Here are the companies that pitched in Startup Battlefield MENA

Today in lovely Beirut, Lebanon TechCrunch held its first Startup Battlefield in the country. Over 700 people watched the show on site, which featured speakers from throughout the Middle East and 15 startups competing in Startup Battlefield. A winner will be chosen at the end of the day and they will walk away with a […]

Today in lovely Beirut, Lebanon TechCrunch held its first Startup Battlefield in the country. Over 700 people watched the show on site, which featured speakers from throughout the Middle East and 15 startups competing in Startup Battlefield.

A winner will be chosen at the end of the day and they will walk away with a $25,000 prize. As of this post’s publication, a winner has not been picked.

What follows, is each company’s Startup Battlefield pitch in the order that they appeared on stage.

[Please note: Videos will be added to this list as they become available]

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #1

BuildInk

Real estate construction firms nowadays are struggling to keep up with the fast-moving pace of technological advancements in order to fulfill the market constantly changing demands. Buildink is offering a revolutionary solution for construction firms, via a scalable and mobile friendly Cable Robot Concrete 3D printer and Signature Concrete Mixture. Concrete 3D printing will not only open the space for unlimited architectural designs, it will also reduce the overall construction cost.

Harmonica

Harmonics is the leading marriage making app in MENA that not only match singles but also help them build healthy relationships. Launched in Cairo with a unique matching algorithm of one match at a time, powered by a strong team of phycologists, managed to reach a 100,000 user base in only few months.

Material Solved

MaterialSolved is a data visualization software for chemical/nano compounds. MaterialSolved helps scientists and scientific illustrators create complex scientific 3D models, static illustrations, and animations in an efficient way. Unlike general purpose graphics and visualization software, we use a new model that merges several algorithms to achieve significant time and cost reduction and make many visual representations possible.

MoneyFellows

MoneyFellows enables access to interest free credit and helps savers to easily reach their saving goals. We do this by digitizing the traditional ROSCA model (Rotating Savings and Credit Association).
How it works:
1- Group of people joins together to contribute a fixed monthly installment into a common pot.
2- Every month one of the users takes the whole pot as a payout.
3- Circle ends when all circle participants gets his/her payout once.
4- Circle is then usually repeated with the same group of people over again.”

Neotic AI

Neotic.ai created auto-traders for financial markets, giving the opportunity for everyone to use advanced technology to get higher returns on their savings. In other words, Neotic users can find ready to use, plug and play, live tested, AI powered trading strategies and deploy them directly on the broker account without writing any single line of code.

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #2

Naturansa

Naturansa produces high-quality protein from edible insect grown through pre-consumer food waste decomposition. We have built scalable technology that produces insect year-round which then get converted into a protein powder. We currently use our product in pet food market, but our target is to move into human consumption and solve major environmental problems that are present in current protein production.

IT Grapes

IT Grapes is a precision farming platform composed by an internally developed hardware for smart monitoring of environmental data and control of in-field equipment, combined with an online hub that gives access to federated data for selected actors of the agricultural sector in order to help farmers, taking the right decisions and improve the decentralized intelligence included in the in-field devices.

IN2

IN2 is a sports and activities platform that aims to streamline the activity organization process. Whether it’s fitness, sports, music, or other activities, IN2 makes planning and participating in activities a much more enjoyable experience. It does that by empowering businesses & organizers with management tools and connecting them to the relevant stakeholders

Seez

Seez is a mobile app that reduces the time people spend searching for a car from 17 hours down to a few seconds. By fully automating your search, seez uses its AI chatbot, Cesar, to scan all sites, identify the seller, and even negotiate the price down for you. This way you will see all cars for sale in your country and the final price of each car.

Autotell

AUTOTELL is revamping driving experience, Our aim is to give you the right advice at the right moment, helping you reduce consumption, get the maximum return out of your car by providing you with the remote monitoring, detecting faults on road, have an access to an automotive Eco-system and getting instant advice whenever needed through AI personal assistant 24/7.

