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Meet the startups from fifth cohort of Flat6Labs Tunis

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Flat6Labs Tunis has graduated its fifth cohort with a digital demo day on Wednesday with eight Tunisian startups. The startups in this cohort went through a sixteen-week program, the last leg of which was conducted remotely as the startups had to work from home due to Covid-19. The startups that made it to the fifth cohort operate in different spaces including Industry 4.0, Automotive, Robotics, Education, FinTech and Tourism.

Yehia Houry, the Managing Director of Flat6Labs Tunis, speaking to MENAbytes, said, “It has been an incredible journey for the team and the startups during the lockdown. Both parties have done their best and worked together in order to deliver our very first Virtual Demo Day. The result was beyond our expectations as we have 25K views so far [on demo day videos across different channels].”

Speaking about conducting a part of the program remotely, he said, “We have been working remotely with the startup since March. It’s been challenging at the beginning but we were able to adapt to the situation using all the adequate tools to make it work and to minimize as much as possible the impact of the lockdown on the motivation of the startups.”

“We have been blown away by the extraordinary resilience and capacity of the startups to adapt to the new circumstances. We put together a virtual program for the upcoming cycle and we think that this would be an opportunity to attract startups from all across Tunisia and beyond,” Yehia added.

Flat6Labs Tunis invested $65,000 in each one of these startups and provided them with support in different ways through its network of experts, coaches, and mentors.

We had the chance to watch the pitches of all the startups and here’s what we learned about them. 

AutoPlus, founded by Amin Mliki in 2017, is an online platform that makes it easy for individuals to sell their used cars (and buy new cars). The users can get an estimated price of their vehicle on AutoPlus’ website and if they like, they can appoint AutoPlus to help them sell it. If they do that, the platform will certify the vehicle value with an on-site visit and agree on a price with the car owner.

The platform then connects the seller with one of its authorized used car dealer partners who will find the buyer and manage the sale of the car. AutoPlus claims to reduce the sale time from 45-60 days (that it says normally takes in Tunisia to sell a car) to a few days. The startup charges sellers a 3 percent commission on successful sale of car which also includes the fee for its partner car dealerships.

AutoPlus’ platform also comes with a section of new cars that allows buyers to browse and compare all the makes and models of new cars available in Tunisia. If a user would like to buy a car, they can send a quote request and a car dealership would respond to them within few hours.

AutoPlus charges new car dealerships, leasing businesses, and automotive brands an annual subscription fee starting from TND 10,500 (~$3,500) to promote their cars on its platform and generate leads.

In addition to all of this, AutoPlus also allows users to buy used cars, tires, and even trucks through its platform.

The startup claims to have generated over TND 250,000 ($86,000) of revenue in two years of its operations. It says that it has been working with close to 20 car dealers, 10 tire dealers, and two leasing companies. 

Junior Robotics Lab makes it easy for schools (and training centers) to teach children (8 to 15-year-olds) the basics of robotics and coding through its cloud-based platform. Founded by Atef Ben Bakri & Sami Turki, the startup provides schools with a dedicated curriculum that comes with educational robotic sets and cloud-ready software, to help manage robotic classes.

Atef who founded the platform after 12 years of experience of teaching computer science to children in public schools started working on the idea after realizing that the existing school programs are outdated. And he started with his own classes.

Today, Junior Robotics Lab is a combination of an online platform and curriculum that helps schools teach robotic activities and new educational programs to their students and generate extra money on top of their existing income.

The online platform by Junior Robotics Lab allows teachers to manage the classroom, organize students into groups, follow the progress, and evaluate students. The students receive what the startup calls interactive robotic lessons that are comprised of videos, real-world problems, and different tasks and challenges.

The startup says that it is using modern techniques like problem-solving, innovative thinking and project-based learning to help teachers teach different concepts around robotics and computer science.

The school administrators can manage teachers, groups, and students.

