Announcing The Inaugural Class of Techstars Hub71 Accelerator

I am thrilled to announce the kickoff of the class of 2020 at the Techstars Hub71 Accelerator. Techstars Hub71, MENA’s leading accelerator program,starts today, January 27, 2020, with our Demo Day grand finale to be held on April 20, 2020. We are looking forward to three months of world class programming, helping startups reach their potential and scale fast, in what promises to be a transformative experience for our founders.

Working hand in hand with our partners at Hub71, our mission is to support and help grow these 10 promising startups to be highly scalable champions in their niche industry sectors. Leveraging the UAE’s ecosystem and Techstars worldwide network, the next 90 days will be filled with mentoring, pitching, and growth-hacking with the help of high calibre mentors and our corporate partner. The investor community too, is an integral piece to supporting our companies to scale.  

Through our strong commitment to diversity we attract global talent, with our 2020 class of founders representing over one dozen nationalities. The ten participating in our inaugural are joining us in the UAE from various cities including Athens, Ankara, Dublin, Budapest, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Vancouver, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates itself. Their founders will spend the 3 months with full immersion in our program in Abu Dhabi supported by a global pool of over 80 mentors representing a rich diversity of talent.

Our accelerator program is located at WeWork X Hub71, a thriving entrepreneurial community with world class facilities and beautiful vistas, known as Abu Dhabi’s premier Innovation hub. This furthers Hub71’s commitment as a global tech ecosystem located in the heart of the United Arab Emirates’ capital city that brings together key enablers for startups to succeed.

This program would not be possible without the generous support and amazing energy of our associates, mentors, investors, alumni and global partners. Special thanks to the team at Hub71 and the government of Abu Dhabi for their true commitment to the success of our partnership.

Our program is industry agnostic and represents companies with diverse technology applications from biotechnology to health care to enterprise software.  I now have the pleasure of announcing the class of 2020 at the Techstars Hub71 Accelerator :

Aumet Inc

The first B2B marketplace to sell SME medical manufacturers product to distributors and healthcare providers, we match between distributors and manufacturers using tagging Crawler, algorithm and generate online sale from healthcare providers.


Innovative Duty Free Digital Platform that enables air travellers to complete a duty free purchase online at anywhere and anytime.


DeFiner is a non-custodial financial institution for digital asset investments, loans, savings, and payments.


SaaS that enables e-commerce retailers to sell their products in 3D & AR on their websites and apps


Educhain is enabling global mobility for students and professionals through shareable and verifiable digital credentials.

Hydro Wind Energy

Developing a disruptive technology to desalinate seawater into potable fresh water using subsea pressure, reverse osmosis membranes and low altitude wind using kites, eliminating entirely the need to use fossil fuels for water desalination and reducing costs by over 95%

Poliloop B.V.

We are a unique deep-tech company that focuses on curbing plastic pollution and working on integrating the plastic life cycle into a circular economy model. Our groundbreaking invention can steer the odds to our planet’s favor: we are able to make non-biodegradable plastics biodegrade. We work with the force of nature: our plastic eating organisms operate at room temperature, and can degrade plastics without pre-treatment, making the process ecologically friendly. Currently with our microcosmos we can degrade 63,1% of globally produced plastics, and our research focuses on bringing all plastics under our umbrella, starting with the most common pollutants, single use plastics.”


Sensgreen provides AI powered indoor environmental comfort solutions for non-residential buildings.

Sia Soft

Sia provides Privacy by Design for sensitive end-to-end communications, including IoT, M2M, chat systems, and more.


An AI-powered hospitality recruitment solution augmented by marketing tools and practices to help companies find, nurture and hire the very best talent.


Techstars Hub71 Accelerator: Open for 2020 program

I am delighted to announce the launch of the Techstars Hub71 Accelerator. Based in Abu Dhabi, this new program has a broad appeal and we have a particular liking for startups that are pushing the limits on the use of AI, analog / digital interface, AR / VR / mixed reality, blockchain, cybersecurity, digital media, IoT, payment technologies and robotics. 

In 2018, Techstars debuted its first accelerator program in the Middle East, the Techstars Dubai. Accelerator in Partnership with Ginco. With instant success, we attracted numerous applications from over 60 countries around the world. The program saw 19 companies successfully graduated and continue to scale and raise funding. The recent class of 2019 raised an aggregate amount of US17M by Demo Day. 

