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  • 17 Mar 2022 7:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) remain the leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization, with an estimated 17.9 million people dying from CVDs in 2019. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke.

    Due to the gravity of CVDs and the silent risks that they pose on patients; scientists, biologists and tech founders all over the world are constantly seeking and developing new techniques, sensors and procedures to prevent CVD complications in high-risk patients. The global market is filled with innovative health-tech startups trying to offer early detection, better monitoring or lesser-invasive surgeries for patients with heart diseases. 

    In this article, we would like to shine the light on two health-tech startups - Bloomer Tech and Meacor - founded by two entrepreneurs of Lebanese Descent residing in North America. 

    Bloomer Tech: Accelerating Women’s Heart Health 

    Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a man’s disease, it is in fact the cause of death of 1 out of 5 women in the United States alone. Desiring to avoid a fate they know intimately by obtaining more inclusive data around how women present with heart diseases differently than their counterpart and help doctors detect early signs of silent or intermittent heart conditions, Aceil Halaby co-founded Bloomer Tech along with Alicia Chong and Monica Abarca. 

    After meeting at MIT, they decided to develop proprietary flexible circuits and sensors embedded inside a woman’s bra to continuously monitorECG, pulse rates, respiratory rates, and more across a woman’s lifespan, all without disrupting a woman's lifestyle. The end product - which was featured in Forbes’ 50 Women-led Startups That are Crushing Tech - is a bra that women may wear under a doctor’s supervision to generate data that will support quality health outcomes and targeted disease management. The goal is to accelerate the effort of inclusive data collection to advance how we care for unique lifestyles, genetic backgrounds and health goals using novel digital biomarkers. 

    “If we need more data to understand how sex, lifestyle and genetic differences impact disease prevention and prognosis then why not use something women wear every day?” said Aceil Halaby, co-founder and COO at Bloomer Tech. The three founders have already completed early feasibility tests at the MIT IMES CRC and are inviting collaborators who want to support this data collection effort. They are backed by prominent  physicians and cardiologists at MIT and other medical centers and are preparing to launch IRB studies this year.  

    In addition to a physiological monitor, the Bloomer Tech solution provides access to a platform that includes a mobile application and an data analytics service that can corroborate electronic patient recorded outcomes (ePRO) such as symptoms and use them to support research findings with study partners.. Bloomer Tech is actively raising a series A round to proliferate services built out during their seed round to support large-scale research efforts and deliver to early customers..

    The founders are currently focused on testing and validating their platform to launch their biomarkers engine. Following FDA clearance, they hope to commercialize their product to medical centers and doctors. 

    Meacor: the roadmap to a less invasive heart disease treatment 

    Heart failure is the number one cause of death in the world. A major contributing and serious condition are the mitral and tricuspid valve regurgitation that affect more than 2% of the general population. Given the growing population of elderly patients with multiple comorbidities, the risk for conventional surgery is elevated. Only a fraction of these patients undergo open-heart surgery. 

    Meacor has developed Cryocinch, a novel catheter-based anchoring device that replicates the open-heart standard of care for mitral and tricuspid valve repair without the need for open-heart surgery. Meacor’s device compensates for the motion of the heart valve by cryo-adhesion, leading to a simpler, shorter, and more robust procedure with better outcomes.

    Meacor was co-founded by Toufic Azar - PhD candidate at McGill University in Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Renzo Cecere – Cardiac Surgeon and Professor of surgery at the McGill University Health Center. The team is currently undergoing preclinical trials in live porcine models and is fundraising their series A to transition from the proof-of-concept phase to the development phase. This phase would require 2 to 3 more years to reach design freeze with another 1 to 2 years to reach first-in-human trials. Being a Class III medical device with a lengthy regulatory process, FDA approval is anticipated in 2027-2028. 

  • 25 Feb 2022 3:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the sixth part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Aspiring to study and build novel circuitry and hardware that can advance the state of human-centered applications and healthcare systems, and as a proponent of diversity in STEM, Aya Mouallem is truly an inspiring young woman who has big plans to contribute to educational and tech policy reforms in the Middle East. She graduated from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Communications Engineering and is currently pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford School of Engineering. 

    While acquiring electrical engineering research experiences with the Khuri-Yakub group at Stanford, the Kanj group at AUB, and the Kurdahi group at UC Irvine, Mouallem co-founded All Girls Code, an award-winning initiative that encourages young girls in Lebanon to pursue STEM. She has completed fellowships with Johnson & Johnson and Women Deliver and was awarded the Diana Award and the Baassiri Exceptional Volunteer of the Year Award. 

