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Start-up competition selects three finalists to compete in Switzerland

By Anna Horton - Jul 09,2019 - Last updated at Jul 09,2019

AMMAN — World Seedstars, the largest competition between developing markets in the world, on Sunday picked three Jordanian start-ups that will go on to compete for $500,000 in investments at its regional competition. 

“I’m really overwhelmed by all the good ideas, by all the promising ideas,” Swiss embassy representative Alexandra Haflinger told the finalists during the award ceremony in Amman. “It was really nice to see how you expanded your ideas and your project vigorously and wholeheartedly and I think that is a very good sign for Jordan.”   

Dilat, gogo and CarGenie ended up clinching first, second and third place respectively, and will receive access to mentors and investors as well as an invitation to the regional MENA summit in Switzerland to compete for the $500,000 in equity investments.  

Over the course of the local competition, 20 applicants were selected from a pool of local start-ups to pitch their ideas in front of a regional jury during a two-day series of networking events and workshops.   

The jury then selected eight finalists, three of which were awarded access to the next level of the competition based on their scalability, investment potential and knowledge of the markets they hope to enter. 

Third-place winners Khaled Daqqaq and Ayham Basheer said that they see Seedstars as a chance to continue growing CarGenie internationally, which they described as an “on-demand car-washing service providing car-washing services whenever you want and wherever you want”.  

“We’ve been to Start-up Turkey, like, a couple of months ago,” said Basheer in an interview with The Jordan Times.  “We had good exposure in Europe, especially from Series A investors...  They all see the opportunity that we have the right model to [scale] across the globe.” 

First-place winner Mohammed Badawi told The Jordan Times that he entered his start-up Dilat, a service that connects merchants and customers with mutually beneficial deals and products, into Seedstars’ competition after becoming aware of their involvement in the start-up ecosystem.  

“I applied online... and they accepted my application and they sent me the invitation,” he said.  “So I came, and that’s how it happened and that’s how I won.”  

Seedstars’ MENA region venture capital analyst, Francesca Bombassei, told The Jordan Times that after six years of hosting the start-up competition in Amman, Seedstars has seen “a big increase in the number of applicants” from increasingly higher-quality start-ups.  

“We see that the Jordanian ecosystem is mature and is maturing from year to year and that tech is definitely entering the market more and more,” she added.

All eight finalists will receive access to Seedstars’ “investment readiness programme”, the analyst said, explaining that the programme helps seed-level businesses develop skills that will enable them to “grow bigger and faster and be more investible”.

In addition to the Swiss embassy in Jordan, the World Seedstars competition partnered with Careem as well as Uminah’s local business incubator The Tank, which hosted the competition last year. 

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