The startup ecosystem in United Arab Emirates has been heating with a number of deals and deal value at all time high. MAGNiTT the leading startup investment report reveals that 238 startup investment deals have taken place in the region in the first half of 2019, amounting to $US 471 million in total new investment. Among the 15 exits this year there was the mega $US 3.1 Billion acquisition of Careem by Uber, the biggest so far for a tech star-up in the region. This has had a ripple effect on the entire regional start-up ecosystem, energizing entrepreneurs and investors.  There has been increased investment activities by foriegn VC’s, and local VCs like MEVP have upped their game raising larger fund sizes. The active angel scene in key markets in UAE, such as the Dubai Angel Investors, have helped to narrow the finding gaps in one of the fastest growing regions in the world. I am delighted to be part of this ecosystem helping founders connect with investors and mentors who are all out there riding the technology wave disrupting a pheltora of industry sectors. 

I am thrilled to be heading the new Techstars Hub71 Accelerator  located in a leading innovation center in the region. Through our partnership with Hub71, the program will leverage its affiliated entities of Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi sovereign investment company and Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), which provides matching platform for start-ups. With extensive portfolio companies in sectors like ICT, healthcare, real estate & infrastructure, petroleum & petrochemical, renewable energy and Utilities, and metals & mining, we hope to provide startups untapped opportunities. 

We are looking for exceptional founders addressing disruptive solutions from all corners of the globe. Our program is open to founders who may be enterprise-ready or not, tackling mundane or big, important problems. If you are excited about our program and are seeking our support to grow your company 10x, we encourage you to apply now. We shall close our applications on October 13th 2019. Our 2020 program shall commence on 27th January 2020 and will end on Demo Day, to be held on the 23th of April, 2020. 

I look forward to meeting you and listening to your pitches.

Techstars Dubai in partnership with GINCO Demo Day Showcases 2019 Class of 10 ‘Smart Cities’ Companies

  • The companies have raised over $13M, representing the most successful accelerator program in MENA
  • 35 founders from 13 countries were hosted for the program duration at Dubai’s Future Foundation’s AREA 2071
  • It was announced that the 10 companies will receive long-term 5 year visas from the Dubai Future Foundation to remain in the UAE.


DUBAI – Ten technology startups from around the world building innovative companies showcased their products and stories on Wednesday, April 17th at “Demo Day” at the Four Seasons Hotel at Jumeirah Beach. In its second year of the program, a partnership between Techstars and GINCO Investments, the investment arm of GINCO Group, has been ongoing in the brand new AREA 2071, the international innovation ecosystem space launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, located in Emirates Towers.  

Notably in attendance were the CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, His Excellency Khalfan Juma Belhoul as well as virtually by Mr. Mohammed Gheyath, CEO of GINCO Investments, along with official representatives from the government and private sector.

CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, His Excellency Khalfan Juma Belhoul announced that the 10 startups in the program will receive long-term visas from the Dubai Future Foundation to continue pursuing their business and contribute to the region’s economic growth.

Founders from each company took center stage at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dubai and pitched their business to hundreds of investors, mentors, and Dubai’s tech and startup community.

During the 13-week accelerator program, the 10 companies worked closely with more than 90 mentors from the Dubai’s ecosystem and beyond to further develop their business models, go-to market strategies and scale. 

Over the course of the program, the companies met with more than 25 company founders and investors, took part in more than 20 workshops and conducted around 1,000 meetings. 

It was announced during Demo Day that many of the startups landed pilot projects during their time in the accelerator, and others are in the works. As a result of the program, five of the companies are maintaining a presence in Dubai with a focus on Tech, Legal Tech, Food Tech, and IoT for Construction and Service Execution Management.

Vijay Tirathrai, Managing Director at Techstars states: “We are extremely proud to witness the acceleration of such a promising batch of companies that were selected this year. In 3 months, $13.8M USD has been raised or committed collectively by the companies. We’ve seen impressive partnership tie-ups with some of the leading companies across many industries, extensive customer acquisition and promising potential for continued growth among the companies.”

“With our partners at Techstars, we set out to prove that Dubai can attract and develop exceptional startup talent from all over the world. Over the past 13 weeks our founders raised capital, shipped product, and built incredible businesses that we look forward to supporting along their entrepreneurial journeys” said Mohammed Gheyath, CEO of GINCO Investments.

In addition to the lifelong support of Techstars and the Gheyath family, the companies have gained access to $2m in perks provided by partners such as Amazon Web Services, SendGrid, Dentons, and others. The companies have joined a family of over 1600 Techstars companies who have collectively reached over $17 Billion in market capitalization. 

