AppsArabia, An Arabic Mobile Applications Development Fund

| Jun 7, 2010 | comment 11 Comments

appsarabiaAbu Dhabi’s twofour54 has recently announced it will be launching a new investment fund called ‘AppsArabia‘, which promotes and supports mobile app development throughout the Middle East and North Africa using the Software Development Kits (SDKs) of all the major mobile and online platforms (e.g. Android (Google), iPhone OS (Apple), BlackBerry, Facebook, OpenSocial and Ovi (Nokia)).

The fund will be offered by twofour54 ibtikar, which provides funding and support to start-up and early stage Arabic content initiatives.

AppsArabia is led by David Ashford, and the plan for it is to invest in the best ideas for apps from entrepreneurs, app developers and businesses, and provide commercial guidance, resources and marketing support to make these apps successful.

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Loomn.it, A New Quick Online Sharing Service

| Jun 6, 2010 | comment Leave a comment

loomnitLoomn.it (pronounced Loomnit) is a new easy to use, online sharing service that will be launching today and aims to provide users with a simple way to share anything with anyone; whether it be links, email addresses, images, videos, documents or any other digital content.

Through a very simplistic interface, users will be able to input the link for what they need to share or upload it directly to the cloud and then start sharing it with their friends on Facebook, twitter, google buzz or anywhere else on the web.

Users do not need to register for an account on the site to be able to use it, and don’t have any usage limits or quotas they have to keep within. They can start sharing right away and have their shared items live for 14 days to pass among their friends.

Once a person opens up a loomn.it link (e.g. http://loomn.it/c8); the shared page, text, image or file is displayed in a framed page with the top loomn.it frame providing stats on how many times the shared item was viewed, as well as options to share the item with others.

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Winners Of The MIT Arab Business Plan Competition 09-10

| Jun 5, 2010 | comment 18 Comments

The MIT Arab Business Plan Competition is a competition designed to encourage all entrepreneurs in the Arab world to start their own company and, ultimately, create a nest of leading firms in the Arab world.

The current version of the competition was officially launched on October 12th 2009 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The competition went through a number of rounds, including different teams covering the following sectors: Energy, Engineering, Healthcare, Internet, Software and Telecom.

The final round just took place at a ceremony in Cairo, Egypt, and the awards for this year were handed out. The winners of this edition of the MIT Arab Business Plan Competition are as follows:

First place: The Little Engineer (Lebanon) – Prize: $US 50,000
An after-school edutainment center which introduces kids and teens [age 4-16+] to pre-engineering courses such as robotics, physics, electricity, electronics, renewable energy and more.
Team: Rana El Chemaitelly, Albert Shamieh, Nadia Alamah, Marwa Harb.

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Kngine Introduces Statistics Platform Called Kngine Stats

| May 8, 2010 | comment 1 Comment

Kngine StatsKngine, the semantic web search and question answering engine, that was previously reviewed here, recently launched a brand new statistics platform called Kngine Stats.

Kngine Stats goes out and collects, organizes, and indexes a large number of records of statistical data from resources such as: the UN, the World bank, the CIA Factbook, and a number of other important sources.

What it does with that collected data is crunch it together to come up with different statistics that users can tap into by selecting a certain topic, viewing the statistics for it and even filtering them; in hopes of making these large datasets easier to explore, visualize and share.

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Oasis 500, A New ICT Seed Capital Fund For Jordan’s Startups

| May 4, 2010 | comment 2 Comments

KAFDKing Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) in Jordan is planning to launch a new ICT seed capital fund in two months with the aim of solving the problem of innovative new startups in the country that need to secure some early stage funding.

The new fund will be called Oasis 500, and the goal is for it to provide an initial capital of between $50,000 and $100,000 to 500 startups.  It will be mainly focused on funding new ideas, especially in media, online, content, applications and the service industry.

At this point, it seems that it’s still undecided though whether the fund will be expanded and made accessible to startups from outside Jordan.

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Zoofs, The Most Talked About YouTube Videos On Twitter

| May 3, 2010 | comment 1 Comment

ZoofsZoofs is a new simple and pretty fun service, offering users a destination where they can start to discover the YouTube videos that are proving popular with people on Twitter. So basically what the service does is scour twitter to find the most tweeted videos, ranks them according to popularity, and serves them up for users to enjoy.

The project is yet a new offering from TootCorp, the Jordan based company that brought us the video-sharing portal Ikbis and micro-blogging service Watwet in the past.

Visitors to the site can browse through videos by category, and also filter videos to show only the freshest (ones that were uploaded to YouTube in the past 72 hours only). The Zoofs team also mark some of the videos they really like as “Zoofs Picks” to highlight them for users.

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Amman Tech Tuesdays 1st Event, May 4th 2010 (Amman, Jordan)

| May 2, 2010 | comment Leave a comment

Amman Tech TuesdaysIn just a couple of days time, a new series of tech oriented events is kicking off in Amman (Jordan), in the form of Amman Tech Tuesdays, which is an initiative to bring engineers, business people, experts, investors, marketers, entrepreneurs, students and regular enthusiasts from the technology community together on the first Tuesday of every month in an unconference style setting, with the main goal being to organically strengthen the ties between the tech community in Amman, open up doors for collaboration and encourage the sharing of ideas.

The first event will be taking place at 7PM this coming Tuesday, May 4th 2010, at the Friendship Hall of the Princess Sumaya University For Technology in Amman, Jordan.