    On top of it all, Mouallem was named one of ten women changing the landscape of leadership worldwide by The New York Times. Her advocacy efforts have also been featured by Forbes, Cosmopolitan Middle East, and UN Women in the Arab States. 

    In this Q&A, we talked to this young bright woman about her plans for the Women in Tech community, her challenges, and future vision. Read it below. 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job?

    Given that I’m the youngest WiT committee member, I have not had a lot of career experience so far. However, I’ve been fortunate to work on several research projects during my undergraduate studies and those projects motivated me to go to graduate school to learn how to conduct meaningful and impactful research.

    2- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    I am extremely grateful to be part of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford University, which is a selective, experiential learning leadership program. It helps shape the skills that I will need to serve my community in Lebanon more effectively. However, I almost did not apply because I was overwhelmed with grad school applications and senior year projects, but thanks to my incredible mentor's support and encouragement, Gerard Touma, I ended up applying. I'm now focused on expanding mentorship programs for young girls to ensure that they don't miss out on any opportunities either!

    3- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member?

    I am so excited about the WiT steering committee because I know how important LebNet’s role is in helping shape and improve access to tech opportunities for individuals of Lebanese descent. Ever since we launched All Girls Code around 4 years ago, we’ve been super lucky to have welcomed more than 500 girls to our programs. That is why I would love to focus, as a WiT steering committee member, on expanding access to STEM programs for young girls with LebNet’s support!

    4- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them?

    One of the earliest challenges I encountered was the absence of mentorship when I was picking my college major. None of my family members or relatives had studied engineering, so I found the transition at the beginning from school to university to be harder than expected. I was fortunate, though, later, to reach out to and be mentored by incredible individuals, from faculty members to startup founders, and that’s why bridging this gap in mentorship for younger students is very important to me.

    5- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? 

    I will hopefully be conducting research in parallel to volunteering with several Lebanon-based initiatives focusing on diversity and inclusion, among which is All Girls Code, an award-winning initiative that I co-founded around 4 years ago in Lebanon.

    6- How do you maintain a good work/life balance?

    I think it’s very important to dedicate some time during my day for non-work tasks, whether it’s going on walks with my friends, working out, or just catching up with my family back home. I always try to dedicate time to take care of my mental and physical well-being.

  • 28 Jan 2022 9:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the fifth part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Nancy Zakhour built a name for herself by leading by example and taking on challenging roles throughout her career, most recently at Occidental, an international energy company with assets in the U.S., Middle East, Africa and Latin America. In her role, Nancy works as a well design lead, managing a team of subject matter experts overlooking drilling, completion and production engineering design and optimization in the Permian Basin. 

    Zakhour also chairs the completion engineering sub-committee of the Department of Energy-funded joint industry program Hydraulic Fracturing Test Site II (HFTS-II). Prior to her current role at Occidental, she was a completion engineering adviser leading multidisciplinary and cross-functional projects focused on developing breakthrough solutions by leveraging geoscience, engineering, data analytics and data management.

    Zakhour is a recipient of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Regional Completions Optimization and Technology Award and Hart’s Energy 40 under 40 Award. She has served as a panelist, speaker and presenter at various leadership and DIB workshops, including technical SPE conferences with over a dozen publications. She is the North American Regional Lead for Jobs For Lebanon, a volunteer and member of SPE, baMa, HAN and LebNet. Zakhour earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the American University of Beirut, an MBA from Rice University and is a certified project management professional.

    She is currently leading the fundraising program for LebNet’s Women in Tech community. We’re honored to have her part of the team! 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job?

    Road less travelled. What I enjoy the most about my current role is the ability to think outside the box and bring ideation and innovation to challenges ranging from the simplest to the most complex within the energy realm. I love working in a fast-paced and thought-provoking environment that enables and encourages game changers.

    2- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    Working internationally, across North America, and in field-based roles throughout my career has given me the opportunity of meeting with and learning from phenomenal colleagues, mentors, supervisors, and friends. They have all deepened my appreciation of culture and of the Energy industry, along with its rooted impact on our world and daily activities. Being able to connect with professionals from all around the globe is a blessing on a professional and personal level that I have grown to appreciate and cherish every day.

    3- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member?

    Connecting with and supporting Women in Tech, along with encouraging women to be more supportive of one another especially in industries that tend to be male-dominated. This platform and the support it provides has the potential to have a profound impact on the careers of many women.

    4- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them?

    One of the more prominent challenges of working in the Energy industry is its cyclical nature which pushes its workforce to retrain, rebrand, and repurpose itself. The continuous need to adjust and adapt to new standards naturally makes one more resilient and capable of seamlessly dealing with uncertainty and unpredictability. I find myself repositioning with every cycle to focus on influential avenues that can best move the needle for my organization and industry as a whole.