Notable advancements in the 10 companies that pitched were: 

  • Buglance is a UAE-based crowd testing company that connects software testers with software development companies all over the world. Pitched by CEO Toghrul Samadov, the company has over 30,000 testers that use over 4,000 unique devices. They have closed $500,000 USD Seed 1 stage funding and are extending the seed funding by another $500,000. They have doubled revenue every quarter for the last 5 quarters, and grown from $10,000 MRR to $20,000 MRR in the last 3 months. 
  • Clara is a UAE-based SaaS platform that digitises and automates startup legal expertise. Clara empowers founders to efficiently set up and manage their legal structure to ensure their startup’s venture-readiness while providing unmatched portfolio management and market intelligence to investors. Pitched by CEO Patrick Rogers, an experienced startup law firm founder and lawyer, Clara has investor commitments of $2.5M for their seed round that was raised in just 4 weeks. They have commitments to run pilots with 15 accelerators, VC firms and channel partners. Techstars has committed to pilot the Clara solution with the on-boarding of the London and Singapore program classes in Summer 2019.
  • Element 16 is a US-based company that improves energy efficiency at industrial processing facilities with heat storage technology. Pitched by CEO Parker Wells, they signed a master work agreement with their first industrial processing company in the GCC and are designing their first 1,000+ ton heat storage unit, which can replace the carbon emissions footprint of 20,000 cars. To date they have received over $3M in grant funding.
  • LuggAgent is a Hong Kong-based global concierge that offers the luxury of time and freedom. It started with the goal of eliminating the burden of luggage hassles so travellers can focus on achieving their travelling goals. Pitched by CEO Lance Lin, they currently operate in 80 cities across the world, having delivered over 50,000 bags in total, with 0 lost bags. They are in the process of adding airline check in and airport baggage claim system to their offering to provide a seamless travel experience. 
  • Nestrom, based in Jordan with a presence in UAE, is a cloud based platform that enables data capture and actioning from field operations. Whether data is captured through digitized mobile forms or IoT sensors, Nestrom captures the data, actions it then provides insights on performance. Pitched by CEO Yousef Wadi, a serial entrepreneur, the company was selected as one of the 2019 Top 100 Arab Startups Shaping the 4th Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum. Already working with such brands as Starbucks and H&M, they are in the process of finalizing 7 major deals with UAE and regional companies in hospitality, inspections, property management and inspection service providers. 
  • Ottogee, based in the US with a presence in the UAE, provides IoT wearables for Industrial applications in Construction, Oil & Gas, Security and Manufacturing. Ottogee advanced data analytics enable workers and stakeholders to have real-time insights that optimize safety and productivity and reduce cost to unprecedented levels. Pitched by CEO Omar Ghazzaoui, they have 4 initiated projects in the UAE and the US. They are collecting more than 250,000 data points per month. Ottogee have been approved by the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) to scale their cellular enabled technology across UAE. They have also established partnerships with telecom companies expanding in IoT services space in the region and US, as well as strengthening their relationship with UAE’s biggest and most innovative construction companies such as Arabtec, Khansahab, and AASA.
  • Three Wheels United is an India-based tech enabled lender poised to become India’s leading financier for electric, income-generating assets, unlocking a global lending opportunity worth $225B. Currently, they are financing electric tuk-tuks in India and have reduced default rates to an industry leading 1%. Pitched by Head of Business Development, Rosemary Pierce – Messick, Three Wheels United have grown their operations from two to four cities in India. They have pivoted to a SaaS business model in order to serve other markets and have attracted capital to lend and created a debt structure of $7M USD committed debt. They have also secured commitments of $800,000 with $145,000 of this from Techstars and Google Impact Fund.
  • Veeplay is a Germany-based company that empowers media companies and video content owners to take control over their video strategy by helping them stream, secure and monetize their inventory. Pitched by CEO Sebastian Vaduva, they have clients such as Germany’s leading media companies ProSieben and Sport1, and US-based Shopkick. They have experienced a 40% revenue lift in the past 24 months and more than 5 billion total delivered streams, equaling $150M in revenue for their clients. 
  • Vivoo is a Palo Alto, California-based wellness app that provides personalized nutrition and lifestyle advice to the users based on their weekly home urine tests. Pitching CEO Miray Tayfun has grown its user base 20x in just 3 months, partnered with the likes of Bayer Pharmaceuticals and UAE-based health insurance company, Bayzat. They have delivered over 2,000 strips to users, and in total over 6,000 urine analyses have been done. 
  • YACOB is a UAE-based SaaS POS platform that enables food tracking and online payments in closed food ecosystems. It measures and reports the nutritional intake of users with the objective of instilling healthy lifelong eating habits. The pitching CEO, Faisal Al Hammadi is an Emirati serial entrepreneur. YACOB will launch in Riyadh, KSA in Q4 2019 with a pilot program in 4 schools. The platform currently processes 10,000 meals a day across 45 schools in the UAE.

