On Thursday November 19th, Palestine for a New Beginning (PNB) and the Bader ICT Incubator co-hosted Palestine’s first-ever Get in the Ring startup competition. Held as one of the main events during Palestine’s third consecutive Global Entrepreneurship Week, Get in the Ring Palestine joined a global network of over 80 countries that have hosted thousands of Get in the Ring competitions worldwide. The event would not have been possible without the generous support of Bank of Palestine, the Coca-Cola Company, the Consolidated Contracting Company, and the PalTel Group, as well as in-kind donations from Ways International, GIZ, the Grand Park Hotel, Safad, HDVision, PICTI, Work Factory and Middle East Business Magazine.
After receiving dozens of applications from Palestinian startups, a committee comprised of leading members of Palestine’s entrepreneurial community narrowed the selection down to the top two contenders in each of the three weight-classes. These six startups ultimately squared off in front of a live audience at the Grand Park with the hopes of grabbing the ultimate prize: trips to Saudi Arabia in early 2016 to represent Palestine in their weightclass at the Regional Get in the Ring Final.
Get in the Ring also brought together seemingly disparate elements of Palestinian society, and highlighted their key role in the nation’s entrepreneurship. Marcelo Dias Bowen, a Palestinian-Chilean, moderated the event during a visit for his work as an advisor to the Ibtikar Fund. The startups themselves also all arrived at the Grand Park from different backgrounds: three of the six reside in 48 Palestine, two in Ramallah, and one from Gaza. Finally, the judges, Nassim Nour of Sharakat, Habib Hazzan of Ibtikar Fund, Abdallah Sabat of Siraj Fund, and Abulmajed Melhem of Jawwal also showcased the diverse face of Palestine.
In front of the over 200 attendees filling the tent-turned-boxing arena, the startups stepped into the ring with one thing on their mind: proving themselves as the best that Palestine has to offer. After three fierce battles, interspersed with compelling on-stage discussions with the event’s sponsors (including a jubilant Ammar Aker announcing the signing of the agreement allowing 3G in Palesinte), the crowd voted for the winners.
Mockapp is the lightweight winner, an app prototyping, collaboration and workflow platform that allows designers to build interactive, high-fidelity, realistic web, mobile and smart watches mockups and prototypes. The middleweight title went to Fadfid, a company that started in the Arab community with the vision to be the destination for individuals to open up, talk, and clear their minds. Batuta the heavyweight winner of Get in the Ring Palestine, is the #1 Arabic travel portal with an average of 1 million monthly unique users and over 2.5 million followers on social channel.
Get in the Ring’s success, from the high-quality performance of the startups, to the professionalism of the proceedings, to the enthusiasm and character of the audience, plays an important role in changing the world’s perception of Palestine. By joining an international network of entrepreneurial communities in over 80 countries, Palestine opens a new channel in which to highlight its people’s creativity, resilience, and innovation. Future and frequent Get in the Ring competitions in the country will only further foster this image.