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StartUp Bahrain, the leading platform for startups in the Kingdom of Bahrain, supported by the Labour Fund (Tamkeen) and in strategic partnership with Export Bahrain and Tap Payments, wrapped up its first edition of Techstars Startup Weekend Bahrain, which took place during a weekend from 30th November 2023 to 2nd December 2023, at Zain Bahrain Tower in Seef District. 

The event supported emerging Bahraini startups to propel the Kingdom’s startup ecosystem forward and fuel it with more innovation. The event was sponsored by Amal Invest, GFH Financial Group, Zain Bahrain, Export Bahrain, and Tap Payments.

The action-packed 54-hour weekend brought together over 100 founders, developers, designers, and marketers to build and launch startups over a single weekend. 116 participants presented 54 ideas, and the top 24 teams pitched and competed for grand prizes worth BHD 4,000, BHD 2,000, and BHD 1,000 for the first, second, and third places, and they received surprise perks from ecosystem enablers and organizations to further celebrate their achievements. 

The competition was part of the global Techstars Startup Weekend events, which had organized more than 5,000 events in 150+ countries. With Techstars Startup Weekend, StartUp Bahrain aimed for a unique perspective in reshaping the conventions of startups. The keynote speech was delivered by Yazin Alirhayim, a prominent serial entrepreneur and the founder of Amal Invest, who emerged as the winner of Bahrain’s inaugural Startup Weekend event in 2011. Attendees also gained valuable insights from Nathan Minns, a globally recognized trainer and facilitator renowned for his professional coaching and extensive experience in supporting Startup Weekend events worldwide.

The judging panel included world-class industry leaders in the likes of Export Bahrain Chief Executive Officer, Her Excellency, Safa Sharif Abdul Khaliq; Tap Payments Executive Vice President of Business, Ahmed Al-Aradi; Zain Bahrain Chief Communications & Investor Relations, Sh. Abdulla Al-Khalifa; Amazon Web Services (AWS) Strategic Accounts Lead, Ahmed AlSawafiri; Tenmou CEO, Nawaf Mohamed AlKoheji; and Brinc Regional Head of Corporate Innovation, MENA, Hussain Haji.

Joined with 20 Bahraini mentors in the field of entrepreneurship to guide the contestants, including Rami Jamal, Pakiza Alsouse, Noora AlAskar, Ahmed Haji, Ahmed Faraj, Hamad Alfahad, Imran Al-Aradi, Mohamed Al-Subaiee, Noorhan Al-Zan, and many others, the teams worked diligently to launch a startup that was later on presented as part of the pitching session on the last day. 

The winning team, Amaan, showcased their innovative idea of a smart jewelry brand for spiritual wellness.  and received impressive, unanimous praise. “Techstars Startup Weekend Bahrain was an exhilarating journey, fueled by relentless and unwavering teamwork. Winning first place is a testament to the potential of innovative minds when they unite to create and build impactful solutions,” said Kawthar Alsaffar. “We’re grateful for the opportunity, and would like to thank StartUp Bahrain, Tamkeen and every sponsor for arranging and organizing this competition.”

Executive Director of Program Development and Partnerships at Tamkeen, Mr. Ali Hassan, commented: “Tamkeen is committed to cultivating Bahrain’s entrepreneurial landscape and fostering innovation in the Kingdom. We do that by supporting promising entrepreneurs through various programs and initiatives that provide them with training, access to financing and networking opportunities that can enable the growth of their entrepreneurial ventures. Startup Weekend’s resounding success serves as a testament to our commitment to empowering young entrepreneurs to exhibit inventive concepts, gain wisdom from industry veterans, and transform ideas into thriving startups.”

Sorawi Phongsakonsunthon, Techstars Customer Success Coordinator, commented on the event, saying, “Techstars was proud to support Startup Weekend Bahrain and provide a platform for entrepreneurs to ideate and collaborate on launching innovative ventures. This event truly embodied our commitment to empowering people on their journeys towards building successful startups everywhere.”

StartUp Bahrain’s Project Manager, Maryam Malik, expressed her enthusiasm about the event, adding, “We’re thrilled to have joined forces with our esteemed partner, Tamkeen, and sponsors, for making Startup Weekend Bahrain possible. The event created an exhilarating platform for participants and aspiring entrepreneurs to unleash their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, all the while fostering a vibrant community for innovation. We’re proud of all the participants for taking a chance and looking forward to hosting future editions of Techstars Startup Weekend, fueling the ecosystem further one step at a time.”

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