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Sun 31 May 2015 09:19 AM

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A start-up’s progress: Part 3

We continue our series following KinTrans and their start-up journey with Turn8 seed accelerator

A start-up’s progress: Part 3

When KinTrans was in the idea stage, it was accepted to TURN8 seed accelerator, a 120-day program founded by DP World that brings innovative start-ups to Dubai to build their business.

However, not every team graduates. Teams must pass a series of review gates that demonstrate they have met a specific level of progress by a certain time. If they don’t pass, they don’t get to pitch to investors and the media on Demo Day at the completion of the programme.

As KinTrans founder Mohamed Elwazer recalls, his journey through the accelerator was especially challenging because he didn’t have an on-site team. While he worked on the business in Dubai, the rest of his team was in Egypt, and they communicated via Skype and phone calls.

“Two weeks before the first review gate, the programme directors met with me to express their concern about me being alone, and their doubts that KinTrans could achieve its deliverables on time.

“My answer was, ‘Give me until the review gate. If I can’t prove that my approach is working, you can kick me out.’”

The directors agreed and Mohamed used it as fuel to light the same passion in his team, and encouraging them to work hard to meet their goals.

“A good professional team makes you feel they are not just team members, but also friends on your journey, and it’s their chosen journey, too,” he says.

Mohamed also had help from his TURN8 mentor, Dr Thanos Mitrelias, who shared a helpful analogy about the relationship.

“Thanos told me, ‘You are swimming in a pool and I’m on the side telling you take care, move your hands like that and move fast, but at the end of the day, the one who swims to reach the other side of the pool is you, not me’.”

Dr Thanos was more than just a mentor, Mohamed says. “He used to give KinTrans way more time that we had agreed on. It all came from his faith in KinTrans and its uniqueness.”

Another person on Mohamed’s side, he feels, was Mohamed Zeytter, the TURN8 media manager who helped KinTrans (and the other teams) create videos for Demo Day. Although they didn’t always agree on how the video should be done. “Some days we stayed at The Cribb [the co-working space] working all night, trying to find good ideas and brainstorming together.”

Two weeks before Demo Day, Mohamed says he had to trust Zeytter and his talent, and he gave him the freedom to work on his ideas for the KinTrans video.  His trust paid off.

“Once I saw the full video I cried,” he says. “It was way better than I had ever imagined.

“If you have a good team and you trust them and their talents, don’t ever limit their thinking. Let them innovate and you will see magic is happening while everyone is wondering how you did it.”

NEXT MONTH… Kintrans presents to investors and media at Demo Day.

About TURN8

TURN8 is a seed accelerator program initiated by DP World. The program is designed to encourage innovative entrepreneurship worldwide, starting with Dubai.

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.