FoodX 2021 - The Future of Tech And Food - Step

The future of tech and food

Our Story

Step started out as a series of workshops and small gatherings, and over 9 years has grown to become the largest tech festival in Dubai. FoodX Summit is brought to you by Step, the organizers of Step Conference, the leading tech and startup festival for emerging markets. FoodX covers the latest trends and innovation in the food technology space, including farming, supply chain, logistics, research, investment, and legislation, with participation from relevant stakeholders from the ecosystem.






Showcasing Startups & SMEs


Hours of Content

Previous Speakers





Kat Cole is an inspiring leader and operator with a track record of turning around companies and building brands, teams and high-growth businesses over two decades. As COO and President of Focus Brands, the owner, franchisor and operator of global limited-service food brands, doing billions in product sales in over 50 countries, she leads the company's 7 brands: Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Moe's, Schlotzsky's, McAlister's, Carvel and Jamba with 6500 operations globally, and leads the multi-brand licensing and CPG business. She is formerly president of Cinnabon Inc. and past Group President Focus Brands. She has led the evolution of several brands through product and technology innovation, organizational structure changes and building customer-centered cultures. Kat is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a member of the Milk Bar Board of Directors, an advisor to high-growth businesses, and mom of two. Kat is a past member of the United Nations Global Entrepreneurs Council, was featured on CBS Undercover Boss, and was named one of Fortune’s 40 under 40. She is past chair of the board of the Women's Foodservice Forum, past Silver Plate winner from IFMA, named most admired leader by QSR magazine and named Elliot Leadership Motivator of the year. She is a college dropout, yet has her MBA in International Business. Her journey from restaurant hostess at 17, executive by 26, president by 31, and investor by 35 is often shared as an example of the American and entrepreneurial dream. Outside of the foodservice industry, Kat is an angel investor and advisor to early-stage consumer products and Direct-to-Consumer companies and an outspoken advocate for women’s issues and the broader role of business in democratizing access to education and opportunity.

Raed Hafez

El Grocer


El Grocer

With over 25 years of experience in managing large scale technology development and leading large commercial operations, Raed Hafez is elGrocer’s CEO, the leading Online Grocery marketplace in the UAE. Raed’s deep technology know-how as well as practical and operational business sense is driving elGrocer to continue its leadership with cutting edge customer experiences and brand engagement opportunities. Prior to joining elGrocer, Raed led a local Management Consulting firm that helped some of the largest regional enterprises in FMCG, Insurance, Telecom, and Healthcare to engage in digital transformation activities. Previously, Raed led the Middle East and Africa region for Motorola Mobility, a Google company, where he turned around and delivered a profitable and growing business. An MBA from the world-renowned Kellogg Business School of Management, and a BSc in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University, Raed’s wealth of hands-on technical experience and operational business insight have proven a significant asset for his clients and companies.

Stephanie Michelsen




Stephanie is born in Denmark, grew up in Sweden and moved to the Bay Area, CA in 2011. She has since spent time in between Denmark and the US while completing her studies. She holds a BSc. Biotechnology (The University of Copenhagen, Denmark) & a MSc. Engineering in Biotechnology (The Technical University of Denmark). During her undergraduate degree she spent a semester abroad on exchange at The University of British Columbia, Canada. Stephanie is very entrepreneurially driven, she has participated in various extracurricular activities throughout academia (Ex. Board member @ Synapse - Life Science Connect: a student-driven organization focused on bridging academia and industry, Gold-medal winner iGEM (“The world championship in synthetic biology”) 2018, Fellow of the first cohort of The International Innovation Program (2iP) hosted by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and more. Throughout her studies she held various internships and part time roles in biotechnology companies & startups (Ex. LakePharma, BioPorto, Juvena Therapeutics, SynBioBeta, Wild Earth & more). Stephanie is mission-driven, motivated & has a go-getter attitude. The biggest life goal for Stephanie is to do her part to try to make the world a better place than how she found it, through impact entrepreneurship, building a successful business and building an all-star team.

