Normally known for its telecom services, STC has also become a very active player in the startup ecosystem of MENA. They had established a VC fund in 2011 by the name of STC Ventures; which has invested in regional startups like Careem and Compareit4me. Very recently, STC itself also invested $100 million in Careem directly for 10% stake in it making it the only unicorn of the region. The net income of $2.27 billion in 2016 certainly helped STC.
About two years ago, STC launched its own incubator as well by the name of InspireU for digital startups. InspireU has taken two batches of startups until now and has just started accepting applications for the third intake. They’re different than any other existing incubator in the country and offer some amazing perks if you get selected including the following; as mentioned on the registration landing page.
- Seed funding of up to SAR 75,000 (USD 20,000) without taking equity
- Top quality startup training program delivered by Silicon Valley experts
- International exposure such as workshops, exchange program
- Free services from our partners of up to SAR 300,000
- Support in business development with all the help from STC’s network
Another big thing that makes it different from the other incubators in the Kingdom is the fact that they’re accepting applications from all around the world. Yes, anyone can apply. But if you get selected, you’ll have to stay in Riyadh on your expense. InspireU will help with the visa as well.
However getting selected for the incubation program is not a walk in the park. Every application goes through screening against some pre-determined criteria and only top 30 applications will make it to the next stage. These to 30 startups will then have one-to-one interviews with InspireU and would be asked to submit one minute videos to help InspireU understand them better. The incubation center will then internally review the interviews and videos and select top 10 startups who will be invited to a bootcamp in Riyadh. One first day of the bootcamp a workshop will be conducted to prepare startups for the pitch which they will have to deliver on the second day. They will be pitching their ideas in front of five judges who will then select the winners.
See, not that easy. So those who are selected as winners will sign the agreement with InspireU and start their 6-month journey in the incubation center. Here’s the direct link to application page. Good luck, guys!