As your start-up grows, you might be looking at joining an accelerator hub where you can catapult your business forward. There are several accelerator hubs around the world, including numerous accelerator programs in the UAE. Why might you choose to join an accelerator program in Dubai?
Let’s look at the benefits of joining an accelerator program in the UAE, and what differentiates the emirates from other countries for ambitious start-ups.
An accelerator is a fixed term program where start-up technology businesses receive mentoring and support to turn a basic idea into a working product. Usually focused on software firms, accelerator programs normally end with a public pitch day, where investors will attend and potentially decide to back some of the businesses.
In most cases, the founder (or founders) of the start-up will have at least a partially developed idea and may have already taken on a couple of members of staff. Joining the accelerator program gives them the space and support to take that idea further.
The accelerator program itself usually does not provide direct funding for the start-up. However, it does often provide things like a free workspace where the founders can develop their ideas as well as (potentially) a place to stay.
The goal of an accelerator program is to help young companies that have spotted a great idea expand rapidly and benefit from the experience of mentors who have been there before. Especially, in the competitive world of technology, it can be very difficult for small companies to develop their ideas before they run out of money. Joining an accelerator program and being provided with support to do pitches or meet investors, means that those small businesses increase their chances of expanding and eventually becoming profitable businesses.
Besides the mentorship and business support, accelerator programs also help foster networks and connections between the businesses on the cohort.
The UAE is one of the world’s most exciting hubs for technology firms. The country hosts over one quarter of the MENA region’s start-ups, behind only Egypt (which has a population 10 times the size). Our 2021 report noted that start-ups in the country raised US $577 million in venture funding last year, which was more than half of the total for the entire MENA region.
If you join an accelerator program in the UAE, you will find a huge variety of other innovative businesses working on exciting solutions to problems working nearby. In fact, in Dubai almost half of all companies registered in the emirates are early-stage start-ups. This demonstrates just how dynamic and forward looking the scene is.
There are also several world-famous success stories that have emerged from the UAE start-up scene, including Souq.com and ride sharing app Careem.
If your business is considering joining an accelerator program, location is a very important factor to consider. You do not want to base yourself in a location which is far from your target market, or which does not let you grow at the speed you would like.
There are many reasons that firms choose to join an accelerator program in the UAE. But besides obvious factors such as access to market of up to 2 billion regional consumers, high quality infrastructure, plus a supportive business environment with low tax and a big market of skilled people, what really makes accelerator programs in Dubai stand out? Here are five key benefits of joining an accelerator program in the UAE:
1. Access to locally experienced mentors
Being able to learn from mentors is one of the most appealing factors for start-ups when joining an accelerator program or incubator. Mentors are usually chosen because they have many years of experience in the technology industry as well as having entrepreneurial experience themselves.
Joining an accelerator program in Dubai gives you access to an unparalleled network of highly experienced mentors who have a deep understanding of the UAE, as well as the wider region. At the SANDBOX program for instance, all the mentors have previously set up successful startups in the UAE. You benefit from working with mentors who have local experience and who understand the MENA and South-Asia region. That means they can provide you with real insights into the realities of growing your start-up here and successful strategies to follow.
2. Work in an environment with like-minded entrepreneurs
Joining an accelerator program in the UAE offers a unique opportunity to network and forge connections with other innovative companies. While the other start-ups in the cohort may be working on very different problems, they will all be at similar stages of development, and this means you can really support and learn from one another. Whether it’s identifying your target market, pitching your ideas at investors, or marketing your concept, working with other businesses at the same stage of development is really beneficial.
3. Introduction and support to raise money from VC’s and investors
As noted above, the UAE is one of the biggest centers for start-up activity in the world – which makes it an attractive environment for VC’s and investors looking for the next big thing. Choosing to join an accelerator program in Dubai will significantly increase your chances of meeting wealthy individuals and businesses who have a real interest in finding and funding unique start-ups. This kind of access to investors and venture capitalists just isn’t possible in many other locations around the world.
4. Scaling with the support of a reliable and experienced team
The UAE, and Dubai in particular, are some of the world’s biggest centers for cutting edge start-ups. Some of the world’s most successful technology companies were founded here and over the decades many companies have launched and grown to become leaders across the region and around the globe. This means that the emirates have developed very deep experience and understanding of what is needed to support start-ups.
At the SANDBOX accelerator program in Dubai, for instance, we have seen many years of successful cohorts passing through and know exactly what sort of support different kinds of businesses need. Choosing to join an accelerator program in the UAE means you’ll work with teams who know what running a tech start-ups actually involves and who can support you with everything from working environment to logistical and technical support, as well as with funding pitches.
5. Continued support after the program
One of the greatest benefits of joining an accelerator program in Dubai is the welcome and supportive environment on offer. Unlike in other regions, where start-ups are often left to fend for themselves as soon as the program is finished, firms that join the SANDBOX accelerator can continue to access support and help from the centre even after the program has finished. We believe in building long lasting relationships with our cohort start-ups, and many have gone on to great success in the months or years after passing through the program.
If you have a unique idea and the technical skills to pull it off, joining an accelerator program in the UAE could be a very smart move. With the support, experience and business environment available, you’ll have all the tools you need to turn your idea into a success.