Pitching to a potential investor is a daunting experience at the best of times. Some eager entrepreneurs in Dubai recently took it up a notch by delivering high-pressure elevator pitches at an altitude of 4,000 metres, in the hopes of taking home mentorship and a cash prize.
To enter the 'Pitch Up In The Sky' competition, an event where skydiving meets Dragon's Den, companies had to have less than $500,000 in funding, be from the Middle East or Africa and be focused on healthcare, education, artificial intelligence, media & entertainment or transportation.
Finalists were selected by an impressive panel of judges, including the inventor of Google Maps, Lars Rasmussen; the first investor of Zoom, Bill Tai; and a founding executive of Netflix, Mitch Lowe.
Adam Ridgeway was one of three selected to take the skydive challenge, representing One Moto, a brand of electric motorcycles, designed and developed for innercity commuters and the delivery community.
Joining him was Dubai native Layaly Haddad. She was seeking investment for her brainchild 'My Lilybox'. The woman-focused brand is the first period essentials subscription box in the UAE.
The last finalist was uMore founder Alejandro Serrano who introduced his AI-powered mental well-being tracker which helps users build positive habits, change behaviours and share progress with family and physicians.
The budding entrepreneurs had just 60 seconds before the jump to sell their business idea to Marcus Muenster, founder of investment fund The Gritti Fund and organiser of the event.
It was the calm and composed Alejandro Serrano of uMore that took home the prize, receiving over €8,000 and one year of mentorship from The Gritti Fund.
The uMore app allows users to measure and track stress and offers evidence-based recommendations. It also encourages people to share results with family and friends. uMore founder Alejandro Serrano compared it to a FitBit but for well-being.
“So even in times of isolation, we can all stay connected and all understand how we're doing,” explained Serrano. “We want to learn from the past and build a much better future for the wellness of everyone.”
“During COVID, uncertainty, isolation and also poor economic security has led to well-being issues and challenges for so many people within the region. In July we saw record numbers of people looking for psychologists,” Serrano added.
“We can learn from the past to try and improve our future situation. During the SARS epidemic in 2005 there was a lot of research to suggest that support was needed and also being looked for. And in the MENA region especially, you see one psychologist, every hundred thousand people in the population.”
"Number two, you then get evidence-based recommendations from the cutting edge of science to help improve the stress level.