By: Rania Yehia
Three AUC students won the “Undergrad Startup Channel” entrepreneurial competition held on September 16.
Marketing senior Toka Aref, Mechanical Engineering graduate Omar Gaballah and Architecture senior Ali Hesham – collectively known as the Mezraj Kitesports team – for their project to produce kites from low-cost sustainable material imported from Sri Lanka.
“What made our project ideal is that it is new and cheap so it can be used by anyone in Egypt,” Gaballah said.
Mezraj Kitesports beat out four other teams from AUC and the German University in Cairo in all three stages of the competition.
The first was the pitching stage, where the team presented their idea to a committee, then elaborated on the details of the project including the cost and target audience.
“We did not face difficulties or barriers, but finding a new and innovative idea was our biggest challenge,” Aref told The Caravan.
The winning team is now in the process of launching their product.
The committee of judges short-listed the teams based on their presentation skills and the level of innovation in the project.
“We needed to be unique, for that reason we decided to make everything different even down to the smallest details, such as our photo session, which we shot with sportswear,” Aref added.
The competition – organized by the social media firm MO4 Network, in conjunction with AUC’s Entrepreneur’s Society (ES) and the German University in Cairo (GUC)’s sister-club, Campus – is designed to empower Egyptian youth by affording them resources to bring about change and development in the country.
“We are committed to seeing these startups get bigger and do better,” ES President Jenny El Boushy told The Caravan.
MO4 covered all the expenses of the project in order to encourage the youth to invest in new and practical ideas.
“This project was fuelled by our passion to help the youth in Egypt develop their skills and take charge of their careers and their futures, and ultimately make their dream jobs their day job,” competition organizer at MO4 Malak Naguib told The Caravan.
Naguib said that the outcome of the pilot competition was very positive. She believes that future competitions will involve more startups and bigger prizes.
“I believe in the ripple effect, and my hope is that more youth around Egypt would be inspired by the USC and take action in making their dreams a reality, whatever they may be,” she added.
Mezraj Kitesports will have their entrepreneurial work featured in greater media exposure by Startup Scene and CairoScene.
Rise Up, an annual entrepreneurial networking event in the heart of Cairo, will communicate their idea also to foreign and international companies. The winners have also been awarded free tickets to the RiseUp Summit where they can present their work.
Injaz, a facilitator of youth ecoomic success, will also provide them with a consulting session, followed by an investment session by Cairo Angels, a network of investors.