Category Archives: M & Startups

Only If You Really WANT to STOP SMOKING: Slighter

I enjoyed interviewing my previous colleague, Samer El Gharib, on Startups on the Spot to get to know more about the smart invention I’ve heard so much about. Slighter has accomplished great milestones and won prestigious international honorable awards. I’m very proud it originated from the Middle East.

|| Remember two years ago, when I shared a blogpost where I asked my snapchat peeps of hints on How to Stop Smoking. 

I advise you give it a read. I remember I stopped smoking cold turkey after posting that, but got back at it after 8 months of being smoke-free. Then again, I stopped smoking around 10 months ago when I decided I want to feel more oxygen in my lungs. It was again cold turkey and free will. Now, it bothers me when I second smoke.

If the tips on How to Stop Smoking don’t help you stop, then Slighter might be your last option! ||

Slighter is a lifestyle solution that helps you master your smoking habit and reduce cigarette consumption until you quit. It suggests a tailored plan to gradually reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke, while avoiding withdrawal symptoms.

Slighter studies your smoking pattern for one week then creates a personalized program, designed by top-notch engineers and behavioral therapists to help you gradually reduce smoking or quit. 

Watch the episode to get more details, and pre-oder it now if you’re a smoker wishing to stop smoking.

The Episode:

 

You can do it!

With Love!
M

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Startups on the Spot: Falafel Games with Vincent Ghossoub

Starting on my first article on this thread chronologically –

My very first episode of Startups on the spot (also the pilot episode) was with Vincent Ghossoub, the founder of Falafel Games – a startup that develops and publishes mobile app games, the first to develop a game with Arabic content and one of the best game-startups in the Middle East.

 

I had met Vincent Ghossoub in 2016 when I went Live on 7nujoom app and played “Action Anime” with a professional player from their team. I remember when I went to their offices to discuss our project, I heard Vincent speaking Chinese and thought I was hallucinating. I wasn’t. That’s when I figured he communicates in Chinese with his investors.

 

What I like more than doing this show is meeting entrepreneurs and getting inspired by their proactive nature, their hopeful ambitions, and their dedication.

 

So far, Vincent has a funding of 4 Million Dollars.

No spoilers watch the episode and teaser below:

 

global_games_market_2012-2021_per_segment

The global games market is expected to grow from $137.9 billion in 2018 to more than $180.1 billion in 2021, according to market researcher Newzoo.

Those numbers reflect the constant growth of platforms, such as smartphones. This year, mobile games are expected to hit $70.3 billion — newzoo-games-2or 51 percent of the total — and they will grow to $106.4 billion by 2021 — or about 59 percent of the total. Newzoo estimates there are about 2.3 billion gamers across the globe.

The 2018 total for the global games market will rise 13.3 percent — or $16.2 billion — from $121.7 billion in 2017. About 91 percent of the newzoo-games-3global market is digital, meaning that $125.3 billion worth of games flows through digitally connected channels as opposed to physical retail.

125.3 BILLION DOLLARS!!!
Thank God to people like Vincent, Lebanon is sharing a part of that!

Watch more episodes of Startups on the spot here.

With all the support to the Startup Ecosystem,
M

Startups on the Spot

You probably noticed me sharing some links on my Facebook Page and Linked in account featuring startups and covering tech-events.

Startups on the Spot (on Facebook & Linkedin) is a show produced by Klangoo; its main goal is linking investors and venture capital firms to startups with good working models. Other goals are showcasing the hard work of entrepreneurs in the MENA region, meeting the entrepreneurs, and ultimately encouraging the reluctant people with good ideas to make the leap: believe in their ideas and try to execute them! 

Being fascinated by the world of startups since the 2012, I realized that people who work in startups aren’t bound to the working hours, are not naturally followers but innovators, and are risk takers. Since every member in a startup usually owns shares in the company, its growth means their growth – which is not the case of typical employment. Recently with the drop of employment and the overall economic recession (perhaps depression) the startup ecosystem is providing new opportunities for the dynamic youth to dream. Every time I hear of a startup acquiring their rounds of funding, I smile; and breathe in some positivity.

I will be sharing all the featured startups and events on this thread make sure you keep on coming back!

Featured Picture by Skylinkd

 

Why You Need to Attend Start Up Weekends

I was introduced to the Lebanese Ecosystem in 2014 when I attended Banque Du Liban Accelerate 2014 as a Sponsor (representing Nostalgie Liban and NRJ Lebanon). To be honest, I was fascinated to know more about companies that accelerate and incubate startups and innovations.

