Great question, and the answer is yes. And no.
- The primary target audience for this program is young people 25 years old, and younger. That being said, we also encourage young people to form diverse teams with people of all ages.
- For individual applicants, you must be 25 years old or younger as of the program launch date of July 9, 2018.
- For teams applying, there must be at least one co-founder 25 years old or younger (as of July 9, 2018), and that young person must have a senior decision-making position, and own at least 25% of the company (or future entity, if not yet registered).
- The team member who pitches at the semi-final and final events must be someone who was 25 years old or young (as of July 9, 2018).
Both individual applicants and teams are welcome …
… though we strongly encourage people to form teams for the program, and for building your startup. Finding co-founders and working as a team are difficult, but could also have a huge impact on your startup success.
If you don’t yet have a co-founder, no worries! We encourage you to be extra social and active in the outreach and Open House phases of the program, and maybe you can find a great co-founder and make or join a team!
All people join the “Open House” phase (July 16-26) as individuals, even if you are already working together with your team.
If you DO have a team, however, be sure to apply to the Sprint Phase (Aug 4-11) as a team.
We’re focusing on a simplified pitchdeck and scoring system, which focuses on the 5 most important elements of an early-stage startup:
- Problem: Do you have a clear, validated, evidence-backed understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, and/or the gap you’re trying to fill. (Bonus points if the startup is addressing a critical development challenge in Lebanon.)
- Solution: Do you have clarity around the solution you’re proposing? Have you validated your solution hypothesis adequately?
- People and Market: Do you have clarity around your intended customers, and has that customer hypothesis been well tested and validated? Do you also have clarity around roughly how big your market size is?
- Basic Revenue/Financial Model: Do you have a basic (yet validated) overview of your costs and revenues related to your solution?
- Team: The most important, but often the most neglected. Do you have a good team with complementary skills? Relevant advisors? Do you have strong team culture, along with good team habits and processes, to enhance productivity and efficiency?
And that’s it! We’ll share more details on the actual scoring/selection processes for next steps soon.
That’s another good question. While we want to run future programs primarily (or entirely) in Arabic, due to time, funding, and staff limitations, this program is primarily in English.
We say “primarily in English” because most of the training content, training sessions, forums, and online content (including this FAQ) will be in English. However, many of our trainers and mentors are also fluent in Arabic. We’re fine with mentor-startup conversations happening in Arabic. And beyond that, we’re even fine with startups practicing their pitch and pitching at the semi-final and final events in Arabic.
However, startups have an important decision to make there. While we are firm believers in the importance of Arabic content online, and conducting training programs in Arabic, most of the startup/tech world happens in English. If you want to pitch your startup or join a conference such as Arabnet, STEP Conference, or TechCrunch, those are primarily in English. If you want to join an accelerator such as Speed, Flat6Labs, or UK Lebanon Tech Hub, those are also primarily in English.
We’ll be posting up external opportunities for all our participating startups over the coming weeks and months ahead, but if you feel like some of those programs might be in your desired path for your startup, then it might be good to become more comfortable at pitching and explaining your startup in English.
Regardless of your desired trajectory, we wish you the best of luck in your startup endeavors!
We know this is a difficult question for some people, and especially for some people in a place like Lebanon, where not everyone has a computer, and not everyone has easy access to a fast internet connection at home or somewhere else. While we do have some ideas for ways we can help people with this in the future, we have limited time and resources for this program, and so we need your help on this. And while it may be possible (though difficult) to take part in the program through a smart phone, that would be difficult, and building a competitive startup just through your mobile phone would also be difficult. So yes, our suggestions for everyone taking part in the program are that you should have regular access to:
- A smartphone (and preferable a whatsapp number, so we can communicate with you through that channel as well).
- An email address
- A computer with a basic web browser (Chrome preferred, Firefox also works, others might have limitations).
- A decent internet connection.
- Headphones, preferably headphones with an attached microphone
This program is designed to break down barriers and inequalities that come from geography, and to connect people all around Lebanon with amazing trainers, mentors, and opportunities worldwide. That means we’re leveraging technology, and tools such as online communities, video-conferencing (one-on-one, small groups, and big groups), and other tools. This is going to be more fun, more intense, and more exciting than you can imagine. 🙂
Much of the program activities will be live, interactive, and very participatory. For people to engage in those fully, they will need a good internet connection and the other equipment above. We will work to make content and activities available to people with a lower quality internet connection, and oftentimes it’s possible to join videoconference calls and discussions just with audio, so let’s work together to do our best to make this happen.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER OR STRONG INTERNET AT HOME, here are some ideas:
- Find an internet cafe nearby, explain to them the program, and see if they can help you out. Maybe you can even negotiate a discount rate, since you’re going to be spending a lot of time there.
- Is there a computer lab at a school, university, or organization that you can use? Or is there a company nearby that has some unused computers, or perhaps some computers that are not used after work hours? Could you negotiate with any of those groups to let you, or a small group of young people, get access to the computers and internet? (If there is a school, university, community organization, municipality, company, or otherwise that is being really helpful for you, please let us know! We’d be happy to give them big publicity and recognition for their support, and maybe could even bring them on board as community partners somehow!)
- Do you have other ideas for how young people could access a good place to work, to take part in this project, and to help build their startup enterprise? If so, please add it in the form below, and we’ll add your idea up here if it could be helpful for others!
We know people face challenges around the country, but we hope they don’t stop you from taking part in the program. Please let us know how goes, and good luck with your effort!
Yes! There are. We’re still finalizing with our partners exactly how much will be available in terms of prize funds, and we’ll share that information soon.
With most startups though, funding is not the biggest barrier at the earliest stages of building a startup. The bigger barriers are around commitment, discipline, self-initiative, collaboration, self-driven learning, and getting feedback from experts and mentors.
The main emphasis of the program is to help young people across Lebanon get help with those critical foundations of their startups, and then to help them access other next stage opportunities, funding, and support.
Well, the answer is yes. We believe that every person in Lebanon deserves access to world class entrepreneurial education, mentorship, and support. We’re starting with young people for now (up through age 25, as the primary focus group), and then we’ll expand from there.
This program is made possible through the wonderful support of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Summer of Innovation initiative, the support of our Strategic Partner, Alfa Telecoms, and our other partners and supporters.
We look forward to expanding in coming months and years as well, and expanding our base of partners and supporters, so we can make this program available for free to more young people, and people of all ages, across the country.
Yes, that’s fine! In fact, we want to support you, wherever you are. That’s why most of the program is conducted online through small group discussions, 1-on-1 feedback sessions, webinars, fireside chats with experienced entrepreneurs globally, and more.
We will have some optional in-person events in different parts of the country, and the only two required in-person events in Beirut are:
- The semi-finals workshop and semi-finals pitching/judging on August 13, and
- The final demo day event in mid-December.
… and those are only for people who advance to those stages.
This program will happen again, and will expand to include more supports, more activities, more opportunities, and more benefits … to our current teams, alumni, and new incoming teams of future editions.
Our goal is to expand the program to engage 5000 young people in high-quality entrepreneurship activities in 2019 … and 100,000 within the coming 5 years. That will happen in collaboration with a range of partners including schools, universities, accelerators, startup support programs, and more.
We want to set a national goal that within 10 years, every young person in Lebanon will have a high quality entrepreneurial experience every year of their educational career in the country. That’s an ambitious goal, and a challenging goal, but also an achievable goal. We look forward to working with a range of partners to achieve that, in the public sector, private sector, local and international partners, the startup ecosystem, and more.
Yallabina, we’ve got work to do! 🙂