The TechWadi VC Forum brought together 22 investors from North Africa (PNB-NAPEO), an ICT delegation from Palestine (PITA), and 250 entrepreneurs and investors from the US and MENA. A deep dive into US venture capital, angel financing, and crowd sourcing, the discussion centered on enhancing participants’ understanding of practices, requirements, business models, term sheets, fiduciary obligations, and how to tap into most likely funding sources. TechWadi Chairman Dr. Ossama Hassanein launched the discussion with an overview of the investment landscape in 2012. InterWest Partner and TechWadi100 Member Khaled Nasr engaged with our visitors from North Africa to provide detail on his investment decision making process and give entrepreneurs a blueprint for their fundraising strategies. Rising Tide Partner and TechWadi100 member Youssri Helmy, an early investor in Cloudera, then described the lessons he has learned as a successful angel investor in both the US and MENA, emphasizing the need for personal relationships throughout the process.
Success stories of top MENA and US-based entrepreneurs in diverse industries such as health care, cloud computing, social media, and mobile included: Cloudera CTO Amr Awadallah, Shifamed CEO Amr Salahieh, Nudge CEO Al-Hassan Hleileh, and Addy CEO Khaled Naim. Speakers shed light on the challenges facing startups; the richness of Silicon Valley ecosystem and the extent to which it could be emulated; the role of accelerators; and the strategies to create value, employment, and exits through M&A. Galvanizing the themes of the night, Enterprise Qatar CEO Noora Al-Mannai took the stage to announce the launch of a regional destination for acceleration and expansion of startups. The opportunity will provide top companies region-wide the resources needed to succeed: mentorship, access to capital, entrepreneurship education, and even acceleration in Silicon Valley. To wrap up, PITA Chairman Hassan Kassem, and Executive Director Abeer Hazboun provided a glimpse into the innovation taking place on the ground in the region, and the growth of the Palestine Global ICT Network developed to support it.
Session Leaders Profiles
Noora Al-Mannai, CEO Enterprise Qatar
As CEO of Enterprise Qatar, Ms. Noora Al Mannai is focused on promoting entrepreneurship and SME development. and the rollout of Enterprise Qatar’s extensive and innovative range of programs to build a thriving ecosystem for entrepreneurs to succeed and flourish in the country. Previously, Ms. Noora was the Vice-president of Amwal’s investment banking team, successfully executing transactions in banking service and retail sectors, and launching the first Equity fund registered in Qatar. She holds a BA in Physics from Qatar University.
Ossama Hassanein, Chairman TechWadi
Ossama is an entrepreneur, mentor and venture capitalist. Over the last 40 years, he managed over $1 billion across 14 international technology funds in North America and Europe. In the 80′s, he spearheaded the mezzanine financing of 80+ IT companies that became notable successes. In the 90′s, he led or co-founded six successful startups in the US, UK, France and Switzerland He is chairman of the boards of the Rising Tide Fund and of BDNA in Silicon Valley, and vice-chairman of PSD in Palestine. He served on the Boards of Advisors of Harvard University, UC San Francisco, and the American University in Cairo.
Khaled Nasr, Partner InterWest
Khaled joined InterWest’s IT group in 2005, focusing on investments in the communications, enterprise and data center infrastructure sectors, including systems, software and semiconductors. Prior to joining InterWest, Khaled invested in IT companies for Alta Partners. Prior to that, Khaled spent 16 years with startups in the networking and telecom industries. He was president and CEO of FlowWise Networks and general manager and VP at Ipsilon. Khaled received his B.A. and M.A. in mathematics and social and political sciences from Cambridge University.
Youssri Helmy, General Partner Newbury Ventures
Currently general partner of the Newbury Ventures, Youssri is an accomplished entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience bringing new technologies to market. As co-founder of ITWorx, Youssri grew the company to become the Middle East’s largest software outsourcing firm before its acquisition in 2007. After the NetCelera/Swan acquisition, Youssri was appointed CTO and VP of Business Development at SwanLabs. As the original inventor and co-founder of Swan Labs he capitalized on the then nascent network optimization segment, later engineering its sale to F5 in 2005. Prior to this, Youssri co-founded and was the Technical Director of Pie Practical Solutions, a graphics software development company and one of Egypt’s largest Macintosh dealerships.
