Amman, Jordan – June 12, 2015 – Twenty high-impact entrepreneurs representing 15 companies and 10 countries were welcomed into the Endeavor network after the 59th Endeavor International Selection Panel (ISP).
Endeavor now supports 1,102 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 694 companies across the 23 markets where it operates. This newest group of entrepreneurs was chosen at a panel held from June 9-11 in Amman, Jordan.
The conclusion of an intensive multi-step selection process that is the foundation of Endeavor’s model, the ISP brought together top business and industry leaders from the Middle East and all around the world. These panelists spent a day interviewing entrepreneur candidates to learn more about their businesses and identify those with the most potential for high-impact growth. They then deliberated on whether or not the candidates should become part of the Endeavor network and help lead the entrepreneurship movement in their countries.
“It was great to see so many top members of the Endeavor network come together in Amman, not only for the ISP but also for the Catalyzing Conversations investor event,” said Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “I am proud of the team of Endeavor Jordan for leading the country’s high-impact entrepreneurship movement over the past six years.”
After their selection into the network, Endeavor Entrepreneurs are given access to world-class services and programs, including introductions to local and international mentors and volunteers from Fortune 500 consulting firms who will help them address key business needs. Since 1997, Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created hundreds of thousands of jobs and built sustainable and transformative growth models in their home countries. In turn, they become crucial role models for future generations of entrepreneurs.
Endeavor will be hosting three more International Selection Panels in 2015. Locations will be in San Francisco Bay Area, CA; Marrakech, Morocco; and Mexico City, Mexico
Brief descriptions of the newly selected entrepreneurs and their companies follow.
Panelists interviewing entrepreneur candidates
Entrepreneurs: Mai Medhat & Nihal Fares
Eventtus provides event organizers with all-in-one platform to consolidate efforts for event planning, marketing, and ticket sales, while engaging attendees before, during, and after events. Through the Eventtus-branded mobile app, organizers sell tickets and provide a tool for attendees to plan their agenda, network with other participants, and collaborate through interactive forums, surveys, and polls. Eventtus collects data about user engagements and responses, which organizers leverage to measure ROI and improve future events. Eventtus has helped 700 organizers host 6,000 events, including Step Conference Dubai, RiseUp Summit Egypt, Startup Weekend in 5 cities, TEDx events, and conferences for Vodafone, Nokia, and Mercycorps.
Entrepreneur: Odi Anindito
Company: Coffee Toffee
Indonesia annually produces more than 720 million kilograms of coffee, making it the world’s third largest producer. Yet, Indonesia does not even crack the top 60 in terms of coffee consumption per capita according to a 2014 Euromonitor report. That will soon change; with domestic consumption expected to reach 400,000 tons in 2016, a 33% increase from 2014. To sate their caffeine need, Indonesians head to Coffee Toffee, Indonesia’s largest domestic coffee company.
Entrepreneurs: Mohammad Al-Shaker & Yousef Wadi
Company: ArabiaWeather Inc.
ArabiaWeather Inc. is the MENA region’s first devoted Arabic weather multiplatform (web, video, social media). ArabiaWeather collects raw data from regional satellites to generate hyper-local, real-time weather forecasts based on proprietary algorithms, distributed through its B2C and B2B channels. The B2C channel features 5-day hourly to 14 day extended weather forecasts in Arabic for 5000+ locations in 22 countries with revenue driven by platform advertising. In 2014, ArabiaWeather.com had 20 million unique visitors (15% of internet users in the region.) The B2B offerings involve customized weather services and solutions—such as advanced early weather warning systems for airlines– that help businesses (i.e. media, aviation, agriculture, construction, and oil and gas sectors) save time and money and protect property.
