After its resounding success over the past three years, Dtec is launching a second facility. Here’s why it is the leading hub for entrepreneurs in Middle East.
Start-ups. There's a certain degree of excitement associated with the word, and why not? The idea of taking an abstract concept from a coffee shop chat and transforming it into a viable business is inherently exciting – and governments around the world are increasingly looking at new SMEs as the answer to long-term economic growth and employment.
However, entrepreneurs need the right environment in which to blossom a business. Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority has launched such a hub for more than three years. The Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre, or Dtec has been running as an entrepreneurial ecosystem since 2015 – and the Middle East’s largest start-up centre is about to become even bigger. It is launching a second facility – a technology entrepreneur campus of approximately 10,000 square metres.
“The new space we are launching in the first quarter of 2019 will complement the existing location,” explains Shahla Abdul Razak, Deputy CEO of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority. “Situated right across the road from the existing facility, our aim with both spaces is to create a complete ecosystem. Combining start-ups, corporates and service providers in one overall campus, we aim to create the perfect environment for young businesses to succeed with everything they need right on their doorstep.”
“There will be a mix of hot desk, dedicated desk and office options with the new space also having unfurnished offices, which we don’t currently have in Dtec 1. Hot desk customers will be able to sit anywhere in either location so they can find their favourite space from which to work and the purpose-built auditorium we are planning will make it even easier to hold events and trainings for our members’ benefit.
“Both locations will benefit from the new Silicon Park development with retail, restaurants, apartments and leisure activities a short walk away.”
Since its launch in March 2015, Dtec has grown to become home to more than 800 entrepreneurial companies that represent over 70 nationalities. “In 2016, the Intelak incubator was launched within our space,” says Abdul Razak. “Managed by Emirates Group, GE and Dubai Tourism it specialises in incubating start-ups in the aviation, tourism and travel tech sectors.”
May 2017 saw the launch of Dtec’s award-winning Dubai Smart City Accelerator, which saw a combined investment of $5 million (Dh18.36 million) from DSOA and a range of key partners: Smart Dubai, Dubai Chamber, Visa, du, RIT and Orange Business Services. The accelerator is operated by Startupbootcamp, a global acceleration provider that is part of a worldwide network of 20-plus accelerators.
“The first cohort graduated in April 2018 and consisted of ten technology start-ups that had been shortlisted from more than 1,000 applications worldwide. Applications for the second cohort were similarly impressive and have just started their acceleration this month.”
With the opening of its new facility, Dtec will be home to more than 1,500 start-ups.
Over its three-and-a-half years of operation, Dtec has been home to a number of the region’s biggest tech start-up success stories, says Abdul Razak. “The start-ups we have invested in include the leading UAE comparison site Yallacompare, and Qordoba, a machine-learning based translation software company which is now located in Silicon Valley.
“Another star is Shortpoint. It successfully graduated from our incubator, Silicon Oasis Founders and Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups. The company is now doing business the UAE and wider GCC, having very loyal clients all over the world.
“You may have used a company called Dubz this summer to pick up your luggage from home and deliver to the airport. The start-up was winner of the first cohort from the Intelak incubator and has been going from strength to strength.”
Mentorship sessions at Gitex
Every budding entrepreneur could do with a bit of guidance, and Dtec plans to deliver this at Gitex Technology Week, which runs from October 14 to 17at Dubai World Trade Centre. “We’ll have a very active stand at Gitex this year,” says Abdul Razak. “We’re partnering on the stand with Startupbootcamp and we’ll be based in the Future Stars pavilion, where we’ll be running mentorship sessions throughout the event. The sessions can be booked by visiting the Dtec stand in the GITEX Future Stars Pavilion, Za’abeel Hall 4. The mentors include representatives from IBM, DTCM, Intel, Thomson Reuters, UAE Exchange and many others”
Three top tips
If you’re a start-up founder looking to tap venture capital (VC) funding to lift off your business, Abdul Razak has a few pieces of important advice.
First, it’s important to consider whether your start-up is at a stage where seeking VC funds is appropriate.
“For instance, if you are currently at the ideation stage, consider friends and family, personal savings or angel investment to help develop your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and test for product market fit (PMF). VC’s invest in growth-stage companies – meaning your business is up and running and you have traction, or strong growth in users and revenues. In this case what you require is funding and expertise to help you scale. If your start-up fits the growth stage, we’d love to hear from you. If you are at an earlier stage and want advice, you can sign up to one of our mentoring workshops or schedule a meeting during our office hours.”
Second, it’s crucial for you to do your homework.
“Preparation is key when founders approach us or any other investor for funding. Being prepared means knowing how to present your venture and knowing more about the investor. It starts with having the investment material ready, including pitch deck and financial model. There are many good free online resources available on how to create a compelling start-up pitch deck. The second tip to secure funding is to visit the Dtec website (Dtec.ae/ventures) to learn more about us, our investment focus/criteria, the team and our current investments. This will help the founder to better understand if we are the right investor for their venture at this stage, and what we are specifically looking for in a start-up.”
Finally, remember that a perfect pitch needs practice: “Practice the different types of pitches, from the 30-second elevator pitch to a 30-minute investor pitch. Pitching is a skill, and just like all skills, there are ways to perfect it.”
Dtec also functions as a platform for corporations and start-ups to collaborate, with a set of programmes designed for corporates that complement and enrich traditional innovation efforts.
“To help corporates discover and better understand new technologies and disruptive trends, we organise workshops, network events and demo days with start-ups,” explains Abdul Razak. “Another example of how corporations can effectively engage with start-ups in the innovation discovery phase is the Intel Ignition Lab based in Dtec. With hackathons and acceleration programmes such as the Dubai Smart City Accelerator we help corporates get into co-creation with start-ups.
“We see that traditional innovation efforts aren’t sufficient anymore. With the new facility we will further expand our links with key multinational corporates to even better support corporates them in their digital transformation journey by tapping into the innovation power of our ecosystem.”
Visit https://dtec.ae/ to learn more.