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MIT Busines plan competition featured in TIME Magazine

Date: August 24, 2012

Read Full Story At Time Business Gathered together around a wide table, the group of entrepreneurs in Dubai for this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan…


MIT EF: Connecting the online world with the real world is becoming a real challenge for businesses

Date: August 6, 2012

With the burst of social media sites, connecting the..


Genietag finalist in MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition

Date: August 5, 2012

It is with great pleasure that we announce the 50 semi-finalist teams in MIT Arab Business Plan Competition..


Genietag featured in Arabnet

Date: August 4, 2012

Check-Ins without Connected Devices. GenieTag Utilizes RFID Technology and the Cloud to Reward Customers By Wael Nabbout | July 18, 2012 | Read Article at arabnet It’s…


The Team

Theo de Oliveira

Theo Oliveira

Transtrack Sales Director

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Alper 2

Alper Celen

Founder: Commit Network

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Tarek 2

Tarek Kabil

PepsiCo MEA President

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Adam draft

Adam El Daba

genietag founder

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shahin 2

Mo. Shahin

genietag founder

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Unit 24, 2123 walkers Line Burlington, ON. Canada. L7M 4Z9

MIT Busines plan competition featured in TIME Magazine

Date: August 24, 2012

Read Full Story At Time Business

Gathered together around a wide table, the group of entrepreneurs in Dubai for this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition represented a key constituency of the Arab Spring generation: Young, educated, and reform-minded, seeking to create their own opportunities.

Among them was Manar Moursi, the principal behind Studio Meem, which repurposes ordinary Egyptian objects into eco-friendly furniture. Being around like-minded people energized her. “It’s easy to access this support network,” she said.

Her fellow entrepreneur, Hind Hobeika, was committed enough to pursue her idea that she left a good position with a prestigious company, a move that displeased her parents. “It is tough for them to understand why we are quitting jobs with multinationals,” she said.

The others nodded with knowing approval. Challenging the status quo is just one aspect of pursuing their goals. “There is a feeling that you can do it, that you have share of the responsibility,” said Shadi Tabbara, operations manager for brate!, a social network and search engine for regional businesses. “It’s now in our hands, and we can’t blame anyone now.”

The winner of the competition would be Hobeika’s Butterfleye, which has engineered a prototype of swimming goggle that monitors performance, including heart rate. The company has 15 Olympic swimmers from the U.S. and New Zealand testing the product at this year’s summer games in London.

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Ambitious and talented, the next generation of Arab entrepreneurs is readily seeking out opportunities to develop and grow, testing ideas in venues such as MIT Enterprise Forum’s competition. Yet they acknowledge their efforts happen within a social sphere in disarray, and that traditional interests still dictate most of business and politics. Dissatisfied by the stalled promise of the Arab Spring, they say that entrepreneurship in the Middle East can yield truly lasting and beneficial change for the region.

“I think this is like a revolution, a refreshing of ideas and tastes, people are open to new ideas,” Moursi said. “It’s the power of spreading ideas.”

Constant Uncertainty

The events surrounding Egypt’s elections and the civil violence in Syria were not far from any discussion. Continuing tumult in the region post-Arab Spring has had an undeniable effect on the plans and efforts of young entrepreneurs.

But for the finalists, this competition — now in its fourth year, while Wharton held its first innovation tournament earlier this year — and other regional tournaments provide a space to focus on building skills and refining ideas. “The good thing is we’ve been exposed to the entire region,” said Sherif Hosny, CEO of Schaduf, which sells micro rooftop farms to low income Egyptians. “You learn a lot about what’s going on. People are looking for new ideas.”

Hosny admitted the eight month-long competition was grueling. Yet it had provided him not only with ways to better himself as an entrepreneur, but also pushed him to evolve his business idea. “The feedback we’ve gotten here had us change our concept,” he said. “We’ve had to think bigger.”

Some entrepreneurs at the competition have been dealing with uncertainty long before the Arab Spring’s revolutions. Being a tech startup based in Palestine has meant overcoming a number of logistical issues, explained Emad Ammouri, general manager for Ibtaker, which builds educational kits for Arab students.

