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Dubai SMEs compete in Seedstars World competition
Winning start-up, KinTrans, will compete at the global final in Switzerland next year.
May 5, 2014 3:29 by Sidra Tariq
KinTrans, a venture that produces sign language translation devices, won the Dubai edition of the Seedstars World (SSW) start-up competition that took place at The Cribb during the weekend.
Founder Mohamed Elwazer has received an all-expenses paid trip to Geneva (Switzerland) to compete at the global finals of the competition, which was launched in October 2012 by Swiss-based firm Seedstars SA and spans 30 emerging markets across the Middle East region, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Oceania and South America.
Regional winners from all markets will battle it out at the finals in February 2015 for an investment of up to $500,000 and claim the ‘Seedstars World Best Start-up’ title. Last year’s title was secured by South Korean crowd-sourced translation app, Flitto.
At Dubai’s competition, approximately 14 start-ups from the region pitched their businesses in front of a jury comprising Seedstars scout Nellie Horn; Mohamed Hamdy, managing director at Turn8 accelerator; Tarek Amin, group head of digital at Adline Media Network; and, Sameer Sortur, director of revenue growth and operations at i360accelerator, which is also the regional partner for SSW.
Social media monitoring tool, Crowd Analyzer, secured the second position, winning a two-month membership at The Cribb, worth AED2,498. Meanwhile, tech consultancy I.T. Flakes came third and was awarded a membership worth AED1,398.
KinTrans, which is one of the graduated start-ups of Turn8’s first round of acceleration, allows the hearing impaired to communicate with others by translating sign language into voice and text in real time, says Elwazer.
He adds that the start-up is planning to go into the pilot phase: “We have finished the prototyping and now need to test the machine in actual places, such as airports, hospitals, hypermarkets and maybe in some associations for the hearing impaired in the UAE. We have done the technical testing in Egypt to ensure that the machine translates properly, but we need to do testing here from a marketing perspective, to be sure that the customers’ feedback is good.”
KinTrans currently provides translation in Arabic and English and is focused on the UAE market, with plans to expand to the Middle East region and then worldwide. It is in the process of securing seed funding of approximately $500,000 from a strategic investor in the UAE and seeks to raise between $2 million and $3m in its second round of funding in the future, Elwazer adds.
While the $500,000 prize of the SSW finals may not be enough to meet that goal if KinTrans wins, Elwazer hopes the networks built through the competition and the exposure received will help pave the way for further investment.
According to Elwazer, the start-up had also received an initial funding of approximately $24,000 to $30,000 as part of the Turn8 accelerator programme, in exchange for an equity stake of 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
Last year’s winner was Rafael Harutyunyan, a student from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology who had pitched the idea for a website, TourBud, which connects tourists to local residents as guides. Along with claiming the regional title, TourBud had won a cheque of AED3,000 from marine terminal operator DP World, a ticket to Switzerland for the international final and an opportunity to receive mentorship and support through i360 accelerator.
Published first on SMEinfo.