Apr'17, Souq, Printable houses, self driving cars and more  

We're a quarter of the way through 2017. And while all seems topsy-turvy (Trump), things continue to push forward in the startup world, particularly in MENA. We've been eyeing the takeover of Souq.com, the growth of new funds, and rising stars, such as Trendyol founder and CEO Demet Mutlu. She was named one of Europe's most inspiring entrepreneurs. We agree.



M&A Alert: Amazon Buys Souq.com

We've been talking about how hot the e-commerce market is in MENA. Thank you Amazon for proving us right. The Seattle based Internet giant is set to buy Souq.com. No price tag yet. But, given that Souq.com is valued at $1 billion, we're not surprised. What has raised our eyebrows: Emaar's response before the deal was finalized. The UAE based real estate conglomerate has made a $800 million bid to take over Souq.com. We've previously reported on Emaar's founder and chairman Mohamed Alabbar's desire to keep Arabian e-commerce purely Arab. Amazon won this round. But the world showdown on the e-commerce space is on.

Banking on Finance: Saudi's next move


Oil (aka black gold) has kept the "royal" in Saudi Arabia. Hip to the ever rapidly changing world, the house of al-Saud is diversifying its investment portolio.


The Saudi Public Investment Fund is planning to invest half of the fund's assets abroad. $45 billion is already in the bank.


You have our attention.


Is that your house on the printer?


Hop in your self-driving car over to my 3D printed house. Apis Cor, a Russian based startup, has built the first "home" with 3D printing.


This is a tremendous potential in many areas: natural disasters, refugee crises, and affordable housing. How long did it take? 24 hours at a cost of $10k.



HotelRuner partners

with Wix

Istanbul-based HotelRunner, an online sales, marketing, and channel management platform for hotels and travel agencies, has partnered with Wix.

Wix is a cloud-based web development platform.


It's a smart partnership that taps into the best in both startups and promises to have a significant impact.


Watch this space.

Vroom, vroom: Estonia's self-driving strategy

Estonia has revved up the race to the self-driving car. The country's government has approved the testing of self-driving cars on public roads, so long as there is an actual driver in tow. This news comes on the heels of the troubles Uber has had in testing on U.S. roads. Following a crash in Arizona, Uber suspended testing. They're back on, but American Officials are still weary. Thats why this news is in Estonia is significant. It's also a great model to consider: government support of innovation. Imagine.

Sprouting in Beirut: Lebanon Seed Fund


Our friends at Flat6Labs are shaking up the Beirut startup scene. In March, the incubator/seed fund announced the launch of a $20 million early stage fund.  Investors include Arabnet and Banque du Liban. Ticket sizes will range from $30k to $50k and include a 16-week mentorship program. The fund will also offer $100k to $500k to early stage startups. Flat6Labs has invested in 110 startups across Eqypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.


Houston: Is that a Turkish microscope?


When NASA sets out to map surfaces, it will do so with Turkish technology. The National Aeronatics and Space Adminstration has begun purchasing powerful microscopes from Nanomanyetik, an Ankara-based nanotechnology company. Nanomanyetik already exports its powerful microscopes to Brazil, Chile, France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, and Spain. In South Korea, it supplies Samsung.

After Hours

It's spring!Allow us to put our poet's cap on and get down with the "new beginnings" lingo.  Time to get WOKE. Here are a few things that might help:


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up:


The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Maria Kondo will definitely help you disrupt that clutter and scalre up organization.


Read, Listen, Watch.... Meditate....Explore!

Get your Namaste on with Calm. We (well, Elmira) loves this meditation app that features different daily meditations and sleep stories.


Listen:  Ezabel has turned us onto Invisibilia - a podcast that dives deep into the human condition.


Read:  Whiplash: How to Survive our Fast Future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe - how to cope in our fast changing world.


Totally Random Read:  Queens of the Stone Age - Models selling weed in NYC.


Watch:  Resillience in Hard Times (aren't they tho?)


Explore: The Literary Map of the World

And enjoy this poem


Early Spring

by Rainer Maria Rilke


Harshness vanished. A sudden softness
has replaced the meadows' wintry grey.
Little rivulets of water changed
their singing accents. Tendernesses,
hesitantly, reach toward the earth
from space, and country lanes are showing
these unexpected subtle risings
that find expression in the empty trees. 

Up coming events

5 -7 April 2017

We're in Dubai in early April, attending Step 2017. It's THE tech conference in MENA.

6 April 2017

Istanbul startups! Check out Ali at ITU Cekirdek mentoring sessions on Thursdays.

15 April 2017

Get over to ITU Ayazaga for Crowdup Conference. All the kewl kids will be there.

If one is Lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” ― Maya Angelou


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