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Impact Innovation Investment Shaping the future of emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship


An Idea Born in Switzerland

Contents 5 Trillion Dollars, Just That?


Our Vision


6 Years of Impact in Numbers


Seedstars World Competition 2018


Seedstars World 2018 Finalists




The Team Behind the Numbers


Seedstars Index






CEE & Central Asia






Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation


Thank You



5 Trillion Dollars, Just That?

AlisĂŠe de Tonnac Partner, Seedstars Group

5 Trillion Dollars, Just That?


5 Trillion Dollars, Just That? $5 trillion per year. According to UNCTAD’s projections, $5 trillion per year is the amount needed from the private sector1 to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. And the good news is that according to Google trends (linked to keyword google search “impact investing”), more and more people are willing to invest to achieve these goals as we can see a clear rise of interest in impact investing, especially after the 2008 crisis. So it is without a doubt that we’ve seen a growing allocation of funding toward impact investing where indeed in the past 6 years, since Seedstars inception, we’ve multiplied by 9 the amount of capital available for impact investing to reach approximately $228 billion assets under management2. Even the large players like Goldman Sachs and Black Rock have either acquired impact funds, launched their own or decided to commit a certain amount to impact. Now, despite the growing interest and commitments, the amount allocated toward impact investing is still low when you have in mind the number $5 trillion to invest per year. I mean when you look into the $1.3 trillion assets under management of Goldman Sachs, less than 1% is allocated toward impact3.

But we believe we’re at the right time, where it can move faster!

1 Private investment not for all goals, some will remain to be supported by governments 2 GIIN, Annual Impact Survey Report, 2018 3 The Economist, “Impact investing” inches from niche to mainstream, 2017


5 Trillion Dollars, Just That?

Because the new generation, where the money will be coming from, is pushing4 by investing and building toward solving these global challenges. You see, my generation, also known as the Millennials, sees their investment decisions as a way to express their social, political and environmental values. It’s no longer simply about making money, it’s also about having a purpose and this socially responsible mindset is not simply anecdotal. The impact investing trends mentioned above and success stories on the market do prove that there is an “ROI to funding a cause”5. And not only does this generation believes profit and purpose go hand in hand, it is also a generation of entrepreneurs. Indeed, this generation is witnessing first hand the leapfrogging happening in their markets, which has reinforced this “it’s possible attitude” gradually shifting the mindset so that becoming an entrepreneur is a sign of success6 and a path to make change possible!

So on one hand, you have the rising interest of impact investing and on the other hand you have the rise in power of the new generation doing business with a purpose. Now, what is the status on emerging market opportunities? Despite representing 85% of the world population, Emerging Markets have received 56%7 of the impact funding. And even though this is an important allocation, we believe much more can be allocated to these markets. But for that we need more and better investment opportunities. Indeed looking at our analysis, the Seedstars index (2018 findings will be showcased in this report), the number and the quality of companies created is still too low in emerging markets because the startup ecosystems are still too nascent (for different environmental factors from ease of doing business to market opportunity) making it difficult for these same ecosystems to absorb more capital. And zooming into the more mature ecosystems that we’ve been to, like Shanghai or New Delhi, they are still behind the most developed ecosystems like Silicon Valley but have arrived to a level of maturity which does allow them to absorb more capital than the more nascent ones. Indeed, when looking into the numbers around global venture capital investments, Asia, which is mainly China and India, went from $7 billion of Global VC funding allocation when we launched Seedstars back in 2013 to approximately $70 billion in 20178.

4 CNN Business, Impact investing: A $250 billion game-changer for finance, 2017 5 Crunchbase, Growth With An Impact: The Rise Of VCs Looking To Fund A (Profitable) Cause, 2018 6 Deloitte, Emerging Market Millenials: Driven - Winning over the next generation of leaders, 2016 7 GIIN, Annual Impact Investor Survey, 2018 8 Andy Tsao, Adventure Capital: Why Investors Have Growing Interest in New and Emerging Markets, 2018

Our vision


So what becomes clear to us is that in order to create more opportunities, we need to create more mature startup ecosystems. But how do we support in building a startup ecosystem? To do that we need to look at the basics of the startup cycle. It goes from having an idea, struggling through the valley of death, breaking even and finally growing exponentially. And during each phase, we can work to support entrepreneurs. At Seedstars and with many of our partners mentioned in the following pages, today we use various instruments to support and develop the ecosystems. And it can start as simply as creating awareness, inspiring and making connections through launchpads, hackathons or events like the Seedstars World competition to transferring the right skills and tools to building and accelerating ventures through programs such as an accelerator or incubator. Now, to be clear, I am not saying that all entrepreneurs need to participate in all these initiatives and that all these initiatives are good, but they do make a significant difference, especially in these nascent ecosystems where fundraising is extremely difficult. So, in many ways, over the past 6 years, we’ve been working on helping build these ecosystems with our partners in order to support entrepreneurs to increase the pipeline with more and better investment opportunities, which will generate more capital inflow, and hopefully, a virtuous cycle will take place. So what’s our relationship with the $5 trillion needed per year to achieve the SDGs by 2030? Well, we represent, support and invest in the highly energetic and impatient generation working toward solving these sustainable development goals one by one, milestone by milestone, a venture at a time.

Come and join us to have an even faster and bigger impact for this and the next generation to come?


Our vision

Our Vision Emerging is a New Future

An ‘emerging market’ is, for our purposes, any country that has many characteristics of a developed market, but does not yet meet the standard to be considered ‘developed’ by the Market Classification Framework. Emerging markets are also rising centers of innovation. Nigeria, Colombia, and Indonesia are no longer symbols of corruption, drug wars or overpopulation, but incubators of talented entrepreneurs. By 2034, 95% of the world’s population will be in emerging markets1 and in just one year from now, in 2020, 80% of all smartphones will be located in emerging markets2. Moreover, 89.8% of the world population under 30 years of age lives in these regions3, which represents a huge pool of untapped talent.

These factors combined mean opportunity: opportunity for talent and solutions that address the world’s biggest challenges and support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

1 Market Realist, Why Emerging Markets Have Better Demographics 2 TechCrunch, 6.1B Smartphone Users Globally By 2020, Overtaking Basic Fixed Phone Subscriptions 3 Euromonitor International, Emerging Markets Account for 90% of the Global Population Aged Under 30

Our vision

Smartphones users in emerging markets predictions for 2018

Share of population aged under 30 by regions in 2030

Source: Market Realist, “E-Commerce in Emerging Markets: The Biggest Growth Opportunity�


What are the proven models to growth at a nation level? GDP is one possible indicator for understanding levels of life satisfaction: higher GDP per capita equals generally higher life expectancy and satisfaction and if you compare North America and Europe to emerging markets, the later find themselves with a lower GDP per capita and so arguably with inferior life satisfaction. But what is interesting to see is that some emerging markets have had quite an exponential GDP per capita growth in a very short time. Indeed, if you compare South Korea to Nigeria, back in 1965, the difference between their GDP per capita was twofold. Looking at the situation today, that gap is 22 times bigger.

GDP per Capita




GDP per capita (constant 2000 US$)






24,565 1,098












Source: World Bank

So what made such a difference? How did they achieve this and can it be replicated?


Our vision

GDP is one possible indicator for understanding levels of life satisfaction: higher GDP per capita equals generally higher life expectancy and satisfaction and if you compare North America and Europe to emerging markets, the later find themselves with a lower GDP per capita and so arguably with inferior life satisfaction. But what is interesting to see is that some emerging markets have had quite an exponential GDP per capita growth in a very short time. Indeed, if you compare South Korea to Nigeria, back in 1965, the difference between their GDP per capita was twofold. Looking at the situation today, that gap is 22 times bigger. So what made such a difference? How did they achieve this and can it be replicated? There are many factors that help explain how this shift happened in South Korea. Let’s look at two major factors: that of the public sector and private sector. First the public sector: the government initiated a very clear strategy of specialising the workforce in higher value-added services, such as electronics (everybody knows Samsung, right?). Even now, it continues to have a clear strategy to build a niche expertise. In addition, it deployed a range of mechanisms

to develop the necessary skills in advance and invested heavily in education. As we can see from the graphic below, education has a direct impact on the GDP per capita. According to the graphic, every dollar spent on education generates more or less 10 to 15 dollars in economic growth. This investment not only creates jobs but balances higher value-added jobs with manufacturing and labour intensive jobs. It is important to point out that many times when we discuss the issue of unemployment in emerging markets, we tend to focus solely on unemployment, however, there is a huge need to put greater emphasis and attention on the proportion of unstable jobs as you can see in the graphic Africa’s labor force by job status. Indeed, the objective is to find the right balance of moving from unstable jobs to stable ones and not just increasing the unstable job proportion. Throughout all stages, South Korea attempts to strike a balance between labour intensive, lower skill industries that provide jobs for many, and more knowledge-intensive industries that require higher levels of skills and usually provide more stable jobs.


GDP per capita

Rep. of Korea Tunisia Colombia Ghana D. R. Congo






Economic growth GDP per capita (constant US$; 1971 = 100)

Secondar y GER (% )

Secondary education gross enrolment ratio, 1971 to 2010 120


900 800 700

Rep. of Korea Tunisia Colombia Ghana D. R. Congo

600 500 400 300 200 100

1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 NOTE: The top gure is normalized with the year 1971 set to 100


1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010


Our vision

The African Example: Labor Force by Job Status

Source: UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012, “Youth and skills: Putting education to work” McKinsey Global Institute, “Africa at Work: Job creation and Inclusive Growth”

After the public sector, let’s zoom in on the private sector, where we can have an impact. Over the next decade, more than 1 billion young people will enter the global labor market and 90% of these jobs will be created by the private sector, fueled by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including startups1. According to US statistics, companies that are less than 5 years old, startups and SMEs, are the ones that are creating the most jobs2. Zooming in even further, when one compares job creation rates between micro-enterprises and SMEs, in high growth markets, SMEs create the most jobs. According to an innovation foundation, Nesta, in the UK, 6% of firms create 50% of new jobs and GDP growth3. Indeed, high growth companies have a higher impact in terms of job creation.

1 Endeavor Insight, Omidyar Network, and Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs report, “Why Becoming Large Matters: How scalable, high-growth entrepreneurs can help solve the jobs crisis” 2 US Census Bureau Business Dynamics Statistics 3 Nesta Research Summary, “The Vital 6 Percent, How High-Growth Innovative Businesses Generate Prosperity and Jobs”

Our vision

Millions of Jobs

The US Example: Young Companies Create the Most Jobs

4 3 2 1 -0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 1992





0-5 years




6-10 years





+11 years






0 New Microenterprise


High Growth SME becoming a large firm

Source: US Census Bureau Business Dynamics Statistics Nesta Research Summary, “The Vital 6 %, How High-Growth Innovative Businesses Generate Prosperity and Jobs” Endeavor Insight, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and Omidyar Network, “Why Becoming Large Matters, How Scalable, High-Growth Entrepreneurs Can Help Solve the Jobs Crisis” The Economist Special Report, “The Walled World of Work”



Our vision

Having identified the companies with disproportionate impact that we want to support, we turn to the industry that will have disproportionate impact, which for us is clearly technology.

Trends predict that the solution to balancing the need for more retail options will not necessarily be more retail outlets, but more e-commerce4. And so a whole economy of solutions will be built around it.

Technology is changing the world, and we are still at the beginning of seeing the effects knowing that the speed at which new technologies are being adopted and become mainstream is at an unprecedented speed. Indeed, it took over 100 years to get to one billion consumers, and less than 10 years to reach a billion smartphone users1.

Therefore, technology will not only create new types of jobs at an unprecedented speed; it will also give access to (new) services to millions of people. Not only e-commerce, but all sectors and industries, including the more urgent ones such as fintech, healthtech, agtech or edtech.

In developed markets, we tend to say that technology destroys jobs, but what about jobs that don’t even exist yet? The reality is that soon, 85% of today’s population will be working in jobs that don’t exist yet2. Take the example of retail: There are fewer retail outlets in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region than other regions. Currently, the ratio of consumers to retail outlet in the US is 1000 to 1 vs. over 90,000 people for every retail outlet in the APAC region3.

And when we see that the Government of Rwanda is currently modifying its aerial regulations to allow cargo drones to fly over the city of Kigali, and that blood deliveries via drones are saving lives on a daily basis5, it becomes clear that innovation is being spearheaded in these markets as well. The foundations are being laid for the next generation of technology. So in many ways, we’d like to think at Seedstars, that these high growth companies (the 6%) solving some of the key challenges in emerging markets are the ones that Seedstars is going after and supporting!

The reality is that soon, 85% of today’s population will be working in jobs that don’t exist yet. 1 Business Insider UK, “It Took 75 Years for the Telephone to Reach 100 Million Users...and It Took Candy Crush Saga 15

4 Ecommerce Foundation Press Release, “Global E-Commerce


Turnover Grew by 24.0% to Reach $1,943bn in 2014”

2 Institute for the Future for Dell Technologies, “The Next Era of

5 Rwanda Droneport, “Aerospace Technologies Application in

Human-Machine Partnerships”

African Agriculture”

3 Signature Global Asset Management, “Big Bad BABA: The Rise of Alibaba in China”

Our vision


Higher speed, higher reach






Number of years to reach 1 billion

22 8




1 billion users

800 600 400 200 Number of years since introduction

0 05

10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 Smartphones






B2B e-commerce turnover, growth and market share per region






$1,563.8 bn

$1,943.1 bn

24,00 %


$533.8 bn

$770.0 bn

44,30 %


$467.9 bn

$566.0 bn

13,90 %

North America

$466.0 bn

$522.9 bn

12,20 %

Latin America

$31.6 bn

$37.4 bn

18,20 %


$17.3 bn

$21.0 bn

21,50 %

Source: Business Insider UK, “It Took 75 Years for the Telephone to Reach 100 Million Users...and It Took Candy Crush Saga 15 months” Signature Global Asset Management, “Big Bad BABA: The Rise of Alibaba in China” Ecommerce Foundation Press Release, “Global E-Commerce Turnover Grew by 24.0% to Reach $1,943bn in 2014” Rwanda Droneport, “Aerospace Technologies Application in African Agriculture”


6 Years of Impact in Numbers

6 Years of Impact in Numbers Numbers are just one side of the coin, but it always goes beyond the numbers. It’s about people’s stories, valuable connections, impact, learning by doing, ‘wow’ moments, and strong community spirit.



events organized

attendees of our events



mentoring hours

investor startup evaluation hours

6 Years of Impact in Numbers


local pitching and networking event attendees over the last 3 years



investors in our network


startup applications


days spent in the ecosystems


physical hubs across the world



6 Years of Impact in Numbers

Let’s take a closer look at 2018 Startup Funding

815 pitching startups


Startup Employees


63 countries

78 ecosystems

Monthly Revenue

6 Years of Impact in Numbers

Founders’ Gender


Recruitment and jobs

Business Models



Seedstars World Competition 2018

Seedstars World Competition 2018 Each year, we aim at adapting the competition model to fit with each market’s needs, and therefore provide more quality training and startup support. This means more time on learning and analyzing the businesses of individual entrepreneurs to address their pain points and understand how we can provide the best value, both in terms of connections and knowledge required for the successful stage of development.







