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Glamera – Health and beauty App raises USD 250K fund

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Glamera launched its beauty booking services with more than 200 contracted providers in Egypt covering all beauty sections including beauty salons, beauty clinics, spa, gym, and dental clinics with high quality service standards and specifications.

Mohamad Hassan, CEO of Glamera confirmed that: “This 250K USD Saudi investment came within the first round of business acceleration. This round is one stage of a clear and ongoing financing plan towards the achievement of Glamera vision of being the future of woman’s life style. The vision is to direct women to beauty through easy, intelligent and interactive mobile application with a wide geographical coverage”.

Launching on 22nd of July 2019 with only four zones covered: Nasr City, Sheraton, Al-Nozha, and Heliopolis, the app managed to achieve around 20K app downloads in the first month and more than 1000 bookings.

Glamera launched its beauty booking services with more than 200 contracted providers covering all beauty sections including beauty salons, beauty clinics, spa, gym, and dental clinics with high quality service standards and specifications.

Mohamad Hassan, CEO of Glamera confirmed that: “This 250K USD Saudi investment came within the first round of business acceleration. This round is one stage of a clear and ongoing financing plan towards the achievement of Glamera vision of being the future of woman’s life style. The vision is to direct women to beauty through easy, intelligent and interactive mobile application with a wide geographical coverage”.

Launching on 22nd of July 2019 with only four zones covered: Nasr City, Sheraton, AlNozha, and Heliopolis, the app managed to achieve around 20K app downloads in the first month and more than 1000 bookings.

Glamera team intends to start developing advanced phases of the application to double the number of customers and users in 2020. Additionally, it’s planned to expand and spread more in Cairo and Alexandria over the next few weeks with an aim of entering 6 more countries, including the Gulf market by the first quarter of 2020.

Glamera… one city to 6 countries.

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Blockchain

Smart Dubai is developing 30 blockchain projects: PwC

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Government departments in the UAE are adopting blockchain technologies faster than the private sector, and there are more than 30 projects under development as part of Smart Dubai initiative alone.

The UAE has undertaken a broad and multi-faceted blockchain-themed initiative called Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, global consultant PwC said in a report titled Establishing Blockchain Policy. The aim of this strategy is to transition 50 per cent of applicable government transactions to a Blockchain by 2021, it said.

As part of this initiative, Smart Dubai has launched a blockchain platform as a service to host government use cases, and over all there are more than 30 blockchain platforms under development.

To read more click https://magnitt.com/news/51103/smart-dubai-is-developing-30-blockchain-projects-pwc

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First blockchain system launched by UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention

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The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) recently launched the first blockchain-based system, which will provide coverage for healthcare workers across public and private healthcare facilities, under the supervision of the Ministry.

MoHAP’s system is based around saving and sharing the assessment data of professionals from the healthcare sector, which encompass pharmacists, technicians and doctors. The associated benefits of such a system include a decrease in costs and time, greater efficiency and the integrity of data.

According to Awad Saghir Al Ketbi, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Support Services Sector, this initiative will play a significant role in boosting the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, which intends to harness blockchain technology for converting approximately 50% of government transactions by 2021 into a blockchain oriented platform. Regarding MoHAP’s system he commented “The Ministry has successfully developed the necessary infrastructure for a blockchain-based decentralised database. In the first stage, we will link the system of evaluation of health workers with public and private health authorities and other relevant institutions to create a single digital platform with access to the portfolio of health professionals.”

Furthermore, Mubaraka Ibrahim, Director of Information Technology at MoHAP mentioned “The blockchain technology offers a variety of benefits and advantages, including a decentralised database in which the stored data becomes unchangeable. It will also help improve data and information validation and consistency, which in turn provides a high level of transparency and trust in the healthcare services sector. With immutable data, all health providers can access reliable information and take appropriate decisions, automate workflow processes electronically, improve the experience of customers and employees, and boost operational performance.”

She went on to add that MoHAP is already focusing on developing e-health services according to the smart government enablers’ index. Currently, the Ministry is charting operational plans geared towards combining digital technologies and smart applications which will enhance the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare centered on big data management, predictive models and blockchain technologies.