We’re kicking off Startup Battlefield MENA, here are the startups and agenda

We’re kicking off Startup Battlefield MENA here in Beirut, where 15 startups will be taking the stage, along with speakers from Facebook (our partner on the event through its FB Start program), Instabug, Eventus, Wuzzuf, Careem and Myki. For those of you who can’t be here in person, check back on TechCrunch later today, where […]

We’re kicking off Startup Battlefield MENA here in Beirut, where 15 startups will be taking the stage, along with speakers from Facebook (our partner on the event through its FB Start program), Instabug, Eventus, Wuzzuf, Careem and Myki.

For those of you who can’t be here in person, check back on TechCrunch later today, where we’ll be sharing videos and other highlights from the event. And of course, announcing the winner!

For the first time, TechCrunch is holding Startup Battlefield MENA in partnership with FB Start. After scouring does dozens of countries, sifting through hundreds and hundreds of extremely talented startups, TechCrunch selected 15 elite companies across the region to compete in prestigious global Startup Battlefield competition for $25,000 equity-free prize, a trip for 2 to TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 and the coveted title of “Middle East & North Africa’s Favorite Startup”.

After weeks of intense coaching from the TC team, these startups are primed for international launch. For the semi-final round, each founder will pitch for 6 minutes, with a live demo on stage, followed by 6 minutes of Q&A with our expert panel of judges. After, our judges will deliberate and 5 teams will be selected to compete in the final round of Startup Battlefield – same pitch, but with an even more intense Q&A.

So, who are these chosen few? From creating new forms of fast setting concrete to quickly build houses in areas recovering from natural disasters to agricultural monitoring technology preventing water-related conflict, this batch of companies is truly changing the world. Companies also include financial investment AI platforms, edible insect based protein powder, to culturally relevant dating apps. Founders in the automotive industry are poised to change everything from how we pick the cars we want to buy to how we optimize their maintenance. From innovations to hydroponic gardens, educational tutoring platforms to modernizing technology for hotel chains, Startup Battlefield MENA is set to highlight the regions most promising startups. Videos from the event will be posted on TechCrunch.com after the event. Stay tuned!

Session 1: 9:30am – 10:30am

BuildinkHarmonicaMaterialSolvedMoneyFellowsNeotic AI

Session 2: 11:10am – 12:10am

NaturansaSeabex by IT GrapesIN2SeezAutotell 

Session 3: 1:40pm – 2:40pm

SynkersVerboseMakerbraneArgineeringPureHarvest


Welcome Remarks
9:05 am – 9:25 am

Infrastructure and Connectivity: A Regional Perspective with Imad Kreidieh (Ogero Telecom) and Ari Kesisoglu (Facebook)
Access to the internet and connectivity is the driving force for the 4th industrial revolution. Join a conversation about how the Telco industry is changing in Lebanon and the region, and what that means for businesses and consumers. Sponsored by Facebook

9:25 am – 10:30 am

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #1
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

10:30 am – 10:50 am

BREAK
10:50 am – 11:10 am

Jennifer Fong (Facebook)
Hear from Facebook’s head of the Developer Circles Program about their work with developers, startups and businesses to build, grow, measure, and monetize using Facebook and Messenger platform products. Sponsored by Facebook

11:10 am – 12:10 am

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #2
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

12:10 pm – 1:10 pm

BREAK
12:15 pm – 1:15 pm

Workshop: Automated Driving Mobility in MENA with Mandali Khalesi (Toyota)
Toyota’s Global Head of Automated Driving Mobility and Innovation will share Toyota’s latest automated driving research findings and its plans for the future. There will be 30 minutes set aside for consultation, where the audience will have the opportunity to advise Toyota on both how it should go about developing automated driving mobility for MENA, as well as how best to work together with entrepreneurs in the region.

1:15 pm – 1:40 pm

Lessons 10 Years On with Omar Gabr (Instabug), Nour Al Hassan (Tarjama), Mai Medhat (Eventtus) and Ameer Sherif (Wuzzuf) – Moderated by Editor at Large Mike Butcher
Ten years ago the Middle East and North Africa’s tech ecosystem was worth perhaps tens of millions of dollars. Today it’s in the hundreds of millions, and beyond. A decade ago the societal landscape was very different from today. Let’s discuss the huge changes that have happened and challenges and opportunities ahead.

