Afkar.me, the region’s first full spectrum digital-oriented product incubator run by Intigral, part of Saudi Telecom Company, is calling for start-ups and entrepreneurs to apply for the scheme’s second round of incubation. Hot on the heels of recently announcing the first round winners, Afkar.me is open to applications from both the region and globally until July 1. Access complete information on the application process from www.afkar.me.
Support to be provided to the winning entrepreneurs includes:
- $20,000 in funding per team;
- Mentorship from experts in the MENA region as well as from Intigral’s management staff;
- Office space at Intigral’s Dubai or Riyadh offices;
- Hands-on training and support from subject experts in different areas such as product development, design, marketing & PR, business development and legal support;
- Access to MENA markets with a special focus on Saudi Arabia;
- Exchange programs with leading international incubators.
There were three winners of the Afkar.me first round of applications in March. They included:
- Bite Sized: Stage of development: Idea
This is a e-commerce idea offering customers a simple way to subscribe to fun and interesting healthy snack boxes. The idea fulfils a need in the MENA region to provide snack alternatives that promote and support a healthy lifestyle.
- TheDressRoom.com: Stage of development: Established, ready for growth
This is an e-Commerce solution to provide an extensive online selection of designer evening gowns and dresses.
- TheCurve-me: Stage of development: Proof of concept
This is an online platform, www.thecurve-me.com, allowing consumers to explore new hobbies in an easy and efficient way. The goal is to connect people seeking new experiences, culture or learning, with providers.
Co-founder of TheDressRoom.com, Samantha Kayruz Chami spoke about her team’s experience as part of the Afkar.me incubator. “We have been really impressed with Afkar.me from the application through to the start of our incubation,” she said. “It was great to win and we are confident that Afkar.me will take TheDressRoom.com to the next level through all the support and insight we are receiving during the incubation, not to mention access to the market. We strongly recommend any aspiring start-ups or entrepreneurs to enter for a chance to grow their business or ideas.”
Juan Jose Del La Torre, VP at Intigral added. “We were very pleased with the overall quality of entries for Afkar.me’s first intake, and we are looking forward to the second round of entries. At Intigral we are committed to contribute and support the growing digital sector in MENA. We believe in the value proposition we are offering the market and this has been validated through multiple partners both regionally and internationally. As such we are happy to announce that soon Afkar.me participants will have a chance to go on an exchange program to Europe and the US and benefit from international expertise and exposure.”
It should be noted that so far no winning idea has come from a Saudi-based entrepreneur and all the winners from the last round were “international winners,” assigned to the incubator in Dubai. Consider too, that if you do have a great idea, you will be exposing it in the application process. In the FAQ section at afkar.me, the response to the question, “Will you sign an NDA?” is “Once you are selected for the 2-day bootcamp, we will provide you with a set of legal documents that will ensure transparency to the process and will clarify the commitment of every party.”
There isn’t any legal guarantee before the bootcamp that those reviewing the applications won’t be in some way “inspired” by an idea and act on it. This isn’t a two minute video pitch either. Applicants are requested to reveal everything from their market research to their business plans. With that in mind, this makes the funding process from Afkar.me a better choice for a start-up that’s at least minimally established, trademarked and legally locked down.