7 MENA Startups to Put on Your Radar- Spring 2016

Wael Nabbout, Mar 10 2016

Startup concept image via Shutterstock.com


We have compiled a list of 7 startups from the MENA region that you should keep an eye on. This spring, our selection of startups covers everything from hydroponics to media enhancement platforms.

 1- Eddress

An address system for the digital age, Eddress was thought up by Lebanese computer engineer Ronny Shebly while he was trying to order food online. Shebly grew increasingly frustrated as he had to repeatedly enter his address to get his order through.

He concocted Eddress as an online service that simplifies addresses by turning them into six character codes, which can then be shared with friends and delivery services or can be integrated with shippers, billers, e-commerce platforms, and services like Uber. The company sees huge potential in scaling globally with about 150 countries lacking proper postal codes.

Country of origin: Lebanon

Date of launch: Late 2015

Category: Electronic address system

2- GraviLog from Mobistine

From Palestine comes GraviLog, a free Arabic healthcare app focused on pregnant women. It is the most recent app developed by MobiStine, a company that develops Arabic medical and health applications. MobiStine is the only Arab company to date to make it to the finals of MassChallenge 2013 in Boston. MobiStine is the brainchild of Husni Abu Samrah.

So what does GraviLog do? Upon installation, users are asked a few simple questions to create their Electronic Medical Record (EMR). Based on their ERM, the app can provide health tips and instructions that help avoid pregnancy complications. The app also includes trackers to monitor the users' health as well as that of the baby. Additionally, it includes, among many things, automated reminders for all required pregnancy tests, routine doctor’s visits, and medication schedules.

The app is also available to doctors. The system allows them to create EMRs for their patients to better keep track of their health status, medical test results, and ultrasounds. The system is fully secured using SSL and all transactions are encrypted to ensure security and user privacy. GraviLog was designed under the full supervision of doctors working at Harvard University hospitals in the USA; the development itself took place in Palestine.

Country of origin: Palestine

Date of launch: 2015

Category: Healthcare

3- EstateUp

EstateUp is a UAE-based crowd investing platform connecting real estate developers to investors by offering them equity investments into upcoming projects. As such, the service opens the door for smaller investors to enter into the real estate development game. Every project is open for 90 days. If the target is reached within that period, the project goes to execution.

Once the target is reached, investors have the ability to track the status of the project while an independent fiduciary, along with the project manager, will overlook the completion of the project and the sales of the inventory. Once the sale is complete, the investors receive their returns. What's more, users can follow experienced investors on the platform to learn about the real estate sector, minimize their risk, and collectively invest in the most financially feasible projects.

EstateUp was brought to life in 2015. The concept might be new to the region, but there are extremely successful crowd investing real estate platforms worldwide, including Fundrise, RealtyMogul, and CrowdStreet. According to Kathuria, EstateUp might be more attractive to developers than banks.

Country of origin: UAE

Date of launch: 2015

Category: Real estate / crowd investment

4- Lumlim

Lumlim is a video engagement and enhancement platform based in Yemen and founded by Mohammed Abdulbaqi. The service uses mobile and web solutions to enhance the engagement with video content. It empowers brands, advertisers and media content creators with innovative online services and tools that they can use to create a two way engagement with viewers in real-time.

Its companion-screen application empowers smart devices with a unique Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology that enables fans to identify their favorite online video content and adds the possibility to discover related content and tag content for later use. The ACR is based on a sound fingerprinting algorithm that can identify any media content by recognizing a few seconds of any audio stream.

Lumlim unleashes the powers of media by turning digital content from simply being audio-visual to being part of an interactive medium of engagement. This, in turn, translates into more monetization streams to brands, media creators, and aggregators.

Country of origin: Yemen

Date of launch: 2015

Category: Media

5- Lifelab Biodesign

An agriculture company based in Lebanon, Lifelab is dedicated to designing and building intelligent self-operating vertical hydroponic farms that multiply the yield of any given farm plot by 10 to 15 times. Those are indoor farms, completely automated and climate controlled. Unaffected by seasonal change, these farms are capable of producing crops all year long. What's more interesting is that they are resistant to pests and disease infestations, and are highly efficient regarding their energy requirements using 95% less water than traditional farms. The technology has been completely developed locally, and with local talent, using over 90% locally-sourced components. 

Lifelab also runs a 6,000 sqm model farm, which serves as a showcase for the technology and production techniques, and also as a profitable revenue source for the company. In November 2015, the company won first place at the Hyundai Startup Competition.  

Country of origin: Lebanon

Date of launch: 2011

Category: Agriculture and IT

6- Vanoman

From Jeddah comes Vanoman, an online platform used to book heavy goods transport services in KSA. There are over half a million authorized transport vehicles in Saudi Arabia, 30% of which are not utilized. And while abundant, it is still time consuming to find one. What's more, it is impossible to predict the quality of its service as very little is usually known about them.

Using Vanoman, customers simply create an order, free of charge, and receive quotes in return from a number of verified transport service providers from all over the Kingdom. The customer then gets to check the profile of each bidder and see previous customer reviews before accepting any quotes. Vanoman hopes to save customers up to 50% in costs as service providers compete against each other to be the winning bidder.

Country of origin: KSA

Date of launch: 2015

Category: Transportation

7- Noon Edu

Noon Edu is a Saudi-based online social learning company that combines gamification with adaptive and personalized test preparation programs. The company, which was the winner of the ArabNet Startup Demo Competition in 2015, focuses on students in Saudi Arabia and helps prepare them for the Qiyas, the standardized exams for high school students in the kingdom. In 2013, the company won the ArabNet Ideathon competition, and has so far over 330,000 people using its platform.

The reason it made it to our list is because in 2015, the company launched Noon Game, an online multiplayer test prep game that offers interactive play for people studying for the same test. The game integrates elements of artificial intelligence to adapt to students' unique needs. Through the platform, students can rate questions and answers and share them on Facebook or Twitter to engage their own social networks. Once a question gets highly ranked, a professional instructor will jump in to solve it.

Country of origin: Saudi Arabia

Date of launch: 2013

Category: Edutainment

Read the full article in the Spring 2016 Issue of ArabNet The Quarterly.

See related: 10 MENA Startups to Put on Your Radar - Fall 2015



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