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  • 08 Oct 2018 5:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Beirut - Oct, 3, 2018

    It looks like a busy year for Beirut.

    In its 12th edition, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan-Arab Region has announced last week plans to host its regional competition in Beirut for the first time. Seedstars, a global startup competition for emerging markets, is also hosting its regional chapter in the capital for the first time and this week, TechCrunch Battlefield MENA organized its first MENA Battlefield in Beirut, thanks to its sponsorship with Facebook.

    These events may target startups and entrepreneurs in the entire Middle East and North Africa region, yet their presence in Beirut gives the local community access to global speakers and networking opportunities. They could also contribute to an increase in the local participation.

    Held on October 3 at the Beirut Digital District, 15 startups pitched during TechCrunch Battlefield MENA for a chance to win US $25k and full sponsorship to attend the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 in San Francisco. Three out of the five shortlisted startups were Lebanese or had Lebanese cofounders.

    Ozan Sonmez, managing director of Growth Circuit VC in San Francisco, believes the reason why the majority of the finalists were from Lebanon is because Lebanese founders tend to focus on building products that can attract global attention.

    “It’s because the Lebanese market is small and Lebanese entrepreneurs focus on building scalable products and building international teams,” explained Ozan Sonmez, managing director of Growth Circuit VC in San Francisco.

    Drums rolling

    The winning startup was Buildink, a 3D concrete printer for construction companies cofounded by Bilal Farshukh. It is currently in the process of signing a deal with a big construction company in Lebanon. Buildink, according to Farshukh, has a mix two times stronger than the regular construction mix, a 20 times faster setting time and an environment friendly product that saves 75 percent of construction time.

    “The money we won from TechCrunch startup Battlefield MENA competition will be mainly used to do some final enhancing edits to the cable-robot 3D printer. The money is also needed for the upcoming intensive testing phase. […] as soon as our 3D printer is fully tested and ready for the market needs, we will operate anywhere around the globe.” said Farshukh. “Buildink is currently seeking a round of investment in order to upscale our prototype, and assemble a 3D printer capable of building a 100m single level house. Hopefully we can do it by end of 2019.”

    The runner up was Synkers, another Lebanese startup that provides online private tutoring. The team has already signed 5 memorandum of understanding (MoU) with universities in the UAE and has a partnership with the Ministry of Education there and Dubai Fintech Accelerator, according to cofounder Audrey Nakad. [Disclaimer: Synkers was part of LebNet Ignite program in San Francisco]

    During a panel at TechCrunch Battlefield MENA. (Image via LebNet)

    The other three finalists were Seez, a mobile app that reduces the time people spend searching for a car from 17 hours down to a few seconds; Naturansa, a startup that uses pre-consumer fruit and vegetable waste and decomposes it with specific insects to create sustainable protein sources; and Pure Harvest, a smart farm that relies on controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) to produce fruits and vegetables in arid climates.

    The event was a mix of pitching, workshops and panel discussions around numerous topics including exits in the Middle East and Lebanon’s infrastructure and connectivity.

    Imad Kreidieh, chairman and director general of Lebanese telecommunication company Ogero spoke to Ari Kesisoglu from Facebook on the internet situation in the country, the abundance in talent and the factors that are helping or hindering the growth of the startup ecosystem.

    “Lebanon has amazing universities but the challenge is that the talent might leave and it’s hard to keep them,” he said. He believes a number of steps must be considered to retain them, the first being the provision of proper legislations to protect the work of innovators.

    Such obstacles are also one of many reasons why the Middle East isn’t witnessing yet a recurring number of acquisitions and exits.

    “It takes time to build exits,” said Henri Asseily, managing partner at Leap Ventures. His ecommerce company Shopzilla was acquired in 2005 by E.W. Scripps Company in the US. In his opinion, for companies to be acquired, they must be able to achieve a goal or solve a problem the potential acquirer isn’t able to achieve or solve.

    Big acquisitions in the Arab region, such as Amazon acquiring its Middle Eastern competitor Souq.com in 2017, were shy in numbers. It will take time before we see regular exits coming out of the Arab region, but to have ‘real’ exits, according to Priscilla Elora Sharuk, the cofounder and COO of password creator and manager Myki, we need to see more companies acquiring proprietary technologies and not just copycats.

  • 08 Oct 2018 5:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Austin - May, 24, 2018

    Banks are being transformed into tech companies and we are witnessing the the beginning of a a bank evolution. AI will play a major role in transforming these banks, said Gerard Rafie, CEO and Founder of FintekMinds, a fintech consulting company for Capital Markets and Treasury.