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Jibrel to Launch Globally Regulated Blockchain-Powered Private Financing Platform

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Jibrel Network, a blockchain-based fintech company headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, announced today that it will be launching Jibrel.com — a fully regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform — after its recent acceptance into the new ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) RegLab cohort in the UAE. In the words of Yazan Barghuthi, Jibrel’s co-founder and CEO, “We are excited to be launching a vertically integrated private lending platform that will take startups from inception to maturity. The platform will increase investor transparency, simplify regulatory oversight and improve liquidity — by providing a streamlined platform to buy, sell and transact startup equity.” 

As a company, Jibrel’s purpose is to foster open financial systems and digitization powered by emerging technologies. Its mission is to tokenize an array of assets (including debt such as bonds and Sukuk, as well as programmable tokenized equities and real estate) in a manner that is borderless, asset class agnostic and customizable for different use cases. “Jibrel was founded with the aim of tokenizing traditional financial assets,” says Barghuthi. “In collaboration with ADGM, we successfully settled the first Digital Sukuk with Al Hilal Bank and since then have further explored, researched and developed technologies that can assist in retail debt issuance. Now we have set our sights on tokenizing traditional equity. “

This is the basic premise behind the company’s upcoming launch of Jibrel.com — a native blockchain-powered private funding platform — that will enable investors of all genres to connect with startups and SMEs, creating new capital formations. As Talal Tabbaa, co-founder and COO of Jibrel, says, “We at Jibrel will collaborate on the technological, regulatory and financial spheres to bring real world equity on-chain, thus redefining how companies are established, funded and managed — and ultimately transforming the global capital markets in the process.”

Private financing platforms are set to completely change with the utilization of blockchain technology. Private financing has skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade or so. There are more than 375 private financing platforms to date. In North America alone, private financing volume totaled $17.2 billion in 2017. Globally, the industry is expected to hit $300 billion by 2025, with over $34 billion raised to date. 

With the integration of blockchain technology, private financing platforms are expected to change for the better and thus grow. Tabbaa further explains: “We believe that the digital economies and financial markets of the future will be built on digital assets, including tokenized equities and securities. Blockchain platforms will work as enablers, democratizing investment securely, transparently and efficiently in regulated environments.” 

Barghuthi sees ADGM as particularly well positioned to provide regulatory support for Jibrel’s private financing project: “With ADGM, we’ve found a forward-thinking, fast-moving regulator that provides the proper framework to facilitate the seamless transaction of equity tokens, furnishing equity with the efficiency and simplicity of Bitcoin and other related digital assets.”

Private financing presents a major growth opportunity in MENA. With the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries seeking to diversify their oil-based economies, young and tech-savvy entrepreneurs are starting new and successful businesses and are obtaining investor backing. As Tabbaa believes, “Jibrel.com will transform the MENA startup ecosystem by providing access to a broader investment base — including individuals, VC funds and institutional investors. By accessing a bigger investment pool, these startups will raise more liquidity, and spur the growth of this sector further in the region.”

As for the future, Tabbaa states, “We are just at the beginning. Once we have launched a regulated blockchain-powered private financing platform, we then hope to develop an alternative investment platform for new asset classes. Further down the road we will integrate these with an alternative trading system to facilitate secondary trading of private tokenized equities. Our aspiration is to bring greater transparency and democratization to how private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) fund managers raise capital, and in so doing, ultimately usher the fund and investment management sector into a new era.”

As part of its efforts towards developing a fully regulated blockchain-powered equity financing platform, Jibrel has enlisted Eversheds Sutherland as an advisor. Eversheds Sutherland is one of the most internationally renowned legal advisory groups in the global financial sector.

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Blockchain incentive startup Loyyal raises money from three investors

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Loyyal, the startup that applies blockchain technologies to loyalty and incentive programs, announced today that it has received investments from three Asia-based firms, including the blockchain fund of messaging giant LINE, Unblock Ventures, as well as Recruit Co. and Monex Group. Hayaat Group, the Dubai-based company, was also a participant in the round, following its original investment in the startup’s seed round.With the investment, Loyyal will gain additional access to the Asian market for loyalty and incentive products, which is among the largest in the world with an adoption rate of over 80% across several industries.

