Startup Weekend Dubai 2017

    Thursday, November 16 - 18, 2017

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Judges
  4. Coaches and Mentors
  5. Sponsors
  6. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend Dubai 2017

Thursday, November 16 - 18, 2017

Thursday, November 16 - 18, 2017
Event starts at 6:00 pm

Our Space
Lamborghini Dubai Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, Exit 41 - Dubai
PO Box 13071
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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Startup Weekend Dubai 2017

About Startup Weekend: Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. Beginning with Thursday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Saturday night demos and presentations. Participants create working startups during the event and they collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education. Whether you are looking for feedback on an idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.

See what it's all about

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Thursday November 16th

6:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:30 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

7:00 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:30 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

9:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

10:00 pm
Begin Work
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Friday November 17th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

6:30 pm

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Saturday November 18th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

7:00 pm
Final Presentations

8:30 pm

9:30 pm
Let's celebrate!

Event Judges

Wissam Younane
Director - Entrepreneur Middle East

A confident, dynamic and resourceful professional with extensive experience gained within a high-profile media environment. Self motivated and goal-oriented, capable of multi-tasking and deploying resources, both human and material, to achieve excellence in performance and customer care standards. A committed team player and experienced team manager, with demonstrable motivational ability; inspired by example, developing cohesion and a sense of corporate unity through the recognition and encouragement of potential. Innovative and analytical, a problem-solver and troubleshooter who rapidly identifies essentials and devise effective and viable solutions.

Skilled in change management encompassing the identification and implementation of restructuring and effective working practices. Articulate, outgoing and cheerful, a strong communicator with good listening ability who establishes immediate rapport and achieves the highest standards for customer care.

Salah Makouk
IT Partnerships Manager - Emirates Airline

Salah Makouk is the IT Partnerships and Acquisitions Manager for Emirates Group. The group comprises of Emirates Airline, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines as well as dnata, one of the world’s largest air services providers. Salah’s role involves managing Emirates partnerships with select blue chip IT companies and leading the development of strategic transformation projects.

Salah is currently working on setting up the MENA travel & aviation start-up ecosystem with Emirates at its centre, from Dubai. The ecosystem will support the vision of H.H Sheikh Mohammed in developing Dubai into the aviation capital of the world. The first step towards that vision was to create Intelak, the region’s first Travel and Aviation Incubator. Salah is also working on the development of special transformation projects that are still in the ideation stage. Salah has more than fifteen years of international experience in management from both the aviation and finance sector. Prior to joining Emirates, Salah worked with Citibank in Lebanon as their IT Manager and then was promoted to IT Director in their Portugal location.

Vijay Tirathrai
Managing Director - Techstars Dubai

Vijay is a serial entrepreneur, mentor and a seasoned C-level executive. He has over 30 years of international experience in start-ups, business development and transformation roles covering several industries; namely retail, manufacturing and associations management. Respected by his peers and colleagues for its visionary drive, business strategy acumen and his inspiring leadership-style. He has operated and conducted business in over 25 countries and enjoys an expansive global network of peers. 

As the former CEO and Chairman of the Entrepreneurs' Organization, he now seeks to nurture and invest in start-ups and early stage companies to grow through mentor-ship, access to global networks and venture capital.

Jen Stammers
Innovation & Developer Experience Leader, Middle East & Africa - IBM

Jen is the Innovation and Developer Experience Team Leader covering the Middle East and Africa at IBM. She is educated in Psychology and co-leads a dynamic team of over sixty IBM Developers who work with the next generation of Startups and developers as they explore, partner with key players in the ecosystem and expand new growth markets with IBM across the region.
Having founded 3 startups herself and been in the IT corporate world for over 10 years Jen can fully capture and embrace the flavor of this challenging entrepreneurial world. Her background in psychology has helped her understand business is about people and the relationship these 2 factors bare is crucial to the success of both.

Hamad Eghdani
Director of Government Relations & Emiratisation at Emaar Hospitality Group LLC - Emaar Hotels & Resorts LLC

A mix of +17 years of experience in leading small or large global teams to translate business objectives into solid results. A natural problem-solver with solid analytical and organizational abilities, skilled in coaching and developing human capital, strategic planner, focused on operational support, project management, public relations, organizational communications, innovative / creative concepts finder, CSR. Experienced in the services industry (media, airline, hospitality, logistics), in the private sector, as well as in governmental and semi-governmental organizations, with strong focus on start-up projects/operations.

