Profiles of the Top Winners of MIT Arab Business Plan Competition 08-09
MIT Arab Business Plan Competition is one of the great initiatives that are helping entrepreneurial drive in the region. This year competition saw applicants from 17 Arab countries representing 1,200 teams.
The competition announced the 4 winners last week, who were chosen among the top 10 finalist, but who are the winners and what do they do?
Here is a brief profiling of each one of them, note that most of them are not launched and operational yet:
First place: Shared by Syphir team from Saudi Arabia and HAYATI Healthcare LLC from UAE.
A-Syphir which mean “Zero” in Arabic, solves lost productivity problems that are related to non-relevant email traffic, through highlighting email messages that are likely to be important using an algorithm Syphir team developed at MIT which analyzes the connections in the users’ email social graph and generate a rating for each message.
Syphir social graph and data mining idea is similar to San Francisco, CA startup Visible Path which raised around $ 20 million from high profile VCs, And last year was acquired by Austin-based Hoovers for an undisclosed sum. The service which is now called HooversConnect is like Syphir, where HooversConnect uses your social graph, but to find common sources and contacts you share with coworkers so you can approach them to do business. The site keeps tabs on whom its users communicate with by e-mail through Outlook plug-in. And it ranks the strengths of those relationships based on how often people communicate. For example: if you are looking to contact someone in another company to sell him something, HooversConnect finds the contact inside your company who has the strongest relationship with that person, who in turn can introduce you to him/her.
Unlike Syphir HooversConnect does not rank the importance of the email messages you receive and only works with Outlook, while Syphir in the 1st phase will be offered for consumers to manage their existing mailboxes (gmail, Yahoo, etc) and in face II, the service will be offered for Enterprise customers using their existing email systems.
Syphir team members: Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, Courtland Allen, Fiasal Alibrahim, Ghassan Fayad and Husain Al-Mohssen. (Saudi Arabia)
B-HAYATI Healthcare: from United Arab Emirates is the first Patient financing company in the Arab world. That has launched recently an online portal where Patients can apply fully online for their patient financing needs, search through the network of healthcare providers.
HAYATI Healthcare Financing covers any medical or dental treatments that are not covered by medical insurance plans or are an ‘Out of Pocket’ expense for patients such as Dental, Cosmetic, Vision, Orthodontics, Fertility, Obstetrics and Maternity and Non Elective Treatment.
HAYATI Healthcare serves as a financial intermediary between physicians, their patients and partner banks in the medical industry, HAYATI in turn sells patient financing loans either through healthcare providers to their patients or directly to patients. The startup offers low monthly payment and with No initial down payment. The company’s website claims that their rate is lower than any credit card.
How they will make money? I guess it is the interest on their loans, but I just hope they abandon the interest (reba) based method and use Islamic interest free financing methods.
It is worth mentioning that HAYATI Healthcare is one of the first companies to be funded by the Arab Business Angels Network LLC, a member of Dubai International Capital, and the Gulf Finance Corporation PJSC.
HAYATI, which means ‘My Life’ in Arabic, is founded by a team of three people:
Dr. Michael Matly, MD, MBA
CEO & Chairman a a first generation Arab-American and U.S. trained Medical Doctor, who completed his Medical Degree from Mayo Clinic and his MBA from Harvard Business School. And has over 10 years of experience in healthcare including R&D, pharmaceuticals, and entrepreneurship.
Tariq El-Titi, ACMA, President & COO a British Palestinian with over 10 years of international experience in the Telecommunications and Healthcare industries.
And David Matly as business development manager.
Second Winner: Rice Straw Fertilizer Company (Egypt). Is a Green and Alternative energy startup, who is addressing a major problem in Egypt: The yearly black cloud in the delta area and Greater Cairo, which is mainly attributed to rice straw burning. The startup will develop a multipurpose Eco-park. At face one they will convert the rice straw into high quality compost at economic rates. future phases are planned to include bio-energy and diverse alternative uses of various wastes.
Rice Straw Fertilizer team members: Ibrahim Khater, Youssef , Ahmed El Dorghamy and Mohamed Abdel Raouf, (Egypt.)
Third Winner: Blog Souq, From Jordan.
Unlike blogshares, a fantasy stock market where weblogs are the companies, Blog Souq will be the world’s 1st real blog stock market to finance blogs and as an investment vehicles for anyone. This idea solves the traditional capital raising problem that professional and semi-professional bloggers currently face, thus can help them improve their performance by employing more team members and acquiring more resources. According to Ahmad Takatkah the CEO of Blog Souq, the startup has a legal structure to enable stock trading in blogs that even are not registered as companies.
So now when Blog Souq is launched anyone can buy stocks in any of the qualified blogs, and sell them at anytime. Blog Souk will provide tthe needed information for investors to determine the value of each blog stock such as blog visits and views and other web auditing and performance reports. Blog Souq will also deploy security methods, as Ahmad told me but he did not disclose more. He added that his team is currently working in developing the Alpha version.
As you might know the popular blog Gigaom received second round of funding, so will Blog Souq be an exit option for its VC investors?
Blog Souq team: Ahmad Takatkah, Adey Salamin and Ammar Ibrahim, (Jordan.)
The competition’s first prize of USD 50,000 was divided equally between Syphir and HAYATI Healthcare and both of them will be given the opportunity to attend the MIT Global Startup Workshop (GSW), Rice Straw Fertilizer received a check of USD 10,000 and Blog Souq got USD 5,000.