Junior Robotics Lab makes money by selling yearly subscriptions to schools. Each subscription covers specific education levels (from the three levels it offers) so one institution may end up purchasing multiple to be able to provide robotics classes to students in different grades. The plans start from TND 4000 per year per school (for schools with up to 150 students).

The startup since its inception in 2017 has trained over 500 students, generating over TND 150,000 (~$52,000) in revenue. It also said that since the beginning of this year, ten schools have tested its product and committed to buy it. 

OnBoard is trying to fix something that hasn’t changed in the last few decades: product manuals for machines. The startup helps hardware and manufacturing companies turn their textual product and training manuals into web-based ‘3D, immersive and intelligent’ manuals that the customers (users/operators of the machines) can interact with.

The startup, founded by Safwen Bouali, Cherif Redissi, and Amine Troudi, claims that through these manuals, it helps companies that manufacture complex machinery and hardware (mainly robotics and aeronautics companies) reduce the onboarding time by 75 percent and support calls by 60 percent.

In the opening remarks of their pitch, Cherif Redissi, the co-founder and VP Engineering of OnBoard claimed that the traditional user manuals because of being long and confusing are never really read by the machine operators and staff. The problem, Cherif, explained results in the customers of these machines call the machine manufacturers and register complaints, which means a poor overall customer experience.

He also claimed that these manuals are the number one reason for accidents and injuries on factory floors.

These are the problems OnBoard is trying to solve with its interactive manuals that can be created by manufacturers using its platform. The manuals created using its platform also help manufacturers collect data and usage patterns that could be used to improve their products.

OnBoard is going after the customer support and training market of the companies operating in complex machinery and hardware manufacturing space.

The startup uses a freemium model, providing both free and paid subscriptions to its users (and customers). The paid subscriptions start from €50 a month and go up to €400. OnBoard has created 8 manuals since its launch late last year and currently claims to be working with different European industrial companies.   

SeekMake, founded by Adel Ayari, is an online manufacturing that is democratizing access to machines (like milling machines, 3D printers, and laser cutting machines.

Most of these machines are usually very expensive so it is obviously not feasible for designers, creators, and architects to go and buy one for their projects and the access to them is difficult as they’re usually owned by manufacturing companies, fab labs, etc.

The manufacturing companies have their own set of problems when it comes to these machines, under-utilization being the biggest one of them. SeekMake estimates that there are currently 5 million such machines in the Middle East & Africa alone that are under-utilized. For the machine owners, it is providing opportunity to make extra money using them.

The users upload their designs (which the startup says are protected by it) on SeekMake’s platform with the details of the project and the platform automatically calculates the estimated price for building it. The request then gets matched with machine operators, one of which accepts the request and builds the project.

SeekMake claims that the project is delivered to the customer within two days after the machine owner finished building it.

The startup makes money by charging the machine owners with a monthly subscription fee of TND 30 ($10) and a 25 percent cut on every successful transaction. SeekMake claims to have connected brought over 75 machines in its network since its launch in November last year, delivering over 2,700 projects. It has helped the startup generate over TND 100,000 (~$35,000) of revenue to date. 

Sghartoon, founded by Hidayet Ayadi, Saif Ben Achour, and Oualid Khayati, helps parents detect early dyslexia signs in their children through its mobile applications.

(For those who don’t know, dyslexia is a learning disorder involving difficulty in reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words).

Hidayet’s inspiration to build Sghartoon came from her own home. Her younger sister has had dyslexia and their mother found it very difficult to help her as she was overwhelmed with work and could not find a way to do it online. Sharing the story at the demo day, she explained that the school systems also didn’t have the right tools to detect these kids and help them.

This is primarily why she’s building Sghartoon with her co-founders and team to help these kids and their parents.

The startup does this through its mobile application that comes with 30 mini-games created with the help of a psychiatrist and a speech therapist and helps detect the signs of educational troubles. If these signs are detected, Sghartoon suggests the parents to take their child to a psychiatrist or a speech therapist from the network of these experts available on its platform.

