Launching a startup can be tough and many aspiring entrepreneurs have questions about where to start. To shed some light on the startup journey, we’re sharing stories and insights from some of our TAQADAM Startup Accelerator founders. If you’re interested in applying, click here to learn more about the program.
They’re some of the most dynamic startups in the region and they all have one thing in common: each is a recent TAQADAM Startup Accelerator graduate.
“TAQADAM provided funding support, financial and legal advice as well as expert knowledge and entrepreneurial mentorship to accelerate Faheem’s development,” says Ibrahim Baatiah, co-founded of TAQADAM startup Faheem. In addition to funding, “the mentors we had access to give our startup a definite advantage and they designed their sessions around our needs with themes like development, project management and pitching to investors.”
Meet these innovative new businesses — once emerging big ideas — and see where their founders are today and where they’re heading next.
A 2020 TAQADAM Startup Accelerator graduate, Taffi is redefining personal style and e-commerce, with a 100% personalized, AI-driven approach to fashion.
“We get to know you through our style quiz, then we have a team of expert stylists…who create outfits online based on your size, style, and budget,” says Shahad Geoffrey, Taffi founder and CEO. “With a data-driven business we increase the stylist’s productivity by eight times — and we leverage technology to ensure a personalized, convenient experience.”
The proof, she adds, is in the customer response — and the fact that just 1% of items are returned. And the potential will only rise in the coming months and years as the Saudi workforce shifts.
“Women-in-the-workforce volume is increasing from 22% to 30%,” Geoffrey says, “which means there will be a need for such a convenient service. We are first in the market. We are localized, personalized, online styling.”
Faheem started out as a solution to an all-too-common problem: finding experienced tutors to support university test prep.
“The concept came from personal experience,” says co-founder Salem Bin Ghanem. “We saw this as an opportunity to use technology to solve this problem for others.”
As part of the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator in 2018, Salem and co-founder Ibrahim Baatiah continued to define and develop their big idea, launching the Faheem app in early 2019.
“When we launched the website, we saw there was a huge demand for such an application – so we took it to the next level,” says Baatiah. Powered by a TAQADAM grant, they were able to take that next step — and then were awarded 75,000 SR to market and continue developing the Faheem app. From there, the founders took a massive step forward: they pitched and won the Saudi finals of the 2019 Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC).
Fast forward to 2021 and Faheem continues to grow and scale, anchored by a solid foundation built at TAQADAM.
“We are continuously utilizing our fund to accelerate and grow while also trying to reach new markets in Saudi Arabia. It was all made possible through the mentorship received through KAUST’s entrepreneurship programs.”
As part of the 2020 TAQADAM cohort, Polymeron launched its sustainable approach to manufacturing. This innovative process produces 100% biodegradable polymeric materials using organic waste from the agricultural date industry.
“In Saudi Arabia, 75% of the cost of waste comes from single-use plastics,” says co-founder Martin Ibrra. “Plastic pollution threatens coastal tourism, food safety, food quality, human health, and contributes to climate change.”
Traditional biomaterial solutions are costly and require reliance on plants — plants that are challenging to grow in Saudi’s climate. By leveraging date waste — which generates more than one million tons of organic waste per year — Polymeron is tapping into an easily renewable and accessible resource to create safe, environmentally-friendly, single-use plastics at competitive prices.
“We are the first producers of bioplastics in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, using local, renewable materials, and we aim to become the leading providers of biodegradable plastics for the region,” Ibrra says.
For their work, the Polymeron team was awarded 375,000 SR in zero-equity follow-on funding, as part of the TAQADAM Showcase on March 10, 2021.
“Imagine that you are a medical doctor,” says Abdulrahman Jahhaf, Founder and CEO of TAQADAM startup Glance. “You see a patient with diabetes, hypertension, and signs of heart conditions.” Now what?
For most physicians, Jahhaf says, helping this patient means navigating dozens of potential drugs and treatments, accounting for numerous potential interactions and other conditions or comorbidities. It’s a lot to consider, especially when you’re working under pressure.
“Most doctors go through this on a daily basis,” he says. “Medical knowledge is rapidly expanding…this problem of accuracy versus time can put my patient and my career at risk.” Glance, Jahhaf says, is a smart, dynamic decision tool designed to support doctors in these critical moments.
With Glance, physicians get real-time recommendations and solutions that ensure accuracy and immediacy.
“Our user base of medical doctors is expanding at a high pace, and we are happy and dedicated to serving them with the right information at the right moment.”
Learn more about the latest startups and innovations emerging from the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator. Interested in applying for the 2021 cohort? Submit your application by April 10, 2021 for a chance to join our next class, starting this August.