On the 19th of September, Touch held its first graduation ceremony of TIP’s 6 startups at Antwork in Hamra Spears. The ceremony included revelations from Touch and the graduating startups, important insights on the Lebanese ecosystem, as well as enriching discussions with known entrepreneurs and investors.
Nadim Khater, Chief Commercial Officer at Touch, took the stage to explain TIP’s mission as a startup developer, “Touch is one of the largest ICT companies in Lebanon, and thus, it’s kind of its duty to act like the big brother of smaller startups.” The six months they spent with the startups were immersive, interactive, and gave way to possible partnerships between Touch and other companies.
In addition to that, Nadim revealed the TIP Alumni Package that the graduating startups will receive containing multiple benefits which include, but are not limited to, access to a reduced rent workspace at Antwork, access to TIP events and workshops, and access to Arabnet Conferences (Beirut, Riyadh, Dubai, and Kuwait).
Unleashing the Lebanese Entrepreneurship Ecosystem’s Full Potential – 1st Panel
5 panelists were introduced to speak about the state of the Lebanese ecosystem: Elie Nasr, Co-Founder at FOO – Fadi Mikati, Co-Founder and President at Tripoli Entrepreneurs Club – Khaled Zeidan, Managing Director at MIC Ventures – Nadim Khater, Chief Commercial Officer at Touch – Nicolas Rouhana, General Manager at IM Capital.
Elie Nasr started the discussion with his experience in the Lebanese ecosystem 10 years ago. In 2009, FOO was created as a chatting service that connects all mobile devices together, a concept that was similar to WhatsApp. However, he faced problems receiving funds for this project for there were fewer VCs at the time. “I envy the new generation because they have access to loads of funding and support which were unavailable for us”.
With that statement, each panelist provided the audience with their input. Khaled and Nicolas shared a similar opinion on the Lebanese ecosystem saying that startups, anywhere in Lebanon, must not solely rely on funding, but instead build a good business model and have the discipline in order to survive.
A common conclusion was reached that the Lebanese ecosystem is developing and thriving with the years and young entrepreneurs should always be creative, come up with fresh ideas, and seek accelerators that can help them.
Open Discussion with Touch Innovators – Fireside Chat
The graduating startups were grouped together in this panel to speak about their experiences at TIP along with some announcements about their future plans.
Stephanie d’Arc Taylor is the co-founder and CEO of Jaleesa, a web platform that connects families with trusted babysitters. Jaleesa’s plan for the next few quarters is to push B2B sales of childcare products to companies.
Stephanie thanked Touch for organizing several meetings with corporates allowing her to better understand how they run and how divisions were made. Also, Touch provided Jaleesa with an office space. Jaleesa is a young startup with a relatively big team and having “a free office for the last 6 months was a major impact for us.”
Joe Zaarour represented Sympaticus as its co-founder. It is an online mental health treatment platform with a wide array of experienced doctors and therapists. Joe expressed his satisfaction with the TIP program, “the intimacy in this program is the key to its success.” They had many one-on-one meetings with Touch, intensive mentorship, and an energetic relationship.
Joe announced that an agreement have been reached between Sympaticus and Touch entailing that Joe’s startup will be providing the Occupational Wellbeing Program to Touch employees.
Joseph Sabbagh is the co-founder of Dentiflow, unique practice management software tailored for dentists allowing the optimization and management of every aspect of the clinic: patient records storage, dental charting, scheduling, and billing.
TIP program allowed Dentiflow to gain exposure in the market, as Joseph pointed out, which allowed them to increase their sales in the past 6 months. Touch provided what Dentiflow required the most, support.
Represented by Rudy Bekerejian, co-founder and CEO, ecomz is an ecommerce website builder that allows the user to create an online store with a click of a button.
According to Rudy, the TIP program gave ecomz a sense of validation that they needed. Ecomz was able to close a big deal with one of the recognized service providers in the country, along with securing a big investment that will occur in a couple of weeks which will help launch their business.
Dox is a battery predictive maintenance platform founded by Nicolas Jammal. It helps electric vehicles manufacturers reduce battery waste, sudden failures, and reduce maintenance cost.
Nicolas was grateful to have the opportunity to sit with mentors asking them a lot of questions about their startups, learning from them, and validate his ideas. Touch also allowed Dox to sit with technical teams which provided them with insights on battery operation and optimization.
Feel22 is an online beauty and personal care store founded by Maurice Matar. Feel22 features more than 300 brands providing free delivery across all of Lebanon.
For Maurice, the fact that TIP was not a competition in which a startup would win a first prize was what made him love the program. Due to the many workshops the startups participated in, Feel22 benefitted the most from the fundraising one as they were in the midst of a fundraising campaign. They improved their pitch and met with a lot of investors.
“We’re in the logistics business, we deliver hundreds of packages everywhere in Lebanon” so Touch provided Feel22 with introductions to many companies such as LibanPost and Aramex.
With the conclusion of its first round, Touch welcomes more Lebanese startups to apply for TIP’s second round for the chance to improve their businesses just like the aforementioned ones did.