Start-up of the Week: ‘Blossom’ — Showing the way to women entrepreneurs

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Time: June 26, 2018

JEDDAH: Blossom, a Jeddah-based accelerator that focuses on female-led technology startups in Saudi Arabia, was launched in Dec. 2017.
It is the first and only accelerator that aims to empower and enable female-founded startups in Saudi Arabia.
A lack of resources to support growing women-led startups in the Kingdom prompted Eman Shakoor, the CEO, to establish Blossom to help other women to overcome the challenges she faced when she tried to build her own startup earlier in the same year.
Shakoor told Arab News: “I realized the growing potential and ambitions among Saudi women to start their own businesses. However, I also noticed the need to provide more access to resources and networking for them to really build up something amazing and sustainable.”
The accelerator gives early-stage startups the opportunity to participate in a boot camp and a demo day, while providing them with resources, knowledge, networking, and access to nearly 35 mentors in various business fields over a two-week program.
“A total of 28 applications were received during our first round earlier this year, shortlisted to 12 suitable applicants. From these, only four (Maison Glamour, Noorah Kareem, Passioneurs, and Ewahimprov) were selected to be part of Blossom’s first cohort,” the Blossom chief said.
Applicants are evaluated on the experience of the founding team, the product’s value, the business’s scalability and its current stage of operations.
Shakoor said: “We are looking for early-stage existing startups that have at least one female founder, an innovative tech-product that solves real problems and is backed up by market research, with a good understanding of competition, scalable future growth and, finally, the team’s experience and commitment to the business, and its product.”
As for the program’s objectives, the startups can expect guidance in refining their business models and improving their technical strength. During the two-week intensive program, participants are provided with 24/7 access to a co-working space, one-on-one sessions with expert mentors to help them in improve their businesses.
The entrepreneur said: “Startups get mentorship on everything from business models, introduction to entrepreneurship, lean principles, product design, marketing, accounting and financing, legalities, and pitching/presentation skills.
“We also organize public events and workshops focused on networking, idea-sharing, and inspiration throughout the year.”
She said: “Our main goal is to promote entrepreneurship and make it trendy among Saudi women by using Arabic names for our events.”
Since its launch, the accelerator has arranged three events: Techpreneurship Sprint (a one-day business plan competition targeting technology startup ideas); the SELLA Event (a technology entrepreneurship networking event focused on idea-sharing, inspiration, and networking); and the THIQAH Event (a female- empowerment event that teaches women how to become more confident, and to create the company they deserve).
“Going forward, and sponsored by SEDCO, Bin Dawood and other organizations, the accelerator is aiming to accept three to seven applicants in two rounds every year, for a three-month acceleration program that ends with the opportunity to pitch their ideas and products to well-known investors at the demo day,” Shakoor said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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