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An Idea Born in Switzerland

Index Welcome


Meet our hosts


Our vision


Our community


5 years of impact


The Seedstars Index












Thank you


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, commited citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.� - Margaret Mead

Supporting 1’500 entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses that have directly and indirectly created thousands of jobs” - Alisée de Tonnac Partner, Seedstars Group


Here we are. Five years into the journey and the list of accomplishments, epic moments, hardships, and challenges is long!

Looking back, our proudest accomplishments are: Scaling a team from 4 to 100 people and all founding members are still present.

Looking forward, our main objectives are: Scaling our physical hubs to hundreds of locations to become a truly global launchpad for impact.

Building a network that is spread across 80 cities around the world, and counting over 60’000 members in the community.

Building sustainable global businesses in the spaces of financial service, education, healthcare, agriculture, energy, and government services among others.

Being represented by a community of hardworking and dedicated Ambassadors that make our ambitions exponential.

Leveraging the community to inject billions in investment in emerging markets.

Living by our culture and setting the standards with our unique values. No bullshit!

Growing the team and organisation without diluting our culture and values, which will be fundamental to our success.

Supporting 1,500 entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses that have directly and indirectly created thousands of jobs.

Supporting thousands of change makers globally.

Join us? seedstars.com


Impacting people’s lives trough technology


Entrepreneurs Hubs

in emerging markets and entrepreneurship

Meet our hosts



Meet our hosts

Welcome to Switzerland... A very warm welcome to Switzerland! As the communication agency of the Swiss government abroad, Presence Suisse promotes the image and strengths of Switzerland overseas. We are very lucky to have positive cliches associated with us, from cheese to watches, to banking and mountains. However, being a world leader in innovation is not yet one of the strengths first associated with Switzerland, despite many years of topping global innovation rankings. Switzerland is not only about dairy-based delights, but is also the dynamic heart of Europe that is fundamentally accustomed to balancing many cultures and to retaining a proud culture of innovation and international cooperation. Throughout the years, Switzerland has been able to leverage a largely liberal market approach and the high levels of R&D that

both the private and public sector dedicate to continuously pushing innovation boundaries. Supporting Seedstars is a great way to continue playing exactly these strengths, and to share experiences with the most promising entrepreneurs from emerging markets. Welcoming them to Lausanne shows how we can be a place to meet. The concentration of talent and international organizations in Switzerland, for instance in the Geneva-Lausanne area, will allow for the Summit week to be a very productive one, but we very much encourage everyone to also take the time to enjoy the immense beauty of our surroundings! In the spirit of our proud tradition of innovation, we are looking forward to sharing, hearing your ideas, being inspired by your tenacity, and to dreaming of tomorrow’s world together.

Fundamentally accustomed to balancing cultures and to retaining a proud culture of innovation and international cooperation.�

- Nicolas Bideau Ambassador Head of Presence Suisse seedstars.com


Meet our hosts

The Canton of Vaud The world’s most innovative country’s most innovative region



Meet our hosts

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 & 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.



Meet our hosts

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

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 – 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.

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 14


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. Precisely, our grants cover innovation (acquisition of intellectual property rights or certifications, new product development), marketing and internationalization (through the participation into 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

Meet our hosts

companies with research institutes, or 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 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 jobs opportunities that will eventually help to shape sustainable economic development.

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



Meet our hosts

Several Swiss companies that benefited from your support participated in our events abroad, WeHike and Emotion Food Company were two of them that participated in our Latin American Regional Summit for example, do you want to explain the reason why these entrepreneurs decided to explore this market ? WeHike is a platform that matches and connects people who like climbing, hiking, biking or skiing. Knowing that Latam is a $677 million market for « sports & outdoor » in 2018 with a growth of 12.7%, it made sense for Ion Padilla, CEO and founder of the company, to join the Vaud delegation. As he explains it: « the purpose of this trip for our startup was to test how the South American market would react to our solution. Based on these first feedbacks, we are planning now a possible expansion and figuring out which strategy we will implement for a fundraising tour with local investors ». Emotion Food Company solves the problem of dysphagia for people who can’t swallow. They provide a mixture (100% natural) that transforms an ordinary meal into a melting meal by keeping original taste, texture and shape of food. With more than 3’000 hospitals, Mexico is the second largest hospital market in Latam. Gabriel Serrero, the CEO and cofounder, has already built a strong collaboration with a hospital in Spain. Their focus is to leverage the growth in Spanish speaking countries. As hospitals are a harder target to reach, his main goal during this Vaud delegation was to meet distributors that could open doors faster.

Contact Us www.vaud.ch/economy 16


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!

Meet our hosts

Indeed, entrepreneurship and innovation are forces of peace, development, and prosperity for both our economy and society.� - Mr. RaphaÍl Conz Economic Promotion Manager for the Canton of Vaud



Our Vision Impacting people’s lives in emerging markets through entrepreneurship and technology

Our vision

Where we want to be and For the widespread impact that drives us, we need to be in emerging markets, tackling the biggest challenges of our time:

Moreover, 89.8% of the world population under 30 years of age lives in these regions, which represents a huge pool of untapped talent.

An ‘emerging market’ is, for our purposes, any country that has many characteristics of a developed market, but does not yet meet the standards to be considered ‘developed’ by the Market Classification Framework.

It was only very recently that Chinese economist, Zhu Min, and Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, claimed, “People will remember 2015 as the year emerging markets took half of the global GDP.”

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.

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

By 2034, 95% of the world’s population will be in emerging markets and in just two years from now, in 2020, 80% of all smartphones will be located in emerging markets.



Our vision

what we want to address Share of population aged under 30 by regions in 2030

Smartphones users in emerging markets predictions for 2018

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



Our vision

In pursuit of the broadest possible impact GDP is one possible indicator for understanding levels of life satisfaction: higher GDP per capita equals generally higher life expectancy & satisfaction. Compared to North America and Europe, emerging markets find themselves with lower GDP per capita and arguably inferior life satisfaction. However, that’s an opportunity to change the status quo in these regions.



Taking an even closer look, if you compare South Korea to Nigeria, back in 1965, the difference between their GDP per capita was two-fold. Looking at the situation today, that gap is 22x bigger.

What made such a difference? How did they achieve this?

Our vision

GDP per Capita




GDP per capita (constant 2000 US$)






24,565 1,098













Source: World Bank seedstars.com


Our vision

Where to begin There are many factors that help explain how this shift happened in South Korea, let’s look at two major forces: 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 nowadays, it continues to have a clear strategy to build niche expertise. Second, it deployed a range of mechanisms to develop the necessary skills in advance and invested heavily into education. As we can see from the graphic on the right, education has a direct impact on the GDP per capita. 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.



Every dollar spent on education generates 10-15 dollars in economic growth.

The objective is to find the right balance of moving from unstable jobs to stable ones. 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.

Our vision


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 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

1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010

NOTE: The topfigure is normalized with the year 1971 set to 100

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”



Our vision

Leveraging the most effective forces for widespread impact: the private sector and...

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



Our vision

Millions of Jobs

Net job creation by form age in the US 4 3 2 1 -0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 1990






0-5 years



6-10 years





+11 years

The US example: young companies create the most jobs





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” seedstars.com


Our vision

… and technology Having identified the companies with disproportionate impact that we want to support, we turn to the industry that will have disproportionate impact. For us, this is clearly technology. Technology is changing the world, and we are still at the beginning of seeing its effects have an unprecedented impact on millions, billions, of people at a speed never reached before. Remember, it took us over 100 years to get to one billion consumers, and less than 10 years to reach a billion smartphone users. In developed markets, we tend to say that technology destroys jobs, but what about jobs that don’t even exist yet? Taking the example of retail: There are fewer retail outlets in APAC 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 region. Trends predict that the solution to balancing the need for more retail options will not necessarily be more retail outlets, but more e-commerce. A

whole economy of solutions will be built around it. 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 very impactful ones of fintech, healthtech, agtech, edtech etc And when we see that the Rwandan government is currently modifying its aerial regulations to allow cargo drones to fly over the city of Kigali, and that blood deliveries via drone are saving lives on a daily basis, it becomes clear that innovation is being spearheaded in these markets as well. The foundations are being laid for the next generation of technology. This book will allow you to meet and understand inspiring, hard working entrepreneurs and impactful uses of technologies across the 5 regions we are active in.

The reality is that soon, 60% of today’s population will be working in jobs that don’t exist yet.



Our vision

Higher speed, higher reach 1400 1200 100

# 8

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 2014


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” seedstars.com


Our community 5 years. 5 regions. 60’000 strong.

From traveling around 20 countries in the first edition of Seedstars World Competition to 80 countries in our latest edition, we now represent an authentic community of entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, public institutions, academic world, governments, and media.

Our community

Why a community? We want to build something bigger than us. We could have chosen to only invest and build companies on our own, but our impact would be limited. If we manage to create this platform where all impact-driven stakeholders can ‘plug-in’, the results can be exponential.

1 2




1. Bangkok, Thailand Community 2. Seedspace Geneva coliving Community 3. Yangon, Myanmar Community



This generation believes that profit and purpose can go hand-in-hand. Unlike previous generations.”

4. Seedspace Bogotá Community 5. Casablanca, Morocco Community 6. Abidjan, Ivory Coast Community 7. Jakarta, Indonesia Community 32


- Jason Haber, The Business of Good

Our community

Meet the Seedstars Community Why it works: millennials - a generation of purpose-driven entrepreneurs By Region

By Stakeholder 4%

8% 8%





Ecosystem builders






MENA 17%


CEE North America



Media 35%

This generation is: Comfortable with technology

Optimistic that they can be changemakers

Extremely impatient

70-80% perceive entrepreneurship as a sign of success

We asked our community what they need: Global network, insights, and a brand they can relate to

Survey based on 4’000+ responses seedstars.com


Our community

Events Inspiring and connecting stakeholders Competitions, think-tank style workshops, keynotes Pitching competition in 65+ countries 80+ cities in 5 regions

Local Seedstars World Events

Seedstars Regional Summits

Pitching competition in 65+ countries 80+ cities in 5 regions

Invite-only insights Summits reuniting the key stakeholders in each region

Seedstars Summit Invite-only Summit reuniting stakeholders form all over the world and using Switzerland as a hub



Our community

Seedspace: Entrepreneurship as a lifestyle 9 entrepreneurs hubs all over the world so far

Networking Events & Workshops


International Community



Our community

Seedstars App Staying connected across 5 regions with an app catered to our digital habits.

Exchange expertise and insights and monetize your knowledge 1


Make new connections from the Seedstars Network

Plan and organize your event



Participate in +100 specialized industry chat groups



Our community

Key Features 1

Experts on Call


Grow your company with start-up focused advice delivered from thoroughly selected experts. Monetize your expertise with exposure to the largest entrepreneurship network in Emerging Markets. 3

Seedstars Directory Tap into a world-class professional network with our select directory of entrepreneurs, investors & ecosystem players.

Seedstars Groups Discuss industry specific trends & topics in over 100 specialized chat groups ranging from fundraising to social media marketing.


Events Make the most of our events with realtime updates, personalized schedules & attendees networking.

Seedstars Insights Empowering data-driven decisions Seedstars Index

Companies Database & Benchmarks

Rating startup ecosystems to understand community needs and key local challenges

Financial and operational data about companies (linked with opportunity score and community app)

Seedstars Opportunity Score Scoring model opportunities, to identify best/mature opportunities



Our community

Seedstars Summit Ambassador Forum with ecosystem representatives from around the world

We walk the talk On top of building the Seedstars Community, the Seedstars Group also invests, advises, and builds companies in emerging markets. We are the first users of the products we design. This positions us as one of the best entities to execute this mission to support talent and startups in emerging markets. 38


Our community

Discussing innovation breakthroughs with thought leaders at the Seedstars Summit

What pushes us every day

Startup and mentor meetings at the Seedstars Asia Regional Summit



5 years of impact With 5 years under our belt, we are most proud of:

The Impact. The Alumni. The Insights.

5 years of impact

Impact report By the numbers

At Seedstars, we recognize two things: that technology has the power to change millions of lives, faster than ever, and that entrepreneurship has the power to tackle the world’s biggest problems.

10,847 1,968 12

We are happy to report on the impact and progress we have had thus far‌ here’s to not stopping anytime soon! The Seedstars World Team travelled to 74 ecosystems in 62 countries, where 82 events were hosted including 5 regional summits.

33,696 3,353 Event attendees at local events, regional and global summits in 5 years



Media articles mentioning Seedstars

Event attendees

Days spent in the ecosystems

Companies accelerated in the 3 months program

Startup Applications to Seedstars World 6000






0 2013



Seedspaces in Europe, Africa and Latin America




12,996 Completed qualified applications for Seedstars World

5 years of impact









Investor jury hours

Investors in the Seedstars network

*As part of our 6 months Seedstars Academy fellows learn the fundamentals of company building and get paid for it along the way.

Seedstars winners are more likely to survive than runner ups

Mentors hours invested


Survival Rate











40.00% 1000

0 2013/14





20.00% 2013





Seedstars World Editions

Over the 5 years that Seedstars has been touring to find the most investable startups, on average 10% more of the winning startups survived than the runner ups

9,067 200 1,546 Mentor hours invested

Aspiring entrepreneurs trained in Launchpad weekends

Introductions made to investors



5 years of impact


Startup monthly revenues 20,000


Alumni statistics:

Who did we find along the way in 2017?








Average monthly revenue per Startup

CEE Total average



Monthly revenue average

Monthly revenue Max

$16,105 Highest ecosystem average: Latam

Startup employees



Employes average

Employees Max

7 Highest ecosystem average: Asia



5 years of impact

Sectors 2017 Agriculture tech HR/Recruitment and jobs 4.4% 4.3% 19.1% Finance/Payments Social networking and collaboration 4.6% Consumer services 14.4% 12.3% Education Travel and transport 7.4%

Enterprise services 15.2%



5.8% Advertising and marketing

Finance and payment have historically been the strongest sectors among Seedstars finalists. This year 112 fintech startups pitched at Seedstars World events globally.

