On a mission to bridge the gap between the Silicon Valley and the Middle East, TechWadi and LebNet collaborated on Feb. 22 by organizing their first Tech + Social Mixer, which took place in San Francisco. Many young professionals from the San Francisco Bay Area attended to meet like-minded Arab entrepreneurs, those of whom are working towards making positive contributions to the tech scene both in San Francisco and in the Middle East.
During the event held in the Mazza Luna restaurant, entrepreneurs networked and socialized. Moreover, startups were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the audience.
LebNet, who co-hosted the event with TechWadi, introduced two startups from Lebanon that completed their flagship program: LebNet Ignite, Second Edition, powered by Blackbox. Both, Rida Sadek, co-founder of ”Rational”, and Charlie El Khoury, co-founder of “Next Automated Robots (NAR)”, pitched their startups to a crowd eager to support them. These entrepreneurs believe that with TechWadi and LebNet’s support that they will have success stories that can drive change back home.
To gain some insight on what brought them to this event, Nureen Khadr, a freelance journalist and senior at the University of San Francisco, caught up with a few attendees.
Among the attendees she interviewed, were Afaf Steiert and her husband. They told Khadr, that they “have been attending for over five years and what keeps bringing them back is the inspiration and exchange of ideas.”
Moreover, Walla Oriqat explained to Khadr that “it was at another event similar to this that she met Musa Hanhan who helped her get the marketing internship she is currently working on.” And she’s now back for more contacts and potential partnerships that can help her with her other job at the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund.
According to Khadr, a similar theme shared by many who attended was the pride they had for their Arab community’s accomplishments. They even held an impressive desire to support the success of their fellow Arabs careers and initiatives.
Tarik Batal, who also attended TechWadi and LebNet’s first Tech + Social Mixer, came to introduce his friend, Maen Mahfoud. His friend has been working tirelessly on finding a network that would help him build a startup he founded, which feeds the hungry in the area. Batal explained to Khadr, “When I moved here five years ago, the first thing I looked for was an Arab community,” and he found just that in TechWadi and LebNet’s Tech + Social Mixer.
For many, although it was their first time at TechWadi’s monthly mixer, they were far from disappointed. Moreover, they instantly saw the benefit of becoming a TechWadi Member. Given the success of the event, they requested that organizers, Rama Chakaki (TechWadi) and Michelle Tager (LebNet), plan more mixers of this kind in the near future.
According to Salwa Katkhuda, Program Manager of TechWadi’s Sprint Business Accelerator in Silicon Valley, the “Turnout was great tonight. There was talk from tech startups to job opportunities, even a few pitches. Lots of networking on a funding level. And, of course, the food was great.”
In response to the attendees’ request and given the event’s considerable success, TechWadi and LebNet will hopefully be back soon with its second Tech + Social Mixer across the Bay Area.
So keep an eye out for their next social event and join TechWadi as a member for regular updates and exclusive insights!
The original version of this article was written by Nureen Khadr.