Startup Battlefield is coming to the Middle East and North Africa, apply today

TechCrunch is hosting its first startup competition for entrepreneurs across the Middle East and North Africa! We’ve wanted to bring TechCrunch to the region for a long time, and now thanks to our sponsor Facebook, TechCrunch is bringing the Startup Battlefield competition to Beirut on October 3 this year, hosted at the Beirut Digital District (BDD), in the heart of the Lebanese startup scene.

We’re looking for the Middle East and North Africa’s best innovators, makers and technical entrepreneurs to participate in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018. Startups of all kinds shooting for an exit or IPO should apply. TechCrunch will host the event at BDD in Beirut in front of a live audience and top judges, and the show will be covered on TechCrunch. The judges will choose a winner, “The Middle East’s Most Promising Startup,” whose founders will win US$25,000 in no-equity cash plus a paid trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time). If you want to throw your hat in the ring apply today.

Science, technology and innovation have deep roots in the Middle East and North Africa, where the world’s first university was founded in Morocco in 859, and the world’s first medical center was founded in Cairo in 972. The startup world is increasingly focused on applications for artificial intelligence, whose algebraic roots date back to ancient Syria and Iraq. Past and present, the region is known for rich cultures producing great works of art, culture and scientific discovery.

Today, venture investment and startup ecosystem development are on the rise across the region. Careem, a Middle East unicorn and ride-hailing app, is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, while training female drivers in Saudi Arabia. Last summer, Amazon acquired Souq.com for $580 million, while regional investors poured a billion dollars into a local competitor, Noon.

TechCrunch is eager to take part in covering the Middle East and North Africa’s burgeoning tech sector more fully. We love to see startup ecosystems develop, and Startup Battlefield is one of the best platforms in the world to spotlight the most promising ventures for investors, partners and even future employees. Our editors carefully pick the best startups to compete from tons of applications, and recruit world-class judges to ask tough questions and pick the winners. And the Startup Battlefield editors coach the founders to make brilliant pitches onstage at the Startup Battlefield event. 

At the end of the day, that’s why the more than 765 companies that have competed in Startup Battlefield have raised over $8 billion and produced more than 105 exits to date.

Here’s how to participate:

Fifteen startups will be selected to join us onstage for Startup Battlefield MENA in Beirut.

Qualifying startups should:

  • Be early-stage companies in “launch” stage
  • Be headquartered in our eligible countries
  • Have a fully working product/beta, reasonably close to or in production
  • Have received limited press or publicity to date
  • Have no known intellectual property conflicts

What do the winners receive?

Apart from the exposure that comes from pitching to the global TechCrunch audience as well as the live audience of distinguished technologists, entrepreneurs and investors in Beirut, the overall winner will receive US$25,000 in no-equity cash plus an all-expense paid trip for two to compete in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch’s flagship event, Disrupt 2019 (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at this time).

Are costs to attend the pitch-off covered?

No, but TechCrunch will try to find financial assistance for a startup in need of assistance to reach the Beirut event.

Who picks the startups that will compete?

The TechCrunch editors who run the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield competition will choose the finalists from the application pool.

Who will judge the pitch-offs?

TechCrunch will select four judges for each theme. They will be noted entrepreneurs, investors and technologists with experience relevant to the category. A TechCrunch editor will moderate the judging, and cast the tie-breaker ballot, if needed.

What is the pitch-off format?

Each company will have six minutes to present. The judges will have six minutes to ask questions. Five of the startups from the first three rounds will be selected to compete in a finals round, and pitch a second time. 

What are the judging criteria?

The judges will pick the startup with the product or service most likely to go into full commercial production and have the biggest impact on human potential and/or the largest exit. 

When is the application deadline?

July 31, 2018 at 5pm PST.

When will the finalists be notified?

August 31, 2018 at 5pm PST.

Will TechCrunch’s team help prepare startups for the pitch-off?

Yes, in-person training and rehearsal sessions will be required, as well in-person rehearsal on October 2.

Which countries are eligible?

Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Yemen.

If you would like to applyplease click here.

Refer innovators you admire to BattlefieldMENA@TechCrunch.com

Questions? Get in touch at BattlefieldMENA@TechCrunch.com

See you in Beirut!