The GeeXelerator is an intensive 16-week pre-seed startup accelerator program that aims to help teams build a usable product with only the most essential core features, validate the core product feature with users, launch the feature online for public use, and scale their product’s user base.
Selected teams are expected to make significant progress towards identifying their target market, building a product feature that addresses real users’ problems, securing initial users, and making a strong business case for the product investors by the end of the 16-week program. Teams will run data-driven experiments to validate or invalidate their product’s core feature’s practical use with potential customers. They will define and refine their target market, and automate processes for scaling the products to reach more people.
To be eligible for the GeeXelerator program, applying teams must be able to present a 3-minute demo of their product’s core features and business value proposition to the Gaza Sky Geeks GeeXelerator staff. All teams applying to the GeeXelerator program should participate in GSG’s GeeXelerator hackathon tryout, which will be held on April 5-7, 2018. The hackathon tryout is your best opportunity to intensely prepare your prototype’s demo, show GSG your team’s ability to work together and help us get to know you over three days. All participating teams will present their demo at the end of the hackathon. If your team cannot participate in the Hackathon tryout, we can offer you a demo session to present your idea in the demo day at the end of the Hackathon. You will be considered for the GeeXelerator program but you won’t be competing for the Hackathon prize with other teams. All teams seeking admission are highly encouraged to participate in the Hackathon.
Teams presenting demos at the hackathon will be ranked by judges and eligible for prizes worth up to $1000. Teams that present demos will also be eligible to enter the GeeXelerator program.
The GeeXelerator Program is divided into three phases:
Each week, teams work on a set of outputs or deliverables that will build on each other week after week to ensure you are making progress. At the end of each week, teams must submit the deliverables to the GeeXelerator program staff for review and assessment in a Google Sheets workbook. The staff provides feedback and a numeric grade indicating the quality of the deliverables to let teams know if they are on track or not.
To move from one phase to the next, teams must adequately pass a major milestone such as launching online and pitching to GeeXelerator staff. Week to week grades and feedback are to provide guidance to teams to let them know if they are on track.
At the beginning of each week, local or International mentors will deliver 2-4 hours of workshops at GSG’s office on the theme of that week’s deliverables to help participants understand the theme of that week’s work. In addition, teams will have access to weekly office hours with GSG staff and local and international mentors to ask questions and get feedback throughout the week.
The GeeXelerator Program will culminate with a demo day where remaining teams who have passed the program milestones have the opportunity to pitch to potential investors, as well as potentially travel to regional startup competitions such as Startup Istanbul.
Want to know more? Check out the detailed program timeline.
The GeeXelerator program is heavily deliverables-based and you will be evaluated, and advance through the program, based on the quality and professionalism of the outputs you deliver. As such, teams are not required to work in Gaza Sky Geeks or necessarily work on their product full-time. A critical part of being an entrepreneur is managing your own time. Teams are expected to attend weekly workshops and participate in scheduled mentorship sessions, and to deliver work on time. If teams fail to communicate with GSG staff about obstacles or missed deliverables, they will be unlikely to advance through the program’s later stages and have the opportunity to meet with investors.
Applications to the GSG GeeXelerator program will be open on February 27 and are due at 11:59 pm March 25.
Applicants should apply through the online application form.
Each team should submit one online application. There are two parts to the application:
Applying teams fill out the online application form in which they will outline the problem they are trying to solve, how they were inspired to solve this problem, their proposed solution, and how they believe this solution might support a sustainable stand-alone business.
Applicants who can’t participate in the hackathon need to indicate that in the application and we will assess their situation and invite them to present their product in the Hackathon’s demo day
Teams that do not compete in the GeeXelerator tryout hackathon will not be eligible for hackathon prizes
Applicants who pass an initial screen will be expected to join the GeeXelerator hackathon tryout, at the end of which they should present their core feature demo to GSG’s panel of judges. Teams that present a demo that meets basic requirements will be invited to participate in the GeeXelerator. If your team is for some reason unable to participate in the hackathon tryout and demo session, the entire team must come to GSG’s office for an interview and provide a 3-minute product demo that covers:
The Part 1 applications to join the GeeXelerator Hackathon tryout will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Teams are also highly encouraged to visit the GSG office throughout February and March to introduce themselves in person, discuss product ideas, and let us get to know them.
There are a few key differences to be aware of:
In the past, GSG held a week-long series of workshops, mentoring, hacking, and pitching to educate applicants on the basics of startups and help them through the process. This year, we are prioritizing demos of product features and introducing topics in a more gradual way and only when relevant. We don’t want to overwhelm teams with information, and so, for example, will only begin to speak with you about marketing once you are clearly nearing launching your product publicly online..
