Ten Promising Tech Startups Battle For Half A Million Dollars At First Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition


“Winning the Draper-Aladdin competition propelled us to new heights in terms of public attention and recognition, enabling us to rapidly attract more prospective customers and strategic partners.“

Influential minds and innovative ideas lit the atmosphere at the Silicon Oasis on the 26th of May. In the realm of emerging technology, the AIBC Summit gathered an ambitious crowd of 4,500 to reimagine the future. 

Ten optimistic startups anticipated their call on stage as the inaugural Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition commenced. With up to half a million dollars, contingent on a persuasive three-minute pitch, the pressure was on! 

Emerging Tech Pitch

The Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition (DASC) is an extraordinary new pitch competition created by renowned Venture Capitalist, Tim Draper, and Founder of AladdinB2B technology, Alaa Ismail.

Inviting tech-enabled startups for an opportunity of a lifetime, DASC aims to find the next big idea.

The winner gets an investment of up to $500,000. Hold on, it gets even better. The prize includes a shot at Meet the Drapers TV Show to pitch the Silicon Valley family alongside an international audience of 12 million viewers, potentially setting the bar up to one million dollars. Investment, support, and exposure– DASC enables an outlet for promising entrepreneurs. 

The launch of DASC was held at the AIBC Summit at the Intercontinental festival city Dubai; an event focused on the converging sectors of AI, blockchain, IoT, and Quantum Tech. 

Ten inspiring pitches, deliberation among the judges, a Steve Harvey-Miss Universe flashback and recount later, PalletPal was ultimately titled the winner.

About PalletPal

PalletPal is a NextGen digital freight forwarder aiming to make the shipping process as easy as booking a flight. PalletPal eliminates traditional procurement headaches and consolidates communication across the different nodes of a customer’s supply chain onto a smart, scalable, and simple platform.

By leveraging strategic partnerships with validated logistics providers, PalletPal enables customers to access multiple quote options in under 24 hours, a data-fuelled dynamic dashboard, and instant tracking capabilities. Beyond that, their ever-growing repertoire of tech-enabled value add services, such as trade financing and insurance, ensure that shipping is made easy. Finally. 

Antonio Chidiac, Co-Founder at PalletPal

Q&A with Antonio Chidiac

How was your experience with the competition? 

We thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Draper-Aladdin startup competition. The highly experienced and sage panel of judges, the variety of attendees in the audience, the fierce competitors selected as finalists, and the pressure-building constraints placed upon us made the entire experience equally as challenging as it was exciting. So, to cap that off with a win is that much more rewarding.

What does this investment mean for your startup? 

It’s absolutely fantastic for us at this stage in our fledgling startup. We are grateful for the vote of confidence from such experienced panelists and the phenomenal people behind the Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition. We’re excited to put this investment where it belongs – that is, to spend it on hiring the right people, building the best product, and curating the most reliable partnerships to solve problems for the countless customers struggling to ship products effectively across the region.

Meet the Drapers TV is now another opportunity heading your way. How would you like to pitch the Drapers and an international audience of millions?

We absolutely cannot wait to take part in this exciting opportunity. Winning the Draper-Aladdin competition itself propelled us to new heights in terms of public attention and recognition, enabling us to rapidly attract more prospective customers and strategic partners. So, as you can imagine, we are greatly looking forward to being on Meet the Drapers.

PalletPal wins DASC

How do you think that will affect the future of PalletPal?

What is so amazing is that within the span of a week, we have already reaped the benefits of the exposure we received following the Draper-Aladdin startup competition. That has pushed us towards accelerating our development efforts on all fronts, be that in customer acquisition, partner onboarding, or product development. The team has dedicated countless hours working seven days a week over the past several months building PalletPal, so to receive such an endorsement at this stage only motivates us further and drives us forward faster. 

What’s next for PalletPal? 

At PalletPal, we live by the age-old mantra of building a product for the customer, by the customer. And in order to achieve that we must constantly evolve and continuously improve our offerings, both as a company and as individuals. Therefore, what’s next for PalletPal is to leverage the opportunity and platform provided to us by the Draper-Aladdin fund to take PalletPal to the next level. We can’t wait to start serving customers in the region at scale and solving their supply chain problems by making shipping easy. And we truly believe that this opportunity will enable us to do just that in the coming months.

(Pictured Eman Pulis, Founder of AIBC Summit, Alaa Ismail – CEO & Founder of AladdinB2B, PalletPal Team: Antonio Chidiac, Ali Nawaz, Kareem Hamwi, Kareem Ghanam, Adel Hamwi) 

Why is a competition like DASC important for startups? Could you provide some words of wisdom for future startup heroes? 

This is a fantastic question. Let me start by saying that I wholeheartedly believe that we need more high-caliber startup competitions such as DASC to emerge throughout the MENA region. This market is ripe for disruption across a multitude of aging and problem-laden industries, and there are many focused, talented, and inspiring entrepreneurs building game-changing companies that are addressing those very problems at their core. However, many of these flourishing, precocious startups are not provided with the exposure, support, or funding to get their companies off the ground. Therefore, I can be nothing but grateful for the incredible people behind Draper-Aladdin that are providing such opportunities for startups in the region. And frankly, I look forward to seeing many more in the coming years.

As far as my advice goes for future startup heroes participating in DASC, let me say this: “Relax, take a deep breath, and imagine you are explaining your company to a dear friend. State your problem, lay out your solution, and briefly outline your understanding of the market dynamics (e.g. size, timing, competitors). Leave the rest for the Q&A. There’s a time limit, so be as clear and concise as possible… no need to overcomplicate things. Most importantly, the best pitches always revolve around a good story… so go ahead and wow us with yours!”

Final Thoughts

A big congratulations to Antonio and the team at PalletPal. From the Genies at Aladdin, we wish you great success in your future endeavors.

For aspiring startups that want to share their game-changing idea with the world, apply for a spot on the upcoming Draper-Aladdin Startup Competition and you could be the next startup hero.