Male/Female split

Startup funding





Male founders

Female founders

Funding average

Funding Max



Highest ecosystem percentage: MENA

Highest ecosystem average: Latam



5 years of impact

The Seedstars World finalists of 2017 67 COUNTRIES



3oun (Jordan) AgroCenta (Ghana) Alquilando (Argentina) BabyMoon (Moldova) Celcoin (Brazil) Celucambio.com (Colombia) Chessify (Armenia) CINETPAY (Cote d’Ivoire) CMED Health Limited (Bangladesh) Constant-lab LLP (Kazakhstan) Dastaneman (Iran) Dentologix d.o.o. (Croatia) Difacom (Costa Rica) EMG Technologies (South Africa) Emotics (Hong Kong) ESène (Mali) Event Banana (Thailand) Favizone (Tunisia) FinChat Technology (Singapore) GaraSTEM (Vietnam) General Senses (Kuwait) genlives (Uruguay) GiftedMom (Cameroon) Hooplacar (Morocco) Jendo - Innovations Pvt.Ltd (Sri Lanka) Junkbot Robotics (Bahrain) Kargo (Myanmar) Langbot (Ethiopia) Madison (Dominican Republic) Marvelmind Robotics (Russia) MaTontine(Senegal) Medsaf (Nigeria) multidoctores.com (Ecuador) myRunner (Zimbabwe) Nefrids Africa Limited (Tanzania) NetBits (Bolivia)

Neurostic (Pakistan) Numida (Uganda) OCheng (China) Payit (Mexico) Paymes (Turkey) PikiWash Ltd. (Rwanda) PolicyStreet (Malaysia) Profound (South Korea) RedCapital (Chile) RehabGlove (Georgia) Samelogic (Jamaica) SatisMeter (Czech Republic) SayurBox (Indonesia) ServeHappy Jobs (Philippines) Tabech Servicos E.I. (Mozambique) TataTunga LLC (Mongolia) Tootle (Nepal) Tupuca (Angola) TuRuta (Peru) VdoCipher Media Solutions Pvt Ltd (India) Vision in Motion (Lebanon) WakeMeUp (Azerbaijan) Widebot (Egypt) WNNA (Bahrain) Yapili (Botswana) Youdee (DRC)

5 years of impact

The Seedstars World finalists of 2016 62 COUNTRIES

Acudeen (Philippines) Aikio (Mali) Akiba (Uganda) Apli (Mexico) Asafeer Education (United Arab Emirates) BlackBOX TV (Mozambique) Blue-loop (Costa Rica) Bua.Space (Botswana) Chalkboard Education (Ghana) Creative eLearning (Sri Lanka) Criptext (Ecuador) Dalil (Algeria) Democrance (Bahrain) Digital Royal Net Solution (Myanmar) Dr CADx (Zimbabwe) Earlyone (Armenia) EdgePoint Digital (Tanzania) Edupass (Dominican Republic) Etudesk (Côte d’Ivoire) Evey (Tunisia) FairAgora (Thailand) Fentury (Moldova) Field Buzz (Bangladesh) GL3SH (Ukraine) GliaCloud (Taiwan) Graphene Healthcare (Singapore) Hulubet (Ethiopia) IDWork (South Africa) iNuka Pap (Kenya) Kangpe (Nigeria)

Kasha (Rwanda) Kostoom (Indonesia) Kundi (Poland) Kvotter (Azerbaijan) Makerbrane (Lebanon) Meddy (Bahrain) Mesfix (Colombia) MimosaTEK (Vietnam) Mind Rockets (Jordan) MindPax (Czech Republic) My Taste Guide (Australia) MyCash Online (Malaysia) PiQuant (South Korea) qAIRa Nano+7 (Peru) QueroQuitar (Brazil) Raye7 (Egypt) REDOXIGEN (Panama) Segmentify (Turkey) Smart Satu (Kazakhstan) SmartPoll (Argentina) Sur3D (Uruguay) TalkBank.io (Russia) TAME (Pakistan) TapChief (India) TrainFES (Chile) Treepex (Georgia) Tutorama (Egypt) uHoo (Hong Kong) UltraGrupo.com (Bolivia) VIP Health Care (China) Visualise VR (Nepal) Wi-Connect (Angola) Wutiko (Senegal)



5 years of impact

The Seedstars World 54 finalists of 2015 COUNTRIES

Airshop (Côte d’Ivoire) AlemHealth (United Arab Emirates) Asoriba (Ghana) BitNexo (China) BoxBike (Bolivia) Cinemad.tv (Chile) Couper (Singapore) Cuestionarix.com (Ecuador) Diseclar SAS (Colombia) doctHERs (Pakistan) Dronee (Azerbaijan) Easy Carros (Brazil) Ecoisme (Ukraine) Eggbun Education (South Korea) Eora 3D (Australia) Evreka (Turkey) Eye Care Plus (Armenia) ezCloud (Vietnam) Farrow Ventures (Mexico) Fidel (Ethiopia) Fliiby (Serbia) Flimper (Argentina) Giraffe (South Africa) Good Meal Hunting (Philippines) GPSGAY (Uruguay) IKNEWIT (Malaysia) Illuminum Greenhouses (Kenya) InterShip UG (Uganda) ioGrow (Algeria) Jobartis (Angola) Juabar (Tanzania) Madvisor (Bangladesh) MapTasking (Panama) Mergims (Rwanda) Mashvisor (Palestine) Merchandiser (Lebanon) 48


Modisar (Botswana) Moovi (Mozambique) MyQ (Nigeria) Omniup (Morocco) ProSehat (Indonesia) Slidebean (Costa Rica) Smart X Lab (Taiwan) SmartBeen (Iran) SolarizEgypt (Egypt) Strike (India) Talkpush (Hong Kong) Texel (Russia) TICKEY (Bulgaria) TopDocs (Thailand) U.M.S ‘Queen’ (Myanmar) Urbaner (Peru) VoLo (Senegal) Yaqut (Jordan)

5 years of impact

The Seedstars World finalists of 2014


6degrees (Singapore) AidBits (Palestine) Beam (Ghana) Busportal (Peru) Channelkit (Russia) eFishery (Indonesia) Feesheh (Jordan) FirstJob (Chile) GoFar (Australia) Green Energy (Nigeria) KinTrans (UAE) Krowdpop (South Korea) Lumkani (South Africa) Machina (Mexico) Manads (Azerbaijan) myVLE (Morocco) Myki (Lebanon) OkHi (Kenya)

OnePay Pte. Ltd. (Japan) Ploog (Brazil) Prisync (Turkey) QSearch (Taiwan) Remit (Uganda) Rumarocket (China) Salarium (Philippines) Scandid (India) SoloLearn (Armenia) Spectator (Serbia) SOMTOU (Senegal) Tapway (Malaysia) The Other Guys (Argentina) TorQue (Rwanda) Triip.me (Vietnam) USETIME (Colombia) VDecoration (Iran) WashBox (Thailand)

The Seedstars World finalists of 2013


Chilindo (Thailand) dockPHP (Singapore) Flitto (South Korea) FoYo (Rwanda) GUST Pay (South Africa) HackerEarth (India) Jayride (Australia) Jooist (Kenya) JXJ Tech (China) Kudo (Brazil) Locarise (Japan) NeWo (Azerbaijan)

PingStamp (Mexico) Retail Tower (Ghana) SimplePay (Nigeria) Totus Power (Chile) TourBud (UAE) Vimantra (China) WayRay (Russia) Wideo (Argentina)



The Seedstars Index Quantifying Emerging Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

The Seedstars Index

Seedstars Index framework

The strength of global startup ecosystems is a key concern for Seedstars as it impacts our business on multiple fronts. Be it in our goal of connecting, building or investing, our ability to operate effectively is directly tied to the stage of development of each ecosystem. Without enough stakeholders, we can’t connect; without appropriate talents, we can’t build; and without an attractive opportunity, we can’t invest.

As such, our interest in measuring the status of each ecosystem and helping with the development is both a key concern to Seedstars from an economic advancement standpoint, and from a business operations standpoint. Now in its third edition, the Seedstars Index (SSI) continues to measure the quality, potential and maturity of the startup ecosystems visited by the Seedstars teams in 2017. In total, the teams visited and assessed 74 ecosystems in 62 countries and collected feedback from over 400 expert stakeholder meetings which form the basis of the output of the SSI and also provides valuable perspectives for the reader. 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 is both the desired output and the catalyst of an ecosystem. The underlying factors and weights of the SSI 2017 are an outcome of our in-depth research and improvements in methodology and we believe this version of the SSI is more robust than ever.

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The key concepts to understand for any reader are the three core pillars (culture, environment, opportunity) and the desired output (success), 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, while a fear of failure can be crippling. Without a conducive environment, new ventures will be suffocated by harsh business conditions or be forced to relocate. If 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 in local and foreign markets which requires talented team members, expert mentoring and funding. Successful businesses provide employment opportunities and economic growth and therefore should be the targeted output for any ecosystem. Success is also the catalyst for 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. Success breeds success. seedstars.com


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A Deeper look at the components 3 pillars, 8 factors, and 20 sub-factors



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1. Index structure True to our entrepreneurial beliefs, the MVP version of the SSI we did in 2014 has been challenged and improved until the current version was formed in 2016. The full list of elements of the SSI, the weights and source of data is given in the following table: seedstars.com


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2. Sources of data We believe the best way to measure the health of 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 over 400 local stakeholders in the 76 cities around the world. These interactions provide the most objective and reliable feedback of the startup ecosystems and permit the team to rate each startup ecosystem on a scale from 1 to 5 across the 10 proprietary SSW sub-factors as shown in the table above. One sub-factor “SSW Entrepreneur Density� is based on custom data collected online. This means over half of the sub-factors are based on proprietary research and scoring methodology.

The remaining 9 sub-factors are generated from existing data sources including the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index (WEF GCI) 2017/2018 and the World Bank Doing Business Report 2017.

3. Index weights and scoring Analysing the breakdown of the weight, it is important to note that the proprietary Seedstars Scores, evaluated through on the ground interviews, make up 48% of the total SSI score. Secondary data from WEF GCI, World Bank and LinkedIn make up the remaining 52%. 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 favourable than in Silicon Valley. For the proprietary sub-factors, scores of 10,



20, 30, 50 and 80 were allocated for ratings of 1 to 5 respectively. For the scoring of the external data, the scores were benchmarked to 100 for Silicon Valley/USA.

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4. New cities covered CEE

Cities added in black, and cities removed from SSI 2017 in orange



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Global results of the SSI 2017 1. Global overview The top two spots of the SSI 2017 are filled by Singapore, holding its rank on the SSI podium since last year, and Hong Kong, which managed to increase its SSI score by an impressive 6.3 points, jumping from 6th place last year to claim its spot in 2nd place. For the first time in SSI history, one of the top three positions was claimed by a “developing” nation. Cape Town, South Africa moved to 3rd place, replacing Dubai (which was not included on our rankings this year) on the SSI rankings, mainly driven by the very strong entrepreneurial culture in Cape Town. Not all developed markets made it to the top with Kuwait and Bahrain not ranking amongst the highest performers. While our focus is on emerging markets, we do cover a handful of developed economies with young and emerging startup ecosystems that often offer good access to their surrounding developing markets. Once again, each region has its “Champion” ecosystem ranking highly in the index which fits with the accepted industry consensus. Cape Town for Africa, Santiago de Chile for Latam, Singapore for Asia, Turkey for MENA and Moscow for CEE. The SSI 2016 “developing” nation ecosystem podium includes Cape Town, Santiago de Chile and, in 3rd place, Nairobi and Mexico City are neck and neck. All four are among our top 10 outperformers when comparing the SSI to GDP per capita, and score well across the board.



Developed vs developing: With the influence of various categorisations, we assigned the “developed” categorisation to countries with a GDP per capita over $35,000 which includes: Singapore, Kuwait City, Lausanne, Hong Kong, Manama, and Seoul.

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** Developed countries seedstars.com


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Global Seedstars Index results



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Culture – The first pillar “Culture� is the most complicated pillar to measure and requires seven proprietary and qualitative factors such as mindset, events and media to evaluate. The playing field in this dimension is levelled as progress can be made by grassroots initiatives with little investment and no political intervention. However, it is also the factor where the overall average across all the countries is the lowest, at just 37 out of 100. It is also the area in which the Silicon Valley has the biggest advantage with a 27.8 point lead on Cape Town, the second highest performer. The sheer energy, cultural acceptance, celebration of failure and household name tech billionaires in the United States has not come close to being replicated anywhere else in the world. But there are always some ecosystems getting it right. Dakar, Shanghai, and Lagos have seen significant improvements on the cultural front in 2017. What sets them apart?



Dakar, Senegal has seen the largest improvement in culture according to the SSI scoring system this year, gaining 18.5 points on the culture pillar. Though the ecosystem is still young in Dakar, Senegalese have entrepreneurship in their DNA. Many of them are self-employed, but out of a need rather than to solve larger problems. However, with an increased investment in IT and the launch of several programmes promoting women entrepreneurship, the mindset in Dakar is shifting towards entrepreneurship as we know it. Institutions and government in Senegal are also becoming more organised, which makes it easier for entrepreneurs who want to start and run a business. Nevertheless, many of challenges remain for entrepreneurs. Another big improver on the cultural front is Shanghai, with an additional 16.1 points on this pillar compared to last year. Historically, China has not been a place that fosters entrepreneurship due to the strict culture

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Quito, Ecuador

** Developed countries

imposed by Chinese tradition, which puts a lot of value on traditional jobs such as medicine and engineering. However, the situation is rapidly changing and with the rising number of success stories and role models such as the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma or Ma Huateng, CEO of Tencent, entrepreneurship is slowly becoming a desirable career path. China is also increasingly focusing on higherend, higher-margin advanced manufacturing. “Made in China� no longer means cheap and low-quality. Shanghai, as opposed to Beijing, is the main hub for foreign founders, and there are numerous events happening on a weekly basis. Examples include TechCrunch Shanghai, Startup Weekends, various demo days, entrepreneurial breakfasts, and hosts of other entrepreneurial meetups. Lagos, Nigeria has an entrepreneurial culture that has been improving rapidly over the past few years, managing to accumulate an

additional 14 points on the SSI culture score compared to last year. It ranks 2nd on the Culture pillar, but 26th overall. This has largely been driven by a surge of young educated professionals coming back from abroad and pushing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. An increased access to funding, along with support from corporates and Fortune 500 companies has led to a lot of success stories for local entrepreneurs. The success of entrepreneurs in Nigeria is widely covered on the local tech and entrepreneurship blogs, presenting successful entrepreneurs as role models both locally and throughout the continent. In Lagos, there is a wide variety of tech and entrepreneurship events happening on a very frequent basis. From small events such as Lagos Design Meetup and Startup Weekend to various international events such as Google Digital Marketing Program, for Entrepreneurs, Microsoft’s Winsider4Good program and other domain-specific meetups and TEDx events, Lagos has an event for everyone. seedstars.com


