At the Seedstars World Finals in Switzerland earlier this month, there were two startups from the Middle East among the 12 finalists, and many more among the 50+ startups from around the world. Omniup Ads from Morocco and Yaqut from Jordan managed to bring across their story and business in a well thought out way. Omniup Ads brings you free wifi in exchange for watching video ads, and Yaqut is the Kindle for the Middle East.
Upon talking with Hasan Haider from 500Startups, he notes that we can’t take the standards from Silicon Valley as otherwise we’d never invest in emerging markets. The investment giant has 15 in-house growth hackers, is present in 50 countries, and has done more than 1500 investments.
1) Have conviction. Follow your intuition.
As Andrea Barrica from 500Startups says, it’s important to not follow the crowds, believe in oneself and create something the local market truly needs. Yaqut, SolarizEgypt and SmartBeen have definitely proven that.
2) They see the support and not the challenges.
Rana from SolarizEgypt says the youth is less and less afraid. More and more people dare to follow their ideas and realize it. She benefits from a growing ecosystem and focuses on the support available, instead of seeing why something can’t work. Do your homework, focus on your goal, and be in your target market. There is a lot of time already in school. Are you watching Netflix or building the next empire?
3) Honor your values and principles.
One of the toughest decisions in your early business life will be weather to take that money and go against your principles or stick true to your values and work for a better opportunity to come. It will be very tempting to take that investment because you needed it so soon. But, you will regret it once your investors are taking over with ideas that weren’t quite really what you imaged to happen. Focusing on the money first, and let values be second destoys your business quicker than you could have seen it rise.
4) Lead by example.
The most successful startups lead by example. Their founders are passionate about what they do and lead by example. They prefer to just do instead of preaching. If they want their employees to work hard, they work hard themselves. They have the capacity to transmit their own passion to their employees and make them feel the value of their work and contribution.
5) Don’t waste your life on social media.
They know that there is a lot out there to experience and being 24/7 on social media doesn’t get them anywhere. They are keen on real-world conversations, exchange of knowledge, avid readers, podcast-listeners, and invest in self-development. The next time you’re on social media, ask yourself: “Is this really worth my time and adding value to my life, or could I rather build a business that impacts my community and makes other people’s lives better?”