ATM 2022 offers golden fundraising chance

Danielle Curtis is Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market

Dubai’s remarkable evolution from a small trading port to global trade, travel and tourism hub in less than fifty years, is testimony to the vision and ambition of its leaders, who have provided a vibrant economic environment, in which innovative and driven entrepreneurs have thrived.

According to Dubai SME, the entrepreneurship-focused arm of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for approximately 95 percent of companies operating in the emirate, contributing almost 40 percent of the economy’s added value and 42 percent of employment. When it comes to innovation, there is clearly something in the water.

The fact that entrepreneurs represent the backbone of Dubai’s economy, not to mention that of the wider UAE, is a major driving force behind the success of Arabian Travel Market (ATM). Now in its 29th year, ATM 2022 will be held at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 9-12 May, in conjunction with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

While Dubai’s entrepreneurial successes may often grab the lion’s share of column inches, it’s far from the only SME-conducive environment in the region – another factor that has benefitted ATM significantly over the years. Nations across the Gulf and wider Arab world boast long and proud histories of innovation. When it comes to individuals possessed of a ‘can-do attitude’, the Middle East is undoubtedly a global hotspot.

This is particularly evident within the region’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry, which has succeeded in building and maintaining its world-leading status thanks, in no small part, to this spirit of innovation. And as our sector continues to recover and rebuild in the wake of the global pandemic, never has this spirit been in such high demand.

ATM 2022 has therefore joined forces with AladdinB2B and Draper Associates to launch the inaugural ATM Draper-Aladdin Start-up Competition, which will take place on the ATM Travel Tech Stage on Tuesday 10 May. As part of this exciting initiative, 15 start-ups from across the travel, tourism and hospitality sector will be given the opportunity to pitch for up to $500,000 of funding.

Spanning the segments of travel and transportation, hospitality tech, and experiences and attractions, each pitch will last for five minutes and will be followed by a five-minute Q&A session with ATM’s panel of industry judges. The top-scoring pitch will secure a minimum investment of $30,000, up to a maximum of $500,000, as well as a Draper-Aladdin Start-up Competition (DASC) certificate.

In addition, the winning team will be given the chance to compete for a further $500,000 of funding on Tim Draper’s hugely popular television show, Meet the Drapers, where they will also gain access to a crowdfunding network of 12 million viewers.

The aim of the ATM Draper-Aladdin Start-up Competition is to help intensify the race to a sustainable future for travel and tourism, enabling us to showcase technologies and innovations from the brightest minds in travel, transportation, hospitality, experiences and attractions. Aside from a golden fundraising opportunity and global exposure, each finalist will be given access to a booking and matchmaking platform powered by AladdinB2B and Draper VC, as well as the option to secure a pod located in ATM 2022’s start-up area.

And while I cannot wait to see how this year’s competition pans out, I’m also excited about the value that will be added by our industry experts. Competition judges will be on hand to share their extensive start-up experience, offering tips on the most effective fundraising methods, the biggest challenges faced by new ventures, and the best channels to reach investors.

So, if you have an idea that you think could help drive innovation within the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, what are you waiting for? Visit the ATM Travel Tech page to learn more about this incredible opportunity, and who knows… Perhaps you could take your idea to the next level thanks to our first ever ATM Draper-Aladdin Start-up Competition.

Good luck!

* Danielle Curtis is Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market