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Environment – The second pillar The computation of the “Environment� pillar score is less complicated as it uses only data from the WEF and World Bank that evaluate institution efficiency, ease of doing business, infrastructure and technological readiness. This is the only pillar where the Silicon Valley is not positioned first. All 3 countries which are ahead of the United States share some common similarities like a small population, a high GDP per capita, low debt ratio and a remarkably strong legal and administrative environment. This pillar is the hardest one for the ecosystem stakeholders to influence as all the initiatives require buy-in from top government, a longterm time horizon and significant budget considerations. 66


Manama, Bahrain has one of the most conducive environments for entrepreneurship. The city ranks 6th globally on the Environment pillar, but 27th on the overall ranking. It has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world at over 90%. Moreover, the corporate tax rate in Bahrain stands at 0%, and there have been new laws allowing for foreign business ownership. Bahrain is ranked 2nd in the MENA region for ease of doing business, with is largely due to governmental initiatives such as the regulatory sandbox for fintech companies, and the newly formed fund-of-funds to invest in local startups. The local government incentivises companies to hire and train local citizens by paying their

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Maputo, Mozambique

** Developed countries

salaries for the first two years, and Tamkeen offers technical assistance as well as training and grants to startups. Though Bahrain has a small population of only 1.3 million people, it acts as a gateway to the rest of the GCC region. On the other side of the spectrum, the lowest performers on the Environment pillar also share many commonalities. Luanda, Yangon and Dhaka all suffer from frequent electricity outages. From our team’s experience on the ground, wifi is unreliable, in many cases this is replaced by mobile network, which is slightly more reliable, but using 2G technology can cost up to $120 per 10GB in Luanda. Taxes in these countries are significantly higher than the top performers, in addition to that, tax procedures

are complicated and burdensome, and there are no incentives for startups. Setting up a company in one of these countries is a long and effortful procedure, which can take up to 1 year, making it difficult for those who have the potential and ambition to start a business to do so. Ecosystems at the bottom of this list are also underperforming on the SSI to GDP per capita score. Our hope is that the ecosystem players can align together, make entrepreneurship an agenda item on their list and become outperformers and instruments of economic development in the years to come.



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Opportunity - The third pillar The third pillar of “Opportunity” requires assessing nine different sub-factors, including talent, funding, training & mentoring 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 by stakeholder intervention (eg. access to funding) while others require government intervention (eg. higher education) and others are inherent to the country (eg. market size). The Opportunity pillar is dominated by ecosystems in Asia. Singapore has held its rank in 1st place since 2016, while Hong Kong and Shanghai have gained 17.9 and 13.9 points on this pillar respectively to claim 2nd and 3rd spots. Singapore has a large pool of highly talented individuals, as it is home to leading universities such as NTU, NSU, and SMU. There is a lot of governmental support for innovation and entrepreneurship including tax deductions for investors, and grants for proof of concept, as well as, incubators and business angel support schemes. This incentivizes many of the region’s VCs to headquarter in Singapore to benefit from the tax breaks, making access to capital there easy for all stages of startup funding,

Similar to Singapore, Hong Kong has very strong higher education institutions, producing highly talented engineers and scientists. About 1.5 years ago, the government realized that Hong Kong can compete regionally as a hub of innovation and startups, and launched InvestHK and more recently, istartup portal as a resource center for startups. It is the ideal test market for companies that want to scale into China, especially in the domain of fintech where there is a lot of corporate support, acceleration programmes, and access to funding. In Shanghai, education may not be as strong as in Singapore or Hong Kong, but Chinese companies are putting a stronger emphasis on corporate training. In 2015, China set up a $6.5 billion VC fund focusing on seed stage startups. The country now runs at least 1,500 incubators under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s 27-year-old Torch Programme, a nationwide initiative that provides policy, financing, and consulting services for hi-tech firms. Last year alone, almost 80,000 companies received services from government-run incubators. The Chinese population counts almost 1.5 billion people. It is the biggest consumer market in the world, and is home to the largest number of mobile users (500m+) worldwide. It has a rising middle class that is increasingly connected to the internet, especially mobile first.

Quito, Ecuador Maputo, Mozambique

** Developed countries



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SSI vs GDP 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 0.6. 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 indicated an ecosystem that is outperforming expectations while those below the line show an underperformance.

The top 10 outperformers in order are: Cape Town, Nairobi, New Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Santiago de Chile, Kiev, Lagos and Belo Horizonte The top 10 underperformers starting with the worst are: Kuwait City, Luanda, Yangon, Manama, Bamako, Gaborone, Lausanne, Santo Domingo, Santa Cruz, and Kathmandu.

The graph shows the over and under performance of all the 76 ecosystems we visited in relation to economic development



Africa 17 ecosystems and 16 countries visited in 2017.


Africa is...

... opening borders

.... booming

Although Africans still have among the least powerful passports in the world, at least 21 countries have recently loosened or scrapped their visa rules.

First, in terms of demography, Africa will be home to 40% of the world’s children by 2050. Second, in terms of mobile use. Mobile broadband connections are expected to increase from 33% of total broadband connections in 2016 to 60% by 2020, and 498M smartphones are predicted to be used in Africa by the end of 2020.

.... attractive African Tech startups raised $195M in 2017 which represents a 51% increase from the previous year’s figures. This takes investment into African startups to an all-time high. .... flying East Africa is leading the world in drone delivery. Rwanda has already completed 1,400 deliveries of medical supplies via drones.

.... exploring fintech 1/3 of funded African ventures are fintech startups, often providing more formal financial services in a region where only 17% of the population have banking accounts. Source: Africa Visa Openness Report 2017, Disrupt Africa report, GSMA Sub-Saharan Africa 2017




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Ecosystem Highlight: Mozambique in the eyes of our Ambassador, Tiago Borges Coelho: “Mozambique is a young country with an early stage, vibrant startup ecosystem. Despite its short existence, it has already managed to become internationally acclaimed. Being part of the lusophone Africa has not always worked to the country’s advantage, as it often makes it a less attractive market. Nevertheless, being off the radar can be seen as an opportunity, especially for the ease of the so-called “copycat models”. However, Mozambique’s talented youth and nearly virgin soil also make it the perfect place to pilot and pivot new technologies until they’re ready to scale to become a pan-African

success story. Given the number of hurdles we face locally, we believe other African countries should look out for sound innovative solutions from Mozambique as an opportunity to replicate them in their own markets. Luckily, our startup ecosystem seems to be following the ingenuity path, but local entrepreneurs need to understand the old local saying that “there are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree”, in order to create successful businesses. By following this principle, we personally managed to create some local success stories, emprego.co.mz, the country’s largest online job board, which just expanded to Angola, and biscate.co.mz, a platform for recruiting informal tradesmen.”




5 years of Seedstars in Africa Africa might be considered as one of the richest continents, not only because of its resources but also due to its rich history and diverse cultures that date back thousands of years. Storytelling has been a part of the African culture for many generations; the stories that explain our motivations, dreams, desires, and thoughts. Nowadays, storytelling has much to do with changing the African narrative and making sure that “outsiders” see the continent for what it truly is, with all of its flaws, but most importantly its beauty. It has been 5 years since we began navigating Africa, its opportunities, talents, and technological developments. We got to witness a story of:

Building a sense of self-reliance A large part of the fight that Africa’s current generation is figuring out is what “works for Africans”. We have witnessed the need to create more self-reliance for the continent. A speech by Ghana’s president calling for Africa to end its dependency on the West became a viral hit when he opted for moving away from the mindset of dependency. Other political and public figures have followed by calling for an Africa beyond aid. But self-reliance did not only occur on a political level. One of the sectors where Africa is building self-reliance is the communications sector with mobile technology being the basis of the current innovation and entrepreneurship renaissance that is happening on the continent. And in terms of economic growth, wireless communication is considered to be just as powerful compared to when the railroad was first introduced in the 19th century in the U.S, growing at a rate that is outpacing the rest of the world. Mobile subscribers now account for 10% of the worldwide total, and generated $110 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, equivalent to 7.7% of GDP, and supported 3.5 million jobs last year. Since it is not too strange when you think about it; nowhere is the demography more favorable to 74


mobile money. Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa include 420 million people, or 41% of sub-Saharan Africa and 6% of the world. The total GDP of these countries is $936 billion, or 66% of the region. The population younger than 15 in these five countries ranges from 28% to 44% , compared to 25% for the world, 19% for the U.S. and 17% for China. Initiatives, such as the “Afro Champions Initiatives” are looking at how to mobilize the power of Africa’s largest companies and multinationals, and for the first time ever, they have mapped the journey of African homegrown companies that have been expanding beyond the shores of Africa, showing that Africans are also capable of building global businesses. And lastly, after Senegal, Rwanda, and Ghana, other countries such as Namibia and Angola are slowly opening their borders to Africans. The most historic moment when it comes to “self-reliance” is when the 44 African nations signed a historic continental free trade deal in 2018 that aims to cut tariffs from their current average of 6.1 percent to eventually zero and


address a myriad non-tariff barriers such as poor infrastructure and inefficient border posts. Twenty-seven countries also signed a separate agreement to allow the free movement of people across borders. Although implementing this will not be an easy task, it is one of the many positive signs that Africa is getting back her wings.

Recording high funding One might think that it is an interesting time for investors. The economic and political risk associated with the countries, as well as regulatory complexities still tend to scare off foreign investors. Simultaneously, with the rapid growth of the continent and its developments, it is often the same group of people that might believe they are missing out on something. Either way, 2017 was a tipping point where, according to Disrupt Africa, more startups raised a record amount of funding. 159 startups raised more than $195 million which is a 51% increase in funding compared to 2016, with the number of funded startups also increasing by 8.9%. Our very own alumni such as Kasha and InvoizPaid were part of this group raising several million in funding to grow their ventures.

Drone technology done right A further sector in which Africa excels, alongside the mobile industry, is drones. While the rest of the world seems to be lagging behind, the commercial drone industry on the continent has been growing substantially. In the past years, we have mostly emphasized Rwanda’s support for drone technology. However, countries such as Tanzania will be using drones to deliver blood and vaccines in 2018. In Morocco, a startup created drone technology to monitor the seas to uncover illegal fishing and oil spills, and in South Africa drones are being used in animal parks and reserves to prevent illegal poaching. In Malawi, drones have been deployed to transfer HIV tests and other medical supplies. There are many beautiful stories to tell when it comes to the progress we get to witness every year in the African continent. Our goal is not to keep these stories to ourselves, but to share them with the world.




Alumni through the years

Giraffe, SSW15, South Africa Giraffe is a fully-automated mobile recruitment agency service that enables businesses to recruit medium-skilled workers faster and cheaper than any other recruitment agency or employment service. Since winning Seedstars Global and raising seed funding from Omidyar Network and Seedstars in 2016, Giraffe has grown its team from 3 to 10, seen monthly double-digit revenue growth and invited almost 200 thousand jobseekers for interviews for various medium-skilled roles Giraffe has just closed another, larger funding round and is now poised to scale even faster- with plans for international expansion on the horizon.

Maramoja, SSW15, Kenya MARAMOJA transport is Kenya’s own and the world’s only socially powered taxi app, built from the ground up to tackle Nairobi’s specific transportation challenges. The app is deeply rooted in Nairobi’s unique taxi culture - values such as trust, relationships, referrals, and loyalty Since entering Seedstars, Maramoja has had a clear path to profitability and reached 24 countries through its franchise model with only very lean funding of $340,000. Maramoja is currently raising $1 million to deliver on these franchise contracts. In addition, they have also been invited to a top tier global accelerator program




Chalkboard Education, SSW16, Ghana Chalkboard Education developed an inclusive mobile application that allows African institutions and NGOs to make their training programmes available to any mobile phone user, with minimal set-up and without the Internet. Since competing at Seedstars, they have raised a seed funding round of 240K$ in July 2017 from the Jacobs Foundation. They operate both in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, serving several clients from universities to NGOs. Kasha, SSW16, Rwanda Kasha is e-commerce for women’s health, personal care, and beauty in East Africa. Kasha optimizes on confidentiality, quality, and affordability serving women of all socioeconomic levels in urban and rural areas. In a little over 1.5 years since founding Kasha, they sold and delivered 10,000 orders in Rwanda to women across customer segments in both urban and rural areas. Products included pharmaceuticals such as contraceptives and HIV self-tests as well as menstrual care, body care, and beauty products. Kasha also earned more than $200’000 in revenue, and closed over $1 million in equity-based financing from a mix of impact investors, commercial investors, and angel investors. Kasha is also registering in Kenya, and delivered market research in preparation for pilot operations (initial pilot funding came from a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, raised close to $400k in grant funding total).

Jamii, SSW17, Tanzania Jamii launched in January 2015 and has built a mobile policy management platform that performs all the administration activities of an insurer, and allows users to access cheap insurance via USSD (starting at $1 per month). JamiiAfrica has officially joined GSMA’s prestigious Ecosystem Accelerator Portfolio of Startups to be supported with funding, partnerships & scale. They were also selected in the top 100 of the Digital Insurance Agenda (DIA), and in in the World Bank’s XL Africa top 20 scale up companies. seedstars.com



What needs to be done to build technology ecosystems in Africa by Claudia Makadristo

For the past 2 years I have been privileged to visit over 20+ countries across Africa to scout for the best technology entrepreneurs and work with a number of passionate startup ecosystem builders. With new challenges and opportunities presenting themselves constantly, everyone involved in building these ecosystems has taken it upon themselves to create a favourable environment for entrepreneurs to thrive in. However, building these environments remains a work in progress. In preparation for the Seedstars Africa Summit where “building entrepreneurial ecosystems� was one of the main points of discussion, there was much that can still be improved. Figuring out the dynamics of an ecosystem often requires some time on the ground and meetings with the main actors. During my travels, I have identified 3 players that are well placed to back ecosystems financially.




Donor-backed ecosystem Firstly, “the donor-backed ecosystem� often occurs in younger and underdeveloped environments, for example, Maputo, Mozambique Kinshasa, Democratic and Republic of Congo. Donors play a crucial role in supporting high-impact social entrepreneurs with grants and capacity building. This allows entrepreneurs to have a good learning curve and tap into their knowledge while not having to give up equity. While the common word on the ground is that donors do not allocate their funds properly, more and more of them are considering entrepreneurship as an interesting vehicle and an opportunity to start channelling their funds more efficiently. The challenging part about the donor-backed environment is that the entry requirements to work with these donors are often difficult (reporting, budget, etc.) and startups’ solutions need to align with their existing agenda. On an ecosystem level, perhaps the most interesting role donors play is acting as a bridge between government, the private sector, support initiatives and startups.