Our goal for your team at the end of the GeeXelerator is to have a functional product online that customers want to use. Only then will we begin to talk about investment and other topics—without a product and users, your startup is just an idea.
We expect to select up to 40 teams to start in the GeeXelerator, and a maximum of 5 teams will be selected to participate in regional startup competitions and pitch to investors. GSG has full discretion over the number of teams selected.
Commitment is critical. Every cofounder should be willing and able to commit 10-15 hours/week of time and energy to reaching out to customers, launching a fully usable product with main functional features, and solving a real problem in the world. We are also looking for people who are prepared to contribute to the community of teams in the accelerator by committing to coming to workshops once a week at our co-working space, using our mentorship network and connections to your fullest benefit, engaging in GSG’s programming activities, and actively sharing and learning with other founders in the program. We expect that you all come to the program with an open mind and great attitude ready to learn, improve and launch your product!
Yes. GSG’s time and resources are very limited, just like yours. We cannot afford to waste resources on teams that are not committed, as it also takes time and resources away from the more committed teams. We will ask you to sign several agreements if you are accepted that outline our expectations (for example, missing meetings with mentors, failing to present deliverables or meet milestones, etc.). If you are removed from GeeXelerator because of lack of commitment, you will be required to repay any grant funding that you may have received from GSG and our partners.
We are interested in two types of businesses:
1) Highly Scalable Products: We are interested in startups that have the potential to scale (e.g. reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of customers). There should be potential to target large markets in the MENA Region or around the world. However, your idea should also be able to be tested here in Gaza/West Bank. For example, because of the limitations on travel, it is very hard for Gazan teams to launch a startup serving customers in the US or Europe because of the difficulties in talking with customers and lack of familiarity with the markets. You should first focus on customer segments and specific markets where you can actually pick up the phone to talk with or meet in person with your first users. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to know what your users really want.
2) Highly Profitable Products for Local Palestinian Market: We recognize that not all online products launched from Palestine can achieve large-scale or may be appropriate for venture investment. Alternatively, we are interested in product ideas that may be targeting the local market, but these products must a) be technology driven, and b) must be able to demonstrate rapid revenue generation potential. If a founder decides to focus on the local market, it must be able to demonstrate that the product can achieve revenue generation quickly, and be highly profitable as a substitute for product scalability.
You are self-learners. Before thinking to ask someone something, you Google it first. You are willing to adapt, be flexible, and learn quickly. You or someone on your team is outgoing and not afraid to cold call users and accept tough feedback about your idea or product. You are passionate about your idea and have a clear vision of a problem you are trying to solve—ideally one you have faced yourself. You have a co-founder who is a software developer or are partnering with one who will help you get your prototype off the ground. You ideally have professional work experience.
No, sorry. Given the restrictions on physical goods in Gaza, we can’t support hardware companies at this time.
There is not set number, but at the pre-product stage you should really not have more than four members and all should be founder-level participants. It should be clear what value each person brings to the team at this stage. You also should not focus on titles, but on describing what each person contributes. Titles like CEO or COO really do not mean anything before you have a product or users, so when we ask you what your team members do, tell us what you actually do, not what your title is. If you have other people working on the project (interns, etc.), that is okay, but don’t include them on your application. If you don’t need a cofounder, then you should demonstrate that you can build your product yourself.
Check out our Startups page to see previously incubated and accelerated startups.
GSG is the leading co-working space, startup accelerator, and technology education hub in Gaza. We bring together online freelancers, outsourcers, and startup founders together under one roof to share ideas, learn, innovate, code, and geek out!
Founded in 2011 in partnership with Google and the international NGO Mercy Corps, we began by holding the first Startup Weekends in Gaza and expanding education about tech entrepreneurship. In 2014, we began working with individual startup founders to grow their businesses outside of Gaza and to develop our own incubation curriculum. In 2014 and 2015, we facilitated the first venture investments into Gazan startups.
GSG is a program of Mercy Corps, and as such works hard to leverage its international presence and network. We are a part of Google for Entrepreneurs’ partner network, receive support from Techstars, support from 500 Startups, and other world class accelerators around the world, all of which benefits our entrepreneurs.
This program allows for people to work from their homes or somewhere other than GSG co-working space. However, we have a limited number of seats reserved for GeeXelerator teams in our co-working space. These are on a first come first served basis. If you want to work from here, you need to come early. We cannot guarantee dedicated desks for individuals participating in the program.