Financial Times recognizes Instabeat Founder as a Rising Female Entrepreneur. Check out the full feature and learn about the challenges she overcame and learn about other rising entrepreneurs. Did you know that Instabeat’s first name was Butterfleye?
In historically Greek Orthodox Achrafieh in east Beirut, bicycles rest outside the Kiosk, a former Ottoman bathhouse in the Sursock palace gardens. The restored villa houses Coworking +961, a start-up services provider set up by Fadel three years ago amid soaring rents and named after the country dialling code. One of nine resident companies is Butterflye — an exemplar of innovation. Hind Hobeika was an engineering student at AUB and a competitive swimmer when she invented Instabeat — a device for swimming goggles that monitors and displays heartbeat and other data on the lenses, and record the athlete’s progress. She honed the prototype in 2010 on Stars of Science, a Qatar television reality contest (“they lock you in the lab for four months”), winning third prize — the only woman in the top five.
The contest was empowering, says Hobeika. Berytech, the seed fund, encouraged her to quit her job designing air conditioning, and she now has nine staff in Beirut, Berlin and Ukraine, while manufacturing in the US.
Butterfleye has raised $2m, including $80,000 in crowdfunding from 54 countries, yet frustrations remain. When Hobeika wanted to hire a Cornell-educated engineer from Tripoli, “the weekend of the interview, a bomb went off, and she didn’t want to commute any more”. Volatile security also “affects our reputation”, she says. “People say, ‘is it safe?’ It’s more about image.”