Sas boost for start-ups in Oman

The Sas Accelerator’s second cohort, organized by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT), through Sas Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with Google for Startups, concluded on Monday.

Twenty one international and 17 local mentors worked to support the participating startups to further develop their products, increase overall market share, and raise investment readiness through 43 sessions and 53 hours of one-to-one consultations.

The accelerator, powered by Google for Startups, focused on design thinking and founder development, technology oversight, marketing outlook and business growth, financial management and investment readiness, as well as communication and pitching capabilities.

Hamood al Hamadan, Director of Sas Center for Entrepreneurship at MTCIT, said, “Through our partnership with Google for Startups, we at Sas Center for Entrepreneurship strive to run technology specialized accelerators that can boost the startups ecosystem to grow and fast track their capabilities. We are delighted to witness the growth of start-ups and skills development over their exposure to wide-range of expertise and anticipate to see the 11 startups expand locally and regionally. We would also like to thank the UK Oman Digital Hub for their contribution to the Sas Accelerator.”

Sas is an abbreviation of ‘Asaas,’ which in Arabic means ‘foundation,’ and under this brief Al Hamadan, Haun and their team work with an elite group of start-ups, that must satisfy stringent standards and demonstrate significant potential to be identified as Sas companies to be mentored and supported from ideation to investment. Specifically, that support entails an initial 130 hours of an intensive blend of international and local mentoring, workshops, and labs, across an exhausting five-week period.

Supported by the program with lean canvas efficiencies, customer identification, product and market understanding, and creating investor ready profiles, the start-ups also worked with software development, geographic information, artificial intelligence and data cleansing companies, to create valid pathways to potential clients, pricing strategy, client management, and potential development opportunities.

“Such programs,” said Al Hamadan, “provide growth opportunities for the start-ups, identify partnership and investment prospects.” He lauded the effort from the start-ups, thanking them for “taking the leap with us,” the mentors, and the program team for their contributions, and encouraged possible investors to avail themselves of the opportunities that await them at the outset of these startup’s journeys. MENA Regional Lead Developer for Google, Salim Abid, was also quick to emphasize the success of this second collaboration with the MTCIT, saying that “I look forward to seeing the startups achieving their goals, and their products in the marketplace.”

Hussain al Asfoor, CEO of eBinaa, which makes construction project management tool, has already created a partnership with Fahaad al Ismaili of Tibiaan Property Services to produce up-to-date products. Similarly iCOMS.com CEO Khalifa al Khalifa actually picked up a new customer during the presentation as he championed his online entrepreneurial advisor and support package which assists clients in building and managing their online service packages. FLOWS was yet another online project tracker that provides viable solutions for individuals, companies, and projects for CEO Haider Adnaan al Zaabi and CTO Abdullah Qais Al Zaabi. They already have links to high profile business entities.

Totally different was the first of the foodstuffs logistics and distribution startups, Muscat Food Market, for CEO Najeem Salim Rawther, which focuses on quality and fresh deliveries of fruits and vegetables in a sector conservatively valued in the billions of dollars. Azooz is an online food basket app, introduced by its CEO Mohit Suri, with already a strong customer base, and aims to create a presence within Oman for online food ordering and delivery, currently popular in Europe. Qais al Jedyani offered an entertaining introduction to BON, the e-store for ‘coffeeholics,’ who aim to provide “what you want,” in the way of coffee. It was a presentation that almost personalized the coffee experience!

Utilities too featured, as AwanGas.com has now created an online link to domestic gas deliveries. First founded in 1991, this business now offers cashless transactions and prompt service for householders and has already developed a significant client base for Abdulrahim Al Kyumi (CEO) at the head of a family business. The auto spare parts industry now has fresh blood too, with AlaParte.com providing a coordinated response to a currently fragmented, but multi-billion-dollar sector. Saleh Al Hajri, CEO initially has his eyes set on a 1% bite of the regional take which is far from small change!

SHAFRA At Home Genetic Testing Services, with hundreds of practical applications for everyone, was introduced by its CEO Mariya Al Hinai as having particular benefits in the diagnosis of health issues such as obesity and diabetes, and the enhancement of healthy lifestyles among its many functions, for a modest fee. The highly touted Dr Raya Al Maskery offers an impressive level of medical professional acumen to this startup.

Program Director Haun explained that she was “proud of the talented startups for their innovation, effort, enthusiasm, and the quality of their online presentations.” It is clear that this is a concept that demands excellence, and gets it, with the future of Sas inspired entities on the road to good things.