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Egyptian Tech Startup Receives Top Prize at MIT Competition

Egyptian Tech Startup Receives Top Prize at MIT Competition

May 14, 2013
Egyptian Tech Startup Receives Top Prize at MIT Competition

Egyptian tech startup Instabug, owned by two mentees of a MEPI project, recently won the top prize of $50,000 at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition on April 25. This competition targets 21 countries in the MENA region, and brings in more than 4,000 applications a year.

Instabug (formerly AStarApps) was founded by Moataz Soliman and Omar Gabr in the late summer of 2012.  The company offers services for mobile app developers to help them test and improve their products.  As part of the MEPI-funded Connecting Accomplished Technology Advisors with Local Youth Start-up Trainers (CATALYST) project, Mercy Corps project staff encountered Moataz and Omar at a graduation ceremony from Flat6Labs, an Egyptian startup accelerator.  Impressed with the quality of the team and the potential of the idea, Mercy Corps connected Instabug with an angel investor firm to pitch its software. This began the startup’s fast rise within the investor community.  Mercy Corps also provided mentoring in financial planning and marketing to Instabug, leaving the company with concrete recommendations on how to grow the business and make it more attractive to investors.

Instabug was selected to attend the Arab Startup Competition event along with 49 other semi-finalists.  Persevering throughout the competition, Instabug delivered an impressive pitch to investors in the final round, earning the top prize.  Instabug CEO Omar Gabr reflected on the process: “The competition was tough, all startups were really impressive.”  He also noted that Mercy Corps’ initial support through CATALYST had proved invaluable, “They’ve been helping us with funding, exposure to global investors, and most important – unselfish mentorship.”

The startup world’s close-knit ecosystem of firms and investors presents significant barriers to entry and capital for young, aspiring entrepreneurs. Yet the CATALYST project, in providing mentorship and connections, is allowing firms like Instabug to successfully bring their ideas to scale.