AstroLabs, MENA’s technology ecosystem builder, launched its first edition of the ‘AstroLabs Showcase’ series in Riyadh on March 30th, a gathering showcasing how AstroLabs has been contributing to the MENA ecosystem and specifically its impact on Saudi over the past 9 years.
Saudi Arabia: Foreign companies are a major driver of Saudi’s expansion
AstroLabs, through setupinsaudi.com, has assisted more than 200 companies to expand in Saudi Arabia since it entered a strategic partnership with MISA (Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia).
Leaders from 4 of these companies Abdulaziz Hadhrawi, co-founder & country GM, Retailo Technologies, Remo Abbondandolo, SVP MENA at Checkout.com, Haider Syed founder of Faloos, and Imran Aziz, Co-Founder & CCO, Wundr Commerce, joined a panel discussion with Alex Nicholls, Head of Saudi Expansion at AstroLabs at the event. According to speakers, companies entering Saudi Arabia now know the importance of finding reliable partners for successful expansion.
‘’One of the key successes that we had as a global company coming here, we understood that we need to apply different strategies, not one size fits all. The way we approach the market in the US is different than in Saudi’’ said Remo Abbondandolo, SVP MENA at Checkout.com. Abbondandolo gave an example of how strategically the Saudi market is to the company by mentioning the launch of checkout.com in Saudi Arabia prior to other potential markets like New York and Singapore. On the subject of talent,” Abbondandolo added, ‘’We want to continue to hire the best talent here, it’s really important, hiring the first 2,5 or 10 people can also identify the company culture.’’
‘’We had a unique experience with AstroLabs, we engaged with them a long time ago because Saudi has always been our target market, Faloos was built for the Saudi market and we wanted local support. We understood the value of having people on the ground, and knew the people that would help move us forward with our process,’’ said Haider Syed, founder of Faloos, a direct Peer-to-Peer payments tool for consumers in Saudi Arabia. Syed also pointed out how he believes that a founder’s job is to focus on growing the business and not break down the setup process, further emphasizing the value of AstroLabs as a partner in their journey.
Saudi Arabia’s next generation for gaming entrepreneurs
The GameChangers programme was the first initiative of its kind in Saudi Arabia. It featured the top three gaming pitches.
Qindeel Studio and Star Vania pitched to the attendees. There was a strong female presence among founders and team members. Gaming is one of the hottest growth sectors in the country, with Saudi Arabia’s current gaming market size estimated at SR2.6 billion and is expected to reach SR9.5 billion by 2030.
Earlier this week, the GameChangers held its Alpha Demo Day at AstroLabs’ Tech Hub in Riyadh, during which participants pitched their games to a panel of gaming investors and experts and industry leaders.
‘’Since launching in 2013, we trained thousands of young Saudis in tech, ran programs that graduated tens of startups and helped some of the top regional and global companies set up in Saudi and recruit their teams.’’ said Roland Daher, CEO at AstroLabs; ‘’Today, we’re super excited to celebrate the partners, customers and founders we’ve delivered this impact with. Saudi Arabia is developing at an exhilarating rate and AstroLabs will continue to be at the heart of this transformation.’’
The Showcase aims at highlighting memorable moments from AstroLabs’ journey in MENA and KSA. The event brought together experienced entrepreneurs, corporates and ministries as well as ecosystem stakeholders.
The event was held in Riyadh and launched at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress at AstroLabs Terrace, Riyadh (March 30, 2022).