Sprii wins Alibaba-backed start-up championship

RetailME Bureau

UAE-based online business Sprii was named MEA (the Middle East and Africa) regional champion of the Create@Alibaba Cloud Startup Program. This concluded the regional contests in China and 12 overseas markets that took this year. All the regional champions will gather in Shanghai on October 13-14 to compete for the global championship.

More than 200 business cases were submitted from a wide range of start-ups in MEA, covering areas such as e-commerce, taxation, online marketing and finance. Create@Alibaba Cloud, taking place in MEA for the second year, is a global start-up programme initiated by Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group. The programme aims to empower start-ups across the globe with Alibaba Cloud’s comprehensive support network and innovative suite of cloud computing infrastructure services.

Following an intensive pitch process, Sprii was announced as regional winner and awarded the equivalent of $50,000 credit for Alibaba Cloud computing technology services.

“We are excited to be representing MEA in the Shanghai finals. Our e-commerce services rely on strong computing capabilities. Winning this competition will support our global expansion as we will become able to serve clients internationally through the global cloud infrastructure of Alibaba Cloud,” says Sarah Jones, CEO and founder of Sprii.

As part of the programme, the start-ups competing in the MEA championship will receive free credits equivalent to $10,000 for Alibaba Cloud services as well as customised technology solutions designed by Alibaba Cloud architects. These benefits will help them scale their businesses rapidly and smoothly. In addition, they will obtain better access to international market opportunities facilitated by Alibaba’s global network, and will benefit from networking with various venture capital investors within Alibaba’s ecosystem.

“Create@Alibaba Cloud celebrates the innovation of start-ups and provides these exciting drivers of change with access to Alibaba Cloud’s expertise, global resources and incubation support. In MEA, it is encouraging to see such a wide range of aspiring entrepreneurs emerging from different corners of the region, and not just a few locations. We are also pleased to see that innovative ideas are directed at solving regional challenges as this aligns perfectly with Alibaba Cloud’s vision. We believe that small and medium businesses everywhere can address pressing matters globally by effectively utilising technological advancements,” stresses Dan Hu, head of MEA, Alibaba Cloud.

Alibaba Cloud hosted the MEA regional competition in partnership with Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC).

“We are delighted to partner with Alibaba, an internationally recognised pioneer in digital disruption, to help young, ambitious entrepreneurs showcase their latest creations in the growing industry of cloud computing. A main pillar for us at DIFC has always been to support the implementation of new ideas that will help evolve the financial services sector across the region. As one of the top ten global financial centres and the leading financial hub for the MEASA region, we are committed to providing our members with access to the latest technology, a robust regulatory and legal framework as well as a collaborative ecosystem,” adds Salmaan Jaffery, chief business development officer, DIFC.

This year’s competition was judged by the following industry leaders:

  • Ulugbek Yuldashev, founder & CEO, AWOK.com
  • Walid Mansour, managing partner, MEVP
  • Karim Khattar, CPO, Fetchr
  • Prashant K Gulati, technology innovator, angel investor, mentor, idea accelerator and commentator
  • Najam Kidwai, venture partner, Princeville Global
  • Dan Hu, head of MEA, Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud’s strong support has proven a key success factor for start-ups. Marhababy, a mother and baby product e-commerce platform founded in 2013 by Dutch female entrepreneur Eveline Sleeboom in Dubai, was empowered by cloud products and services provided by Alibaba Cloud including container, database and traffic distribution after winning last year’s Create@Alibaba Cloud MEA championship. It also received one-on-one coaching on digital marketing and operations optimization, has now established a stable e-commerce platform equipped with targeted marketing capability and has seen significant growth in user numbers and transaction volume.

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