2019 got off to a roaring start here at 3 Day Startup with the ATX+EGY Checkpoint program. While 2018 wrapped up with the bustle and joy of the holiday season, we were working hard to bring Checkpoint to Cairo, Egypt in early February.
Checkpoint was the first part of the multi-year “Launch” engagement in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the City of Austin, and American University in Cairo.
The story actually began several years earlier when 3DS CEO Alexis Taylor headed to Egypt as a Gabr Fellow. The fellowship enables leaders from various industries around the world to foster peace, greater international empathy, and cross-cultural understanding in their work. Upon returning from Egypt, Alexis continued working with Casey Smith from the City of Austin, another Gabr Fellow, towards an expansive, multi-year project incorporating young creatives and startup founders throughout Egypt.
This partnership with the City of Austin led to a lasting relationship with the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Once funding was secured, a final partner was brought on board to handle much of the local, on-the-ground work. That partner was the American University in Cairo.
The partners then set out to recruit the most promising entrepreneurs and creatives throughout Egypt, with a special emphasis on those that would thrive in international markets, and were potentially interested in expanding to Austin, TX. Recruitment also focused on current entrepreneurs and creatives who had already shown a track record of success in their endeavors.
In early February, 3DS’ Senior Program Manager Maia Patrick Donohue headed to Egypt, along with the City of Austin’s David Kurtenbach, to deliver the 3DS Checkpoint program to a carefully selected group of 30 Egyptian entrepreneurs. The participants represented an incredibly diverse collection of industries, with founders working on everything from virtual reality, to backpacks made of recycled bottles.
Day one of Checkpoint focused heavily on pitching startups in a conversational setting, as well as how to develop strong human capital and understand market challenges.
The focus of day two shifted to mentorship, and how participants could make the most of mentorship relationships, both in Cairo, as well as those they might develop in Austin. This day also covered the popular topic of fundraising, and included a deep-dive into how to navigate funding in the U.S., and particularly in Austin.
Finally, day three was about one-on-one mentorship, wrapping up the Checkpoint program by looking at how participants had evolved, and what their next steps were. Nadine, a founder delivering sustainable, delicious baked goods, came to clarity about cofounder issues with which she had been struggling for months. Salma and Mohamed, two founders working on a media company, were reaching out U.S. mentors they’d meet through the 3DS Global Network to pick up some best practices on how to grow their company.
While ATX+EGY Checkpoint wrapped up in early February, this engagement was only the beginning. Ten of the assembled participants were chosen to travel to Austin, Texas for a two week deep dive into the city’s thriving startup scene. Several of them, such as Amira, who makes women’s shoes, and Ahmed, who makes online games, were connected to mentors in the 3DS Global Network with whom they will meet upon arriving in Austin.
In December 2019 a contingent of Austinites will return to Cairo, and finally, one Checkpoint participant will return to Austin a second time for SXSW 2020.
In addition to offering programming and workshops, 3 Day Startup excels at connecting our alumni into our global community of founders and leaders. Whether in Austin or in Cairo, we are excited to continue playing a role in helping entrepreneurs and creatives of the 3DS ATX+EGY Checkpoint program grow and excel.