(MOREHow to Get Innovation from the Big Middle)

Ammouri enjoyed being at the competition partly because of the simple freedoms he enjoyed in the United Arab Emirates, such as being able to drive wherever he wanted, without worrying about checkpoints. “It’s not easy, but there’s something to human nature and challenges,” Ammouri said. “Call it survival, but we’ve adapted to hardships.”

The Diaspora’s Role

Politics may be one reason why more successful Arab émigrés haven’t returned to the region, but supporting emerging entrepreneurs is a way to engage, said Ossama Hassanein, chairman of Techwadi, an organization founded four years ago to link up Arabs working in the tech economy. “This is the best time for entrepreneurship in the Middle East,” he said.

Hassanein was in attendance at the competition final, and took time to meet all the competitors, offering advice, and later announcing he would be investing in some startups as well. “Competitions are a dime a dozen,” he said. “How about judges finance some of the winners?”

The Silicon Valley veteran was critical of some regional efforts to fund entrepreneurship that focused on supporting only nationals of a particular country. “By that very definition they are limiting their potential,” he said.

He noted that before coming to Dubai, he was at a conference in San Francisco and described some of the business plans that were finalists in the MIT competition. There was surprise that advanced entrepreneurship was being done in the Middle East, he noted. “The level of sophistication, the clarity of presentations, and depth of analysis in these plans are quite good,” he said.

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Hassanein added that there needed to be a bridge between Silicon Valley and the Middle East. But future opportunities for young Arab entrepreneurs would be better in the Middle East, he said. For those with a dream to make it to Silicon Valley, he suggested it be a place to learn, rather than to settle. “Whoever wants to imbibe the culture there, come, and go back,” he said. “Come not to start, but to accelerate.”

A Privileged Discussion

The competitors at the finals were doubtful, though, that successful Arabs overseas would return to the region to help. A better situation, they said, would be if new leadership emanated from the region instead.

“It’s not that outsiders don’t want to help, it’s because they don’t believe they can succeed,” said Abdulkader Lamaa, CEO of Vira, a concept to use artificial intelligence to organize social network relationships. “They are in San Francisco, they can’t fix Lebanon.”

Lamaa and his fellow competitors said that for regional entrepreneurship to continue to grow, some old habits in the region had to end, such as investor demands for high amounts of equity in startups, and the lending practices of banks that make it nearly impossible for young entrepreneurs to get funding.

Even venture capitalists need to be more supportive, instead of looking for ideas that copied proven ideas in other markets, Lamaa noted. “We have the most risk-averse VCs in the world,” he said.

At the table of aspiring entrepreneurs, there was agreement on another point — that despite their various backgrounds, the discussion was one afforded out of privilege. They still belonged to an upper echelon of Arab society, compared to a vast majority of citizens in the region.

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At odds with traditional expectations and definitions of success because of entrepreneurship, but out of place among common citizenry — such social obstacles are reasons why many of the competitors said they would keep in touch and encourage each others’ efforts.

“This is a new, growing ecosystem that didn’t exist before,” Hobeika says. “If you don’t find support elsewhere, at least you’ll find support from others in the same situation.”

Read more: http://business.time.com/2012/08/22/can-entrepreneurship-bring-change-where-the-arab-spring-has-not/#ixzz24PtjDoqW

MIT EF: Connecting the online world with the real world is becoming a real challenge for businesses

Date: August 6, 2012
Date: Jul 27, 2012 | Read it at MITEF

With the burst of social media sites, connecting the online world with the real world is becoming a real challenge for businesses. However for Adam ElDaba and Mohamed Shahin nothing is impossible, the two Egyptian nationals were coworkers in Canada when they first met. Having both established previous businesses the two were familiar with the entrepreneurial scene and were excited about starting something new. Their idea was to work together on a platform that revolutionizes the world of advertisement by allowing any store to engage with their customers, give them a reason to return, and push them to talk about their experience over their social media networks and hence increase overall traffic both online and offline.  They called it GenieTag and the two have been working on developing the concept and bringing it into real life since 2010.

