Kamal Hassan has been helping entrepreneurs realize and grow their ventures for a number of years. In 2008, he decided to focus his efforts on the Middle East, moving to Dubai and establishing a number of businesses focused on supporting the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. His most recent venture is i360 accelerator, a 60-day acceleration program that gives local entrepreneurs the chance to develop their business ideas, find mentors, and secure investment.
The i360 accelerator will kick off in November 2012 in Dubai. Kamal hopes to host several i360accelerator sessions per year, including sessions in 2013 in Abu Dhabi, Beirut, and Amman. The theme of the November session will focus on “Digital Technologies for Customer Experience” which received 38 percent of the vote during a recent online competition where members of the public were invited to vote for the session’s theme. Other themes in the contest included “Mobility and Healthcare” (22 percent of the vote); “Disruptive Social Change through Technologies” (18 percent); “Future Transportation and Logistics Technologies” (12 percent); and “Emission Trading Technologies” (10 percent).
To apply for admission to the i360accelerator, young entrepreneurs, early stage startups, researchers, and others with a business idea must attend a one-day “Innov-a-thon” event and pitch their idea to the audience. Ideas selected by event attendees can then be nominated for the i360accelerator and will potentially win a share of a 3500 AED prize. Innov-a-thon events are scheduled for September 8 and 29 and October 20 in Dubai. To register for an Innov-a-thon eventgo to http://i360accelerator.eventbrite.com.
In this podcast, we speak to Kamal about the insights guiding the i360 approach to supporting startups and the future of entrepreneurism in the region.