Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GITEX 2016 launches new startup movement.

GITEX Technology Week will launch and host GITEX Startup Movement, a startup gathering which will host over companies from 30 countries, bringing together entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, mentors and buyers for the first time in Dubai.

The GITEX Startup Movement will convene over 400 startups and more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, investors and mentors from the global startup ecosystem. The exclusive set-up will highlight the most innovative startups around the world and provide them a platform to sell, form partnerships and attract investors. Participants will also be able to pitch for prizes, attend an interactive conference to address challenges faced by entrepreneurs and meet leading industry figures. The initiative has already garnered interest and momentum from supporters across the globe including Business France, Cross Trade agency in Singapore, Digi Robotics in the UAE, Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Japan’s Jetro agency, Marco Trade Export in Morocco, Star Systems agency in Iran and STC from KSA.

Amjad Shacker, Corporate Communication GM, STC, said, “InspireU is an STC initiative to promote, support and develop digital startups and nurture and consolidate the startup ecosystem in the MENA region and create sustainable value. We believe that “to inspire is to empower” and we do that by providing the directions and tools to budding entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. STC strongly supports the launch of the GITEX Startup Movement and is proud to co-present the top tier prize of the event to the best global startup.”

“The need for local and regional startup ecosystem consolidation, learning from global best practices, and exposure to global investment network, is imminently evident. STC considers GITEX Startup Movement addressing this need; it will help regional players to learn and mature as well as expose them to the global buyers and investors. STC will showcase the achievements of InspireU by showcasing its incubatees, connect them to the broader network, attract future deal flow and share the roadmap for the future. STC is participating in the Global Startup Movement to inspire and be inspired,” said Shacker.

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The Arab world has a burgeoning youth demographic. More than 60 per cent of the 350 million population is under the age of 25. Young millennial Arabs are online, mobile, using technology and becoming entrepreneurs with the strong support of government initiatives.  The UAE leads the way in the region on revolutionary smart cities transformation and diversification of economies. Across Middle East and Africa, entrepreneurs are at the heart of the digital revolution as ICT spending increases across the region.

“Startups from all over the globe, women, youth and Arab entrepreneurs are a very real force of change that is making a positive impact in our society. They need supportive ecosystems to nurture and enable their growth and success. GITEX Technology Week has a strong legacy as one of the leading international tech events and is uniquely positioned to turn the spotlight on startups. With a force of 146,000 technology professionals and 22,000 C-suite executives at GITEX, Startups gain immediate access to a powerful industry network and massive technology marketplace, entry into growth markets in Middle East & Africa, and can future-proof their business plans, products and services.” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice-President, Exhibitions and Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre.

“The Tesla Foundation is proud to be a part of the GITEX Startup Movement. The foundation is focused on building the bridge between private and public organizations to create new technologies and companies and the Middle East & Africa presents a unique opportunity. We have been graced with the strength of government support and the burgeoning entrepreneur scene that is in the region. As a science and technology Foundation focused on robotics and automation, “Cyber-Physical Systems,” GITEX enables us to expand our network by connecting with innovators, entrepreneurs, and companies to include in the Tesla STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Farm System,” said Keith Kaplan, CEO Tesla Foundation.

The public sector in the UAE is already committed to facilitating a conducive environment for entrepreneurship through its AED 2 billion knowledge fund, which is part of the country’s National Innovation Strategy, and aims to accelerate the startup movement towards a sustainable knowledge-based economy.

Further positive announcements such as the establishment of venture firm 500 Startups’ $30 million fund in the Middle East and North Africa, Uber’s $250 million investment in the region and home grown UAE startup, who recently secured $275 million investment to be the highest valued internet company in the Middle East, are testaments to rising MENA entrepreneurship scene where vibrant and growing economies present untapped and unchartered opportunities.

Delegates at the event, will also have the opportunity to visit country zones and showcase pods that will feature the most exciting startups offering drones & robotics; IoT, AR, VR & AI; finance; retail; healthcare; education; energy; travel & hospitality; media & marketing; and transport & logistics, to name a few.

GITEX Technology Week is expected to attract more than 146,000 visitors from over 140 countries, including 22,000 C-suite executives and 3,500 exhibitors from 55 countries.

GITEX Technology Week will be held on 16th to 20th October 2016 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

Disclaimer: Following article come from CNME

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Soon You Won't Have To Be Rich To Back A Startup.

New crowdfunding rules taking effect Monday will let anyone—not just the wealthy— invest in startups. But don't bet on the "99 percent" finding the next Uber overnight. 

The change overrides a longstanding Securities and Exchange Commission requirement that investors backing private companies be "accredited," meaning they make at least $200,000 a year and have a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding their home).

Now startups raising money through online crowdfunding portals will be able to sell shares to people regardless of their wealth or income so long as the founders have submitted annual financial reports to the SEC. In exchange, companies can raise up to $1 million. 

