and Egypt, with events in Turkey, Belarus and the United States coming up! At these events, called “Innov-a-thons,” people hoping for a spot in the TURN8 seed accelerator pitch their best ideas for a startup business or innovative technology. The best way to understand how it works is to watch this inspiring video from the Dubai event…

Ready to pitch your idea? Join us at an upcoming Innov-a-thon event. Or, pitch your idea online…sure, it’s not as fun, but you still have a chance to be selected for the TURN8 seed accelerator in Dubai — a fun, inspirational, life-changing event!

Need more inspiration? Check out our other videos!

TURN8: DP World Initiative – Yousif Al Mutawa, DP World CIO and TURN8 Director, explains the idea behind TURN8.

Bringing TURN8 to the World – Kamal Hassan, Innovation 360 founder/president and TURN8 Director, explains the idea pitching events and the quality of ideas being presented.

Interview: Dr. Bruce Ferguson – Dr. Bruce Ferguson, Masdar Professor and TURN8 Advisor, discusses the importance of finding innovative ideas and providing support to early stage entrepreneurs.

TURN8 Turns On the Innovative Startup Scene in Dubai

The first TURN8 Innov-a-thon idea pitching event was held on Saturday, May 11 at DP World’s own trendy Head Office Cafe in Dubai. Seventeen teams pitched their entrepreneurial ideas to an esteemed jury panel during the all-day event which sought to discover innovative technology and startup ideas for the TURN8 seed accelerator.

Pitching - TURN8 Innov-a-thon
See more photos from the Dubai Innov-a-thon on our Facebook page!

Prior to hearing the idea pitches, the crowd heard from Prof. Bruce Ferguson, Professor of Practice , Engineering Systems & Management at Masdar, and Kamal Hassan, founder of Innovation 360, the organizer of TURN8 events and whose i360accelerator is the model for the TURN8 seed accelerator. Both are on the TURN8 selection committee.

To kick off the pitching, all entrants – including a vivacious 15-year-old entrepreneur pitching an idea for a “Teeny Weeny” social platform – gave a one-minute elevator pitch. Following this, the participants worked in teams and received mentoring to help them prepare for a final five-minute pitch.

Mentoring - TURN8  Innov-a-thon

The jury deliberated for some time before announcing the top five ideas of the day, including a content-based indoor navigation application, a P2P rental marketplace, an integrated supply chain management solution for SMEs, an education to vocational portal, and a dining experience application. These teams are now pre-qualified for the TURN8 seed accelerator. Final selection for the accelerator will be made at the end of the scouting phase, which includes several more Innov-a-thons and ideas submitted online.

The panel named an additional five teams and invited them to return and re-pitch their ideas at the next local Innov-a-thon. The i360accelerator team gratuitously extended some professional guidance and mentorship to the runner-ups.

Jury Panel - TURN8 Innov-a-thon
The jury panel included Mr. Hassan and Prof. Ferguson, as well as Alexander Williams, Director of Strategy for Dubai SME, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders; Afzal Khalfay, Vice President of IT, DP World Head Office; Yousif Al Mutawa, CIO DP World Head Office; and Ranjith Powell, Manager of Research and Development, DP World Head Office.

Young Entrepreneur - TURN8 Innov-a-thon

The next Innov-a-thon is scheduled for May 16 in Cairo (register here), with events in Asia, CIS, Europe and the U.S.A. planned to follow (see the full list of Innov-a-thon events here).

In addition, anyone with an idea for TURN8 can pitch online here. Anyone can go to the same link to vote for the best ideas submitted online.

DP World Launches TURN8 Seed Accelerator

DP World today announced the launch of TURN8 seed accelerator program designed to encourage innovative entrepreneurship worldwide, starting with Dubai.

TURN8 will look for people with ingenious ideas that can be refined and brought to market through a “seed accelerator,” a program that selects start-up teams with marketable ideas and supports them with funding, mentoring and training in exchange for a stake in any resulting business.

