SANDBOX - Startup program by DTEC


We’re not just MENA’s largest tech hub. We’re also the most transparent. When building SANDBOX, we studied the world’s best startup programs to understand what makes them tick, and spoke to countless founders to understand where the gaps are.

Below is an extensive list of questions that serve as the backbone to SANDBOX.

We’ve left no stone unturned. Of course, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, get in touch via contact us form.

Ready to apply? Submit your application at the link below.

Ready to apply? Submit your application, Click here

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Application Process & General Questions Expand all

When is the next cohort?

We do not have cohorts; we accept applications on a rolling basis.

When is the next starting date?

The next starting date will be early January – we will announce the precise date shortly.

Where is the program located? Is it online or onsite?

The program is located in Dtec, Dubai. The workshops, networking & community events, VC meetings are all happening onsite. The 1-1s can be arranged at your convenience with our experts, either online or in Dtec.

What are the selection criteria?

We are looking for exceptional & ambitious founders, working full time on their startup. We welcome tech startups from MVP to Seed stage. The team must be UAE-based as the program takes place in Dubai. Your business model must be scalable.

What is the selection process?

Step 1 - Submit your application form via the "Apply Now" button below
Step 2 - If shortlisted, you will be invited for a call with the Dtec Ventures team
Step 3 - If you make it to the final stage, you will be invited to pitch to our SANDBOX selection committee in-person

Does Sandbox only accept tech companies?

Yes we only invite MVP-stage and seed-stage tech companies (we are sector agnostic!).

Is it required for all co-founders to be present in UAE?

Yes, we require the main founders to be based in the UAE since the program is taking place in Dubai.

We are based outside of the UAE, can we apply?

We will look at international applications on a case-by-case basis, since the founders will have to relocate to Dubai before their official enrollment.

Is it required for all team members to be working full time on the startup?

We require minimum of 1 founder (CEO) to be working full time but we have a strong preference for having at least 2 founders fully committed to their ventures and the program.

Can we join an accelerator while being part of Sandbox?

Yes, you are of course free to join another startup program accelerator, such as Techstars, YComibinator etc. We invite you to consider the real value of being part of multiple programs consecutively as the content may overlap, and time commitments may mean you spread yourself too thinly.

I already raised a Seed round, can I apply?

First, congratulations! Of course, you can join SANDBOX. This program is dedicated to early stages startups and some of them have already raised from friends & family, angel investors and early-stage VCs. If your team is larger than 4 people, and you want your full team to be relocated to Dtec, please kindly get in touch with us:

My application has been accepted for a screening call, what should I expect?

We will schedule a video call with our Dtec Ventures team, so you can pitch your startup. This call should take approximately 30 minutes, so please have your presentation ready as we will kindly ask you to share your screen.

How do I know if I was accepted?

If we see your startup as a fit for our program, we will first schedule a screening call. Once that is done and you are approved for next step, we will ask you to come in person to present your startup in front of a selection committee. If admitted, you will receive an official invitation by email from our team inviting you to join Sandbox.

What are next steps if my startup is accepted?

After accepting the offer through email, you will go through the business setup process which includes getting a new service license at DTEC or transferring your existing one. Once your license is issued, you will then be invited to the next introduction week and will officially be part of SANDBOX!

What is the introduction week?

This first week is essential to get you started. We will present an overview of the program and all workshops you can attend. This will be an opportunity to chat directly with our mentors and practitioners who will accompany you for the next 12 months. We will also guide you through the various tools we put in place to help you.

We will introduce you to the other participants, to the Dtec community and of course to our team so we really get to know each other!

In addition, we will run workshops 101 on our 6 key pillars and schedule the first 360 assessment of your ventures. This is an opportunity your set your KPIs and milestones for your next sprint!

Joining fees & license Expand all

Does it cost me anything to join the program?

The joining fee is AED 9,500 + AED 1,000 deposit. This covers the cost of your new license (or the transfer fee of your existing license) + access for up to 4 people to the program space and Dtec space in general.

Will you help us incorporate in Dtec?

Yes! We have a dedicated team at Dtec that will guide you with the process for your license & visas.