    5- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

    Playing an effective and inspiring role within the energy transition space by supporting and enabling emerging green technologies.  

    6- How do you maintain a good work/life balance?

    The key to a healthy work/life balance is enjoying and loving one’s work. While this is easier said than done, being able to find purpose and meaning in the role and task at hand makes a substantial difference in one’s ability to maintain a healthy balance. I strongly believe that enjoying your role is a fundamental part of ensuring that you have enough energy to excel in both your work and your personal life.

  • 12 Jan 2022 3:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    [Disclaimer: Opinions stated below belong to Mona Flores and do not represent her employer NVIDIA.]

    Dr. Mona G. Flores is the Global Head of Medical AI at NVIDIA, where she oversees NVIDIA’s AI initiatives in medicine and healthcare to bridge the chasm between technology and medicine. She first joined the company in 2018 with a focus on developing the healthcare ecosystem and before joining, she served as the Chief Medical Officer of digital health company HumanResolution Technologies, after over 25 years working in medicine and cardiothoracic surgery. She received her medical degree from Oregon Health and Science University followed by a general surgery residency at the University of California at San Diego, a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford, and a cardiothoracic surgery residency and fellowship at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Flores also has a Master of Biology from San Jose State and early in her career, received an MBA from the University at Albany School of Business. She worked in investment banking for a few years before pursuing her passion for medicine and technology.

    1. You initially studied Business administration then moved to being a surgeon. What led to this change?

    Actually, I started out as a psychology pre-med at the American University of Beirut, as I had always wanted to be in Medicine. It even says that in my high school’s yearbook! Wanting a quick exit from the Lebanese civil war raging at the time, I saw a degree in business as a fast ticket to financial independence and immigration. After a few years of studying and working in the field, I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue my childhood dream of being a surgeon. I thought if not now, when? And that is when I embarked on my medical journey to become a cardiac surgeon.

    2. What are your 3 biggest accomplishments?

    Raising my sweet loving son, helping my patients and forging a new career path that marries medicine and technology. 

    3. Can you name one promising AI healthcare advancement you foresee happening in the near future?

    More personalized treatments ranging from custom interventions to surgical procedures to medications.

    4. What is one habit you worked hard on breaking to improve your life or career?

    Waiting for a chunk of time long enough to start a lengthy task despite knowing that there is seldom enough time to complete a task end to end in one swoop. I learned to be deliberate in taking advantage of small blocks of time and match them to specific doable tasks, to divide and subdivide tasks. It not only boosts productivity but provides a steady sense of accomplishment.

    5. You wrote that medicine today is more art than science and highly depends on the physician's education and training as well as the economic status and geography of care receivers. Do you worry about inadequate high-quality healthcare access?

    For sure. And I am not just talking about access to care in developing countries. Even in the US, access and quality of care varies by location and socio-economic status. AI should help level the playing field, provided its deployment is not limited to elite hospitals and clinics.

    6. How do you describe the role of hospitals 25 years from now?

    I think hospitals will transform into many smaller units for the delivery of specialized acute care. A patient will be admitted for a specific treatment, with diagnostics and treatment planning occurring in an outpatient setting. There will also be more automation and standardization of care delivery across hospitals.

    7. What is the danger of AI making the wrong decision in healthcare? Are there any lines we don’t want to cross?

    Making no mistakes is and ought to be our North star in healthcare. However, mistakes happen today even without AI. The goal should be that AI helps us make less mistakes, and that it continues to improve over time. It is also important to view AI as an augmenter and enabler of humans, not a replacement. AI is a powerful tool, and the better the tool, the more humans can do with it. We need to exploit AI for specific tasks that need automation and speed, and make sure that is continually evaluated.

    8. What skills did you work so hard on acquiring?

    Top of mind is surgical skills, which obviously take a lot of time and effort to acquire. But soft skills are just as important. Being able to listen, empathize, collaborate and lead are valuable skills that require lifelong reinforcement.

    9. What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

    Believe in yourself and shoot for the stars. You might not get there, but you will get closer than if you don’t try.

    10. What excites you and what worries you about the impact of medical technology on the future?

    What excites me is the possibility of eradicating disease and preventable demise, and alleviating suffering. Let’s take heart attacks as an example. While accidents do happen and will continue to happen, having a patient die of a heart attack is not an accident. There are many factors at play including genetics, environmental factors, habits and lifestyle that come together to cause a heart attack. Specific trends from sensor data including wearables and lab tests can potentially voice the warning siren days and hours before an event. And precisely targeted medications and interventions ought to correct the course and intercept the heart attack way before it happens. Such is the promise of precision medicine, and AI will get us closer to this vision. What worries me is the slow pace towards precision medicine due to many reasons ranging from regulatory hurdles to misalignment of stakeholders’ incentives. I worry that the knowledge that we gain from AI might be used to discriminate against the sick instead of helping them, and most of all, I worry that we will ask too much of AI, be disappointed that it is not the magic bullet we perceive it to be and give up on it without giving it a chance to develop and reach its fullest potential. 