I somehow knew about Sequence (A Start Up Accelerator) since I was younger, but Banque Du Liban Accelerate raised the bars up higher when it comes to the region’s entrepreneurs. I, later, worked with the organizing team of BDL Accelerate Team 2015 and ever since I have been more and more interested in this non-worthless-community taking place in our society.

Here’s what you need to know about Start Up weekends, Accelerators, and the Ecosystem in general (from observation).

Such events/ programs promote entrepreneurship and support young startups.
At Startup weekends/ competitions, more than 10 people pitch ideas for new startups. The attendees vote for the different ideas; those who cast the votes form teams (of the participants who want to team up with them) to get the pitched idea to action. 
At hackathons, more than 2 teams join forces to come up with a hardware or software device –  they present it to a jury.
Prizes can get up to millions of dollars, along with full incubation and 
assessment from the ‘smart’ programs like Smart ESA or managing partners like MEVP.

– Any one can be part of it. You don’t need to be a developer to be part of the community. You don’t need to be a “geek”. Every one is needed. Whether your background is in photography, design, marketing, computer science, engineering, technical support, or community service; you can join a team and start making ideas happen!

– You don’t need a team to join.
If you have an idea, and you do not have a team to execute it with or you do not trust the people around you, simply say it out loud at an accelerator program! You will be introduced to people who think the way you do, most of the times – because those are the people in the community. Those who believe in your idea will join you and start making ideas happen with you!


– You don’t need to have an idea.
It’s alright if you do not have an idea of a startup, others do! Join the network of ideas, if you felt like you would like to team up with someone with a great idea, DO IT – and start making ideas happen together!

– Don’t be so selfish and possessive about your ideas! If you have a great idea and you’re just keeping it for the right time – IT IS THE RIGHT TIME. I understand that most of us think we are the smartest individuals in the world with creative brains BUT truth is – if you keep your ideas dormant for a long time, the universe (someone else) will eventually make your ideas for you!

– You don’t need to be a professional. Programs like Berytech and Altcity will provide you with all the support you need as a young entrepreneur including finding you investors, keeping you updated with competitions, and even providing you with offices.
Even if such companies will be charging a bit of your profit, always know this:
Having 100% of nothing is not any better than having 10% of something BIG & you won’t be only getting 10% if you know what I mean.

Why You NEED to attend such events?

– It’s Global.
Such events always have speakers, entrepreneurs, success stories, investors, mentors, and attendees from all over the world. You will meet people from Europe, Asia, North America, Iran, Middle East, Africa… What’s nice is that they are all there to CONNECT. People go to such events to meet people and finalize deals with win-win-situations. You will get to communicate with people from Silicon Valley like Marvin Liao (that personally explained to me a lot about the ecosystem and how to maximize my potential, energy, and work more efficiently). You will not think locally anymore.

– It’s educational. On one hand, most (not generalizing) of the unemployed people in Lebanon are not really focused on anything beneficial to the environment other than posing on Instagram and getting the latest LV bag. On the other hand, the employed aren’t really aware of what’s going on in the world of tech and entrepreneurship much; a big percentage of them are not happy with their jobs, have the job description of a robot – AND are not aware that they can easily do something on their own! These kinds of programs teach employees that there is more to life than an 8 to 5 job, that their ideas can be made into practice, and that people who were employees are now successful entrepreneurs.
Also, you will learn a lot about management, risk-taking, marketing, funding, building hardware and software programs, coding, and entrepreneurship. It’s definitely a whole new world!

– You will perceive failure in a different way. In our world, failure is a misfortune. It’s a shame. The ecosystem will introduce you to millionaires/ successful entrepreneurs with a lot of stories where they failed and dropped to point 0 and got back up over and over again. That might motivate you to start taking the risk.

– It’s a clean environment; everyone is there to innovate, to connect, to interact, to ask questions, to learn, to invest, to teach, to mentor, and to support. Even if you might get paranoid of a greater power doing such events, because I hear that a lot. It’s still better to have your ideas stolen and executed than to keep them in your brain while having a shot of tequila at the beach (be productive and initiate then have some tequila, you will enjoy it more); Weigh the other option and choose to come and join the ecosystem that believes in your power of change!

– And it is always FUN! Apart from all the ‘connecting with people’ that happens at hackathons and startup weekends, attendees are always subject to many activities. We had a yoga session (Isha Foundation) in the last Startup Weekend, a morning run on another day (Run With Paula), and 24 7 available playstation and foosball (Torch Academy)!

Even if you were going as an observer, try to make it and go!

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I covered the #SWBeirut 2016 as SocialMode
 – the Social Media Partner of Statup Weekend Beirut Environment Edition
All the pictures were taken by this awesome guy Jawad Bou Hadir .

