Dubai Future Foundation’s Global Startup Accelerator

How we designed and delivered an end-to-end mentorship and training programme equipping participating founders at Dubai with an all-online learning and networking experience
Focus Areas
Product Development, Accelerator Programme, Market Expansion

Between February and April 2021, the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) hosted 11 Italian startups participating in the second edition of the Global Startup Programme, an initiative by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), for the first time in Dubai and the UAE.  

The programme supports the startups with investment opportunities in other countries, including Germany, France, Japan, the US and UK, enabling them to expand their business.

The challenge: Learning and training for early-stage startup founders during COVID-19

As startups are adapting their businesses to a world of remote working and isolation in an ongoing pandemic, accelerators like the Global Startup Programme are going virtual.

In light of COVID restrictions, DFF needed to organise a series of live and online business skills workshops—delving into product development, sales and market expansion, and fundraising—for the participants of the 8-week accelerator programme that retained the engagement of an in-person programme.

The solution: End-to-end business mentorship and training programme

As DFF’s learning partner, we designed and delivered an end-to-end mentorship and training programme that provided the participating founders at Dubai with an all-online learning and networking experience.

The programme consisted of a series of virtual business workshops that aimed to address the needs of the early-stage startups, propelling them and their business with mentorship opportunities with our global network of business leaders and entrepreneurs.

The results: Founders left workshops with greater clarity and skills to lead their startups more strategically

Our post-workshop surveys discovered that 100% of the participating founders agreed that attending the workshops were a good use of their time.

These participants are leaders at up-and-coming startups operating in a variety of industries: from cybersecurity to space research, the circular economy, and smart cities.

Some founders also shared that the workshops have either helped validate their current strategies or highlighted ways on how they ought to improve their business. They even reached out to continue conversations with the speakers and instructors outside of class.

Lessons learned

Lesson #1: Early stage startups need to be smart on how to scale and grow rapidly.

By tailoring learning content to the skills and knowledge gaps of the early-stage startups, founders can gain valuable insight from mentoring sessions, taking away practical information and frameworks that they can use to help level up their business.

Lesson #2: In a post-pandemic world, cross-border collaboration and a supportive global ecosystem will drive innovation.

By curating business leaders who are intimately familiar with the startup ecosystem in Dubai and UAE, the participants were able to build strong ties with the global startup ecosystem.

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