“ We complement each other says Adam and it is the differences that we have which make us a unique team “  Three years ago Adam left his corporate job in order to commit himself to starting the company , it wasn’t an easy step for him but commitment is crucial if they want to get the business up and running . The teams experience in starting a business goes back to their college years where each had different experiences and failures and according to Adam “ Frustration happens however it is necessary because it challenges you and makes you work harder and failure is only a definition that you provide to yourself “ . Mohamed on the other hand had received mentorship from a leading CEO while studying at university “I was privileged and he really guided me and expanded my horizon however not having a mentor should not stop you from starting something on your own “

After two years of hard work the team was able to secure their first client who turned out to be Adam’s previous employer . “It made me feel very proud and at the moment I knew I had made the right choice “says Adam. Mohamed adds that having a supportive family is very important when you are starting your own business because a lot of times fear might make you like going back and so you need to have a good support system .

The team still has a lot of ideas they even have an excel sheet with all the ideas they want to make into a reality and at times they might find that their ideas were executed by someone else so they cross it off the list and start thinking about a new one and it is this perseverance that makes them true entrepreneurs.

Having been finalist in the MIT Arab Business Plan competition the team felt that the competition allowed them to better understand where they were headed with their project and it pushed them to work harder and think differently. “To us entrepreneurship is a speed race and you will face a lot of obstacles, the important thing is that you keep going “they concluded.

Genietag has a bright future indeed and with the passion and energy of Mohamed and Adam they are bound to succeed not only in the Middle East but on a global level as well and the Arab world should be proud that it is producing ideas with so much potential and creativity.

Genietag finalist in MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Business Plan Competition

Date: August 5, 2012

We are very existed to be selected the finalist round for the MIT Business plan competition, we have competed with over 4500 application, and we went through the first round of the competition competing with 50 great start-ups and now we are in the finalist 14 teams. we are already winners.  We would like to share these moments with you

Genietag featured in Arabnet

Date: August 4, 2012

Check-Ins without Connected Devices. GenieTag Utilizes RFID Technology and the Cloud to Reward Customers

By Wael Nabbout | July 18, 2012 | Read Article at arabnet

It’s Foursquare without cell phones” explains Mohamed Shahin, one of the cofounders of GenieTag, a cloud based check-in service that doesn’t require users to carry any mobile device.

Mohamed, along with his cofounder Adam El Dada, had been pondering for a while how to increase physical traffic to shops and stores. Their research showed that when defections are cut in half, the average growth rate doubles, while a 5% change in the rate of customer retention swings profit increases from 25% to 100%. GenieTag, a check-in service that doesn’t require connected devices, is their solutions. By employing a loyalty program tied to the system, GenieTag will then entice customers to visit shops for a reward.

GenieTag combines loyalty programs, referral marketing and social media. Using RFID technology embedded in wrist bands and keychains, which would be distributed to customers free of charge, GenieTag’s cloud based system will know when customers check in and reward them instantly. In return, using tablets available at shops, currently being developed in cooperation with the University of McMaster and Toronto University, users would promote stores from their personal accounts. “It’s word of mouth 2.0,” Mohamed concluded.


How is it different from Foursquare?

Firstly, “It’s more accurate” as checking in cannot happen unless users are physically at the store, “you really can’t hide from the system.” Consequently, users cannot cheat their way into promotions. Secondly, it provides accurate data on inflow and outflow to stores, an additional feature that will generate revenue by selling demographical reports for businesses. Finally, it’s easier to use. There is no need to download or launch any applications.

GenieTag is currently still in development, and expected to launch in the Middle East, starting with Dubai, towards the end of the year.


genietag selected in the semi-finalists for MENA 100

Date: August 1, 2012

Theo Oliveira

Graduated from University of Witwatersrand, South Africa with BSc Electrical Engineering Degree (Light current). Postgraduate qualifications also include Dip Marketing, PMD from Harvard University.

