Interview with Deepak Ahuja, Co-Founder & CEO of iAccel Gulf Business Incubator

Interview with Deepak Ahuja, Co-Founder & CEO of iAccel Gulf Business Incubator

In the backdrop of Dubai’s emergence as a dynamic hub for the Middle East’s startup ecosystem, iAccel GBI has been diligently fostering the growth of technology startups aiming to flourish in the region. Spearheaded by Deepak Ahuja, a seasoned investor, iAccel GBI is a certified accelerator by the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) that assists early-stage tech startups in transforming their innovative ideas into thriving businesses.

Delve into the essence of iAccel Gulf Business Incubator as Deepak Ahuja, co-founder and CEO, shares its vision, strategies, and the impact the company is making on the startup landscape in the region.

"Click here to view a list of business Business Incubators & Co-working Spaces in Dubai."

Vision and Mission

At its core, iAccel GBI envisions itself as a comprehensive ecosystem player in the UAE and the wider Middle East. The company's primary objective is to nurture tech companies, establish an angel network, and foster a vibrant startup community. Additionally, iAccel GBI aims to support female entrepreneurship and launch its own VC funds in the near future, further solidifying its role in driving innovation and sustainable growth in the region.

Ahuja's rich background in banking and insurance, coupled with his passion for entrepreneurship, laid the groundwork for iAccel GBI's inception. Motivated by a keen eye for investment and a desire to actively contribute to the success of startups, he recognized the potential for global expansion among successful startups in various countries. He continues,

"Dubai has been a global hub for business expansion for many years. And of late, the government of UAE has been very keen to foster the startup ecosystem."

Ahuja saw an opportunity in Dubai’s stature as a global business hub. This led him to found iAccel Gulf Business Incubator in March 2023. With the UAE poised to become a platform for tech innovation, Ahuja's vision aligns seamlessly with the country's trajectory towards innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainable growth.

Leveraging Networks

With a deep-rooted background in banking and insurance spanning over 22 years, Deepak Ahuja draws upon his extensive experience to tailor the services provided to tech startups. His wealth management tenure exposed him to many High-Net-Worth Individuals (HNIs) and their businesses. He comments,

"The journey in BFSI gave me a lot of insights. I think the startups in this country benefited hugely from the expertise of existing networks."

Recognizing the importance of imparting knowledge, Ahuja leveraged his connections to establish an Angel Network within iAccel GBI, comprising not only investors but also mentors and advisors. Born out of his interactions in the BFSI sector, this network serves as a vital resource for startups, offering them market access and strategic guidance. His profound understanding of the financial services industry became instrumental in shaping iAccel GBI’s success story.

The key aspect of their strategy lies in acceleration, leveraging their extensive network to expedite market entry, typically within three months. This network includes mentors, advisors, investors, and access to government bodies and regulators. Crediting his co-founder Anishka for instrumentalizing the creation of this network, Ahuja underscores its diversity, spanning various verticals including technology, healthcare, banking, retail, and logistics. The network serves as a valuable resource, facilitating strategic partnerships, market access, and customization of solutions tailored to the UAE market. Ahuja envisions exponential growth of this network in the coming years and says,

"We are laying the foundation stone for the angel network, which is essential for every thriving startup ecosystem."

Business Approach

iAccel GBI employs a multifaceted strategy to support startups in navigating the complexities of the UAE market and achieving strategic market entry. Initially, the team ensures that startups have a viable use case for the geography, filtering out those without a potential market. Once validated, iAccel GBI provides a robust value proposition and assists them in establishing their entity here. Additionally, iAccel GBI offers office space in its co-working facilities.

iAccel GBI prides itself on tailoring its diverse range of services to meet the specific needs of early-stage startups. Unlike many incubators, iAccel GBI focuses on companies with existing revenue streams rather than merely ideas. This approach ensures that startups have already validated their concepts and possess a client base. The company provides extensive mentorship through its network of experienced professionals who offer guidance tailored to each startup’s unique challenges and opportunities. Additionally, iAccel GBI facilitates access to funding through its growing Angel network and collaborates with NGOs eager to support startup ventures. As startups progress to the growth stage, iAccel GBI remains poised to facilitate introductions to relevant government bodies and regulatory authorities, leveraging its partnerships with Dubai SME and the Dubai Economic Department.