About Techstars Dubai Accelerator in partnership with GINCO 

Techstars Dubai Accelerator in partnership with GINCO is expanding Techstars’ presence in the Middle East. Dubai is known for their leadership in technology innovation. Pioneering entrepreneurs leading innovative companies solving challenges in transportation, construction, wellness, IoT, robotics, & beyond should apply, no matter your location. 

About Techstars

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders and their teams connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporate partners who will help their companies grow.  Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs help founders do more faster and Techstars Startup Programs inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs. Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships helps brands supercharge growth by accelerating innovation and cultural transformation. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,700 companies with a market cap of $22 Billion. 

About GINCO Group

GINCO is a company of engineers founded in 1975 by Mr. Gheyath Mohammad Gheyath. Operating out of 5 branches across the Middle East, the GINCO Group of Companies employs over 4000 staff representing 13 nationalities. GINCO is a full service general contracting firm, covering the full lifecycle of the construction process from concept to execution and supervision. GINCO works with the best known brands in the Middle East, including Dubai Municipality, Emaar, Dubai Properties, WASL, and Nakheel, among others. GINCO Group launched GINCO Investments to focus on supporting and nurturing the local SME community and empowering entrepreneurs with global ambitions. 

About Dubai Future Foundation

UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Dubai Future Foundation in April 2016, an independent research think tank based on the Dubai Future Agenda. Where the Foundation plays a pivotal role in shaping the future vision and industry of Dubai. Dubai Future Agenda focuses on supporting and developing individuals and institutions to achieve leadership and precedence for the UAE and Dubai, by supporting networking and collaboration with international and emerging research companies and institutions. The foundation brings together individuals, organizations and government entities to share that vision, to agree strategy and to implement the reality. It also, provides an environment in which ideas can take hold and take flight through incubating & prototyping.


Announcing the Techstars Dubai Accelerator in Partnership with GINCO 2019 class!

I am thrilled to announce our second class: the ten companies joining the Techstars Dubai Accelerator in Partnership with GINCO. We are proud to be MENA’s top accelerator program by initial check size, in-program benefits, and follow-on funding, and to build on our momentum as the most prestigious accelerator program in MENA with the announcement of our new class of companies.

We kick off the program on January 20, and our Demo Day grand finale is on April 17, 2019. We are looking forward to three months of world class programming, helping startups reach their potential and scale fast, in what promises to be a transformative experience for our founders.

Our one and only goal is to support and grow these 10 incredible companies. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and strong partners and mentors help make this happen. The next 90 days will be filled with mentoring, pitching, and growth!

Through our strong commitment to diversity, we attract global talent, with founders representing over 13 nationalities and mentors from all over the world. This year, we attracted companies from eight countries, including United States, Turkey, Hong Kong, Germany, Jordan, the Netherlands, and United Arab Emirates. Our location at AREA 2071—Dubai’s premier Innovation hub and experimentation space for governments, multinationals, and startups to design and implement global solutions with human-scale impact—furthers this commitment.

I would like to thank our associates, mentors, sponsors, partners, and alumni for their generous support and amazing energy. Special thanks to the team at GINCO for their true commitment to the success of our partnership.

Without further ado, I have the pleasure of announcing the second class of 2019 companies in Techstars Dubai Accelerator in Partnership with GINCO:

  •     Buglance is a crowd testing platform for testing mobile apps, games, and mobile sites, led by a UAE based Azeri team.
  •     Clara is a legal operating system that digitizes and automates startup legal expertise, led by a UAE based Canadian team.
  •     Element 16 has developed a new thermal battery, which is similar to a conventional battery but stores high-temperature heat instead of electricity, led by a California-based team.
  •     LuggAgent offers same day luggage delivery to or from airports and hotels in over 70 top tourism cities, founded by a Taiwanese team based in Hong Kong.
  •     Nestrom is a software company specializing in technologies for field service management, led by a Jordanian team.
  •     Ottogee is the world’s smartest IoT-enabled solution for labor-intensive industries, led by a Texas-based Lebanese-American team.
  •     Three Wheels United uses innovative technology and finance to enable sustainable last mile transportation, based out of India and led by a Cameroonian CEO.
  •     VeePlay is the most advanced player for in-app video monetization, led by a German team.
  •     Vivoo is the first personal wellness assistant in the world that takes real data from your body and gives personalized nutrition and wellness advice to you, based on your urine sample analysis, led by a Turkish CEO.
  •     Yacob empowers and inspires children to lead a healthier, more active life, led by an Emirati founder.