“We’re extremely confident in Loyyal, and the company’s approach, as this investment shows,” said Matthew Lee, CEO of Unblock Ventures, a subsidiary of LINE Corporation. “The strength of various loyalty programs across Asia presents a unique opportunity for Loyyal in the market. With the strength of Loyyal’s technology and intellectual property, we are excited to support Loyyal’s efforts to expand their customer base in the region.””We see Loyyal’s blockchain technology along with growing partner network as the catalyst for the evolution of loyalty programs in Japan and throughout the region,” said a Vice President with Recruit Strategic Partners. “We see a strategic opportunity to supercharge these programs among our local and regional partners by introducing Loyyal’s unique capabilities, bringing both cost reductions and new sources of revenue to these program operators.”

“Monex Group, through its investments and partnerships, is focused on the future of money, and Loyyal’s platform presents the most capable approach we have seen to bring liquidity to the more than five trillion USD worth of value locked up globally in consumer’s loyalty accounts,” said Oki Matsumoto, Chairman and CEO of Monex Grou. “There is a large market opportunity in Asia-Pacific for Loyyal, and we’re excited to be part of expanding Loyyal’s capacity here in Japan. “Greg Simon, CEO, and Founder of Loyyal said: “Having worked in Tokyo’s banking sector for several years earlier in my career, I’m intimately aware of how powerful loyalty programs are in the region. This perspective factored greatly to our initial concepts when creating Loyyal, so it’s a culmination of those aspirations to now have the support of Unblock Ventures, subsidiary of LINE Corporation, Recruit Co., and Monex Group in expanding our growing client based across Asia-Pacific.”

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Artificial Intelligence

New startups making a splash in Lebanon

EBDA in Arabic (إبدأ) means “to start”. The EBDA programme in Lebanon by SPARK and Injaz Lebanon, a local youth entrepreneurship non-profit organisation, has been focusing on giving startups the boost they need to succeed.

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EBDA in Arabic (إبدأ) means “to start”. The EBDA programme in Lebanon by SPARK and Injaz Lebanon, a local youth entrepreneurship non-profit organisation, has been focusing on giving startups the boost they need to succeed.

The programme, supported by the Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, received over 250 applications from startups and business ideas from every corner of the country. 67 were chosen to receive intense business training over 2 months from a team of specialists, focusing on planning and getting to know their target markets.

Only 15 startups were selected to participate in the EBDA Business Plan Competition at the American University of Beirut and present their business plans to a panel of judges for their chance to win up to $10,000 in startup capital. Get to know the winners and the new, innovative businesses that will be shaping the startup scene in Lebanon for years to come:

1. Reef

Rodaina Bou Shaheen started her business, Reef, in Beirut because she noticed that many local and international NGOs required office catering services.

At just 25 years old, Rodaina currently employs 17 women from rural areas and underprivileged communities to cook and prepare the food. Reef was awarded $10,000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

2. Dr. Leda

Founded by four Lebanese women, Lina El Khoury, Marie Mouzawak, Alaa Mrad and Rida Halbawi, Dr. Leda provides anonymous, affordable, online psychological counseling. It provides people with the emotional support needed to overcome social anxiety.

Lina said: “I aim to see a world with no discrimination, judgments, and most importantly stigma. I dream that my startup will be able to bring joy and comfort to people, becoming the leading mental health software tool in the MENA region by 2023.” Dr. Leda won $7000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

3. Furbiture

Syrian friends, Khalid Al Hamwi & Moubadda Younes who are based in Tripoli, founded this creative furniture design and production lab. Their craftsmanship partners solidly with their designs, creating contemporary furniture that fills the unmet needs of the local market. Furbiture sees huge potential for a furniture industry and market in North Lebanon.

Khalid said: “My dream is to contribute to rebuilding the future of Syria, specifically educating people.” Furbiture also won $7000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

4. Find a Nurse

Beirut-based, Lebanese couple, Hussein Sleiman and Khulud Khalil, founded Find a Nurse, which has become the biggest network of home healthcare providers in Lebanon.