Private sector-backed ecosystem The private sector backed ecosystem remains one of the preferred environments for both entrepreneurs and support initiatives in more developed ecosystems, such as Johannesburg, South Africa to sponsor, invest and open markets. The usual suspects are often corporations and multinational companies. There are, however, a couple of challenges regarding their involvement in a startup ecosystem.

support program for startups is positioned in the hierarchy of the multinational company. Many of these corporations have been supporting entrepreneurs for several years and still have not seen much value. That is why some of them have started placing their startup support programs under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments. In turn, these CSR departments hardly ever prioritize the needs of the entrepreneurs or startups participating in the startup programs. Moreover, when startup support initiatives are backed by corporations that are competitors (such as banks vs FinTech startups), it automatically creates a hostile environment, as the support program ends up witnessing very little collaboration between the corporate and the startup.

Government-backed ecosystem Rwanda is most likely the best example of how a government-backed ecosystem can turn a nation into one of the most tech-savvy countries and lighten the structural burdens for entrepreneurs. Having said that, we are yet to see the results in terms of producing successful technology startups. I am therefore not convinced that even the most involved governments have reached their potential into lifting the ecosystem to the next level, which brings me to my next point.

Focusing on where stakeholders add the most value Over the past years, many articles have commented on how Africa needs to build its own model and stop copying Silicon Valley. What seems to be missing is a cohesive and inclusive long-term strategy and plan to build technology startup ecosystems.

The first problem is the structure where the





of launching yet another (corporate, donor, or government) backed incubator, it would be more interesting to look at how they could plug into an already existing startup program. We often see more empty seats at incubators than actual entrepreneurs, which in turn causes many incubators to try and keep talent in, as opposed to preparing them for the real world. Also, depending on the nature of the startup, we might be better off by encouraging entrepreneurs to get their own office space, pay the rent, and make them feel the responsibility of actually running a business once they have passed a reasonable deadline. Since the majority of ventures are

Incubators and accelerators should be focusing on providing a highquality network of mentors and large corporations, while large corporations should focus on opening gates to foreign markets and becoming startups’ early customers. What if every stakeholder did not only focus on what they might be “good” at, but rather on where they can provide the most value? "Not just to the entrepreneurs, but to one another as well?* Added to all this, stakeholders of the startup ecosystem also need to actively track how entrepreneurs assess the

What if every stakeholder did not only focus on what they might be “good” at, but rather on where they can provide the most value? focused on business model innovation and not technology innovation in the first place, we shouldn’t keep entrepreneurs in this sheltered environment with no consequences when a startup doesn’t generate any revenues, just so that we can fill some seats. Government typically does not present the best investors or entrepreneurship support initiatives, nor should they want to. Apart from lifting structural burdens that can prolong an entrepreneur’s runway (e.g. tax rebates), in my perspective their most important role is driving inclusiveness, fight cultural prejudice, build infrastructure and help create innovation hubs in the neighbourhoods. 80


available resources. In turn, these results need to be shared amongst all players of the ecosystem to improve the efforts of stakeholders and stimulate transparency. To effectively tackle the challenges of entrepreneurs, all stakeholders should be constantly aware of which elements are in need of improvement. Finding your unique identity and the creation of networks As we all know, “Africa is not a country” and this becomes even more evident when you start crossing borders and realize that you are dealing with completely different realities, cultures, language, and history.





On an ecosystem level, we might be doing countries a disservice by collectively referring to “Africa” or even a country, since there are many different ecosystems that exist from city to city, and neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Many countries and cities trace their history thousands of years back and have created their own particular dynamic in which the importance of people, cultures, and connections can play a decisive element in building a unique identity. And once these identities are created, there should be enough opportunities for the different networks to merge and overlap. Despite some efforts to link different communities in ecosystems such as South Africa’s Johannesburg and Soweto, they still tend to operate in parallel universes that don’t speak or work with each other and are extremely difficult to access. Therefore, at



times, I do wonder if a coalition should be forced between these different ecosystems on a national level and pan-African level. Lastly, about hype. Over the past years, we have seen a significant increase of foreign initiatives entering Africa, local stakeholders (government, corporates etc.) collaborating with homegrown entrepreneurs in different capacities, and a general increase in the number of entrepreneurs. After all, we are dealing with the largest untapped market in the world and if you are not involved now, you just “might” be missing out on a great opportunity. Everyone that is part of the ecosystem has seen it: your pitchpreneur, tenderpreneur, wantapreneur etc. It is in this tricky moment where sceptics like myself wonder if we have been or are becoming a victim of the hype surrounding startups. However, it would be foolish to say that there is no positive consequence when it comes to the “hype”. The hype has made entrepreneurship a topic of discussion among government officials who still have the traditional power and could possibly lighten up structural burdens for startups and young companies. In a perfect


world, governments in every African nation would use their lobbying power to shine light on the local ecosystem and attract relevant people to get a better understanding of what is happening on the entrepreneurial scene, such as French president’s Macron and Dutch Prime Minister’s visit to Impact Hub in Accra, or Jack Ma’s visit to Rwanda on invitation of its president, Paul Kagame. Furthermore, the hype is causing local and international media to cover Africa-based entrepreneurs and their businesses now more than ever, which is positively contributing to changing the Afrikan narrative. The young generation is being inspired to materialize their own ideas and they have shown that the corporate world is not the only career choice they have, which in turn creates new job opportunities.

a city or a region into a startup hub is not a zero-sum game with one loser and one winner, as every hub has its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as challenges and opportunities. Everyone should take on the responsibility of being an architect for their own environment, as long as these efforts are inclusive. In my perspective, a large part of the fight of our generation is figuring out what works for us, as Africans. When it comes to building ecosystems, creating success stories and changing the Africa narrative; the job will never really be done.

As far as I’m concerned, the hype can go on for just a little longer. And then, when it eventually dies down, what will matter is not the entrepreneurs that abandoned their entrepreneurial activities, but the ones that are here to stay and succeed. Every “African” ecosystem has its own particular challenges. The question of turning

The young generation is being inspired to materialize their own ideas and they have shown that the corporate world is not the only career choice they have, which in turn creates new job opportunities.” seedstars.com



We could not do it without them

Enel X The Enel Group, through its new division Enel X partnered with Seedstars to find, support, and invest in the best energy startup across Africa. Thanks to Enel X, we will be able to shine a light on many African startups, and eventually award the Africa Energy Prize to one of them.

TRECC & HEG FR Seedstars partnered with TRECC & HEG Fribourg to find and support the best education startups from around the world. Seedstars World teams were scouting for the best startups in 80+ locations worldwide and the best EdTech startup will win an access to the Seedstars Growth Program valued at $50’000. We are very happy that we have been able to commit to this cause for two years in a row with TRECC and that also HEG FR joined the cause last year.

Merck Healthcare is such an enormously important sector to disrupt, with the aim of improving lives through better, faster, higher quality care. We are very happy to work alongside Merck to achieve this and support promising healthtech startups in Asia and Africa.




Orange Orange was a strategic partner for Africa and the Middle East. Its main objective is to play a leading role in supporting the digital transformation of the African continent and to be a major partner to the whole digital ecosystem. We are happy that besides the API team, now also the OSE team (Orange Startup Ecosystem) and ODV (Orange Digital Ventures) was involved besides the OTH team (Open Tech Hub).

Microsoft4Afrika Microsoft4Afrika seeks to ignite African innovation for the continent and for the world. Our partnership with Microsoft4Afrika represents their commitment to work closely with African entrepreneurial talents across Sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate their development. Seedstars is happy to partner with them for the second year in a row.

Standard Bank Standard Bank has been a loyal and important partner for years in Africa. This year, our partnership reached new heights when Standard Bank partnered with Seedstars to bring the regional Summit to Mozambique, making it the biggest Seedstars Africa Summit so far with over 500 attendees. Standard Bank continues to play a key role in the activities of Seedstars across the continent.



Asia 15 ecosystems and 15 countries visited in 2017.


Asia is... Population

Population under 14 years

Mobile connections per 100 people


4,45 bn

20 %



5,6 %



Hong Kong



1,38 bn

28 %



7,1 %






1,32 bn

32 %



6,9 %






261 m

35 %



6,2 %

GDP growth

Sources: Tech in Asia, Bain, Reuters

...full of unicorns Asia is home to 76 of the world’s 221 startup unicorns - hence a third! China’s 59 unicorns are worth $259 billion with the ride-sharing app Didi being valued at around $66 billion and the fintech giant Ant Financial at $100 billion. ...raising Southeast Asian startups raised $7.86 billion from investors in 2017, an over threefold rise from 2016’s $2.52 billion with most funds being pulled in Singapore followed by Indonesia. ...thriving on e-commerce The online consumer base totals 200 MIO people across ASEAN’s top 6 economies, doubling from 2016. Consequently a diverse range of 88


payment solutions have emerged in the region. Asian fintech startups raised more than $1billion in 2017 with more than half of the funds going to China. ...smartphone-first Many consumers are going directly to smartphones with a 34% higher smartphone share growth compared to affluent nations e.g. India’s smartphone usage has increased by 290% since 2014. ...talented Cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong already have an easy time attracting well-educated individuals from across the globe. Other ecosystems such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam are popular outsourcing destinations for tech talent.


‌ and in terms of the Seedstars Index? ** Developed countries

Four Asian startup ecosystems made it to the top 10. Singapore is the absolute hub of the region and thanks to its startup and capital friendly policies as well as a competitive talent pool it is able to compete globally not only with emerging markets but also Silicon Valley. The other developed contender, Hong Kong came third overall. Its special position offers unique opportunities with an easy access to China as well as other ecosystems and high-quality infrastructure and institutions propel it to the top. Shanghai as one of China’s startup hubs is also a poster child for the country leader’s investment in innovation featuring innovation hubs, easy access to mentors and capital. Not to forget the vast market to be served. However, compared to the total population the number of entrepreneurs is still quite small. Ranking 10th overall, Delhi showed a mature

field of startups. The ecosystem is putting a lot of effort in establishing a nourishing framework with the government launching sector-specific schemes and the third highest number of startup incubators and accelerators in the world. In general Asia is coined by a very diverse landscape of ecosystems and also 4 of the bottom performers are found in Asia. While all struggle on all three aspects of the SSI - culture, environment, and opportunity -, we found a strong field of contenders in Dhaka: private efforts from HNWI, corporates and universities are supporting entrepreneurs as investors, accelerators, and incubators.




5 years of Seedstars in Asia This year we get to reflect on five years of Seedstars and five successfully completed Seeedstars World tours. As a whole, but also specifically in our Asia region, we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’ve expanded from 6 countries in Asia in 2013, to 16 for the 6th coming Seedstars Asia tour in 2018. Of the 5 past competitions, Asian startups took home 3 of the Global Winner Prizes, and continually clean up the ‘Most Innovative’ prizes. But the best is yet to come. I am confident that the next 5 years and beyond will be especially exciting times for Asia and our activities in the region. Asia is the place to be. Funding for Southeast Asian startups broke its next consecutive annual record since 2012, and pulled in US$ 7.86 billion, driven especially by later stage deals. Asia also has the most unicorns outside the US, proving the conditions are there for truly exceptional companies. The ecosystems in the region are also, generally speaking, performing comparatively well compared to other emerging markets. Four of the top 10 ecosystems we

analyzed across emerging markets are to be found in Asia, meaning the rest of the region has the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai to model best practices from. I’d also like to highlight a few of the promising developments we’ve seen. Asia is more commonly associated with e-commerce and retail than healthcare innovations. However, in 2017 we were happy to see marked increases in healthtech startups across the region. This also reflects the fact that 2017 pulverized last year’s records healthtech funding, and doubled the number of deals. As an impact seeking company, we’re glad to see disruptions occurring in this vitally important sector.

“Four of the top 10 ecosystems we analyzed across emerging markets are to be found in Asia”




Deep tech is also making a forceful arrival in Asia. Emerging markets are usually not known as epicenters of the most ground-breaking technology, which they don’t need to be; often the best solutions to the issues these country face are mobile and low-tech that have been innovatively leveraged.

albeit still in early stages; VR edtech startups in the Philippines, to blockchain in Bangladesh, and machine learning in Pakistan. The quality level of the startups we see still varies strongly across regions, but reaffirms that the playing field is leveling, and one has to truly cast a regional net to find the best startups in Asia.

However, this is changing in Asia. We’ve already seen increases in the number deep tech startups that we source, and this year there is a huge call from our partners to identify and work with machine learning, blockchain, VR/ AR startups. This incoming wave of support for these technologies will encourage even more startups to get in the game, and we are excited to see the solutions that result from this.

It’s not just numbers and trends though. Asia, as a region, is diverse in culture and rich in talent.

Furthermore, the innovation map for these technologies is growing. These developments are being lead by the usual suspects, but they aren’t limited to the most developed markets. All across the region we are seeing deeptech,

Rosie Keller

The pieces are in place for the next 5 years to be a rocketship ride, and we plan to be in the midst of things.

Regional Manager for Asia




Alumni through the years

MyCash Online, SSW16, Malaysia e-Marketplace specifically designed for massive pools of migrants in Malaysia and Singapore. MyCash Online has 80’000 customers and 800 mobile service personnel in Malaysia. MyCash Online processes an average of 50’000 transaction per month, worth about 3 million Malaysian Ringgit. Besides Malaysia, they are also available in Singapore and expanding to Bangladesh and Indonesia this year.

Field Buzz, SSW16, Bangladesh Flexible solutions for field workers using smart phones. Field Buzz is active in more than 15 countries, and has a team of 25 people spread across their offices in Dhaka and Frankfurt. They’ve worked with Danone, Unilever, the German Development Bank and recently launched a project with the Clinton Foundation in Ethiopia.




Flitto, SSW13, South Korea AI, crowdsourced, professional translation service in 18 languages. Flitto was the very first Seedstars Global Winner in 2013. They have over 7 million users worldwide, and have translated over 36’064’634 requests.

Salarium, SSW14, Philippines Complete and easy to use payroll system. Salarium was the Seedstars Global Winner of the 2014 Seedstars World edition. They have since served over 500 corporate clients.