An experienced professional with extensive experience in start ups, establishing differentiating business models and leveraging change management. Started life as a software engineer developing PABX firmware, went on from there into product marketing. As the General Manager – Payphones division where the provision of a complete range public payphones, these were designed, developed, manufactured and supported in-house. The principal markets for these products where outside South Africa and developed a comprehensive distribution and support infrastructure in the various regions.

The next phase in the career cycle was as part of a team in a senior management role of a multinational telecommunications company, Marconi. Responsible for all the technical aspects of a complete range of products (which varied from backbone ATM switch to the terminals used at customers premises), that responsibilities included the research and development, manufacturing, product marketing and sales.

Joined the Alchemy Technologies group (now QD Group) as a shareholder and Executive Director and contributed to the growth of this group in the South African security and cash management industry. Participating in various roles from general management to sales and marketing. Helped to establish an end to end service provider for cash management solution for retailers, this included the technology, the business modeling and the associated services.

Presently with Transtrack International as Sales Director responsible for global sales and marketing in the cash management industry providing software solutions starting at retailers across the complete cash supply chain to Central Banks.

Alper Celen

Alper Celen is the founding Managing Partner of Commit Network Group, a holding company comprised of Commit Network Consulting based in Dubai, UAE and Commit Internet Ventures (www.fursaty.com) based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Alper has over eighteen years of consulting and high-tech industry experience with global organizations concentrating on both strategy development and implementation.  His strategy development experiences cover corporate strategy development, technology road mapping, organizational design, complexity management, and innovation system design.  His implementation experience as a direct line manager involves production and sales force transformation, new organization recruiting, kick-off, and cultural change.  As a management consultant, Alper has implemented marketing and portfolio effectiveness, M&A due diligence and post merger management, and major organizational transformation programs within both private and public sectors.

Alper founded Commit Network in 2009 with the vision to build business bridges in the Middle East for sustainable economic development.  Commit Network Consulting delivers a unique blend of management consulting and implementation capability for its telecom and public sector clients in MEA including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, UAE, and South Africa.  The Firm has 16 global service partners with whom it delivers turn-key projects to telecom operators in the region.  Commit Internet Ventures, founded in 2011 aims to build Internet based businesses in the Middle East with special focus in its largest consumer market, Saudi Arabia.  Its first e-commerce site www.fursaty.com is a leader in online commerce in the Arabian Gulf.

Alper is an angel investor in several high-tech companies in Europe, Turkey, and India and sits on the advisory boards of GenieTag, HyperIn, TWheel, and ASI.  He is co-founder of three chapters of Mobile Monday in Boston, Dubai, and Riyadh.

Alper Celen holds an MBA with high distinction from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management. He continues to be heavily involved with MIT an advisor to MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and Turkey Chapters.

Rafik Loutfy

Dr. Loutfy joined McMaster University in 2004 as a chemical engineering professor and director of the Xerox Centre for Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation, after a long and distinguished career with Xerox Corporation. At Xerox he held the position of Corporate Vice President and Director of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC). He was named to this position in June 2000. He was also a corporate officer at Xerox since 1997.

Loutfy was appointed Vice President in Xerox’s Corporate Research & Technology organization in 1991 and held a variety of VP positions, including Vice President of Strategy Planning & Innovation. In this capacity, he was responsible for the establishment of a corporate innovation process aimed at leveraging emergent markets and disruptive technologies for Xerox creating million dollar businesses. He also established a Corporate Intellectual Capital Business Unit to leverage Xerox’s intellectual assets.
Loutfy served as the Chief Technical Officer & Sr. Vice President of Xerox Business Group Operations and head of Corporate Business Strategy responsible for business strategy, the strategy planning process, research, development and engineering, investment allocation and prioritization, and strategic integration with Fuji Xerox.
Loutfy possesses a Bachelor and Masters of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. He received his Ph.D. in Photochemistry from the University of Western Ontario and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Toronto. Most recently, he concluded nine months of studies with Stanford University’s Computer Science Faculty in Palo Alto, CA.

Loutfy sever as Chair of the Board of Director of the Canadian Light Source Inc, member of the board of McMaster Intellectual Property, and Board of Editor Member Research & Technology Management Journal. He holds more than 28 US patents and has published more than 167 articles.

