15 Rising Global Founders to Tap into Silicon Valley Mindset at Blackbox Connect 21

The latest cohort of entrepreneurial leaders accepted to the highly-selective residential program hail from six continents and represent a range of high-growth sectors

This February 26-March 9, a hand-picked cohort of 15 startup entrepreneurs will head to Silicon Valley from across the globe to participate in Blackbox Connect. The program, now in its 21st edition, consists of a two-week immersive residential experience at Fact0ry in San Francisco, offering the opportunity for rising international 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 their leadership of everything from growth strategy to product design to team culture from a fresh and global perspective.

“Blackbox was an experience that elevated me personally as an entrepreneur and made me think beyond what I considered before,” says Carlota Pi Amoros, Founder & CEO of Holaluz (Spain), who participated in Blackbox Connect 18, Female Founders Edition, “I met incredible founders and exceptional human beings from all over the world that I had the privilege to learn from and connect with.”

After two weeks of speaker sessions, workshops, pitch coaching, mentoring and expert feedback, the program concludes with the Blackbox Connect Startup Showcase on Thursday, March 8th, an opportunity for Blackboxers to pitch their company to an audience of investors and Silicon Valley tech leaders.

Founders at Blackbox Connect 20 share the impact of their experience

This cohort’s 15 participating founders hail from Australia, Chile, China, Greece, Lebanon, South Africa, Uganda, South Korea, Spain, Nigeria, and the United States and represent a wide variety of sectors, including (but not limited to) healthtech, fintech, education, robotics, space exploration, SaaS, consumer products, social enterprise, and more.

Four of the selected founders are recipients of the Google for Entrepreneurs Scholarship, which provides all-expenses-paid participation in Blackbox Connect for founders nominated by members of the Google for Entrepreneurs partner network. While Blackbox and Google for Entrepreneurs have partnered to elevate more than 184 founders across 10 program cycles since 2013, this marks the first cycle offered to both a global applicant pool and nominees from the Google for Entrepreneurs partner network, following a transition to a new model which allocates full scholarships for eligible founders over the next two years.

“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.”

Mentor Day at Blackbox Connect 20

Since 2011, Blackbox has helped elevate more than 400 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 10 exits to fuel the growth of global startup ecosystems.


Introducing the 2018 participants of Blackbox Connect 21:

Alejandro Fresneda, Mr. Noow | Spain

Mr. Noow is a mobile app that allows its users to discover where they want to eat, order immediately, and pay with a click (before arriving or in-restaurant), avoiding any wait. Mr. Noow adds convenience and value to both sides of the dining marketplace.

Recipient of a Google for Entrepreneurs Scholarship; nominated by Campus Madrid & Seedrocket

Anike Lawal, Mamalette | Nigeria

Mamalette is an early stage social enterprise that focuses on improving health outcomes for pregnant women and new mothers who are vulnerable or socially marginalized, while simultaneously providing them with quality employment opportunities.

Recipient of a Google for Entrepreneurs Scholarship; nominated by CcHub

Cristobal Forno, Capitaria | Chile

Founded in 2006, Capitaria aims to innovate within the financial market in Latin America by integrating technology and investment products. Today their challenge is to impact the lives of those who don’t have access to the financial market, giving access to payment methods and various other online services.

Garry Cooper, Rheaply | Chicago, USA

Rheaply is a platform for scientists at research organizations — across the research continuum (academia, industry, and government) — to buy/sell, trade, donate, or share surplus equipment and more easily collaborate on experimental tasks.

Recipient of a Google for Entrepreneurs Scholarship; nominated by 1871

Jose Torbay, The Grint | Miami, USA

The Grint is a comprehensive app for golfers. Through crowdsourcing the community, Grinters get a USGA Handicap for free, can upload and share scores, and track their game as they play.

Nour Atrissi, TeensWhoCode | Lebanon

TeensWhoCode is an online & offline community empowering & connecting aspiring future coders in the MENA region. Through an adaptive e-learning platform, the community members have access to: coding lessons & projects, a network of mentors, and internships at tech companies. In the offline world students can organize meetups, coding clubs at their schools, and join the TeensWhoCode tech summer camps in their retrospective cities.

Vaios Gkitsas, FlashChat | Greece

FlashChat.ai is a plug & play chatbot platform that connects with business’ Facebook pages, helping to automate chats with respective audiences and ultimately converting them into satisfied, paying customers.

Yoon Kim, Starfeed | South Korea

Starfeed is a curated media aggregation platform that brings together viral content and the world’s top influencers to help brands more effectively reach users where they spend time online.

Ziad Alame, Spike | Lebanon

For diabetics who want to better manage their condition, Spike is the world’s smartest diabetes assistant and insulin device companion. Spike suggests food options when relevant, reminds you to take your medicine and validates your insulin injections, seamlessly records all required readings, and shares them with your doctors and guardians in real time. Spike makes managing diabetes, less diabetic.

Mooseong Andy Kim, Herotown | South Korea

Herotown is a restaurant services platform that connects local restaurant owners with expert photographers and designers to seamlessly customize and create beautiful menus and marketing materials to better reach their customers.

Kostas Pardalis, Blendo | Greece

Blendo makes access to data incredibly easy — it helps companies transfer data from any source into their data warehouse, and supercharges their business intelligence and analytics capabilities.

Jacqueline Mutumba Nambooze, DigiHealth | Uganda

Digi Health Limited is a “tech for health” company whose goal is to innovate, design and develop web and mobile applications to improve information integrity and service delivery in the health sector. They’re addressing the challenge of poor data management among development organizations in health by creating an improved, low-cost, open source set of digital tools focused on improving data collection, analysis and visualization in remote areas in order to drive better decision making.

Recipient of a Google for Entrepreneurs Scholarship; nominated by Outbox

James Steere, I-Drop Water | South Africa

I-Drop was formed in 2015 to build a sustainable, profitable, environmentally-friendly business solution to the lack of access to safe, affordable drinking water in Africa and the world. To date, they have sold 700,000 litres of water in four countries using an innovative revenue-share business model that uses state-of-the-art water filters, GSM and internet of things, and solar power to empower shop owners to sell low-priced safe drinking water in their local communities. Their business model allows them to profitably sell safe, affordable drinking water to almost any consumer (regardless of income level), in any location (rural or urban) and in almost any country.

Li Guangping, Magic Mirror | China

Magic Mirror is an open source modular smart mirror platform that aims to make its users’ day-to-day lives a bit easier and more fun.

William Crowe, HEO Robotics | Australia

HEO Robotics finds minerals on asteroids that pass close to Earth. They do this by building and launching small spacecraft that produce unique data. This allows them to help fuel next level space exploration and adventure.


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