Hamed Eghdani
Director of Governement Relations & Emiratisation | Emaar

A mix of +17 years of experience in leading small or large global teams to translate business objectives into solid results. A natural problem-solver with solid analytical and organizational abilities, skilled in coaching and developing human capital, strategic planner, focused on operational support, project management, public relations, organizational communications, innovative / creative concepts finder, CSR. Experienced in the services industry (media, airline, hospitality, logistics), in the private sector, as well as in governmental and semi-governmental organizations, with strong focus on start-up projects/operations.

Coaches and Mentors

Vera Futorjanski
Head of Global Communications - Dubai Future Foundation

In her initial days Vera was a political consultant in Brussels, working among other clients for the cruise industry and managing the crisis communications after the Costa Concordia incident.Then Vera founded the tech beauty startup Vaniday in the Middle East. Prior to that she ran the Global Communications for Rocket Internet (Europe's biggest internet company) during their IPO. 

Currently Vera heads global communications in the Dubai Future Foundation. Dubai Future Foundation is the main entity behind the world changing initiatives like the first fully functional 3D printed office, Dubai Future Accelerators, Museum of The Future, Dubai Future Academy, Global Blockchain Council, and Dubai Drones For Good Competition, among others. 

Shahzad Bhatti
Partner - The Bureau Dubai

Graduating from the Brunel University London, Shahzad Bhatii in his early years worked as a portfolio manager at the LIH Group, where he worked for more than 4 years.

In early 2014, he moved on to found his own company The Bureau Dubai, a co-working space located in Downtown Dubai offering support to entrepreneurs looking to start the ventures in a supportive and affordable community and has been mentoring and working with startups since then. Then in 2016 founded another startup Share This Space, a convenient online platform for events, popup retail and promotional spaces.

Aby Sam Thomas
Editor In Chief - Entrepreneur Middle East

Graduating from Columbia University - Graduate School of Journalism, Aby Thomas has great experience in media having worked in the field of media and communication for over 5 years and in various global brands in Italy, USA and currently in the UAE.

Aby currently works as the editor in chief for Entrepreneur Middle Easta regional business magazine based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Nizar Swailem
Founder & Director - Eunoia Collective

A Dubai-based Marketing Communications Consultant, Writer, Certified Leadership Coach, and Adjunct Lecturer, with more than 20 years of experience professional practice in the Marketing Communications and Advertising industry across the region. Since breaking off solo as an entrepreneur, Nizar took a keen interest in startups, training and mentorship, and shifted his focus towards nourishing growth, identifying and developing talent, and engaging with managers on innovative training programs and professional practices that promote collaboration and combine both short and long term wins.

Nizar established Eunoia Collective this year as a paltform that will facilitate his passion, and allow for the development of both himself and others, be it students, teams of professionals or organisations across industries

Irina Heaver
Senior Business Lawyer | Partner - Ficht & Co

Irina is Partner and Head of Commercial & Technology at Fichte & Co. With over 14 years of experience, she specializes in the broad spectrum of commercial and corporate work including M&A, disposals, corporate restructurings and governance issues, regulatory framework, funding matters, as well as complex joint ventures and strategic alliances. 

Irina regularly represents emerging technology business such as IT infrastructure and Cloud services, software and tech development companies, cryptocurrency enterprises, e-commerce and online marketplaces; as well as heavy industrial players, such as engineering, chemicals, industrial manufacturing, energy, oil&gas and defence companies. 
Irina is an Australian qualified lawyer and holds Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degrees from Monash University. 

Hussam Mohsineh
Managing Partner (

Innovation enabler with practical experience across key areas of enabling innovation and startups communities. Hussam facilitates programs at various startups incubators and leads the design and development of websites and mobile apps.

Tiberiu Iacomi
Chief Probability Officer - The Improbable Agency

An expert in Business Communication, Tiberiu Iacomi is titled as the "Chess Player in the world of communications and business strategy.Bringing in great global experience having worked in 4 countries is fields of Data Analytics, EdTech and Entrepreneurship. 

