13 Must-Attend Sessions for Startups at the RiseUp Summit 2017

RiseUp Summit is one of the most anticipated startup events of MENA. In less than ten days, startup community from all over the region and beyond will come together in Cairo at this event. This year’s summit is going to be a little different from its previous editions as it is being organized at two venues; The Greek Campus where it always took place and The American University in Cairo. As per our standing, both the venues are almost next to each other with few minutes of walk maybe.

RiseUp published their agenda for the Summit yesterday and because of the amazing line-up of speakers and highly curated topics for these sessions, it is not very easy to pick and choose the sessions you should attend.

If you’re a startup, we strongly suggest that you bring three-four team members so you can attend multiple sessions from different tracks: Capital, Creative and Tech, to make most of out the three-day event.

But if for some reason, only one founder or team member can join the event, here are the sessions we suggest you must attend. We’ve tried to select as many general sessions as possible. And these are not workshops. RiseUp’s team has not published the details about workshops yet.

Day 1

1) To bootstrap or not to bootstrap

Time: 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Annie Wang, President at Senvol, Amir Allam, Founder & CEO at Elmenus, Amr Saleh, Co-Founder at Integreight, Marie-Therese Fam, Managing Partner at Flat6Labs Cairo

We’re hoping this session should help you understand that raising funds is not the answer to all your problems. Bootstrapping also can take you to places. After speaking to different founders in the past few months some of whom have exited their startups, we’re inclined towards bootstrapping your startup for as long as you can but the speakers at this session will share their arguments for and against it so all your early-stage folks, don’t miss this one.

2) Spotlight On: Careem

Time: 2:00 PM – 2:25 PM
Venue: AUC – Ewart & Fountain Zone
Speakers: Christopher Schroeder, Author & Investor, Mudassir Sheikha, Co-Founder & CEO at Careem

It’s a fireside chat where Chris Schroeder, the Author of Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East will ask Mudassir Sheikha about his Careem journey. It’s a no-brainer. When co-founder and CEO of the only unicorn of region shares the story of how he built it with his team, you have to listen to him.

3) Hunting Heads

Time: 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Tarek Assaad, Managing Partner at Algebra Ventures, Ameer Sherif, Co-Founder & CEO at Wuzzuf, Abdellatif Waked, General Manager at Uber Egypt

Finding, attracting and retaining talent is still one of the biggest challenges esp. for early-stage startups of the region. Tarek from Algebra, Ameer from Wuzzuf and Abdellatif from Uber will talk about how startups can attract and retain great talent. All of them have either hired excellent talent for their ventures or have helped different other startups do it.

Day 2

4) How to achieve a higher valuation for business

Time: 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Chris Neumann, Venture Partner at 500 Startups, Khalid Shadid, Founder & CEO at ReserveOut, Omar Ramadan, Founder at FilKhedma, Karim Hussein, Managing Partner at Algebra Ventures, Angela Lee, Founder at 37 Angels

5) Leaving the Nest

Time: 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Mai Medhat, Co-Founder & CEO at Eventtus, Walid Faza, Partner at Wamda, Jambu Palaniappan, Regional General Manager at uberEATS, Tarek Amin, Founder at Dubai Angel Investors, Joy Aljoyny, Co-founder at Fetchr 

To be able to grow, scaling beyond a single market is almost inevitable for any startup. The founders who achieved growth by scaling into different markets will share their thoughts in this session to answer your questions about when is the right time for a startup to spread its wings. Apart from founders, the VCs who have helped startups scale will share their insights on the subject.

6) The Instabug Journey

Time: 2:00 PM – 2:25 PM
Venue: AUC – Ewart & Fountain Zone
Speakers: Omar Gabr, Co-founder & CEO at Instabug, Motaz Soliman, Co-founder & CTO at Instabug

Instabug is definitely one of the biggest SaaS success stories from the region, if not THE biggest. It’s one of the very few truly global startups of the region in terms of the customers they have. Their founders, Omar & Motaz will share their story about how they built a clever product into this giant. All those SaaS startups from the region, you don’t want to miss this one.

7) Execution is Key

Time: 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM
Venue: AUC – Ewart & Fountain Zone
Speakers: Idriss Al Rifai, Co-founder & CEO at Fetchr, Waleed Abdelrahman, CEO at Mumm, Ramy Kato, Managing Director Egypt at Careem

More often than not startups fail because of execution. We’ve heard a lot of investors say that they are fine with the idea of investing in a startup that has an average idea with excellent execution instead of investing in one that has a brilliant idea but average execution. That’s because execution is always more important than the idea itself. The key decision makers of Careem, Fetchr & Mumm in this session will discuss how the operations are run in these companies considering the fact that many of their employees deal directly with customers. You will learn about how they maintain the startup culture, customer satisfaction, and human experience within and outside their organizations.