  • 18 Nov 2021 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the third part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Like many bright Lebanese professionals, Hala Jalwan graduated from a university in Lebanon and was set on changing the world with her degree. However, after finishing her Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering at the American University of Beirut in 2012, she realized she had picked the wrong career and decided to pursue a Masters of Engineering in Supply Chain Management and Logistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. This decision kicked off her career in the tech industry. She has worked for four years at Facebook as a Product Manager, then as a Lead Product Manager before working with Google for two years on the Google Assistant, and finally managing products at Apple.  

    Jalwan followed the path closer to her heart and has been on a roll ever since. In this Q&A, we interviewed this inspiring Women in Tech steering committee member to better understand her future plans for the community, what drives and challenges her and the exciting stuff she’s working on. 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job?

    Ten years ago, I would have never imagined that I would end up living in San Francisco and working for tech companies. My career has evolved naturally but in an unexpected way. I have been working as a product manager for the last eight years and I enjoy building consumer-facing products.

    2- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them?

    I encountered my main challenges early on in my career. It is always hard to find your first job and even harder to find a first job that you like. Having only a Lebanese passport (which I think every Lebanese would be able to relate to) adds a lot of constraints to where you can apply. However, it was a blessing in disguise as it pushed me to think creatively on how to differentiate myself. The second challenge was the decision to change careers from civil engineering. In retrospect, it was the right decision, but the process was not straightforward and a lot of people helped me to see it more clearly. 

    3- Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

    I am lucky to love what I do. In five years, I would love to be leading a team of product managers on consumer-facing products. 

    4- How do you maintain a good work/life balance? 

    I make it a point to work a fixed number of hours a day and have a work-free weekend. It is also important to pick a company with a culture that pushes for a healthy work/life balance. 

    5- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member?

    Helping out other people the same way other people in my life mentored me and helped me out. I am excited to be part of this great initiative! Please reach out if you would like to join one of our webinars as a panelist! 

    6- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    The same person that gave me the idea to do my masters, referred me to Facebook and positively impacted my career path, twice. Raja was someone I never met, he was the friend of a friend but made a big difference in my life. It is interesting how sometimes people that you have never met change the course of your life. This happened to me and I would like to do the same for other people.

  • 15 Oct 2021 8:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    While Lebanon’s education sector remains one of the country’s strongest pillars, it is being jeopardized today due to several factors such as the dramatic devaluation of the Lebanese pound and the deterioration of living conditions resulting in increasing rates of student drop-outs. 

    “Lebanon needs to urgently reform the education sector and build forward better,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director in a press release about the Bank’s recent report on education in Lebanon. “Now more than ever, Lebanon needs to invest more making sure Lebanese youth are well equipped with the right skills required by the job market to enable them to contribute to Lebanon’s economic recovery”.

    Since the future of any country relies on its youth, there’s an increasing need to invest in the future generation and feed it the right skills needed to build a sustainable future. 

    As a key player in investing in Lebanon’s youth, LebNet has partnered with the Lebanese American University (LAU) in 2020 and the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) since 2019, to offer customized seminars, lectures and programs given exclusively by LebNet expert members to students. 

    AUB/LebNet Partnership: 

    A Glimpse at The Silicon Valley Knowledge  

    Since 2019, LebNet has been working closely with AUB’s engineering faculty to offer tech talks ranging from robotics, 5G, tech trends to career development. The series - which is named The Silicon Valley Channel and features six episodes to date - is one of the major components in the partnership and aims at leveraging the expertise of LebNet’s members in North America to support college students in Lebanon. 

    “The collaboration between LebNet and MSFEA has been successful so far as we were able to expose MSFEA students to a wide range of speakers and experts in interesting and diverse fields from North America,” said Mona Itani, Coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Initiative, Senior Instructor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at MSFEA. “It was very timely as we introduced the SiliconValley Channel just before the pandemic and our students were very receptive to it since everything moved online.” 

    Access to North American based Companies 

    In addition to the tech talks, LebNet’s partnership with the MSFEA included giving engineering students the chance to work with US-based companies for their final year projects (FYPs) and course projects. For the academic year 2019-2020, four teams from AUB worked with two companies in the US: Asurion (a device insurance, warranty, and support services provider for cell phones, consumer electronics, and home appliances) and FADEL (the creator of rights and royalty management software). Here’s what the mentors at these companies had to say about working with Lebanese tech students. 

