A new digital startup incubator-come-accelerator is set to launch in Dubai, offering a twist for the aspiring entrepreneur.
Afkar.me, which means “ideas” in Arabic, plans to stump up $20,000 and offer a number of other services in return for no equity in the startup. Yes, that’s right – entrepreneurs can get $20,000 and give up no equity in the business.
What Afkar does take is a percentage of revenues once the startup begins earning some income, while it also has first right of funding after the program has finished.
“It’s in our interest that the idea turns into a business as soon as possible,” explained Juan Jose De La Torre, vice president of strategy, technology and operations at Intigral, the digital media company that is running Afkar.
Intigral’s goal is to unearth some digital startups that can be partly incorporated into the company’s portfolio of applications, advertising and marketing businesses, IPTV and content distributions teams.
The digital company, which is a joint venture between Saudi Telecom Company and All Asia Networks, will offer startups a pool of mentors from around the region and in-house training classes with external partners, such as consultants Oliver Wyman and public relations agency Ketchum. It will also help the entrepreneurs hit the ground running once they have finished the program by providing the company’s marketing and sales teams free of charge.
Intigral is not the only digital company in the Middle East to launch an accelerator program. Digital agencies are wising up to the fact that their products and services marry nicely with the needs of nascent startups and entrepreneurs. What’s more, setting up accelerators helps digital companies and creative agencies to tap into the pulse of the technology market and potentially eventually benefit from tech behemoths of the future.
Juice Labs in Cairo is in the process of picking its first Egyptian startups for a six-month scheme supported by small digital creative agency ThePlanet. It will take a 10% equity stake in the startups for an investment of between $15,000 and $22,000.
“The startups will benefit from the resources we have and the expertise we have,” said Noha Mahmoud, who is coordinating the Juice Labs program.
Both Juice Labs and Afkar are in the process of picking startups to join their inaugural accelerators. Juice Labs is open to only Egyptians, while Afkar has received 70 applications from 18 countries, including Portugal, Brazil and France, and its program will be run alternatively in three-month stints in Riyadh and Dubai.
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