AUC Venture Lab (V-Lab) at The American University in Cairo’s School of Business has announced the incubation of ten new startups in V-Lab’s sixth cycle in a three- year partnership with The Arab African International Bank (AAIB). The mission of the V-Lab, the top university business incubator in Africa (2014) by UBI Global and top high-impact incubator in the MENA region (2015) by UBI Global, is to commercialize technologies and innovations developed by Egypt-based startups into commercially viable ventures. The partnership between AUC V-Lab and AAIB over the next three years, will create a new track at V-Lab to support e-commerce startups. In addition to the mentorship and training the startups receive from V-Lab, they will also attend workshops and training by AAIB experts on e-commerce. After an exhaustive selection process, new startups EpicVR, Dbox, Entej, JewelHub, Farawlaya.com, Zone, GBARENA, Voxera and ElZanqa were named as the new cohort.
“AAIB believes in the importance of investing in youth and empowering them whether through financing them or offering them the needed expertise, which will have a recognizable imprint on the field of entrepreneurship,” said Hassan Abdalla, vice chairman and managing director of AAIB.
V-Lab startups collectively generated LE 36 million in revenues and raised LE 23 million in investments.
Ayman Ismail, Abdul Latif Jameel, assistant professor and endowed chair of entrepreneurship said, "In 2013, AAIB had the leadership and foresight to be among the first supporters of the AUC V-Lab. Since then, V-Lab has accelerated more than 50 innovative startups creating more than 250 new jobs, and has grown to become the leading university-based incubator in Africa and the MENA region. This year, AAIB will extend its support to V-Lab, focusing on the fast-growing e-commerce vertical. AAIB will provide startups with mentoring and training on best practices in this area, along with the V-Lab services,” he said
Cycle 6 brings together an array of different startups. EpicVR offers full-motion virtual reality games that entertain customers rather than mainstream video games. Customers wear an Oculus that immediately transfers them to a virtual world of adventure. Dbox offers their customers a monthly subscription box. Using a surprise factor, customers receive products that are worth more than the subscription fees. These products are supplied to Dbox through sponsorships.
Entej is the first Arabic social network that aims to help SMEs, SOHOs and entrepreneurs to achieve key elements of business success through networking, researching the marketplace, providing distribution networks, enhancing supply chain and presenting global opportunities.
JewelHub is an e-commerce platform that sells Jewelry online, providing a diversified and fashionable range of jewelry with good quality and reasonable price. Farawlaya.com is a website that sells women home wear and lingerie products online. It gives the customers a sense of privacy and creates an enjoyable shopping experience.
Zone is a technical co-working and maker space that offers academic programs, hosting projects, technical support and fabrication services. It starts with the aim of complementing the engineering educational system by making students apply their theoretical knowledge in real life and engage with the digital fabrication. As for GBARENA, an online gaming platform, it helps game organizers conduct virtual tournaments. The platform helps them reduce costs and efforts and increase the challenge scope.
Voxera is a device that helps travelers use their local sim cards to make phone call. By using Voxera, users avoid roaming fees and have more communication flexibility abroad. Ingraph.me is an online platform that connects community builders with similar interests. Users choose their interest and the website connects them to other users of same interest, skilled users, organizations, events, jobs, services, products and posts. ElZanqa is a social media based e-commerce platform that gathers online sellers under one safe and professional platform targeting women with the aim of empowering them.
AUC Venture Lab is the first university-based incubator in Egypt that allows the startups to use the outstanding facilities of AUC and the database of the University to create a link between the alumni network and the startups. On the Demo Day in May, startups present their work and are evaluated based on milestones achieved during incubation.