Meet 500 Startups’s Female-Led Startup from the Middle East: Silkroad Images

This woman is so savvy. I love that she went full on and incorporated in Delaware, went to Silicon Valley and got into 500Startups. She's found a perfect niche, offering stunning stock photography to meet the needs of the Arab world. She's now back in Turkey where 38% of entrepreneurs are women while we're only 10%. 

Here's her story reported by Kira M. Newman for the San Francisco Edition.

Mahafzah first heard of 500 Startups when she was in Silicon Valley, on the heels of winning the MIT Arab Startup Competition. Scheduled for a month of incubation from Google for Entrepreneurs and TechWadi, she ended up staying six months and learned more about the US startup scene.

So she did what any self-respecting entrepreneur in the US does: incorporate in Delaware and apply for an accelerator. 500 Startups rejected her the first time, but she was in for batch 10.

Jordan has accelerators that Mahafzah could have applied for, but Silicon Valley has something that’s lacking in Jordan: early-stage investment. 

The startup scene in Jordan is not that late behind the Silicon Valley,” says Mahafzah. “We have smart entrepreneurs, great startups, and good accelerators with almost Silicon Valley standards – but what we lack back home or the whole [Middle East and North Africa] region is the right seed funding.”

(And if you’re wondering, Mahafzah didn’t find Jordan lacking in opportunities for women. While Silicon Valley has 10% women entrepreneurs, she says that almost 38% of startups in Jordan have female founders.)

Mahafzah, who spent 13 years in advertising, sees beyond the Middle East market: she imagines expanding first into Turkey and then into Asia as well. And she knows that, while her clients are advertisers and media, she has a broader purpose.

We are aiming to digitally archive the heritage and the image of the East,” she says."