Aligning with Government Initiatives

iAccel GBI's vision aligns closely with the UAE government's agenda to position the country as a global technology innovation hub. Ahuja highlights their focus on bringing cutting-edge tech companies to the region. The company has incubated 15 pioneering tech startups across various sectors such as fintech, edtech, healthtech, agritech, and cyber tech. These startups, armed with advanced technologies, are poised to make a lasting impact and establish the UAE as a center of excellence in innovation. With a commitment to driving long-term economic growth, iAccel GBI's endeavors are aligned with the vision of the Dubai government and are set to leave a legacy that spans generations. Ahuja says,

"The businesses we are bringing in will leave a lasting impact, potentially shaping the Dubai and UAE economies for the next 25 to 50 years.”

Success Stories

Over the past year, iAccel GBI has nurtured a dozen remarkable startups, each with its own compelling success story. Notable among these is ERB, also known as Finqy, a fintech endeavor that swiftly transitioned from India to the UAE. ERB streamlines customer onboarding processes for numerous banks and insurance companies. With iAccel GBI's support, ERB secured significant funding, engaged with key industry players, and successfully onboarded a local CEO. Similarly, iAccel GBI facilitated the entry of ‘Dozee’, a health-tech company, into the market. Dozee's innovative remote monitoring system, proven effective in over 200 hospitals in India, garnered significant interest in the UAE healthcare sector. Leveraging iAccel GBI's network, Dozee secured letters of intent from major hospitals, navigated regulatory approvals, and even laid the groundwork for expansion into the African market.

With iAccel GBI's dedicated focus on sectors like education, fintech, and healthtech, the UAE is poised to lead the evolution of these industries in the broader MENA region. Through initiatives like the establishment of DIFC and ADGM, the UAE has laid the groundwork for financial innovation. iAccel GBI further exemplifies this with the introduction of companies like ERB and 'KLUB' into the region. Ed-tech companies like ‘Accreda’ and ‘Einstem’ have also been brought forth by them.

Future Plans and Expansion

Looking ahead, iAccel GBI aims to further solidify its position as a leader in tech startup support in the Gulf region. Future plans include a dedicated focus on supporting female entrepreneurship through initiatives led by co-founder Anishka, such as the iThrive vertical. Additionally, close collaboration with Dubai SME is on the horizon, alongside the establishment of an internal fund to provide sustained financial support to startups. Geographical expansion is also on the agenda, with entry into the Saudi market planned within the next 12 to 18 months, followed by further expansion into neighboring regions over the next 3 to 5 years.

Driven by Deepak Ahuja’s visionary leadership, iAccel GBI remains steadfast in its mission to drive innovation, empower entrepreneurs, and contribute to the long-term economic growth and development of the Gulf region.

Watch the full interview:

Also Read:

Interview with Vadim Fedotov, Founder & CEO of Bioniq, A Tailor-made Health Supplements Provider
Bioniq is popular for offering personalized supplements tailored to individual needs. Explore the innovative journey as Vadim Fedotov, founder and CEO of Bioniq, shares insights into the intricacies of the company.
Interview with Karim Nadi, CEO & Co-Founder of RemotePass, Leading All-In-One HR Platform
Explore the story behind RemotePass’s rise to prominence as Karim Nadi, CEO & Co-Founder of RemotePass, shares the company’s vision for a more inclusive and flexible workforce ecosystem.
Interview with Philippe Mathijs - Leadership Coaching and Advisory
Philippe Mathijs is a renowned award-winning coach with over three decades of experience garnered from navigating diverse industries and cultures. Stay tuned as Philippe Mathijs shares invaluable insights into the founding vision of his coaching venture.
Interview with Vish Narain, Executive Chairman of TruDoc, Premier Telemedicine Provider in Dubai
Explore the pioneering journey of TruDoc, a pioneering digital health company, as Vish Narain, executive chairman, sheds light on the future trajectory and the company’s recent acquisition of Wellthy.
Interview with Naila Al Moosawi, Founder & CEO of Amal - Counselling for a Better Tomorrow
Recognizing the growing need for affordable and accessible mental health support, Naila Al Moosawi established Amal – Counselling For a Better Tomorrow. Explore the depth of Amal’s initiatives in a conversation with its founder.
Dark Light