Amr Awadallah, CTO Cloudera
Before co-founding Cloudera in 2008, Amr was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Accel Partners. Prior to joining Accel he served as Vice President of Product Intelligence Engineering at Yahoo!, and ran one of the very first organizations to use Hadoop for data analysis and business intelligence. Amr joined Yahoo after they acquired his first startup, VivaSmart, in July of 2000. Amr holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Cairo University, Egypt, and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.
Amr Salahieh, CEO Shifamed
Amr is a seasoned medical device entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience. He is the founder and CEO of the med-tech incubator Shifamed, from which Apama Medical, Maya Medical, Kalila Medical, and three other stealth mode medical device companies have been formed. In April 2012, Maya Medical was acquired by Covidien for $230 million. Amr was also the founding President and CEO of Sadra Medical, a percutaneous aortic valve replacement company that was sold to Boston Scientific for $450 million in January of 2011. Previously, Amr and his team at Sobek Medical developed the FilterWire, which was sold to Boston Scientific/EPI and prior to that he was one of the first employees of Cardiothoracic Systems which was sold to Guidant Corporation. Amr is inventor/co-inventor of 64 US issued patents and 104 pending patent applications. He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from Case Western University where he is Adjunct Professor.
Al-Hassan Hleileh, CEO Nudge
Al-Hassan is an MBA graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business – Class of 2012. Al-Hassan is the founder of Nudge Technology based in the Bay Area. Nudge was a Stanford engineering class project in the Lean Start-up course, and was featured at SXSW as a best practice case. Nudge won the Best Start-up Award in 2012, by Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs and Start-ups. He previously worked at Citigroup Investment Banking, and later project managed the raising of the West Bank’s first Growth Capital Fund, and was a member of the President’s/CEO office at the Palestine Investment Fund.
Khaled Naim, CEO Addy
Khaled is a second-year MBA student at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He holds a BE in Computer Engineering from University of Michigan. Prior to attending Stanford GSB, Khaled worked as a data integration consultant with Informatica Corporation for four years. Khaled grew up in London (’85-’92), but spent most of his life in Dubai (’92-’03). His startup, Addy.co, aims to solve the problem of poor street addresses in the developing world.
Hassan Kassem, Chairman Palestine IT Association
Hassan holds several positions within the IT sector; he is the Chairman of: the Palestinian IT Association of companies (PITA), the Palestine ICT Incubator (PICTI), and Young Scientist Club. He is also a Board Member of Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD). He is the Chairman of Dimensions Company, established in 2007 to provide exceptional business and health care consulting services. Prior to forming Dimensions, he worked as an IT instructor in Birzeit University from 1992 until 2000. In 1996, he established Arab Technology Systems (ATS) which was sold to Paltel Group in 2006. Hassan holds a Master degree in computer science from the American University – Washington D.C.
Abeer Hazboun, Executive Director Palestine IT Association
Abeer is currently the Executive Director of the Palestinian IT Association (PITA). Previously, she has assumed several roles related to economic and social development including working as a consultant for Alsiyadeh Development Program for Revenue & Border Management in the Palestinian Government, having previously worked as the General Manager of the Palestinian Shippers’ Council (PSC). She was Director of MIT affiliated organization, “MEET” (Middle East Education through Technology), where she’s currently a member of the Board of Directors. She is also a member of Palestine’s WTO National Task Force, has WCO (World Customs Organization) institutional capacity building and Change management certifications, and holds a B.Sc. from the Hebrew University.
Mohammad ElBibany, Program ManagerTechWadi
Mohammad joined TechWadi in 2011, helping design the organization’s expansion plans while working in Silicon Valley and on the ground in Egypt. He holds a B.S. in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego.
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