Seedstars World Competition 2018

Highlights of the tour In 2018, we added more emerging ecosystems on the map. We tried to go more in-depth in some countries and added satellite locations, to ensure higher visibility to the entrepreneurs who do not reside in the countries’ capitals. We extended the engagement in the ecosystems by providing more in-depth bootcamps and training programs for the entrepreneurs, especially in the MENA region



participants of our events

pitching startups



Seedstars World Competition 2018

Seedstars World 2018 Finalists 67 finalists



Agro Supply Uganda Limited., Uganda

DirectPay (Pvt) Ltd, Sri Lanka

Bandim Online, Guinea-Bissau

EATLAB, Thailand

BeneFactors Ltd, Rwanda

Foodmario, Nepal

Bluewave Insurance Agency Limited, Kenya

Joonaak Delivery, Cambodia

Cowtribe Technology Ltd, Ghana

StoryPal, China

Diool, Cameroon

New Day (Neh Thit), Myanmar

DropQue, Nigeria

Ombré - Lacuna Sdn Bhd, Malaysia

Franc Group, South Africa

One Watt, Philippines

Kubinga, Angola

Oxpecker Labs, Hong Kong

Labes Key - schoolap, Congo

Parkingkoi INC LTD, Bangladesh


PT Expedito Global Indonesia, Indonesia

MyFoodness, Botswana

SmartPeep Pte Ltd, Singapore

NALA, Tanzania

Thuocsi, Vietnam

REMA, Benin

Wobot, India

Rera online farm, Zimbabwe SUDPAY SA, Senegal WenaData, Mozambique

Seedstars World Competition 2018


Latin America


Captain Growth, Ukraine


7keema-nursing services, Egypt

CastPrint, Latvia

Blended, Argentina

Elham Education, Libya

D’efekt, Armenia

Defter Sports, Costa Rica

Inggez, Palestine

erxes Inc, Singapore

Doctor Online, Guatemala

Optimalogistic, Tunisia

Express24, Uzbekistan

Fortesza, Panama

P5M, Kuwait

GAUS, the Republic of Moldova

Getabed, Mexico

Robu, Jordan

Onbranch, Azerbaijan

Hometuls, Colombia

Smart Crowd, United Arab Emirates

OTBASY | Business, Kazakhstan

Okus, Dominican Republic

Spike Diabetes Assistant, Lebanon

STYX, Georgia

Panal Fresh, Bolivia

Stroma Vision, Turkey

WebTotem LLP, Kazakhstan, Chile, Bahrain

Whalebone, s.r.o., Czech Republic, Peru

Urban Point, Qatar

TALOV, Ecuador

Weego, Morocco YNMO, Saudi Arabia




Seedspace The future - the present - is shared. Seedspace envisions being a campus for entrepreneurs in emerging markets where they can find a like-minded community to share resources, knowledge and overall a similar lifestyle. By facilitating the network of Seedstars, as well as our events and support programs, we hope the entrepreneurs can have a support system so that they only have to focus on their business.

Rethinking Startup Acceleration with the Investment Readiness Program We decided to challenge the traditional acceleration model by launching the Investment Readiness program in early 2019. It is a modernized, democratized non-timebound startup program helping founders save time and energy in fundraising. 01. It’s modernized as, for example, we are leveraging technology to help better identify key challenges and make the best mentoring matches. 02. It’s democratized as it is open to all with an affordable monthly pricing plan. 03. And it’s not time bound so it can be thought of as “acceleration as a service” with a fully customizable offering for each participating startup. The program is linked to a platform where on one side we have the startups and on the other side our investor network. We hope this allows us to impact many more founders each year and fill up our investor’s pipelines with more quality deals from emerging markets.



I have thoroughly enjoyed my 4 months here at Seedspace Medellin thanks to the combination of the coworking, coliving, staff, and the people I met along the way. The coworking had plenty of space, great internet (I cannot stress how important a reliable and high quality internet is), and gave me the opportunity to network with fellow travelers as well as local companies here in Medellin. I look forward to continuing my travels and if Seedspace is in a city that I am in, I will definitely look for them as a coliving or coworking office. Medellin - Charles Kolstad



The Team Behind the Numbers We’ve grown from 83 people in January 2018, to more than 120 people in January 2019, with a 43% - 57% female/male ratio. Diversity is also one of our core strengths, with 39 nationalities represented in our company, 76% being based in one of our hubs in emerging markets, while the average age is 28 years old (yes, we are all Millennials in here). One of the questions we are often asked by people interacting with our teams, visiting our hubs or attending one of our events, is how did we manage to attract and build such a young and diverse team? From our experience, there are a few things we’ve learned, which hopefully speaks to other companies:










based in one of the hubs in emerging markets



01. Start with your mission. We are all here because we want to build something great. Since most of us come from emerging markets and we’ve experienced directly many of the problems we are trying to solve, it gives us a higher purpose that unites us all, and a clear indication of what it is that we’re trying to achieve.

02. Focus on flexibility and autonomy. It is not a secret that young people love freedom, and we’ve learned that we actually work better and are more productive when we can decide when to work, from where to work, and what projects to work on.

03. Provide different learning opportunities early on. When working in a fast-growing company, there is no shortage of challenges, so there are always interesting things to work on. Our growth recipe? Find driven and independent people, give them the option to take growth challenges and various responsibilities and let them shine.

04. Always go back to your (company) values. Whether we’re talking about recruiting, or building teams, or scaling our ventures, we always go back to our seven internal values. This is the glue that helps us all work together, no matter if you’re based in Medellin, Abidjan or Yangon.


The Seedstars Index

Seedstars Index

Startups and the ecosystems they are from have received a lot of hype in recent years with many being coined the SiliconThis or SiliconThat. Beyond the hype, an objective measure of the state of entrepreneurship is harder to come by, but vitaly important for any stakeholder considering their next strategic move. Be it as a founder deciding where to base the headquarters, as an ecosystem enabler determining their next initiative, or as a government deciding where to invest to support entrepreneurship, the first step should be to grasp the relative strengths and weaknesses of the ecosystem.

At Seedstars, the state of global startup ecosystems is a key concern, because it impacts our business on multiple fronts. Whether it’s our goal of Connecting, Supporting or Investing, our ability to operate effectively is directly tied to knowing the stage of development of each ecosystem. Without knowing the status of the community, we can’t operate the most effective networking and community building activities. Without knowing the stage of the founders, we can’t operate effective training and acceleration activities. And without knowing the overall ecosystem status and opportunities, we can’t invest in the startups. As such, our interest in measuring the status of each ecosystem and helping with its development is both a key concern to Seedstars from an economic advancement standpoint, and from a business operations standpoint. Now in its fifth edition, the Seedstars Index (SSI) continues to measure the quality, potential, and maturity of the startup ecosystems visited by the Seedstars teams in 2018. In total, the teams visited and assessed 78 ecosystems in 63 countries. The team members’ experience 28

on the ground is the basis for the assessment of the quantitative data we collect. Our extensive on-the-ground coverage continues to be the key factor setting apart the SSI from other indices, and the SSI is the only index we know of where the researchers visit and are able to compare first-hand the differences between ecosystems. Additionally, the SSI is the only index in the world focusing on rising startup ecosystems which have the most need for measurement and improvement. The pillars of the SSI remain unchanged and are the three factors we believe are fundamental in building a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem: Culture, Environment and Opportunity. These three pillars form the foundation of a startup ecosystem and permit Success cases which are both the desired output and the catalyst of an ecosystem. The underlying factors and weights of the 2019 edition are the outcome of our in-depth research and improvements in methodology and so we can conclude that this version of the SSI is more robust than ever.

The Seedstars Index





The key concepts to understand for any reader are the three core pillars and the desired output, which are explained in brief as follows: If the right culture doesn’t exist, no one will even consider entrepreneurship as an option and new ventures won’t take shape. An entrepreneurial mindset is critical, especially when it comes to one’s attitude towards risk. Without a conducive environment, new ventures will be suffocated by harsh business conditions. If the administration and legal systems are not facilitative, business and investment will suffer. Most of us take reliable internet and electricity for granted, but imagine the difficulty added to a new venture when this is not the case.

No venture can thrive without an opportunity to grow which requires talented team members, expert mentoring, funding and a market access. Successful businesses provide employment opportunities and economic growth and therefore should be the targeted output for any ecosystem. Success is also the catalyst of an ecosystem as triumphant entrepreneurs lead by example, become role models, invest, mentor and lobby for change. Successful entrepreneurs can impact all three elements in the SSI and accelerate change. Yes, success breeds success.



The Seedstars Index

Methodology - A deeper look at the construction Pillars (inputs)

Weight %


Weight %



Sub-Factor LinkedIn entrepreneurs GCI Attitude towards entrepreneurial risk


36% # of co-working spaces Community Dynamism

50.00% # of new unicorns in 2018

WEF GCI ICT adoption Infrastructure

48.28% Mobile broadband speed


WEF GCI Infrastructure


WEF GCI Institutions index Institutions

51.72% World Bank “Doing Business�

WEF GCI Skills Talent

33.33% WEF Innovation

WEF GCI Venture Capital Availability




26.67% WEF GCI Financing of SMEs # of Incubators


20.00% # of Accelerators




WEF Market Size

The Seedstars Index







Weight %


Factor Description


Custom Data from LinkedIn

The percentage of entrepreneurs listed in LinkedIn.



Appetite of population towards entrepreneurial risk.


Custom Data from

The relative volume of co-working spaces in an ecosystem.


CB Insights

Number of unicorns a country has produced.




Technological readiness as a major driver of productivity and prosperity: Internet bandwidth and subscriptions, active mobile subscriptions, % of internet users 28.57%

Custom Data from Speedtest





The quality and availability of transport, electricity, water and communications infrastructure. The speed of the mobile broadband connection. The efficiency and transparency of public administration, independence of the judiciary, property rights, physical security, business ethics Ease of starting a business, paying taxes, enforcing contracts,


World Bank

dealing with construction permits, registering property, resolving insolvency, etc.





Quality and quantity of graduate students and quality and availability of on-the-job training Company and University spending on R&D, availability of science and engineers, patent application, government procurement of advanced technologies, capacity for innovation



Ease of access to Venture Capital.



Ease of access to SME financing.


Custom Data from Crunchbase

Density of incubators in a specific ecosystem.


Custom Data from Crunchbase

Density of accelerators in a specific ecosystem.



Domestic and Foreign Market Size, Export as a percentage of GDP to indicate potential economies of scale opportunities


The Seedstars Index

Sources of data The data sources consist of a mix of established indices and alternative data sets. Established and renowned sources cover about half of the SSI weight and include the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index (WEF GCI) 2018/2019 and the World Bank Doing Business Report 2018). The other half of the data comes from alternative sources and measurements from renowned organizations such as Crunchbase, CB Insights and Linkedin from which we extract startup ecosystem specific data to better understand the intricacies. This means over one-third of the Sub-Factors are based on a proprietary research and scoring methodology. The quantitative data is complemented by qualitative interpretations collected by our teams on the ground. We believe the best way to interpret these data points that describe an ecosystem is to listen to the views of those who live and breathe in them. The SSI is a culmination of all the feedback that the Seedstars team gained through their travel and interactions with local stakeholders in the 78 cities around the world. Index weights and scoring The basis of the SSI scoring is that Silicon Valley is always given 100 points for each Sub-Factor. Scores can go above 100 if the situation is deemed more favorable than in Silicon Valley. For the scoring of the external data, the scores were benchmarked to 100 for Silicon Valley/USA.


The Seedstars Index


Cities covered in 2018 Africa





Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Bogotรก, Colombia

Abha, Saudi Arabia

Astana, Kazakhstan

Bangkok, Thailand

Accra, Ghana

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Amman, Jordan

Baku, Azerbaijan

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Banjul, Gambia

Concepcion, Chile

Beirut, Lebanon

Chisinau, Moldova

Delhi, India

Bissau, Guinee Bissau

Guatemala, Guatemala

Cairo, Egypt

Dnipro, Ukraine

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Cape Town, South Africa

La Paz, Bolivia

Casablanca, Morocco

Kyiv, Ukraine

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Dakar, Senegal

Lima, Peru

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Lviv, Ukraine

Hong Kong, HK/ China

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Medellin, Colombia

Doha, Qatar

Odessa, Ukraine

Jakarta, Indonesia

Douala, Cameroon

Mexico City, Mexico

Istanbul, Turkey

Prague, Czech Republic

Kathmandu, Nepal

Gaborone, Botswana

Panama City, Panama

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Riga, Latvia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Harare, Zimbabwe

Quito, Ecuador

Kuwait City, Kuwait

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Manila, Philippines

Johannesburg, South Africa

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Manama, Bahrain

Tbilisi, Georgia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Kampala, Uganda

San Jose, Costa Rica

Ramallah, Palestine

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Shanghai, China

Kigali, Rwanda

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Yerevan, Armenia

Singapore, Singapore

Kinshasa, DRC

Santiago, Chile

Sharjah, UAE

Lagos, Nigeria

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Tripoli, Libya

Luanda, Angola

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Tunis, Tunisia

Yangon, Myanmar

Maputo, Mozambique Nairobi, Kenya Tanga, Tanzania

Cities where a Seedstars World Tour event was organized in 2018.



The Seedstars Index

Global Results of the SSI 2018 organized in 2018 A Global Overview

Apart from Silicon Valley, Singapore has managed - for the third time in a row - to come out on top of the global ranking. As in the previous ranking, it is followed by Hong Kong. Among the top ten, one finds representatives of the Asian, Eastern European and Central Asian (ECA) and Middle Eastern and Northern African (MENA) region while the Latin American (LATAM) top contender Santiago de Chile holds the 17th rank and Africa’s Cape Town 22nd.

Taking a closer look at the sub-factors that make up the three pillars, one could argue that this is due to the fact that many of the factors considered are eventually tied back to GDP. This will be discussed in more detail below. While our focus is on emerging markets, Seedstars is 34

also represented in emerging ecosystems and regional hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.