Mohamed Al Fayed




With over 20 years’ experience as a successful C-Suite executive in US Fortune 100 companies and local family conglomerates, Mohamed has leveraged his technology affinity with deep retail industry knowledge to lead international brands through digital transformations. He has successfully launched the region’s largest luxury online pure player and the lifestyle platform, In addition, he has deployed omnichannel solutions with the launch, and in the GCC. He has recently co-founded GrubTech, an end to end ai powered digital platform enabling restaurants to successfully manage omnichannel operations. Previously he held the position of Senior Vice President of Omnichannel for Al Tayer for 12 years, where his responsibilities included Product & IT, Logistics, Merchandise Planning, Supply Chain and the E- Commerce division.

Abdulaziz AlMulla

Madar Farms


Madar Farms

Abdulaziz’s interest in food security began during his time at McKinsey & Co. where he was working extensively with GCC governments, and addressing a variety of national risk challenges. A serial investor in disruptive technologies (Lyft, Indigo Ag, among others), he is dedicated to addressing the food security challenge. He dedicates time to the region’s food ecosystem as a mentor at Savour Ventures, the Middle East’s first accelerator focused on food. Previously a banker with HSBC, Abdulaziz holds a BA from University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Wharton.

Samer Hamadeh

Akiba Dori


Akiba Dori

Samer is most known for creating the highly disruptive nightlife brands Republique (2011) & Stereo Arcade (2015). Both were incredibly popular in their own right & earned him a reputation as being a disruptive concept creator. Samer created & launched his latest concept, Akiba Dori in Dubai Design District in 2018 and is taking the brand to Saudi Arabia with Akiba Dori Jeddah opening in Q2 of 2021 & Riyadh opening early 2022, making it one of a handful of brands made in Dubai & going global. Akiba Dori is also set to open an outpost in Abu Dhabi in September 2021, in addition to 2 new outlets in Dubai in 2021. Known for his outspoken attitude towards the hospitality industry, Samer is regularly in the press discussing business candidly & has been featured on the Caterer Middle Easter Power 50 list & The Arabian Business DXB100 list of people helping shape the future of Dubai.





As a creative entrepreneur, Ron spends his time transforming his moonshot ideas into real life companies and campaigns that change the game. His visionary marketing concepts for global brands like Red Bull, Nike, Bacardi, Budweiser and SONY showed the world that he could think three steps ahead. But his ability to instantly create strong concepts and solve creative problems on the spot, made him the infamous go to guy for all your favorite brands and companies. After founding agencies like Don’t Say Nothing and 24K Agency, he started his latest adventure with his friends that took the world by storm: The Avocado Show.

Christie Lagally

Rebellyous Foods


Rebellyous Foods

Christie Lagally is the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods, a food production technology company working to make plant-based meat price-competitive with traditional chicken products. She is a mechanical engineer and holds multiple patents in manufacturing technology. She spent much of her career at Boeing working on commercial airplanes, design, and manufacturing. Previously, she served as a Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute uncovering the technical barriers in the development of plant-based meat and clean meat. She holds Bachelor's degrees in Organizational Psychology, Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. She is also an active member of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, a co-founder of the Humane Voters of Washington and is a Washington State Council Member for the Humane Society of the United States.

Jihad El Eit




A visionary and tenacious entrepreneur, Jihad El-Eit stands at the helm of kaykroo, a macro scale foodtech business encompassing more than 15 cloud kitchens and brand residences across the UAE and very soon, Saudi Arabia. Over the last two decades, Jihad has spearheaded multiple entrepreneurial ventures in the Middle East and Asia, starting with the establishment of one of Pakistan’s largest retail and wholesale telecom distribution companies. His foray into the UAE’s F&B sector began in 2011, with the launch of Manoushe Street – a popular Lebanese urban eatery that has become one of the flagship brands in kaykroo’s portfolio. Today, Jihad’s passion for delicious and creative food concepts, combined with a data-driven approach to understanding customers has led him to build one of the region’s largest platforms for virtual restaurants.

