Salim Abid, Google’s Regional Lead of Developer Ecosystem in MENA, shares with Communicate the key takeaways from the first cohort of the Google for Startups Accelerator.
Google announced today the opening of the application window for the second ‘Google for Startups Accelerator: Middle East and North Africa’ program in response to the large interest after concluding the first successful cohort. Communicate spoke with Salim Abid, Google’s Regional Lead of Developer Ecosystem in MENA to learn about the takeaways from the first cohort and what changes will be added to the second.
What were your key takeaways from the first cohort?
The first cohort of the ‘Google for Startups Accelerator: MENA’ included 10 ambitious startups from six Arab countries - four of which are women-led businesses. During the three months, hundreds of mentors from Google and other key industry representatives of the startup community interacted with these startups individually, to understand their business challenges and support them with customized proposed solutions.
We learned from the first cohort that talented tech startups in our region not only need support on the technology aspect of their services, but also on defining their organizational structure which in fact affects their overall working culture and leads them towards less or more efficiency and effectiveness.The pandemic has also impacted the startups ecosystem by adding more pressure to scaling businesses rapidly and meeting the changing needs of customers on the expense of changing their startup’s direction.
What were the key common challenges that founders in the first cohort were facing?
Working fully remotely due to the pandemic was certainly one of the common challenges for the majority of the startups in the first cohort. This impacts the hiring process; the onboarding of new employees, building a solid organizational culture, and maintaining transparent and consistent internal communications. Many startups were also challenged to set clear OKRs (objectives and key results) that reflected their organizational goals and making sure that there is a strong alignment across the organization.
A third challenge was to identify the right advanced technologies for each startup, and how the latest Machine Learning technologies (including the Google Assistant as an example) can help drive scale and effectiveness.
Based on your learnings from the first cohort, will you be adapting or making any changes to the second one?
For the second cohort, we’ll be adding more networking sessions for the participating startups and their teams to meet with other startups, experts from Google and other specialists from around the world. We'll also continue to adjust our workshops to follow a hands-on training format rather than tech talks.
The application window for the second ‘Google for Startups Accelerator’ program in MENA will remain open until May 25th, 2021. Selected startups will be announced in early July 2021. For registration and more information, please visit: http://g.co/AcceleratorMENA