Looking at the top contenders, one can see that all of them were able to provide entrepreneurs with tech talent, financial support as well as mentoring. These ecosystems make it easy to register a business, many of them provide tax cuts for entrepreneurs and have visa schemes to attract international talent and entrepreneurs. Also, they provide reliable infrastructure and spaces for entrepreneurs to safely learn - especially from failure. Lastly, these ecosystems also feature a highly qualified local talent pool or are able to attract international talent.

The Seedstars Index

Lastly, many of the top ecosystems have already produced startup unicorns, which in turn creates role models. A positive culture, brings investors to the market, attracts talent and motivates others to become entrepreneurs. While the Seedstars teams travelled to Ramallah, Palestine; Tripoli, Libya; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to organize events, they are not featured in the ranking. This is due to the fact that they are not featured in the WEF’s publications and there were no proxy data points available.


the lowest score across all regions. One could argue that the culture is therefore what in the end sets Silicon Valley apart and what triggers all other developments. Of course, one needs to take note that culture is especially hard to grasp and measure. A deeper look into this pillar is provided in the chapter Culture. A second point that can be noted is that Africa has the lowest scores across all pillars. This is most likely attributed to having low scores on many GDP dependent indicators such as infrastructure or skills. This will be discussed in more detail in the respective regional chapter.

From the table below, one can tell that the average culture score is, as in previous years,

Regional Average

Average Average Culture Average Opportunity Score Environment Score Score

Average SSI Score






































The Seedstars Index


Culture is such an imperative part of a startup ecosystem. It is the deciding factor whether anyone will consider becoming an entrepreneur, how risk is perceived and whether the knowledge resulting from success is readily shared. However, it is incredibly challenging to assess the culture of an ecosystem. As a proxy the number of self proclaimed entrepreneurs and the attitude towards entrepreneurial risk was used to assess the mindset. The number of unicorns and the number of co-working spaces with shared desks were used to assess whether there is valuable knowledge present on the ground and whether spaces are created to share this knowledge - hence the community dynamism score. One can see right away that some of the sub-factors are more easily changed (e.g. numbers of co-working spaces) and others are very challenging and long term (unicorns, attitude towards risk). As in previous years, this pillar is where the overall average across all the countries is the 36

lowest. The top 10 countries are dominated by Asian ecosystems: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta. With Kuala Lumpur being the exception, all of these countries have been able to produce unicorn startups, which catapults them to the top of the ranking. They also feature a high number of co-working spaces as well as a positive attitude towards entrepreneurial risk. The other regions featured in the top 10 are MENA with Sharjah and Doha and Africa with Lagos. Both the UAE and Qatar have not only invested heavily in their startup ecosystems, but thanks to a very positive attitude towards risk, and, in the case of the Emirates, startup unicorns, have been able to create a culture that fosters entrepreneurial activity. Similarly, Lagos has not only been able to create massive success and hence role models that motivate others to dare venturing into entrepreneurship, but visits of tycoons such as Mark Zuckerberg to the ecosystem have created an unmatched

buzz. However, one has to take note at this point that Lagos overall only ranks 45th due to overall low skilled labor pool, low quality of infrastructure as well as low adoption of information and communication technology, when compared to the global ranking. Yangon represents an outlier in this view as the WEF did not include data for entrepreneurial risk for Myanmar in their report. Moreover, another indicator which drags their rating down is that they haven’t had any unicorn.

The Seedstars Index


While it might be impossible to create a unicorn to act as a role model, the ecosystem builders in the lower ranks of the culture pillar can still come together and create a safe haven for entrepreneurs. This can provide them with places, where they cannot only exchange learnings, but also make mistakes without risking a loss of respect.


The environment score is separated in infrastructure and institutions, it uses data from the WEF and World Bank that evaluate institutional efficiency, ease of doing business, infrastructure and technological readiness as well as information about the mobile broadband speed - a factor that highly influences the efficiency of an internet entrepreneur. It is thus apparent that this pillar consists of two factors

that are highly dependent on investment and hence on GDP. This in turn favors financially rich ecosystems. This pillar is the hardest one for the ecosystem stakeholders to influence as all the initiatives require buy in from top government officials, a long-term time horizon and significant budget considerations. Surprisingly enough, this is the only pillar in



The Seedstars Index

which the Bay Area does not take the lead. Actually it only comes in 5th. One can however find five representatives of the MENA region among the top 10. Sharjah ranks first on this pillar, while coming in 6th in the overall ranking. The UAE have made many investments to make an entrepreneur’s life as worry free as possible from an institution and infrastructure point of view. Among the initiatives are remarkably low taxes, only 5% VAT, access for international investors, and making it extremely easy to set up a business - the financial free zone Abu Dhabi Global Market even offers startups the possibility of receiving a full licence, the option for four residency visas and a registered address for $700. On the other end of the spectrum, one mainly finds African startup ecosystems. Among them



Lagos which ranks 45th overall. The Nigerian government has been trying to make it easier to register a business online. However, it still remains hard and expensive to receive visas and international investors are not particularly encouraged by tax holidays or similar special offers to invest in the country. The last spot is taken by Kinshasa, where it is hard to set up a business in a country riddled by corruption. Ecosystems at the bottom of the environment pillar are also underperforming on the SSI to GDP per Capita Score. One can only wish for the entrepreneurs that the ecosystem players band together, make entrepreneurship an agenda item and become outperformers and instruments of economic development in the years to come.

The third pillar of “Opportunity” requires seven sub-factors clustered in the factors talent, funding, support and the market size. It is the most important pillar in the index accounting for 39% of the overall weight. Some of these sub-factors can be impacted in the short term with stakeholder intervention (e.g. access to funding), while others require government intervention (e.g. higher education) and others are inherent to the country (e.g. market size). This pillar is dominated by Asian ecosystems with, as in previous editions of the SSI, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong coming up among the top 5 together with Silicon Valley and Lausanne as the benchmark. Singapore offers a large pool of highly talented individuals. It is home to leading universities such as NTU, NSU and SMU and is able to attract foreign talent. There is a lot of government support for innovation and entrepreneurship, such as tax deductions for investors, and grants for proof of concept, as well as incubators and business angel support schemes. Many of the region’s Venture Capitalists (VCs) are thus headquartered in Singapore to benefit from the tax incentives, making access to capital easy for all stages of startup funding. Another highlight of Singapore’s ecosystem is its Smart Nation plan, which aims to transform Singapore into a nation where people are empowered by technology to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives. As part of the government’s strategy, Singapore is focusing in two verticals: mobility and healthcare.

The Seedstars Index


Among the bottom 10 we find ecosystems such as Yangon, Ulaanbaatar and Luanda coming in last. While the Angolan economy has grown rapidly after the independence war, its innovation capability remains the lowest among all ecosystems the Seedstars teams visited in 2018. Entrepreneurs on the ground will also have a hard time finding good talent as well as financial or any other support. While being an entrepreneur is still not seen as a career choice and one rather looks for employment in government or corporations, organizations that support founders such as KiandaHub or Bantu Makers are trying to improve this score. Lastly, one has to acknowledge that the country has a substantial market size and is thus attractive when the actors decide to establish the right context for entrepreneurship to flourish. One has to take into account that for some of the bottom countries (e.g. Myanmar, Ivory Coast, Angola) parts of the WEF data was missing such as access to funding. The opportunity score encompasses a large number of factors that allow for an entrepreneurial ecosystem to emerge. While some factors (e.g. education) can be seen as general investment in a society’s well-being and productivity level, others (e.g. number of accelerators and availability of VC funding) are clear commitments by public and private players to establish the right context for these institutions to develop and settle in their respective ecosystems.



The Seedstars Index


Our research shows that the development of a startup ecosystem is highly correlated with the GDP per capita of a country as demonstrated by a correlation coefficient of 0.7. By regressing SSI against GDP, we can identify whether the cities are under- or over-performing relative to their GDP. Countries falling above the line indicate an ecosystem that is outperforming expectations while those below the line show an underperformance. 40

The Seedstars Index


The top 10 outperformers in order are:

The top 10 underperformers starting with the worst are:

Shanghai, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Nairobi, Baku, Bangkok, Manila, Cape town

Doha, Luanda, Kuwait City, Abidjan, Yangon, La Paz, Kinshasa, Banjul, Riyadh, Maputo




Africa The Rise of the Series B startups in Africa

With 54 countries spread over an area larger than the U.S., China, India, parts of Europe and Japan combined, Africa currently represents the youngest continent as 60% of the continent’s population is under the age of 25, and 10-12 million young Africans join the workforce every year. It is also said that by 2050 the continent will constitute 40% to 50% of the global population. While this represents massive challenges when it comes to basic infrastructure and services (how to feed a massive continent, healthcare, urbanization issues etc.), it also brings along great opportunities for those who dare to solve these challenges. A big question that remains, however, is how to create more regional champions that can come up with sustainable high growth solutions for some of Africa’s biggest challenges. Compared to an other emerging continent such as Asia, Africa is not home to many “unicorns1” nor “cockroaches2.” Continent with an Untapped Potential for Creativity and Entrepreneurship

Claudia Makadristo Regional Manager for Africa

2018 gave us a glimpse that it is indeed possible to produce ventures that can absorb bigger chunks of investment. Africa is now home to a number of high growth Series B startups. Examples of these successes are Yoco, a pointof-sale payments provider for small businesses in Africa and Twiga Foods which links farmers and vendors to fair, trusted modern markets, providing a complete supply chain in Kenya for quality produce in urban areas. Other examples are Paga, whose mission is to make it simple for people to access and use money. In addition to 1 A unicorn startup is one that has been valued at more than 1 billion dollars by investors 2 Cockroaches refers to a startup consisting of hard-working founders who keep survival at the core of their business strategy.

the rising Series B startups, overall $686 million was invested last year in Africa in high growth tech ventures. And while this is still not enough compared to the number of ventures that are out there, investing and training entrepreneurs represents a massive endorsement of the potential of young entrepreneurs and the creative class on the continent, especially in a place where traditionally investments were only made into projects such as Dams, Oil Fields, Processing Plants and Mines. How Could We Grow a Solid Entrepreneurial Community in Africa? And so if Series B is now the benchmark, many wonder how we can go about replicating some of these “successes� and more importantly how



we can increase the quantity and the quality of entrepreneurs. Many put this responsibility on the ESOs (entrepreneurship support organizations). Africa alone counted 400 tech hubs in 2018 of which 130 have opened in the past 2 years. Others believe that Africa’s high growth net worth individuals should become catalyzers while some think that successful entrepreneurs evolve naturally. At Seedstars, we believe that entrepreneurship education is an important tool to increase the number of entrepreneurs and improve the quality of entrepreneurs. And with the opening of our 4th space on the continent in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, we are now strategically positioned to cater to each corner of the African continent.



Seedstars on the ground Our learnings and experience on the continent led our direction to go towards personalized learning. Over the past years, we have seen a growing trend towards “personalized” and “customized” learning, whereby students are not confined to a set curriculum. Instead, educational programs are designed to fit everyone’s individual needs, while teaching the essentials of the formation at hand. At Seedstars, we believe that the same trend is happening (and needed) when it comes to entrepreneurship education. Even more so, because every business is different in terms of a solution, size, expertise needed and more. At the same time, a big need for entrepreneurs is to secure investment. However, investors often do not see enough quantity, and more importantly, the quality of investible entrepreneurs. Therefore, in 2018, Seedstars Africa became the first region to pilot the Investment Readiness Program, an artificialintelligence-powered investment program. This program provides entrepreneurs access to a data driven series of training, mentoring sessions from experts and investors as well as curated insights from all over the world. After all, Seedstars’ true power sits in its global network and connecting them to the local context. Moreover, Seedstars Africa is happy to announce that it is renewing its Seedstars Academy in Ivory Coast. And lastly, in 2019 we aim to enter into even more countries to be able to work with even more entrepreneurs. And so, we are one step closer to reaching our ambitions.



Seedstars Index Score Africa

In Africa, in total 17 cities were visited of which 11 cities were part of the Seedstars tour for the first time. The leaders from 2017, Cape Town and Nairobi, stayed on top again in 2018 as the clear ecosystem leaders with only one point difference. Place three is held by the Ghanaian capital Accra, which this year overtook Kigali and Lagos. Although Lagos is ranked slightly lower this year, Seedstars is a firm believer that this ecosystem is one of the rising stars on the African continent. Not only does the fast growing population represent a huge market opening and economic growth opportunity, but also Lagos is attracting attention from various international investors, entrepreneurs and corporations who want to invest in the continent. In the long term it is expected that Lagos will consistently rank among the top three ecosystems in Africa. Comparable to LATAM, the “Ease of Doing Business” in Africa is fairly reasonable with an average score of 65/100. The top countries like Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda even score up to 95/100. From a global SSI perspective, only Cape Town manages to stay within the top ten ecosystems (2018 rank 10, 2017 rank 4), while Nairobi loses this privileged position (2018 rank 15, 2017 rank 6). However, this is not necessarily an indicator of a weakening

African ecosystem but must always be seen relative to the other cities in the index. Based on qualitative feedback and studies from the Africa based Seedstars Analysts, it can be deduced that contrary to the “Entrepreneurial Mindset” score obtained in the index, entrepreneurship is a valued career choice in many parts of Africa. Especially in more advanced countries like Nigeria, the success stories of local entrepreneurs encourage many others to follow the same path. In contrast, in less developed countries a stable income is still valued much higher. There have also been reported positive developments with regard to corporate involvement in the startup community. In many African countries corporations have increasingly funded, collaborated and supported local startups in their endeavours. On the contrary, support from institutions has been reported as a major issue and is very dependent on the specific country. To unfold its full potential, Africa, as a united continent, will have to tackle various pain points, including capital controls, tax incentives and legal transparency. Finally, the current venture capital availability score of 29/100 clearly shows the severity for the widespread financing-gap phenomenon.



Alumni through the years Problem: solving market linkage and financial inclusion problems in the agricultural value chain.

