Dec 22, 2020 by QSTP
Winners of last cycle urge aspiring innovators to apply for QF tech hub’s flagship accelerator program XLR8
An innovative idea to assist people in Qatar with their regular budgeting when shopping and spending will soon become a reality thanks to Qatar Science and Technology Park’s (QSTP) acclaimed XLR8 program. The brains behind KARTY – founder Mohammed Suleiman and co-founder Abdulaziz Al-Marri – are urging fellow entrepreneurs to follow their example and sign-up now for the popular accelerator program.
KARTY is a FinTech startup, which has developed a pre-paid bank card of the same name, that can be topped up using a debit or credit card and is associated with an app to monitor purchases and help with budget management. KARTY emerged as winner of the 10th Cycle of the XLR8 program which held its Demo Day last month.
“KARTY aims to improve daily user spending experience through technology that leverages transaction data to provide a rich, customised user experience,” Suleiman explained. “It is the first bank card and FinTech startup in Qatar to simplify and deliver a user-friendly digital budgeting and planning experience to retail customers, aiding their financial vocabulary and awareness through powerful analytical tools.”
Both team members highlight that improvements on their original concept for KARTY through valuable guidance and support from the expert mentors at QSTP, along with becoming engaged with the Park’s strong innovation ecosystem were behind their success in developing an idea into a commercially viable product.
“XLR8 motivated us to go ahead and execute our idea even as we were solving multiple problems within the domestic market. The program helped us plan our business better and connected us to brilliant industry mentors. We learned several key concepts and tactics such as customer traction testing and pitching skills as well as overview of relevant financial legislations in Qatar. The hands-on mentors at QSTP really gave us tremendous support, providing experienced insights that elevated our plans,” Suleiman added.
Explaining the motivation behind KARTY, Al-Marri said, “Citizens and residents in Qatar struggle with budget planning and allocation, analyzing monthly spending, and experience lengthy processes when moving money among family and friends. We would like to solve all these issues – and more – through KARTY.”
Having experienced the benefits of getting into the XLR8 program, Al-Marri lauded the intensive training and mentorship program's significant contribution to establishing local startups which lead to economic diversification. “We felt the XLR8 program was tailored to us, and each team received dedicated attention and mentorship. For enterprising youths like us, it is a perfect guide to the world of tech startups and entrepreneurship. QSTP’s XLR8 is playing a major role in building and growing the tech startup culture and ecosystem in Qatar, improving the country’s private sector and helping transform startups into small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that contribute to the community, and to the country’s economy.”
QSTP, part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation, is a leading technology hub in the region offering full idea-to-invention scope of support, expertise, and infrastructure necessary for homegrown tech-based startups to gain momentum and thrive.
The 11th cycle of QSTP’s XLR8 will take place virtually, giving innovators and entrepreneurs a fantastic opportunity to leverage the strengths and benefits of this impactful 10-week program from the convenience of their home or personal workspace. The application deadline is on 25 December and the limited spaces are now quickly filling up, ensuring another productive cycle of startup development.
With the application deadline for the 11th Cycle of XLR8 fast approaching, Suleiman has words of encouragement and advice for fellow young innovators and entrepreneurs who may benefit from the program to realize the commercial potential of their innovative tech-based idea. He said, “Test your ideas, believe in them, and don’t stop. Tech innovators will not regret joining the XLR8 program.”
Since XLR8’s inception in 2015, no less than 26 startups have been launched. Some 157 teams have participated in the program – 380 people in total. A thriving network of 30 experienced mentors is dedicated to assisting participants in the program.
The program is open to innovators and entrepreneurs with tech-based service/product ideas, but require training, mentorship and a physical space to evaluate its commercial potential. To be eligible, the aspiring team must have no more than five members who are all residents in Qatar, committed to developing a commercial venture, and be passionate, critical and open-minded. Private companies are not eligible to participate in the program.
For further information on XLR8 and to apply for cycle 11, visit https://qstp.org.qa/xlr8/
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