The past two years have been full of ups and downs, excitement and disappointment for entrepreneur Mohamed Elwazer, founder of KinTrans, a start-up that celebrated its second anniversary in September. In the summer of 2013, Mohamed pitched his start-up idea at an event organised by TURN8, a new seed accelerator out of Dubai. He was accepted into TURN8’s four-month programme where he learned to build a business from scratch, how to improve and validate his idea, how to approach investors, and much more.
Although the two-year anniversary of his company was an auspicious occasion, Mohamed says it wasn’t “a big party with a cake.” Instead, he wrote a heartfelt letter to his team and KinTrans supporters (excerpt below):
“Everything we do today in KinTrans is about bridging the silence between physical and verbal communication—making the impossible possible through a convenient and culturally consistent technology solution. This is the flower, our logo, we planted and nurtured with our efforts each single day. This is KinTrans.”
KinTrans is a device designed to improve communication between deaf individuals and others by translating sign language into audible words. It is Mohamed’s goal for KinTrans to be deployed by airports, hyper markets, taxi services, educational institutions, and other organizations that serve the public. He feels that the goal of providing such a solution for the community, and the underlying set of values and beliefs, have kept his team aligned and contributed to the success of KinTrans so far.
“It is very important to any start-up team to be aligned on its values and beliefs and to keep memorising these values and beliefs all the time,” he says. “It is the responsibility of any start-up leader to make sure that this alignment is there.”
Mohamed also pointed out TED speaker Simon Sinek’s assertion that the values and beliefs of your company should also be shared with customers because people are more comfortable making a buying decision based on a belief than anything else.
“For my part,” he explains, “I think you need to market your beliefs within your team, to your investors and your customers all together. In other words, you need to keep your eyes on the ‘why’ all the time. And in your message to customers, you should start from the ‘why’ and go to the ‘what’ instead of the other way around.”
Thus, after two years, one of Mohamed’s key pieces of advice to other start-ups, including those he mentors at TURN8, is to remember why they are doing the start-up in the first place. “When they ask about what they shall say to the investors besides the traditional talk about the valuation, cost structure, milestones and doing your homework, I tell them, ‘talk about the belief’.”
TURN8 is a seed accelerator program from DP World to encourage innovative entrepreneurship worldwide, starting with Dubai. www.turn8.co/
About the Author
Debra Jennings has more than 15 years experience writing on a variety of topics. She is director of storytelling for Innovation 360, a Dubai-based consultancy that manages the TURN8 program on behalf of DP World.
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