BOULDER, Colo. — Techstars, one of the largest pre-seed investors in the world, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (MCIT), RAED Ventures and Saudi National Bank (SNB) today announce a new partnership to continue The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator. As a part of Saudi Arabia’s emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem, the accelerator will work with startups and their founders on building and growing businesses in the Middle East and North Africa. The continuation of this program underscores Techstars’ commitment to making innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible and inclusive for entrepreneurs no matter where they operate around the world.
The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator is now accepting applications and is focused on attracting both Saudi-based entrepreneurs and startups from across the Middle East to pave the way for future innovation in the region’s digital economy. Vijay Tirathrai is the Managing Director of Techstars Riyadh which completed its first program in February 2022, investing in 11 portfolio companies including Torod – an API based, e-commerce enabler.
Faisal Al-Maklas, the CEO and Co-Founder of Torod, described: “The Techstars program was a game changer for us. It has made us all more tenacious, ambitious, and it has shifted our mindset in areas such as learning, growth, and doing more, faster.” His company has since hired 16 people, launched a new product to market, has an annual revenue projection of $1million and raised $1.5m in seed funding. All of this occurred just under a year after completing the Techstars program.
“I am extremely enthusiastic about the growth of the Saudi Arabian and broader Middle East startup ecosystem. Between the Kingdom’s investment in entrepreneurship and its central location, Riyadh is able to attract global startup talent for the entire region. Part of what we do at Techstars is to help founders connect their innovation with the rest of the world,” stated Maëlle Gavet, CEO of Techstars.
“Entrepreneurship that is built on technology and innovation is essential to achieving Vision 2030, the roadmap for social change and economic diversification that guides our country. 70% of the population is under the age of twenty. These people are our digital natives, and we want to capitalize on their enthusiasm and curiosity to innovate faster,” stated Abdullah Alshamrani, General Manager of the Digital Entrepreneurship Center at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (MCIT).
The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator is a 13-week program that will take place from June through September 2023. Each company admitted into the program will benefit from Techstars proven model that provides funding and fundraising opportunities, workshops and curated resources, as well as mentors and access to an unrivaled network of partners, investors, and alumni. The program also benefits from the deep connections with the leadership and mentors from MCIT, SNB and RAED Ventures. Once the program is complete, the portfolio will have lifetime access to the Techstars global network of more than 3,300 other startups.
Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Saeed Mohammed Al Ghamdi, Managing Director and Group CEO at the Saudi National Bank stated: “SNB is focused on empowering young entrepreneurs, encouraging them to pursue an entrepreneurial spirit and start their own successful projects and supporting them to contribute to the development of the nation’s economy and advance development in line with the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. This is why the Bank launched a number of business accelerators to support innovation, facilitate starting businesses, and develop capacities, in the process creating job opportunities for Saudi nationals across the Kingdom. This partnership coincides with the objectives of SNB’s corporate social responsibility programs in supporting entrepreneurs in the field of technology.”
“Since the beginning of RAED Ventures, we have committed to building the tech ecosystem alongside our partners. We are thrilled to continue our support to all early-stage founders by announcing our participation in the second cohort of The Riyadh Techstars Accelerator. Having witnessed the rapid growth of some promising startups from the first group, we are excited and look forward to the next cohort of this exceptional program,” said Talal Alasmarim, founding partner of RAED Ventures.
“Saudi Arabia’s tech market has grown significantly over the years and is now worth more than $40 billion with over 318,000 jobs in the sector. The nation is also making significant strides in enabling diversity in the workforce with more and more women employed in the ICT industry. Agility and resilience, powered by talent and technology, have enabled Saudi Arabia to reach new heights” stated HE Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, the Kingdom’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology. “The ministry and Techstars will come together to scale the impact of their combined resources and capabilities to truly accelerate digital entrepreneurship, across the Kingdom. We are already witnessing the growth of a vibrant venture capital investment community, rapid technology adoption, and how digital transformation is allowing companies to re-imagine themselves to become more competitive.”