GSG's Pre-Seed Startup Accelerator

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.

How does it work?

GeeXelerator Hackathon Tryout

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. One team will be selected for the HACKcelerator program, AngelHack’s 12-week acceleration program, and might win a chance to present their product in the Silicon Valley. Teams presenting demos will also be eligible to enter the GeeXelerator program. GSG will accept up to 30 teams to join the GeeXelerator program.

GeeXelerator Program Structure and Outputs

The GeeXelerator Program is divided into three phases:

  1. Coding to develop the most important core feature
  2. Launching publicly online and demonstrating user traction
  3. Business case validation and/or investment preparation

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.

How do I apply?

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:

Part 1: Online 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

Part 2: Hackathon and Product Demos

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:

  • Team:  Who you are, what you do, why you’re here (each team member should be included)
  • Problem/Solution: Provide an elevator pitch about the problem you are trying to solve, your proposed solution, and some data about why your solution is better than existing solutions.
  • Market: How many people have this problem, or how big is the potential market (in people or US Dollars)? There should be enough demand that you and your potential investors can make real money.
  • Product Core Feature: Show us your product’s most important core feature. This is the feature that makes or breaks your startup idea. Ideally, you have already written some code and can show us real features. At a minimum, you must show wireframes or what the front-end user experience is like.

Application and GeeXelerator timeline

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.

  • March 29: Teams will be notified of their acceptance to the Hackathon tryout by
  • April 5-7: The Hackathon tryout takes place
  • Week of April 15: Teams may undergo an idea validation check-in with GSG staff to answer questions and discuss milestones
  • April 19: Teams that present demos at the Hackathon tryout or in a separate demo session to GSG staff will be notified of their full admission to the GeeXelerator program
  • April 28: In-Person orientation for accepted GeeXelerator teams
  • May 3: Start of GeeXelerator Week 1

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of joining GeeXelerator?

  • Up to $2,000 grant money per team for marketing, online services, or other costs. Money is only disbursed after Week 8 to top 10 teams and may only be spent toward deliverables and milestones agreed upon with the GSG GeeXelerator team
  • Access to a limited number of shared coworking desk, electricity, fiber internet, and other amenities in GSG’s co-working hub on a first-come first-serve basis
  • Access to marketing and hosting credit for launching products from companies like Heroku, Hubspot, and Facebook
  • Access to in-person and online mentorship from international experts, software engineers, CEOs, designers, and marketing gurus who have worked at companies like Google, Uber, Soundcloud, and many other companies
  • Access to GSG’s investor network and eligibility to participate in regional startup competitions

Why the Hackathon tryout and demo?

  • When you apply to the GeeXelerartor, you are expected to join the Hackathon and commit to building a prototype and working your way through to the GeeXelerator
  • The hackathon is a 2.5 day-long event in which your team is surrounded by other amazing developers, mentors and the support you’ll need to build a working prototype/demo of your product’s core features. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your teamwork and capabilities to GSG’s team members and meet other GeeXelerator teams
  • Hackathon judges will award prizes to the teams with the best demos that can be used by the teams during the GeeXelerator
  • The Hackathon is an excellent opportunity for teams to get feedback on their product ideas from mentors and GSG staff
  • The hackathon will include workshops and ad-hoc mentoring with Gazan and international startup experts, as well as software engineering mentors.

What are the rules for the HACKcelerator?

1. Fresh Code – We all start coding at the same time. It’s cool to work on designs beforehand, digital mockups, open source frameworks, and anything else available to everyone, but keep things within fair limits.
2. Code Review – Winning teams may be subject to a code-review at some point following the event or immediately before winning. This is to ensure that all code used is in fact fresh.
3. Ownership and IP – You own your IP and whatever you create. Simple as that.
4. Team Size – No more than five people.
5. Submissions – Each hackathon has its individual page where projects need to be submitted by the designated time. You’ll receive an email with instructions on how to do just that.
6. Demos – You’ll have 2 minutes to demo the functionality of your project and talk through your idea, and 1 minute for Q&A from judges.
7. Be cool to your fellow hackers!

How does the Hackathon impact admission to the GeeXelerator program?

  • Teams are admitted to the GeeXelerator primarily based on their founders’ ability to build a prototype of their product’s core features that can be used to get customer initial feedback. If a team cannot produce a prototype/demo of the most basic features they intend to build during 2.5 days of coding and design, then we cannot admit them to the GeeXelerator program.
  • Teams at the end of the hackathon must present a demo of their product that shows judges that the team has the ability to code and build a real product that solves a real problem that many people have. We believe the ability to execute is paramount, and we need to see that you have the ability to transform an idea into a product you can show to customers.

What are the judging criteria for the Hackathon?

Execution: How well did the team execute and explain their problem? Did they demo a working solution?

Fundability: How viable is the business model?

Value Proposition: Does the project create value for customers?

Scalability: How many people / how impactful is this idea?

Design: How well is the app designed? How are the look and feel and UX/UI of the solution?

How will teams accelerate their progress on building their startups during the program?

  • Teams will receive tailored 1×1 mentorship and coaching via interactions with GSG staff, local mentors, and visiting and remote international mentors
  • Teams will build their foundational knowledge via talks, workshops and panel discussions by guest speakers
  • Teams will expand their professional network by meeting with professionals from the right industries during the program, and by pitching to investors and thought leaders from around the world
  • Teams will receive grants and necessary credits for launching their products and marketing it to their target audience

How is the GeeXelerator different from the previous GSG programs, like Gaza Challenge?

There are a few key differences to be aware of:

  • There are no requirements for full-time, in-person work inside GSG
  • In previous years, GSG invested a large amount of time into a smaller number of teams. In this program, GSG is widening the number of teams but providing a lighter touch. By doing so, we are seeking to find the most dedicated, driven founders who have the professional basics to work more autonomously and manage their time, and who take the initiative to draw on the many resources GSG can offer.
  • Progression through this program is entirely deliverables-based. If deliverables are not met on time (e.g. you do not launch your product on time), you do not progress to the next phase. GSG is looking for responsible founders who are organized, communicative, and take initiative– all prerequisites for any business leader.

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.  

How many teams will you accept to the GeeXelerator?

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.

What is required of my team once we are 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!

Can I be removed from GeeXelerator?

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.

Are there specific sectors or markets teams should target?

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.  

What kinds of teams are you looking for?

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.

Do you accept hardware startups or non-tech product ideas?

No, sorry. Given the restrictions on physical goods in Gaza, we can’t support hardware companies at this time.

How many people can be on my team?

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.

What startups have come through Gaza Sky Geeks previous?

Check out our Startups page to see previously incubated and accelerated startups.

What is Gaza Sky Geeks?

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.

Check out our Media page and About Us page for more info.

Do you provide any space for startups at your co-working space?

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.

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