There's no shortage of startup ecosystems in the developing world and conflict areas, but it's not everyday that startups coming from those areas attract the attention of tech giants like Google. But that's what happened to Hussein Nasser Eddin and Laila Akel. Just recently, their startup, Red Crow Intelligence, received $100,000 from Google in credits for their Cloud Platform. Red Crow also received a Google sponsorship to attend the "BlackBox Connect" VC, a leading Silicon Valley accelerator for international startups.
What's their recipe, you might ask? Well, nothing unfamiliar in startup success stories: a compelling value proposition, traction and attractive technology.
Hussein was compelled to start RedCrow after getting his MA in Homeland Security from IDC Herzilya (a leading academic institution in Israel) and noticed how relevant the data shared on social media was to assessing the local security situation. With the ever-deteriorating security situation in Palestine and Israel, such assessments have been in large demandby corporations, diplomatic missions and nonprofits interested in ensuring the security of their supply chains, logistics and staff.
RedCrow Intelligence crunches big data from social media, online news and other sources of information to come up with real time security and risk analysis. The platform provides rich maps and generates tactical recommendations for customers. The startup received its first investment early in 2014 from the FastForward Accelerator in Ramallah, which is the first tech startup accelerator in Palestine. FastForward was established by Leaders Organization in 2013. (Leaders Organization is an NGO dedicated to developing the Palestinian innovation-based economy.)
RedCrow used this seed investment to develop and refine its analysis algorithm and break into the market. It was able to do this, in part, by FastForward's network and the unrelenting work of its two cofounders.
This fall, Hussein and Laila took a trip to Silicon Valley designed to expose Palestinian startups to the Valley ecosystem. The trip was part of a program provided by Leaders Organization called "The Palestinian House in Silicon Valley." The founders were actively evangelizing their startup to different stakeholders they met during this trip, which ended in exposing them to different opportunities, such as meeting with Google Cloud team and meeting Fadi Bishara, the founder of BlackBox. Bishara introduced RedCrow to the Google News Lab team and assisted them in obtaining the scholarship from Google to participate in the Blackbox Connect program, in Palo Alto in December 2015.
The right exposure is key to the success of any startup, and given the restrictions imposed on Palestinian startups, it is even more valuable to them. RedCrow's success in their recent trip to Silicon Valley indicates that Palestinian startups have the right ingredients to succeed in the global marketplace. Adding the great opportunities in the MENA region, it is the perfect time to invest in Palestine.