Acudeen, SSW16, Philippines An online platform for receivables discounting. Acudeen is the latest Seedstars Global Winner, from the 2016 Seedstars World edition. In 2017, they provided liquidity to over 400 SMEs by factoring over $3 million worth of invoices. Acudeen recently expanded to Myanmar, and is embarking on further regional expansion for the coming year. They are also in the process of launching a blockchain based version of the offering on their platform. seedstars.com



A Glimpse Into the Startup Ecosystem in Myanmar by Adriana Collini

“There are very few places in the world that present such an opportunity to make a difference”, says Rita Nguyen, founder and CEO of Jzoo, a digital loyalty program, and named on Forbes’s ‘Power Women to Watch’ list. We sit in a stylish cafe in downtown Yangon just across from Junction City, a shopping center, which only opened two months ago and makes you feel as if you were in a super mall in Dubai rather than in a country that only recently opened to the world. My feeling was vastly different the first time I was here in early 2014. The country had only been open to tourists for two years, the first few ATMs had been set up a few weeks earlier, and SIM cards still cost $200 each. Internet was more or less non existent and if I were to find wifi, it was so slow, I’d give up and return to enjoy some internet-free days. This time, I’m surrounded by local and international tech entrepreneurs that are part of Myanmar’s nascent startup ecosystem. They are eager to solve the country’s problems and seize the opportunities that the recent liberalization of the communication market has brought along, which increased mobile penetration to 60% and internet penetration to 25%. At Seedstars Yangon, startups presented ideas to combat local challenges e.g. Neh Thit 94


by providing a chatbot based job platform for low-skilled workers, Kargo that provides an innovative on-demand logistics solution, InstaCash, which reduces interest rates, and startups that try to empower and educate farmers (Greenovator and Agtrade). Ye Myat Min is one local founder, who has already succeeded. He is the CEO of of Nexlabs, a digital agency and is on Forbes’s ‘30 under 30’ list. When we met, I stepped into an office that was bursting with people as the company had grown to over 75 employees. As many entrepreneurs and founders in Myanmar, Ye is a repatriate. Having studied in Singapore, he experienced the mindset there and asked “if these people can do it, why can’t people do it in Myanmar?” Both Ye and Rita tell me they struggle to find like-minded and critical employees. Ye experienced that “a lot of people are scared to leave their comfort zone and rather react than tackle problems proactively.” Similarly, since the ecosystem is young and exposure to startups is limited, not many people have experience in scaling a business. “Though talent is a challenge, if they want to learn, they are really in“, says Rita. Judging from everyone I’ve had the opportunity to talk with, I can only agree. When I arrived in Yangon, I rushed from the airport to an event at Phandeeyar, the local accelerator, and it was packed with young motivated people.


All the entrepreneurs I had the opportunity to work with during Seedstars’s two day bootcamp - on topics such as growth hacking and team dynamics - were eager to learn and open to feedback. A struggle all entrepreneurs in Myanmar face is the regulatory framework, reports Ye. The ‘Ease of Doing Business Report’ currently ranks Myanmar 170 out of 190 countries. This high rank is especially attributed to getting credit, enforcing contracts, and protecting minority investors. But the country is working hard to improve these numbers. Part of the report is the ease of starting a business, which Myanmar improved to 146 in 2017 from 170 in 2016 by e.g. reducing costs and procedures to set up a business. One needs to be aware of the context. After being one of the richest countries in Southeast Asia under British rule, the Burmese pursuit of Socialism turned it into one of the world’s poorest countries. In 1987, the United Nations named it one of the least developed countries. Only eight years ago, in 2009, Myanmar was rated the least free country in Asia (then a tie with North Korea). Also merely ten years ago,

Transparency International ranked Myanmar as the most corrupt country in the world (tied with Somalia). Although Myanmar still has the lowest life expectancy among ASEAN countries (World Bank) the country is speeding toward recovery, with McKinsey expecting the economy to quadruple in 2030. According to the Asian Development Bank, Myanmar’s GDP grew by 7.5% in 2017 - the highest growth rate in Southeastern Asia. These developments also spur the entrepreneurial spirit in the country. However, the local entrepreneurs are also facing an issue typical to young ecosystems: the struggle to find funding and mentorship. To access capital and expertise, many founders have to look abroad. Simultaneously, not many startups are ready for investment yet, and a lot of guidance is needed. This is the perfect point in time for initiatives like Seedstars to step in. By bringing expertise and investors to the country, we can create value and support the local ecosystem development. Rita is convinced: ”We will see more and more investors entering the country. Now is finally the time where we are ready for tech investments in Myanmar.”




We could not do it without them

The National Innovation Agency of Thailand and Startup Thailand The National Innovation Agency of Thailand (NIA) has a vision to position Thailand as a regional hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in Asia. Their substantial engagement allowed us to amplify our impact not just in Thailand, but regionally, by supporting the Seedstars Asia Summit. We are thrilled to have been able to jointly pull off the largest Seedstars Asia Summit yet.

The Omidyar Network We are extremely grateful for the support we enjoyed from the Omidyar Network this year, because they supported some of those projects that are dearest to our hearts: those with direct, and profound impact on startups from nascent ecosystems. Thanks to the Omidyar Network we were able to run a 3-day bootcamp for entrepreneurs in Yangon with international mentors and our own Investment Team. We were also able, thanks to their support, to bring a delegation of 5 seed-stage startups from Myanmar to the Seedstars Asia Summit, to benefit from regional immersion and connections.




Digital Ventures Digital Ventures is a fintech powerhouse in Asia, and we are thrilled to have partnered with them for the past three years. Their dedication and long-term vision of supporting the Thai ecosystem as a whole, is what we find incredibly inspiring!

Osborne Clarke We were very excited to have partnered with Osborne Clarke in 2017, and to work with a company leading the innovation charge in a still relatively traditional industry. We love to collaborate with players who genuinely care about keeping on top of the innovation game.



CEE 12 ecosystems and 10 countries visited in 2017.


CEE is... Population

Internet E-commerce penetration size

Smartphone penetration

Young population

GDP growth

33,29 m 70,1%

$120 bn

41,8 %

15,21% 4,1 %







144 m

91,4 %

$ 17.47bn



8,8 %







1,3 m

44,1 %

$2 bn

27 %

13,4 %

3,8 %

Source: Nationmaster.com,EuroVoc, n-ix.com, HSBC Emerging-europe,

... inventive Automatic gearbox, alarm clock, parachute, soft contact lenses, world wide web, wireless heart rate monitor were all invented in CEE.

... speaking many languages On average, at least 3 languages are spoken in many of the CEE countries.

... connected More than half of the countries in Europe are in TOP 10 list of the highest internet connectivity in the world.

... a talent pool for IT

... literate

CEE is known for its growing number of IT talents. Just in Ukraine, there are more than 130,000 IT graduates each year.

99.5% of the people in CEE countries are literate.

100 seedstars.com


‌ and in terms of the Seedstars Index? Only Moscow made it amongst the top 10 this year in terms of SSI rankings, compared to 3 ecosystems being in the top 10 last year. This is mainly due to rapid expansion in other less developed markets. However, none of the CEE ecosystems were in the bottom 10 performers. In CEE the bottom 50% in terms of SSI performance are also underperformers on the SSI/GDP scale. While Moscow and Kiev are amongst the top 10 overperformers globally.

Kiev has developed quickly following a couple of big exits (eg. Looksery was acquired for $150mn by Snapchat, Ericpol by Ericsson, Maxymiser by Oracle, and Jeapie by Canada’s Mobify), a makerspace boom and the opening of several IT clusters. All of this was done with private initiatives, but the government has recently also announced the establishment of a tech fund of funds. Kiev has also became the center of R&D for a lot of European and American companies with over 120,000 developers officially working nationwide (some say the actual number of developers is more than 300,000). The city has come to have one of the strongest entrepreneurial cultures in emerging markets and the highest in the CEE. This could be partially attributed to the sheer volume of startup events happening almost every day in Ukraine.

seedstars.com 101


5 Years of Seedstars in CEE The very first local startup competition by Seedstars World was organized in Moscow in 2013, so “it all started in CEE.� For the past five years, about 20 countries in CEE and Central Asia have been pinned on the Seedstars World map. In 2018, we are aiming to involve more representatives from the Baltic and Balkan regions, in response to their sincere interest in uniting regional entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Same history, different approaches Most countries, the most substantial part of the CEE region, have almost the same historical context regarding their economic development - at the beginning of the 1990s, after the Soviet Union collapsed, they started from scratch. Doing business on ruined infrastructure was not easy, and it took some time to get some positive results. Even 5-7 years ago, just a few of the CEE countries were interesting for tech investors, whether internal or external. But it did not stop local innovators and entrepreneurs from creating a new economy. Wherever you go in this region, you can find tech hubs, business incubators, and accelerators trying to disrupt the old business system and to have an impact.

Each week, they organize networking events for developers, creators, visionaries, corporate business representatives, and investors. Many local tech conferences have grown into significant national or regional business events, attracting investors and corporates from around the globe. However, not all countries in CEE and Central Asia are showing the successes that could be hoped for. Mainly, this is influenced by factors like support or neutrality of the local government, the capability of the ecosystem players to unite and work together on the same goals, and the general political and economic situation.

Wherever you go in this region, you can find tech hubs, business incubators, and accelerators trying to disrupt the old business system and to have an impact.�

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What the regional Seedstars CEE Summits of 2016 (Kazakhstan) and 2017 (Ukraine) have shown us is that the CEE entrepreneurship is moving to the next level. They attracted attendees not only from the region, and not just from emerging markets - Western Europe, East Asia, and the USA were also represented. Our networking has resulted in potential deals between local startups - and global companies or investment funds. They were also invited to pitch at various international tech conferences in Western Europe and Baltic countries.

During the past five years of traveling, we found out that CEE tends to have amazing technology talent pools and great products, but limited expertise concerning sales, marketing, and building partnerships. That’s why in 2018, we’ll focus on developing a chain of Seedspaces in the region, where we will be running our soft skills schools, acceleration programs, and company building activities. Igor Ovcharenko Regional Manager for CEE

Moreover, the connections we made during the Summits will help us to launch startup competitions in new cities and unleash even more opportunities for entrepreneurs in emerging markets. seedstars.com 103


Alumni through the years

Treepex, SSW16, Georgia Blockchain infrastructure for green CSR. Based on experiences, Treepex team identified opportunities to create an impact-driven blockchain technology and cryptocurrency for social responsibility - specifically the $20+ billion corporate social responsibility market.

Talkbank, SSW16, Russia AI-based banking platform in Telegram messenger which understands commands in natural language and replies instantly. At the end of the year 2017, Talkbank raised more than $1mln investment from .

104 seedstars.com


TripMyDream, SSW15, Ukraine An online destination metasearch that saves time and money for travelers looking for value travel deals. TripMyDream’s ultimate goal is to become an upper-funnel service (one-stop shop) and reduce the number of offers proposed to customers while increasing their relevance.

Smart Satu, SSW16, Kazakhstan An alternative B2B e-commerce platform that delivers an unrivalled level of efficiency and fairness of trade for small and medium enterprises offering a direct connection with suppliers, financial institutions and logistics companies. Smart Satu raised $3.3 million in investment in 2017.

SoloLearn, SSW14, Armenia A mobile social platform where everyone can learn coding. It breaks the stereotypes of institutional instructor-centric learning and creates a student-centric open platform that provides a unique learning experience. SoloLearn is the world’s biggest community of mobile developers, and it has been announced as ”App of the Year in 2017” by FbStart.

seedstars.com 105


Alumni Interview: How Treepex hacked both the system and the narrative with a fake product announcement Treepex is our inspiring finalist from Seedstars Georgia 2017. Treepex recently made a lot of noise across the globe with its ‘fake announcement’ of a new wearable air cleaning device that would solve air pollution. Treepex’s co-founder Bacho Khachidze took some time to answer our questions.

Seedstars: Hi Bacho! Could you describe in a few lines what Treepex does, and how it impacts emerging markets? Bacho Khachidze: Treepex plants trees. And we do this with an easy-to-use platform and an innovative tracking system. Every tree we plant for businesses or individual users is tagged with an NFC microchip which records the tree’s geographical location, who 106 seedstars.com

owns the tree, and when it was planted. As each tree has its own unique number, we make it possible to name the trees and track their progress. With an easy to implement API, businesses can have their customers collect points until they reach a certain threshold. Once they have sufficient points, a tree will automatically be planted for their customers without any extra cost. We enable businesses to design better CSR campaigns while solving deforestation problems in rural areas throughout the world. We’re not only making the world a bit greener by planting trees, but we’re also transforming more people into green advocates! By merging the physical act of planting trees with innovative technology, our team of seven (all from Georgia!) delivers actual positive impact.


Treepex’s fake product announcement

S: Could you quickly explain your business model for us? BK: The cost of a tree to be planted depends on a tree species and location starting from $6.50. Treepex takes service fee from each transaction.

S: You made a lot of noise recently with a “fake announcement” of the Treepex device! Can you tell us more about it; how you got the idea, how you implemented it, and the effective results of this operation?

messages the same way the smokers ignore the warnings on cigarette packs. The standard approaches do not work. So, we decided to go the non-traditional way. We created a website and a video of a bizarre product – a mechanical device that filters the polluted air. The video truly went viral and millions of people throughout the world reacted to it. The campaign clearly showed the prevalent attitude that it is preferable or easier to install mechanical devices in their mouth/ nose rather than taking actions with a real impact in the world.

BK: Treepex’s device does not exist. In fact, it is Treepex’ mission to make sure that the device never should exist, which is exactly why we did it. The world must reckon with an invisible killer: air pollution. And, indeed, it is our mission to fight air pollution and deforestation globally. However, while working on these sensitive issues, we soon realised that people ignore our seedstars.com 107


108 seedstars.com


S: As a relevant stakeholder of Georgia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, what do you think of it? Does it offer everything you need as an entrepreneur? BK: Georgia is taking its first steps to develop the startup ecosystem and observing the abundance of talented and risk-taking entrepreneurs, I strongly believe Georgia has huge potential. However, there are still plenty of challenges Georgian entrepreneurs are facing right now, such as access to capital, a non-startup-friendly tax system, lack of tech human resources, labs for research and development and many more. BUT the positive steps taken by Government of Georgia can’t be neglected either.

S: How do you see the future of Treepex and what objectives did you set for yourself for the next few years? BK: Whenever a marketing and CSR manager plants a “green campaign”, we want Treepex to be on their minds.

