January saw us kick-off our Sprint Acceleration program targeting MENA companies looking for expansion in Silicon Valley. Our first batch of companies included two exceptional startups from the Middle East, Band Industries from Lebanon and Wally.me from the UAE. The companies spent 1 month in Silicon Valley after a 1-month preparation period prior to arrival to define specific milestones for each company and connect them with the right mentors from the TechWadi network and beyond. Our new team member, Salwa Katkhuda who currently heads the acceleration program designed a 30 day Silicon Valley program for the companies, which included daily coaching sessions with her covering business mentorship and training in marketing, business modeling, customer acquisition strategies, pitch refinement and funding during their meetings. Salwa also built a customized program for each company to meet relevant mentors, receive structured training sessions, and connect with angel investors, customers, and strategic partners when applicable. Each company also participated in over 10 hours of 1-on-1 growth mentorship curated and led by TW100 Member Sharif El-Badawi, Partner Lead for VCs and Startups at Google and a key member of the AdMob team acquired by Google for $750M in 2009. The results of the program were stunning and the good news keeps coming!
Batch 1 Startups:
Band Industries is building the next generation musician’s toolkit. Roadie Tuner (roadietuner.com) – the company’s first product – is an automatic guitar tuner that is both quick and easy to use, and three times more accurate than the human ear. Complemented by a mobile app, this hand-held tuner adds new dimensions to music-making by allowing musicians to freely experiment and save alternate tunings. Roadie is also the first device capable of tracking the quality of an instrument’s strings, notifying musicians when strings are about to snap and need replacing. Roadie tripled its crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter in January 2014, raising $179,000 in 40 days, and shipped more than 4,000 units to 55 countries in the same year. It also won TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2014 Audience Choice Award, London Design awards 2014, and got featured in Executive Magazine’s top 20 in Science and Technology and Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies for 2014.
Co-founder Hassane Slaibi joined the program in the hopes of establishing presence and increasing sales in the US, Roadie’s biggest market. He also wanted to work with design experts on the second version of Roadie, as well as raise a growth funding round.
In one month working with TechWadi mentors, CEO Hassane Slaibi increased online sales by 40% (compared to January after receiving training on optimizing online ads through TW mentors), on-boarded 4 new retailers, and reached commitments of $400K of a $1M round of financing from strategic investors and angels in both regions.
Rodie Tuner was recently featured in:
Wally is a money management app that takes a lifestyle approach. As users track their day-to-day expenses, they can tag friends, add photos, track sentiment and compare their financial patterns to people similar to them. The app has 600,000 organic users with 30% of total install base adding at least 1 expense each day. CEO Saeid Hejazi joined the program in hopes of establishing presence and growing in Silicon Valley and to specifically get help with re-bundling the various products in fin-tech under its consumer-facing layer: payments (ex. Venmo), borrowing (ex. Lending Club), wealth management (ex. Acorns), savings (ex. Digit). The program was a huge success for the company as they defined and refined their product strategy with leaders in the space, pitched to VCs including Citi Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, and Sequoia, refined their application to YCombinator with the help of past participants, and were able to dig deep into user behavior and better analyze their data, their biggest asset, based on best practices. Stay tuned for more good news from Saeid and the team at Wally.
A special thanks to our instrumental TechWadi mentors who were extremely engaged and helped Batch 1 achieve incredible results in such a short period of time:
Sharif El Badawi from Google, Zafer Younes from 500 Startups, Basil Darwish from Citi Ventures, Khalid Hussein from Tilt, Ahmad Ibrahim from Intuit, Mohammad Musa from Google, Ahmed Badawi from Badwi & Associates, Youssri Helmy from Robo Works, Mohannad El-Khairy from Nxt Innovation, Ahmed Tantawi from Flextronics, Aisha Sheikh from Ideo, Kyle Ellicott from Wearable World, Tamer Rashad from Humtap, Issam El Dardiri from Google, Christos Mastoras from Illiad Partners, Henri Asseily from Leap Ventures, Deena Shakir from Google, Hanny Rashwan from Ribbon.
We look forward to continuing to support the entrepreneurs in our community and we encourage you to reach out if you see room for collaboration!