About us

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PilotLabs is the first Syrian Accelerator program that supports early-stage Syrian entrepreneurs in launching their technology startups.


Our vision is to empower Syrian entrepreneurs by providing them with everything they need to build startups that can compete on a regional and global level.

What We Look for

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  • Early-stage technology startups with innovative, scalable, and disruptive solutions
  • Strong, complementary, fully dedicated and passionate team with at least one technical co-founder
  • Product solving a real need with a large potential market locally or regionally

3 Phases Program

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Phase 1: 
5 startups will be chosen to join our first phase consisting of a 3 months intensive acceleration with a cash investment of ~SYR 3,500,000, extensive coaching, access to a global top-tier mentor and expert network, and office space/shared services.

We take 15% equity from each startup at the time of acceptance to phase 1.
Phase 2:
An extension of phase 1 up to an additional 3 months as needed where startups can leverage our office space and benefit from our coaching and mentor network before reaching their targets for phase 3
Phase 3:
Eligible startups from the first two phases receive follow-on funding of ~SYP 4,500,000 in cash contribution ensuring sustainability with a chance to use our office space for 3 more months and benefit from coaching and our mentor network before our Demo Day.

We take 10% equity from each startup at the time of the follow-on investment in phase 3.

Team Members

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Saeb Nahas

Co-founder
Portfolio Manager at Phoenician Funds, a Lebanon-based early stage Venture Capital Fund where he is responsible for overseeing the end to end investment process and works closely with portfolio companies providing them with all the required resources and support Prior to the Fund, Saeb worked as a Consultant at McKinsey & Co where he worked on multiple projects and initiatives in the MENA regionSaeb holds a Dual Degree in Business Administration and Economics from AUB where he graduated with Distinction

Hussein Hamod

Co-founder
Hussein is the Business Development Manager of D-Link Syria and the General Manager of ITOS, a Syria-based IT solutions provider. Prior to that Hussein held a number of positions in IT companies where he oversaw the implementation of large IT project across a wide spectrum of industries. Hussein holds a Bachelor's degree in computer engineering from the Islamic University in Lebanon, in addition to a Master's in CIS from the Arabic University in Jordan and is ITIL certified

Ali Shaker

Co-founder
Board member of Star Group, a middle east-based holding company owning majority shares in several firms in various business sectors. Ali has 10+ years experience directing and investing in Information Technology business initiatives with a special interest in security and telecommunication technologiesThe companies Ali led reached number one record of Syrian market share in DSL products in 2010 and enterprise security products in 2018Ali is a representative of several regional leading business players in multiple industries and is a consultant in business planning and PR serving regional companies entering the Syrian market

Dr. Izzat Al Sous:

Co-founder
Dr. Izzat is the co-founder of BA tech, an intelligent technical solutions provider in the middle east offering advanced technology solutions to businesses (e.g., robotics, Artificial intelligence, and machine learning etc)Prior to BA tech, Dr. Izzat was a lecturer of computer science in a number of universities in the region since 2008 and was a moderator of AISP research center  Dr. Izzat holds a BSc in software computer engineering, an MSc in artificial intelligence (machine learning), and a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence (knowledge processing for computer vision) from the University of Isfahan UI

Malek Mouzayen

Investment Committee Member
Malek is the Co-Founder and CEO of Tradinos, a software development house with offices in Damascus and Berlin. In addition, Malek has co-founded BeeOrder, the first food delivery startup in Syria and Wasilni, the first ride hailing startup in Syria.Malek holds a BSc in Computer Engineering from the American University of Sharjah and an MSc in software project management from the University of Aberdeen 

Haya Al Habal

Program Coordinator
Haya is an active member of the Syrian startup ecosystem having contributed to it in a number of initiatives, amongst which are her position as a Curator of Startup Digest Syria, work experience with Jusoor, and a number of other participations. Haya is passionate about supporting startups and entrepreneurial communities and has Co-organized Startup Weekend Beirut 2018 in addition to a number of other activities and volunteering initiativesHaya is a student at Damascus University where she is studying Business Administration
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Blog

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Applying to PilotLabs Accelerator Program

Are you planning on applying to the PilotLabs Accelerator program? We have prepared the key areas that we look at and that you need to think about as you apply.