While we think a lot about the future, there are a lot of projects that demand our attention here and now. Today, one of the largest and most biodiverse national forests in Europe needs our urgent help. In August 2008, man-made wildfires hit the ecologically significant Borjom forest as the result of an ongoing war between Russia and Georgia - it was the place where I grew up and spent my childhood. Wildfires, lasting several days, spread across hundreds of hectares of forest. Over the year, the forest has repeatedly suffered both man-made and natural destruction, resulting in an ecological disaster. Full rehabilitation will require more than two million seedlings to be planted. Our goal for the next year is to engage up to 500 companies and 50,000 individual users to rebuild the old glory of the national forest. We’ve also partnered with several state organizations in different continents that require our help in places like Kenya, Tanzania, Argentina, and California. Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do to make the world a greener and better place to live in!

S: And that’s it for now. We wish Bacho and his team only the best during these exciting times.

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We could not do it without them

The Omidyar Network Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Omidyar Network was established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam. The organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change and committed more than $1 billion to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that foster economic advancement across multiple initiatives, including education, emerging tech, financial inclusion, governance & citizen engagement, and property rights. Their support made an incredible Seedstars CEE Summit possible.

Microsoft Local Microsoft offices supported pitching events in the countries of the CEE region, as well as the Seedstars CEE Summit 2017, where the company took the role of the Technology Partner. Our selected startups got many useful insights for their business growth and scaling from the mentors - representatives of Microsoft.

Alliance Group Holding One of our key partners in the region is Alliance Group Holding, which is actively promoting and building the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Georgia. Last year, AGH created a venture fund with the aim to make Georgia an attractive and beneficial place for foreign investors. We have been fortunate to work with such a great partner at the Seedstars Tbilisi event.

110 seedstars.com


Embassies of Switzerland 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.

Chasopys Creative space and coworking Chasopys is among the first places in Kiev, Ukraine, that can offer to its visitors a mix of events such as open lectures, trainings, or consultations. They help to empower entrepreneurs to go from ideas to successful businesses through the supportive community. We can always count on them when we need some space to work from, to gather and inspire volunteers, and to conduct the pitching event itself.

Barama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Barama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center is a project established by Azercell Telecom in 2009 as the first project in Azerbaijan aimed at fostering business and innovation, growing and maintaining digital and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Barama gained recognition as the most powerful center in Azerbaijan, the main goal of which is to help startups to build their business, bring innovative services, and reach new customers. We are grateful for their consistent support for the past five years!

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LATAM 21 ecosystems and 12 countries visited in 2017.


LATAM is... Population

Internet E-commerce penetration size

Smartphone penetration

Young population

652 m


$68 bn

56,1 %


2,3 %







204 m

93 %

$ 16 bn

71,7 %

35 %

5,3 %



El Salvador





28 %

$121 m

30 %

16,7 %

-6 %

GDP growth

Source: Worldbank, IMDB. UN.org, GSMA, Statista, Unicef

...supporting entrepreneurship as the economy of the future

regions in the world, with the majority of residents living in cities.

In 2010, the Chilean government was the first in the world to create a program called Start-Up Chile that “seeks to attract foreign, high-potential entrepreneurs to come to Chile to bootstrap their businesses with the end goal of converting Chile into the innovation and entrepreneurial hub of Latin America” (Start-Up Chile).

... democratizing education and technology

... attractive In 2017, the foreign investment in the region increased by 3%.

... buying online Latin America is one of the fastest-growing regions for e-commerce. We expect online retail sales to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% between 2014 and 2019 to reach $85 billion in sales at the end of the forecast period.

..urban Latin America is one of the most urbanized 114 seedstars.com

The government of Uruguay was the first in the world to connect all of its public schools to the Internet and to provide all primary school children with a free laptop. Laboratoria, a Peruvian startup, offers professional inclusion to women from vulnerable sectors, certifying them as web developers. Coderise, a Colombian NGO teaches teenagers to code and connects them to the technological ecosystem.

... targeting transparency

Latin American countries are working on several efforts to tackle corruption and improve their business environments. Mexico’s Congress has already created a governmentbacked National Anti-Corruption System, in Argentina there are 50+ bilateral investment treaties (BITs) in place to protect investments, and Paraguay is partnering with entities like the National Anti-Corruption Department and the World Bank to reduce corruption.


‌ and in terms of the Seedstars Index?

Just as the previous year, Santiago de Chile and Mexico City are among the top performers. This is mainly owed to both the Chilean as well as the Mexican governments allocating funds towards the ecosystems and modeling policies accordingly to the framework of Start-Up Chile and INADEM. While they offer nurturing surroundings, they have yet to foster one of the region’s unicorns. Although Buenos Aires is not among the top performers of the region, it has created supportive institutions and good infrastructure to create the most unicorns in Latam. Santa Cruz did not manage to leave the group of the bottom performers in 2017, and Bolivia is scoring particularly low on the relative number of entrepreneurs and the local mindset.

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5 Years of Seedstars in LATAM From four countries in 2013 (Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Brazil), we have expanded our scope to 12 countries and 21 cities in 2017.

In those five years, we have witnessed impressive growth in the tech and entrepreneurship ecosystems across the region. Governments are no longer the enemy. CORFO, the Chilean government initiative to support entrepreneurs, took the lead in 2011 with the creation of Start-Up Chile, that has helped over 1,600 early-stage ventures. In 2013, they were one of the first nations to create a law to set up a business in a single day. At the other geographic extremity, Mexico, through INADEM, has invested in over 35 funds in the last couple of years. Others countries understood it was time to bet on education; like Uruguay who was the first nation in the world to provide one computer per child at school. As a consequence of better ecosystems and ease of doing business, the flow of capital is increasing. According to the latest five-year investment trends studies of the Latin America Venture Capital (LAVCA), investors have deployed over 2.1 billion dollars in the region. Crowd equity platforms such as Broota, or the co-investment vehicle announced last September between the private equity investor Mesoamerica and the company builder Polymath Ventures to scale high-impact companies over Latin America, are other innovative ways to foster access to capital. This is no longer a need to prove that talent is everywhere. More than ever, Latin American 116 seedstars.com

talent pools attract big players such as the AI company Wizeline that installed one of its main tech centers in Guadalajara, Mexico. Seedstars was also proud to see some of its alumni becoming success stories. In 2016, BusPortal became the first Peruvian company to exit when acquired by RedBus, one of Naspers portfolio companies. This year, the Colombian crowd factoring startup, Mesfix, raised $1.2 million to help SMEs find a solution to cash flows shortage through invoice factoring. It is also the time of the women, and we are proud to see our alumni leading the change. Vera Makarov became one of the first women to close a round in Latin America, raising $1.5 million to expand the impact of the app Apli that fights unemployment in emerging markets. She was followed 6 months later by Min Chen, CEO of Interfase, an augmented reality app, our Panama winner from 2016, which raised over $1 million. Finally, Seedstars has just made its 2 first investments in Latam, in Edupass, an edtech company from the Dominican Republic, and Ultracasas.com, one of the fastest growing startups in Bolivia in the real estate industry. When we said talent was everywhere, we really meant it. What’s next?


The gap to developed markets remains important. Bolivia’s GDP per capita is still 9x smaller than that of Switzerland. Providing quality education, fostering gender equality, having an effective healthcare system, transforming mobility, and working on financial inclusion are some of the key challenges to tackle. If we say the future is digital, we need to solve the issue of leveraging connectivity, knowing that in Latin America, over 50% of the population is still waiting to get online. What if we could provide free connectivity to everyone through mobile & blockchain - as is driving our Mexican alumni 2015 Pig.gi with its Siglo Protocol? The way to go is long but promising. In five years, we have built a community of hungry achievers: big corporates (BBVA, Microsoft or Continental), ecosystem enablers (Socialatom, IncubaUC, Startupfarm), the

press and media (PulsoSocial, Forbes, El Comercio Peru), governments (Corfo), and investors (Inicia Educacion), and of course, the kickass entrepreneurs that went through our competition, have all played a key role in making all that progress happen. Together, we will work hard to bridge the gap and take advantage of the huge opportunities coming out of the region.

This is happening now, join us?

Juliane Butty Regional Manager Latin America

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Alumni through the years

The Other Guys, SSW14, Argentina Create and adapt traditional series to an interactive digital format. Featured in Business Insider for taking the customization of TV to a whole new level, the startup has just launched its OTT platform, Thrillo, that offers interactive series allowing viewers to choose where the story goes next.

Busportal, SSW14, Peru An online platform helping customers to efficiently find information, compare, and buy bus tickets in Latin America. In July 2016, Busportal was acquired by the Indian Ibido Group subsidiary of Naspers. The founders Carol Riboud and Hassan Bourgi continue to lead the Latam operations & expansion, they just entered Colombia and have 75 employees in Latam.

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Pig.gi, SSW15, Mexico Lock screen app that lets users earn free mobile airtime for engaging with the brand. Pig.gi raised $2.3 million last December. Funds will be partly used to launch their new protocol, Siglo, based on Ethereum Blockchain to facilitate access to free mobile connectivity in emerging markets.

Redoxygen, SSW16, Panama Redoxygen is a platform to crowdsource data in the real world in a fast, efficient, and sustainable manner for a wide range of industries such as retail, infrastructure, and entertainment. Last december, Redoxygen led by its CEO Min Chen, became the first Panamanian startup to raise over $1 million in funding.

Apli, SSW16, Mexico Apli accelerates recruiting 10x through AI powered chatbot for on demand temporary workers and permanent positions. Over last 10 months, Apli and its CEO Vera Makarov raised $2.1 million in a round entirely led by women. There are currently 40 people working at Apli.

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Leveraging technology to respond to earthquakes damage – the Mexican example By Juliane Butty

19th September 2017, 1:13 pm – Mexico was hit by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, 32 years after the 1985 Mexico earthquake that caused more than 10,000 deaths. While technology and scientific progress have improved continually over the past 30 years, there are still things that humans can’t predict or control. Earthquakes are a terrible example of this. At the time of writing this article, thousands of volunteers were in the streets of Mexico City working together and demonstrating an incredible chain of solidarity. Different brigades were searching for survivors under tons of rock from the over 40+ buildings that collapsed, groups of friends were driving all around the cities to distribute water, others were preparing sandwiches in the corner of the street to feed volunteers, and the large majority of them had an eye on their smartphone to get the latest information, to offer or search for help, and to coordinate action. In the context of the Mexico earthquake, technology has played an important role and helped to respond better to the disaster by connecting people and information. Here’s a quick list of technologies that impacted people’s lives in the city and that hopefully can 120 seedstars.com

help handle catastrophes in other parts of the world: Facebook’s Safety Check – which first allowed users in disaster zones to mark themselves as safe is now also a social peer to peer platform to offer and ask for help. As a result, 27 hours after the earthquake, the Facebook Safety Check for Mexico, Puebla, Rabosa’s Earthquake counted 1,103 help demands and 9,983 help offers. Collaborative Google Map – allowed customized maps to register the different zones where buildings collapsed as well as the different help centers available to assist the population. The collaborative Google Maps was also used some days later to locate people that needed help after the Hurricane Harvey under the name, Rescue Houston Google map. As a non-profit initiative, the online page Comoayudarmexico.mx was created to centralize in one place the different ways to help. It works with a well known open source development software, Github.


Amazon wish list – based on needs shared by the Red Cross Mexico, Amazon created a customized list to donate exactly what was needed Airbnb Disaster Response Program – which allows Airbnb user as well as non-registered people to offer free accommodation for temporary periods. Many big tech names provided support by offering free services as well. Other examples are Uber & Cabify which offered sponsored rides at defined times to help people move in the city or go back home. The telco operators Telcel & AT&T provided free calls and wifi, while BBVA Bancomer, a bank leading the digital transformation, stopped to charge withdrawal fee at their ATM till the end of September. Mexican startups, even with smaller teams and different resources, were also highly involved in the effort. And, not surprisingly, they were often

faster to react than big corporations. Three examples that highlight this well were: Rappi Mexico – the fast-growing delivery platform active in Mexico & Colombia, designed, in a few hours, an incredible service of support with the possibility to do donations through their platform, and also had its fleet of delivery contractors on the ground doing food, medication or water delivery in different parts of the city. Bitso – Mexico’s first cryptocurrencies exchange platform opened an account to receive donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple allowing faster and more transparent money transactions. Terapify – the early stage startup providing online psychological therapy offered free sessions for people affected by the earthquake.

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Facebook Safety Check

Collaborative Google Map

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Many other startups shared advice with their user community, such as Pig.gi, which was working with Mowisat to provide free satellite internet at the distribution centers, or Pay It that was facilitating donation transfer through its social payment platform.

I am indeed not only speaking of company’s founders, but actually of any citizen that through this period of crisis acts with responsibility and is able to leverage technology and their network to impact and help effectively & with solidarity.

If technology enables us to swiftly deal with natural disasters, it is not to forget that behind it, there are people. Entrepreneurs who are able to think fast about how to pivot their product/ services or to leverage their community to serve the affected population and who are in the meantime driven by creating a positive impact and by taking responsibility by being engaged citizens.

That’s what Mexicans showed us that week by creating #BrigadaDigitalMX to organize help & information. #FuerzaMexico

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We could not do it without them

BBVA After 2 years of partnering with the leading hispanic bank, BBVA, we have taken our collaboration to the next level. Joining efforts, we looked for the most promising startup that could improve the finance industry for their Open Talent Competition. In this fintech marathon, we travelled to over 13 cities of Latin America and sourced 400+ companies. The adventure continues this year, with BBVA hosting the 10th edition of its Open Talent Competition. Startups that aims to bring value to the world of finances can apply @ www.opentalent.bbva.com/

BBVA Bancomer - Mexico And our relationship keeps growing as well with BBVA Bancomer - a Mexican subsidiary of BBVA. A strong engagement between Seedstars and the team of Mexico has been established and mainly led by our incredibly talented & proactive ambassador, Marcela Zetina, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at BBVA Bancomer. The highlight of this collaboration was the Seedstars Latam Summit hosted last December at the Torre Bancomer and supported by this leading Mexican bank. Over 450+ attendees joined the activities, among them 40+ investors, and 26 selected startups. We don’t change a winning team and we are happy to announce that we will launch our sixth edition of the Latam Tour with them on May 17th in Mexico City.