Agrocenta SSW18, Ghana

Solution: Agrocenta consists of 2 solutions. First is Agrotrade, an online trading platform responsible for facilitating trade between smallholder farmers and consumers or buyers. Over 12,000 farmers are currently signed up on AgroTrade with over $220,000 worth of commodities traded. The second, Agropay, a financial inclusion platform targeted at smallholder farmers. It doesn’t just give access to farmers, it gives access to trustworthy low risk farmers. Result: To date, Agrocenta have operations in more than 15 farming communities in 4 different regions in Ghana. More than 10,000 small holder farmers have used the service to make a better living from their crop. Last year, Agrocenta closed a $650 000 round to expand operations across Ghana to impact more farmers

“From winning the Seedstars Accra Competition, being selected as part of the Seedstars Growth Program to finally winning the coveted Global Competition, Seedstars has played an instrumental role in the growth of AgroCenta from investment to business developments. Seedstars on several occasions has introduced AgroCenta to partners and stakeholders, some of which we have a working relationship with. By holding our hands and sticking a foot in the door, Seedstars has opened up limitless opportunities for AgroCenta.” Francis A. Obirikorang, CEO & Co-founder

Problem: Roughly 116,000 deaths per year in sub-Saharan Africa are linked to counterfeit or substandard antimalarial drugs alone.

Medsaf SSW18, Nigeria

Solution: Medsaf, the future of pharmaceutical procurement, is the medication marketplace for Africa’s hospitals and pharmacies. Result: Medsaf is at full capacity helping medical facilities in the Lagos area to provide safe and cost effective medication to their clients. With new funding and new partnerships, Medsaf is expanding operations during 2019.

Giraffe SSW16, South Africa



Problem: Unemployment is arguably the biggest issue facing South African society today, with over 25% of the population lacking dependable income. Giraffe’s founders noticed that a common issue facing South African employers is staff attrition. Employers have positions to fill and job seekers need employment, so they often “take what they can get.” But this culture of job seekers settling for any job and employers settling for any candidate is problematic, as job seekers soon leave for better opportunities or jobs closer to home. Solution: Giraffe’s AI is built with this problem in mind. The solution can reduce attrition by empowering employers to fill their positions with better-suited candidates the first time around. Giraffe’s mission is to give job seekers improved access to job opportunities, and to empower employers with access to quality candidates - and they’re using cutting edge tech to do just that. Impact: To date, Giraffe has invited over 250,000 candidates for interviews. They’ve got the largest database of medium-skilled workers in South Africa and it’s growing every day.

Problem: The majority of the informal sector currently doesn’t have health insurance.

Jamii SSW17, Tanzania

Kasha Rwanda SSW18, Rwanda

Solution: Jamii Africa is mobile micro-health insurance for the informal sector. Impact: Jamii currently runs projects on all 5 continents.

Problem: In Rwanda, many women face problems and lack appropriate access to necessary health and hygiene products, like pregnancy tests and birth control. Kasha aims at making it easy for women to get the health and personal care products they need, especially in low-income rural areas. Solution: Kasha Rwanda, a modern e-commerce platform for female healthcare and personal care products. Using Kasha, a woman can confidentially order products using any type of mobile phone and receive direct delivery. Impact: Kasha secured Pre-Series A led By VestedWorld in February 2019.



Key Partnerships

In 2018, Seedstars launched the Malaria Challenge and Vaccine Service Delivery challenge. These efforts are supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation aims at identifying solutions for challenges in vaccine delivery and the malaria supply chain across low-resource settings in Africa. They will award the best venture for each challenge with $10,000. In Africa, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation believes that solutions to Africa’s greatest challenges can come from within Africa. Their role is to support African partners whose bold ideas and creative approaches have the potential to save lives, improve health, and help farming families all across the continent. They devote half of the foundation’s resources to projects in Africa and to helping African countries learn from one another.

Seedstars has partnered with Microsoft 4 Afrika for 3 years in a row to support tech entrepreneurs across the African continent. In 2013, Microsoft launched its 4Afrika Initiative. They started investing in startups, partners, small-to-medium size enterprises, governments and youth on the African continent. Their focus has been on delivering affordable access to the internet, developing skilled workforces and investing in local technology solutions. Africa has the potential to lead the technology revolution – and so Microsoft 4 Afrika is empowering those with the right ideas to drive economic development, inclusive growth and digital transformation.



Merck is awarding the best Life Science startup with access to their acceleration program. Through this program, the startup may receive funding of up to €50,000 to support the venture’s product development. Merck is supporting startups with the potential to reshape entire industries and make people’s lives richer. The focus is on startups in the fields of healthcare, life science, performance materials and other related fields. Startups move into the new Merck Innovation Center in Merck’s headquarters in Darmstadt, receive financial support of up to €50,000, regular mentoring, and coaching, and win Merck as their business partner! The program focuses on connection and collaboration of the startups, the business sectors and innovation projects at Merck.

Seedstars partnered with Luminate to support Civic Tech solutions in Zimbabwe. Civic tech means “any use of technology to empower citizens or to make government more accessible and effective. Established in 2018, Luminate is a global philanthropic organization with the goal of empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies.



Role of Media in Shaping the Entrepreneurial Landscape in Africa Interview with Ventureburn

Matthew Buckland, Founder of Burn Media Group, shares his insights on the African entrepreneurial ecosystem and the media role in building a solid community of change makers.

How has the African entrepreneurial landscape has changed over the past years? The startup ecosystem has certainly matured over the past five years. There is now a vast network of co-working facilities, incubators, accelerators, entrepreneur networking events - not to mention more angel, VC and private equity investors who are keen to get involved in the startup scene.

What fascinates you about Africa and South Africa in particular? Africa is still an untapped and growing market, so there is more opportunity here than established markets like Silicon Valley that already have their defined networks, infrastructure and ways of doing things.

What role should media play in the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem? The startup ecosystem is fragmented. There are many small players dotted all over the continent. The role of media is to unite the ecosystem and tell a cohesive and realistic story about what is going on. It’s also important for media to trumpet entrepreneur heroes and startup success stories to provide inspiration for entrepreneurs who are just starting out. Media is not PR though, it also has a duty to tell the truth, warts and all. It needs to perform the role of a watchdog, ensuring that players in the industry behave ethically and do deals that are above board.

Matthew Buckland Founder of Burn Media Group



How do you envision your contribution to the growth of the African region? By writing about successful entrepreneurs, startups and the ecosystem as a whole, we hope to promote entrepreneurship as a path for many people. We also provide practical information about the ecosystems in South Africa, West Africa and East Africa. We write about the best co-working spaces and incubators, where to go if you need funding, how to approach investors, who the top funders are that are delivering – and also practical information on how to create and build a business.

What challenges do you face as media and what could be a solution for those challenges? Media is in massive flux at the moment and the advertising model of media is under pressure due to the Google and Facebook duopoly that have taken advertising dollars away from media because, frankly, they have a better advertising product. The solution to this is diversifying revenue streams, beyond advertising, leveraging our brand credibility and the trust we have with users to create other platforms and products.

What do you consider your biggest achievement? We regularly get emails from people thanking us - everything from giving them the confidence to make the leap into entrepreneurship, to providing practical information on how to build a business and where to organize investment. We are read by investors and entrepreneurs alike, and investors regularly look at our site for stand-out entrepreneurs and startups to invest in.



Asia Dynamic, Diverse, and not Slowing Down

Another year, another successfully completed round of the Seedstars World competition in Asia! But it wasn’t an ordinary year for the Asian tech ecosystem, and it wasn’t an ordinary year for Seedstars in Asia. Let’s take a closer look. First of all, the word is definitively out on Southeast Asia; the potential is massive and it’s past time to get in on the game. There are 650 million people in a region whose economies are growing at an average rate of 7% per year. 50% of this population is below the age of 30 and has grown up tech-savvy with a propensity for heavy internet usage and almost universal access. Increasing emphasis on educational and technical prowess has led to regional hubs like Singapore moving to the #3 spot on Bloomberg’s competitiveness index, in stark contrast to the United States who dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in history. Southeast Asia thus increasingly knows both how to consume and develop tech solutions. Rosie Keller Regional Manager for Asia

Accordingly, interest, capital, and support programs have been flooding the region to the tune of billions of dollars, largely driven by the titans of the Chinese tech scene, Alibaba and Tencent. Total investments in the region hit $15 billion in 2017, a 111% increase from the 2012-2016 period, with 45% more active investors and 86% higher exit deal values over the same time span. Asia is also famously home to the most unicorns outside of the United States, driven largely by China and India, but with Southeast Asia increasingly represented with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines also making the list.

Indeed, a recent Bain Insights report concluded the pieces were falling in place for Southeast Asia to have 10 new unicorns by 2024. A trend that is sure to continue accelerating is the increasing ease and precedent to scale across Southeast Asia’s culturally and commercially diverse countries, which requires high degrees of localization due to a lack of shared language, economic and political frameworks, and cultural contexts. This will be driven by the continued integration of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations trading bloc and success stories like Grab, BookDoc, Fullerton Health, and high profile expansion efforts such as GoJek is undertaking. This isn’t limited to unicorns though; the seedstage ventures and investors that we work with see regional expansion as an increasingly important component of viability. So while the increased level of interest and support resources available to the Southeast Asian ecosystems is highly encouraging, most



of the capital invested in the region goes to its unicorns, leaving the funding gap for smaller companies as still a key challenge in these markets. While progress has been made, we still largely trace this back to lacking founder capacity and background skills. So for Seedstars, with our field of vision encompassing 16 countries across Asia, including many where these persistent challenges of lack of funding and founder skillsets are often even more exacerbated than in Southeast Asia, it is important to double down on our efforts to tackle these pain points. And It was a hallmark year for Seedstars in Asia! We successfully completed the 6th round of Seedstars World and hosted the third, and largest, Seedstars Asia Summit in Bangkok, with more than 350 invite-only key stakeholders from more than 30 countries. We also, crucially, greatly increased our footprint and support for the earliest



ecosystems in Asia. It will always be one of our greatest joys to connect under-appreciated talent with world-class mentors and resources. By the Seedstars Summit 2019, our first Seedspace will be operational in Yangon, Myanmar. It’s the result of a visionary, collaborative effort to foster innovation in this fascinating, yet nascent ecosystem between us, the Regional Government, Thura Swiss, and CB Bank. A key focus of the space is on educating aspiring entrepreneurs through our Academy Program. We are also replicating our efforts to tackle financial inclusion through the models we run in Nigeria and in Myanmar. We currently have two fintech ventures in consumer and SME-lending, each having raised local seedfunding, that employ 11 people, growing our Asia-based team from 2 people as recently as 2017 to over 15 in 2019! After making our first investment in Cambodia through our Growth Program, we are also launching the first acceleration program in Cambodia. This year also saw us increase our

investments in Asia, with Bangladesh leading the way ahead of the Philippines. The numbers are resounding: the trajectory of the Asian tech ecosystems and investment landscape will only get more exhilarating. We are excited to continue the race and keep the pace as we grow our role in enabling these diverse and inspiring ecosystems and entrepreneurs to thrive.



Seedstars Index Score Asia

In Asia, 14 cities across 14 countries were covered this year. In the Seedstars Index, Asia is the leading region. Five of the ten most promising startups ecosystems globally are located in Asia, with Singapore taking second place right after Silicon Valley. This does not come as a surprise as the city-state is a regional startup hub. Spots number three and four are taken by Hong Kong and Shanghai respectively. Thanks to its financially, geographically and politically interesting situation, Hong Kong is able to offer an access to both western and eastern startup ecosystems. Shanghai is a representative of China’s startup machine, in which both private players, as well as the government have made substantial investments over the last years, such as through technology and innovation

parks, no minimum investment required to register a company, and grant schemes for startups. One should also be aware that China has been able to produce more startup unicorns than the US (131 vs. 85). Asia is also home to one of the least developed startup ecosystems, namely Yangon, Myanmar. Yangon features a few players that support the ecosystem: among them Phandeeyar accelerator, Impact Hub, and a Seedspace by Seedstars. It is, however, challenged by a low awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option, a small pool of highly skilled labor and high bureaucracy. When it comes to access to capital, entrepreneurs are either faced with low availability of VC capital or extremely high interest rates for bank loans of up to 16% per



annum (pa) and even up to 35% from finance companies. One also has to be aware that the WEF did not include data points for Yangon for every indicator, which also partly explains its low ranking. The information for funding and attitude towards risk are missing. From qualitative interviews with entrepreneurs, investors, corporations and ecosystem builders on the ground one can deduce that while entrepreneurship is seen as a career choice in cities such as Singapore or Manila, it is frowned upon when one looks to Dhaka or Phnom Penh. However, even in the latter two cities the private sector - in these cases Grameenphone and Smart Axiata respectively - as well as a few individual private players, i.e. Raintree and SD Asia, are trying to change this by establishing accelerators as well as financial support and mentoring.

Other ecosystems - such as Jakarta or Bangkok - are thriving with the presence of a strong international and local investor scene represented by players such as Digital Ventures and 500. Indonesia has been able to produce four unicorns so far. Among them is Go-Jek that is taking on its regional competitor Grab, a unicorn that is associated with Singapore, but actually started out in Kuala Lumpur. Delhi also boasts among the top 10 global ecosystems. During the last years the Indian startup ecosystem has received increased attention also thanks to India producing 20 unicorns such as Byju and Paytm. Thanks to its high quality technical as well as business universities - namely IIT and IIM - the country not only has interesting talent to offer, but also big VCs have a presence there such as Sequoia and of course a huge internal market with a population of 1.3 billion.



Alumni through the years

Sayurbox is a tech-supported fresh produce distribution platform sourcing directly from producers and distributing to end users.

Sayurbox SSW17, Indonesia Agriculture, Farming, Logistics

Problem: Farmers go through many layers before reaching the customers, which push down their prices. Solution: Sayurbox buys directly from farmers and sell to customers in an easy and convenient way. Impact: The company provides pesticide-free produce, fresh within 24 hours of harvest, and an easy and convenient ordering system.

Layup is a cloud based learning platform with social features and game dynamics to improve employee engagement. Problem: Training online through an LMS (Learning Management System) just doesn’t work. Content creation is a nightmare, user engagement is non-existent. Everybody hates it.

Creative eLearning (Pvt) Ltd - Layup SSW16, Sri Lanka Education

Solution: To make education useful it has to be fun, easy and engaging. LayUp achieves this through a unique platform and approach. Impact: LayUp provides a unique platform and approach to make learning fun and engaging at an enterprise level. Since 2016, LayUp has grown to over 15,000+ paying users across the globe with over $1 million in signed contracts.



Most advanced indoor air quality sensor. Save energy. Live healthier. Problem: People are not aware of how the environment is affecting their health and energy use.

Uhoo SSW16, Hong Kong Real Estate

Solution: Measure the quality of indoor air to empower people to manage their environment. Impact /Result: Product with the most number of sensors in the market, and proprietary algorithms that optimize sensor accuracy, with a clear product market fit.

