June 7, 2015, Cairo – The School of Business at The American University in Cairo (AUC) celebrated the graduation of the fourth cycle of AUC Venture Lab (V-Lab), where nine incubated startups showcased their products and services that range from software solutions, testing and assessing technology and business solutions to youth programs, home business management, art and others. “With the graduation of AUC Venture Lab fourth cycle, we now have more than 32 startups going through our acceleration program. We are starting to see some of the startups from the previous cycles attract investors, generate revenue and create jobs,” said Ayman Ismail, Abdul Latif Jameel, assistant professor and endowed chair of entrepreneurship. The V-Lab incubated this cycle nine startups, including Aslya, ASSESS Talent Management, CairoSitters, Ihyaa Academy, MundialMasr.com, Saboobaa, Sirius, Square Art Gallery and The Dog's Network.The event was attended by AUC President Lisa Anderson and Karim ElSeghir, dean of AUC’s School of Business, Ismail and Sherif Shabana, AUC Venture Lab manager, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.
AUC V-Lab is the first university-based incubator in Egypt that aims to commercialize technologies and innovations developed by Egypt-based startups into commercially viable ventures. “In the four cycles, all companies have received a combined total funding of LE20 million, generating so far in the past three cycles LE6.7 million and creating 120 jobs,” said Shabana.
The fourth cycle has introduced diverse startups, one of the incubated companies Aslya, “is a new anti-counterfeit digital authentication software solution that scans a pre-printed encrypted label tags on products, allowing consumers to utilize their smart phones for a real-time product authentication while running the Aslya application,” said Ahmed Rashad, founder and product manager.
ASSESS Talent Management is a talent acquisition and mobility company that specializes in psychometric testing and assessment technology and business solutions. The company’s aim is to provide a solution to bridge the gap in the recruitment local market. “This gap has evolved because of the lack in the validity and reliability of the recruitment practices by employers,” said Ahmed El-Bokhary, co-founder and product development leader of the company. “This startup focuses on helping both employers and job seekers to find each other through a localized and Arabized assessment tools that are both valid and reliable,” he added.
Also incubated in this cycle is CairoSitters, Egypt’s first and only babysitting and tutoring agency that offers high quality educational and childcare services throughout Greater Cairo in clients’ homes with three main services in babysitting, language service and tutoring, each available in German, French, English and Arabic. “In Egypt, we face many challenges regarding education and youth employment, so we mainly work on matching clients’ requests within our network of highly qualified caregivers, who are students and recent graduates that are rigorously selected and trained from Egypt’s top educational organizations,” said Hossam Taher, co- founder and CEO of CairoSitters.
Ihyaa Academy is a startup that offers a complete program for youth from 10 to 16 years old through different activities to explore their intelligence, talents and to acquire all needed tools in their area of interest. “The academy was founded to generate influential and inspirational productive leaders in different fields to create a better future and make our community and world a better place to live in,” said Farid Abohadid, founder and managing director.
One startup that promotes a healthy style of living is MundialMasr.com, which is a platform for amateur players created to allow them to live the experience of professional athletes through organized sports events. “We want to instill sports in the lifestyle of individuals, get to transform the talented to professional athletes, and build a sports-oriented community for all generations,” said Ahmed Othman, head of organization development and co- founder.
Since there are many Egyptians who started their businesses from home as a hobby or to make extra money, Mahmoud El-Fiqi, co-founder of Saboobaa, created a platform to assist individuals generate revenue by working from home, assisting them in their transactions, product pickup and delivery. “All you need to do is register and post your job. Perhaps one day an Egyptian woman in Shoubra can sell linens to a lady in Budapest. Or a young Egyptian businessman from Mansoura can give business advice to someone in Nigeria,” El-Fiqi explained.
Sirius provides a platform for users to share their art with others and express themselves, through a light-painting social mobile application. “We are building Sirius, the light painting mobile application to overcome the complexity of digital cameras making it convenient for all types of users. We are also in contact with the Light Painting World Alliance to make sure what we are building will be suitable for professional users as well,” said Karim Morcos, founder and CEO of Sirius.
Also promoting arts is Square Art Gallery, which offers a various collection of fine art masterpieces from different museums around the world, printed with museum-quality on canvas. “Our aim is to spread the culture of owning museum-quality printed paintings and create an appropriate alternative to those who are looking for wall art and paintings in Egypt,” said Tamer Fouad, founder and CEO.
Focusing on pet lovers, The Dog's Network, offers an interactive hub connecting service providers with consumers, acting like a virtual dog park, where Egyptian dog owners’ community can meet, discuss and share experiences and information. “The Dog’s Network gives users the option to rate and review every service provider, like veterinarians, kennels and training facilities, allowing others to make use of their experiences,” said founder and operations pack leader, Sarah Zohdi.
“Next year we are focusing on helping our mature startups connect to customers, go regional and international and attract more investors through the Venture Lab investors' circle,” said Ismail.