The idea arose when Khulud and Hussein were working full-time but couldn’t find a certified nurse to attend to their needs outside of office hours. They realised there was a gap in the market for nursing service. Their online platform connects families with qualified caregivers quickly and affordably. Find a Nurse won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

5. No Blues

Two self-taught designers and soap-manufacturers, Mariam Al Kotob and Rajaa Abeed, founded a small atelier where they produce high-quality, handcrafted bath and relaxation product.

The two Lebanese university friends were inspired by local, traditional Tripolitan soaps, as well as new, trendy imported bath products. Their unique brand won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

6. ADSH

Syrian, Omar Al Merhe, founded an online platform that allows e-commerce store owners to run their drop shipping stores efficiently. It sells products via a website without having the physical product in stock. It then liaises with bigger companies to ship the customer’s product directly to their door.

The project won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

7. MyPlan

Beirut-based Syrian, Mohamad Mkayas, built a software that creates interactive online planning tools for NGOs and community leaders, to help people preparing for business plans and proposals. The software collects hard-to-reach data and shares it with organisations that require such information.

Mohamad said: “My dream is that my online company serves all the world with a mix between technology and development.” His business won $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition.

8. Nawafez

Tamador Mahmoud, a young Syrian female entrepreneur based in Tripoli, founded a news website focusing on developmental and economic affairs in the governorates of North Lebanon and Akkar.

After being awarded $5000 in startup funding during the EBDA Business Plan Competition, Tamador said: “My dream is that this news website will become one day a news agency and will give an opportunity to the new generation to be part of the website, providing them with a platform to deliver their own voices.”

9. Smart Kids

Current SPARK student, Yasser Alyan from Syria, won $5000 in startup funding for his application that helps parents monitor and balance the time their children spend playing and learning.

Yasser said: “My dream is to build an e-learning system that complements the schools’ curriculum by integrating entertainment and excitement with scientific topics in order to encourage students to experience science in a practical and fun way.”

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Aramco Energy Ventures co-leads $6 mln in American blockchain startup

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Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, the corporate VC arm of Saudi Aramco, has co-led $6 million Series A of Houston-based Data Gumbo with Equinor Technology Ventures, the venture subsidiary of Equinor, Norway’s leading energy operator, the startup announced earlier this month. Founded in 2016, Data Gumbo has developed a Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform that streamlines smart contracts management for industrial customers.

As the statement by the startup notes, one of the problems with industrial companies including the ones in oil and gas sector, is that transaction resulting from measurements which could be weight, speed, height, connection, delivery time, volume, quality controls or any other contract term, are interpreted differently by companies, their service providers and suppliers.

All the companies in the supply chain have their own interpretation of data which could create disputes and delays when it comes to payments, filings, and audits. The statement claims that currently, the supply chain parties lose hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and delays every year due to these delays and disputes and ensuing reconciliation between supply chain parties.

This what Data Gumbo is solving by eliminating the differences in interpretation with its BaaS network and smart contract technology which facilitates automated calculation, reconciliation, and payment of invoice line items almost real-time with total transparency.

Data Gumbo, after removing the disputes and enabling automated payment, records the result in an unchangeable record shared with all the parties to the traction. The startup says that its product helps companies with significant cost saving, better report, payment of bills on time, and clarity and certainty over financial positions of all parties in the supply chain.

“Customers realize savings of 5-10 percent off the top on Data Gumbo-managed contracts from a combination of fewer disputed invoices, fast-pay discounts, and performance contracts. Additionally, Data Gumbo offers a subscription model, freeing industry from building and sustaining standalone, in-house blockchain solutions with their inherent lack of interoperability and neutrality,” said Data Gumbo in a statement.

Data Gumbo plans to use the latest investment to expand its commercial blockchain network and grow the technical, sales and marketing teams at their Houston headquarters and office in Stavanger, Norway.

