At TAQADAM, we know that meeting the right people to get your startup off the ground is hard. This is why we bring founders together with an influential network of Saudi investors, industry and government leaders. Each startup team also has the chance to win zero-equity follow-on funding from SABB.
On September 13, 2018, 13 finalists from the second TAQADAM Startup Accelerator will take to the stage at the second annual TAQADAM Accelerator Showcase. Over the past year, these startups have completed an intensive acceleration process, competing with 24 startups from 11 Saudi universities. Only 13 finalists remain, pitching for a stake of the SAR 2.25 million prize pool.
The judges are looking to award funding to tech innovations that are building solutions to real challenges facing Saudi Arabia. Startups are judged on four criteria: market viability, scalability, profitability, and team dynamics. This year, there is a strong mix of VC, entrepreneurship, higher education, and corporate banking experience at the judges table.
Meet the judges:
H.E. Dr. Nabeel Koshak
Chairman and Founder of Athaal
H.E. Dr. Nabeel Koshak is an innovator and central figure of the higher education and entrepreneurship ecosystem in KSA. Dr. Koshak is founder and Chairman of Athaal, the former Founding Dean of Prince Mohammad Bin Salman College (MBSC) of Business and Entrepreneurship at King Abdullah Economic City. He previously served as President of Al-Baha University and was the VP for Business and Innovation of Umm Al-Qura University (UQU). He is the Co-Founder and the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wadi Makkah Company. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Oqal (Angel Investors Network) and a mentor at Flat6Labs Jeddah.
Dr. Mohammed Fitaihi is entrepreneur, mentor and innovator. He is the founder of several brands including Baby Fitaihi with showrooms around Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Passionate about entrepreneurship, Dr. Fitaihi currently serves as the Jeddah chapter chairman of the angel investment club Oqal and is a mentor at Qotuf (Flat 6 Labs). Dr. Fitaihi received a doctorate from Babson College and has attained several degrees in Engineering, Finance and an MBA.
Hashim Ahmed Dairy has over 20 years of experience at Saudi British Bank (SABB) where he currently serves as Division Head, Large Corporate Banking. His experience at SABB started as an “Executive Trainee” before advancing into branch operations, retail banking, and finally corporate banking. He brings a wealth of leadership experience in corporate and retail operations for companies in the FMCG, trading, real estate, and manufacturing industries.
Saleem Washeely is the Managing Director at Elm Venture Fund. Elm specializes in e-Government information and IT and believes that investing in innovators is essential to growing the mobility, health, information security and financial services sectors in Saudi Arabia. Saleem brings VC experience investing in scalable and profitable digital startups.
Dr. Kevin Cullen
Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Dr Kevin Cullen is the VP of Innovation and Economic Development at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST). Dr. Cullen is a leader in global innovation with expertise in both economic development and industrial engagement. As Vice President of KAUST Innovation, he leads the University’s intellectual property portfolio, helps create and support new businesses, joint ventures, and collaborations with industry partners, and fosters a strong culture of entrepreneurship at KAUST.
Racan Aljohani has over 16 years of experience in the Saudi banking sector with the majority spent in corporate banking at Saudi British Bank (SABB). He specializes in HR and operational strategy for small businesses, specifically credit risk, small business banking, operations, retail, and most recently human capital management.