The startup Dim, which provides a real-time construction site monitoring platform, won the first edition of the “HEC Entrepreneur Prize” on Thursday, April 30. This award came with a check for $10,000 offered by the Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (CCIA-BML), in addition to a three-month incubation at Station F, the largest startup incubator in the world, provided by HEC starting next October. Travel and accommodation expenses in Paris will be covered by the French Embassy in Lebanon.
This competition, born from a collaboration between L'Orient-Le Jour and ESA Business School in partnership with HEC Paris, CCIA-BML, Smart ESA incubator and HEC Alumni Lebanon Chapter, was open to young Lebanese entrepreneurs based in Lebanon or abroad whose startups were created less than two years ago, with a product under development and a turnover of less than 500,000 dollars.
In line with the Coronavirus safety measures, it is via video conference that the 10 finalists defended their projects before a jury composed of former HEC graduates: Nabil Fahed (Vice-President of CCIA-BML), Antoine Leprêtre (HEC Incubator Director), Jean Riachi (Director of FFA Private Bank), Hala Labaki (Co-founder of shahiya.com), Karine Labaki (General Manager of Sanofi Levant), Michel Helou (Executive Director of L'Orient-Le Jour) and Jihad Bitar (Director of Smart ESA). The projects were assessed based on the creativity, innovation, long-term viability and profitability of the product, as well as its ability to create jobs in Lebanon.
The above mentioned criteria were fulfilled by Dim - formerly Maj solution- a Lebanon-based startup that has developed a construction site management optimization tool, capitalizing on the long experience in the building sector of its founder, Michella Abu Jawdeh. "On a construction site, you navigate by sight most of the time: it is difficult to assess the immediate impact of the tasks being carried out on a daily basis, and it is only when you accumulate delays that you become aware of the problem," Abu Jawdeh explained.
With Dim's technique, “everything is digitized: the works supervisor gathers information related to the construction sites, using his tablet or mobile phone: descriptions of tasks, time spent on them, the person in charge, the percentage of what has been achieved … Based on this data, the platform provides an immediate detailed analysis, which allows the project manager to have at his disposal reliable data, in order to implement necessary corrective measures and anticipate the next steps, allowing him to keep his budget and schedule commitments.”
Another project has also grabbed the jury’s attention: that of Bassem Makarem and Ghassan Ashi, who were also offered a three month-incubation at F station in Paris, with all costs of their stay to be covered by the French Embassy. The two developers created Myceleum, a software aimed at making life easier for their peers. "Developing is a bit like cooking. You have to prepare all the necessary ingredients before getting started. However in IT, environment configuration can take several days. This is a significant waste of time and money, especially in large companies, which are our main targets, even though we also target self-employed professionals,” explained Bassem Makarem. Therefore, Myceleum software offers one-click configuration of the appropriate tools. “It also helps harmonizing practices within companies,” added the entrepreneur. Last November, the startup signed a contract with a Lebanese IT group, and is counting on its incubation experience in Paris to attract new customers.
The ten other finalists won a scholarship covering half the costs of the Master’s Degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MENT) program at ESA, implemented in partnership with HEC Paris.
Launched in June 13, 2019, the “HEC Entrepreneur Prize” was to be awarded after three selection phases which facilitated the decision of choosing amongst the hundred participating startups. However, the awards ceremony, originally scheduled for November, has been postponed due to the country's various crises. Today, despite the current circumstances, the organizers wanted to provide "a glimmer of hope in a gray sky," said Nicolas Bukhater, the president of HEC Alumni Lebanon. "We must go on," said Antoine Leprêtre. "More than ever, the world needs entrepreneurs."
This article was originally published in french.