Andrew Bruce, Chief Executive Officer of Data Gumbo, commenting on the occasion, said, “We enabled the first application of blockchain technology in the offshore drilling industry and will continue to break new ground with applications of BaaS to improve the bottom line of companies of all sizes. Blockchain will have a major impact on the oil and gas industry – and all global industries – and we will lead the charge in its broad adoption for sweeping operational improvements. The partnership with Equinor and Saudi Aramco, and their associated supply chains and partnerships will provide the momentum for the Data Gumbo BaaS network to gain critical mass.”

Daniel Carter, a Senior Investment Director with Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, added, “Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to bring win-win efficiencies between industrial companies and their suppliers, and Data Gumbo is at the forefront of introducing this innovation. While they have started in the energy sector, Data Gumbo’s platform has broad industrial applicability.”

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Artificial Intelligence takes hold of Lebanese StartUps

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With roughly the same population as the State of Missouri, Lebanon is a small country of six million people that borders Syria and Israel. Due to its location, the country has been subjected to a multitude of political and religious factions inhabiting the state. People frequently fight over whose invisible friend is better, and the country has faced long periods of instability including wars with Israel, civil wars and internal conflicts, and most recently some spillover from the Syrian war – which means lots of Syrians flying around on motorcycles. All of this turmoil has contributed to structural problems in the economy such as chronic fiscal deficits that have increased Lebanon’s debt-to-GDP ratio to the third highest in the world. Economic growth has slowed to 1-2% over the past decade which constrains government investments in necessary infrastructure improvements.

Notwithstanding these challenges, day to day life in Lebanon is pretty awesome. With its Mediterranean vibe, great cuisine, and people with a certain joie de vivre, Lebanon is a great place to visit. There are ancient cedar trees talked about in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and in the Baqa’a Valley lies one of the best preserved and grandest Roman temple ruins in the world. You’ll have the whole place to yourself, as it’s just shy of the Syrian border in a small town where you can buy Hezbollah t-shirts because, well, it’s Hezbollah controlled territory. While the economy remains challenged, it doesn’t curb the country’s tech ambitions. Lebanon doesn’t have an official artificial intelligence (AI) strategy, but the country has been working on regional AI events and the implementation of AI into education as well. According to former Minister of Economy Nasser Saidi, development of a national AI strategy is crucial in improving the economy and fighting corruption at the same time.

We toured the country, scoured Crunchbase, and spent some time talking to Sami Abou Saab, the CEO of a Beirut-based startup accelerator called Speed@BDD that invests cash in top-tier companies in the MENA region, to come up with a list of some AI startups in Lebanon for you to check out.

Name Application City Funding
(USD)
Eqlim Big Data Beirut   425 000
Rational Pixels Digital Ads Barcelona and Beirut     30 000
Neotic FinTech Tripoli  undisclosed
dox Electric Vehicle Battery Maintenance Beirut  undisclosed
Fig Chatbot Beirut  undisclosed
Yakshof Big Data Beirut  undisclosed
Cloudfish Big Data Beirut  undisclosed
Hello Harold Big Data Leicester, UK and Beirut  undisclosed
NAR Drone Inspections Wilmington, Delaware, and Beirut  undisclosed


Click for company website
Founded in 2013, Beirut startup Eqlim has raised $425,000 to develop a big data platform that provides real-time risk intelligence for global supply chains. The startup’s algorithms process data from more than 100,000 web and social media sources to come up with information on geopolitical, operational, and environmental risks in frontier markets. Location-based risk assessments include protests, attacks, smuggling, traffic disruptions, and war, all of which are complemented by crowdsourced information from people close to an incident location.

Risk factors include drug trafficking routes on the border of Iraq and Iran according to Eqlim's regional risk assessment

Risk factors according to Eqlim’s regional risk assessment – Credit: Eqlim

The platform can be used to enhance supply chain security in risky geographies and identify low-risk alternative routes for transportation. The service is also used by commodities traders to forecast the impact of geopolitics on commodity supply, and insurance companies to adjust “country at war” type risks. Eqlim has partnered with Clipper Data, a real-time crude oil and petroleum product cargo tracking company, to provide an alert service specifically for the oil and petroleum product market as well. The company’s Medium blog contains a handful of interesting case studies on countries like Nigeria, Iran, and Brazil. It would be super useful if they could repackage this as a subscription offering for civilians who enjoy traveling to more “exotic” locations.

