Five One Labs Hosts First Demo Day in Erbil
On February 2nd, Five One Labs hosted the first startup Demo Day in Erbil, a celebration of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. The startup incubator awarded a total of $30,000 in seed funding to three inspiring startups.
Seven startups had the opportunity to pitch to a large audience of entrepreneurs, NGOs, businesses and investors from across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and beyond. These businesses had just graduated from Five One Labs’ inaugural three-month startup incubator program, which included more than 70 hours of training in design thinking, hard business skills and leadership skills; mentorship from entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the US and Middle East; access to co-working space at the Erbil Tech Hub; and the opportunity to compete for seed funding.
The businesses that the entrepreneurs launched included a coding school for teenagers in Erbil; a software company; a premier locally-made fashion brand for children in the Kurdistan Region; a student hub in Sulaimani; an education technology company; a development and peace analysis center; and a marketing and social media management company that integrates 360° media and virtual and augmented reality.
The recipients of the seed funding were:
- First place ($15k): Tech Teens, a coding school that provides teenagers with a safe place to learn new creative coding skills while under the supervision of specialized trainers.
- Second place ($10k): Nujin, a premier locally-made fashion brand for children in the Kurdistan Region.
- Third place ($5k): Mirsha Media 360, a startup that works in the fields of content creation, marketing and social media management using the latest in 360° media along with virtual and augmented reality.
In addition to the pitches and award ceremony, Demo Day featured an art exhibit by Syrian artist and Five One Labs entrepreneur entitled “Afrin: Identity and War” and a startup fair, where entrepreneurs showcased their products.
Two prominent local entrepreneurs, Kanny Ahmadi, founder of Luminous Spring Shoes, and Hallo Sagrma, co-founder of advertising agency Indigo, shared tips with the Five One Labs cohort members during a fireside chat about entrepreneurship.
Ahmadi advised the entrepreneurs that they should not “be afraid to make mistakes. Use them to be better and improve. Be patient and never be disappointed in yourself.” Sagrma emphasized the importance of grit and determination and highlighted: “It’s never the idea. It’s the person behind the idea that makes it successful.”
To learn more about Five One Labs’ founders, visit their blog, which features interviews with each member of the fall cohort.