June 29, 2014, Cairo, Egypt– AUC Venture Lab (V-Lab) at The American University in Cairo’s School of Business has announced seven new startups incubated in V-Lab’s second cycle. Established by the School of Business, the mission of the V-Lab is to commercialize technologies and innovations developed by Egypt-based startups into commercially viable ventures. After an exhaustive selection process, startups Axology, Bus Pooling, DoubleVee, EduTKs, Madad, SingleClic, and Tatweer were named as the new cohort.Axology designs and produces business-specific accessories such as mobile protection cases and custom display case locks for Egypt’s mobile industry, while Bus Pooling is a crowd-sourced bus service allowing businesses or private users to find or create bus routes which are convenient for them. DoubleVee is the first software testing firm in Egypt and is fully certified in functional, performance, operational and security testing services according to international standards. EduTKs is an educational toy company, whose first product, a robotic bear called “Boody” teaches lessons in English and Arabic. Madad is a crowd-funding platform for interested donors to find, support and track the execution of causes and projects undertaken by Egyptian Non-Governmental organizations. SingleClic is a full-service digital agency specializing in creating websites, developing software, and delivering mobile customized applications for real estate and development events and conferences. Tatweer is a socially conscious business, whose first endeavor, “Project Kiosk Up-lift” hopes to redesign and revitalize Egypt’s kiosks to be more aesthetic, profitable, and support social projects such as recycling.
These teams make up the second incubation wave for the V-Lab enabling the selected startups to capitalize on AUC’s world-class facilities and knowledge base, connecting the teams with AUC’s alumni network and fostering a thriving ecosystem of innovation, education and business.
Incubation services include a LE 20,000 seed funding award, shared working space at AUC’s New Cairo campus, business trainings by AUC faculty members and industry experts, as well as access to campus resources and the University's global network of academics, mentors and investors.
Bus Pooling CEO Mohamed Ehab says he was elated to find out his startup had been selected. “We have major international aspirations for our product,” he says. “This model can be applied to any city with poor transportation infrastructure and expensive taxis. We’ve found that our model is a solution to overcrowding, by replacing ten cars on the street with only one van.” Extrapolating, Ehab adds, “only three-thousand subscribers riding with Bus Pooling would reduce the traffic crush on the 26th of July corridor by over three kilometers.” Ehab notes that the company now is looking for ways to expand to Jordan. “Through the V-Lab, we have made connections to competitions such as the Omraan Initiative and connected to US-based venture capitalists who are interested in our model as we continue to grow.”
The V-Lab’s commitment to solving problems large and small is what attracted Mohamed Sami, Tatweer’s vice president of operations, to apply for the second cycle. The socially-minded startup’s first product is a redesigned Kiosk which employs a modern design to optimize retailing and advertising in what is already a community fixture. “The real potential of the Kiosk hasn’t yet been realized because of how arbitrary and individualized the stands were,” Sami says.
According to their model, Tatweer bears the cost of the designing and manufacturing the new kiosks in return for the rights to outdoor media, product category sponsorships and TV on the redesigned models. “We interact and benefit all the stakeholders, from Kiosk owners, to beverage makers, consumers and the government,” he says. Tatweer plans to build the new Kiosks with space for government public service announcements, and to equip each new stand with waste and recycling bins to reduce litter.
The new cycle of V-Lab start-ups will join a network of international recognized companies including Mubser, whose wearable belt to aid the visually impaired was covered in Forbes, and Kashef Labs, whose ground penetrating radar has detected long-forgotten mines left from the Second World War was awarded first place in the COMESA innovation awards. Both companies were incubated in the V-Lab’s first cycle.
“This is our latest effort here at AUC to empower entrepreneurs, to foster innovation and to fill existing gaps in the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt,” said Ayman Ismail, Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship at AUC’s School of Business. “Our aim is to capitalize on AUC’s intellectual capital and world-class resources, select a few high-potential innovative startups and help transform these teams into scalable companies.”