The Startup Scene in Lebanon – Tough But Going Strong
We recently completed 6 months of existence here and did over 1000 posts thanks to your support. Like we mentioned, this year we will be trying our best to bring in startup news and happenings from across the world. Today, let’s talk Lebanon.
When I say Lebanon, what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Lebanon does not even have a stable internet system, not so good infrastructure and always a danger of war. Under these circumstances what do you think is the startup scene there?
In March 2011, Lebanon was ranked 186th country in terms of Internet speed, behind war-torn countries like Iraq or Afghanistan. At that time, a 1 megabit connection cost about $1,200 per month! But a fairly decent news now is that the government has taken some steps to take care of this issue thus giving opportunity to web and mobile based businesses.
The scene in Lebanon right now is not much different from what it was in India recently and still is in most cities. I am talking in terms of society. Lebanese people prefer working for bigger companies and have stable jobs rather than get shaky with entrepreneurship. Well, why shouldn’t they when there is war always lurking on your head. In fact, there are between 8 and 15 million Lebanese living abroad! That’s a lot, especially for a country with only 4 million inhabitants.
Things Are Changing
Things are changing now. In the last couple of years, many groups and foundations have come up that help and support entrepreneurship. Concepts like startup weekends exist there as well. Berytech, Seeqnce,Wamda.com, they all share the same goal: helping Lebanese to take the leap.
Seeqnce is the first accelerator in Lebanon. This accelerator was created by 5 Web-experienced Lebanese, among the first ones to quit their jobs to try the entrepreneurial adventure in Beirut.
Seeqnce selects 8 companies and helps them build a Web and mobile project. In six months, projects have to turn into viable products and companies. After that, they’re on their own.
Seeqnce provides 24/24 offices with meeting rooms, Internet connection etc., and support. For Maroun the key to success is sharing. “We know what works and what doesn’t work because we’ve been there. We are here to coach the participants and help them avoid the mistakes we’ve done. We don’t tell them what to do. That’s their job.”
Seeqnce also provides an initial investment. For the current cycle, this investment is worth $76,000 (half in cash, the other in services). Seeqnce gets a 30% stake in the company.
The scene is definitely shaping up in Lebanon now. Lebanese people are known to be successful abroad and this inner trait can actually help them do something in their country now that some initiatives have been taken.
If you are a startup based in the Middle East, we’d love to talk to you. Drop us your info and we’ll take it forward.
With inputs from: TheNextWeb