Eleven aspiring start-ups recently had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to members of Qatar’s tech innovation community during Demo Day of the 10th XLR8 programme cycle at Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI).

Members of the public, along with entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts participated in the event by closely following the online pitches before voting for their favourite teams. Three winners were selected – Karty (first place), Lease the Look (second place) and Sahatech (third place).

With restrictions in place due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, this unique final pitching day was held virtually for the first time following the ten week-long online training and mentorship programme.

Welcoming participants and members of the local tech community, QSTP Executive Director Yosouf Abdulrahman Al Salehi said they were determined to continue the XLR8 programme this year, despite the many taxing issues caused by COVID-19.

In these unique circumstances, the 10th cohort of the programme was an absolute success. The participating teams emerged with outstanding ideas and we are delighted to report that the standard of entries from the dedicated teams was just as high as ever. Using the powers of hi-tech communications during this extraordinary year, we were able to celebrate and recognise the teams’ efforts.

Graduating teams presented their selection of start-up ideas to an online audience of experienced technology professionals, investors and industry experts during the event, to give XLR8 participants hands-on experience of pitching their tech-based ideas to attract potential investors and launch their start-ups.

Karty founders and first place winners Mohammed Suleiman and Abdulaziz Al Marri, said they are happy to win and can’t wait to deliver Karty to Qatar. Karty is a financial technology start-up that aims to improve the spending experience of daily users by leveraging technology and utilising transaction data to provide a tailored financial experience.

The XLR8 programme has enriched us and helped us improve our product – we are excited to join the QSTP Incubation programme.

Of the 11 finalists pitching their ideas, nine teams came via QSTP’s highly competitive selection process, while the other two were selected from the popular television programme, Stars of Science. These teams include Lease The Look, an online dress and accessories rental platform; Bab, an e-commerce platform for the construction sector; Qatra, an online platform for artisans from low income countries to sell their products to an international market; and Scanscope, a hand-held scanning device to detect bone fractures in children without the need to expose them to harmful radiation.

Over 150 teams (comprising almost 400 individuals) and a established network of 30 experienced mentors have joined the programme since its inception in 2015. To date, 26 teams from XLR8 have already launched their own start-ups. Nine start-ups are now operating beyond Qatar, with several having secured investment – including Meddy, Stellic, MaktApp, Bonocle, EasyBroadcast and WakeCap.