Marwan Tarabay

The Leap Nation


The Leap Nation

Marwan is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Leap Nation, the region’s leading virtual restaurants startup and one of the first movers in this space globally. Marwan spent 14 years in technology with regional and global leading technology firms assisting government organizations build and execute digital transformation strategies. Driven by his passion for food and his technology experience, Marwan founded The Leap Nation in 2018 with a vision of building global restaurant chains virtually; today the company has 21 virtual brands operating across 5 cities in 3 countries.


Sriram Krishnan

Andreessen Horowitz


Andreessen Horowitz

Sriram Krishnan is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz where he invests in early stage consumer startups. Today, Sriram serves on the board of Hopin. Prior to joining a16z, Sriram held numerous senior product roles. Most recently, he led core consumer teams at Twitter where he was responsible for products including the home timeline, new user experience, search, discovery, and audience growth. Before this, Sriram created and oversaw various mobile ad products for both Snap and Facebook, including Snap’s Direct Response ads business and the Facebook Audience Network, one of the largest networks in display advertising. Sriram started his career at Microsoft where he touched numerous projects related to Windows Azure. He is the author of ""Programming Windows Azure"" published by O'Reilly. Sriram writes actively at @sriramk on Twitter and at Along with his wife, he also co-hosts The Good Time Show on Clubhouse, a nightly show through which they interview innovators around tech and culture.

Alex Antolino




Alex Antolino is a creative director, content creator, and overnight music producer.

David Miltner




David Miltner is the Head of Growth Marketing for International Expansion at Fiverr International Ltd. (NYSE: FVRR), the company that is changing how the world works together. David and his team are responsible to grow Fiverr’s international footprint and connect local businesses with top talented freelance experts. Before he joined Fiverr, David successfully scaled up new mobility start ups in Germany and Europe.

Christopher Schroeder

Entrepreneur & Venture Investor


Entrepreneur & Venture Investor

Christopher M. Schroeder is an American entrepreneur, advisor and investor in interactive technologies and social communications. He is author of the recent best seller, and first book on startups in the Arab World, Startup Rising -- The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East. Schroeder was the CEO and Publisher of washingtonpost.newsweek interactive and co-founder of the Silicon Valley venture capital backed Schroeder serves on the board of advisers of the American University of Cairo School of Business, American University School of International Service, and the boards of directors of the American University of Beirut, The German Marshall Fund and the American Council on Germany. He is on the Investment Committee of The Wamda Fund, one of the largest venture capital funds in the Middle East. He has co-led the Economic Recovery and Revitalization working group of the Atlantic Council's Middle East Strategy Task Force. He was named one of LinkedIn's first 50 Influencers. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Business School.

Christine Tsai

500 Startups


500 Startups

Christine is the CEO and Founding Partner of 500 Startups. Since the firm’s inception in 2010, she grew 500 to over $580M in committed capital, 2,200+ portfolio companies, 5,000 founders, 120+ team members, and a vibrant community of founders spanning more than 75 countries around the world. Christine has spent her entire professional career in Silicon Valley, building tech products and investing in early stage startups. From 2003 to 2010, Christine held product marketing and technical operating roles at Google, focusing primarily on monetization and developer products. Early on at Google, she was part of the team that launched Google AdSense and Google Analytics. Christine also drove marketing for YouTube’s syndication products, including strategic partnerships with major consumer electronics and gaming partners like Sony, Panasonic, Vizio, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft. She also worked on Google’s Developer Tools including App Engine, Google Web Toolkit (GWT), Android, and Google APIs, and led planning for Google I/O, Google’s flagship developer conference. Christine holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley and was a National Merit Scholar. Christine also served as a research apprentice through the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program in the Department of Psychology.