1:40 pm – 2:40 pm

Startup Battlefield Competition – Flight #3
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

2:40 pm – 3:00 pm

Fireside Chat with Magnus Olsson (Careem) – Moderated by Managing Editor Matt Burns
How do you scale a big startup in MENA? We hear from Magnus Olsson, founder and Managing Director of ride-hailing giant Careem on how they joined the unicorn club with Lyft and Uber.

3:00 pm – 3:25 pm

Where Will the Exits Come From with Henri Asseliy (Leap Ventures), Priscilla Elora Sharuk (Myki), and Kenza Lahlou (Outlierz Ventures) – Moderated by News Editor Ingrid Lunden
Both VCs and startups in MENA alike are furiously building the companies of the future. But you can’t have a startup without an acquisition or IPO, so where are they going to come from? We’ll hear from both the founder and investor perspectives.

3:25 pm – 4:40 pm

Startup Battlefield Competition – Final Round
TechCrunch’s iconic startup competition is here and for the first time in MENA, as entrepreneurs from around the region pitch expert judges and vie for US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to compete in the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2019.

4:40 pm – 4:55 pm

BREAK
4:55 pm – 5:20 pm

MENA Content Plays with Paul Chucrallah (BeryTech Fund), Hussam Hammo (Tamatem) and Rami Al Qawasmi (Mawdoo3) – Moderated by News Editor Ingrid Lunden
A little-known fact about the MENA market is the sheer lack of Arabic language content online for consumers, whether it be media, music, games or events. Arabic-specific sites have appeared, tailor-made to the market. We’ll get the perspective of key entrepreneurs in this space.

5:20 pm – 5:35 pm

Startup Battlefield Closing Awards Ceremony
Watch the crowning of the latest winner of the Startup Battlefield

One Medical raises $350 million from Carlyle Group to help double up offices and offerings

One Medical has confirmed to TechCrunch it has closed on funding from the Carlyle Group for a new cash infusion worth $350 million. This announcement follows an earlier report this week One Medical was seeking to close a $200 million deal, on top of a possible $100 million in stock for the financing firm. However, […]

One Medical has confirmed to TechCrunch it has closed on funding from the Carlyle Group for a new cash infusion worth $350 million. This announcement follows an earlier report this week One Medical was seeking to close a $200 million deal, on top of a possible $100 million in stock for the financing firm.

However, we have since learned the deal is a tad higher, including $220 toward the primary equity investment and another $130 million in a secondary investment.

CEO Amir Rubin tells TechCrunch the new funds will go toward a serious expansion for the company, including doubling it’s 72 offices throughout the seven states One Medical is currently serving and expanding into new markets. Rubin was coy about where those new markets might be for now but said we’d know soon enough.

One Medical is a members-only technology platform offering an array of concierge medical services, including same-day scheduling, virtual doctor visits and reminders for important checkups. It started out as a direct-to-consumer model but has expanded in the last few years to offer medical care for employees at companies like Uber and Adobe.

The funding will also help One Medical take on both dinosaur incumbents in the medical field as well as newer startups with a similar technology offering like Forward, an AI-based “medical office of the future.”

To beat both, Rubin would like to use part of the new cash to beef up his company’s tech backend. One Medical’s platform is built on algorithms and machine learning to pull together new information and help patients have a better experience at the doctor’s office. Right now, getting all of your medical history in one place is a hard problem to solve in the U.S. healthcare system — only complicated by the many coded hurdles in dealing with insurance. Rubin would like his platform to quickly surf through the data and find procedures done elsewhere to ensure patients are better served by their medical team.

Lastly, the new funding provides an opportunity for One Medical to scale up its human medical team. One Medical tells TechCrunch it will also invest tremendously in its clinical team, doubling its provider numbers, which are in the “several hundreds” right now.

