InFlavour ended its three-day run at Riyadh Exhibition and Conference Centre with the region’s growing start-up industry at the top of the menu. The Five-Star Pitch Fest, a three-day knock-out competition for F&B start-ups, saw 33 semi-finalists battle it out on stage to impress the 24 investors-turned-judges and secure one of six finalist spots.
The grand finale welcomed His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, the founder and CEO of KBW Ventures, alongside industry veterans Andrew D Ive, founder and managing general partner of Big Idea Ventures, and Dana Al Salem, founder of Merit Capital, as part of the judging panel, who scored the start-ups based on how each tackled creativity, innovation, potential, functionality, impact, and people and society.
Later on in the same stage, the industry’s brightest and best start-ups compete to win one of three coveted prizes: The ‘Plant The Idea Award’ for the best early-stage start-up included a US$10,000 prize; ‘Flourishing Founder Award’ celebrated the best well-established start-up and also provided a prize of US$10,000; while the ‘InFlavour Award’ was given to the most impressive startup overall, rewarding the winners with a cheque for US$30,000.
Taking home the ‘Plant The Idea Award’ for best early-stage start-up was Saudi-based Terraxy, a spin-off from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Commercialising its SandX and CarboSoil technologies, Terraxy aims to address the ongoing challenges posed by harsh and arid environments by ultimately providing low-cost and environmentally friendly solutions for growing plants in deserts.
The ‘Flourishing Founder Award’ for best well-established start-up, meanwhile, was Saudi-based Barakah, an online marketplace that enables food retailers to sell their surplus products and meals to consumers at heavily discounted prices.
Taking home the ‘InFlavour Award’ and its US$30,000 prize was US-based A Dozen Cousins, a natural food brand that makes convenient and nutrient-rich meals, side dishes, and sauces inspired by traditional Creole, Caribbean and Latin American recipes.
“I was thrilled to showcase our brand and what we’ve built over the years,” said Ibraheem Basir, company founder and CEO. “It was so refreshing to hear all the pitches and it’s always a privilege to emerge as the winner. Looking ahead, our future involves continued growth, expanding distribution, and entering new markets. The prize money will help us expand our team and allocate resources efficiently.”
Speaking on the experience of judging some of the most innovative start-ups in the F&B ecosystem, HRH Prince Khaled added: “It has been an incredible three days of pitches. We’ve seen some truly groundbreaking innovations and products from around the world. It is really exciting to see how these start-ups plan to transform not only the wider world’s F&B landscape, but also specifically Saudi Arabia’s. Congratulations once again to all participants and especially the three winners.”