Tiberiu in 2015 founded his company The Improbable Agency, a communication and business strategy agency for challenger and disruptive brands. The agency been working with more than 30 companies from 3 continents and 6 different industries - ranging from e-commerce to IT and up to digital media and edtech. IKEA, Dubai World Trade Center, Sheraa are amongst the many disruptive brands the agency has been working with.

Along with that Tiberiu's diverse portfolio includes being a mentor at 1776, Host at the AfterHour show, Contributing writer at Inc. Arabia and much more. 

Petar Stojanov
Co-founder at Ebtikar

Dr. Petar has navigated multiple careers across three continents, from academic research scientist and lecturer in Australia, to corporate technical consultant in Germany, before settling in the UAE as a management consultant and entrepreneur.

In 2016, Petar founded Ebtikaar, a boutique innovation advisory. In less than a year, Ebtikaar has executed a portfolio of successful projects across the UAE, including the region’s first academically supported entrepreneurship accelerator mentorship program, as well as building entrepreneurship and innovation competencies in the Dubai Government under the highly acclaimed EXPO and Dubai 10X initiatives, as well as developing innovation competencies with the UAE Ministry of Education. Nominated for the 2017 Arabian Business Mentor of the Year award, Petar is a contributing writer for Entrepreneur ME, Arabian Business and Inc. Arabia and regularly speaks on his favoured topic; the
Science of Disruptive Innovation.

Sabi Behzadi
NTDE Group - senior management consultant, Global Strategy and Planning.

Earning over 20 years of experience in communication, project management and client relations. Sabi Behzadi is specialist in Middle East and North Africa region who has experience with regional and national
projects in the US and international projects with Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Giving her global exposure and credibility as a leader. She has worked at several leading positions at firms such as DIFC, World Bank & Governments around the world such as Kuwait and USA.

Sabi currently works at the NTDE Group as senior management consultant, Global Strategy and Planning where her work focuses on Works to develop areas such as sales management, product development, distribution channel management, marketing communications, including advertising and promotions, pricing, market research, and customer service.

Izzat Dugha
Co-Founder & CEO - WITS

Earning a masters degree in Banking and International Trade & Finance, Izzat Douga has worked with Banque Bemo Saudi Fransi for over 5 years earning some senior positions along time. 

Then, in 2014, Izzat took his passion further and co-founded WITS Web Innovations & Technology Services. Where he currently leads the company as the CEO. WITS is a digital marketing agency focused on social media marketing & SEO in addition to agile web & mobile development with a vision to be one of the top 10 recognized agencies in UAE that provides online tailored solutions & owns its online e-business platforms.

Anshul Srivastav
CIO & CDO - Union Insurance

Anshul is a global technology leader who has been instrumental in driving technology transformations for businesses in the range of to multi Billion USD as revenues. He has been a key player at organizations which have been on an average 30% growth year on year in a career spanning almost two decades. Anshul has several notable career accomplishments, wherein he has led, created and launched the key eCommerce, mobile and business intelligence initiatives for world's #1 insurance brand AXA in the fastest growing emerging markets of Asia.

Currently in a leadership role as Chief Information Officer and Digital Officer, leading the IT Strategy, Technology Transformations, Analytics, software delivery, architecture and Cloud for Union Insurance (UAE and Oman) across all lines of Business creating and driving big strategic Initiatives aligning through IT transformation to deliver business value.

Ludmilla Figueiredo
Founder - Rule Number One

Ludmilla Figueiredo is a former Business Director at Kharabeesh in Dubai. She's recently founded Rule Number One, an initiative to bridge investment opportunities across markets. She is currently part of the advisory team at Blockvisory. With experience in emerging markets, equity crowdfunding and strategic advice in business development for startups and SMEs, she has over one decade of hands-on experience and is triple-award winner for supporting entrepreneurs. 

As a Harvard trained professional she has been appointed as a thought leader in events for Stanford Ventures Program and INSEAD Abu Dhabi.

Moiz Sitabkhan
CEO - Conceptualize

Been in the tech and digital industry for over 10 years, Moiz brings in great experience and knowledge to the field of technology and design. Moiz has worked in several positions such as software developer, PHP developer and web developer. Then further as a lead position as the Digital & Technology Manager at Blue Beetle.

In 2014, Moiz currently leads Conceptualize as the CEO. Conceptualize is a full stack digital agency based in Dubai – small, flexible yet powerful team that plans, designs and develops for the web. He aims to transform businesses and help them grow by bridging the gap between goals and results by utilizing digital technology.