The experts after consultation can keep an eye on the progress of kids through a dashboard provided by Sghartoon and assign them with different exercises or chat with their parents.

The mobile application, Sghartoon says, enables children with dyslexia to learn everything that everyone else learns at school but using cartoons and video games adapted to their educational troubles and level of progress.

The startup estimates that 20 percent of the kids in the world are dyslexic and 80 percent of them are not being detected. These are the kids that Sghartoon aims to help. It charges parents a monthly subscription fee of $10 for using its app. The platform for experts (psychiatrists and speech therapists) is provided for an annual subscription fee of $1,000.

Sghartoon claims to have tested over 500 kids since its launch last year – out of which 85 came dyslexic.

Sqoin, founded by Bacem Bergaoui and Mohamed Ali Belajouza, is a Blockchain startup that has built Versa, an internal payment system that helps companies (mainly ecommerce platforms, online marketplaces, and SaaS startups) with a high frequency of micropayments to ‘considerably’ lower the transaction fee.

Its Internal Payment System serves as a financial infrastructure tool that allows businesses to sell digital tokens to users which can then be used to buy the products or services sold by the businesses. Soqin claims that Versa can help businesses save up to 85 percent of the transaction fee (that they normally pay to payment processors and different other third parties involved in the payment processing).

The platform helps businesses manage micropayments, complex fund distribution, and repeated transactions.

Soqin offers its Blockchain-powered solution to businesses for a monthly fee of $20 per month and a transaction fee of $0.01 per transaction.

The startup claims to have generated a revenue of TND 200,000 (~$70,000) in 2019. 

Study.tn is building a Coursera for the Middle East & North Africa. Founded by Nidhal Abidi, Nadhir Abidi, and Salim Hadrich, the startup serves as an online marketplace for localized video courses on different topics to offer trainings and coaching to individuals and corporates across the region, in their local languages.

The platform features both free and paid courses on different topics (including programming, business, design, marketing, health and fitness, etc.) in English & French. The courses are created by experts who get up to 50 percent of the revenue generated from the sale of their course(s).

The startup also enables universities and schools to create their own learning platforms using Study.tn with their own content for a monthly subscription fee starting from TND 5,000 (~$1,730) a month.

Study.tn is going after African and Francophone countries where it says the elearning market is worth $30 billion. It claims to have over 15,000 members on the platform who watch more than 6,000 hours of video content every month on it. The platform currently features 900 videos.

Nidhal Abidi, the co-founder and CEO of Study.tn, speaking at the demo day claimed that with the courses they have on the platform right now, they’ve been able to generate over TND 20,000 (about $7,000) of revenue – all from B2C sales.

The users can access the courses on Study’s website or mobile apps. The startup is now launching a SaaS platform that will help corporates create a customized learning experience for their employees.

Wantotrip, founded by Chahrazed Remadi and her husband Makrem Hermassi, is an online travel platform that allows celebrities and social media influencers to organize travel experiences for their community of followers, and make some extra money. The startup takes care of all the logistics from flights to accommodation through its travel partners, requiring the trip leader only to promote the trip.

The couple had quit their jobs to travel around the world over two years ago. The duo started documenting their travel experiences on a blog where they slowly built a community of followers and started arranging different types of trips for them. That’s when they realized that there are many other influencers, bloggers, and community leaders out there who could organize trips for their community and make money in the process but the logistics of doing so are obviously complicated. And to solve this, they started building Wantotrip.

The revenue generated from these trips is shared between the community leader, travel agency, and Wantotrip. The startup says that it keeps 25 percent of this revenue on average.

Wantotrip claims to have organized over 24 trips to date with the help of 15 community dealers. The trips have generated total revenue of over $280,000.

The startup said that even though it had to postpone many of its trips due to Covid-19, it was able to convince the customers to keep their money as credit for future credits. It is also moving its focus to local travel for now as a lot of people instead of traveling to international destinations will try to look for options within Tunisia.

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Lahore, Pakistan. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.
Zubair Naeem Paracha
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