Robert Scoble

Infinite Retina


Infinite Retina

ROBERT SCOBLE: Infinite Retina Chief Strategy Officer | Spatial Computing Researcher | Expert on Augmented and Virtual Reality | Top Five Technology Blogger Robert Scoble is among the world's best-known technology strategists. He is also a keynote speaker and most passionate about Virtual and Augmented Reality and how they will change and disrupt business. Based on his many meetings with tech pioneers and thinkers, he is always looking for early changes in patterns that foretell lasting trends. Three such trends have resulted in his three books. Siri was launched in his house. He did the first live video from inside the first Tesla (Elon Musk gave him a ride before he gave his best friend a ride). He has the first video of a Google self-driving car up on YouTube. He was first to show the world many companies and technologies, like those, and Flipboard, Pandora, Instagram, and thousands of others. Scoble is best known for his blog, Scobleizer, and associated social media accounts, like Scobleizer on Twitter, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technology strategist at Microsoft. He later worked for Fast Company as a video blogger and then Rackspace promoting breakthrough technology and startups and representing its brand to millions. Founded by Irena Cronin and Robert Scoble in October 2018, Infinite Retina, LLC, is the first strategy firm dedicated to helping big brands develop and implement spatial computing strategies (virtual and augmented reality, along with other computing that humans, robots, or virtual beings can move through). They believe that a decade from today the center of digital commerce and life will have migrated from today's handsets to tomorrow's VR and AR headsets -- or smart glasses, as they might be called. Robert wants to help brands understand, plan, and implement strategies to make this vital transformation. Robert is working with Irena on a new book, "Infinite Retina," which will be published in Spring 2020. It will focus on several industries that will radically change in the 2020s due to Spatial Computing. In addition, Robert has interviewed thousands of tech company founders, and his previous three books, written with Forbes author Shel Israel, have predicted three decade-long trends: "Naked Conversations" predicted how businesses would use social media before Facebook became popular. "Age of Context" predicted how wearable and mobile technology would bring new kinds of software. His most recent book, "The Fourth Transformation," predicts how augmented and virtual reality will change every business. As a globally in demand keynote speaker Robert delivers a rocket ride through the future of technology, and shows you how your business is about to be disrupted by a perfect storm of technology changes. Spatial Computing, whether we call it mixed reality, augmented reality, or virtual reality, will join with autonomous vehicles, crypto currencies, new kinds of artificial intelligence and voice first systems, like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa, along with other deep infrastructure changes from new kinds of cloud architectures to 5G to radically change what we think of computing and, even, what it means to be human.

Charles Schreger




Former president of HBO Enterprises, currently marketing professor at NYU Stern School of Business, visiting professor at American University in Dubai and former staff writer at the Los Angeles Times.

Mark D'Arcy




VP, Chief Creative Officer at Facebook where he leads the company’s creative efforts to make advertising across Facebook and Instagram more relevant for people and more valuable for businesses. Mark joined Facebook in 2011 and today his team, The Creative Shop, operates from more than 40 Facebook offices and last year alone helped produce several thousand projects across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus for an extraordinarily diverse client base including 80% of the world’s top 100 advertisers. The Creative Shop does all this through close partnerships with all the major advertising groups and collaborations with independent creators, influencers, artists, production companies, media companies and technologists. The work these partnerships create is regularly recognized in the press for driving innovation and at leading award shows, including Cannes Lions, where Mark has served on the inaugural Innovation and 2016 Glass Lion juries. Mark helped establish the Facebook Awards to celebrate the best creative work on the platform and in 2012, he founded the Facebook Global Creative Council. Mark is proud to serve on the boards of AD and the IFP, Independent Filmmaker Project.