“Good branding and media coverage when we won seedstars in Hong Kong” Dustin Onghanseng’ CEO & Co-Founder of Uhoo

ServeHappy Jobs helps service businesses find their crew by leveraging social media and messaging technologies where 51 million Filipinos are. Problem: 90% of Filipino service workers still find jobs through walk-ins or referrals, which is the reason why recruiters also cannot seem to find them.

ServeHappy Jobs SSW17, Philippines

Solution: The solution leverages social media recruitment and smart bots in Messenger where 51 million Filipinos are inside Facebook.

HR, Recruitment and Jobs

Impact: The startup targets fresh and active applicants based on demographics and psychographics; have created an ad network that has ready algorithms for targeting; they are easily viral and can even find similar audiences in the referral network using our ready data. Their data bank has the capacity to grow fast.

“Seedstars’ Growth Program taught me a great methodology for growth. The program also opened me to new networks and opportunities outside of the Philippines. Having a well equipped network as a partner is vital in any startup’s growth stage. The value is priceless. Having seedstars as your partner means immense support, continuous mentorship, and of course amazing friendships watching out for you. The global linkage of seedstars will surely pave the way for any startup.” Audrey Uy, CEO & Founder of ServeHappy Jobs



Revolutionising logistics in Myanmar through technology. Problem:The Kargo business model was built out of a desperate market need for a better logistics service allowing business and consumer growth in Myanmar.

Kargo SSW17, Yangon Enterprise Services

Solution: Connect business with our fleet of independent truck drivers and trucking companies. Impact: Kargo have over 1300 drivers and counters in their network, with 3000 deliveries completed.

IoT-enabled cloud based preventive healthcare platform that monitors health parameters, predicts health risks, and reduces health costs.

CMED Health Limited SSW17, Bangladesh Health / Wellness

Problem: 59% of deaths in Bangladesh are due to noncommunicable diseases and there is no awareness. No health records are available for people in Bangladesh. Solution: CMED Health enabled cloud based preventive healthcare platform that monitors health parameters, predicts health risks and reduces health cost. Impact: IoT-based FDA certified smart medical devices connected to the cloud with an AI-driven health application that allows platform independent health monitoring, health record generation, health risk prediction, with an organizational dashboard, and doctor consultation (if needed) from your smartphone/laptop.

‘Winning a major recognition in the world stage has brought a massive amount of interest, awareness and praise from everyone. This also helped us understand the global market, players, and how we can forge our way forward. Seedstars mentoring sessions helped us a lot to stabilize our business and develop different policies for the company. The control tower especially helped us a lot in governing our new services and products. Seedstars is one of our investors, which added more recognition amongst the investor community.’ Moinul Chowdhury, Head of Growth, CMED Health Limited



Role of Media in Shaping the Entrepreneurial Landscape in Asia Interview with Jumpstart

We had a chance to talk with Anita Chan, Director of Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Jumpstart Media, and find out how the entrepreneurial ecosystem is developing is the region and how media contribute to the Asian economic growth. How has the Asian entrepreneurial ecosystem evolved over the last couple of years? First, entrepreneurs are more experienced and they’re sharing their expertise through mentorships and incubation programs: – Tech talent is growing, especially as Millennials and Gen Z are more keen to enter the tech sector than older generations – More awareness around the importance of knowledge-sharing and networking, as evidenced in the many conferences now held in Asia Second, governments are in a race to escalate the pace of innovation, introducing governmentbacked funds, accelerators, and preferential policies for startups (e.g. subsidies, tax cuts, special economic zones, etc.) Third, VC funding has increased dramatically and investors are not only seeing the potential of mature economies like Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore, but emerging economies as well. Emerging economies are developing faster thanks to increased digitization; connectivity is filling infrastructural and institutional gaps in these countries (i.e. banking, transportation, education, etc.) Anita Chan Director of Operations and Strategic Partnerships

And fourth, there’s been tremendous growth not only in consumer tech, but frontier technologies too, as Asia becomes more competitive relative to Silicon Valley What do you find unique about the region and media environment in particular in Asia?



– Print coverage is important to the Japanese community as they seek to cover the startup ecosystem, and have recently started licensing Jumpstart’s content and will translate to offer Jumpstart Magazine in Japanese – The media environment is diversifying beyond a China focus, as there are more up-and-coming startups from all around Asia – Media in Asia are often more friendly with startups. In many Asian locations the focus is on local coverage only and Jumpstart is the only publication that covers topics across the regional ecosystem. What should be the role of media in shaping the entrepreneurial landscape in Asia? inclusion and – Encourage entrepreneurs from all backgrounds


– Elevate and celebrate Asian tech globally, while still having a critical eye – Encourage collaboration among the startup ecosystems within the continent and beyond – Give startups fair coverage. Currently, there are limited media to cover startups. The goal is for smaller startups to also gain coverage. At Jumpstart, we provide a platform for early-stage startups, such as exposure, publication of their press releases, and events How could media and startups better collaborate in Asia? Maybe, you have some hands-on examples from your experience. On the media side, we continue to look for opportunities to share more about what is going on in the startup ecosystem. Startups often reach out to us to share their insights, events, and knowledge, which is sometimes translated into articles. How do you contribute to the region’s development? What do you consider your greatest achievement so far? We leverage our regional reach to give startups from 11 cities in the APAC region knowledge about opportunities in the region. We will be bringing 7 startups from around APAC to Hong Kong through



our incubation program, The STILE Initiative, is in partnership with a corporation. Through the program, the startups will have accommodation, stipend, investment, and opportunity for pilot projects with our corporate partners. Our greatest achievement has been our ability to pivot beyond media and leverage our strengths to parlay into partnerships with corporations. How do you plan to scale and grow your media in the nearest future? From Jumpstart’s perspective, we are much more than media. We are an ecosystem builder focused on tech and entrepreneurship. We have our media arm that includes our print magazine that is currently distributed in 38 cities in 10 countries and by the end of 2019, we will be distributed in 30 countries. With Jumpstart, we partner with different conferences and shows to offer media support, panel moderation, and speaker invitations. In addition to the media side, we have several other initiatives in the program. With Jumpstart Kids, we run a one-week summer program for kids ages 8-12. We introduce the kids to entrepreneurship through fun, where we bring in startup founders to showcase what they do and have interactive activities for the kids. In the past 2 years, we have donated $4000 to SPCA and Hong Kong Dog rescue from the proceeds from the program. We also consult on accelerator and incubator program and some of the companies we have worked with include 2 of the top 10 property developers in Hong Kong. With our most recent incubation program, we are inviting 7 startups from around Asia for the program where they will be provided with accommodation, living stipend, investment, and opportunity for pilot projects with our corporate partner and their partners. We are continuing to expand on the offerings that Jumpstart provides so that we can connect different parts of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and look forward to the potential opportunities as we expand our distribution in 2019 to include Europe, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.



Key Partnerships

CB Bank seeks to ignite fintech innovation for Myanmar. Our partnership with CB Bank represents their commitment to work closely with entrepreneurial talents across Myanmar to accelerate their development and promote financial inclusion. This will be achieved by powering the Yangon Innovation Center for the next three years, our first Seedspace in Asia.

True Digital Park aims to build Southeast Asia’s largest digital innovation hub as a global startup destination. We are thrilled to have been able to jointly pull off the largest Seedstars Asia Summit yet. Their dedication and long-term vision of supporting the Thai and regional ecosystems by connecting key innovation players in one location is what we find incredibly inspiring!

We are extremely grateful for the support we enjoyed from Luminate for the past two years, as they supported projects with a direct and profound impact on startups from Myanmar. Thanks to Luminate’s support we were able to bring a delegation of 5 seed-stage startups to the Seedstars Asia Summit, to benefit from regional immersion, global mentorship and investor connections.

Thura Swiss is a dynamic and innovative company providing market research, strategy consultancy and financial advisory in Myanmar. We are a local company founded in 2012 and have been guiding investments in Myanmar in impactful sectors of the economy such as Finance, Agriculture, Construction, Oil & Gas, Hospitality, Real Estate, Telecommunication, Pharmaceuticals. Thura Swiss is a leading advisory company assisting corporations and SMEs to develop further in Myanmar. Thura Swiss has developed an excellent track record with private sector companies, large corporations and international organizations.



We are extremely grateful for the support we enjoyed from Luminate for the past two years, as they supported projects with a direct and profound impact on startups from Myanmar. Thanks to Luminate’s support we were able to bring a delegation of 5 seed-stage startups to the Seedstars Asia Summit, to benefit from regional immersion, global mentorship and investor connections.

We were very excited to partner with Telenor in 2018, and to organize the Myanmar edition of the Telenor Youth Forum, an intense 2-day ideation and rapid prototyping training, which ends with the selection of two students to take part in a 6 month social project to develop innovative solutions to inequality through education. We love to collaborate with players who genuinely care about developing talents in early stage ecosystems and introducing them to the entrepreneurial mindset.

2018 was the first year Seedstars went to Cambodia! We partnered with Smart Axiata, the most active telco in the innovation space in Cambodia, and organized a 2-day boot camp with top notch mentors for a selection of startups as part of the first ever Cambodia Tech Summit. We are also very happy to increase our footprint in the country by launching an Acceleration program for 12 Cambodian startups in 2019.

CEE & Central Asia



CEE & Central Asia

CEE & Central Asia A region of more than 300 million people and home for many of the world’s inventions, like the automatic gearbox, CEE and Central Asia have a great diversity of entrepreneurial ecosystems, where you can find both “highlyadvanced” (Estonia) and “nascent” (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, etc.) ecosystems together. With such a variety, these ecosystems have certain uniquenesses in comparison with the rest of the world, and at the same time, have their own challenges to solve. Strong Technical and Engineering Talents

Agahuseyn Ahmadov Regional Manager for CEE & Central Asia

The region has nurtured one of the best engineering and technical talents in the world. For example, only Ukraine has more than 130,000 developers graduating each year. These talents are behind many of the advanced technological solutions built in the world. At the same time, these high quality technical and engineering talents can be hired at costs which are considerably lower in comparison with Western countries and the US. More Governmental Involvement Many governments in CEE show a steady support for boosting the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems by building physical infrastructure, directly funding programs and startups and changing legislation. A great example of this is the creation of Astana International Financial Center (AIFC) - a special economic zone with its own

CEE & Central Asia


legislation (British law), infrastructure and tax regime (exemption from payment of corporate, individual income, land tax and property tax for a period of 50 years). Another example is Azerbaijan, where many governmental bodies either open their own “innovation centers” or support other stakeholders in building such spaces. Investment Environment Being the region’s biggest innovation market, Russia is also a leader in the region by volume of investments per year (investment per capita). Despite this fact, the region’s investment climate is still very weak in comparison with US, EU and Asian markets. On one hand, governments are providing more and more financial support to entrepreneurs (for example, EU Funds). With such financing available, it becomes relatively easy to attract initial investments (mainly through state– backed grants) for startup projects. On the other hand, it is really hard for growing ventures to attract follow up funding due to the lack of interest from institutional investors. Meanwhile, ICOs are happening more and more. The results through the last quarter of 2018, Russia and Estonia alone account for 12% of the all ICOs happening in the world, raising around $1.36 billion US cumulatively.1 Many Qualitative Entrepreneurs WANTED! As ecosystems in CEE mature, a shift in mindset needs to take place to keep up with the growth. For entrepreneurs, just being motivated to become one is not enough to sustain the desire. The key factor here is entrepreneurial education. No matter at what stage of the startup cycle, it is critical to get new insights, and local ecosystem player often lack the understanding to support entrepreneurs.

1 ICO Market Quarterly Analysis 2018

Seedstars CEE & Central Asia Tour Our team got to travel to 10 countries and run 13 local events. While having another edition of the competition going, we also welcomed new-joiners - Uzbekistan and Latvia appear in our list for the first time. We received more than 400 startup applications, out of which 129 were pitching at the local events. In order to build the bridges between the ecosystems in Europe, we organized our 3rd Seedstars CEE Regional Summit in Kyiv, Ukraine. This event brought more than 300 attendees from 25 countries worldwide. 2019 for Seedstars in CEE & Central Asia With an extensive focus on education, this year we are initiating programs to work closely with entrepreneurs in getting them “investment-ready” and supporting them at each phase of their growth. In addition, we are building a stronger presence on the ground by opening our first physical hub in the region Seedspace Astana, with the support of Astana Innovations, The office of the mayor of Astana and Bi Group.


CEE & Central Asia

Seedstars Index Score ECA

This region was home to thirteen Seedstars startup competitions in ten countries in 2018 - with four happening in Ukraine alone. Uzbekistan is not represented in the ranking however due to the fact that most of the indicators from the World Economic Forum did not show data for this country. The CEE and Central Asia (ECA) region is represented by Prage, Czech Republic in the top ten ecosystems globally. This particular ecosystem ranks very high due to its stable economy, sizeable internal market and available tech talent. Due to its geographical location it also has access to Western capital sources and investments and, moreover, features strong institutions and high quality infrastructure such as broadband internet. Most of the startup ecosystems in the ECA region rank in the middle. Only two of them are

in the bottom third. Chisinau and Ulaanbaatar have a hard time keeping up with the rest of the field due to little to no startup support in terms of accelerators and incubators, and, according to the WEF, low rates when it comes to their economy’s innovation capability. However, compared to other regions, the ECA is overall very well represented in the ranking as it mainly shows up in the first and second category with no ecosystem ranking lower than 48th. From the Seedstars team’s experience on the ground it was not a surprise that Riga is still featuring a solid score as the city remains a startup hub and home to a number of big ecosystem players such as Startup Wise Guys. Particularly the deep tech sector has boosted growth that has given rise to startups such as Precision Navigation Systems and SizzApp and the government is in the process of launching a dedicated forum, i.e. the Deep Tech Atelier.

It’s very popular to be an entrepreneur, but the demand for experienced developers and its lack of them is a huge challenge for the ecosystem. Another country in the region Ukraine - portrays quite the opposite. It is home to a large number of highly skilled developers. With many of them coding for successful startups outside of the country, this connection to entrepreneurship has triggered the leap into starting their own ventures for many - with Kiev now reminding many visitors of Berlin a few years back. Seedstars ran a fintech-focused accelerator program in Astana, Kazakhstan - FintechStars,

CEE & Central Asia


with Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), getting a closer look at local ecosystem and developing partner networks with banks and telecommunication networks. Seedstars presence and interest in the region has recently been confirmed by opening a hub - Seedspace Astana, offering work and living facilities to local and international entrepreneurs. With such active players as AIFC, Astana Hub, and Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan is on the rise with new support programs for early and growth stage companies.