Amit Nayak
Managing Director - High Point Hospitality

Amit is an asset manager with 18+ yr’s of experience in private equity, operations & asset management. He is an alumnus from the prestigious Cornell NY where he specialized in asset & revenue management as well as from IHMCTAN, Mumbai School of hotel management with a post-grad in business admin from NMIMS, Mumbai. He also holds a CHA license awarded by the American Hotel & Lodging association.

Currently, Amit is the Managing Director of High Point providing Investment & Asset management services within the private equity, real estate & hospitality space. Prior to joining High Point Hospitality he’s worked as the Director of SAN Consultants, Dubai and Investment Funds and Executive Manager, Operations and Business Development for a Private Office (SWF) in Bahrain He is as well a Mentor at In5 and on the executive board of the Cornell University Alumni association for MENA as well on the board of HAMA (Hotel asset managers association) MENA & Turkey.  

Raphael Nolden
Co-founder and CEO - Osnova

Raphael began his career in the field of education and reserach, been a lecture for over 3 years at the University of Canterbury. He also has a background in medical physics where he co-developed a patent in the health tech sector.

Currently He is CEO and Founder of Osnova, the creators of Amy an Artificial Intelligence based private tutoring system for maths. He has been previously well associated with many startup weekends in New Zealand and TedX

Dario De Angelis
Program Manager Growth Hacking - Foodics

Dario is an Aerospace Engineer, Digital Marketing expert, Growth Hacker, Software as a Service sales master. 

With an Aerospace Engineer background, Dario is a Digital Marketing expert, a Cloud SaaS master and a curious growth hacker. Thanks to his heterogeneous background, Dario has helped tech companies and startups to quickly validate, launch and scale new projects and ideas both as an employee and a mentor. He is currently the Program Manager for Growth Hacking at Foodics, the number one POS in the Middle East and has a wide variety of interests including music, movies and sports. 

Rubayat Khan
Advisory IT Specialist - IBM Cloud

Graduating from American University of SharjahRubayat Khan joined IBM as a graduate hire working as a client technical professional where his work ranged from Smart city initiatives to working on products such as intelligent operations. He further worked at IBM as a pre-sales professional.

Currently, Rubayat works as an advisory IT specialist for IBM Cloud and has done several projects under the same crossing over 5+ years at IBMRubayat brings in immense experience and knowledge and proficiency in his field.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Dubai 2017 team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.

Premier Sponsor


Office Supplies Partner



Community Partners

Innovation Partners

Media Partners

Ecosystem Partner

Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend Dubai is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Afaf
  • Misbah
  • Tarun
  • Mohamed Nawaz
  • Christina
  • Nouran
  • Dulce
  • Aya


Aya Sadder
Head of Partnerships at Urban

Aya Sadder is an active member and speaker within the startup community in the UAE. Currently, Aya is based in Dubai and is the Head of Partnerships for Urban since June 2019. Aya has spoken at TEDx Rome in 2018 in front of 2,500 people with the theme Society 5.0 as well as at TEDx RIT Dubai in 2017 about the role of startups in the experience economy. Prior to Urban, Aya was the Incubator manager of Intelak, the first Aviation, Travel & Tourism Incubator in the MENA region. In this role, Sadder executed the Incubator’s strategy of supporting the UAE's ambitious plans for the future, ensuring that the country sets the highest global standards for services, systems, and experiences innovation in the aviation, travel and tourism industries. Aya graduated from Babson College in Boston and to date serves on the Babson Middle Eastern Alumni club in Dubai. Aya has also worked for over 6 years under the umbrella of Techstars and Google as a globally certified facilitator for Startup Weekend. Today, Aya also serves as an active mentor and speaker on different programs related to the future of tech and Women in STEM. Aya dedicates most of her time to passionately participating in and accelerating the innovation culture for one of the world’s fastest growing hubs in this domain. 

Event Staff

Hani Itani

Hani Itani works at Japan Tobacco International (JTI). He has been working there for over year. He has a knack for finance and economics and has always been interested in entrepreneurship. Prior to working at JTI, he worked in Unilever and excelled in sales operations.

Hani has also been involved in extracurricular activities such as establishing a stronger presence for Global Smile Foundation (NGO) in Lebanon.

Nitin Bhalla
Founder & CEO

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