Tech startup Ollang wins the first ever London Business School’s prestigious MENA Startup competition

Tech startup Ollang wins the first ever London Business School’s prestigious MENA Startup competition

  • Ollang, AI Dubbing tech startup, was selected from over 70 startups to be announced as the winner of London Business School’s (LBS) MENA Startup Competition 2022
  • The inaugural competition, backed by Zain, Strategy&, part of the PWC network and Amazon Web Services Activate, enables startups to pitch their business venture ideas with the aim of winning a prize and to be noticed by leading investors and institutions
  • Ollang joins LBS’s illustrious network of startups which has generated six unicorn businesses and supported and developed over 100 new ventures, helping them to raise an impressive £100 million in seed capital

Dubai: Leading tech startup Ollang was crowned the winner of the inaugural London Business School MENA Startup Competition 2022. The competition, backed by global giants, Amazon Web Services Activate, Strategy&, part of the PWC network, and regional telecommunications powerhouse Zain, marks the first time the London Business School has brought its highly successful entrepreneurship model to the Middle East.

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Ollang from Turkey, a provider of end-to-end human powered AI localisation through subtitles and dubbing for video and audio, and runner-up Vaqat from the UAE, an online platform for companies outsourcing intern support, were announced during the finals held last week in Dubai at the DIFC campus. The 12 finalists presented their pitches to the prestigious judging panels, which included Roger Rabbat of Strategy& and Manya Pamnani of Dubai Cultiv8, part of Dubai Economy and Jane Khedair. Jane Khedair is Executive Director of Dubai Entrepreneurship and Private Capital, Philipp Pabst of Dubai Future District Fund and Haya alMana, who is currently leading Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Zain Kuwait.

London Business School is a leader in the field of entrepreneurs and is well-known as a strong hub for its global alumni network. Its highly successful London-based Incubator has supported and developed over 100 new ventures, helping them to raise an impressive £100 million in seed capital; and it was recently reported in Business Leader, the School’s alumni raised almost $4 billion of funding for their companies last year.

Commenting after the final, one of the competition judges, Jane Khedair, Executive Director of London Business School’s Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital (IEPC) said:

 “This competition has exceeded our expectations and we look forward to expanding our involvement in the startup community in the Middle East in the near future. The innovation and entrepreneurship on display was truly inspiring. Tech startup Ollang, were worthy winners, though I have no doubt many of the finalists will go on to great success with their ventures. I very much hope that this competition can provide the platform for LBS’ next unicorn business and develop the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow.” 

Sixteen companies founded by London Business School alumni have been awarded unicorn status (being valued at over $1 billion). This includes Livspace, whose CEO Anuj Shrivastava spoke at final in Dubai.

The London Business School model provides mentorship to startups and access to VCs and has a proven track record of success. Over 93% of the early-stage companies that have been supported by the London Business School program over the past 5 years have gone on to achieve sustained business success.

Ollang, the award-winning startup, provides AI localisation using subtitles and dubbing to video and audio globalisation teams. It is changing the way people communicate. It combines human intelligence with AI automation power to create Ollang Augmented Intelligence.

Ebru Yildirim was the founder of Ollang and won the event. “It is a huge honour to be announced as the winner of the inaugural London Business School MENA Startup Competition 2022. The finalists we participated alongside brought incredible ideas and innovation to the competition. We are extremely grateful to be recognised in this prestigious event and to take away the coveted prize. The opportunity provided by the school, the Entrepreneurship Club and Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital is fantastic for startups, helping inspire new entrepreneurs in the region. We are excited for what this achievement means to us as a business, and as we now strive to go to the next level and continue to grow.”

 Ollang wins a $15,000 cash prize and Vaqat takes home $5,000. This competition provides startups with the opportunity to build traction for their businesses, reach a wider audience, gain investment with access to VCs, expose to the London Business School global network and increase their media exposure.

Vaqat, the runner-up, was founded by Daniel Robaczewsk (LBS alumnus). This platform allows companies to outsource internship-like tasks to pre-vetted students, and can hire only the best of them full time. This platform allows employees to hire interns on-demand. Students can explore different career options while talent acquisition managers can find top talent. 

Anuj Srivastava (co-founder and CEO Livspace) spoke at the event. He is also an LBS alumnus. “Being a part of the LBS MENA Startup competition has been really inspiring and amazing. It was a joy to hear some of the amazing and innovative ideas that the finalists came up with. Startups have been at the forefront of innovation and incubation innovative solutions. It is crucial that these forward-thinking solutions and services are given the recognition they deserve. As a proud LBS alumnus, I was thrilled to be there and support the LBS Middle East fraternity in their efforts to help these amazing entrepreneurs shape their business journey.