  • Purpose-driven: We are looking for startups that are driven by solving a real problem or filling a gap in the market. Does your startup offer a significant improvement to the way current things are being done (Such as the innovation of drones and using them to deliver food, or creating a VR or AR platform for people to try out clothes from home before buying them online) or a solution for a real pain people face (Like the lack of transportation in remote areas — lack the lack resources or information about certain subjects such as quality of doctors and their schedules — long hours spent on doing/organizing certain tasks aka making operations easier and less expensive such as TrelloRead more about startups solving a problem here.
  • Balanced team: Does the team have the skills to take on this journey? does it have the right components, skill set, and experience? did they work together before? do they complement each other? Like Guy Kawasaki said: “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” And successful implementation depends on your team, if you have a great balanced team your chances of success as well as attracting investors are much higher than a team that isn’t balanced or lacking harmony and collaboration or lacking crucial skills for the startup (Such as trying to build a tech startup without having a tech person that can write the code and build the product Read more about why balanced teams are so important for Startups.
  • Technology: The accelerator’s core value proposition is to support technology startups get their feet on the ground. Our vision is to put Syria on the technology startup scene, and therefore, the startups we will be shortlisting need to be technology-based startups that are using any kind of technology (hardware or software).
  • Product: It’s not necessary to have an already established product or MVP to get into our program, yet if the startup does have an established product or MVP (Minimum Viable Product) that it can showcase, it will have bonus points and a higher chance to get accepted into the program as we would be able to see the tech execution capabilities of the team. Read more here about what is an MVP and why should start building one. And if you are up to building your MVP you can also check this one How to build your MVP here.
  • Competition: Does the startup have strong sustainable competitive advantages to survive in the market? And what kind of competition does it have (direct competition, indirect competition, what are the differentiating factors)? Does your startup have competitors? read more here!
  • Scalability: Is your startup scalable and does your business model have the potential to scale? can the team increase its revenue quickly without necessarily increasing resources proportionately?
  • Market Size: Is the target market big enough to generate revenues that would yield attractive returns? In other words, will real customers buy your product at a price and in volumes that will allow you to make significant revenues that would allow your idea to grow and survive? And here comes the importance of conducting a market size research. Did you do a market research? Read more here about why Entrepreneurs Must Research Market Size. If you cannot identify a market then how can you service it? If you can’t size a market, how can you determine if your business makes sense, or if you can drive a growing and profitable business? If you don’t have an idea of underlying market size and growth, how can anyone put a valuation on your company? So make sure to do your homework and learn about your potential market and its size.

Now, are you ready to take the next step?

If you have already built your startup are currently in the early stage or above then you’re an entrepreneur and can apply through this link. If you aspire to be an entrepreneur and have an idea that you want to start then you are a wantrepreneur and can apply through this link.

If you have any questions you can reach out to us on info@pilotlabs-me.com. GOOD LUCK!

The PilotLabs team :)

Have a startup idea and don’t know where to start?

Everyone comes up with great ideas. Some are dreams, others are visions. Coming up with the idea has never built a startup or a great company, what comes after the idea is what matters.

  • Research your idea: There are many people who have ideas out there. Many of those ideas have been implemented. Some were implemented but you might have never heard of them and more have been implemented and failed. It is crucial to start by conducting research about those who have implemented a similar idea, and asking questions such as: Were they successful in bringing it to life? If so, do I have reasons to believe that I can do it better? Or did they fail? And if they did fail, am I capable of doing it better? Building on the experience of others is a key factor for us as a society to move towards a better future efficiently.
  • Talk about it with people around you: Talk about your idea with people you know or meet, whether with your friends, your relatives, or anyone that you might think can give you valuable feedback. Surely not every feedback is relevant, so it is your job to filter valuable feedback from noise. The point of this is to give others a chance to kill your idea, if you can defend it and stand still, or if their questions and arguments don’t convince you to give up on your idea then it’s worth investigating further. Keeping the idea to yourself is the worst thing you can do, as you might be blinded by the love and ownership you feel towards your idea, which might lead you to waste a lot of effort on working on something that could be of no real value.
  • Test with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP): A minimum viable product is a version of your product built using the minimum resources fulfilling the basic premise of your idea (for example, if it’s an application-based marketplace for cars, you could start with a facebook page and try to sell cars through it and see how people react). The MVP is a critical step in testing the validity of your assumptions before spending too much time or money on a product that might not be wanted by your customers.
  • Develop a Business Plan: The business plan will make sure you cover all the key components that you need to think about as a startup founder, whether the market size, competition, financials, team resources etc. It is a good guide to ensure you are thinking about everything as you move forward.

We are here to support you and help you through your entrepreneurial journey, apply to our acceleration program on pilotlabs-me.com and if you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out on info@pilotlabs-me.com.

The PilotLabs team


I have an idea but I’m afraid if I share it, others will steal it

Many Wantrepreneurs (anyone that wants to become an entrepreneur and launch their startup) come up with great ideas but hesitate to share them with others; “What if they steal my idea?” they say, or “What if they beat me to it?”, “What if they share it with others that have more resources and leave me out?”

Here’s why NOT sharing your ideas with almost everyone around you is a deadly mistake that will almost certainly keep your entrepreneurial dream just a dream.