The TURN8 program will take place over the next 12 months, beginning by seeking innovative ideas through an online campaign, and events in select countries with active start-up cultures, including the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Ukraine, and USA.

The program is powered by Innovation 360, a leading UAE innovation management consultancy, which has already established its own seed accelerator (i360accelerator), bringing several innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives to the region.

Proposed ideas can be in a variety of sectors including travel, trade, supply chain management, shipping, transport and logistics, logistics security, safety, sustainability and the environment.

Those with winning proposals will be invited to the TURN8 seed accelerator in Dubai, where they will be provided with workspace and professional mentoring for four months to develop their business model and prototype. Up to USD 24,000 funding per team is available to help them evolve their ideas from conception to commercialisation.

Yousif Al Mutawa, Chief Information Officer, DP World, said:
“We are encouraging innovative and commercially-viable ideas from global and local innovators, as well as DP World employees and partners. Our aim is to support an innovation culture in the wider community by encouraging and supporting a mix of international and local ideas.”

Kamal Hassan, Founder and CEO of Innovation 360, said:
“TURN8 will reduce the gap between innovative ideas and their commercialisation by providing the start-ups with crucial early stage funding, a proven framework for turning ideas into global businesses, mentorship and follow-on investment support. Our goal is to launch many successful innovative start-ups and create a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East.”

Why Startups and Entrepreneurs Need To Innovate

For many tech-based startups, innovation is a driving factor. In other areas that attract SMEs – service industries, handmade goods, small scale manufacturing, etc. – innovation is usually less common.

Why don’t SMEs and entrepreneurs naturally adopt an innovative mindset? For one, innovation is often associated with expensive and large-scale projects (especially in the Middle East). It’s also thought of as R&D (Research and Development), which many small businesses don’t have the resources to undertake. Then there’s also the fact that many entrepreneurs simply want to be their own boss – they latch onto the first idea that intrigues them, or they do what they know or simply enter the family business.

However, innovative thinking can make a big difference in any size business, in any industry. There are many ways that innovation can help SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs – here are just a few:

Avoiding the “falafel shop” syndrome – Too many entrepreneurs see a successful business and try to copy it (in the Middle East it’s falafel shops – in the tech industry, at least lately, it’s daily deal websites). The new business may change a few small things – the menu, the prices, the décor — but their offering is really no different from the competition. An innovative business provides unique value that customers can’t get elsewhere. It’s not just about differentiating your business with marketing or slogans. It’s about taking a chance on a different type of business than everyone else.

An innovative mindset makes you more agile – Innovative thinkers are open minded, tend to try new approaches and are not afraid to fail. These traits also make you more agile, and better able to respond to changing market conditions. Innovative thinkers are also more creative problem solvers. When everyone in your company is trained to think creatively, it enables you to respond more quickly and efficiently to customer, supplier and internal issues.

Innovation tools keep you focused – You probably know at least five people who say they are entrepreneurs or want to start their own business. But there is more to being your own boss than just following your dreams and filling out the paperwork. Remember, it’s not really about you, but about your potential customers. There are many innovation tools that can help you offer unique value or solve a problem for customers. These tools will make your offerings more focused, and your team more focused on a clear goal.

The competition is not who you think it is – Industry lines are blurring as companies seek new ways to offer value. This makes it hard to recognize the competition, and also means there is more competition than ever. Instead of starting out by comparing yourself to your industry peers, spend time uncovering the real needs of the market you are trying to serve. What are their pain points? How do they solve their problems, and how could you help them do it better? This up-front work may take your business in a completely different direction than you were headed (and it also works for existing companies that are struggling).

Disruptive ideas get funded – If you’re looking for venture capital or other funding for your startup – or even hoping to sell your small business to a larger company – having an innovative product or service is one of the most important criteria for even getting your foot in the door. Even better is a disruptive innovation that changes the market landscape. Investors are looking for unique offerings and business models that are likely to score big in the near future (based on customer insights and market trends). Of course other factors matter, such as your profitability and management, but if your idea is innovative, an investor will know how to make it profitable and manage the business well.