The rules, implemented as part of Title III of the JOBS Act, were four years in the making and the result of industry lobbying to make the process more democratic. The big question is how much the change will transform crowdfunding, which has typically rewarded backers with T-shirts, events tickets and early iterations of gadgets.

While some startups are keen to sell shares to small investors, others are hanging back because they find the rules too onerous and the fundraising limit too low. Meanwhile, Kickstarter, the biggest and best-known crowdfunding site, has no plans to join the party.

It's early days but non-tech entrepreneurs who have trouble attracting venture capital are considered the most likely to take advantage of the option. People like Tom Lix, who's keen to raise $1 million on the Wefunder portal so he can expand his Cleveland liquor startup.

"I would love for my customers to be my shareholders," says Lix, whose Cleveland Whiskey LLC says it can age whiskey in 24 hours.  "I couldn't ask for better fans."

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Richard Swart, a founding board member of the Crowdfunding Professional Association, says the new fundraising rules could especially appeal to companies outside venture-capital rich California and New York. He says entrepreneurs in theater, food production and energy have expressed the most interest so far, along with minority-led businesses.

"We're hoping crowdfunding can start to equalize the distribution of funding," says Swart, who also serves as chief strategy officer at NextGen Crowdfunding LLC,  a year-old startup that provides information about funding portals, individual companies and crowdfunding regulations.
Still, he and others acknowledge that new funding option could have limited appeal. Jim Fulton, an attorney at Cooley LLP who specializes in corporate and securities law for emerging companies, says many companies, especially in tech, consider the $1 million limit too low and the costs to register and submit annual results too high. He says fewer than a dozen clients have asked about the option. Another potential turnoff: a requirement that companies communicate with investors as individuals rather than as a group.

"If you're not going to raise $5 million," Fulton says, "I don't know why you'd subject yourself to this burden."

The costs vary depending on a company's complexity and how much it wants to raise. Cleveland Whiskey expects to pay between $40,000 and $50,000 to raise $1 million while Anikona Farm, which operates a coffee plantation in Hawaii, expects to pay between $1,000 and $20,000 to raise roughly $100,000, according to owners at each company.

As of Thursday, five crowdfunding portals had been approved: Wefunder Portal LLC, SI Portal LLC. dba, CFS LLC. dba, NextSeed US LLC. and StartEngine Capital LLC. Three dozen more are awaiting approval.

A spokesman for Kickstarter said the company has no intention of adding equity investing to its platform. But rival crowdfunding portal Indiegogo does.

"It was the original goal of the founders when we launched in 2008 and it still is," says Indiegogo Chief Executive David Mandelbrot, adding the company is working out details with attorneys now and expects to launch something later this year. "Limiting venture financing to accredited investors and treating people differently according to their wealth feels very undemocratic. It's sad it's taken this long to change that, but at least these are steps in the right direction."

Disclaimer: Following article come from Bloomberg

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Startup with $10 million in funding shuts down: “From first bite to the bittersweet finale”

An on-demand private chef startup that had secured more than $10 million in funding has shut down and issued a dire warning for other tech companies operating in the food space.

Silicon Valley-based Kitchit offered a platform where chefs could visit users’ homes and cook for them, and has served 100,000 meals since its launch in 2011.

The startup raised over $US8 million in total, including a funding round it closed in December 2014.

But due to an increasingly cut-throat market and a lack of investor interest, Kitchit has shut down, another in a long line of similar startups calling it quits.

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In a lengthy and insightful blog post, founders Brendan Marshall and Ian Ferguson detail the startup’s journey from “first bite” to the “bittersweet finale” and the reasons behind its demise.

It begins with the team’s plans to create “the world’s largest – and its first decentralised – restaurant” and their early success with these plans, with 30-40% gross profit margins.

“An accomplishment that was unrivalled by many food companies at scale, to say nothing of food-tech startups,” the founders say.

“We believed that these were the early indicators of the venture-scale business we’d been searching for.”

But it all started to come apart, with the founders saying the company’s funding runway ended just as the industry faced some troubling times.

“We’ve navigated five years and made the most of every dollar raised,” they say.

“Nevertheless, investment runways are finite, and unfortunately ours reached its end at a moment of substantial upheaval in the food-tech world.

“While Kitchit’s business fundamentals have always been strong, our scale has been too limited to outshine the tumult around us.”

It comes as several other startups playing in the food space have been forced to shutter operations, including SpoonRocket in March due to a lack of funds, Competitor Dinner Lab earlier this month and Kitchit rival KitchenSurfing.

The founders’ blog post concluded with an ominous warning for other startups operating in the space.

“So we close our doors with a mix of sadness for our customers, chefs and employees on one hand, and on the other a recognition that our market is simply not ready to sustain a venture-scale business,” the founders say.

Disclaimer: - Following article come from SC