Bradesco-Brazil We started partnering with the Brazilian Bank Bradesco in order to promote their new initiative Inovabra, which involves a wide range of activities to support the development of the startups and an innovative financial services ecosystem. Together, we executed an incredible tour within Brazil, and we hosted our competition in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and Florianópolis for the very first time. We then reached out to our community to support the organisation of Bradesco’s road show in Recife, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba, and connected the bank to 380+ startups. 124 seedstars.com


Continental We met Continental’s team one year ago during the 2017 Seedstars Summit, before catching up again at Seedstars Guadalajara. We signed some months later to execute a Mobility Prize involving the screening of related startups in the whole region, a dedicated workshop about Mexico - Smart Mobility City 2030, and finally an acceleration through our Growth Program for the winner. The Prize was awarded to the startup from Cali, Notiplac. You can meet them at the Summit! Together with Continental team we aim big and some interesting initiatives should be announced very soon - stay tuned!

Corfo Chile was one of the first governments in Latam to financially support Seedstars. This year, we partnered with Corfo - the government initiative fostering innovation and startups, in order to encourage the development of tech entrepreneurship within and outside Santiago. With the support of Incuba UC, we hosted 4 competitions - Puerto Montt, Valparaíso, Concepción & Santiago, before holding our finals in the capital. Thanks to this collaboration, we brought 4 international mentors & jury members to Chile, trained over 100 startups, and finally awarded RedCapital as the most promising Chilean Startup.

Fedex Cross Border For the second year now, we have the pleasure of collaborating with Federico Lara, CTO of Fedex Cross Border & his impressive team. Together, we dream to foster a new mindset that understands how to leverage cross-border e-commerce. Together, we have organised 5 thematic discussions and aim to do much more in the year to come. Inicia Educacion Education is one of the topics closest to our hearts. For example, we partner with the Jacobs Foundation and the HEG Fribourg as global level. In Latin America, we did another partnership with Inicia Educacion, an investment group that focuses on improving education with a special interest in new digital learning methods. We organised an EdTech Prize that brought us to list 50+ edtech startups in the region within only 2 weeks. We awarded Ludibuk as the Best Edtech Venture during our Seedstars Latam Summit.

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MENA 8 ecosystems and 11 countries visited in 2017.


MENA is... Population

Internet E-commerce penetration size

Smartphone penetration

Young population

GDP growth

0.45 bn 47,6%

$41 bn

50 %


4,9 %







99 m

98 %

$ 10 bn

80,6 %

35,8 %

13,4 %







1.57 m

39,2 %

$225 m

30,4 %

13,9 %

1,2 %

Source: Worldbank, Arabnet. UN.org, GSMA, Statista, MidEastMedia.org, Newzoo Market Reports

... maturing

... paving the way forward

The region saw another $1 billion valuation in Careem, another $500m fund raised by Saudi Telecom Ventures enter the scene, and over $1 billion in exits in 2017.

With Dubai appointing the first ever Minister for Artificial Intelligence and announcing its plans to have the first Blockchain powered government.

... transforming

... going global

and slowly moving away from the oil industry and diversifying with a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.

The region is attracting international investors, such as Amazon’s acquisition of souq.com, and many startups raising capital from abroad.

... adapting

... growing

Governments across the region are starting initiatives such as raising funds, starting accelerators, and passing legislation to ease the process of setting up and closing a business.

Population in the Middle East is expected to rise by almost 50% over the next 25 years – at a rate faster than that of India. However, its age pyramid will shift by 2050, with far more elderly nationals in the GCC (20%) than the expected world average (16%).

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… and in terms of the Seedstars Index? ** Developed countries

MENA ecosystems have the second highest average SSI score for a region. Ecosystems in this region mainly fall into the 1st and 2nd quartiles of the overall rank, with non-performing amongst the top 10 or bottom 20. Turkey


Turkey topped the region as it has one of the oldest and most developed startup ecosystems in MENA. What Turkey has that most other countries in the region lack, is the presence of high-tech startups, research focused institutions, and strong technical talent. It boasts 200+ universities and many science and technology parks, which host a huge number of technology firms and startups that work in tandem to develop new and innovative solutions.

The startup scene in Egypt is blossoming, with great advancement coming from governmental support for entrepreneurship. The newly appointed Minister of Investment, Sahar Naser “has so far demonstrated a willingness and commitment to hear from a lot of youth and startups which gives the ecosystem (for the first time) more interest from the government side.” says Kennedy Kitheka, Managing Director of Seedstars Egypt. The Ministry of Investment and Egypt Ventures have also recently announced a partnership to start a massive incubator ‘Fekretk sherketak’ that will incubate over 100 startups.

Turkey has a huge market with an 80M+ population and more than 50% daily active internet users. The ecosystem has substantial backing from the private sector with 15 angel investment networks and 5 new corporate VCs announcing their launch in 2018. Most impressive is the independent Turkish Technology Development Foundation (TTGV). It has supported “technological innovation activities in Turkey,” providing $300 million to 950, largely R&D, projects. TTGV also contributed to the establishment of investment firms, Is Girisim and TURKVEN, both of which have made combined investments over $3.5 billion. This has laid the foundation for Turkish venture capital.

Egypt presents a huge opportunity for regional startups with a market of 100M consumers and the lowest salaries for experts in the region. For the first time, business registration has been made easy, with the Ministry of Investments offering companies the option of online registration. Concurrently, Egypt’s parliament has passed new bankruptcy laws which aim to spur investment in the country.

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5 years of Seedstars in MENA

A Region on the brink of an entrepreneurial revolution The Middle East and North Africa is going through a rapid political and socioeconomic transformation. Signs of economic recovery post the Arab Spring in 2011 are prominently starting to show in many parts of the region, illustrated by a rapid growth in GDP of up to 13% in some countries. The massive drop in oil prices was a big problem for oil exporting countries that rely heavily on oil exports for their prosperity. The drop in prices, however, resulted in many governments, especially in the GCC area, rethinking their strategies and diversifying into more innovative industries. This diversification resulted in a substantial amount of resources being allocated to these high-tech and innovation sectors. Coupling this with the fact that the region has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 70% of people being under the age of 25, marks the start of a new entrepreneurial revolution.

Government support for entrepreneurship Governments and the public sector in MENA have also started to double down on support

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for MSMEs and promoting entrepreneurship as a valued career choice for the younger generations and students. 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. A shift in mindset across the region is evident from the various incubators, accelerators, VC funds, and startups launching every month. 2017 alone saw the launch of 8+ new VC funds with the number of start-ups registered on Magnitt, the region’s largest entrepreneurship database reaching 5000! Other substantial projects include the launch of Area 2071 in Dubai to bring the best talent and innovators together in one place, as well as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 projects.

The celebrated entrepreneur The entrepreneurial spirit has also managed to attract a lot of media and press attention, creating a wave of celebrations for entrepreneurs through various awards and accolades, thus driving more people towards entrepreneurial endeavours.


Saif Ahmed, the co-founder of our winning startup from Egypt, Widebot, was listed as one of the 25 under 25 entrepreneurs in Egypt by Startup Scene. Widebot also secured 2nd place at Arabnet’s Startup Battle in Cairo, then went on to take 3rd place at Arabnet’s Regional Startup Championships. Vision in Motion, our winning startup from Beirut also managed to secure 1st place at the Arabnet Startup Battle in Beirut. paym.es, our winning startup from Turkey, was selected as the best Startup at Smartcon 2017, as well as one of the Slush100 and made it to top 50 best startups in Europe at the Slush Festival. Our most promising startup from the GCC, WNNA, was awarded Best Startup in User Experience at GITEX Dubai summit, and later the ICT Startup of the Year at MEET ICT Bahrain.

The spread of fintech In a region where 86% of the adult population remains unbanked, fintech has been rising as one of the most promising industries in MENA. In 2017, fintech startups accounted for 9.7% of the total deal count, according to MENABytes. One of those startups is Seedstars portfolio company, UAE-based Democrance, offering insurance protection to the 99% uninsured population in the region through their mobile phones. The regional fintech ecosystem is

evolving, largely driven by the lack of service provision by banks who are failing to keep up with current technological trends. Late in 2017, Bahrain announced the launch of its Fintech Bay as a hub and launchpad which aims to bolster the kingdom as a fintech powerhouse.

It’s not pitch decks and closing rounds everywhere On the other hand, parts of the region such as Syria, Libya, and Yemen remain largely war-torn and the refugee crisis is draining many resources from neighbouring countries. This ongoing crisis has struck a chord with many of the entrepreneurial-minded inhabitants of the MENA region, resulting in many innovative solutions being developed to help refugees settle in, integrate with local communities, and even start their own businesses. Initiatives such as MIT’s Innovate for Refugees competition, and the Refugees Code Week, are tackling the areas with the highest trouble through technology and entrepreneurship.

Omar barakat Associate for Middle East and North Africa

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Alumni through the years

Segmentify, SSW16, Turkey Segmentify is an e-commerce personalisation platform that helps online retailers to optimise their conversion rates by enabling them to deliver a unique shopping experience for each visitor. Currently, Segmentify is providing personalisation and real-time analytics solutions to more than 100 customers from 10 countries around the world and helping online retailers to deliver a unique online shopping experience by making each shopper feel special.

Mind Rockets, SSW16, Jordan Mind Rockets develops assistive technological solutions for the deaf & hard of hearing worldwide. Mind Rockets currently has over 130,000 people using our 3 mobile apps (Mimix3D: for American Sign Language, Turjuman: for Arabic Sign Language, and Ramz: for Jordanian Sign Language). Mind Rockets also was among selected startups invited by Mark Zuckerberg to attend a roundtable meeting at a Facebook event.

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Myki, SSW14, Lebanon Myki is a cyber security 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 was named one of the ‘Top Password Managers 2018’ globally by PCMag, 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.

Asafeer, SSW16, UAE Asafeer is a a smarter, cost efficient way to read for school students. It creates original attractive Arabic content, and delivers it to customers in the most cost efficient way. Asafeer relies on the best literacy research in making decisions building the product and content.

Evey, SSW16, Tunisia Evey is web & mobile platform that helps community managers realize real time votes/surveys with automoted data analysis. Evey offers a unique, one of a kind real-time data analysis automation for surveys. It increases response rate thanks to well designed and formulated survey templates, and provides real time analytics and reporting with intuitive visualisation.

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We could not do it without them

Startup Bahrain (EDB Bahrain) StartUp Bahrain is a community initiative that brings together entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, incubators, educational institutions, and the Bahrain government to promote startup culture in the country. Through its continuous support of Seedstars activities in the MENA Region over the past two years, EDB Bahrain’s initiative, Startup Bahrain is continuing on its mission of creating an environment where young businesses can flourish and take advantage of the rapidly evolving Gulf marketplace.

The U.S. Embassy in Manama in Kuwait Our 2017 MENA tour could not have been possible with the support of The U.S Embassy joining us as strategic partners and speakers for both the first edition of Seedstars Kuwait and the Seedstars MENA Summit, our impact in the region was multiplied through their support. Judith Baker, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Manama, joined us for the Governmental Support of Entrepreneurship in MENA panel at the MENA Summit, sharing her insights with our engaged audience on the importance of governmental engagement in this sector and how this should continue to grow exponentially in the future.

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The National Fund for SME Development Kuwait With a vision to build an inclusive, collaborative, and innovative ecosystem for entrepreneurs to lay the foundation for economic opportunities in Kuwait, the National Fund for SME Development (the “SME Fund�) was one of the main supporters for the first edition of Seedstars in Kuwait in 2017. We look forward to continuing this fruitful partnership in 2018 and working together to support the young Kuwaiti entrepreneurial ecosystem to continue to grow in strides.

Tamkeen 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 generating 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. Having joined us as strategic partners for the Seedstars MENA Summit in 2016 and 2017, we look forward to continuing this partnership and working together on exciting initiatives over the upcoming year.

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We can’t do it alone. Thank you.

We are grateful to everyone who has joined us on our journey and offered their invaluable support.

Special thanks

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.

Angola, Joel Epalanga Thank you Joel for so many years of support! Armenia, Artashes Vardanyan Dear Artashes. You are amazing individual. Thank you so much for being with us for many years. Bahrain, Maryam Alsaegh Dear Maryam, Mohamed and the rest of our CH9 Family, thanks for the support and memories from the past year of working together. Hosting two superb events together in Bahrain was definitely one of the highlights of our year!

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.

comida is now a tradition in our SSW tour. :) We talked about it some weeks ago, it’s impressive to see how we have grown our community in Bolivia. This year will be key to increase our impact. Let’s do it!

Chile, Francisca Rojas

Botswana, Thabo Theron

Amado, it is such as pleasure to build things with you- every phone call and meeting makes our days better! We love your energy!

Thabo, a big thank for helping us to organize Seedstars Gaborone. We can’t wait to come back and shake the ecosystem with you ! Brazil, Waldemar Stefan

Tanvir! So young, such a rockstar! Dhaka was incredible- you grabbed this by the horns on such short notice and nailed it!

Waldemar, Bruno, Hector - the winning Trio - muito obrigada pelo apoio esse año! Congratulations for your great work on fostering the Rio ecosystem and creating the bridge between Brazil & Portugal with Fabrica de Startups! We hope to go for a lot more years of partnership - at least till having the Latam Summit on Copacabana Praia :)

Bolivia, Walter Mendez

Cameroon, Steve Tchoumba

Super Walter, muchas gracias por tu apoyo!! You are our most beloved guides and host. Bolívia Pão de Queijo & buena

Thanks so much for your help, energy for this first exciting event in Douala! The city where no one sleeps!

Bangladesh, Tanvir Sourov

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Incuba UC team, thanks for your support and patience!!! We made it! China, Amado Trejo

Colombia, Alejando Gómez Ale!! Three years together and we want more! Thanks a lot for the support you and Ventures provided to Seedstars. We were super proud to open our first Seedspace in the flourishing ecosystem of Bogota & Medellin. We hope that with you we will be able to grow our impact in the whole Colombia! Congo, David Mudilo Thank you, David for organizing the first Seedstars Kinshasa in History!

Special thanks

Costa Rica, Carolina Palma

Hong Kong, Kieran Hervieu

Lebanon, Sami Soued

Caro, we hope one day we will meet you in person, till then thanks a lot for your support toward Seedstars!! Vamos juntos por 1 año más!

Kieran, thank you for making our lives so easy in Hong Kong! It reenergized us for weeks!

Dear Sami, It was such a pleasure working with your team over the past year! We were so proud that one of Speed’s startups won the Beirut event and can’t wait to have them represent Speed and Lebanon at the Global Summit.

Croatia, Jelena Mrcela

India, Apoorv Bamba

Dear Jelena! It has been a pleasure to know you and work with you. Thanks a lot.