    Other components in the LebNet-AUB partnership included offering internship opportunities, entrepreneurship support and soon to be announced is a customized mentorship program for their senior engineering students. 

    “We aspire to increase the number of events planned with LebNet to foster the interest of more students from various backgrounds including design and architecture. We are also planning to increase the number of female speakers, mentors, and judges in entrepreneurship competitions and programs with the help of LebNet,” said Itani. 

    LAU/LebNet Partnership: A iLEAP of faith 

    iLEAP, which stands for Industry-focused Lebanese Education & Academia Partnership initiative, is a program established between LebNet and LAU that offers LAU students accredited academic seminars and lectures given by experienced LebNet members. 

    The topics are industry focused and complement LAU's academic offering. So far, the program has delivered four lectures on autonomous driving, AI applications within semiconductor manufacturing, technology trends and challenges in the automotive, aerospace and e-commerce industries and 5G. For more details on the lectures and the speakers, visit this link.

    “One main goal of LAU’s School of Engineering is to enable our students to succeed as engineers, innovators and responsible citizens, and to provide them with distinctive skills that are sought after in the professional world and in graduate schools. iLEAP supports this goal by leveraging the industry experience of highly qualified LebNet members who engage with us in mentoring our students on emerging technologies and businesses,” said Lina Karam, Dean of the School of Engineering at LAU, IEEE Fellow and  

    In the future, Karam would like to expand iLEAP further: “We would like to grow and expand the iLEAP initiative by offering short courses and full courses to our students given by highly qualified LebNet members. We would also like to engage LebNet members as co-mentors for our students on real-world projects as well as coaches on entrepreneurship and innovation.” 

    LebNet is committed to support these initiatives to enrich the Lebanese education sector with North American industry experience and help maintain Lebanon’s high standard of education.

  • 16 Sep 2021 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the second part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Karine Sarkissian is proof that creativity and investment go hand in hand. As a founding partner at Tamar Capital (TC), a single-family office based between the Middle East, the UK, and the US, she oversees the family office’s Impact and Venture portfolio in the US, manages Impact Investment ventures, and leads the exploration of multiple social impact initiatives. Through her background in design and design strategies, she has an extensive amount of experience in social innovation for urban and economic development initiatives internationally. Leveraging her expertise, she supports many of Tamar Capital’s portfolio companies through a designer’s lens offering strategy development. She is also the co-founder of Le Studio - a TC’s venture builder initiative - which empowers exceptional entrepreneurs and investors to grow, scale and generate sustainable impact.

    Karine also co-facilitated the Open IDEO NYC Chapter, designing solutions for social impact, and served as a Design for America mentor to graduate students within New York University. She is also an active investor and speaker. 

    On top of all that, she is LebNet’s WiT Community Co-lead & Networking and Startup Program Lead. We’re honored to have her part of our team and look forward to all the great activities she has planned for the community! Find out more about her plans for LebNet and get to know her more personally in the interview below: 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job? 

    Unconventional! I studied art, design, and sustainability. Currently I run the VC arm of Tamar Capital. With my background, I co-founded Le Studio, a venture builder that supports exceptional entrepreneurs and investors within design, impact, and financial advisory. I love every part of it, especially supporting impact driven founders and social innovation. 

    2- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    People I’ve met! Moving to the Bay Area, I met all sorts of new people, joined networks, and explored. Without those experiences, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today. 

    3- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member? 

    Bringing more women into the tech ecosystem, especially within the Lebanese network. Supporting women in finding their voice is what this is about for me. I can’t wait to introduce, promote, and connect incredible women changing the world! 

    4- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them? 

    Finding a way to bring creativity into my everyday role was a challenge. I'm creative at the core, and I believe design and design processes can change the world! With Le Studio, we’ve found ways to bring in creative thinking, design, and problem solving within the family office role. 

    5- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?  

    Continuing to support entrepreneurs around the world and creating a program that becomes a new standard: bringing social impact and good design processes at the core of all ventures.  

    6- How do you maintain a good work/life balance?  

    I am lucky that I control my own schedule. I know when to push and when I need to stop. But, it’s really about making sure I do things I love. Being outdoors, in the water, making art/painting murals, or being with friends helps me find the right balance. 

  • 14 Sep 2021 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    LebNet is committed to enabling tech entrepreneurs of Lebanese descent succeed on a global stage. With 7 successful editions, LebNet’s flagship program Ignite has been leaving its footprints on the path of successful Lebanese founders since 2015.