Entrepreneur: Penelope Shihab
Description: : MonoJO is a biotechnology company that researches the benefits of the Middle East’s untapped resources—ultimately creating products for a variety of industries, ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. Founder and CEO Penelope Shibab has led the company to commercialize its first line of products, Skinue, an anti-acne product line made with camel’s milk that is based off of ten years of R&D. By 2017, the company plans to launch a Gastritis cure using camel milk and a biosensor used to measure diabetes. MonoJO has crucially secured a mutual collaboration agreement with the University of Cambridge and is backed by Dr.Samih Darwazah, the founder of MENA’s largest pharmaceutical company.
Entrepreneur: Ibrahim Safadi
Description: Luminus Education is an umbrella educational company that has six different brick-and-mortar subsidiaries in Jordan, Iraq, UAE and the UK aimed at fostering better vocational, technical and soft skills amongst the Arab youth. Luminus has successfully graduated more than 30,000 students from across 23 countries and employs more than 560 professionals from around the world. Driven by the critical and growing issue of MENA unemployment, Luminus is looking to further expand its operations across the region with the aim of becoming the Middle East’s leading vocational and technical education institution for employment.
Entrepreneur: Antoine Saab
Energy24, with its energy storage solutions (ESS), is charging Lebanon with ESS-ault and battery. Lebanon’s booming population growth overburdens its aging power grid, which is unable to match growing demand. The government’s provision of 1,900 megawatts annually matches only 60% of the country’s electricity needs, resulting in power outages of two to 12 hours daily. Energy24 augments the shortcomings of Lebanon’s formal electricity provider by offering energy storage solutions that stock energy while the power is on, and release it to for consumption during power outages. Energy24’s batteries provide savings of 60% on energy bills, and access to uninterrupted power for up to 72 hours.
Entrepreneurs: Rima Koteich El Husseini & Rana Koteich Najjar
Blessing is a chocolate, sweets, and gifts company based in Beirut, Lebanon. The company offers ready-made and customized products for special occasions, including weddings, christenings, corporate events, and holidays. The company has six branches, partnership agreements, and franchise stores across Lebanon, Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the next five years, the entrepreneurs plan to aggressively expand in the region by opening a flagship store in downtown Beirut, new partnership and franchise stores in KSA, UAE, Morocco, Kuwait, and Oman, and an online store. The sisters are working closely with Francorp, a franchise consulting company, to manage and finalize all franchise processes.
Panelists in a deliberation moderated by Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg
Entrepreneur: Manuel Wiechers Banuet
Ilumexico is a Mexican social enterprise that provides energy access via solar to rural populations. In Latin America, there are over 30 million people without electricity. In Mexico, there are three million – 600,000 households that you candles and fire for light. Ilumexico provides solar energy household systems through four steps in the value chain: 1) Technology – solar transfer products, electronic circuits, 2) Distribution – distribution network through rural branches and local technicians, 3) Financing – provide users with different financing plans according to their needs (the majority cannot buy the equipment upfront), 4) Community Programs – develop community programs specifically targeting organizations that would use the product, financial education, environmental awareness.
Entrepreneurs: Juha & Johanna Mikkola
Company: Wyncode Academy
Wyncode Academy, Florida’s first independent coding boot camp, aims to address the need in state’s growing tech ecosystem for developer talent. The Academy’s course offerings center on a full-time, nine-week web development course that prepares students to step into junior full stack web development jobs upon graduation. The dynamic curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of Wyncode’s 100+ local hiring partners who include South Florida’s top recruiter of developers (CareCloud) and Endeavor entrepreneurs and candidates. Wyncode has graduated 68 students from its Miami location since the inaugural cohort in May 2014. Wycnode’s second location in Ft. Lauderdale launched with its first cohort in April 2015. Success is defined by job matches: 92% of graduates are employed within three months, 86% in the Miami-FTL-West Palm Beach MSA.
