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Shortlisted: Ten Startups To Look Out For At STEP Conference 2016 This year's edition of STEP aims to be the largest interactive gathering in the Middle East, and will be featuring over 200 startups from the Middle East and abroad.

By Philip Bahoshy

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A scene from STEP Conference 2015.

Running from April 4-5 at the Dubai International Marine Club, 2016's STEP Conference will see over 4,000 entrepreneurs coming together to discuss all things tech, digital, and entertainment in Dubai. This year's event aims to be the largest interactive gathering in the Middle East, and will be featuring over 200 startups from the Middle East and abroad. With the UAE releasing an US$82 billion fund for science and technology last year, and the declared aim of becoming a leading competitive knowledge economy in the world, the conference is bound to attract some very interesting young enterprises.

My startup, MAGNiTT, has already joined forces with the conference and will be facilitating connectivity among attendees and startups. MAGNiTT allows user to discover startups across MENA and connect with the founders. For STEP, we have created a tailored offering that allows attendees to review startups, and connect with founders to arrange meetings before, during and after the conference. The key is to help familiarize attendees with the startups presenting to make their time spent onsite more efficient. Here's a shortlist of ten promising startups from the MENA and beyond to watch at STEP this year—click on the links to access their MAGNiTT profiles:

1. Hoodi

Image credit: Hoodi

Over the past few years, online social networking has allowed people to "connect" with family, friends, and acquaintances around the world. But in the run to stay "connected," many people actually feel more isolated. Hoodi provides a platform for people living in real world neighborhoods to connect and to collaborate on anything and everything. You can organize a community garage sale, get a bit of help with odd jobs, or ask your neighbor to borrow a ladder.

2. Knowlarity

Image credit: Knowlarity

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Singapore, Knowlarity received seed funding in 2011 and had, by July 2014, closed two rounds of financing for a total of $US22.5 Million. Knowlarity is India's largest cloud telephony company with a presence in 65 countries, and its flagship products (SuperReceptionist and SmartIVR) can process over a million calls an hour.

3. JobSmart

Image credit: JobSmart

JobSmart is "Tinder for jobs," and it is exactly what it sounds like: the job-matching app pairs candidates with the suitable positions based on function, industry experience, and personal preferences. Simply swipe right to apply, or swipe left to reject. Jobs are "pushed" to candidates, and when a match is made by both the recruiter and the candidate, the two are connected.

4. ChefXChange

Image credit: ChefXchange

This startup is cooking up a storm in someone's home right now. Select a chef, communicate your request, get feedback, and relax. The chef brings the ingredients, makes sure he has all the equipment that might be needed, takes over your own kitchen, and even cleans up after dinner. ChefXChange currently offers services in UAE, Washington DC, London, and Beirut. Expect them to open up in other cities before long.


Image credit: JustMop

An online on-demand home cleaning services marketplace where customers book, pay, rate for the service all in one place. helps users find top-notch cleaning services in the first try, as well as guaranteeing an assigned same crewmember on a fixed date and time.

6. Skiplino

Image credit: Skiplino

Skiplino is reinventing the way we queue for services by taking the wait time online. This free app allows users to find the closest service point, reserves your space in the queue, and estimates how long it will be before you are served. You can even ask this Bahrain-born app to keep you a slot at a particular time so that you can get the rest of your day organized instead of waiting in line. It sounds like VIP treatment for customers and may well prove to be a great customer satisfaction tool for many companies across MENA.

7. Imoshen

Image credit: Imoshen

Both a private social network and a gifting marketplace connecting a curated list of vendors with consumers, Imoshen allows users to engage with what their friends share and have the ability to gift them from wish lists they create. A private social network, it allows users to connect only with people they trust.

8. Labeek

Image credit: Labeek

Labeek is about to change the way peoples find local service providers- "faster, cheaper and safer," say the makers of this mobile app. It's an interactive platform that uses smartphone technologies, telecommunication networks and geo-location to connect users with trusted service providers.

9. Yalla Parking

Image credit: YallaParking

The recent increase in parking fees in Dubai is most certainly going to boost interest in this startup that provides a marketplace for unused parking spaces. Users can either list their unused parking spaces to earn money, or find unused parking spaces for rent in close by areas. It's simple, efficient, and makes life easier.

10. MapNumbers

Image credit: MapNumbers

MapNumbers is an app that converts any address in a 12-digit number. Instead of endlessly trying to give directions to friends or delivery services, users can simply give out a number. The number is entered into the app, and one can then simply follow directions on their smartphone. With the complicated address systems in most MENA countries, this Saudi Arabia-born app is certainly a useful one to have on our mobile devices.

Related: Developing A Good Pitch: A How-To Guide For Entrepreneurs Sharing Ideas

Philip Bahoshy

Founder and CEO, MAGNiTT

Philip Bahoshy is the founder and CEO of MAGNiTT, an online community that connects MENA entrepreneurs with investors. Raised in the UK with Iraqi origins, Philip obtained an MBA from INSEAD in 2013 and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. During his time in Dubai, Philip worked at Oliver Wyman in the Financial Services practice for three years, followed by nearly three years at Barclays Wealth working as Chief of Staff to the CEO advising on strategic initiatives. Philip has lived in the UAE for more than seven years and is passionate about developing the MENA startup ecosystem.

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