• Casandra Lidel

No Filter Talks – ‘How can start-up benefit from joining an accelerator?’-interview with Fawzi Rahal

In this interview of ‘No Filter Talks’ we explore together with Fawzi Rahal , Managing Director at Flat6Labs Beirut how startups can benefit from joining an accelerator.

Flat6Labs Beirut is a seed program and early-stage fund that fosters and invests in bright and passionate Lebanese entrepreneurs with cutting-edge ideas.

Initially launched in Cairo in 2011, Flat6Labs opened its Beirut office in 2017 and supports and encourages entrepreneurs throughout the critical first steps of development.

Each cycle, they select 8-10 promising teams to join our Flat6Labs Beirut program. Once selected, they put these teams on the right track to become a full-fledged scalable startup.

They provide each team with cash funding, strategic mentorship, office-space, a multitude of perks and services from our various partners and regional network, and entrepreneurship-focused business training and workshops.

Could you tell us a bit about your background and Flat6Labs Beirut?

Before Joining Flat6Labs, I was a regional lead in the digital consulting and advertising industry. I was always passionate about solving problems through technology, and I believe that my transition into the VC world was a natural progression of my interests, skillsets and career.

Flat6labs Beirut was born with the support of a team of investment experts from Cairo and the Central Bank of Lebanon, which has been subsidizing and injecting capital into the Lebanese nascent startup space.

Do you(Flat6Labs Beirut) have a differentiator compared to other similar seed programs in the region?

Unlike similar seed programs and accelerators, Flat6labs Beirut invests in various ticket sizes to support startups during their dynamic growth stages. Flat6labs Beirut is also part of a regional network, allowing startups to scale outside of Lebanon and to reach out to our global mentor, investor and partner network.

What do you think are the most important things that an early-stage startup that wants to join your program?

Team experience and attitude are the primary criteria we look at when we invest in any company; while we do consider validation, market size and growth potential, we value founders more than ideas.

Based on your experience, is there a perfect time (in case there is one) when a startup should start considering raising capital for growing their business?

As a general rule, founders should not look for funding before validating their idea and establishing a good business plan; however, there are always exceptions.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for early-stage startups in the region and globally in 2021?

The impact of coronavirus is still prevalent, and is contributing to lockdowns and uncommon user behavior. Because of that, validation could be temporary and inaccurate; product development and growth can be challenging with limited access to customers, markets and on-the-ground testing. Founders should take this into consideration to maintain a realistic approach to their growth and fundraising.

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