Apoorv, what a rollercoaster and what a blast India was! Thanks so much for your energizing positivity & we’ll be back to eat record amounts of garlic naan soon!

Czech Republic, Evgeny Frolov

Indonesia, Octa Ramayana

Dear Evgeny! An exciting few years of collaboration! Thank you so much for everything.

Octa! You and Kibar made us feel so welcome we could barely leave! Thank you for taking us in and letting us have a sense of home for 2 weeks.

Dear Zina, It was any absolute pleasure working together with you and your team to host the Beirut event this year. Your co-working space Antwork is a beautiful and inspiring space and we can’t wait to see all the things that will come from our future collaboration.

Iran, Pouya Kondori

Mali, Mohammed Keita

Pouya! Thank you a lot for all the support you provided us in Iran for last couple of year!

Mohammed, thanks for organizing the competition with us in Bamako!

Dominican Republic, Rudy Ganna Rudy, thanks a lot for your support this year! We are impressed by what you have achieved with Pyhex!! Your ambition are truly inspiring! Let’s make of our dreams for Seedstars Caribbean a reality! Finally, thanks for your presence, always a pleasure to have you & Amanda with us. Ecuador, Andrea Durango Andrea, thanks a lot for your amazing support!!! Two years together and we hope to keep on growing with you!! Thanks for your energy, professionalism and love for entrepreneurship!! Ethiopia, Markos Lemma Thanks Markos for your support!

Ivory Coast, Rites Massamba Merci Rites for sharing with us, year after year, your passion of entrepreneurship and new ideas! Kazakhstan, Pavel Koktyshev Dear Pavel. It has been quite a journey with you throughout the years. Your involvement is very crucial. Huge thanks for everything you did for us! Kuwait, Haider Al Mosawi

Dear Aieti. It is a great joy to work with you to enhance the startup ecosystem in Georgia. Thank you so much for everything.

Dear Haider, it would not have been possible to host our first ever event in Kuwait without the support of you and your team! Your unique sense of humour made it all the more enjoyable. Looking forward to doing great things together in 2018.

Ghana, Victor Kelechi

Latvia, Leva Upeniece

Always fun and inspiring to come to Accra and work with you to organize the competition, thank you Victor!

Dear Leva! Thanks so much for the collaboration we had for the CEE Summit.

Georgia, Aieti Kukava

Lebanon, Zina Dajani

Mexico, Teresa Martin Tere, Marce and all BBVA OI Team- what a year of partnership!! 2 local events & a memorable Seedstars Latam Summit . We are so glad to have a great tribe like you in our family - what more to say. You know it - we love you guys - let’s keep on looking to go always higher! Moldova, Maria Nemciuc Dear Mary! We are so grateful for your support in helping the local entrepreneurs and the ecosystem in whole. Mongolia, Battulga Norolkhoojav Dear Battulga! We are very thankful for everything you do for startups and entrepreneurs in Mongolia.

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Special thanks

Mongolia, Naranbat Nasanbat

Rwanda, Aphrodice Mutangana

Uganda, Richard Zulu

Dear Naranbat! We are very happy to have sucha great ambassador in Mongolia. Thanks for everything!

Dear Aphrodice, you have been there since the beginning of our journey. It has been an interesting ride, and we can not thank you enough for all the support.

Thank you to outbox for being such a funky team! It is always exciting to organise Seedstars Kampala!

Mozambique, Frederico P. Silva

Senegal, Babacar Birane

Over the past year we have had our ups and our downs. We fought and we laughed, like family does. Thank you so much for the hard work, the early morning, and blood sweat and tears that you have put into making both the local event and regional event happen. And of course for making sure that we raise the bar!

Thank you, Babacar for your support! South Africa, Vuyisa Qabaka Your honesty, and critical feedback, and seeing no limits in what we can do as a company is why we love working with you.

Nepal, Allen Tuladhar

South Korea, Nathan Millard

Allen, Nepal was such a highlight of the tour for us, and your hospitality was delightful! Thank you for your continuous support and enthusiasm!

Nathan! Thank you for all your support for all these years, since the beginning and finding our very first Global Winner, Flitto, and the most Innovative Startup, Piquant, in 2017, it’s been awesome!

Pakistan, Khurram Mujtaba Khurram, thank you so much for the incredible hospitality in Pakistan! it was an awesome experience! Panama, João Fernandes Joao thanks for all what you have been doing for our Seedstars Family! Looking forward to 2018. Peru, Jorge Duranteau




Jorge, Miguel muchas gracias por el apoyo en realizar el Seedstars World Perú 2017!! Thanks for the time, for the help, for bringing us out around Lima!! #sswfamily Philippines, Artie Lopez Artie! We will always be in awe of how tirelessly you support the ecosystem in the Philippines. We are such huge fans! Russia, Renat Garipov Dear Renat. We are grateful for the support you did for Seedstars in Moscow. Thanks so much for everything.

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Sri Lanka, Mangala Karunaratne Mangala. Not enough space here to describe how kickass you are and how lucky we are! The no-BS, straight to the point, funny, enthusiastic spirit is why we just love working with you! Tanzania, Maryam Mgonja Our kind, beautiful Maryam. Thank you so much for your motivation, kindness and making sure that we run an amazing event each year. Thailand, Nichapat Ark Lovely, insanely talented, driven, tireless Nicha. Not enough space. We are unbelievably grateful to share this journey with you<3 <3 <3. Tunisia, Amel Saidane Dear Amel, it was such a pleasure hosting our first event of the 2017 MENA tour together in Tunisia! Thanks for all your hospitality and looking forward to seeing you again soon in Tunis.

Ukraine, Alena Kalibaba Dear, Alena. We love your energetic, cheerfulness. Thank you so much for your contribution and efforts in building the Ukrainian ecosystem. Uzbekistan, Abdulahad Kuchkarov Dear Abdulahad. We are very excited to working with you. Looking forward for so much to accomplish. Thank you so much! Zimbabwe, Tadzoka Pswarayi Look at how far we have come since our first event! Looking forward to seeing the growth and doing even bigger things this year.

Special thanks

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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, the School of Management Fribourg, Presence Suisse, and EPFL, thanks to whom we are always able to showcase Switzerland in its most innovative light. Special thanks also goes to BBVA, TRECC, Enel, TAG Heuer, and Merck for their extensive support across the regions and for awarding such inspirational prizes to the entrepreneurs. We are also grateful for the extensive support of the Swiss Embassies, Swissnex offices, and Swiss Chamber of Commerces around the world. The Asia Team would like to thank 91Springboard, Acceler8, AWS, AYA Bank, Brainsparks, BTG Legal, Collission8, Collission8, CP Group, CVCFL, Digital Ventures, Exetel,

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G3 Partners, Genex, GP Accelerator, HKTDC, HUBBA, Jumpstart Pakistan, Khazanah Nasional, Kibar, Koh Vass & Co. in Association with Osborne Clarke, Lanka Bangla Finance, MDEC, Microsoft Nepal, Mitr Phol, Nest Ventures, Omidyar Network, Ooredoo, Orion City, Osborne Clarke Queen Street, SCG, SGInnovate, Siam Discovery, SLASSCOM, Startup Sri Lanka, Startup Thailand, The Hive, The National Innovation Agency, Thura Swiss, and UNDP, Zhang Yu & Partners. The Latin American Team would like to thank ASIAP Uruguay, Banco del Progreso, Bancoldex, BBVA, BBVA Bancomer, Bank of development of Jamaica, Bradesco, BID Ecuador, Cabify Mexico, City Express Hoteles, Camera del Comercio de Santo Domingo, Continental, Coopeservidores, Corfo, CoWork Latam, Fedex Cross Border, Forbes Mexico, Genesys Mexico,Grant Thornton Brazil, Incuba UC, Inicia Educación, Krugerlabs, Microsoft Mexico, Phyex, Procomer, Pulso Social, Redenlace, Socialab, Socialatom, Startup Chile, Startupfarm, Seed, UTEC Ventures Lima, VisaNet Perú and Wayra.

Special thanks

The Africa team would like to thank Microsoft4Afrika, Orange, Merck, Standard Bank, Omidyar Network, FSD Moc, UNFPA, ELAN, WWF, Procredit, Embassy of the Netherlands in Mozambique, BoPInc, HDIF, Payfast, Costech, TGI, Orange Corners, VC4Africa, Disrupt Africa, Tech Moran, IAfrikan, Africa's Talking, Ethiopian Airlines, UNCCD, Google, The Swiss Embassy, Kinaya Lab, Jumia, and all the other great partners that have been part of the Africa journey! The CEE team would like to thank #tceh, Alliance Group Holding, Ameria Group, ATIC, Azercell, Barama Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, Chasopys, Coworking Krizovatka, Development Bank of Mongolia, Georgia Innovation and Technology Agency, Kyivstar, Luxoft, Microsoft in Czech Republic, Mongolia and Ukraine, Microsoft Innovation Center Armenia, MOST, Omidyar Network, Pasha Bank, VIVAcell MTS, U.S. Embassy in Baku, USAID in Moldova and Georgia, for their support in Central and Eastern Europe & Central Asia.

The MENA team would also like to thank MSB, Diva Sicar, AfricInvest, Dot IT, Topnet, Orange, Oasis500, ITUMagnet, Antwork, Mirum, Touch, Techne Summit, Sirdab Lab, The National Fund in Kuwait, The US Embassy in Kuwait, The US Embassy in Manama, Bahrain Economic Development Board, Startup Bahrain, Tamkeen, CH9, Arabnet, Aramex, Batelco, Wamda, Maya Delices, Farabi, Finnova, OCP, CTPES, and 6p7. None of our 66 winners would have been here without your help and advice, and we are proud to have been able to bring, once again, the top talent emerging markets have to offer. And last, but not least, we would like to thank all the inspiring entrepreneurs who joined us at Seedstars World events. We are so proud of your achievements, determination, and for proving to the world that startups have no borders, and that talent truly is everywhere.

We are honoured to have been a part of your journey!

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Empowering Edtech in emerging markets

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The School of Management Fribourg’s (HEGFR) engagement with Seedstars is rooted in our vision ‘To be an agile and inspiring business school. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem at HEG-FR supports, stimulates, and works as a catalyst for the ideas of our future generations.’ We are committed to creating positive impact through the students and partners who benefit from our programs and activities in three core areas: entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalization.” Seedstars supports all these three pillars. As a business school, we think that our students, and tomorrow’s leaders, have to be multicultural and sensitized to the new and emerging markets, as well as be engaged with the developments that arise from them. This will be highly important for many of their future jobs. The immersion and insights that our students, particularly at Masters

level, gain from exposure to Seedstars and its engagement leads also to a stronger sensibility to our connected world, and the issues and solutions that arise from emerging markets. The engagement with Seedstars shows and tells to our students, that they can be resourceful with their own creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial aspirations. Also, the insights from Seedstars and innovative international entrepreneurs will fuel our educational activities, and foster learning and the adoption of clever innovations. Last but not least, HEG-FR is also developing new partnerships with universities worldwide to create exchange opportunities and joint immersion programs. The presence Seedstars has across the globe enhances our international exposure. by Hanspeter Geisseler, Head of Communications, HEG-FR seedstars.com 145

Special thanks

Switzerland and startups = a perfect fit Alexandre Edelmann from Presence Suisse took the time to answer our questions. Switzerland is by many metrics the most innovative country in the world, packing a big punch for its small size. What do you think is the secret to its success?

We talk about Switzerland from many different angles, including innovation, education, mountains and lakes, science, international Geneva, culture, history, cities, the economy, the environment, humanitarian work, Swiss traditions, and gastronomy. The stories we tell are inspired by the people of Switzerland, the Swiss who live abroad, and exchanges with other countries. We also represent Switzerland at major world events, as well as in our embassies and in the digital world.

Switzerland is indeed well placed, and often number one, in international rankings. This is thanks to a combination of factors. Swiss research universities combine strong scientific results with an entrepreneurial mindset. This is supported by our apprenticeship system, which fosters early work experience and ideas grounded in business not just academia. The overall quality of life allows thinking about more than basic needs. Finally Swiss innovation benefits from our position as a crossroads of languages and ideas in the middle of Europe. Switzerland has been a true incubator for us. Seedstars very much benefited from the fact that the country tries to really foster innovation and help entrepreneurs. From your point of view what makes Switzerland the right place to start a venture? The clarity of Swiss laws on intellectual property, liability, and taxes helps entrepreneurs, especially during the early stages. Switzerland also offers a lot of partnership opportunities for smaller companies. And one dimension is often underestimated : the serendipity. The chances to meet an entrepreneur on a train, sitting next to a Minister and a university professor is more probably higher than anywhere else. Proximity and high level of trust play a major role in creating business opportunities.

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Special thanks

One of our core values at Seedstars is to “keep it Swiss” which means, for us, that what we do, we do well. What do you think made the Swiss mindset this way? Proximity plays again a big role in this. As we know each other well, we do not want to disappoint our neighbors. This “keep it Swiss” works as well for the “Swiss made”. There is a belief that there is a common responsibility to respect our standards and our quality in order to preserve our added value. We are trusted worldwide for this. If we cannot do something well, we are usually not doing it. We are also supporting Seedstars because we have seen that this spirit is shared! And we are happy to share it with all the participants at the Summit! It is kind of a paradox, but that reputation for this quality came probably by investing more time in the making than in talking. Swiss products speak for themselves. Switzerland was not always a rich country, so you had to have lasting products. The industry was born that way. Combined with a pragmatic and stable political system and good education, these framework conditions allowed the us to grow our reputation.

And of course, chocolate does help to make us popular! How does Presence Suisse ensure positive visibility for Switzerland abroad? A big part of Switzerland’s visibility abroad is due to renowned products from famous Swiss organizations or companies. Our aim is to promote these success stories, to explain how Switzerland enabled them, and to connect it to potential positive decisions about the country: studies, travels, investment, politics, products, etc. These messages are shown on different channels, from pavilions during the World Expo to social media channels, including give aways, events, media trips, or panels. And we tend to partner up with existing projects and institutions in order to give them as much echo as possible. Small or big is not the most important: the values and messages that they incarnate are key. Seedstars is a good example of this!

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A last special thanks to our partners in Switzerland

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Profile for Seedstars World

5 Years of Seedstars  

After a new year spent in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia scouting for the best startups and the most talented e...

5 Years of Seedstars  

After a new year spent in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia scouting for the best startups and the most talented e...