Is it mandatory to get a license from Dtec?

Yes, it is mandatory that your register your license at Dtec or transfer your existing one. Our team will help you with the process.

How many visas can I avail?

You can avail up to 4 visas with this setup. Should you need more visas, you will be required to pay an additional charge to the joining fees to cover for extra flexi desks. Each flexi desk (AED 7,500 AED per year) grants you up to 2 additional visas.

Are VISAs included?

The visa fees are not included in the joining fee.

Do I need to transfer my visa or apply for one?

If you already have a valid residency visa, you can indeed transfer it under your new Dtec license.

Program structure Expand all

How is the program structured?

SANDBOX provides 100+ practical workshops, 100 hours per startup of 1:1 mentoring, financial diagnostics, legal support, $150,000+ worth of credits from our partners, many community events and access to renown keynote speakers.

We organize in average 10 workshops per months, covering 6 key pillars:

  • Product development
  • Traction
  • Scaling
  • Finance & fundraising
  • Legal
  • Wellbeing

How are the 1:1 credits working?

You can avail up to 8x 1:1 credits per month with our pre-selected list of practitioners from any of the 6 key pillars, for a tailored session to your needs.

For example, if one specific workshop got your attention and you would require assistance with implementation, you will be able to use your credits and ask for a 1:1 with the practitioner to help you directly.

How is the legal support working?

Upon joining Sandbox, you get USD 3,000 worth of credit with our partner startup law firm to help you with any legal matters: draft of term sheet or convertible notes, shareholders agreement, employee contracts, IP assignment agreement, and many more.

Our legal partner will also host regular workshops on key topics and office hours to address your questions.

You will also access a range of templates that you can also customize by yourself or with the help of our legal partner using your legal credits.

Do I need to attend a minimum of workshops?

We strongly encourage you to attend as many workshops as you see fit. We have not overloaded your weekly agenda so you can focus on building your startups. As such, we expect you to attend at least 40 workshops throughout the 12-month period.

Your presence is mandatory during your induction week and your 3 intermediary review sessions.

Equity warrant & investments Expand all

Do you take equity in my company?

Upon joining Sandbox you will sign an Equity Warrant with Dtec Ventures that grants Dtec a right to invest in your company in the future. In summary, Dtec will have the right to invest $50,000 and take a 2.5% stake in your company during either your Seed or Series-A round.

In addition, the investment team will monitor your progress and potentially participate to your next funding round(s). We traditionally invest between $100K and $500K at Seed/Series-A.

When will you exercise the equity warrant?

We will decide to exercise or not our warrant during any qualifying round before it expires. This means we will most likely exercise during your next qualifying equity round.

What happens if you don’t exercise the warrant?

Nothing! Dtec Ventures has the right but not the obligation to exercise the warrant. If we don’t exercise before the maturity date for whatever reason, then we won’t take any equity in your company.

I have specific questions about this equity warrant, who should I talk to?

You can email us your questions to

Will Dtec Ventures invest in my startup during or after the program?

Upon joining SANDBOX, you naturally become part of our deal flow. We will work closely with you over the course of the program, and assess a potential investment opportunity when you start fundraising, whether you are still a participant or an alumni of SANDBOX.

Does Sandbox invest in all startups admitted in the program?

It is unlikely that we will invest in every startup. We will closely monitor your progress, and invest in the ventures that fit our mandate and clearly demonstrate a capacity to execute and scale. Your commitment and discipline throughout the program is particularly important to our investment team.

How much does Dtec Ventures invest at Seed stage?

Dtec Ventures invest from $100K to $500K at Seed stage.

is there a demo day?

To help you connect with local investors, we have scheduled multiple events:

  • VC breakfasts: we are regularly inviting prominent early-stage investors, to join us for an informal breakfast in which they will present their fund and scope of investments. This will be an opportunity to get to know them without the stress of pitching them (yet!)
  • Entrepreneur days: every year Dtec organizes events dedicated to our startups. This will be the opportunity to pitch in front of a panel of investors in Dtec.
  • Online pitch: you will be able to record a video of your pitch, that we will share to our trusted network of early-stage investors on a secured platform
  • …and more!