The best publicity is free – SMEs don’t often have a big marketing or public relations budget (and most startups spend too much on marketing and PR, leaving other functions hurting). However, with the rise of social media websites, your business can get free marketing and publicity. If you have an innovative business model or innovative offerings, your efforts here could pay off big as other people freely share information about your company. It’s called going “viral” and the innovators rule this space.

Your resources are limited– As an SME or startup, you probably have limited resources, especially when it comes to people. Using an approach like open innovation or crowdsourcing, you can tap into the creativity and expertise of people outside your company. These could be customers, suppliers, partners, or even people who have never heard of your company. Their ideas and problem-solving skills can help you innovate your offerings – and you’ll get free publicity, too.

You owe it to yourself – Starting and running a business is a lot of hard work (believe me, I know). You have probably invested a lot of time, money, sweat and tears in making your business work. You want it to be successful for a long time. The trick is to always offer something that people want, at a price they can afford and that sustains your business. Innovation can help you reinvent your offerings, or even your business, as customer needs change. By staying innovative, you keep your customers coming back and attract new ones – and you get the satisfaction of running a successful business.

It’s important that entrepreneurs and small business owners understand that everyday innovation is not only possible, it’s essential for their continued success.

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10 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Join Startup Accelerators

You may think that entrepreneurs participate in startup accelerators to receive seed money, or to have a place to do their work. Although these are popular reasons, they are not the only ones (nor are they the most compelling). Below are 10 reasons why entrepreneurs join accelerators, such as the TURN8 seed accelerator.

Future Capital – One of the most important reasons entrepreneurs join accelerators is to make connections with potential investors who can provide capital to operate the new business after the accelerator program ends. Many accelerators work closely with sponsors and private investors, and some even provide a valuation of the new business that helps investors see its potential.

Mentorship – Many people who participate in accelerators are starting their first company and, if they’re smart, will want to avoid the mistakes that new companies often make. Accelerators offer an opportunity to learn from experienced entrepreneurs, such as the founders, guest speakers, and mentors that offer their guidance and support.

Camaraderie – Starting a business is hard work, and it’s easy to get discouraged if you’re all alone. Accelerators enable entrepreneurs to support and encourage each other. Plus, studies have shown that people are generally more creative when they are in an environment with a moderate noise level.

Product Feedback – When an entrepreneur enters an accelerator, usually their idea is still a work in progress. This is the time to gather feedback on their product or service to improve it and make it innovative. Accelerators assist with this through mentorship, market research and even feedback from the other startups in residence.

Business Education – Every new business faces common issues as the company grows. Many accelerators arrange guest speakers to help participants anticipate and overcome the challenges associated with hiring, additional funding, go-to-market strategy and more.

Teambuilding – Once a business is launched, processes and people need to be in place to ensure things run smoothly (you never get a second chance to make a first impression). Accelerators offer entrepreneurs a chance to find and get to know their team, to ensure the right people are on board before the big day.

Financial Support – Even if a startup team is willing to work for free, every new business needs money for operating expenses, not to mention marketing and distribution or support costs. Accelerators typically offer a small amount of capital to the entrepreneur, in exchange for a share of equity in the resulting business.

Workspace – Entrepreneurs and their teams need a place to work, brainstorm and meet potential team members or investors. Accelerators offer a professional environment (as opposed to someone’s house or a coffee shop) in which to do this, as well as computers, printers, copiers and other office equipment that entrepreneurs may not be able to afford to buy on their own.

Company Registration – Paperwork is a necessary part of starting a business, but it can be a time-consuming and confusing task (especially in the UAE). Many accelerators retain legal staff to help entrepreneurs complete the documents required to register their new business, apply for patents and copyrights, review property leases, etc.

Reputation – For participants who are accepted to well-known accelerators, simply graduating from the program adds authenticity and relevance to their new business. Of course, this is a two-way street – successful entrepreneurs enhance the reputation of the accelerator, as well!

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