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Khaled Ismail Takes Home the Venture Lab Award for Entrepreneurship Impact

From left to right: Sherif Kamel, Dean of School of Business; Khaled Ismail, founder and chairman of Kiangel;
and Ayman Ismail, Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship and AUC Venture lab Director

By Nour Ibrahim 

“To be rewarded like what’s being done to me here today, is a real reward. It’s something that means the world to me. It gives me stamina, it gives me a good reason to continue doing what I do,” said Khaled Ismail, founder and chairman of Kiangel.


On Monday, April 30, Ismail, the man behind Kiangel, an angel investment fund which has been supporting early-stage Egyptian startups since 2011, was awarded the Venture Lab Award (VLA) for Entrepreneurship Impact during the AUC Venture Lab Demo Day.


After he had received the award which was presented by Dean of the School of Business Sherif Kamel and AUC Venture Lab Director and Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship Ayman Ismail, Ismail gave a short speech on the role of mentorship in supporting entrepreneurship.


“You had to start a new company, bootstrap it with no mentorship, no support, no financing, nothing. Today, I’m glad to see things like the V-Lab,” he said comparing the reality of starting a company years ago versus now.


Through his words, Ismail focused on the pleasure he gets from helping startups grow and flourish, describing his relationship with mentorship as an “addiction.”


"There's nothing more rewarding than sitting with someone where after an hour, they come to say: Thank you, this changed the way we're thinking,” he said.


Ismail has been a member of the boards of Feather Invest and Elsewedy Electrometer and ZPA Smart Meters as well as Leap Ventures Investment Committee for the last four years. While he also advises the Egyptian American Enterprise Fund, he is probably best known to the public as one of the prominent judges of the TV show Hona al Shabab.


“You guys here are all lucky. You’re in Cairo, you can access AUC, you can access mentors. Imagine there are people 1000 kilometers away in Aswan who would like a glimpse of the help you are getting over there,” Ismail said addressing the demo day attendees and the pitching entrepreneurs as he delved deeper into the reason why he chose to contribute to the show.


“The purpose was never who wins or who loses. It’s just to reach the masses,” he added.


Dismissing the idea that an entrepreneur can succeed by following a list of Do-s and Don’t-s, Ismail also reaffirmed his belief in the significance of getting the right help. “Anybody can contribute to mentorship, it's just about passing on the experience you have in whatever field you are in,” he said.


However, beyond mentorship, Ismail reminded the attending entrepreneurs of how entrepreneurship is about being able to survive challenges throughout the journey.


“You still have to raise money, you still have to raise money again, you still have to achieve results...You have at the end of the day, a customer that you want to keep satisfied and happy and feeling the value of what you gave to that customer,” he said.

Earlier recipients of the VLA are: Sawari Ventures and Flat6Labs’ Founder Ahmed El Alfi, Kamelizer’s CEO Hanan Abdel Meguid, Hassab Labs’ Mohamed Azab, and Accelero Capital’s CEO Karim Beshara.

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AUC launched AUC Venture Lab (V-Lab) in 2013 which is the first university-based incubator in Egypt. It incubates early-stage and growth-stage startups that are chosen through a selection process that judges the novelty of the idea, the team’s track record and cohesion, scalability and potential for commercialization, as well as the team’s tenacity and commitment to success. Once selected, the startups benefit from training sessions, mentors, student internships and their presence at the AUC School of Business. They also play an active role in the AUC community and Egypt, sharing their entrepreneurial experience with students, faculty members, mentors and investors, as well as a global alumni network.