2019 Techstars Dubai Accelerator in partnership with GINCO: Apply Now!

After its successful debut in 2018, the Techstars Dubai Accelerator in partnership with GINCO will host its second class in 2019 starting on 20th of January and Demo Day held on the 18th of April. Our second year of operation will continue the world class mentorship-driven programming in partnership with GINCO Investments and will be located at the brand new facilities of the Dubai Future Foundation’s Area 2071, a visionary government initiative, at the iconic Emirates Towers.

Our program is agnostic to any industry sectors and has a special theme around ‘Smart Cities’. Our definition of ‘Smart Cities’ is broad: covering enterprise software, logistics, mobility, industrial, e-commerce, smart energy and environment that are scalable anywhere in the world.

We are looking for exceptional founders, from all corners of the globe, who may be enterprise-ready or not, but are nevertheless tackling the mundane to the big, important problems with the use of disruptive solutions.

Founders that are developing leading edge technology for future smart cities, and the use of applications such as IOT, artificial intelligence, virtual or augmented reality, big data, machine vision, blockchain, or even quantum physics are encouraged to apply.

You can start your application now, but stay tuned for more information about how to meet us during our upcoming meet and greet trips. Also, be sure to join our webinar where I will tell you more about the program. We ideally want to meet you in person or via video if possible and want to use that time to learn more about your company. I look forward to listening to your pitches.

My Next Adventure! Managing Director for Techstars Dubai

Anyone who knows me will tell you I love a new challenge – fresh out of my role as CEO at the Entrepreneurs Organization, I’m joining Techstars as the managing director for the Techstars Dubai Accelerator in partnership with GINCO. Here are the reasons why I decided to uproot my life in Washington D.C. to move to Dubai for Techstars:

A Thirst for Learning

Being a serial entrepreneur myself, I have had my fair share of hits and misses. I’m learning from past experiences and constantly seeking knowledge in emerging industries, especially from budding entrepreneurs.

I want to master the art of investing; I want to learn how to identify top companies and top entrepreneurs. I’m confident that we will be able to build a portfolio of great companies that come through the Techstars Dubai Accelerator, but it’s not a task I can complete on my own. I acknowledge the need to the leverage the awesome collectiveness of my Techstars team, peers and mentors to succeed.

The world is rapidly changing before our eyes, fueled by unprecedented innovation and disruption across many sectors. Techstars will provide me the opportunity to broaden my horizons.

Dubai: The Center of Innovation

Techstars is excited to partner with GINCO because of their focus on driving innovation in the region to align with the UAE Centennial 2071 initiatives. GINCO is a full service general contracting firm, covering the full lifecycle of the construction process from concept to execution and supervision.

Dubai is known for their leadership in technology innovation, so GINCO is looking for pioneering entrepreneurs leading innovative companies that are solving challenges in transportation, construction, wellness, IoT, robotics, and beyond.

I am thrilled to be at the center of all this. I have lived intermittently in Dubai over the past 20 years and have family connections here. I have seen the unbelievable transformation from a small desert town to a global hub for trade, banking, tourism, aviation, ports and logistics, as well as the host to mega events like EXPO 2020.

#GiveFirst: Mentoring Entrepreneurs

Mentoring entrepreneurs is a self fulfilling prophecy. I have found that mentoring is a two-way street; the mentor and the mentee are both benefiting from the exchange. It keeps me real and true to my values.

Many managing directors and mentors will agree how satisfying it is to see founders learn and grow rapidly within the program and beyond. I get a kick out out it when I see the impact it has emotionally, psychologically and professionally.

I’m looking forward to living the Techstars #givefirst lifestyle everyday, and building and leading a group of ace mentors.

Techstars: It’s a Smart Move

I spent the past few weeks visiting the headquarters Techstars office in Boulder and programs in Paris and Berlin. I am so fortunate to have Ramzy Ismail, an experienced and a rock-solid Program Director, as my right hand man. I can’t do it without him.

Everyone I have met has been exceptional in welcoming me and supporting my Techstars journey. I want to make a special mention of thanks to Greg Rogers and Jenny Lawton, who tip the scale for me moving forward.

I am delighted and honored to be part of the Techstars family and launch the Techstars Dubai Accelerator in partnership with GINCO. Applications close October 15, so be sure to apply!