Startup Weekend Dubai - University Edition 2018

    Thursday, April 19 - 21, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Judges
  4. Coaches and Mentors
  5. Sponsors
  6. Organizing Team
  7. Blog
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Startup Weekend Dubai - University Edition 2018

Thursday, April 19 - 21, 2018

Thursday, April 19 - 21, 2018
Event starts at 6:00 pm

Dubai Future Accelerators
Emirates Towers Boulevard
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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Bring your Idea to Life in 54 Hours

Startup Weekend is part of the Techstars family of programs. Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that allows anyone to turn an idea into reality. The event starts on Thursday evening when participants pitch ideas. They then form teams around the top ideas and spend the rest of the weekend validating and building their idea, aided by local mentors. On Saturday evening, teams come together and pitch their newly-launched company to a panel of judges. 

Techstars Startup Weekend is the best place to learn how to build a startup in a weekend and connect with your community; a melting pot of the area’s most creative thinkers, builders and implementers. It’s a 3-day long sprint to launch new products and services that solve real-world problems. 

Google for Entrepreneurs is the global partner for Techstars Startup Programs, including Startup Weekend, Startup Next and Startup Digest. Techstars collaborates with the Google for Entrepreneurs campuses across the globe to support engagement with entrepreneurs everywhere.

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. This time for University Students from across the UAE region!


Thursday April 19th

6:00 pm
Arrive at the Dubai Future Accelerators, Emirates Towers Boulevard and get checked in. Additionally, you can register for elevator pitches that night

6:30 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:00 pm
Pitches Start
Elevator Pitches starts. Remember, you only have 60 seconds!

7:30 pm
You would be given three stickers. Vote for the best three ideas. Top 15-20 ideas qualify.

8:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

8:30 pm
Form Teams
Form teams with the winning idea and start working for the Big Demo Day on Saturday

9:00 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.

11:55 pm
Venue Closes at 11:55PM. Any further registrations will not be possible. Checkouts and Team Information will be collected.

Friday April 20th

8:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee Breakfast will be served till 9:30 am

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

1:00 pm

1:15 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

1:30 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

7:30 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 April 21st

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

10:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

1:00 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

6:15 pm
Final Presentations

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
Judging & Awards

9:15 pm

9:30 pm
Go Home!

Event Judges

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.

Joy Ajlouny
Co-Founder & Creative Director | Fetchr

For over 20 years, Joy Ajlouny has been an e-commerce industry professional whose business and fashion influence has spanned the globe. 

Joy is the co-founder of Fetchr, a Silicon-Valley backed technology company based in Dubai aimed at solving emerging market shipping logistics. Fetchr is the first start-up in the Middle East to be funded by a top venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. 

Prior to Fetchr, Joy founded Bonfaire, an internet-based VC-backed discovery platform for luxury footwear and accessories. Bonfaire was acquired in 2013 by fashion e-commerce giant Mode Operandi, owned by LVMH and Condé Nast. 

While only 2.7% of venture capital funds world-wide have been raised by women, Joy has successfully raised funds for two companies from some of the most prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firms. Joy has also been a strategic advisor to fashion startups, venture capital firms and major fashion publications. 

Shahram Hashemi
Group Director of Strategy & Investments | RAK Economic Zone

Mr. Shahram Hashemi serves as the Head of Strategy and Investments at RAK Economic Zone. Mr. Hashemi develops short-term & long-term business strategies for the free zone. He also manages direct investments of RAKEZ and the government of Ras Al Khaimah. Mr. Hashemi served as the Head of Investments at Oman Brunei Investment Company. He has over 14 years of international private equity and investment banking experience from top-tier global institutions. Mr. Hashemi served as Head of Investment Team and Vice President of Private Equity at DIB Capital. Prior to DIB Capital, he served as a Vice President at Ithmar Capital.

Jihad Tayara
Vice President Business Development and Partnerships- New Business & Innovation | du

Jihad Tayara is Vice President Commercial for ICT at du, leading new smart initiatives and collaborations for digital transformation for Smart City, IoT, Blockchain, Artificial intelligence, Big Data, Cloud & Smart
Solutions. He is responsible for the team leading all commercial activities from products to solutions, marketing, presales and sales
activities to Government and Large enterprises, managing
relationships with Key Strategic Partners for the organization.
Notable in his last 3 years as Vice President several key projects were awarded to du. Dubai Pulse, the most comprehensive smart city
platform in the region with Smart Dubai, Hassantuk a nationwide IoT solution with Injazat for the Ministry of interior, Dubai Silicon Oasis’
first smart district and the national CRM program for all Government entities with the Telecommunications regulatory Authority are some of his major wins. He also set-up the first smart city Wi-Fi UAE initiative.

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. 