 The inaugural competition was created by the new MENA-based Entrepreneurship Club, part of London Business School’s Gulf Association, and supported by the School’s London-based Entrepreneurship Club. The club was established at the start of the year and brings together entrepreneurs from LBS and startups. With its ambition to grow the School’s reputation as a global hub for venture creation, London Business School’s Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital also provides support and encouragement to the Entrepreneurship Clubs, and the new competition.

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The competition received more than 70 applications from all over the MENA region. They also represented a wide range sector.  The competition seeks to connect innovative entrepreneurs from the Middle East with prominent VCs and investors. It also provides mentoring. The 20 semi-finalists for LBS MENA 2022 were selected after rigorous evaluation. They also received months of mentoring.

The Competition Finalists 

The 12 startups in the final have come from across AI, Fintech, Healthtech, e-commerce, HR tech, marketing tech, mobility data, and remote working. These include:

  • Diwama (Waste management – AI) – Diwama is providing solutions for waste to improve quality of life. They offer an AI-based software for image recognition that allows people at home to recycle more efficiently. 
  • Lemonade Fashion (Ecommerce). – Lemonade is building the world’s first curated decentralized marketplace that goes beyond commerce and aims to make fashion more sustainable. The platform allows creators and designers the opportunity to tell their stories, and sell their products at large scale. 
  • Recruitment Smart Technologies (HR Tech) – The startup provides a talent intelligence solution. Their platform uses disruptive artificial intelligence to help recruiters find, qualify, and hire the best talent faster than their competitors. This eliminates bias and improves diversity and inclusion. 
  • Ollang (AI Dubbing Tech) – The startup provides end-to-end human powered AI localization through subtitles and dubbing for video/audio globalization teams, changing the way people communicate. 
  • MOBiSENSE (Mobility Data Analytics). – The company provides a solution to empower mobile operators to become unrivalled providers of footfall and mobility analytics for businesses and governments. Their technology allows mobile operators to offer such analytics. They can create insights on how people move and what mode of transport they use, as well as the places they visit.  
  • Emani (Marketing Tech) – A platform collecting crowdsourced data from locals who matter so that clients can monitor risk before it’s too late and better understand opportunities for sustainability. Good information is essential for making good decisions, whether it’s executing projects safely or deploying capital efficiently. Emani dramatically improves the information available to businesses and governments, as well as NGOs.
  • Troc Circle (Fintech).  The startup developed the circular and chain-invoice-netting technology. It is based on netting invoices that form a supply chain within an open network. 
  • DESAISIV (AI Analytics – Healthcare) – DESAISIV provides a holistic solution which links operational, financial and clinical aspects of healthcare organisations. Their AI algorithms make the future more predictable and can help clients plan for change.
  • TWIG (Fintech). – The startup is the first Bank Agnostic Automated Savings platform in the MENA region, offering mechanisms that help users put money on the side automatically.
  • Zyyp Pte (Fintech – Accounting) – A tech-driven platform that empowers businesses to spend, manage and borrow across currencies and geographies with ease and complete transparency.  
  • Vaqat (Remote Working) – Vaqat is a platform where companies outsource intern-like tasks to pre-vetted students, enabling them to hire the best of them full-time. 
  • The Convo (Hospitality). – The company has turned a handful of distressed hotels into profitable ones. They create a marketplace of renovated, operated and digitalized/tokenized properties in Europe ready to be sold online to retail investors and guests wanting to invest as low as $500 to own a fraction of listed assets. 


About London Business School

London Business School is one of the world’s leading business schools. London Business School’s academic strength and global outlook drives original and provocative business thinking. They challenge traditional wisdom, transform careers, and empower others to change the way the business world works. Renowned for teaching entrepreneurship since the late 90s, for the cultivation of startup ventures, and the promotion of innovation, London Business School is similarly well-known for its research insights into financial markets and its exceptional teaching of the key instruments that drive today’s financial sector.

About London Business School’s The Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital:

The Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital was created from a merger of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Private Equity of London Business School. The IEPC aims to further the School’s reputation as a global hub for venture creation and financing and as an accelerant for enterprise growth. The IEPC will support the development of the entrepreneurial mindset and ideas that drive impact, create wealth and advance well-being while giving wider exposure to probing and insightful research into the crucially important aspects of today’s private capital markets, such as venture capital, growth and buyouts, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

 About London Business School Gulf Association’s The Entrepreneurship Club:

The London Business School Gulf Association brings together all London Business School graduates and students who are currently located in the Middle East, or have a special interest networking in the region. More than 2,300 members currently participate in professional and social activities, as well as events that bring together the top universities in the region.

A new Entrepreneurship Club was established by the London Business School Gulf Association to create an eco-system for LBS entrepreneurs and startup ventures in the MENA region, raising brand awareness of the Club and growing connections within the School’s regional network. The Club will manage a program of networking and support, panel discussion and prominent guest speakers from industry and commerce.

For further information and interview opportunities, contact Natasha Moor at Manara Global: [email protected]

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