• Top 5 teams from 65 applicants chosen to present start-up ideas to senior Volkswagen panel at Step Conference 2019
  • Winning team will travel to Germany to take part inVolkswagen Innovation Workshop with Ideation:hub Berlin in April

Dubai:Two young Dubai entrepreneurs who devised a unique ridesharing solution that will reduce travel time and cost have beaten off tough competition to win the Volkswagen Mobility Challenge at Step Conference 2019, one of the region’s largest entrepreneurial showcases. 

Volkswagen Middle East invited young entrepreneurs in the UAE to come up with an early stage innovation that could change the face of the mobility industry. Over 65 applications were received with 10 invited to take part in a closed Bootcamp workshop to hone their ideas in the lead-up to the conference. A final five teams were carefully selected to present live their start-up ideas at Step Conference 2019 to a senior panel of judges that included Deesch Papke, Managing Director for Audi Volkswagen Middle East, Jannis Sutor, Business Innovator and Trend Scouter, Volkswagen, and Bruno Gisquet, Marketing Director, Volkswagen.

The winning idea was arcab – the brainchild of UAE residents Kevin Martin (21) and Bilal Shabandri (21). With the understanding that most people commute using busy public transport or else expensive private transport, arcab was designed to help bridge the gap between price and time through optimized routes in comfortable, shared travel in premium vans. The team is currently working with the Roads & Transport Authority to seamlessly integrate its service into the city, making mass transit better together.

Volkswagen Business Innovator and Trend Scouter, Jannis Sutor, said: “The Middle East region is home to so many forward-thinking people with great start-up ideas and so it was hugely exciting to travel here from Germany to meet the next generation of talented entrepreneurs. The competitors were energetic, enthusiastic, driven and not afraid to push boundaries. The winning team was chosen due to their solid business model and their vision which matches that of Volkswagen – helping to move people forwards – and I’m really looking forward to working with them in Germany soon, to help develop their concept even further.”

Bilal Shabandri, Co-Founder & CEO at arcab said; "When we first heard about the VW Mobility Challenge our team recognized that it was an opportunity that we as a start-up were looking for — to learn from and work with an industry leading automobile partner. The mentorship given to us throughout was invaluable. It taught us to streamline our message; identify opportunities, risks and what it would take to serve people at scale. The challenge was competitive, taking part alongside other innovative concepts in mobility, so we’re humbled to have won. At arcab we believe in creating communities and bringing people together via daily commutes. Both, Kevin and I can’t wait to travel to Germany and see what’s next for arcab in terms of collaboration with the VW Innovation team. One thing for sure, is that we have a lot more to learn and to apply to our work here in the UAE.”

Bruno Gisquet, Marketing Director, Volkswagen Middle East, added: "The Volkswagen Mobility Challenge is further testament to our dedication and nurture of young talent. Many of those who took part are studying at university and have great ideas, they just need a stage and the right support to make their concepts grow and become a real and profitable business. If taking part in this year’s Step Conference has allowed them to bring their innovations to life and given the opportunity to meet with mentors who helped them fine-tune their projects, then we have achieved our goal. All of them are the future stars and we will be watching their progress with great interest.”

The lucky winners will now be flown out to Germany to attend the Volkswagen Innovation Workshop with Ideation:hub Berlin in April as well as the opportunity to learn from a 6 months paid internship within Audi Volkswagen Middle East company.


Dhwani Sanganee
Account Executive
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Dubai Media City
Dubai, UAE
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M: + 971 55 119 1179
T: + 971 4 390 1630

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