The Venture Lab (V-Lab) at The American University in Cairo (AUC)’s School of Business is celebrating today the graduation of the Arab African International Bank Cycle 8 of the V-Lab, where 13 incubated startups will showcase their products and services. “As a co-founder of the AUC Venture Lab, AAIB has been driven by a strong belief in the rising potential of Egyptian entrepreneurs. We are seriously committed to entrepreneurship. We also appreciate the success and growth of the AUC Venture Lab and hope it would inspire other academic institutions to adopt the same model,” said Hassan Abdalla, vice chairman and managing director of the Arab African International Bank.The V-Lab incubated 13 startups this cycle including Archive Agency, COUPONAT, Bosta, Elia, Faggala.com, Infomed, OOL, Palma, SWVL, QABESS, Foodville, ZeroPrime Technologies and Maqsad. The Demo Day, which is held at AUC New Cairo campus, will be attended by AUC professors and Egyptian businessmen.
“This is our largest cycle to date, we are very happy to see a high quality pipeline of startups of which most of them are up and running in the market. The Arab African International Bank is our long-term partner and we are proud of their continuous support to Egyptian entrepreneurs,” said Ayman Ismail, director of AUC V-Lab, Abdul Latif Jameel endowed chair of entrepreneurship and assistant professor.
AUC Venture Lab is Egypt’s first university-based incubator and accelerator at AUC. The lab enables startups to capitalize on AUC’s intellectual capital, world-class facilities and research capacities. It connects innovative startups with AUC’s network that includes alumni, faculty, mentors and investors. Through this, it fosters a thriving ecosystem of innovation, education and responsible business. The mission of the AUC Venture Lab is twofold: to help Egyptian startups commercialize their innovative technologies and business models into viable ventures that contribute to economic growth, competitiveness and job creation; and to provide a learning and research platform for the AUC community to connect with entrepreneurs.
On the Demo Day of the biggest V-Lab cycle so far, startups will present their work and are evaluated based on milestones achieved during incubation.
One of the startups Archive Agency is an online collector, archiver, and seller of heritage photographs that presents heritage collections in the different eras.
As for Zeroprime Technologies, its first product is CanBank, which is a reverse vending machine. The CanBank allows users to throw their used beverage cans in exchange for incentives, which users can give away to charity organizations. The cans are then collected to be recycled.
Elia, an Egyptian leather shoe brand that sells limited-edition designs through an online store, was also incubated in cycle 8. “The mentors have a real experience of what they are doing, they challenged us all through the way to be able to compete in the market,” said AUC alumna and founder of Elia, Amira Motawea, “They gave us useful insights about the market and were very helpful throughout the cycle. I was able to have a big picture reflection on my business model and modified it accordingly to have a deeper connection with my customer.”
Another startup that focused on shopping online for clothing is Palma, which is an online Egyptian fashion brand that currently sells women bags and wallets through its website and social media. Palma is planning to expand to women’s wear to become the first Egyptian online platform selling all fashion related items.
Faggala.com is an online ecommerce platform specialized in stationery products. Named after the famous Faggala Street, the platform offers a wide variety of products and services for students and companies.
COUPONAT is a digital couponing platform that provides a one-stop shop for promotion seekers. It generates barcode coupons redeemable at the retailer’s existing point of sales giving the consumer instant discount on invoice.
To facilitate the delivery of packages in Egypt, a startup called Bosta was created. It is a local courier service that follows a sharing economy model to ship packages around Cairo and Alexandria. Bosta allows customers to send and receive packages with a push of a button through a mobile application and a website. Customers can also track their deliveries and communicate with the courier.
Using technology to provide medical services, Infomed provides a subscription medical card and digitized medical profiles to track clients’ health records, a 24/7 call center, emergency assistance, and home visits.
A different startup hoping to overcome Cairo’s traffic, SWVL is a private alternative bus system to public transportation. SWVL enables riders heading in the same direction to share a ride during rush hour for a flat fare, and thus increasing the overall system’s efficiency and making the process convenient and affordable to all stakeholders.
Foodville is the first and largest recipe search engine in the MENA region. Foodville’s uniqueness resides in its technology for content quality measurement with an engine that has the ability to rank the content by quality, and not relevance.
OOL is a voice-based social media mobile application, which allows users to post and interact with their followers using voice notes and vice versa.
Maqsad is a two-sided online platform that facilitates the process of booking a variety of spaces to individuals and organizations for different purposes. It enables owners to list their space and earn rental money and on the other hand it provides guest with easy access to rent spaces.
Cycle 8 also incubated QABESS, which devised a smart electric plug that connects to appliances and electronic devices before directly plugging them into the wall. QABESS enables consumers to control their electricity usage through a mobile application. The plug saves standby power and subsequently reduces monthly electricity bills. “We think joining AUC V-Lab is a journey that every startup would greatly benefit from, regardless of the stage of development of the startups,” said Mohamed Reyad, Qabess co-founder.