    Ignite is a Silicon Valley Residence program for Startups designed to immerse Lebanese startup founders in the Silicon Valley culture. Every year, several prominent startups are identified and invited to Silicon Valley to attend a tailored acceleration program to help them gain the needed expertise to expand their vision and scale their companies globally.

    The program’s comprehensive agenda tackles a range of topics covering the basics of venture capital, raising money in Silicon Valley, legal and financial issues of born-global startups, Silicon Valley’s code and culture, pitching to investors, receiving legal and financial advice, business and strategy mentoring, and PR assistance.

    In addition, LebNet connects the participants with global industry experts, mentors, advisors, LebNet Board members, and thought leaders to get customized analysis and advice regarding how to build and grow their business on a global scale.

    The most recent edition in 2019 was held in partnership with the Lebanon-based accelerator Speed and the program was powered by Draper University. It was spread over 5 weeks with a demo day and an optional extended stay of 4 to 5 more weeks to allow founders to finalize any pending business transactions.

    Success stories from our LebNet entrepreneurs:


    “LebNet Ignite has been instrumental in helping our startups see the bigger picture and think globally. The program fast-tracked the entrepreneurs to their next major milestone, whether it was a pivot, a fundraising event, or even a complete shutdown. We have seen in many cases the relationships that were built during the immersion program evolve and keep going over the years, accompanying the startups on their journey,” said Sami Abou Saab, CEO of Speed.

    Lemonade Fashion:

    After graduating from the program, LebNet kept close relations with the Ignite alumni startups to monitor their progress and support when needed. Arthur Bizdikian, co-founder and CEO at online marketplace Lemonade Fashion and one of the Ignite graduates, decided to spend a few extra weeks after the program ended to set up meetings with potential investors. In 2021, his startup received financing of $300,000 from a syndication of seven LebNet members, with plans to raise additional funds from VCs in the US and GCC to expand in Dubai and San Francisco.

    “This trip saved us, I do not know what would have happened to us if we did not have the help of LebNet and Draper. We’re excited about 2021,” said Bizdikian. “This is a very important year for us and we are glad that we have the right people to back us up [...] The quality of the people in the program was amazing. You are only surrounded by positive, innovative people who are trying to make a change.”


    Another success story is Ostaz, previously known as Synkers. This private tutoring matching platform was acquired in May 2021 by Inspired Education Group in order to scale in the GCC, Egypt, Europe, the UK, Spain, and Italy.

    “LebNet Ignite was the best experience ever. We had access to people we could never have access to in Lebanon. The Lebanese market is in need of more role models and success stories they can look up to and seek advice from,” said Audrey Nakad, one of the three co-founders.


    “I found it amazing how many members are willing and want to help, and they have been super accessible. We have tackled some big questions like warehousing, supply chain, shipping, quality and manufacturing with their assistance. It was very helpful, and I know I have a board of advisers to report to with my progress and reach out whenever I need anything” said Hind Hobeika, CEO Instabeat.

    As we look forward to more Ignite editions, LebNet is counting on its members' financial support to be able to continue focusing on such programs and dedicating resources to make Lebanese founders successful. Find out how you can support by visiting this link.

  • 25 Aug 2021 4:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the first part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Early in her career, Layal Rouhana has emerged as a distinguished technical leader in her field. After earning her Bachelor of Sciences in Chemistry from the Lebanese University in Beirut in 2004, she moved to the US in pursuit of her Ph.D in Materials Science and Nanotechnology at Florida State University. She then completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Pharmacology Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.  

    Her professional career started at Qualcomm where she reached Staff Engineering level while leading integrated circuits packaging research, development and manufacturing on substrates for new wireless electronic component technologies, supporting the launch of over 24 products at Qualcomm. Her work resulted in 5 granted patents. In her current role as a senior staff engineer at Illumina, the DNA sequencing giant, Layal is serving as a process development lead for the manufacturing of supplied substrates and CMOS based sequencing consumables, in New Product Introduction (NPI) phase and on-market.

    With over 11 years of experience in the high-tech and biotech sectors under her belt, and with over 20 technical publications, Layal is an accomplished leader with extensive experience in driving technology roadmapping and downselection, as well as a technical expert in supplier management for pathfinding, process development and high-volume manufacturing. 

    She is the recipient of numerous professional awards, including, Illumina’s ‘Platform Management Most Valuable Players (MVP) Recognition’ for excellent technical and leadership skills; Illumina’s ‘Execution Excellence Award’ for swift customer issues resolution; Numerous QualStars given by Qualcomm to exceptional contributors; and  received The Graduate Student Leadership Award given by the Florida State University Graduate School for outstanding graduate student leaders. 