The idea is for Amman Tech Tuesdays to be a flexible platform, with the possibility for a different group to manage and host the event each month, in order to cover more specialized areas and get to know about innovations from across all tech fronts.

The first event’s sessions are as follows:

  • Open Tech Session
    Usama Fayyad, Phd.
    (CEO – Open Insights, LLC.; Exec. Chairman – d1g.com; Ex. Senior VP & Chief Data officer – Yahoo! Inc.)
    In hopes of weaving ties between industry experts, inspirational and renowned figures in technology, Dr. Fayyad will be delivering an open tech session, throughout which he’ll also be accepting attendants’ tech & business questions.
  • Get Inc.’d!
    Omar Al-Taweel, Lawyer
    (Al-Taweel Law)
    Having trouble with registering your business or idea? Afraid of making mistakes? Omar will be taking everyone through the process of incorporating your companies and ideas in Jordan;  he’ll also be addressing the new Cyber Crime Laws in Jordan.
  • What’s Up With E-Commerce?
    Ibrahim Manaa’
    (Wheels-express.com)
    In this interactive session, Ibrahim will be presenting his experience and findings on E-commerce in Jordan, and the discussion will be opened on what difficulties exist in this space in the region, and what can be done by the community to push things forward and open up doors for e-commerce startups.

These events are also a great networking opportunity to meet the different players from the Jordanian tech scene, and get to share experiences as well as exchange thoughts and ideas.

The Amman Tech Tuesdays events are free and open for everyone to attend; all you have to do is show up at the event’s venue on the right time.

AqarMap.com A New Take At Real Estate eMarketplaces

| Apr 28, 2010 | comment 5 Comments

AqarMapWhile Real Estate owners continue to struggle to overcome the results of the financial crisis that hit them the hardest, and find themselves working harder to sell or rent their properties in today’s economy; you’d think that this wouldn’t really be the best time for someone to go ahead and launch a real estate portal.

However, I’m sure the founders of AqarMap would disagree, and would argue that it is at times like these that opportunities are created; I know because I had this discussion a few months ago with the CEO of AqarMap, Amad Almsaodi, who has been driving this effort.

The idea is that as things are currently quite tight for real estate companies and owners, and their marketing budgets aren’t what they used to be, they need more affordable and efficient marketing channels; and that is the spot AqarMap wants to establish itself in, launching to specifically target this demand with a new platform that tries to take a different and more innovative approach to matching sellers and buyers based on location.

What AqarMap aims to do is tackle the weakness in the regional addressing system by allowing real estate owners to precisely identify their properties using satellite maps; enabling buyers and renters to search the market by browsing an interactive map instead of using keywords.

Amad Almsaodi, CEO of AqarMap.com, says: “We built our marketplace by capitalizing on the Real Estate golden rule: Location, Location, Location. The price of a property is irrelevant if it is not in the customers preferred location. Customers can now search by location and find the nearby points of interest, such as: parks, schools, public transportation, …etc.”

AqarMap

Property owners can post their listings on AqarMap.com for free, and for a small fee they can promote their listings to gain higher visibility on the map, also enabling geo-targeting of potential clients to increase click-throughs.

AqarMap.com also uses a number of different technologies and services to empower its users; Google maps for location, YouTube for videos of properties, Twitter and Facebook to help share listings in social circles, as well as other services to translate content and convert numbers and currencies.

AqarMap is a service based out of Yemen, is currently available in both Arabic and English, and has already taken part in several regional competitions over the past period and won a number of awards.

DemoCamp Dubai 5 – March 8th 2010 – The Agenda

| Mar 8, 2010 | comment 1 Comment

DemoCamp Dubai 5As previously announced, the fifth DemoCamp Dubai will be taking place today at the Dubai Knowledge Village Auditorium on March 8th 2010 at 6:30PM.

The following six demos will be taking place at the event:

  • Hyzonia.com: a web platform for creating, customizing, publishing games and sending dynamic ads within games, to be played by target audiences.
  • FURNISHMarketplace.com: a web2.0 social B2B network, serving the needs of interior designers, hospitality industry professionals and real estate developers.
  • ShopMidEast: an upcoming online retailer with a big vision to become a comprehensive online retailer.
  • InTheLoop.me: a professional social network focused on the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Mysalbum.com: a service allowing users to create urls for their images and specifying number of views, geo-targeting and timing.
  • Yebab.com: an Arab online wedding services directory catering to the whole wedding industry.

The format will be the same as the previous events, with the presenters giving 10 minute presentations of their work, with 5 minutes for Q&A.

The presenters will also be available to answer any further questions, receive feedback and share some thoughts after the event.

Startups and web applications presented at DemoCamp Dubai, and that haven’t already been covered, will be reviewed here on StartUpArabia over the coming days.

What major obstacle did you face while looking to fund your project? [Poll Results]

| Feb 18, 2010 | comment 5 Comments

In the latest poll on StartUpArabia, the question that was addressed to the entrepreneur readers was:

What major obstacle did you face while looking to fund your project?

The result of reader voting came out as follows:

Major obstacles getting funding

Out of 89 readers who responded to the poll:

- 37% of them responded that it was initiating contact with potential investors
- 29% said it was allocating and finding the right investors
18% think it was measuring the seriousness of the investors
- 8% believe it was the cost of connecting with investors (traveling and attending conferences …etc)

The remaining 7% cited other obstacles.

What do you think? Do you share the same view? What solutions do you see for these obstacles?

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