8) Thinking about your next round

Time: 10:00 AM – 10:45 AM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Mona Ataya, Founder & CEO at Mumzworld, Ziad Mokhtar, Managing Partner at Algebra Ventures, Khaled Talhouni, Managing Partner at Wamda, Kunal Kapoor, Managing Director at The Luxury Closet

Founders of two very successful startups of the region, Mumzworld & The Luxury Closet; and the Partners at Wamda & Algebra Ventures will share their views about when is the right time to start thinking about your next financing round.

9) Angel & Founder: Tough Love

Time: 11:30 AM – 11:55 AM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Khaled Ismail, Founder & Chairman at KIangel, Aly Abuzeid, CEO at Cubii, Amira Azzouz, Founder at Fustany

As the title suggests, it can sometimes be tough for angels and founders to work together. Khaled Ismail, one of the leading angel investors of Egypt and founders of Cubii and Fustany, Aly and Amira, will share their ideas and thoughts on how the two parties can keep it smooth and healthy.

10) Path to Exit: Capital structures and lessons learned

Time: 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Heather Henyon, Venture Investor & Advisor at Balthazar Capital, Sharif El-Badawi, Partner at 500 Startups, Tarek Fahim, Managing Partner at Endure Capital

This is perhaps the most important session esp. for early-stage startups and founders who don’t know much about fundraising and capital structures. Endure’s Tarek Fahim, 500 Startups’ Sharif El-Badawi & Balthazar’s Heather Henyon will share their views on different investment instruments including SAFEs (Simple Agreement for Future Equity), convertible notes, and priced equity rounds. They will also talk about discerning amounts you should sell your business off at, seed and venture rounds; valuation and how to set a cap; funding through exit; value of ESOP (Employee Share Option Plan); and the importance of a fully diluted capitalization table.

11) Sitting at the Negotiating Table 

Time: 1:00 PM – 1:25 PM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Mai Medhat, Co-founder and CEO at Eventtus, Sherif Hefni, Partner at Levari Law, Menna Abdelrahman, General Manager at Cairo Angels

Negotiating a financing round is not a straightforward thing. We’re not in Silicon Valley where investors are competing against each other to get a piece of almost every other deal. Dynamics of MENA are very different. The term sheet you have on the table might be the only one you’ll receive in next twelve months or so it’s very important to negotiate it in the right way. This session will help you understand that.

12) Inside the Largest Fintech Exit in the Region

Time: 1:30 PM – 1:55 PM
Venue: AUC – Ewart & Fountain Zone
Speakers: Tarek Assaad, Managing Partner at Algbera Ventures, Ashraf Sabry, Founder & CEO at Fawry

Fawry is the biggest exit of Egypt. The fintech startup sold 85% of its stake to a consortium of investors for $100 million in 2015. This also makes it the biggest fintech exit of the region. Fawry’s founder and CEO, and one of their strategic early investors will take the stage to share journey of the company and talk about its challenges and lessons learned.

13) Scaling: Unlocked

Time: 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Platform Zone
Speakers: Talal Bayaa, Co-founder & CEO at Bayzat, Allen Taylor, Managing Director at Endeavour Catalyst, Fadi Antaki, CEO at A15, Heba Ali, Managing Director at Egypt Ventures

Startups by their very definition are supposed to grow and grow fast. But the growth doesn’t come easy. Scaling a startup is a very difficult feat. This panel of amazing investors and founders will help you with answers of questions like when do you know you’re at your inflection point of scaling up? What kind of funding does each step of the way from start-up to scale-up require? What are the most typical pitfalls that entrepreneurs fall into when thinking capital raising? What does the local investor landscape look like, and when should you consider tapping into regional or international funds? How can you learn from start-up experiences in other ecosystems to guide your very own.

Wuzzuf Startup Matchmaking Event at RiseUp 2017 (Day 2)

Date: December 2 – Saturday
Time: 12 PM – 4 PM
Venue: The Greek Campus – Fourth Floor Library Building

This one is not really a session. It’s a four-hour long event that’s part of RiseUp. It’s a must-attend event for startups that are looking for managerial or executive talent. Wuzzuf, the largest recruitment website of Egypt is putting it together and both startups and talents are required to register. You can learn more details about it here.

There are obviously tens of other amazing sessions as well in different tracks of RiseUp. You might want to have a look at full agenda here. If you’re a startup that wants to expand to different markets of MENA, you should check the startup guide sessions on day two. They should be helpful.

Want to learn more about RiseUp 2017? Here’s our detailed guide to it.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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