What's gives you fresh breath and a secure future as a young business in a ripe market? MINT.
Teaming up with fittingly-named angel investors, Cairo Angels, EGBANK's incubator, MINT, is back and locked, cocked and ready to rock with its aim to invigorate Egypt’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and empower its youth.
Having graduated 11 startups in December, including companies like Eksab which allows users to win football freebies like game tickets for predicting the right game scores; Elmetr, dubbed the Uber for lawyers; and Apoteka, a digital marketplace for pharmacies, the one year-old MINT continues to evolve to the ever-changing scene, as Susanne Wardani, MINT’s Head of Youth Banking, revealed.
"We learned a lot about how startups function, what they do and do not need at this particular stage and what potential collaboration with startups could look like.” Because MINT takes no equity in the startups they incubate, “we [they] have the chance to work with them objectively, introduce the entrepreneurial mindset internally and seek ways to mutually add value," she adds.
In order to achieve this, the incubator continues to support the startups even after they graduate, to develop and grow them further. The most important way through which MINT achieves this is through feedback. For example, many startups would request to be more closely engaged with experts, even beyond workshops and mentoring sessions, as well as get in touch with other entrepreneurs who made it and learn from their trials and tribulations.
“That's why we're planning on incorporating different activities next [third] cycle that bring success stories to our startups in an informal setting so that they can expand their scope of learning," Wardani explained of their plans to meet the knowledge-hungry entrepreneurs’ needs.
With how much they’ve learned, the way in which MINT works is changing up for this round as well. For example, after setting the action plans and milestones, and ensuring each startup has the means to fulfill those milestones, startups will be accountable for their progress. This means that startups who do not commit to the plan will be discontinued from the program; something that's done to ensure that the enrolled startups are kept to MINT’s high caliber, and that their team is focused towards the right direction.
Wardani also explains that in lieu of her expertise, she found ample opportunity for a diversity of young businesses to grow. However, one thing has been common between many of their applicants; the sector-agnostic incubator has found that “the biggest chunk of applications we [they] receive are from tech-based startups. Whether they're fashion, transportation, legal or green energy startups, most of the ones we see are technology enabled.”
And with so much to choose from, a well-rounded jury is paramount to the process. MINT selects its judges based on their experience, be that in investment or mentorship. Investment-oriented judges help determine and understand the potential of the startups, and mentorship-oriented judges have the ability to identify what each startup needs in order to develop quicker. Ultimately, the jury determines whether the incubator can actually add to each startup or not.
But MINT's endeavours haven't been without their challenges. Due to its high customisability, MINT was challenged to offer the same level of quality, as well as tailor their services for 11 start ups from 10 different industries. “This diversity was unanticipated yet the potential the team saw in these businesses is what drove us to take on this challenge and bring in such a mixed group of companies,” Wardani reveals. Because of that, extra time has been allocated, and the cycle is starting earlier in order to dedicate the time to tailor plans for each startup as well as include it in the process.
The bank-run incubator has much to offer to entrepreneurs in its partnership with Cairo Angels, as well as its blend of knowledge, expertise and its extensive network. You wouldn’t find this anywhere else, according to Wardani. “On the one hand, Cairo Angels brings in a wealth of experience in investment, and an understanding of the needs and challenges of startups, and how to tackle them. On the other hand, EGBANK brings in banking know-how that can be particularly relevant to Fin-Tech startups, access to a network of corporate clients and banking partners as well as an asset of highly experienced individuals from different backgrounds whether internally within the bank or externally from the network."
The content of this article is sponsored.