KinTrans was accepted to the first round of TURN8 in the autumn of 2013. As founder Mohamed Elwazer recalls, his excitement over the opportunity to travel to the UAE and bring his start-up idea to life was overshadowed as reality dawned on him.
“I started to think about my family and friends and how I will manage being away from them and not seeing them all the time or getting their support in the hard times,” he admits.
Yet Mohamed’s start-up idea for a device that translates sign language into audible words was dear to his heart. As he explains, “I realised that if I really believe in KinTrans and how it will help hearing impaired people communicate with others, and how it will be a successful business, I should sacrifice and be away for a while – then I will be there again. It was an opportunity for me to not only take responsibility for my idea, but also give myself, and others like me, the hope that they can follow their dreams.”
Moving to a new country for four months was still a daunting proposition, but Mohamed tried to put the situation in perspective. “Yes, it will be hard and you will feel pain,” he told himself. “You will feel alone sometimes, but the results and output will be great and you will laugh at these hard moments later.”
Mohamed’s first big challenge came before he even reached Dubai. The KinTrans team member who was scheduled to attend TURN8 with him backed out at the last minute. Mohamed thought his dream might be over, as he knew how difficult it would be to build his new business alone in an unfamiliar country.
But then technology saved the day. Mohamed arranged it so that he could communicate regularly with his team in Egypt via Skype. He decided to go to Dubai and make it work.
“The arrangement meant I was awake for 24 hours straight some days,” he admits, “but I loved it and kept moving forward.”
Although Mohamed’s team was 1,500 miles away, he found unexpected support amongst the other TURN8 start-ups, as well as his mentor.
“I consider TURN8 my other family,” he says. “The kind of support, motivation, help and training they gave me was great. I also built a strong friendship with one of the trainers at the accelerator. You could find me in the morning arguing with him and that night hanging out together for dinner or a football game. This was the life in TURN8, and this is why I love being in there even after graduation.”
As with any new start-up, Mohamed encountered a number of challenges as he prepared to launch his new business. Yet, he has come to realise that challenges are a normal part of the life he has chosen. “Giving up will not end the challenges. They will be there all the time. It is your decision to continue, to fight, and to be in the game.”
Next month… Preparing for the Investor Demo Day.
TURN8 is a seed accelerator program initiated by DP World. The program is designed to encourage innovative entrepreneurship worldwide, starting with Dubai. www.turn8.co.
About the Author
Debra Jennings has more than 15 years of experience writing on a variety of topics She is the Director of Storytelling for Innovation 360, a Dubai-based consultancy that manages the TURN8 program on behalf of DP World.
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