Prior to this round, One Medical had raised just over $180 million and was last valued around $1 billion. The new funding puts the total raised at $530 million.

New WordPress policy allows it to shut down blogs of Sandy Hook deniers

WordPress has taken down a handful alt-right blogs, according to several complaints from affected blog owners and readers who claim the sites were removed from WordPress.com, despite not being in violation of the company’s Terms of Service. Some site owners also said they were not notified of the shutdown in advance and have lost their […]

WordPress has taken down a handful alt-right blogs, according to several complaints from affected blog owners and readers who claim the sites were removed from WordPress.com, despite not being in violation of the company’s Terms of Service. Some site owners also said they were not notified of the shutdown in advance and have lost their work. The removals, we’ve learned, are in part due to a new policy WordPress has rolled out that now prohibits blogs from the “malicious publication of unauthorized, identifying images of minors.”

Yes, that’s right: the company has created a new rule to specifically handle the Sandy Hook conspiracists, and boot them from WordPress.com.

While some of the affected sites had already been flagged for other violations, many were hosting Sandy Hook conspiracy theories and other “false flag” content.

In a YouTube video, the host of one site lamented, “They have wiped out 11 years of my fucking life.” He then read through WordPress’s Terms of Service, confused as to how he was in violation.

According to Google’s cache, his site hosted 9/11 “truther” content and claimed that Sandy Hook was a staged event. These are generally repugnant points of view to a large swath of people, but he’s correct in saying they weren’t views that WordPress had prohibited.

The update to WordPress’s policy follows a damning report from The NYT this week that explained on how the world’s largest blogging service has allowed Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists to remain online.

The issue, in part, has to do with how WordPress’s policies were originally written, the article explained.

WordPress policies were designed to be more resistant to the strategic use of copyright claims as a means of getting content removed. Longtime web veterans know they were written this way because they were created at a time when large corporations would wield copyright law – like the DMCA – as a weapon used to force platforms to take down content about their company that they deemed unfavorable.

But in recent years, the permissiveness these policies has also created loopholes for those whose spread disinformation, incite hatred and violence, and post abusive and offensive content to the web.

With little other recourse available to them, some Sandy Hook parents have used copyright law get images of their children removed from the web.

As The NYT explained, a Sandy Hook victim’s father, Leonard Pozner, filed copyright claims with a number of platforms, including WordPress, on images of his son Noah, a 6-year old victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Facebook, Amazon and Google complied with those requests. But WordPress responded with form letters that explained why the content could stay online.

The responses, which Mr. Ponzer described to the paper as “automated, very generic,” and “very cold,” said that the conspiracy blog posts represented “fair use” of the material. It defined fair use as anything that included “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.”

Unbelievably, the letters also warned Mr. Ponzer that it could collect damages from him for knowingly materially misrepresenting copyrights.

Yes, WordPress told the father of a murdered 6-year old that it could seek damages from him if he didn’t stop asking it to remove the stomach-churningly offensive content from those who believe the Sandy Hook shooting never happened, and that parents mourning the loss of their children were actors.

The company told The NYT that language was a part of a predefined statement it used, and was sorry that it did so in this particular situation.

However, it also admitted that the posts in question weren’t in violation of any current WordPress user guidelines or copyright law.

We understand the company has since phoned Mr. Ponzer to apologize directly. It then created a new policy to address the problem.

Its new policy reads:

The policy affects blogs hosted on WordPress.com, not self-hosted blogs using WordPress software.

Combined, WordPress powers 31.6 percent of websites on the web, and has 60% of the CMS market, so this change has a sizable impact on the web as a whole.

The company declined to comment on the new policy.

If the booted bloggers now move to their own self-hosted sites, the responsibility of shutting them down will fall on the web hosting companies. Of course, don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. 

Some of the affected bloggers will probably claim their rights to free speech are being violated. They’re wrong. The First Amendment protects people in the U.S. from the government censoring or punishing you for what you say. It doesn’t protect your Twitter account, Facebook profile, or now, your WordPress.com blog.