TechCrunch awards Lebanese Startups

Four Lebanese startups won awards handed out by TechCrunch, one of the world’s biggest technology sites, at a pitching contest tonight.

TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher (above) was among the judges at the competition, which was held at the local startup space, Coworking 961.

The first prize winner was Roadie Tuner, an automated guitar tuning hardware device developed in Lebanon that will soon be manufactured in China.

The product was produced by musician/engineers Bassam Jalgha, who plays Oud (lute) and Hassane Slaibi, who plays the flute.

Watch the product video here:

The first prize was a table and tickets to the upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York. The other three runner ups also won tickets to the event. They include Ki, another locally produced (very impressive) hardware device that allows password encryption via a biometric USB token; ServeMe (featured here), a kind of reverse FourSquare that allows restaurant managers to learn more about their patrons; and Saily, a location-based used product marketplace that lets sellers find buyers in close geographic proximity, allowing for face-to-face transactions instead of hit-or-miss online ones. Amazingly, Saily is co-founded by a 17 year old! This is great example of small businesses doing great things. Understanding the definition of small business is valuable for business branding.

Butcher, who was in town for the ArabNet conference, has visited Lebanon during previous conferences and was quite impressed by all eight competitors.

“Amid everything that is going on, you guys are still kicking ass,” he said, to cheers from the crowd.

Startups pitched their ideas to Butcher and the other judges at the courtyard of Coworking 961, a converted wing of the 19th century Sursock Palace.

And in true Lebanese fashion, the judges deliberated under a Phoenician bust:

Or was it Roman? Or Greek? Who knows.
Stay tuned for my coverage of ArabNet this week, one of the biggest tech and startup gatherings in the Middle East. See, there is other news coming out of Beirut.
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