CEE & Central Asia

Alumni through the years Problem: 41% of employees are regularly late for work. It costs employers a lot of money. Solution: Fingerprint-based time and attendance system. Result: Recently raised $350,000

Clockster SSW Astana 2017

“Seedstars became for our startup a new beginning! Since we won the Kazakhstani startup contest, we got a lot of opportunities to grow faster and more aggressively. Right after the event, we raised our first seed investment. Seedstars contributed with their enormous experience and put a lot of efforts in helping us get the best networking experience among the most valuable people from all around the world! I thank you, Seedstars, for your support and experience you shared with us!� Yerzhan Ryskaliyev, CEO of Clockster

Problem: Tele-agent and customer service rep turnover 30%-40%. Solution: Human-like voice call-bot EVE that brings automation accessible via SaaS platform. Result: 14.5% average conversion of calls into leads; 2019 clients over 2 years

EVE.Calls SSW Ukraine 2017

Problem: Churn is killing businesses. Solution: Satismeter collects customer feedback to reduce churn and accelerate growth.

Satismeter SSW Prague 2017

Result: Satismeter helped to turn 15% of detractors into happy customers for When I Work.

CEE & Central Asia


Problem: Every year 9 million people worldwide suffer from stroke and many lose the ability to control one of their hands. Solution: RehabGlove is an affordable consumer device with VR that assists patients who have suffered a stroke, in the hand rehabilitation process by applying supportive forces on their fingers.

RehabGlove SSW Tbilisi 2017

Result: Was named Best Innovation in Central Eastern Europe by Microsoft.

“As a founder, it was very important for me to widen the limits of opportunities. It was critical to get great networking opportunities and build new relationships in different countries. It was very valuable to get to know experienced mentors and investors, get acquainted with them, hear their valuable insights from mentors, like Kamran Elahian and Alex Galitsky. Personally, I got advice and feedback from those experts, without the experience of those mentors I wouldn’t be able to find answers that had in my mind” Bolatbek Ospanov, CEO of RehabGlove

Problem: Retail SMEs struggle to compete with retail MNCs, HoReCa businesses don’t have access to direct ordering and delivery solutions Solution: Alternative B2B eCommerce and Inventory Management platform where retail shops, chains and their suppliers can communicate directly

Smart Satu SSW Astana 2016

Result: Smart Satu grew from $10 million to $20 million in a year.

Problem: Searching for a value travel deal is a painful time-consuming process.

TripMyDream SSW 16 Global Travel Pirize Winner

Solution: Technology that combines travelers’ experiences with data mining. Result: 600,000+ unique visitors a month; 160,000+ followers in Facebook.


CEE & Central Asia

Key Partnerships

Established in 2018, Luminate is a global philanthropic organisation with the goal of empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies. Luminate is delivering impact in four connected areas that underpin strong societies: Civic Empowerment, Data & Digital Rights, Financial Transparency, and Independent Media. Luminate builds on a portfolio and wealth of expertise built up over a decade as the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network. To date, Luminate’s global work has supported 236 organizations, in 17 countries with over $306 million in funding. For the past 2 years, we have been collaborating with Luminate to foster tech entrepreneurship in Ukraine, Georgia and Latvia.

Astana Hub is the first physical hub in Central Asia, which is aimed at becoming the regional center for entrepreneurial development. Being the central organization in building collaborations with Western counterparts, Astana Hub is bringing international expertise and money into Kazakhstan. We had a great collaboration with Astana Hub in organizing our Seedstars Astana pitch competition.

One of the main startup ecosystem players, Alliance Group Holding and its subsidiaries are putting great resources into increasing awareness about entrepreneurship in Georgia. AGH created BIA, which brought many investment–ready companies from nearby regions into its network, Georgian Venture Capital Alliance, which is building a strong global network of investors. At the same time, AGH is heavily supporting various local and international organizations to organize different contests and events in Georgia. We have been partnering since 2017 on organizing the Georgian edition of our Seedstars World competition.

CEE & Central Asia


During our tour through the CEE Region, we got invaluable support from the local Swiss Embassies. Switzerland is deeply engaged in the fields of education, culture and the economy of every country where they are represented, and thus they are ready to help to build successful entrepreneurial ecosystem which can impact the region’s prosperity.

GroundZero is the leading project on building the local startup ecosystem. GroundZero is a network of spaces in Uzbekistan, the mission of which is to build an ecosystem for progressive entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan and to take the role of a reliable area and comfortable space for business development and growth. The Tashkent edition of Seedstars World competition was organized with massive support of GroundZero.

Established by Azercell Telecom LLC in 2019, Barama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center is the project that is aimed at fostering business innovation, and growing and maintaining the digital and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Barama is at the forefront of entrepreneurial development in Azerbaijan, the main goal of which is to help startups to build their business, bring innovative services and reach new customers. For the past 6 years, we have been fortunate to organize our local startup pitch competition.



Latam Building Latin America's Silicon Valley

A Promising Market Opportunity Latin America and the Caribbean represent a massive market for entrepreneurs and investors, encompassing over 643 million inhabitants. The population has a hunger for technology with a smartphone penetration increasing every year with more than 50% of the total population using their devices to access the internet. It makes the region one of the leading consumers of social media globally. Additionally, Latin America has an increasing pool of talents. Big US tech companies have started to outsource or relocate their engineering force to Mexico, Guatemala or Colombia. For example, Wizeline opened its tech center in Guadalajara in Mexico and Paypal is acquiring the Guatemala startup Xoom to relocate part of their engineering team. Juliane Butty Regional Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean

Marina Aoe Latam Associate

What’s New in the Region? 2018 was a pretty exciting year for the region. In the first trimester, Brazil positioned three of its ventures in the unicorn class with 99 Taxis, PagSeguro and Nubank. Colombia confirmed its position of a fastgrowing ecosystem, with Rappi raising $200 million and becoming the first unicorn of the country. And Mexico became one of the first countries in the world to adopt a fintech law, creating a framework expected to facilitate access to investment and financing, primarily through crowdfunding, e-money, and cryptocurrencies. Consequently, making it unsurprising in the rise of Crypto activities and its investments (check new investment vehicles BR11, Mango Startups or promising crypto ventures such as Cryptomarket, Foxbit, Bitso, Transfero Swiss). More than being a new investment mechanism, if well applied, Blockchain could be a real game-changer in terms of financial inclusion, connectivity, exportation and supply chain or education access. With an estimated 100 million devices connected in the region by 2022, Blockchain, Machine Learning, IoT, AI are no longer exclusive technologies of the developed world. Mexico launched an Artificial Intelligence Agency and in Colombia, Medellin counts now an



Artificial Intelligence Center. Nevertheless, what we expect and hope above all is that more and more local entrepreneurs will leverage technology to tackle local issues and create positive impact. We hope that success cases like Mesfix (democratising loans), Apli (fighting unemployment), The Not company (tackling malnutrition), Platzi (providing access to education) will create a multiplier effect and inspire others.

Investment Environment According to Latin America Venture Capital Association, 2018 was the record-breaking year for Latam startups. In the first semester of 2018, USD 780 MM were invested over 145 deals, almost twice the money and number of deals closed at the same period a year before. Key sectors of investment are fintech, agritech and marketplace. The recent funds of 5 billion USD launched this year by Softbank is another proof of the business opportunities and disruption potential of Latin America. Impact investing is also on the rise, in the region’s impact sector, capital invested by Latin American investors doubled from US$95m over 2014-15 to US$193m in 2016-17. The first exits of local impact investment funds such as Vox Capital (Brazil) exiting TEM, an healthtech startup offering a prepaid card for health services in Sao Paulo, is an encouraging signal for impact investors. 1

1 The Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America (LAVCA)



What Did We Achieve in 2018? This year, Seedstars has visited 14 countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Chile) for the SSW Competition. In 2018, we have mentored over 200 startups while giving them local visibility and valuable connections. Finally, we walk the talk, and this year we have invested in the establishment of 3 regional tech campuses Seedspaces - in Bogota, Medellin & Mexico City. We continue to increase the amount of money invested in tech entrepreneurs. In September, we participated in the follow-on round of investment in our Bolivian portfolio startup, Ultracasas, which became the biggest round ever raised in Bolivia for a tech venture.

Main Dates for Seedstars Latam 2019 2019 is starting with the launch of our 4th campus Seedspace Lima. Thanks to our four Seedspaces and our initiatives in 13+ countries, we aim to support over 2,500 entrepreneurs to scale & raise funds through our bootcamp, acceleration programs & our new investment readiness program that was just piloted in Tanzania. Starting May, we will travel around the region with our Seedstars World competition visiting 15+ cities and continue sourcing the most promising ventures. At the same time, we’ll launch the investment readiness program in our campuses in Mexico, Colombia and Peru as well as through a virtual version to democratise the access for a bigger number of entrepreneurs. Finally, in August, we’ll start our product market fit acceleration program for 10 selected startups from Peru, which will become the first international accelerator of the country!

Exciting & challenging times ahead! Vamos juntos?





Seedstars Index Score Latam

In contrast to 2017, when the LATAM region secured two spots in the top 10 ranking, in 2018 none of the Latin American ecosystems was ranked at the top. Santiago is the best performing city in terms of SSI score (rank 17), closely followed by Mexico City (rank 19). However, the lower performance relative to last year must not necessarily indicate a weakening startup ecosystem. Given the change of various variables and weightings within the index, this might simply depict the Latin American entrepreneurial ecosystem from another perspective than in 2017. While cities like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Florianopolis, Medellin, San Jose or Guatemala City, have been recognised for their pool of developers, there is a gap of skills to bridge the rapid growth of technology businesses and new markets needs. In Argentina for example, this problem has been addressed by the government by implementing the plan “111 Mil.” The aim of this is to train 100,000 programmers, 10,000 professionals and 1,000 entrepreneurs over the next four years to cover the labor demand of the growing knowledgebased industries. In Colombia, the unicorn Rappi has created the Foundation Rappi which

aims to prepare youth adult for new digital labor market. Latin America is still developing its national entrepreneurial ecosystems, one must not forget the large market opportunity that exists with over 650M inhabitants and their proximity with the huge US market. The dominance of Spanish (aside Brazil), economic trade bloc such as the Pacific Alliances (Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico) and the relative ease of travel for latin american population within the region (usually everyone can travel to another country for a timeframe of 3 months without need of a visa) makes rapid expansion into new markets considerably easier. Lastly, the basis for successful entrepreneurial ecosystems is clearly given. When considering LATAMs average “Ease of Doing Business” score (75/100), it is clear that the circumstances allow for businesses to be founded and successfully built. If this good basis can be combined with an improved VC availability (39/100) and an entrepreneurial mindset (47/100), LATAMs startups are looking at a prosperous future.



Alumni through the years Problem: Whether you are trying to find your future home or sell your current one, this is a cumbersome process in Bolivia with ineffective middlemen and costly hidden fees.

UltraCasas SSW16, Bolivia

Solution: is the largest real estate portal in Bolivia connecting buyers and sellers online for free. UltraCasas also manages a complementary service called The only credit price comparison portal in Bolivia. Results: Every month, more than 400,000 visitors come to to review the approximately 20,000 properties on offer. Via UltraCreditos, Ultracasas have also given access to credit for more than 40,000 Bolivian by connecting them with local mortgage providers.In 2018, they raised the biggest round ever raised by a Bolivian startup through a co-investment between El comercio, Tariq and Seedstars.

RedCapital is a Crowdlending platform in Latin America. SMEs get loans or invoice discounting at a fair rate and Investors obtain good returns.

Redcapital SSW17, Chile

Problem: Small businesses have a small credit line with banks. So, they face higher rates in other financial institutions. Solution: On the RedCapital website, SMEs request money and investors can choose the loans or the invoices that they would like to invest in. Impact /Result: The company has a reliable risk predictor that has resulted in having a zero default record. Thanks to technology developments, RedCapital have been profitable since 2016, offering a wide range of financial solutions to SMEs for over $66 million as of February 2019.

“UltraCasas has consolidated itself as the number 1 Property Classifieds in Bolivia with almost 500k sessions per month. Our team is entering further into the loan side of the transacción through UltraCreditos, the #1 Loan Comparison site in Bolivia.We got very encouraging results within less than a year, UltraCreditos has generated 50k loan requests equivalent to over $1 billion in potential loans. We close our seed round in September and till then UltraGrupo’s revenue has continued to grow 15% sustained every month. We are soon to close our next round to further evolve our technology and continue to grow. We will be the startup putting Bolivia on the radar of investors,” Carlos Jordan, CEO & Co-Founder

“In 2018, we reached 108% growth compared to a prior year. We have done alliances with Cabidy in order to offer credit lines to their drivers and with Banigualdad to provide financial sources to micro-entrepreneurs. We aim to be able to reach more and more people that need our services all over Latin America, with already some good traction in Peru!” Gustavo Anania Garib, CEO of Redcapital



A payments platform concentrated on KILLING CASH. It makes technology that enables people and business’ to pay and collect all their expense Problem: Cash is expensive in time and money, and risky and that’s why we want to get rid of it!

Payit (now Rappi Pay) SSW17, Mexico

Solution: Mobile platform that makes it easy for users to pay everything digitally starting by our friends, informal market and services. Impact: The Product ensures security and offline payments, providing financial inclusion in a manner that everyone can accept cards, even without a bank account. The company had more than 200,000 active users when they got acquired by the first Colombian unicorn, Rappi early this year.

“Things went really fast in the last 12 months. We have worked a lot to provide our users with an app that allows them to charge & pay in a simple, safe & fast way. We have also integrated Blockchain to our technology to better protect all the transactions. The acquisition by Rappi provides our users with another use case for this digital currency and allows us to continue growing toward our goal of disrupting the way Latin American people pay!” Martin Mexia, CEO & Founder

Edupass is a hub for students navigating the admission process and also to expand university access to aspiring students everywhere. Problem: The college application process is stressful and inefficient, especially for international students (many moving parts, heavy advertising)

Edupass SSW16, Dominican Republic

Solution: A platform where students are paired with admissions experts from their target university and academic field for one-to-one mentorship Impact /Result: We are experts on crafting the storytelling needed to impress the admissions committees of foreign universities, prestigious scholarship programs, and other stakeholders. The company identifies the abilities and interests of every student we work with and we are able to transform that into a unique story.



“Thanks to hard work of our 14 team members by now and the coinvestment between Seedstars & Inicia Educacion, we have managed to help over 250+ students to get an approximate $1.5 million scholarships in 2018. In a month, we launch in Bogota. We are excited” Luis David Sena, CEO of Edupass

Problem: Apli’s on-demand jobs platform will use technology to match 20 million under-employed Mexicans with 1 billion annual missed days of work. Solution: Apli’s online marketplace matches companies seeking temporary workers with students, stay-at-home moms, part-time and unemployed workers.

