Forbes Middle East, for the second consecutive year, has unveiled the U.A.E.'s most promising startup and awarded the top entrepreneurs who have achieved remarkable success by developing their ideas into successful businesses. The event also held a brief panel discussion amongst startups to discuss entrepreneurship and the challenges faced by businesses today.
The 100 entrepreneurs were broadly categorized into the most promising startups and the startups to watch out for. Startups from consumer services sector dominated the lists, followed by businesses from ecommerce, financial services and the insurance sector.
"We are very positive for the exciting times ahead. With the country's vision and several government initiatives on innovation, the U.A.E. is amongst the leaders in accepting innovative ideas and support entrepreneurship." said Khuloud Al Omian, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Middle East.
Venture capitalists clearly still believe in the potential ideas of entrepreneurs and are providing the necessary funding to scale up their businesses.
Top venture capitalists, corporate venture arms and angel investors from the region have provided around $175 million of funding to these businesses.
In the "50 most promising startups" category, 28 startups gathered over $1 million of follow-on funding and 32 raised money from investors excluding friends and family. In the "50 to watch" category, 24 businesses are still bootstrapping.
"Startups are emerging among the most important growth drivers for regional economies. Mastercard has a long history of supporting startups and encouraging entrepreneurship across the world.
Our flagship startup engagement program - Start Path Global - is already playing a role in fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs, giving early-stage companies an accelerated path to scale innovative solutions by providing them a variety of operational support, mentorship and investment." said, Mr. Raghu Malhotra, President, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard
The event also witnessed TURN8, a venture capital fund with an accelerator program, organizing a panel discussion on "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly for Startups".
The discussion revolved around how a business idea can change an industry, what the common failures are and how to overcome them, as well as the most time consuming activities while setting up a business. The discussion concluded by looking how business impacts personal lives.
"The world is changing a fast phase today both individual and corporation have to keep phase with the technological changes and innovative methods of doing business otherwise it will be difficult to catch up and transact in today changing environment, we are blessed to be in a country like UAE where the leaders are focused on bringing in the technological changes and are giving path to innovative initiatives which create a very large space for startup companies to grow, having said this startup companies should not forgot that education from primary level to higher education is growing and demand for innovative technology integration shall grow." Said, Nitin Anand, Director & Chair of the Executive Council, Skyline University College.
Companies were ranked on the amount of funding raised, backers, the size of the team and the potential market reach of each business. For the most promising list, startups had to be at most five years old.
In holding the event Forbes Middle East had support from: global multinational financial services firm, Mastercard; regional travel and tourism leader, Al Tayyar Travel Group; Dubai-based online travel partner, Tajawal; Saudi Arabia-based online accommodation partner, Almosafer; one of the leading university in the Northern Emirates, Skyline University College; one of the largest suppliers of building materials and home interiors, Danube; Venture Capital Fund with an accelerator program, TURN8; Al Ittihad newspaper, one of the first regular publication of the country as an official media partner; and Dubai Media Incorporated's 24 hour free to air English Channel- Dubai One as television partner.