To know more about the content that was spoken during the weekend go to
the twitter account of SWBEIRUT www.twitter.com/swbeirut
and the facebook account www.facebook.com/swbeirut
Snapchat SWBEIRUT
Instagram StartupWeekendBeirut

#SWBEIRUT was mainly organized by Layal Jebran (the Co-Founder of Cycling Circle and Deghri Messengers)
I was introduced to SWBeirut by my dear friend Arthur Bizdikian & I am very glad I attended!

Only if you’re in your 20s

Being 23 reminds me of being 13; girls with moustache, unibrows, underdeveloped tities, and body hair not knowing whether they should start shaving, whether wearing a bra is okay or not, and if playing with barbies is so last year. You know some girls almost lost their virginities at 13 whereas other girls still wore those tutu dresses and went to church every Sunday with their grandmas. Just like thirteen didn’t really feel right, 23 feels really perplexing – different people experience it differently.

I somehow tend to categorize us 23/25 year olds into four categories:

  • Those who are settled down (jumped the 20s)
    Honestly, I believe that being in your twenties is like getting an appetizer at a diner. Being an adolescent is more like only chips. You can’t really afford the appetizers when you’re still (generally) depending on your parents’ salary. In your twenties, you have the luxury to see it all yourself. You start generating your own income that allows you to do whatever you want, spend your time wherever you want, and be around whomever you want. Cause hey, we both know you had curfew before. Even if you didn’t, there were many factors stopping you from getting into certain places or being around the people you want to be around.
    Those who chose to settle down, meaning got married, I guess jumped that appetizer stage and went directly to the main dish. No matter what you tell me, being married in your early twenties is somehow running away from all the challenge and getting into ‘safe hands’. If it weren’t safe, well, it’s actually worse. You are actually not only responsible for yourself but for another baby (other than yourself). If you’re just a couple who doesn’t want to get mini you-s, you as well, jumped into a whole different lifestyle of sharing everything with someone else. It might be nice sometimes, but I guess you could’ve tried to do it first yourself for a while, then got into all this. The feeling of being independent is beautiful, and it’s different than when you were in college.

kidsGetting married at a young age has advantages like being closer to your kids (decreasing the age gap), enjoying retirement with your spouse, and sharing your life with someone else. However, with all these divorce rates, I can’t guarantee married couples will last till retirement, and if they do, they would’ve had some really tough years. Moreover, I guess I have a big age-gap with 20 year olds, it’s not even funny. If I slept for 2 months, I’d have an age gap with my friends my age. The age-gap is bound to exist if I were ten years older than my kids, the generation gaps are so wide these days, I’d rather enjoy my golden years.
However, I am not entirely against early marriage, I have some close friends who are happily married and I wish them the best.

  • Those who are living their teenage years (filling the space)
    Just like some people jump into adulthood full on, and don’t enjoy the moment, others do the exact opposite… those are the people who basically had hard as hell curfews / or were studying all the time back in college/ or where super ugly and had a major plastic surgery makeover (but I’m not gonna go shallow on you) that now have the freedom/ chance to do what the cool kids used to do in college. They’d be throwing house parties every other day, getting high, recklessly partying all the time, getting shit ass drunk and hooking up with random people, getting excited about making friends at any given occasion; not searching for any sort of stability in their lives.ted-movie

I’m not contradicting myself, stability is definitely what a 20-something year old person should aim for, however settling down needs far-seeing and acquired-wisdom that I doubt people might have in their early 20s.
Now you see, there’s a thin line between that and being a free-spirit in your early 20s. Enjoying your 20s definitely includes partying, dating, and meeting interesting people, but with the experience and emotional intelligence that one is bound to have in his 20s, the same activities become different. Different goals. Time becomes too precious to waste it on fake relationships and pointless friendships.