Click for company websiteFounded in 2017, Rational Pixels has raised a seed round of $30,000 from Speed@BDD to develop a non-interruptive digital ad format embedded into online videos. The startup has established locations both in Spain and Lebanon, but Mr. Saab assured us of their Lebanese roots. As online advertising is becoming increasingly saturated, consumers are irritated by the numerous pop-ups, banners, and full-on ads disrupting videos. Rational Pixels’ algorithms incorporate ads right into videos as if they were in the frames from the beginning, making ads native to the video. How cool is that?

Rational Pixels incorporates targeted ads right into the frames of videos

Rational Pixels incorporates targeted ads right into the frames of videos – Credit: Rational Pixels

Not only is this more user friendly, but ads cannot be blocked or skipped providing guaranteed views. Publishers of online videos can manage when and in what part of the frame their ads will appear through Rational Pixels’ online interface. These ads then change dynamically depending on their audience the same way Facebook and Google Ads do. The company targets both content publishers and digital ad agencies with its offering.

Click for company websiteVisit Tripoli in north Lebanon and you just might see tanks rolling down the streets keeping everything secure. It’s the second biggest city in Lebanon and the home of Neotic, a startup that’s raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop machine learning algorithms for equity traders. The startup’s platform allows users to create custom trading strategies for stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, and run multi-year backtests on them. When a strategy is up and running, the platform provides ongoing stock forecasts and recommendations, and also executes trades on behalf of the user automatically. Neotic’s algorithms also recommend optimal investment allocations for investment funds.

Neotic's trading strategy model includes stock screening, stop-loss, holding period definition, and % daily investment among others

Neotic’s trading strategy model – Credit: Neotic

The platform offers off-the-shelf short-term strategies with three years of backtesting for really lazy traders and claims its own model portfolios consistently provide positive returns and beat the market over the short-term. Neotic’s platform is also available white labeled for brokers who want to integrate it into their own trading system. Pricing for individual traders ranges from free to $420 a year based on utilization, and case-by-case pricing is available for investment and brokerage firms. Don’t get too excited though. As we discussed recently, it is increasingly difficult to generate alpha without having a very unique data set.

Click for company websiteFounded in 2017, Beirut startup dox has raised undisclosed funding to develop a predictive maintenance platform for batteries in electric vehicles. Battery behavior is hard to predict because it’s related to usage habits and environmental factors. These irregularities can cause sudden battery failures or energy waste, increasing costs for fleet operators. Erring on the side of caution, operators will change batteries too frequently so as to avoid unscheduled system failures. This means a large part of a battery’s useful lifetime is being wasted.

Dox's algorithms predict battery life and schedule maintenance, orders, and replacement for EV batteries

Credit: dox

dox’s platform provides customers with battery analytics, performance metrics, and replacement and maintenance forecasts so operators can save on their fleet’s inventory and service costs. The startup is present in Lebanon and Europe and is targeting battery and electric vehicle manufacturers and telecom companies.

Click for company websiteFounded in 2017, Beirut startup Fig has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop an AI-powered custom chatbot plug-and-play solution that takes care of all the heavy lifting like conversational design, configuration, launch, and maintenance on behalf of its clients. The chatbot platform employs machine learning to get smarter over time, and provides analytics and insights about your customers. Some experts say that chatbots will save $65 billion annually in the US alone, as a significant percentage of human customer service and sales representatives become augmented by chatbot technology that handles 95% of call center volume. A “human in the loop” will handle exceptions while also serving as a trainer for the algorithms. Customers of Fig come from a wide variety of industries like travel, banking and insurance, retail, healthcare, and hospitality.

Click for company websiteFounded in 2012, Beirut startup Yakshof has raised an undisclosed amount of money to perform some big data analytics on the news. The company’s algorithms monitor web and social media sources in all languages for information relevant to corporate clients, filter out the noise, and aggregate relevant content. The platform analyzes and indexes results using semantic analysis, network analysis, and facial recognition, to come up with concise executive summaries and visualizations for decision makers. The service allows customers to slice and dice real-time global media coverage to come up with actionable insights related to crisis management, PR, company communications, and security.