    The FintekMinds founder, who has over 30 years of experience in banking and financial technologies, was the head of sale for  Murex France before he left to join and grow a competitor in the US called Calypso Technology. Believing in the importance of fintech in today’s world, he and Mounir Bsaibes, a software development program manager at IBM, sponsored a LebNet event in Austin on May 24, to showcase the role of artificial intelligence in fintech.

    The event kicked off with a presentation by Steve Harper from Ripple Central on the power of networking then a panel on Artificial Intelligence and some of its practical and tangible applications. The panel was moderated by LebNet president George Akiki and joined by Gerard Rafie, Roy Arsan, Cloud Partner Engineer at Google, and Nabil Chehade, Vice President of Product and Technology at Apprentice.io.

    Below you can find few insights Rafie shared with LebNet on how the fintech industry will disrupt the banking sector.

    Bank used to fight tech companies, now they are becoming them.

    It’s no longer unusual for people to purchase a credit card online from Amazon or even apply for a loan from PayPal or Quicken, said Rafie. These big tech players are disrupting banks and they are here to stay. Hence banks are looking to step up their technology stack to compete with these new entrants.

    Building a solid network is not quantity, it’s quality

    Another important subject tackled during that day was the power of networking and how entrepreneurs can avoid falling into the trap of engaging in meaningless conversations during social events.

    “Networking is no longer a business card, an elevator pitch and a LinkedIn connection. In today’s ‘relationship driven economy’, people want and need to look for heart to heart belly to belly conversations not gimmicky networking conversations,” said Harper in a chat with LebNet. “It’s through the actions we take that we truly learn how to genuinely connect with other people.”

    Finding and making connections is an easy job, according to Harper, but building real relationships takes time, energy and effort. “That’s where most people fail because they aren’t willing to truly invest in what it takes to build a real relationship.”

  • 03 May 2018 12:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On May 3rd, 2018, the LebNet team was excited to head back to Boston for another opportunity to bring together Lebanese Tech professionals around Boston.

    We heard from two distinguished speakers, Fadel Adib (Asst. Prof. at MIT Media Lab) and Rania Khalaf (Director of AI at IBM Research), as they discussed their experiences and outlooks as successful Lebanese in Tech.

    The event was held at MIT’s Ray and Maria Stata Center, in collaboration with the Lebanese Club at MIT.

    Thanks to all the current and prospective LebNet members who attended and made this a successful event! Until next time, Boston LebNeters!



  • 27 Apr 2018 1:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hera Hub was the host for LebNet’s third event in San Diego, on Apr 27, 2018. Around 40 people attended the action-packed evening that focused on the high tech and biotech entrepreneurship scene, and the key elements in creating successful startups.

    Layal Rouhana opened the evening and introduced George Akiki (President and Co-Founder), who gave a short overview of LebNet’s vision and key initiatives. Then, George joined a distinguished panel of successful Lebanese entrepreneurs, who took the audience on a journey of launching successful startups. The panel was moderated by Layal Rouhana (staff IC packaging engineer at Qualcomm) and included: Andrew Tebsherani, Chief Operating Officer at Personal Health Insights Inc.; Antonio Challita, Director of Product Management at CyberSight; Samara Hakim, Founder and President of the Culture Factor LLC; and Walid Soussou, President at Wearable Sensing.

    The speakers discussed key factors that impact the launch of successful high tech and biotech businesses, like identifying the right ideas and timing to launch, team/culture, business strategy, funding and mentorship. They also answered multiple questions from the engaged and enthusiastic audience. Everyone enjoyed great networking time before and after the panel discussion.

    This was LebNet’s first event in San Diego in 2018 and we are looking forward to many more to come! Many thanks to our incredibly talented speakers who shared extremely insightful information and advice.

    We would also like to thank our San Diegan LebNeters who came out

    and made the evening a great success! Special thanks to Jeanine, Sarah and Fram Akiki for taking the pictures!



  • 12 Apr 2018 1:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On April 12th 2018, we kicked off our first ever event in LA!

    We brought together the brightest in the Lebanese LA Tech space to connect, mingle, and empower the community! Prospective members were invited to become an integral part of the greater LebNet network of more than 700 executives, entrepreneurs, students and young professionals working in the Hi-Tech space.

    Attendees learned about LebNet’s initiatives across the country, the power of our network and the benefits of Membership, as presented by George Akiki,  Co-Founder of LebNet based in Silicon Valley.