    Beside her busy career, she enjoys giving back in different ways: as a Co-Chair of the board and Mentorship Program Lead at Women at Illumina Network Employee Resource Group; as a translator and interpreter at Casa Cornelia Law Center, a pro-bono law center that provides legal services for victims of human rights violation ; and as the Community Lead and Mentorship Program Lead at LebNet’s Women in Tech (WiT) community

    We could not be prouder to have her leading our WiT community! Find out more about her plans for LebNet and get to know her more personally in the interview below: 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job? 

    My career path has been driven by a strong sense of purpose to make a positive impact in the world, and it has been a learning journey about myself, the people around me and the tech industry. Through my previous work in high tech at Qualcomm, and currently in biotech at Illumina, I get to make an impact through the products I develop. What I enjoy the most about my current work is the fact that it is playing a role in transforming human health through unlocking the power of the genome and advancing genomics-led precision healthcare.

    2- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    I have a specific belief rather than an event that led to where I am today, and I would like to acknowledge my parents for instilling it in me and my siblings: It is the conviction that I could achieve any goal I set my mind to if I worked hard enough and did not back down in the face of challenges. But that cannot lead far without being given the right opportunities, which I could not have had without the relentless encouragement, support and inspiration from my family,  my husband, and many mentors who keep believing in me and pushing me to be the best version of myself.

    3- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member? 

    As the committee lead, I am very excited to work with such a dynamic and highly accomplished committee to increase the constituency of Women in Tech of Lebanese origin in LebNet, and showcase their professional talents and impactful work across North America. We are looking forward to providing WiT members with opportunities to build partnerships with other like-minded professionals in the network, as well as providing them with collaboration opportunities to give back to Lebanon. In the coming year, we are very excited about launching WiT-focused mentorship and coaching programs, collaborating with LebNet Early in Career community on STEM programs geared for girls in Lebanon, in addition to hosting career development workshops and networking sessions that will help propel WiT community members careers further! 

    4- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them? 

    Influencing without authority and rallying cross-functional teams around my idea and vision, while faced with multiple opposing paths. I found that by listening to the other parties to understand their point of view and concerns, bringing forth supporting data, using diplomacy and focusing on a common end goal, I was able to build consensus and solve issues. Ultimately, the goal should always be to solve the problem while keeping the best interest of the company in mind. This will build your credibility and get you to the target you plan to achieve.

    5- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?  

    I see myself playing a more strategic role in influencing and leading the technical roadmap for products in biotech or high tech, as I transition to a wider scope/customer facing role. 

    6- How do you maintain a good work/life balance?  

    I think work/life balance is very difficult to achieve so I approach this topic more as work/life integration, where I constantly find myself making prioritization decisions between work and personal life needs, to keep both going successfully. I also work hard on being present in the moment to make the best out of my time at work or in my personal life. More specifically, to prevent burnout at work, I block time during weekdays on my calendar for lunch and to take a short walk to recharge, while listening to an educational/inspirational podcast. In the evenings, since I am a parent to energetic 5-year-old twin daughters, I make sure I am available for dinner time and bedtime, and I schedule work meetings around that. I also use weekends to recharge and “resharpen the saw”, by catching up with my family in Lebanon, hanging out with friends, hiking, practicing a hobby and learning a new skill. 

  • 12 Aug 2021 3:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    [Disclaimer: LebNet needs the members' support to sustain its internship program and keep it going. Find out how you can help by visiting this link.]

    A great internship opportunity can set the stage for a strong start to any career. 

    In 2019, LebNet launched its internship program to provide internship opportunities to Lebanese students residing in North America and Lebanon. The program offered internships in the areas of technology and biotech with 7 opportunities in its first year, 9 in 2020 and growing to over 23 in 2021. Most of the opportunities were filled by enthusiastic students eager to gain experience before going into the workforce.

    To guarantee the success of the program, LebNet worked with reputable US and Canada based companies such as BridgeAthletic, EcrioJoun, Technologies, Orderbot,Probi SolutionsSPARK Microsystems, Sowlutions,Turo, Qnovo CorporationWearable Sensing, and many others. They all hosted interns during the summer months and gave them exciting projects to work on.  The internship opportunities were listed on the Lebnet platform and interested applicants went through an internal screening process before being introduced to the companies.

    “I am impressed with both their skills and hunger to learn! They were focused and executed on their tasks in a very conscientious way” said Fram Akiki, President at hosting company Joun Technologies. 

    “We are very happy with our intern. He presented to the company management the work he has done on AI/ML and I was quite impressed,”said Michel Gannage, Founder and CEO at Ecrio Inc.

    “Both our interns are crushing it! The team and I are very impressed. Thank you LebNet for making it happen,” said Fadi Zoghzoghi, CTO at BridgeAthletic. 

