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AstroLabs, MENA’s technology ecosystem builder, launched its first edition of the ‘AstroLabs Showcase’ series in Riyadh on March 30th, a gathering showcasing how AstroLabs has been contributing to the MENA ecosystem and specifically its impact in Saudi over the past 9 years.

Fueling foreign companies expansion to Saudi

Since entering its strategic partnership with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA), AstroLabs has helped more than 200 regional and global companies expand to Saudi through its market entry and expansion arm, setupinsaudi.com.

Leaders from 4 of these companies Abdulaziz Hadhrawi, Co-Founder & Country GM, Retailo Technologies, Remo Abbondandolo, SVP MENA at Checkout.com, Haider Syed founder of Faloos, and Imran Aziz, Co-Founder & CCO, Wundr Commerce, joined a panel discussion with Alex Nicholls, Head of Saudi Expansion at AstroLabs at the event. Companies entering Saudi Arabia now understand the importance of finding a reliable partner for a successful expansion to the Saudi market, noted the speakers.

‘’One of the key successes that we had as a global company coming here, we understood that we need to apply different strategies, not one size fits all. The way we approach the Saudi market is different from other markets’’ said Remo Abbondandolo, SVP MENA at Checkout.com. Abbondandolo spoke about prioritizing launching checkout.com in Saudi Arabia before other potential markets as an example of how strategic the Saudi market is for the company. On the subject of talent Abbondandolo added, ‘’We want to continue to hire the best talent here, it’s really important, hiring the first 2,5 or 10 people can also identify the company culture.’’

‘’We had a unique experience with AstroLabs, we engaged with them a long time ago because Saudi has always been our target market, Faloos was built for the Saudi market and we wanted local support. We understood the value of having people on the ground, and knew the people that would help move us forward with our process.’’ said Haider Syed, founder of Faloos, a direct Peer-to-Peer payments tool for consumers in Saudi Arabia. Syed also pointed out how he believes that a founder’s job is to focus on growing the business and not break down the setup process, further emphasizing the value of AstroLabs as a partner in their journey.

Building Saudi's next generation of gaming entrepreneurs

The event showcased the top 3 gaming pitches from the GameChangers program, first-of-its-kind initiative spearheaded by the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to develop the gaming ecosystem in Saudi Arabia.

Qindeel Studio, Star Vania, and Seven Lives Studio, pitched to the attendees and gathered interest with a striking female presence among the company founders and team members. Gaming is one of the hottest growth sectors in the country, with Saudi Arabia’s current gaming market size estimated at SR2.6 billion and is expected to reach SR9.5 billion by 2030.

Earlier this week, the GameChangers held its Alpha Demo Day at AstroLabs’ Tech Hub in Riyadh, during which participants pitched their games to a panel of gaming investors and experts and industry leaders.

‘’Since launching in 2013, we trained thousands of young Saudis in tech, ran programs that graduated tens of startups and helped some of the top regional and global companies set up in Saudi and recruit their teams.’’ said Roland Daher, CEO at AstroLabs; ‘’Today, we’re super excited to celebrate the partners, customers and founders we’ve delivered this impact with. Saudi Arabia is developing at an exhilarating rate and AstroLabs will continue to be at the heart of this transformation.’’

The Showcase aims to highlight memorable moments from the AstroLabs journey in MENA, and in KSA. Seasoned entrepreneurs, corporates, ministries and ecosystem stakeholders took the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals at the event.

The event took place in Riyadh, and was launched during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress at the AstroLabs Terrace, Riyadh on March 30, 2022.