Tarek Kabil

A seasoned and experienced executive, Tarek Kabil joined PepsiCo as technical director for Egypt and North Africa in 1994 and subsequently assumed the role of franchise vice president for Northeast Africa in 1997. In 1999, he took on the role of chairman of the board and CEO of the company’s newly acquired beverage business in Egypt.

In 2002 Tarek’s role was expanded to include North Africa franchise countries and the following year he was promoted to North Africa business unit general manager.

In June 2006, Tarek was named regional vice president of operations for Middle East and Africa. Increased responsibilities followed including leading the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC)/North Africa business unit, the largest in PepsiCo. He was promoted again to president for Middle East and Africa region (MEA) in 2008.

Prior to PepsiCo, Tarek worked for 12 years at Procter and Gamble (P&G). He started in 1983 in Albany Georgia as a mechanical engineer and then held progressively senior management positions including leading the start up of P&G paper business in GCC in 1984 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 1987, he won the P&G world class manufacturing award for best performance. In 1992, he moved to Egypt as plant manger then was promoted to product supply director.

Adam El Daba

Adam ElDaba is a young successful entrepreneur who has founded Softmills Inc. in 2010, a software company specializing in innovative applications using best practices and up-to-date technology. Softmills is currently running in Canada and Egypt and is planning to grow into Dubai. As he was running Softmills, Adam also founded Future Electronics in 2011; an electronics retail and e-commerce store based in Egypt. Future Electronics is now a running competitive in the Egyptian market for electronics thanks to the business strategy implemented by Adam. He didn’t stop there, he’s been keeping track of innovative solutions in the market, and has recently invested in a small company, InCube FZCO based in Jebel Ali, Dubai, which owns a well-rounded suite for distribution and tracking companies, specifically FMCG companies. Adam currently holds the title Regional Director of Africa at InCube managing all the Africa offices and employees.

Adam used his strategically skills to get into one of the riskiest industries, food dining, in the world. Adam recently opened a new International Cuisine Restaurant, Arabiska, in Dubai, but like a true successful entrepreneur he added 2 unique items that gave him a great competitive edge. In a very short time, his restaurant has gained many customers, but most importantly has built a set of loyal customers.

Adam’s entrepreneurial and management skills and experience developing user-friendly solutions on time makes me the ideal valuable candidate for “Chief Executive Officer”; that will be directing the overall company strategies.

Mo. Shahin

Mohamed Shahin holds a Master’s degree in Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Mcmaster University. Mohamed has diverse experience with multinational companies as well as start-ups within MENA region as well as the North American region. In 2002, Mohamed graduated from Cairo university with a major in computer engineering where he got an offer from two major IT companies to buy his e-learning graduation project Later; Mohamed joined Siemens as a technical consultant, where he was responsible of creating a new business unit within Siemens that focuses on software solutions in Egypt to serve MENA region and within less than 2 years and very small team, he was able to generate millions of dollars of profit and be the market leader for e-learning solutions. In 2006, Mohamed co-founded Blujino; proximity based social mobile network for non-smart phone devices, during that time he was able to bring a very strong advisory board in this venture including Steven Elop (Nokia CEO) and raise the required funds for prototyping and market studies. In 2007, Mohamed joined a Start-up company called Cyence. He was responsible for all the technical architecture of their platform and in less than a year he was able to transform their product, increase their sales and get the company acquired by D+H, He then became the product manager for Creditpath platform where it is now the top credit management platforms within North America used by top Banks.

On a personal level, Mohamed is very passionate about technology and helping the community grow. He brought the first Startup weekend event – A 3 day event that helps entrepreneurs to start their business – to the Halton region. He also worked closely with Dr. El Baradei campaign and was responsible for Baradei website and all the campaign activities in Canada.

Mohamed is an entrepreneur and product innovator with over 10 years of experience in successfully leading products to market, from early conceptualization and strategy definition through development, launch and ongoing growth. He has very strong technical and management background and experienced in bridging innovation and creativity gaps to develop new products and features that define true competitive advantage.