In a further boost to entrepreneur-backed businesses, Area 2071 has commenced the second class of Techstars’ start-up accelerators programme in Dubai. Area 2071 is a project from Dubai Future Foundation to connect start-ups with the government, and designed with UAE’s Centennial 2071 objectives.
“We think Area 2071 represents the vision of Dubai, and an ability to invent and move rapidly is one reason that is compatible to our core values,” said Vijay Tirathrai, managing director of Techstars Dubai. “This is not a physical space as compared to other hubs around the world. We have access to wider sectors that are supported by the leadership and Dubai Future Foundation.”
Techstars is an American seed accelerator with a worldwide network for entrepreneurs. Of the 1,000 start-up applications received globally, Tirathrai said Techstars, in partnership with Ginco Investments, select 10 entrepreneurs into the programme with a seed funding of $120,000 each and with an equity stake of 6 per cent.
Techstars runs 15 accelerators programmes globally, including the one in Dubai, and has 65 corporate partners.
“Our aim is to disrupt 12 industries — government, energy, transportation and logistics, retail, society development, construction, FMCG, pharma, finance and banking, education, media and communication, food and aviation,” said Maha Khamis Al Mezaina, director of Area 2071. “We value the technology these start-ups bring in and disrupt the industry.”
When asked about the difficulty in getting sizeable funding here, Tirathrai said Silicon Valley is the destination for tech start-ups to raise capital, especially from venture capital (VC) providers.
“However, when you see start-ups as an asset class looking for seed funding, the majority of investors are not VCs,” said Tirathrai. “They are angel investors and they are available everywhere. It is a question of how you engage them. With the programme that we have, we offer investors something they may not be able to do on their own.”