Entrepreneur: Kamal Reggad
Menaclick is an ecommerce holding company composed of three award-winning sites: Hmizate.ma, Hmall.ma, and Vayago.com. Hmizate.ma is a portal for daily deals with an emphasis on travel but with vouchers for anything from live events to consumer tech. Hmall.ma is an online B2C marketplace with a mission to connect thousands of vendors with million of consumers. Vayago.com is a global hotel booking engine through which consumers can compare prices and make reservations at hotels around the world. Vayago is the first and so far only website in Morocco to facilitate foreign transactions online using locally-issued cred cards, making it the best option for Moroccans to make international travel plans.
Entrepreneur: Gys Kappers
When companies employ hundreds, even thousands of workers, getting everyone on the page can be difficult task. Establishing clear channels for communication and collaboration from the C-level executives to entry-level workers is a Herculean task. Wyzetalk breaks down these silos, through its mobile-based business communication platform that allows enterprises to drive effective collaboration and innovation. Users can broadcast announcements, deploy surveys, upload files, among other tools. CNN listed Wyzetalk as one of the top 10 African Startups that rocked 2014 and Gys intends to keep up the momentum to become the premier collaboration platform in Africa.
Entrepreneur: Ahmet Bilgin & Koray Bahar
Company: Fit Solutions
FIT Solutions is taking paper out of the picture. A wave of digitization has engulfed the world of B2C transactions: from Amazon to the Apple Store, buying online is now the status quo. Meanwhile, the B2B world remains stuck inside a time capsule, with businesses still conducting transactions through sales reps, paper invoices, and fax machines. Regardless of the fact that the B2B ecommerce market is widely predicted to be at least 10 times greater than the B2C ecommerce market (up to US$1.5 trillion globally, by some predictions), few companies have dared to tackle the challenge of digitizing business-to-business dealings – until now. FIT Solutions moves invoice and ledger procedures from paper to digital, allowing companies to transition their B2B transactions online.
Entrepreneur: Güçlü Gökozan
Turkish for Eureka Eureka!, Buldum Buldum describes a consumer’s feeling upon discovering the abundant means to create unique merchandise on BuldumBuldum.com. Through the ecommerce site through, individuals and small business owners can design and procure affordable, customized gifts and professional marketing materials with no minimum requirement. The newly launched BuldumBuldum.com marketplace is a forum for artists, celebrities, and trademarked brands to open their own shops and sell exclusive designs. Through exclusive licensing agreements, BuldumBuldum will be the only online marketplace selling major trademarked brands such as Disney, Marvel, and Warner Bros. Poised for exponential growth, BuldumBuldum has Endeavor’s name written all over it.
Entrepreneur: Aly Rahimtoola
Company: Harmony Cosmetics
Harmony Cosmetics is an all-natural, carcinogen-free UAE-grown beauty company that aims to fill a market gap with its brand Essentials. The brand uses ancient Ayurvedic recipes and Himalayan ingredients to offer its clients high quality, yet affordable, all-natural beauty products. Essentials is currently ranked 8th out of 63 brands sold in Boots UAE (the top 7 owned by global conglomerates). As the only PETA approved beauty product in MENA, Essentials is differentiating itself from conglomerate brands as a boutique brand that is in tune with consumer concerns.
Entrepreneur: Riath Hamed
Company: Balqees Honey
Yemeni honey is one of the purest, most exclusive natural elixirs in the world: extracted from natural desert oases, it is made by bees that feed off medicinal plants and flowers, and have never been exposed to pesticides or preservatives. The result is a full-bodied, thick honey with a rich flavor palate and unique nutritional and medicinal properties. Honey of this caliber is nearly impossible to buy at your typical supermarket. Balqees increases accessibility to the world’s most exclusive honey by supplying, packaging, and distributing it across the Gulf. Through its 13 retail kiosks, Balqees is bringing a buzz-worthy product to the Gulf States, which imported US$1.6 billion in honey in 2014 alone. It plans to diversify its product offering and expand its network of kiosks in high-end malls to penetrate the luxury hospitality sector in the Gulf.
Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg addressing ISP participants