Coaches and Mentors

Mashal Waqar
CTO & Co-founder | The Tempest

Mashal Waqar is the co-founder and CTO of The Tempest, the fastest growing online media company for diverse women in the world. She is a fierce advocate of accessibility, diversity, and inclusion, and has been awarded the "Young Leader of the Year" at the 19th WIL Economic Forum and the the 2017 President’s Cup for her work. She previously worked on Deaf accessibility initiatives at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Dubai campus, and is currently leading the accessibility pivot at The Tempest. The Tempest has been awarded by Forbes for media this year, and is quickly growing to become a household name, by building a loyal audience with over 3 million monthly readers. Waqar strongly believes in empowering women and bringing their voices to the forefront; her prior work experience comes from transitioning in roles in cyber security, digital marketing, and tech while working for various startups. Waqar graduated from RIT with a degree in Computing Security and minors in International Business & NSSA. 

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.

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. 

Laura Toma
CEO & Founder | Grey Matter

Laura Toma has over 9 years of experience as education and communication consultant in several countries across two continents. She has facilitated educational experiences through mentoring, training and complex learning programs for the full spectrum of organization, from NGOs to government entities, from startups to SMEs, from schools to universities.

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

Madi Aldabergen
Executive - DEWA Innovation

Young professional passionate about renewable and advanced power technologies / Entrepreneur aiming to start his own energy company by 2022 / Currently exploring startups ecosystem through prism of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority

Zara Martirosyan
CEO & Founder | inKin Social Fitness Platform

Zara Martirosyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia, but grew up in Moscow, Russia, since she was 9, and is currently residing in Dubai. She has a marketing and management background. Zara started her career in the film business as a creative producer and marketer. However, after moving to Dubai, she has pursued an entrepreneurial path and together with friends and family created inKin Social Fitness, a global digital health platform, combining her passion for tech and fitness. Zara holds BSc in Economics, Lomonosov Moscow State University and MSc in Management, Cass Business School, London, UK.

Rishav Jalan
Co-founder | Wrappup

Rishav is an accidental entrepreneur, he participated in AngelHack Dubai 2015 with few folks and ended up having two of them as my co-founder at Wrappup. At the event they won the Angel Dubai region and won the prize money of 10,000 USD by HP at AngelHack Demo Day held in San Francisco, United States. Wrappup is a smart voice recorder that helps you highlight what’s important and summarize your meetings. 

He is technology enthusiast and a full stack developer with over 5 years experience in Android and 3 years of experience of Windows development.

Bas ter Laare
Co-founder | Tentwenty

Five years ago, Bas and his business partner founded the digital agency Tentwenty. Since then, their company has been responsible for the digital presence of both regionally and globally significant companies, including Airbus, Emirates Airline, Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), Harpers Bazaar Arabia and many more. Passionate about tech and start-ups, Tentwenty has already helped a variety of new companies turn their ideas into reality. 

Respected around the world for his ability to turn a good idea into an extraordinary opportunity, Bas is also the Founder and General Manager of Fresh Exchange, one of the world's largest flower exporters.

Hisham Safadi
Founder and CEO at UDENZ

Dr. Hisham is an entrepreneur, qualified dentist, knowledgeable lecturer and motivational coach. He is an experienced medical facility manager and an accomplished health care insurance and investment professional with 9+ years of diversified in 
- Identification and negotiation of business opportunities to achieve organizational objectives.
-Providing healthcare advisory and managerial experience within the healthcare sector, providing strategy for the medical oversight for creating new departments and marketing services on national and international scale.
- setting the strategic direction and priorities within the context of the healthcare investment projects and new business start-up in this sector.
-Teaching and leading people to enhance patient experience and improving leadership style through education, coaching and training.

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. 

Dr. Wasseem Abaza
Strategy Mentor | Assistant Professor - Zayed University

Dr. Wasseem Abaza is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Zayed University, Dubai and the Secretary of the UN Principles of Responsible Management Education UAE Consortium. He currently teaches and does research in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Strategic Organizational Development and Social Enterprise. An Entrepreneur himself having operated two successful businesses in the U.S., Dr. Abaza currently mentors and coaches young start-ups in the UAE as well as providing training workshops on business planning, business modelling, marketing strategy and financial planning. He works closely with several incubator and business development agencies and organizations in the region including Dubai SME, Womena, StepGroup, Visa Social Innovation Center and Re:Urban Studios. Dr. Abaza brings to Startup Weekend expertise in early-stage, seed level development all the way through funding, launch, growth and harvest of new ventures.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Dubai - University Edition 2018 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.

Venue Partner

Gold Partner

Silver Partner

Media Partner

Contributing Partner

Startup Partner

Food Partner


Organizing Team

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

  • Ahmed
  • Mohamed Nawaz
  • Tarun
  • Kartik
  • Jahnavi


Sudeep Dsouza
Operations Manager, Inforica FZE

Sudeep is a startup enthusiast and has experience in setting up and operating software development and services companies. He has done many startup weekends in India and the Middle East over the last 10 years. 

Mohamed Nawaz Muallim
Managing Editor | trift

Writing at, exploring at life.

Event Staff

Deepak Bhatia


Sidra Raihan


Ikram Douba


Kaushal Sharma


Komal Harish


Event Blog

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