Eleven aspiring start-ups earned the opportunity to pitch their ideas to members of Qatar’s tech innovation community at the Demo Day of the 10th XLR8 program cycle of Qatar Science & Technology Park’s (QSTP) part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI), held on 18 November.
Members of the public, along with entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts participated in the event by closely following the online pitches before voting for their favourite teams. Three winners were selected – Karty in first place, Lease the Look in second place and Sahatech in third place.
With restrictions in place due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, this unique final pitching day was held virtually for the first time following the 10 week-long online training and mentorship program.
Welcoming participants and members of the local tech community, QSTP’s Executive Director, Yosouf Abdulrahman Al-Salehi, said: “We at QSTP were determined to continue our XLR8 program this year, despite the many taxing issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In these unique circumstances, the 10th cohort of the program was an absolute success. The participating teams have emerged with outstanding ideas and we are delighted to report that the standard of entries from the dedicated teams was just as high as ever. Using the powers of hi-tech communications during this extraordinary year, we were able to celebrate and recognize the teams’ efforts.”
Graduating teams presented their selection of start-up ideas to an online audience of experienced technology professionals, investors, and industry experts at the event, designed to give XLR8 participants hands-on experience of pitching their tech-based ideas to attract potential investors and launch their start-ups.
Mohammed Suleiman & Abdulaziz Al-Marri, founders of Karty and first place winners said: “Karty is a financial technology startup that aims to improve the daily user spending experience by leveraging technology and utilizing transaction data to provide a tailored financial experience. We are happy to win first place at the 10th cycle of QSTP’s XLR8 program and we cannot wait to deliver KARTY to the people of Qatar. The XLR8 program has enriched us and helped us improve our product – we are excited to join the QSTP Incubation program.”
Of the 11 finalists pitching their ideas on the day, nine teams came via QSTP’s highly competitive selection process, while the other two were selected from the popular television program Stars of Science. Teams included ‘Lease The Look,’ an online dress and accessories rental platform; ‘Bab,’ an e-commerce platform for the construction sector; ‘Qatra,’ an online platform for artisans from low income countries to sell their products to an international market; and ‘Scanscope,’, a hand-held scanning device that is used to detect bone fractures in children without the need to expose them to harmful radiation.
Over 150 teams (comprising almost 400 individuals) have joined the program since its inception in 2015. To date, 26 teams from XLR8 have launched start-ups. Nine start-ups are now growing beyond Qatar, several of which have secured further investment – including Meddy, Stellic, MaktApp, Bonocle, EasyBroadcast and WakeCap – and there is now an established network of 30 experienced mentors.