The School of Business at The American University in Cairo (AUC) celebrated the graduation of the Seventh cycle of AUC Venture Lab (V-Lab), where nine incubated startups showcased their products and services. “Heading into its fourth year, AUC Venture Lab is celebrating the graduation of our 70th startup in cycle 7 Demo Day. This cycle we are very pleased to see women entrepreneurs prominently participating in our program, with half of our startups led by women entrepreneurs,” said Ayman Ismail, director of AUC V-Lab, Abdul Latif Jameel endowed chair of entrepreneurship and assistant professor.The V-Lab incubated nine startups this cycle, including Raye7, La Reina, APHRIE, NOTO, AlMakinah, KARIBU, Mermaid, IQSAN, JFuel and ShopX. The event, which was held at AUC New Cairo campus, was attended by Karim ElSeghir, dean of School of Business, in addition to AUC professors and Egyptian businessmen.
AUC Venture 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. It also 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, startups present their work and are evaluated based on milestones achieved during incubation.
The seventh cycle has introduced diverse startups, one of them is AlMakinah, which trains software engineers with limited experience in programming on technical and soft skills, through a three-month boot camp to prepare them for the job market. Bahia El-Sharkawy, founder of AlMakinah, said, “we didn't really know what to expect when we joined the V-Lab. The atmosphere at the lab is quite encouraging, being surrounded by people with the same mindset, facing the same challenges helps greatly.” El Sharkawy noted that the mentorship was extremely valuable and spot on, “the V-Lab team helped us out every step of the way. We were challenged to answer all the difficult questions about our business model and idea and received the necessary support and resources to guide us in finding the right answers. On the Demo Day, we were much more confident about our business model, had a solid idea of where to go from there and how to grow and scale our business in the future."
Jfuel, is a startup that produces biodiesel from jatropha seeds by planting the jatropha on marginal lands and using recycled waste water for irrigation purposes. Jatropha oil is then extracted from the seeds and undergoes a chemical process that converts this oil into usable biodiesel. “The V-lab has added to our team a diverse set of skills that has provided us with the necessary tools to generate, develop, and innovate in our business strategies with their never-failing assistance and support,” said Abdelrahman Othman, founder of Jfuel, “but most importantly, we can now confidently face challenges, given that every day in the Venture Lab was a challenge and an opportunity to learn, delivered in a high spirited and interactive environment, which has developed our startup and our entrepreneurial spirit along with it."
Among the startups are Raye7, which is an exclusive carpooling mobile app that allows customers to carpool with verified communities made up of users’ colleagues or fellow students. Raye7 gives users the opportunity to share their time with others who are going to the same destination, thus creating less traffic and cutting down on commute time.
Showcasing their products and services are also ShopX is a social platform, for stores and products, which includes an integrated CRM system; NOTO, which is a platform that allows faculty, students and university administrators to communicate, organize and share their data effectively through providing an online and user friendly learning management system for universities.
Another startup in Demo Day is Aphrie, an Egyptian/American startup, which utilizes artificial intelligence and is based on selling hardware solutions to car owners.
Among the nine startups is IQSAN which provides a solution that makes schools smarter by bringing all the necessary tools together on one platform, so they are able to connect and engage users within the same school. By digitizing these tools school staff and students can easily communicate, collaborate, and share content and resources, as well as measure performance and progress.
A startup that focuses on traveling is KARIBU, which mainly targets and encourages independent exploring, such as solo traveling, couples travel or small group travel.
La Reina, is an online rental service for high-end, designer wedding gowns and accessories, featuring famous designers. They help former brides to rent their wedding gowns and bridal accessories online and allow future brides to shop for their wedding dresses at a discount.
To tackle homeowners’ problems, Mermaid startup, provides trained, background-checked housekeepers to homeowners' homes. “At the AUC Venture Lab, I learned how to start a business the right way. I learned a lot, not only from all mentors and professors but also from other entrepreneurs in the cycle. It has transformed me from someone with a business idea to an entrepreneur on the right track,” said Gehad Abdullah, founder of Mermaid.