StartupGuy

I am StartupGuy
I start a fire with ice

Born: 29th July 19XX

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December 23, 2018 StartupGuy0

Having attended the Africa 2018 Forum held in Egypt under the high patronage of HE President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in early December 2018, I got to have a very lovely startup conversation with Mr Alaa Moustafa, who is a Business Support Manager at Egypt’s Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC). Alaa was moderating my session during the World Youth Forum under the creativity pillar where I made a talk about the role of Startups in global economic development.

I also got to learn a bit more about TIEC’s exciting initiatives including the the African App Launchpad (AAL) initiative, an Africa-wide platform aiming to build capacity of Egyptian and African youth and foster establishment of sustainable Egyptian and African startups in the area of the advanced ever-changing app and game technologies.

AAL targets building capacity of ten thousand learners and establishing one hundred startups. AAL works by availing a high-quality, technology-learning online platform through crowd-sourcing top online content developed by prestigious universities and leading companies, and delivered through three leading MOOCs; Coursera, edX, and Udacity. This initiative was launched as a culmination of the recommendations made During the World Youth Forum.

In this blog, I am going to share some serious learning about launching your app. I hope you enjoy this article. Please do share your views and comments…

The lean startup methodology is to develop quickly, iterate quicker, and learn at the speed of light. It’s very rare to get things right first time, which is why you need to be quick to change and learn – most importantly don’t make the same mistakes. Some startups don’t have the luxury of continuous development, because of depletion of runway, and so never crack it and fail. So here’s some of my advice, from StartupApp’s developments to make sure you get some key things right first time for your app.

Make the value immediately accessible

We were guilty of making the first version of our product land on a profile page for the user. The thinking was that it immediately personalised the experience. However we soon learnt the hard way, and that is with apps, you have around 10 seconds to convince someone your app is worth keeping. How do you do that? Show them the value immediately. Ideally the value will of been effectively communicated in the marketing, but those who followed through to download need to see and feel the value for themselves. Whatever the value in your service, make it super easy to understand the quickest thing the user accesses.

Don’t assume you’ve got a good Product – Market fit

When in startup mode, it can be easy to become obsessed that what you’re doing is right. I mean, you’ve made all the plans, gone over it all in your head and it sounds exactly like something the world needs? This is a common mistake that, particularly for introverts, is hard to overcome. This is because it involves stepping out of your own mindspace and communicating with others. Of course, when we create, we’re innovating and that has to come from one person or persons, but don’t just assume you’ve cracked it.

Even experts in their field will seek validation for theories or work they put forward, and at the earliest of stages, you’re thinking shouldn’t be any different. What you risk is spending time and effort bringing a product to the market that you find out no one really needs, despite all the evidence you’ve done internally pointing to the contrary. Be prepared to work with your market along your development journey and listen to them to find the solution that they want, not what you think they want. This will increase the likelihood of your final product being relevant and sticky and so able to achieve growth.

Make sharing really easy.

The key to most apps’ success is how quickly you can make it go viral. Now there’s no secret formula for this, and if I’d cracked it, I’d be selling it for billions, not blogging about it. There are some simple things you can do however to aid that process and get a strong viral coefficient. It starts with making any sharing functionality you have very easy to access and accessible when the user would want to share it.

Leveraging any users network is powerful, so integrating with a user’s network on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp for example are great tools and if placed appropriately will be used. What you’re looking to achieve is hammering home the value of your proposition, for the user to go… wow! I need to show someone this.

It’s at that exact point, your integrations or sharing mechanisms need to be there to help the user quickly and easily share that value. This is the creme de la crem of marketing for your start-up because it’s recommendations from trusted sources. You’ve not sold anything and your value is doing the talking. Get this right and you’re laughing.

Be aware of the unforeseen

So wrapping up this blog is a point that does a circle back to my opening comments. Building lean and validating as you go is key because I can’t stress it enough… there WILL be problems and new pieces of feedback that you wouldn’t of even thought of.

Keeping a lean mentality and process will help you deal with the unexpected, so you’re efficiently positioned to react appropriately.  This is the most proactive you can be in this situation and in all honesty, I wish my team and I had this mentality when we started. But that’s the power of hindsight and fortunately it’s not too late for us, so it’s exactly how we’ve been working for the past year.


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November 13, 2018 StartupGuy0

I was recently invited to Sharm El Sheik in Egypt to speak at the World Youth Forum, an event attended by over 5000 leaders from around the world organised under the auspices of the leadership of HE President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. I spoke under the creativity pillar on the topic of the importance of startups in global economic development.

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I put this short note together to share a my thoughts on Egypt startup ecosystem.

Disclaimer: this post is by no mean exhaustive, there is a lot more to say ; just some food for thought.

Egypt currently ranks 120 in the ease of doing business index. Often times, people confuse ease-of-doing-business and healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the criteria of the latter are very different from the former.

While Egypt has consistently ranked in the top 120 of ease-of-doing-business index, and has a nascent and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, it is still lacking quantity in some of the ingredients for a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem. But I must say that work is being done on the ground, evidently so.

Although it was my very first time visiting the Northern African country, I loved the experience apart from the scenic beauty but it’s rich history and the energy among young people.

While I was speaking at one of the sessions moderated by Mr Alaa Mostafa, sharing the stage with Dr Susan Amat and Mr Ahmed Alfi, I made the recommendations that an Africa-wide initiative for startups be established so as to promote intercontinental trade and cooperation as well as value exchange. I am happy that my recommendations where adopted by the organising committee and where subsequently presented to the President.

Five days after the conclusion of the World Youth Forum, a decision had been made to host the first Africa wide startup event in December (we are currently looking for startups who are interested to participate, you can shoot an email to me via startupguy@startupmzansi.org.za for more details)

A few years ago – 3 to be exact, I wanted to visit to Egypt but unfortunately the ecosystem was all but non-existent at the time. The government  was desperately trying to grow a very nascent environment but every vertical remained extremely siloed.

Fast forward three years and any newcomer to the city of Cairo would be shocked to hear that Egypt ever lacked a startup scene and an entrepreneurial flair. The community is enormous now and the country’s entrepreneurial buzz is palpable – especially in Cairo. This is truly an exciting time for Egypt–and these are the four main components that will keep the system thriving.

1. Talent

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, as of 2017 73% of young Egyptians have a heart for entrepreneurship.

One of the biggest gripes of the ecosystem is retention of talent. Most founders who started their company in Egypt would eventually leave for other countries, due the fact that the infrastructure and funding environment could not handle their growth. So when I see foreign startup founders actually coming in to Egypt, that gives me hope.

2. Money

The funding environment used to be dominated by a few firms. Now, this once tightly-held oligopoly is being superseded by a fresh new batch of “rising star” VC firms. Also throwing their hat in the ring are the investing arms of large organisations who have made waves recently by actively investing in local startups.

3. Infrastructure

There are currently over 50 co-working spaces, accelerators, incubators and innovation labs in Egypt. Back in the day, there was only one.

Today there are dozens available, ranging from the smaller local spaces to global operators. Joining the party are a number of accelerator and corporate innovation programs. Finally, there also exists a wealth of government-assisted programs including World Youth Forum Startup Vein.

4. Support

The support for startups in Egypt is increasing as more and more partners come aboard. With the World Youth Forum taking a premier position in the world as the must attend event attracting thousands of participants from around the world, I believe that Egypt is geared to be a hub for Arab-Africa startups.

Egypt is opening it’s country and has shown us that they are serious about youth and startup empowerment.

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I will keep writing about the experience and relationship I have with the Arab State. Stay tuned.