Mike Butcher




Mike Butcher (FRSA) is currently Editor of TechCrunch Europe. Mike is also involved in a project to bring European technology entrepreneurs and investors together in a club environment called TechHub (@TechHub), in London initially. A long time journalist, Mike has written for UK national newspapers and magazines including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The New Statesman. He is a former editor ofNew Media Age magazine, the leading new media weekly in the UK, and the European edition of The Industry Standard magazine. Since 1996 he has launched or re-launched numerous media web sites and in 2000 he was nominated as NetMedia's European Internet Journalist of the Year. In 2004 he was voted "One of the 100 Innovators of the UK Internet Decade" by GfK NOP, the fourth-largest custom research business in the world. In July 2008 he was put at No. 47 out of the Top 100 people in London's creative industry by The Independent newspaper and The Hospital Club. In August 2008 TechCrunch Europe was awarded the best "Web 2.0 and business blog" in the UK, by the readers of Computer Weekly magazine. In 2009 it was named as one of the Top 10 blogs out of the UK. Also in 2009 he was named one of the Top 10 bloggers on Twitter in the UK. In October 2009 he was named one of the Top 50 most influential Britons in technology by The Daily Telegraph. In April 2010 he was named as one of Britain's Top 100 "digital power-brokers" by Wired UK magazine. In April 2010 TechCrunch Europe was shortlisted in the Specialist Digital Publisher category of the prestigious UK-based Association of Online Publishers' Digital Publishing Awards. In November 2010 he was named as one of London's most influential people in New Media and "king of dotcom commentators" by The Evening Standard Newspaper. In February he was listed as one of the Top 100 most influential people on Twitter in the UK. He has spoken at the prestigious Monaco Media Forum and Le Web, among many other conferences. Mike is a regular commentator on the technology business, appearing on BBC News, Sky News, Channel 4 and Bloomberg. Mike's personal blog is mbites, while he Twitters as @mikebutcher.

Ronaldo Mouchawar


The co-founder and CEO of, the largest online retail and marketplace platform in the Arab world. Since co-founding in 2005, Mr Mouchawar has overseen aggressive expansion of the company to become the first choice in online shopping for millions of customers in the Middle East. Mr Mouchawar has more than 15 years of experience in technology and business management. He started his career as a Technical and Systems Consultant with EDS in the US, and before starting, he spearheaded a consulting company that managed numerous web and e- commerce projects in the Arab world. Mr Mouchawar holds a Master's degree in Digital Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Mr Mouchawar’s family background is in trading, which combined with his passion for innovation and technology, has led him to start, develop and lead the e-commerce market in this region. As keen to set high goals for himself and his team in his career as he did as a Basketball player, he is an inspiration to young entrepreneurs looking to blaze their own trail and he is passionate about creating jobs for Arabs and like-minded entrepreneurs to join his growing team. In March 2015, Mr Mouchawar received an award from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in recognition of’s digital influence in the UAE. Recently, Mr Mouchawar was awarded the prestigious Retail Business Leader of the Year & Entrepreneur of the Year Awards by Gulf Business (Motivate Publishing).

Previous Partners

What We Cover

FoodX will cover the latest trends and innovation in the food technology space, including farming, supply chain, logistics, research, investment, and legislation, with participation from relevant stakeholders from the ecosystem.

Farming & Agritech
  • The Green Revolution
  • Vertical Farming, Aquaponics, Hydroponics
  • Recycling and Waste Management
Delivery & Logistics
  • Supply Chain & Wholesale
  • Cloud Kitchens and Alternative Models
  • Food Delivery Apps
Research and Innovation
  • AI, Big Data, and IoT
  • Robotics and Automation
  • Alternative Foods
Investment & Fundraising
  • Government Funding
  • VC & Angel Investor Interest
  • Emerging Foodtech Startups
Legislation & Policy
  • Food Security
  • Consumerism
  • Sustainability
Consumers & Marketing
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Brand Loyalty
  • Wellness & Lifestyle


Live Stage And Tracks

FoodX features a live stage, workshops and programming running simultaneously covering the latest trends and innovation in the foodtech space.

Startup & SME Programming

FoodX hosts multiple online startup & SME programs to facilitate connections with investors, clients, partners.


There will be opportunities for attendees to meet the right people through general and curated virtual networking.


Matchmaking opportunities will be curated between different stakeholders through themed roundtable sessions focusing on diverse industry topics.


The Step experiences are entertaining and educational across the days of the event, giving attendees an opportunity to network differently.

Virtual Exhibition

Startups, tech companies, brands government entities across various stakeholder types participate to connect with attendees and gather leads, connect with potential partners, or scout for talent online.