    How the pandemic broke boundaries and barriers

    In the summer of 2020, LebNet had to temporarily suspend the internship program due to COVID-19, but decided the following year to switch to remote internship opportunities to keep the initiative going. Luckily for them, Lebanon-based students now had a greater chance to intern at global companies as they no longer needed to obtain a pre-authorization to intern or work in the US and Canada.
    “In the past year, companies have realized that remote work is possible and productive. This allowed us to open up our internship opportunities to students residing in Lebanon” said Jeanine Akiki, LebNet’s executive director and internship program lead.

    The first three years were indicative of a thirst for technical know-how and practical skills and the feedback received from our students highlights how crucial it is to continue expanding this program and its opportunities. Jeanine adds, “we will continue to expand this program by reaching out to more companies in North America and offering a wide variety of internship opportunities to students of Lebanese descent here and in Lebanon  The talent, creativity and work ethic that our students bring are highly valued.”

    What our students had to say about our program 

    Rayan Al Sarih, Electrical and Computer Engineering at Joun Technologies
    Thank you LebNet for the internship opportunity! I am so excited to have done this research about the internet of things!  I look forward to continuing my growth as an engineer and using this new knowledge in projects that serve the environment in the future.”

    Bashar Baajour - Software Engineering Internship with Turo
    “It was an amazing experience all around. The internship has helped me grow immensely on a professional level. I also learned a lot about the work environment and met a lot of great people. I think the internship program itself is really great.”

    Khaled Baghdadi - Software Engineer Internship at Ecrio
    “What I loved about the experience is that we were working as a team towards the same goal even though we come from different countries and backgrounds.” 

    Heba Harb, Computer Engineering at Joun Technologies
    "Thank you LebNet and Joun Technologies for giving me the opportunity to widen my knowledge in the field of digital transformation generally and digital twin specifically. It was a wonderful experience learning from experts and understanding the research procedure."

    Rami Ismail - Software Engineer Internship with ProBi Solutions
    “The internship was very interactive. I learned a lot about teamwork and cooperation as well as working with the Agile methodology. I also honed and upgraded my skills in the field.”

    Anthony Kahwaji -Industrial Engineering at Sowlutions
    “I have had a great experience so far! I got the chance to work as a product manager on launching, optimizing and growing four products from startups based in the US, the Middle East and Africa. I felt like I was a full-time employee rather than an intern which was great! The process was streamlined and easy. The program manager Jeanine Akiki was extremely helpful from the time I applied through LebNet to when I got accepted at Sowlutions.”

    Garo Keuchkarian,  Electrical Engineer Internship at Joun Technologies
    “LebNet gave me a ray of hope in the darkest times of Lebanon’s history. I worked with Joun Technologies on a Machine Learning and object detection project which I was truly inspired by. The experience was very insightful, interesting and well organized.”    

    Hisham Masri - Engineer/Computer Scientist Internship with BridgeAthletic
    “The internship was great in all aspects. It gave me a lot of valuable assets and the chance to technically contribute to real-life situations. I also got to learn from people from all over the globe. The lessons ranged from personal to leadership and technical skills. I worked with many people from diverse ethnicities and participated in a lot of daily meetings that were deemed valuable to my communication and leadership skills. Technically, the company helped me get introduced to Git and Github, in addition to SQL and many new Python programming libraries. It was a brilliant experience.”

    Anthony Moubarak - Engineer/Computer Scientist Internship at BridgeAthletic"From a technical standpoint, I improved my coding and algorithm building skills and how to deploy models that can be used by other people - something which will benefit me for the rest of my career in data science. Additionally, I got hands-on experience on how software-oriented companies operate in the short and long term. From a personal standpoint, the team spirit at the company was exceptional. The remote work aspect gave me the chance to improve my time management and productivity skills. The process of applying through LebNet was very smooth and what I really liked about LebNet is that the first interview heavily focused on who I am as a person, which I personally think is more valuable than anything else.”

    Anna Rita Moukarzel, Mechanical Engineering at Wearable Sensing
    “LebNet helped facilitate an amazing internship opportunity.  Their application process made the experience of finding an internship smooth and easy.”  

    Hanna Saade - Mechatronics Engineer Internship at Joun Technologies
    “It was a great experience, very professional yet enjoyable. I learned about the importance of hard work and commitment to succeed at work. It was very beneficial and needed due to the number of crises we are facing in our country Lebanon.”

    LebNet is already preparing for a new edition for the summer of 2022 so stay tuned! 

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LebNet, a non-profit organization, serves as a multi-faceted platform for Lebanese professionals residing in the US and Canada, entrepreneurs, investors, business partners in a broad technology eco-system, and acts as a bridge to their counterparts in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East


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