  • It is almost certain that someone out of the current ~7 Billion population had the same idea before you did. The idea in itself isn’t what is valuable. An idea is not worth anything without a strong dedicated team to validate it and execute on it.
  • Sharing your idea with others will allow you to better shape it by receiving feedback. Some will criticize, others will praise, you’re looking for the ones that will give you constructive feedback to validate, improve your idea, and better shape it. You’d be surprised by who can add value. Without sharing it, you cannot know whether your idea makes sense or not and might risk spending a lot of time stuck in your own head.
  • Sharing your idea with others will allow people to help you take it to the next level by introducing you to relevant people that can support you. People have a natural tendency to want to support, by sharing what you’re thinking about, you increase the likelihood of being introduced to others that can support: those can be other entrepreneurs that are doing something you can learn from, potential mentors that have knowledge in the space you’re in, potential sales leads that can be unlocked by an introduction or referral, or investors that would be interested in investing in you!
  • Sharing your idea will allow you to build the right team by raising the interest of the crazy, curious, and passionate who would want to join you on your mission.
  • Finally, if, by sharing your idea with others, someone else took it and executed it faster and/or better than you were, then you didn’t do everything needed to succeed and someone else worked harder and smarter and therefore society is better off with them offering this idea since they were more committed and more dedicated to bringing it to life.

Your best defense towards “saving” your idea is having the courage to take the first step into bringing your idea to life and having the commitment and dedication to follow through on it no matter what.

We are here to support you and help you through your entrepreneurial journey, apply to our acceleration program on pilotlabs-me.com and if you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out on info@pilotlabs-me.com.

Hope this was helpful,

PilotLabs Team

3 Differences Between Accelerators and Incubators

PilotLabs is the first accelerator in Syria. Though there are already several incubators in Syria such as ICT public incubator and Afkar Plus incubator in Hama. What makes us different from incubators?

  • Incubators operate on an open-ended timeline. Some run for 3 months, some can even be 2 years or more and are not necessarily cohort based. They focus more on the longevity of a startup and are less concerned with how quickly the company grows. Accelerators are cohort-based programs that lasts three to four months can entertain cohort batches. During this period, startups build out their business with the support of mentors and capital provided by the accelerator. At the end of the program, startups receive the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors and should be ready to look to raising another round of funding (e.g. Seed or Series A) or possibly applying to another accelerator with a more specialized, industry specific program.
  • While both incubators and accelerators offer an environment of collaboration and mentorship, Incubators have less pressure to deliver startups that can grow fast, as fostering and supporting local startups is part of their charter. Accelerator programs are competitive as the accelerator must select the top startups from across the country, that are scale-able, invest-able and have to show an ability to grow rapidly within months.
  • Incubators do not traditionally provide capital to startups. They also don’t usually take an equity stake in the companies they support (although some exceptionally do such as Afkarplus)Accelerators invest a specific amount of capital in startups in exchange for a predetermined percentage of equity. After this investment, the accelerators become partners with the startups and share both success and failure with their startups

In summary, both incubators and accelerators aim to help and support startups and the ecosystem, thus both united play a great role in the community and the role becomes greater when these stakeholder collaboration among each other and with other community players

Startups Typical Day In Our Accelerator Program

You’ll be working on your product each day and we will push you to go to your market to talk to customers starting from day one , we don’t tell you what to do or when, but we will put specific milestones together with each startup to be achieved every week of the program and track the performance. Although, you have to be working from our accelerator office, we won’t tell you when you should come and leave the office, your startup should be your priority and you should be working on your startup whether you are at the office or not, it’s your baby and you have to nurture it yourself no one else will take care of it if you don’t. Throughout the acceleration journey you will have mentors and the accelerator staff available to help and support you face and get over challenges and learn from their experience and skills.

The acceleration program is a period where you will build your company with a lot of guidance, a lot of support, and a lot of pushing to get things done in the best way possible. Expect to be challenged, to learn a lot, and to have an amazing journey

Getting Interviewed By An Accelerator

After application is submitted, the board members will meet startups and idea owners that they find attractive with a potential to succeed. The interview won’t be long so come prepared. Come with your co founders if you have ones. Practice explaining your idea or startup, and pitching it, which includes: the problem you are solving, how what you are offering changes the world, why your market is big, and most importantly how your team is the right one to take on this journey. Demonstrate that your team works well together and will get things done. The most important aspect we look at is the team and how you can work together. We’d love to see something you’ve already accomplished: an MVP, users that have already signed up, prizes you took, etc. Having a pitch deck or a presentation to showcase your startup is a plus as we will eventually ask you to send us an electronic copy of your presentation afterwards.

accelerators invest in teams that will eventually build companies According toMaya Baratz Jordan, was a Managing Director at Techstars accelerators will always look at the team first when considering companies to invite to their cohorts so we’d like to work with passionate founders that are obsessed about their startup and that will do whatever it takes to make is a success

Finding the right co-founder not only impacts the process of getting the company or idea funded, but it ultimately has resounding impacts on customer acquisition and scaling. As early stage investors, accelerators look for teams where the co-founders demonstrate a strong interpersonal fit.

Let's Work Together

Founder

WantrepreneurHave an idea or project and want to take it to the next level.

Entrepreneur: Have a startup and need support and funding to move forward.

The second wave of applications is now open. 

Supporter

Investor: Like to have access to investment opportunities in Technology Startups.
Mentor: Have experience that you think can benefit Syrian entrepreneurs and would like to share it.

Coming Soon