Global Entrepreneurs Conclude GIST Business Incubation Program at GIST Business Incubation Showcase and Reception
Nearly 30 science and technology entrepreneurs from emerging economies concluded their participation in the new GIST Business Incubation program during the GIST Business Incubation Showcase and Reception held on November 21 at the Halcyon incubator in Washington, D.C.
The entrepreneurs spent six weeks working at 10 incubators around the U.S. to learn how to expand their businesses into the United States market. Their work during this program has included making connections with key ecosystem stakeholders, refining their business ideas, building their business plans, and conducting customer discovery.
"I came with a dream, I left with a plan," said Hichem Difallah of Algeria. His business, El Koffa, is an eco-friendly textile made entirely of FilmoPlast, a material derived from plastic bags, with the aim of reducing plastics in the environment. Meet all of the entrepreneurs from the Fall 2019 Business Incubation program here.
Here’s a highlight of the showcase and reception:
Marcia Bernicat, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at The U.S. Department of State, gave opening remarks.
During her remarks, Bernicat affirmed: “We all can appreciate that being an entrepreneur is never easy, but these entrepreneurs with us tonight are coming from all around the world—Ecuador, Algeria, Kazakhstan, and Uganda, to name just a few places—where being an entrepreneur can be even more challenging. Each of them had the grit and optimism to try, to endure, and to take a potentially world-changing idea to fruition. They believed in themselves and their ideas enough to leave their growing businesses to come to the United States—to cities like Phoenix, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Memphis—to explore the opportunity to connect to American businesses.”
Patrick Gouhin, CEO of the Angel Capital Association, reflected on the global impact of the GIST Business Incubation program, saying: “I was truly inspired by the passion and commitment of all of the entrepreneurs. They articulated their company visions so crisply. The Angel Capital Association believes in cultivating talent within the entrepreneurial community and GIST has done just that by eliminating geographic boundaries and barriers. This event brought key players from the startup ecosystem together to collaborate on worldwide opportunities and to share smart practices. The results speak for themselves.”
Melissa Bradley, Managing Partner of 1863 Ventures, spoke about the importance of building a network and the need for more diversity in entrepreneurship. She said: “Having traveled around the world with GIST, to Southeast Asia, to India, to Australia, it is a privilege to invite you to the United States to really connect the dots, to close the loop, and create a community where we can all truly learn from each other. What an amazing opportunity GIST has provided for all of us to truly learn from each other. Entrepreneurship is not a job. It is a lifetime journey and I am honored and humbled to be on this journey with all of you.”
Bradley, a key trainer with GIST programs, recently participated in a GIST TechConnect about catalyzing resources for women-led startups. Watch the recording here.
To give attendees an idea of the types of businesses represented in the inaugural GIST Business Incubation program, three entrepreneurs were chosen to pitch their startups to the audience during the reception:
- Syed Abrar Ahmed of AzaadHealth - Based in Pakistan, the company offers a patient-centered health data exchange network and patient identification platform powered by blockchain. It allows healthcare stakeholders to share verifiable health data and identify patients using biometric scans.
- Rituparna Das of Hydrotec Solutions Private Limited - Based in India, the company has designed a smart water ATM kiosk that purifies and dispenses clean drinking water on a pay-per-use basis, using sustainably-sourced energy.
- Vamekh Kherkheulidze of Elven Technologies - Based in Georgia, Elven Technologies is a high-tech personal protection equipment (PPE) company. Their first product is a technologically-advanced full-body fireproof suit with a cooling system to keep firefighters safe in the line of duty.
After remarks concluded, attendees were invited to browse a visual display of each entrepreneur’s business. This gave entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors, government stakeholders, and global startup ecosystem partners. Attendees were captivated to learn about all of the hard work the entrepreneurs put into the program over the past six weeks. Attendees of the reception were even given “GIST Bucks” upon arrival to hypothetically invest in their favorite startup. The energy and excitement during the evening’s events were electric.
Many thanks to all of the entrepreneurs, incubators, and investors involved with the GIST Business Incubation program. The program helped bring together some of the best and brightest international science and technology innovators and American businesses to increase cross-market access, open doors for joint ventures, and gain investor exposure. It also helped provide the U.S. startup ecosystem with the opportunity to forge new connections with global entrepreneurs.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the Business Incubation program, read this article or visit the GIST Facebook and Twitter social media feeds for more photos from the participating entrepreneurs and incubators.