AUI Alumni and International Business Angels joined AUI's Spring Entrepreneurship Weekend with three goals: (1) Identify how GenZ entrepreneurs, AUI Academics and Angel Investors can build a stronger ecosystem; (2) Speed Mentor student start-up businesses to accelerate from ideas to prototypes to products in the market; and (3) angel investing to launch businesses.
At the end of the weekend, AUI's strong Entrepreneurship Ecosystem emerged with mentoring and money invested by 10 local investors and 8 international investors, alongside AUI's Dean of the Business School Dr. Lakshmi GOEL; Entrepreneurship Professor Dr. Almaz SANDY; and AUI's Student-Led Incubator founded by Abderrahim HAMIDINE, SSE 2023.
Awards totaling over 800 KDHS in investments and pro bono services were awarded to 30 students to continue taking their businesses to the next level. To strengthen the GenZ Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, AUI hosted investors who are AUI alumni, local angels and international Venture Capitalists to mentor and award student business projects at the AUI Main campus. The international investors included Israeli's largest VC/Angel, Fiona Darmon; Nigeria's leading Angel, Ore Sofekun, and the EU private equity firm Quicker Ventures who awarded digital incubation and acceleration to ensure student startups are prepared for legal setups and fundraising.
Private Equity leader, Alberto Herrera with Quicker Ventures in Italy and Spain, said "As investors, we benefited from this AUI ecosystem where we met good hearts that focus on #help and #growth #today. We believe that time is priceless. Attention is a gift. P&L’s are outcomes of good work, needed to pay our bills but it does not generate footprints - excellence requires an extra mile. For us, we have a clear mission: to find #people that want to create footprints that last as proof of excellence . Passion, commitment, education & know-how is the best way to reach excellence. And the mission is easier when you have the right people on the bus. We believe that AUI and these GenZ entrepreneurs are the right seat on the bus!"
Angel Investor, Ore Sofekun from Lagos, Nigeria, announced seed investments in 5 student startups and offers 3 projects with mentoring. At the end of the weekend, Ore explained why: "This University (AUI) is doing a lot more than other universities across Africa; I really like the idea of having an incubator that is student-led and student-run. And you lead students to have the mindset to create jobs. I am really impressed that you created this ecosystem by bringing together a diverse local and international investor network. I encourage your students to connect with other African economies and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement."
AUI Alumni Oussama Sefrioui (BS 2002) commented about the weekend events: " It was an amazing weekend - so many activities and so much energy, with the will to push forward young entrepreneurs to "Walk the Talk" ! It was wonderful. I am so proud to see the level the University is at, thanks to the new vision !"
Over 90 students from Engineering, Business and Humanities had individual Speed Mentoring sessions collaboratively discussing their business ideas, prototypes and existing businesses in small settings, 1:1 with over 20 mentors and investors plus AUI Entrepre eurship Professors Dr. SANDY and Dr. JORIO. After the first round of Speed Mentoring, the Angel Investors selected 30 students with 15 projects to continue to the Angel Round. During the Angel Round, each angel met the teams they want to invest in and offered customized pro bono services that included media coverage, branding, business model coaching, Casablanca office space, introductions to New York and London investors, visits to similar startups, and a roundtrip ticket to Dubai to attend Gulfood, the world's largest food tech show in November to showcase products and learn and partner with suppliers and distributors to accelerate sales and development.
AUI SBA Junior, Sohaib El Abidi, is the 5th member in a student startup called PetPal that provides services for pet owners and vets. Sohaib talked about the weekend experience: "As students, we never had this kind of time from investors before this weekend. Speed Mentoring felt like Speed Dating. We would talk to an investor for 12 minutes then "ding" the bell would ring and another investor would talk to us, asking us more one on one questions. It was much better than Shark Tank or pithc-panels where you feel attacked and are under pressure to perform. We felt encouraged and understood and they used whiteboards and pens to give ideas and alternate ways. These international and local investors really wanted to help us. We did this for 2 hours. We talked to over 10 investors in the first round and 15 in the Angel Round. It was exhausting but their individualized, customized advice was priceless.
In addition to Speed Mentoring, investors hosted workshops for students to practice skills needed to successfully launch and grow their businesses. Workshops were "Fundraising Practice" by Israel's leading Venture Capitalist Fiona DARMON; "The Case of iTaxi and How to Grow" by Tayeb SBIHI, AUI Alumni; "Discover New Frontiers of Ethical Businesses" exploring the impact of new legislation in Morocco and how to create ethical businesses by Nicolas KLOTZ and Adnane El GHORAF, Chief of Co-operation with the National Agency for Medicinal Plants and Aromatics; Best Sales Techniques in Morocco by Karim BENABDEJLIL; How to Find the Best Platform for Digital Products by Harjeet GREWAL; and "Tell Your Story" by Rim RAOUDI, AUI Alumni.
AUI's Entrepreneurship Weekend is sponsored each semester by the Office of Employability and Entrepreneurship (E+E) whose mission is to help students "Discover Their Future(s)" by launching businesses while at university and beginning employment before graduation. The Office of E+E is led by Deborah Bartlett, an American entrepreneur who launched her first company while at university in the USA and is a member of the World Business Angel Forum, representing Morocco. Deborah commented about future AUI Entrepreneurship Weekends: "We in the Office of E+E wake up every morning with new ideas about how to connect student business ideas with investors, so they can be mentored and grow their businesses in Morocco, MENA and pan-African. We diligently invite angel investors who are actively investing in Morocco - AND - align with the goals of the GenZ Entrepreneur who wants intrinsic value and societal improvements -- more than simply making money. We are proud that all AUI student business ideas presented this weekend were socially positive because AUI seeks to mold the future business leaders of Morocco with ethics and responsibility for Moroccan society."
The complete list of 15 teams and 30 student entrepreneurs with their Angel and awards is listed below: