Meet Go Ejaza, PushBots and CIRQY, Flat6Lab's Fourth Demo Day Graduates - Fall 2012
On January 14, and on the island of Zamalek, the Egyptian and regional entrepreneurial community celebrated the 4th batch of Flat6Labs startups.
Six entrepreneurs from 6 startups presented their ideas seeking a 2nd round of investment.
“We don’t have an older generation of entrepreneurs that today's entrepreneurs can rely on, so we try to nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem for this generation and the next one as well (…) that will create jobs and startups, strengthen the economy, and increase our GDP,” explained Ahmed El Alfi, Founder & Chairman of Sawari Ventures, the parent company of Flat6Labs.
The startups spanned across various industries including tourism, app development, innovative design, cinema, services, and interactive e-books.
Most of the startups from the 3rd cycle that graduated in the fall of 2012 are already operational, or about to launch in beta in February of 2013.
Below is a recap of 3 startups, listed according to the ones that we think is the likeliest to succeed and secure investments, while the remaining 3 will be highlighted in another post shortly.
Go Ejaza is an Arab platform dedicated to travelers. The service allows travelers to plan their trips; book hotels; and share photos, commentary and reviews on travel destinations.
After registering with the service, users can input the purpose and destination of their trip in order to view comments and reviews of members that had previously visited the same destination.
“Yemen suffers from a lack of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, that's why we decided to come to Egypt and explore the opportunities here,” commented Abdullah el Sakkaf, Technical Director and Cofounder of Go Ejaza.
The site is targeting travelers from the GGC region, whose inhabitants happen to be the most frequent flyers in the region, the biggest spenders, and also they're the most likely to stay in a hotel for longer holiday periods, and book more than one hotel room, according to Hussein al-Sakkaf, Founder and CEO.
The company collects a percentage fee on each reservation that goes through the site.
“After I was selected as an Ideathon Finalist at ArabNet Cairo 2011, I realized that I was on the right track,” comments Hussein. Go Ejaza also went on to be selected as a finalist for the Startup Demo competition during ArabNet Riyadh 2012.
Personally, I expect that the platform will be hugely successful, not just because its target market happens to be quite lucrative, but also because Go Ejaza has secured several important agreements with global and regional tourism campaigns, as well as established websites such as Expedia and Viator, in addition to 2 popular YouTube channels: Transit and Terminal.
The service’s name isn’t clear when written in Arabic, since the equivalent Arabic letter to “G” in (Go) is read “J” in Classic Arabic (as opposed to the Egyptian dialect where the G is pronounced similarly as in "GO"). The team tried to address the issue on their social media channels, Facebook and Twitter, but instead made things even more confusing for the public. It would be more accurate if the spelling were "كو إجازة" , which would also suit the dialect of the Gulf countries, the service’s primary target market.
The site, which is still in beta, will fully launch in the coming summer. A mobile app release is also anticipated at the same time.
Get more info on Go Ejaza from ArabNet’s Startup Database here.
PushBots is a cloud based system that allows smartphone users to send and receive notifications. The service, which is directed mainly toward developers, enables users to communicate with clients more efficiently.
The service is able to tailor messages depending on the type of phone, preference, and geo-location of the targeted client.
“Our concept is the first of its kind in the world,” declared Amro Sobhi, Cofounder and Technical Director.
The idea is creative, however the team needs more time to learn and "listen" more. Because the execution of the idea in the first year or so of any startup's life cycle is crucial in determining success.
The team is planning on entering the US market at the end of May 2013.
PushBots has already contracted developers from 9 regional and global applications in order to reach their users.
The founders did not mention the users during their presentation nor our interview with them, which begs many questions related to privacy issues, namely concerning smartphone users that do not know how to disable their location on their devices, or those who are annoyed by advertising messages in general, since the service is not restricted to targeting smartphone users by location.
Subscription plans are priced between 24 and 79 US dollars per month.
CIRQY is an online social ecommerce platform dedicated to artistic goods, clothing, accessories, home décor, and various personal items .
Any artist or manufacturer can add his inventory after registering with the service where visitors can browse and buy their products.
A seller’s page on CIRQY closely resembles a user page on Facebook, so does the blue color scheme that the site employs.
Artists can upload photos of their works, and organize them in assortments (albums). On the other hand, users can follow other users, sell, share, and review items.
The service handles everything related to payments, logistics and delivery, and in return collects a percentage fee from the artist.
The website also aims to take local artists to global markets.
The concept behind CIRQY closely resembles Yadaweya, a Flat6Labs 2nd cycle alumni. The latter however focuses on the Egyptian handicraft products.
CIRQY’s catalogue, which is composed of the works of 35 artists, might be innovative and unique, but I wasn’t too impressed by the name that they chose for the service.
With the conclusion of the 3rd cycle, FlatLabs would have graduated 24 startups run by 70 Egyptian and foreign entrepreneurs, under the guidance of 54 mentors and 62 speakers. Flat6Labs has created 167 job opportunities and has hosted more than 300 individuals for more than 450 hours of sessions hours. More than 50% of the graduated startups received a 2nd round of investment at a later stage.
Stay tuned for the remaining 3 startups!