Apli SSW16, Mexico

Impact: Apli is the only option for same day hiring of qualified workers for short contracts of 1-7 days. No safe, flexible work options exist in LatAm besides Uber, which requires a large (car) investment. Apli’s co-founders are serial entrepreneurs with complementary skills and a passion for tech and HR. For the second consecutive year, they were named among the most innovative companies worldwide in the ranking by Fast Company.

“I remember when we started and we pitched at Seedstars. We had a lot of demand but we didn’t have the technology yet, so we had to coordinate everything manually. It was very much fake it till we made it. Then, we raised $2.1 million in 2017 in a round entirely led by women, historic in Latin America! Last year, we opened Guadalajara and we are now preparing to raise our next round to keep growing!” Vera Makarov, CEO of Apli



Key Partnerships As the African proverb says: “If you want to go far, go together.� We have been thrilled to share our adventure with a wide range of partners and supporters. Zoom in on six organizations and people that are part of the SS Latam family for their outstanding support.

BBVA: for the 4th consecutive year we have worked hand in hand with the bank BBVA to source, screen and select the most promising fintech startups around the world. Two of our alumnis, FinChat and Alquilando, joined their annual Open Summit in Madrid. Together with the bank, we hope to create strategic connections. In this regard, Alquilando is currently doing a pilot with BBVA Colombia l . Since 2017, we have also fostered the fintech ecosystem, among others through the BBVA Open talk initiative, which aims to bring together key fintech enablers and discuss next trends. We have collaborated to host the event in Switzerland, Istanbul, Argentina and Venezuela. Finally, we recently organized a visit to the Paraguayan ecosystem where we aim to work on the growth of this very nascent ecosystem through open innovation and entrepreneurial education. Fingers crossed!

Inicia Educacion: after a tremendous first collaboration, we executed the 2nd edition of our edtech prize in Latam with the investment group of Dominican Republic. Over 40 startups applied in the whole regions and after intense face-to-face meetings with the top 5 ventures, it is finally the Costa Rrican startup Processim Labs that won the award. The edtech prize aims to source and screen the most promising solution that fosters and facilitates learning and content education in the Latin American region.



UTEC Ventures: the accelerator of the prestigious technology oriented UTEC University of Peru has been a key supporter for Seedstars this year. Thanks to their support and the band and brain of their amazing team led by Jose Deustua, we co-organized the Seedstars Latam Summit in Lima last December, gathering over 300 guest attendees from all around the world.

Incuba UC: our partner in crime in Chile has helped us to run our Seedstars world competition in Santiago, and also in Concepcion with the aim of promoting decentralization of entrepreneurial knowledge and community.

These are not the only ones: we have collaborated with over 200 supporters, 10 partners and co-investors to made this possible. The road is long but we are resilient and enjoy the walk together. Join us?



MENA MENA’s 4th Industrial Revolution A region that proves time and again, its capabilities to find tech solutions to solve existing problems. The MENA region is clearly penetrating the global startup ecosystem with technological solutions that solve existing problems in the region. Many countries are facing political and economical challenges that consequently lead to higher inflation rates. We see that a country like Egypt has new economical approaches that increase the inflation rate rapidly, income per capita is inversely proportional which means it’s decreasing rapidly as well. Money is losing value every day and employees in big corporations are suffering the consequences because no matter how their salaries increase, the value is decreasing. As a result, small and medium businesses (SMEs) have risen significantly because people realize that starting a business makes more sense than working in one. From there, the expression ‘parallel economy’ has emerged. According to Bain & Company, the MENA region is witnessing a revolution in the startup ecosystem, especially in Fintech. In Bain & Company’s latest report, we see that Egypt’s e-commerce market is forecast to grow by 33% annually to reach $3 billion by 2022. Meanwhile, Saudi’s e-commerce market is predicted to grow by 27% annually to reach $10 billion. And UAE’s market is forecast to grow 31% annually to reach $9 billion.1 Hazem Emam Partnerships Manager, MENA Government Involvement in the Startup Life In the MENA region, it is known that when the government and private sector get involved in an industry, it means that this industry is somehow booming. In the last 5 years, we have seen that in Egypt, for instance, the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation has launched an incubator service for early-stage startups (Falak 1 E-commerce in MENA: Opportunity Beyond the Hype

Startups) to serve entrepreneurs and validate their ideas. Also, public universities like Cairo university have started acceleration services inside its campus (FEPS Acceleration) for students with entrepreneurial ideas. Ministry of Communications makes regular meetings with startups to hear their challenges and try to facilitate solutions. We see big corporations like SAP starting an innovative hub in Ain Shams University to organize hackathons with the intention of validating prototypes done by students to be invested in by SAP. Also, CIB bank has launched a venture capital to encourage fintech applications to solve problems related to money transfers and on-demand payments.





On the other hand, Dubai is planning to create creative and economic free zones in universities to support youth with innovative approaches2. Saudi Arabia is about to launch the biggest entrepreneurial hub in the region. The combined efforts of the public and private sectors also lead to positive steps towards the improvement of regulations around setting up businesses and bankruptcy laws making it easier than ever for individuals to set up a company. Let the Numbers Talk In the past 7 years, we saw many startups, entrepreneurs, venture capitals and angel investors have been participating in the shaping of the financial position of the MENA region. Startups often start in their homeland and then expand to other countries, sometimes to other regions. Startups like Swvl, the mobility startup, acquired over $200 million and is already expanding in Asia and competing with Uber. Instabug and its team that squash bugs for a living started in Egypt, and now they have an office in Delaware and clients like Microsoft and IBM.

Marsool from Saudi Arabia which is an on-demand delivery application that connects shoppers with couriers acquired $10 million from Raed ventures and reached $270 million worth of transactions. Also, Mubadala acquired $125 million series B.3 The Highlights of the Seedstars World Tour in MENA In 2018, we managed to spot 12 rising tech stars in the region and gather them together with the other changemakers at the Seedstars MENA Summit in Beirut, Lebanon. 3 days, 351 attendees, 45 investors, 119 startup founders, 21 countries represented, 303 one-on-one meetings, thousands of ground-breaking ideas — the numbers are impressive, but it goes beyond the numbers. It’s about people’s stories, valuable connections, impact, learning by doing, ‘wow’ moments, and strong community spirit. Don’t hesitate to join us for the next ride in 2019!

2 Menabytes, “Dubai to create creative and economic free

3 Menabytes, “Egyptian transportation startup Swvl raises

zones in universities”

tens of millions in Series B at valuation close to $100 million, plans expansion to Southeast Asia”



Seedstars Index Score MENA

In terms of visits, MENA was a highly frequented region this year with 18 cities (4 in Saudi Arabia) visited compared to 9 in the previous year. While last year’s MENA leader Istanbul fell by two places to third rank, the two Arabian gulf cities Sharjah and Doha are heading this year’s ranking. Casablanca and Tunis stayed on the bottom of the list like in 2017, except for the fact that the newly visited city Cairo ranked even lower. Compared to the other ecosystems, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia are also the lowest ranking in terms of GDP, which might explain a large amount of their ranking position in statistical terms. This can be nicely observed in the regression in section 5, where GDP per capita and the SSI score per city have been regressed against each other. Feedback from regional Analysts suggests that the entrepreneurial culture in MENA is linked to the general economic development of the

country. While entrepreneurship seems to be a desired career path in affluent regions like the UAE, it is not in less developed countries like for example Egypt. The same applies to the failure culture in MENA, which is an integral part for the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems. A positive phenomenon that was reported is the increasing interest in startups by corporations. Sponsorships of events, collaborations and startup funding by corporations is becoming the rule rather the the exception. Nevertheless, there are still obstacles that the region will have to overcome in order to advance its ecosystems. One of the key pain points that has been reported by regional Analysts are the institutional barriers that make it difficult for international investors to directly invest in the region.



Alumni through the years Problem: Building chatbots requires specific skills, and companies have to invest time, effort and money to create an AI engine and integrate it with the existing business platforms

Widebot SSW18, Egypt

Solution: Widebot is a bot builder platform that ensures smooth integration and setup for non tech-savvy users with a primary focus on the Arabic language. Result: WideBot has more than 30,000 clients from Egypt, Argentina, and Saudi Arabia.

Problem: Low interest in STEM subjects among kids, especially girls in the MENA region

Junkbot Robotics SSW18, Bahrain

Solution: Junkbot is a DIY robotic kit that enables young and old to create and build working robots from almost anything. It transforms household objects such as plastic bottles and old CDs, wooden spoons or cardboard into unique,imaginative robots that can be programmed for a variety of functions – and at different levels of skill. As they delight in making new shapes come alive, kids will learn the core STEM concepts of analytical thinking, problem solving, prototyping, lateral thinking and building Impact: Junkbot partnered with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to distribute 500 Junkbot kits to schools in the Emirate. Among the companies that used it are Microsoft, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance and PwC. Junkbot managed to generate a revenue of $600,000 from the UAE market. Through DEWA, they collaborated with 300 schools, and now they are expanding their model through the gamified platform.

Problem: No trustworthy online platform in Qatar where patients can search for quality physicians. Solution: Meddy is a platform that helps patients find and choose the best doctors based on patient reviews and the doctor’s credentials, and allows doctors find patients more effectively.

Meddy SSW17, Qatar

Result: The startup has raised more than $700,000 in investments until today and counts 500 Startups and Qatar Science & Technology Park among its investors. In 2017, the company expanded its operation to Dubai, UAE.



Problem: High distribution and operational costs of the insurance value chain

Democrance SSW17, Bahrain

Solution: Democrance helps insurers to go digital by offering a platform that does not need any complex integration to their existing systems, while unlocking the potential for those populations who were previously excluded from the benefits of insurance, improving countless lives in the process. Impact: Democrance joined forces with leading insurer Cambodia Life Insurance (Camlife) to offer affordable and accessible life microinsurance products via mobile.

Problem: High transactional fees for the financial operations

Paymes SSW18, Turkey

Solution: Paymes Elektronik Ticaret ve Bilişim Teknolojileri A.Ş. is financial technology development company providing commercial services via social networks, aiming to help the user enter into e-commerce faster, easier and safer. Result: The company was chosen as one of the 50 best companies in Europe in the Slush. It has been serving more than 250,000 Turkish users, helping them to securely receive payments from abroad and contributing to the country’s economy.

Problem: 2018 saw a staggering 945 data breaches. Hackers and cybercriminals continue to target major corporations and small businesses alike, leaving startups vulnerable to cyber attacks. Solution: Myki is a cybersecurity startup that has redefined digital identity by allowing users to securely manage their sensitive information away from the cloud, servers, or any other place that could be a target for security attacks.

Myki SSW14, Lebanon

Result: Myki was named one of the ‘Top Password Managers 2018’ globally and got the Editor’s Choice Award by PC Magazine. It was awarded ‘Top 100 most innovative Arab companies’ by Forbes in 2017, and was the first MENA-based company to be shortlisted to launch at TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in San Francisco in 2016.

‘’SSW was a great opportunity for Myki to benefit from exceptional mentorship, gain valuable feedback and meet the right industry-focused professionals to help us overcome challenges and push forward’’ Priscilla Elora Sharuk, Co-Founder & COO



Key Partnerships Bank Audi is a regional group with a universal banking profile. The Bank offers universal financial products and services including Corporate, Commercial, Retail and Personal, and Private Banking services, in addition to capital market activities and factoring. Bank Audi partnered with Seedstars for the MENA Regional Summit 2018 and has organized the first Beyond Banking Hackathon, a 3-day fintech hackathon that has gathered 20+ hackers together to come up with ideas and solutions to the banking challenges suggested by Bank Audi. The winner received a $5,000 in cash prize from Bank Audi.

Touch is the leading mobile operator in Lebanon, managed by Zain Group, the pioneering mobile and data services operator in the Middle East and Africa. In the last ten years of operations under Zain’s management, touch has had many success stories, providing cutting-edge services and technology to its consumers. touch has partnered with Seedstars for the second year in a row and has supported the Seedstars World 2018 local Beirut competition and was also the platinum partner of the Seedstars MENA Regional Summit 2018. They organized a training boot camp for their TIP startups throughout the event and have taken part in the organization of the event where Mr. Emre Gurkan, CEO of touch presented an inspiring keynote about his journey and Mr. Nadim Khater, CCO of touch has shared his experience in a panel discussion focused on startups roles in the corporation.

QBIC is a unique mixed-use business incubation center providing support services to help entrepreneurs and companies who either have an idea to start a business or want to grow an existing business. QBIC is founded by two of the leading entrepreneurship institutes in Qatar, Qatar Development Bank and Nama.



The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) is the national investment promotion agency of Lebanon. Established in 1994, IDAL aims to promote Lebanon as a key investment destination by attracting, facilitating and retaining investments in the country. IDAL partnered with Seedstars for the MENA Regional Summit 2018 and has powered a HealthTech Workshop that brought together a diverse group of 29 thought leaders, healthcare experts, entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals to attend a 3-hour workshop and come up with key takeaways for challenges faced in the industry and the root-causes behind them. IDAL also powered the Investor Forum during the Summit, featuring 45+ local, regional and international investors coming in specifically to meet and discuss potential investment deals with the Seedstars Local Winners and the Lebanese startups delegation.

Misk Innovation aspires to transform Saudi Arabia to become a global centre for purpose-driven innovation. Applying world class practices to the unique requirements and opportunities available in the Kingdom. Misk Innovation inspires the innovator in everyone to elevate KSA to the forefront of global innovation, and develop individuals’ potential to help them become innovators, create solutions to existing challenges, and build innovative ventures of global reach and standing.

Tamkeen knows that the first few years are crucial in the life of a business where it requires a lot of effort and support; it is for this reason that the semi-governmental organization in Bahrain has developed a range of programs that provide the support startups need to develop and grow their business. Startups can obtain funding, support for equipment as well as get access to advisory services to help increase their productivity and create growth. Having launched over 200 programs and initiatives focused on areas such as funding and financing, skill and career progression, customized employment schemes, and entrepreneurship exposure, Tamkeen is leading the way for Bahrain to become one of the key hubs for entrepreneurship in the Middle East.

Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation

Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation Overview of the Swiss entrepreneurial ecosystem from our partners



Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation

School of Management of Fribourg (HEG-FR) “Opportunities Come in Waves” - Rico Baldegger

What is the DNA of innovations and where do opportunities come from? We had a chance to talk with Rico Baldegger, Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, Director of the School of Management of Fribourg (HEG-FR), and a serial entrepreneur to find out the answers to these questions.

