Eight aspiring technology startups showcased their innovative solutions in front of a live audience of investors, students, industry experts and fellow entrepreneurs during the much-awaited Demo Day event, for cycle 13 of Qatar Science & Technology Park’s (QSTP) flagship XLR8 program.
The event saw the innovators demonstrate the commercial viability of their solutions and gave attendees an opportunity to explore how these tech-based inventions fill a market need. Three promising startups were chosen as winners; Blend-Stocks in first place, Samples Yard in second, and Darbi coming third.
Blend-Stocks is an innovative software solution which helps crude oil refineries automate large scale blend scheduling, maximize resource utilization and minimize costs. Samples Yard is a digital sampling platform that connects architects and interior designers with architectural material manufacturers on a single platform. Darbi is an online platform which supports high school students in Qatar and the MENA region to discover their passion, access career counselling and explore university options.
QSTP runs its XLR8 program twice a year with a maximum of 40 teams, as part of its mission to advance technological entrepreneurship in Qatar. Spanning 14 weeks of intensive training and mentoring, the program empowers participants to realize their entrepreneurial ambitions by guiding them to move from the ideation stage to a validated, minimum-viable product.
Demo Day marks the culmination of the XLR8 program, providing participants with a platform to gain hands-on experience to pitch their ideas to potential investors and launch their tech ventures. Winning teams will receive intensive mentorship focused on launching their startup, from QSTP’s network of international mentors, experts and investors, and also secure an office space in QSTP’s Innovation Hub.
Mohammed Zebian, QSTP Program Manager, Acceleration, commented, “It’s always exciting to see the passion and creativity of our XLR8 participants, who are keen to showcase their innovative ideas. We congratulate the winners of this cycle and value their contribution to Qatar’s innovation landscape as they advance from the development stage towards entering the local market.”
Mahmoud Abdulrasheed Ahmednooh, Production Planning Engineer at Qatar Energy refinery, and founder of Blend-Stocks, said: “My team and I realized that there aren’t many software options in the market to help with the gasoline production process, which leads to inefficiencies and therefore unnecessary financial loss. So, we decided to create a solution that can help automate the blending process, optimize gasoline production, reduce inefficiency and save costs. The XLR8 program really helped us think creatively and has opened a lot of doors for our startup.”
Co-founder of Samples Yard and architect, Alaa Al Khatib, said: “Honestly, the XLR8 program was a fantastic experience that helped put our project on the right path. Connecting architects and interior designers with construction material manufacturers will simplify and speed up the arduous and time-consuming process of sourcing material samples. Our platform is almost ready and we’re excited to launch it into the market soon.”
Sara El-Amin, a teacher at Qatar Foundation’s Academyati school and founder of Darbi, expressed her gratitude to QSTP and said: “High school students should be able to make informed decisions and take charge of their own future. And they can do that by using our online platform which is a one-stop-shop to help them find their passion, and explore and apply to universities. I’ve worked in public schools and noticed that there is a real need for such guidance for high school students so that they are aware of all the educational opportunities out there.”
QSTP, a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), supports tech-based entrepreneurship ventures in Qatar through incubation, funding, training, mentorship, and connection to the regional and global tech innovation ecosystem. Through its year-round programs, QSTP boosts new product development, innovation and collaboration with QF’s research institutes.