15 Global Entrepreneurs Head to Silicon Valley for Blackbox Connect
Startup founders from 11 countries selected to come together under one roof to elevate and scale their companies
This August, a hand-picked cohort of 15 high-potential entrepreneurs will travel to Silicon Valley from across the globe to participate in Blackbox Connect. The program, now in its 19th edition, consists of a two-week immersive residential experience at Fact0ry in San Francisco, offering the opportunity for entrepreneurs to live and learn together while connecting with top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders, and executives in an intimate, open, and collaborative environment.
Participating founders — typically the CEOs of their companies and referred to as “Blackboxers” — step out of the day-to-day grind and reexamine everything from growth strategy to product design to team culture from a fresh and global perspective. “It was an absolutely life changing experience for me,” says Kasia Dorsey, Founder & CEO of Yosh (Poland), who participated in Blackbox Connect in late 2016, “I have an understanding now of the keys to building a successful startup, and I have the confidence and knowledge to create a global company.”
After two weeks of speaker sessions, workshops, pitch coaching, mentoring and expert feedback, the program will conclude with the Blackbox Connect Startup Showcase on August 24, an opportunity for Blackboxers to pitch their company to an audience of investors and Silicon Valley tech leaders.
The 15 founders hail from Canada, China, Germany, India, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela, and Romania and represent a wide variety of sectors, including (but not limited to) 3D printing, cloud services, media, fin-tech, ed-tech, robotics, and e-commerce.
“Our entrepreneur-first approach instills a holistic growth mindset, allows for the open exchange of knowledge across borders, and ultimately translates to greater success back home,” says Blackbox Founder & CEO Fadi Bishara. We’ve been blown away by the number of founders from past cohorts who have gone on to become major role models in their communities. We can’t wait for this group to continue that pattern and build on the impact of Blackboxers around the world.”
Since 2011, Blackbox has helped elevate more than 350 founders from 60+ countries to reach their full potential. Within 3–9 months of Blackbox Connect, over 60% of startups have gone on to raise funding and more than 90% continue to grow their businesses. There have been nine exits to fuel the growth of global startup ecosystems.
Introducing the 2017 participants of Blackbox Connect 19:
Henry Xue & Kent Wu, ERPlus | China
ERPlus is a new type of ERP system which is primarily based on mobile devices. Compared to traditional ERP, ERPlus aims to have a much friendlier user experience at a more affordable price. Main features consist of Project Management (OKR management tool), Performance Evaluation, CRM, HR, and Payroll.
Basel Jalaleddine & Ibrahim Ezzeddine, Cherpa | Lebanon
Cherpa is an educational platform that offers multiple robotics projects which users choose from according to their interest. The platform helps the user build a physical circuit, and code it through virtual assistance. After this is completed, the user enters a virtual world which interacts with the physical circuit in front of them. From controlling Mars rovers to building robots that are used to perform surgery, users complete missions in order to move to the next level and learn more.
Bernd Korz, Alugha | Germany
Alugha is a multilingual video platform that dispenses subtitles and overlays in order to enable users to communicate in several languages within one video.
Erran Fichman, Fichman Furniture | Canada
Fichman Furniture aims to be the most customer-centric furniture manufacturer in the world. The system allows for mass production of custom made furniture using proprietary, automated technology.
Ponglada (Bell) Paniangwet, Freshket | Thailand
Freshket acts as an intermediary between food suppliers and restaurants. The platform simplifies the process of buying and selling food supplies used by restaurants.
Lucienne Elms, Horse Scout | United Kingdom
Horse Scout is a UK-based global equestrian network endorsed by Olympians and professionals. Currently operating an advert sales model and advocate social media influencer programme to grow their database for data lead marketing, Horse Scout will further expand their offering to a branded insurance, commerce platform, and global horse bloodline database. With the ultimate goal to create the oracle for all things equestrian, Horse Scout intends to utilise tech trends, including the creation of AI systems, to automatically enroll and manage data via CRM.
Rachael McCary, Jewel Toned | United States
Jewel Toned is a shapewear brand focused on body positivity, and is designed to be both comfortable and sexy. Their merchandise is sold online and via wholesale, offering products designed in-house as well as celebrity brands.
Samir El Zein, Neotic | Lebanon
Neotic is a trading support platform that allows traders to test trading strategies and leverage artificial intelligence to offer trading recommendations without writing code. The artificial intelligence is based on a machine learning algorithm that incorporates corporate fundamentals, historical prices, and financial news.
Guillermo Garcia, SmartHop | Venezuela
SmartHop is a data-driven platform that pairs idle space within trucks in transit with low volume shipments. Shippers pay less, truckers make more money, and the planet is happier.
Pablo Eder, Lani | Canada
Lani simplifies the use and management of advanced manufacturing machines (starting w/ 3D printers) through a cloud platform. Users can control all of their machines, get immediate data from any device, and have access to a payment system that enables owners to monetize devices.
Poonam Dungerwal, Xportmine | India
Xportmine is a web based platform that allows the user to see trade insights with just a few clicks within the system. The goal is to help buyers and suppliers visualize and understand trade data and global market trends, which can ultimately be used for their global marketing, prospecting, and sourcing strategies.
Ahmed Al Bader, Sihatech | Saudi Arabia
Sihatech leverages technology to connect doctors, hospitals, and patients and provide comprehensive documentation
Pavel Antohe, Kuende | Romania
Kuende is a gamified marketplace aimed at Generation Z. The platform has strong social features that reward its users for their everyday activity and generated content. Kuende aims to provide an experience similar to using Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Spotify all within one application, but with a fresh new UX approach. By participating, the user earns virtual coins (Kpoints & Kcoins) based on their activities and interactions with other users. The user can then utilize coins in order to unlock/buy different opportunities, such as customising their profile and overall experience, movie or concert tickets, or meeting with a favourite artist. They can also be exchanged through cryptocurrency markets.
Blackbox is a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit working to elevate entrepreneurs across the globe. Our entrepreneur-first approach is grounded in two fundamental beliefs: that entrepreneurs are the core engine for global economic growth, and that they need someone in their corner. Blackbox Connect was launched in 2011 as our flagship offering in Silicon Valley, with Google for Entrepreneurs powering two cycles each year since 2013. Blackbox has since expanded to offer 3-day in-country community events (called Blackbox Ignite) for partners around the world. To learn more, visit http://blackbox.vc or follow us on Twitter @blackboxvc or Facebook (fb.com/blackbox.vc).
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