How do you envision the future of global innovations? Where it’s all moving? We often think innovation is something that happens in developed countries with manufacturing outsourced to emerging markets. Think again. More and more Swiss companies are going into emerging markets in order to discover innovations, or to adapt their behavior of innovation in the discovery of the needs of people. There is, for example, a large opportunity in an emerging market with adaptive innovation cycles; it does not have to be technology, or high technology all the time. A local network and international expertise, so you can act locally and globally and adapt to the local market is the main challenge for startups with small expertise and staff. Second, agility and speed are crucial for startups and their learning attitude to push you out of your comfort zone and be a bit local, and a bit global. It is an important advantage for your startup to have this sort of experience. Third, innovation and change are getting broader and worldwide, therefore it is not always easy to search for and search in the right place. China is investing tremendously in new prospects and innovation, for example in AI. It has become very difficult to

predict and foresee the changes, as they can appear fast and everywhere.

What is the best soil for great tech innovations? I think you will be able to innovate if you can bring together people from different backgrounds and with different competencies to jointly work on technological expertise and consumer needs. Technology without consumers’ needs is innovation with no impact. We often can witness that great tech innovations are created by teams from both sides, the tech-savvies with skills from the customer or business perspectives. In general, it is very rare to find people combining both of these skills, therefore I really encourage you to complete your team with skills and competencies you don’t have.

The internet is oversaturated with the success stories which create an idealistic image of what being entrepreneurs really means. What is your personal definition of the term “success”? There are indeed a lot of success stories out there, however, how do we define the success of being an entrepreneur? Is it the happiness, the number of jobs created, capital raised, revenue of your companies? In an entrepreneurial way, I would define success by the impact you create in terms of social innovation, job creation, or the value to society.

And how to define entrepreneurial impact? Imagine big wave surfing. First, opportunities come in waves. Our challenge is to find the right opportunity at the right place. Second, with the right place and right location, you need to be able to ride it. In entrepreneurial terms, once the good conditions are in place, your team needs the capabilities and determination to create the impact you desire to innovate.

What are the key factors that enable organizational rapid growth? Can you name an example of your favorite company that grew from zero to a sustainable and profitable business in a short period of time? Of course, there are quite a few examples out there. One of my favorite companies is the Swiss running and sports company On. In a very short time, they attracted runners and athletes from all around the world, combining unique technology and IT-driven distribution and sales. Some of the key success factors are a dynamic and agile founder team with multidimensional and multi-oriented competencies that are able to align strategy, structure and culture in order to be fit for growth.

Switzerland is considered to have a very strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. What does it entail and what challenges does the country still face nowadays? Switzerland’s entrepreneurial framework and ecosystem is at a very high level. Also,

Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation


compared to other countries, the level of risk taking and the ability to raise money for the business is remarkable. However, I would identify two main challenges in the support services available in Switzerland: First, there is a lack of support for and funding to entrepreneurs in the low and non-tech sectors. Much entrepreneurship funding is oriented toward life sciences and technology, however, outside these sectors numerous business opportunities also exist. Second, and this is the main challenge: Switzerland has a good and secure job market with many opportunities for young and experienced professionals. In other words, it is not easy to leave your comfort zone to pursue your entrepreneurial ambitions.

How does the School of Business Management Fribourg prepare your students for the challenges of the complex and uncertain world? What are the key disciplines every entrepreneur should learn in the first place? The engagement with Seedstars, for example, shows and tells our students, that they can be resourceful with their own creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial aspirations. To do so, at the School of Management Fribourg, we show them what it really means to run a business and try to show the entrepreneurial reality. We also think that tomorrow’s leaders need to have social skills, multicultural exposure and development to be prepared for their future jobs. Finally, as entrepreneurs, you have to sell your product or service and lead people, therefore the key disciplines are: sales, sales, sales, and emotional intelligence.


Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation

Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation


The Canton of Vaud

Mr. Raphaël Conz, the Economic Promotion Manager for the Canton of Vaud, gives us an interview to get to know the region and how it became a hotbed for innovation. What are the statistics on technology and entrepreneurship in Vaud that make you proud and show the pervasiveness of innovation in the region? We’re very happy to have a quarter of the 100 top Swiss startups based in Vaud, including 6 of the 10 top best ones in 2017, as well as about 2000 high-tech companies. Vaud also, for the fourth consecutive year, ranks 1st in fundraising in compared to other cantons and for the 4th consecutive year, Vaud startups raised CHF 1.2 billion over the past 5 years, of which CHF 298 million in 2017. Of course, another metric we’re happy with is that the 10 biggest startups based in Vaud have created over 143 new jobs in 2017. Finally, we’re glad to have contributed about CHF 20 million since 2008 in financial incentives from the State of Vaud to support startups/ SMEs in their economic development. Switzerland is often described as the most innovative country in the world, whereas it’s much smaller than the US and China and has less resources than other countries in Europe. What do you think is the secret for Switzerland and especially Vaud’s success in this field? The Swiss Government is first and foremost dedicated to its framework conditions, which

are about education, training, research, taxation and facilities. However, the most prominent factor is our political system. Switzerland is a federal state where power is shared on three levels: municipalities, cantons, and the Confederation. It rests upon a direct democracy and consensus, which guarantees productive stability and allows the Swiss economy to thrive. Indeed, according to the World Economic Forum, Switzerland is also ranked as the most competitive economy in the world. Its potential for innovation, as well as the efficiency of its workforce is often regarded as the best on the international scene. It is then no wonder why Switzerland massively invests in research and development, which is about 3.4% of the Swiss GDP. Regarding the Vaud economy, it is largely open to the world and exports 20% of its production, mainly throughout the European Union. About 36,000 companies are based in Vaud and are present in various fields of activities, mostly services with high added value such as life sciences, health and precision industries, ICTs, cleantech, and nutrition. Additionally, Vaud has managed to keep one of the lowest and most stable rates of unemployment for years, which currently is about 4.7% and has simultaneously become a cherished location for a large set of companies including startups, SMEs and multinationals.


Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation

Vaud is also the largest, as well as the most heavily populated canton in western Switzerland, with more than 750,000 inhabitants. One third of our population is from abroad, adding up to a mix of 170 different nationalities. Indeed, great working conditions along with an internationally renowned excellence for its academic institutions and scientific innovations have already attracted a significant population of foreign talent. Vaud is also one out of the two cantons, along with Zurich, to possess a state university, as well as a federal institute of technology and several universities of applied sciences on its territory. We managed to get there over the years by setting up an innovation support program to boost knowledge and ideas with the very objective to turn them into concrete applications. This program eventually aims at highlighting the existing potential within our region, whether it is coming from research institutes or companies. Additionally, six innovation parks were born about a decade ago and now offer a unique access to a breeding ground of new technologies for any company willing to strengthen its innovation process. What are the actions you take to support innovative entrepreneurs and startups in Switzerland and abroad?

We work hand in hand with the Confederation as well as many actors from the private sector to offer targeted support to companies willing to innovate and develop their activities in new technologies. Indeed, several programs to promote innovation within SMEs and startups have been successfully implemented over the years on both national and local scales resulting in a growing technology transfer between universities of applied sciences and industries. Our day-to-day job is to make sure we remain in tune with an ever-changing ecosystem so we are able to provide entrepreneurs with free and tailored access to our network. Our overall activities aim at providing financial support, developing and promoting R&D projects, promoting collaboration with innovation parks, supporting with talent recruitment, informing companies on taxation frameworks, as well as hosting events during the year and cultivating a strong international network for the startups here. Can you tell us more about the grants you award to startups? We at the Office for Economic Affairs (SPECo) allow a direct financial support to SMEs and startups based in Vaud and whose economic activities are involved with industrial production and advanced technologies.

Our day-to-day job is to make sure we remain in tune with an ever-changing ecosystem so we are able to provide entrepreneurs with free and tailored access to our network.

These grants are intended to support entrepreneurs in the creation and establishment of their existing or new business, as well as improving their innovation processes, R&D and production opportunities and reaching out to international markets. Specifically, our grants cover innovation (acquisition of intellectual property rights or certifications, new product development), marketing and internationalization (through the participation in major exhibitions and business conventions or market studies) and technical/scientific staff training. We’re also happy to be working with further organizations like Innovaud, that connect companies with research institutes, and the Foundation for Technological Innovation that offers loans with and without interest to technology startups collaborating with universities and research facilities. How does supporting Seedstars World and hosting the Seedstars Summit in Lausanne align with your strategy? Seedstars World promotes entrepreneurship and innovation in emerging countries, and as

Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation


we pay special attention to SMEs and startups developing new technologies, the Seedstars initiative is perfectly aligned with our vision to promote new solutions for society and to create more job opportunities that will eventually help to shape sustainable economic development. Thanks to your support, this year eight startup teams - Droople, Matchmore SA, Noisypeak Sarl, GURUVEST, Agam Security, Mirrakoi SA, Embion Technologies, and Nagi Bioscience got a chance to become part of the Seedstars Summit and the Seedstars community. How were those startups selected and why was it important for them to attend the event? The Office for Economic Affairs and Innovation (SPEI), alongside Innovaud and CVCI, held a competition opened to all early-stage companies based in Vaud that happened to be interested in reaching out to emerging markets. Based on the quality of their current projects, future aspirations and need to further develop their business, a committee ranked the potential benefits they could gain from participating into


Switzerland: A Playground for Innovation

such delegation. Eventually, eight startups were selected and got a chance to participate to a delegation in the region of their choice whether it was in Africa, LATAM or Asia. All of them had a chance to meet with regional startups and to discover best practices, as well as learning different ways of doing business and being provided with cultural insights. This expansion program was an overall success and we are looking forward to renewing this program in 2019. Do you have a special message to address to all the changemakers coming to Switzerland for the Seedstars Summit? Welcome, and congratulations to every single one of you for your vision and dedication to shape your industry and ultimately the world we are living in. Indeed, entrepreneurship and innovation are forces of peace, development and prosperity for both our economy and society. Therefore, thank you for your ambition and persistence so far and good luck to you all for this one-of-a-kind competition. Please know that we share a common passion and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and innovation. Feel free to reach out to us and enjoy your stay!

The Seedstars initiative is perfectly aligned with our vision to promote new solutions for society and to create more jobs opportunities.


Thank you

Thank You, Ambassadors Throughout the book, we discussed insights into emerging markets, trends in innovative technology, and the impressive startups we had the chance to meet on the road. We mentioned our corporate partners, and we mentioned the accelerators and co-working spaces. However, none of our work would have been possible without one more essential piece of the puzzle. Our Ambassadors. They are the people who work with us throughout the year, often behind the scenes, with one single objective - to help their local ecosystems get the international attention they deserve. Times and again, we have been impressed and humbled by their unwavering commitment to their local startup scenes, and unending commitment to making our vision possible. So here is a huge thank you to all of you, who have made our journey around the world possible! We would not be here today without you.



Monthida McCoole, Singapore Mangala Karunaratne, Sri Lanka Chanda Pen, Cambodia Paul and Nichapat Ark, Thailand Joseph de Leon, Philippines Tanvir Sourov, Bangladesh Amado Trejo, China Hadi Othman, Indonesia Allen Tuladhar, Nepal Atasha Alias, Malaysia Apoorv Bamba, India Lynn Hoang, Vietnam Artie Lopez, Philippines

Rudy Ganna, Dominican Republic Walter Mendez, Bolivia Francisca Rojas, Chile Ana Ayau, Guatemala JoĂŁo Fernandes, Panama Waldemar Stefan, Rio de Janeiro Alejandro GĂłmez, Colombia Carolina Palma, Costa Rica Andrea Durango, Ecuador Marcela Zetina, Mexico Jorge Jaime, Peru

ECA Aieti Kukava, Georgia Imran Baghirov, Azerbaijan Ieva Upeniece, Latvia Abdulahad Kuchkarov, Uzbekistan Artashes Vardanyan, Armenia Naranbat Nasanbat and Zolzaya Jargalsaikhan, Mongolia Evgeny Frolov, Czech Republic Alim Khamitov, Kazakhstan Ksenia Maslova, Ukraine Maria Nemciuc, Moldova

Africa David Jeng, Gambia Bhatupe Mhango, Malawi Vuyisa Qabaka, South Africa Aphrodice Mutangana, Rwanda Mohammed Keita, Mali Tadzoka Pswarayi, Zimbabwe Mara Michelo, Zambia Adulai Bari, Guinea Bissau Fely Samuna, Congo Frederico P. Silva, Mozambique Catherine Dubreuil-Mitaine, Mauritius Joel Epalanga, Angola

Moneera Yassien, Sudan Steve Tchoumba, Cameroon Rites Massamba, Ivory Coast Babacar Birane, Senegal Richard Zulu, Uganda Thabo Theron, Botswana

MENA Maryam Alsaegh, Bahrain Tameem Eddeeb, Libya Khalid Almahfouz, KSA Zina Dajani, Lebanon Salah Amleh, Palestine Manaf Asfour, Jordan Pouya Kondori, Iran Walaa Hamdan, Oman Sari Taha, Palestine Montather Rassoul, Iraq Sami Abou Saab, Lebanon Haider Al Mosawi, Kuwait Najla Almidfa, UAE Amin Matni, Qatar Kaan Akin, Turkey Amel Saidane, Tunisia Hisham Safadi, UAE Hal Miran, Iraq

Thank You, Partners We want to thank every one of our global, regional, and local partners. It is thanks to your help that we can impact the world’s startup ecosystems. First of all, we are very grateful to all our Swiss partners, such as Canton de Vaud, TRECC, the School of Management Fribourg, Presence Suisse, and TAG Heuer, thanks to whom we are always able to showcase Switzerland in its most innovative light. Special thanks also goes to Rising Tide Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DORIER, BBVA, Qbic, Lausanne RÊgion et Ville de Lausanne, MISK, CVCI 19, NIA, Logitech, Merck, Ventureburn, Jumpstart, IloveQatar, Azernews and Myanmar Times for their extensive support across the regions.

Thank you


Special thanks to our partners in Switzerland

Thank you


Profile for Seedstars World

Impact. Innovation. Investment: The Seedstars Report 2019 on the State of Entrepreneurship  

Presenting you our annual Seedstars report full of insights on the state of entrepreneurship in emerging markets. In this report, you will a...

Impact. Innovation. Investment: The Seedstars Report 2019 on the State of Entrepreneurship  

Presenting you our annual Seedstars report full of insights on the state of entrepreneurship in emerging markets. In this report, you will a...


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