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By : Reggie Addae
April 4 – 5, 2019
SwissTech Convention Center – Lausanne, Switzerland
The 2019 Seedstars Summit 2019, organized by Seedstars World SA, brought together over 400 investors, government officials, corporate innovators, and CEOs to discuss and find solutions to issues in five key industries: healthcare, agriculture, education, energy and finance. The event also featured over 70 startups from emerging markets around the world, showcasing their businesses and competing for equity investments of up to US$1 million.
Beyond pitching, the event was also peppered with interesting speakers, who discussed topics from agritech to fintech.
The lineup for the main stage included KawiSafi Ventures Managing Director Amar Inamdar who spoke on cleantech, Seabex Co-founder and COO Ines Hamida Mestiri who spoke on agritech, and University of Cape Town Professor Tania Douglas who spoke on healthtech.
The Breakout Stage was equally engaging, with a keynote talk by Bernard Bonjean, founder of microcredit provider Avante, followed by a panel on the opportunities and challenges of fundraising in emerging markets.
The panel featured an eclectic group of investors and entrepreneurs: Vivian Nwakah from Medsaf, Fabio Cannavale from Lastminute.com, Nichapat Ark from Openspace Ventures, Adriana Collins from the Seedstars Investment Team, and Shruti Chandrasekhar from IFC Venture Capital. With such a diverse group of speakers hailing from different backgrounds and geographical regions, the panel proved to be a particularly illuminating part of the Summit.
True to any startup event, a section of the show was dedicated to booths for early-stage companies. Brief conversations with them revealed great feedback for the Summit, as they thought the event did well in terms of providing access to mentors and funding. It was impressive to see how Seedstars was able to attract a community from all over the world and give them a platform to showcase their products.
It was also refreshing to see startups solving problems for their respective regions, as opposed to just jumping on the blockchain and AI bandwagon for investment. Examples include Kubinga–a peer-to-peer ride sharing service from Angola–and Doctor Online, which provides immediate remote access to doctors via chat or video conference for the Guatemalan insurance industry.
Other startups on display tackled day-to-day problems, including Hong Kong-based Oxpecker Labs, a patent-pending, non-invasive sweat sensor that helps users avoid dehydration and heat stroke, and Indian startup Wobot, which allows businesses to better make sense of their CCTV data.
The Summit also closed the Seedstars Global Pitch Competition; 67 startups from around the world, shortlisted from a total of 815, were awarded prizes. Federico Hernandez of Latin America-based Blended, a platform that improves communication between schools and families, took home the Seedstars Global Winner prize, winning $500,000 in equity investment and unique growth opportunities (pictured above).
Seedstars and its partners gave out other prizes, including:
- The Seedstars Public Prize by Vaud went to YNMO from Saudi Arabia, a software-as-a-service company that allows disability service providers, including schools, centers, and clinics, to design and monitor individualized treatment plans
- Transforming Education Prize by TRECC and the School of Management Fribourg went to Labes Key from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- South African startup Iyeza won the Vaccine Delivery Challenge awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also awarded the Seedstars Malaria Challenge to Medsaf (pictured on the left), a platform connecting pharmacies and hospitals with safe and cost-effective medication in Nigeria
- 7keema, the first on-demand home nursing service of its kind from Egypt, was awarded the Rising Tide Foundation Empowerment Prize
Finally, the organizers announced the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, which gives participants up to $500,000 in investment in a modernized, non-time-bound curriculum.
All in all, the Seedstars Summit proved to be a worthwhile event, especially for growth-stage startups seeking visibility out of their home country and access to investors, mentors, media and funding. –RA