  • The Entrepreneurs (the Risk Takers)
    Those are the freelancers, free-spirits, or the dreamers. If you are one, you have earned my respect already. The entrepreneurs are people who are willingly or unwillingly not working a day-job, but working either freelance projects or building their own small startup businesses.
    Both are definitely risk takers. I know some friends who have even quit their full-time job to work on their projects – dreams. Those people are an inspiration. Again, it’s better to do that in your early 20s than in your 30s -you can’t go all Kramer vs. Kramer on your wife/husband. It’s either you fail or you make it big. If you make it big, I applause you. If you lose, well you can either try again till you win, or you can just surrender to the economic lifestyle everyone else is doing, and be employed.
    If you’re giving this a thought just know this:
    Your lifestyle would be either doing absolutely nothing all day, or zillion things in one day. Some days you’d feel super depressed/unproductive and other days you’d feel you’re on top of the world when invited on radio/tv shows or to events/ seminars.
    *There are some programs, that I’m a fan of, in Lebanon like seeqnce and BDL Accelerate that actually support/fund start-ups. You can check those if you want.
    BxKadavIYAAPCWf.png_large seeqnce
  • The young-Adults (TGIFers)
    Whereas other 20 year olds (mentioned so far) cant really keep track of what’s-today, the young adults count the days till the end of the month – when they get paid. In our capitalistic societies, the TGIFers are playing it safe. They are ofcourse enrolled in a hierarchical institution, working their asses of aspiring of gaining the experience, the know-hows, and the connections in their fields.
    They either want to reach higher positions or want to eventually open up their own businesses with their acquired knowledge. Most of them stay employees their whole lives – dedicate their life to the company they work in. I do admire those, especially if they’ve worked in one company their whole lives. That’s like dedicating your life to God. Of course no company is God, but I appreciate the dedication and I value the opportunity cost those people had to sacrifice to remain in the same environment for years. Others jump around. I appreciate the ambition and adaptation ability of those. Few of them, who have the right resources eventually, open their own businesses. Those would be experienced entrepreneurs – and again risk-takers that I respect.
    Young adults understand terms like Sad Monday and Thank God It’s Friday. They have the luxury to go out every night, but they stick to watching a DVD, reading a book, or even sleeping early on some nights. They hate Mondays and love Fridays just like students. They are busy during the weekdays, so they sometimes forget to plan a cool weekend – but they don’t mind it because hey, it’s always better spontaneous. Young adults lose a lot of friends and tend to feel alienated around the first two categories. They usually associate themselves with older people, but still love to spend quality time with their childhood and family members. They usually have a good-5/10-contacts-group-on-whatsapp that is basically their escape. They’d be sending silly voice notes and pictures back and forth throughout the day. I’d say that usually the young adults make up around 60% out of the population – but unemployment rates are drastic these days, I don’t know if they are the majority.
    funny-ace-ventura-happy-work
    Bottom line is, life is all about decisions. Whether you’ll live your teens in your eighties or if you wore makeup when you were four, nothing is wrong or right. If you were lucky enough to find your soulmate at a young age, make sure you are wise enough to take a life-long commitment decision, and make sure you are both adequate to make a living. If you were now discovering life because you couldn’t before, make sure you surround yourself with younger- or at least people you trust who wouldn’t take advantage of you. Know that this phase you’re living is simply what they call psychological ‘défoulement’ – that shouldn’t last forever, or else you wouldn’t really get anywhere – except if you’re planning to be like John, from the movie Ted. If you have the skills to make a living as a freelancer or ambitious enough to start planning your own business, make sure you know the ups and downs of that. As a freelancer, make sure you don’t spend all your money at once when you get money, cause it might not always be available. Even if it’s not your ‘thing’ to be safe, with money, make your best to play it safe. You don’t want your friends paying your share when you go out do you? As a dreamer, know that the probability of failing for a beginner is more than 75% (FFFW). You got to pick up the pieces and start over a lot of times, and if you don’t ever make it, congratulate yourself for trying – not everyone does. Lastly, if you were fortunate enough to land on a job, make sure you don’t succumb your full energy and time into your job that you forget your ethics, or yourself completely. Remember what you loved to do before you started working, do more of your habits. Paint, exercise, play music, go out with friends, watch movies, and act silly. Even if your job is super serious, don’t wear all beige and turn into a dull character. Your job doesn’t define you, it’s you job period. Plus, don’t just settle to one job no matter how safe and easy going the environment is – except if it’s really your dream job. Don’t forget your dreams. Always be up to new adventures/ opportunities. Finally, no matter what, TRAVEL. When you have money, instead of buying a couple of Prada bags or moccasin shoes, book a ticket to whatever country it is, and go. Don’t be picky. Any country in the world is worth it – just don’t go to war zones.

travel-quotesLife is easy, and it’s all a matter of cause and effect. You are now what you’ve been living your whole life to be. If you have dreams and you’re not taking any action towards them, start a to-do list of short-term goals and long-term goals. Keep track of your improvement. If you have friends that you don’t like, cut them off. They wouldn’t have you around if they don’t want you around. If they would, well… Should I continue? Start planning right and you’re going to achieve your dreams. Oh and dream big because dreams do come true.

*So Marc recommended to me this article “The Brain on 23” by Molly Sprayregen that somehow got me writing this article. You can check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/molly-sprayregen/the-brain-on-23_b_6046888.html
Much love!
Maya Akra