    We had a distinguished panel of  Lebanese American panelists who shared their achievements, key challenges, as well as their future projects, as moderated by Zack Anton:

    Our Panelists were:

    1. Amine Issa, Co-Founder, Chief Scientist, Mobylitics, winner of TechCrunch SF
    2. Diane Kaldany, Director of Develpement, TFL-US(Teach For Lebanon)
    3. Chady Eli Mattar,  Founder & CEO Kino Industries
    4. Romeo Elias, CEO Intellect
    5. Danny Dera, Co-Founder Reels
    6. Charles Nader, CEO & Co-Founder Docademics

    Key note speakers:

    Louie Sadd, CEO Datastream IT / Chair, Audit Committee City of Glendale

    It was a highly engaging and interactive event with LA’s unique tech culture on full display.

    Thank you to all who made this another successful event and to Latham & Watkins for providing the venue!



  • 05 Apr 2018 2:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the first event in this topic series across LebNet expansion branches, we held an event on April 5th in San Francisco hosted by Rippleto decode, discuss, and further understand what the Blockchain phenomenon is all about with Christopher Kanaan (SVP Engineering at Ripple) and distinguished panelists:

    1. Alex Malamatinas Managing Partner at Nebari Ventures (Remote form NYC)
    2. Arnaud Auger, Senior Advisor at L’Atelier BNP Paribas
    3. Miles Jennings, Senior Associate at Latham &Watkins

    Extremely informative with lots of engagement from audience as we tackled use cases for Blockchain, insights on future of cryptocurrency and role of governments around regulation. Stay on the look out for our second event in this Trending Topic series in NYC with the CEO of Coinbase among many other distinguished speakers!

    Thanks to everyone who attended who made this a sold out event and to Ripple for hosting!



  • 10 Mar 2018 2:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On February 26-March 9 2018, LebNet Ignite#6 powered by Blackbox kicked off to what would become a memorable week of growth. Out of five Lebanese startups nominated by LebNet and @speedlebanon, two were handpicked by LebNet and Blackbox to head to Silicon Valley to elevate and supercharge their businesses.

    Congrats to Nour Atrissi, Founder of @teenswhocode and Ziad Alame, Founder of @thespikeapp who attended in representation of Lebanese talent.

    As part of LebNet Ignite6, these rising entrepreneurs connected with top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders, and executives in an intimate, open, and collaborative environment along with 13 other startups selected from around the world.

    LebNet provided coaching and mentoring meetings with both Ziad and Nour where they formed integral relationships and received valuable feedback about how to develop their business plans. Ziad met LebNet mentors Farah Fawaz and Amer El Hage- Amer ended up taking on an advisory position on Spike’s board which was an exceptionally great outcome for the Spike team! They also won the $50,000 SeedBoost competition as a follow-on fund from 3VCs.

    According to Ziad, “LebNet paves the road for Lebanese founders to enter Silicon Valley and grasp it’s mentality via the support of amazing Lebanese business men and women over there.”

    Nour met with Joe Haddad where he advised on the latest in tech and what would be most suitable to build the TeensWhoCode product. They also brainstormed several possibilities regarding the revenue model of TeensWhoCode. During her meeting with Omar Hmayssi, they focused on how to refine the unique value proposition of TeensWhoCode.

    When asked about the experience, Nour said “It felt as if I had family in the Valley. Everyone is loving and supportive, and that’s what family is all about”.

    LebNet Ignite culminated at the Global Startup Salon where both Ziad and Nour presented their startups to a wide audience of the highest-value members of the LebNet and Blackbox speaker, mentor, and investor network.

    We can’t wait to see what the future hold for The Spike App and TeensWhoCode!



  • 21 Jan 2018 2:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We kicked off 2018 with an exclusive evening with Dr. Alan Shihadeh, new Dean of the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (SFEA) who was visiting the Bay Area.

    In addition to his newly appointed role as Dean, Dr. Shihadeh currently serves as an advisor to the FDA, a scientific expert to the WHO, and a Project Director and Executive Leadership Committee member of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as many other roles in various prominent organizations. Read his full bio here.

    Attendees took the opportunity to have an intimate and engaging event with Dr. Shihadeh as he discussed a new school of design within the faculty of Engineering and Architecture, redesigning the curriculm to include more classes on modern, soft skills, such as creative writing etc..

    Dr. Shihadeh suggested to have LebNet members come in to teach short courses for 6 to 12 months, and to give talks to AUB students, in collaboration with LebNet.

    The discussion was followed by dynamic Q&A and networking.

    Special thanks to AUB Alumni Bay Area Chapter for their ongoing collaboration and to all who attended this sold event!


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LebNet, a non-profit organization, serves as a multi-faceted platform for Lebanese professionals residing in the US and Canada, entrepreneurs, investors, business partners in a broad technology eco-system, and acts as a bridge to their counterparts in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East

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