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First Jordan Connect matches startups with big business

Dec 27, 2015

by Tala El Issa , December 27, 2015 Big business meets the smallest: Jordan Connect brought together large corporations with startups. (Images via VentureScout) Discovering a perfect fit, Jordan accelerator Oasis500 alongside VentureScout and Startup MENA hosted the first Jordan Connect event in Amman during the second week of December. The matchmaking event placed Jordanian startups with renowned corporations to forge strategic partnerships and new business opportunities. Speed-dating at Oasis500   Following the ‘speed-dating’ set-up, the startups and corporations who’d matched scheduled meetings on how the startup could turn its knowledge into a product their larger counterpart could use. The corporates were willing to turn over their data and customers to those startups which had the potential to turn both into products. The corporations that attended were Globitel, Microsoft, and Arab Bank. They met with Guru Gates, DigAt, Experts 911 , Swipt , Riskopy , Engage Master, Green Wallet, and Financial Engineers. A fair bargain Jordan Connect tapped into the importance of corporate entrepreneurial responsibility (CER) , highlighting the importance of introducing larger private sector entities with young startups for the latter’s access to market and sustainable growth. Similarly, more corporates are realizing the benefit and need to explore new technological solutions. “Involving corporates in the entrepreneurial scene is important and mutually beneficial. It gives startups a chance to observe what new products and services corporates are looking to implement, and understand their outlook on startups. It also gives corporates a way to identify potential adaptations to new technologies,” said Swipt founder Mohammad Amleh. Arab Bank alternative channels development manager, Tareq Alabed, understands the symbiotic relationship as well. Alabed voiced Arab Bank's desire to "conduct more business with startups in the region to sway away from their traditional perception and go into the sphere of digital banking”. “This in turn would facilitate ecommerce related transactions and increase awareness with regards to the matter and would have an effect on the economy that we would like to study," he said. Entrepreneurs engage a telecoms giant. Telecoms as contributing corporates Following the meetings, the corporates were invited to discuss the role of big business in developing the Jordan entrepreneurial ecosystem. Umniah, the Jordanian telecommunications provider joined the discussion. Ziad Al-Masri, CEO of Umniah’s co working space The Tank, stated that "the Tank's main objective is to identify trends and to gain exposure for the startups that we work with". Umniah's involvement in the startup ecosystem was initially a CSR initiative that progressed to a couple of investments in startups. Oasis500 CEO Yousef Hamidaddin highlighted the opportunity that corporations had: "Telecoms have tons of data, a large customer base, and a geographic footprint that can be leveraged.” It is important to note that Jordan’s three telecommunications providers: Zain, Orange and Umniah, have each developed or is developing a working space for entrepreneurs in the King Hussein Business Park. A fruitful chat? Let's hope so. Jordan Connect will return periodically Having attracted new corporate players to the interaction with startups while engaging existing players, Jordan Connect was considered a great success. The organizing team will keep track on the follow-on rate of meetings in the months to come. Furthermore Jordan Connect will take place periodically with plans to involve more corporations from various sectors with a regional focus. -- Tala el Issa is a journalist based in Jordan. She loves music, art, and innovation. You can connect with her on Twitter at  @tala_bd_elissa  or on Facebook:  Tala Elissa Hanania .

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