Founded in 2015, Beirut startup Cloudfish has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop sentiment analysis for the Arab-speaking world. The company’s Babel algorithm, specifically designed to understand Arab colloquial language, listens to social media and web interactions to analyze preferences of the 300 million Arab speakers over the world. Cloudfish also offers a tool for big data analytics specifically focused on the food and beverage industry, and a drag-and-drop report generator for intuitive business intelligence visualizations and presentations. Off the shelf products are complemented by custom big data consulting services for companies looking to develop their own algorithms, performance metrics, and business reporting.

Click for company websiteFounded in 2017, Hello Harold is another startup that has established its presence outside of Lebanon. Located in Leicester, UK, Hello Harold is also backed by Speed@BDD with an undisclosed amount of funding that’s being used to develop a Facebook Messenger chatbot that helps buyers and sellers of used cars find the right price, ad platform, and timing for their transactions.

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Blockchain

Entrepreneur Journey in New Tech

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OURCE: Startup Scene ME – A Day In The Life Of Egypt’s 20-year-old Blockchain Entrepreneur


Sitting on the bamboo chairs of the Greek Campus at the heart of Cairo, 20-year-old Nour Haridy looked at the voice recorder I was using for the interview and it took an instant to get the conversation started about the institutional skepticism the surrounds technology. I told him that voice recorders like the one I own were banned from being sold here because they had a USB port; I knew this from the store manager of one of the electronic stores in Cairo; but that wasn’t really new to Haridy, a fresh high school graduate, who took a gap year to establish Lamarkaz and embark on a journey to decentralise the world’s banking system through blockchain.

“What is happening with blockchain now has happened before;” Haridy tells me. “This particular early adoption stage has happened with many technologies multiple times before, including the worldwide web. Even here in Egypt, when the internet first gained worldwide adoption, everyone was concerned about its security implications and afraid of hacking. The encryption of information wasn’t a big thing back then,” he adds. It was the same for GPS, banned until 2009; “Google Street View is still banned today, because they don’t want cars filming or taking pictures of people and all streets in the country,” Haridy continues.

The 20-year-old entrepreneur predicts that, in 10 years, the world will be using cryptocurrency as their main form of monetary transactions. He believes that when the entire world operates this way, infusing blockchain in both micro and macro economies, there’s no way to deal with the entire world. “Especially in the case of cryptocurrency and blockchain, because we deal with value directly. If this is the way the world operated directly, then regulators and companies here will all be required to be intro-operable with the rest of the world. Otherwise the risks on the other side of not adopting it become way higher than the risks we’re afraid of now.”

Blockchain right now cannot handle the entire world using it. In fact, it’s already breaking down because people are using it.

If it’s going to happen 10 years later, why regulate it and operate with it now? Haridy doesn’t want to replicate the aftermath of the “dotcom bubble” that burst in the break of the 21st century. The dotcom bubble occurred in the late 1990s and has triggered a rapid rise in equity markets, fuelled by investments in Internet-based companies. The “bubble,” drove the value of equity markets to grow exponentially, with the technology-dominated NASDAQ index rising from under 1,000 to more than 5,000 between 1995 and 2000.

The Blockchain technology is as young in its development as a newborn; it lacks scalability and discrete arbitration. “Blockchain right now cannot handle the entire world using it. In fact, it’s already breaking down because people are using it,” Haridy says.

His startup, Laarkaz, was founded in September 2017, driven by the mission to help accelerate blockchain worldwide adoption, by solving some of its problems. One of its first products is Dcourt, a decentralised court where people can have their conflicts resolved without a central resolver. “What we are also trying to do is to be better than central arbitrations, using tangible economic collaterals. So users would know that they are guaranteed to have a fair trial by this sum of money. So we’re trying to create more resilient, more reliable conflict systems where we can have actual true justice without having to depend on a centre that tells us their verdict from their own perspective, he explains.

 

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Ecosystem of the MENA

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