Venture capitalists join online Homathon

SAFCSP and Startup Grind team up to host venture capitalists for online discussion

The Saudi Federation for Cyber Security and Programming (SAFCSP) and Startup Grind hosted an online “Homathon” with venture capitalists from several different firms, supported by the local Startup Grind Amman team. Nabil A. Borhanu, founder and Managing Partner of Graphene Ventures, moderated a conversation between Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, founder and Chief Executive Officer, KBW Ventures, Courtney Powell, Chief Operating Officer, 500 Startups, Jessica Wong, Partner, eWTP Capital, and Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, Chief Executive Officer, STV.

Borhanu began the conversation by asking the VCs to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their respective portfolio companies. Powell noted the importance of consistent communications during the health crisis, while Wong added that some of their startups were counseled to potentially revise plans previously in the pipeline.

Prince Khaled explained that KBW Ventures offers support mechanisms from coaching and guiding in terms of communications, helping portfolio companies extend runway and decrease burn rate, and facilitating introductions to relevant bodies across public and private sector.

Tarabzouni echoed Prince Khaled’s sentiments on the MENA region’s potential and purchasing power, adding that Saudi’s digital demand and other aspects contribute to a great ecosystem for technology startups.

All of the VCs agreed that the global pandemic had indeed impacted businesses, with some companies faring better due to business models that exhibited spiking demand based on situational relevance. The VCs generally agreed that appetite for risk wasn’t greatly swayed by the pandemic, with several panelists confirming that new investments were in the pipeline.

SAFCSP is a national institution under the umbrella of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee. It seeks to build national and professional capabilities in the fields of cyber security and programming in line with the established and internationally recognized practices and standards, to expedite the ascent of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the ranks of developed countries in the domain of technology innovation.

Related: Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed and Kevin O’Leary judge five finalist startups live