Any sustainable business has a generic formula underlying its success: addressing a customer ‘pain point’, an innovative solution to the pain, and a way to generate money.
Together, these factors represent an equation for any successful business, but the cornerstone is the dynamics between your actions as a startup leader and the action of your customers. This dynamic will tell you how to go to market, what to compromise on, and what to insist on.
For start-ups, there are many opportunities for feedback and information. You can use these resources to keep your eye on trends and perceptions, and test before you go to your customer.
One resource that entrepreneurs like is the start-up competition, such as the one held in Egypt that KinTrans won, which brought the company and its founder Mohamed Elwazer to the TURN8 start-up accelerator in Dubai.
Another memorable one was sponsored by Seedstars World, which is based in Europe and holds competitions in dozens of countries to find the best start-ups from emerging markets. In 2014, KinTrans won the Seedstars Dubai regional competition, and was nominated as one of the best 30 start-ups in emerging markets for 2014. A few months later, the team traveled to Switzerland to compete for $500,000 and the title of Seedstars World Best Start-up.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Elwazer, but he took some positives: “I asked the judges for feedback, and their answer was really interesting,” he says.
“They didn’t see value or have interest in start-ups with a social aspect. Maybe we couldn’t demonstrate how a business with a social aspect can fulfill a successful business equation?|”
For Elwazer this did not suggest that KinTrans was a bad company
“The customer need, innovation and verified successful business model are there,” he adds.
“This led me to the dynamics of actions between KinTrans and its customers. The only tool that can say if there is something wrong or not is these dynamics, so you must be close to your customers.”
Competitions have another big value other than winning money. Some start-ups use them as marketing and investment platforms, while others look at them as hiring platforms.
“I still remember when we hired our CFO Adnan, an investment banker with 20 years’ experience and a founder and CEO,” says Elwazer.
“The first time I saw him was at AIM 2015 in Dubai. We had a very good discussion after my presentation there and he loved KinTrans so much that he joined our team.
“My advice to other start-ups is not to focus only on winning, as there are many other valuable aspects of these events.”
As his entrepreneurial experience has grown, Elwazer says he has developed a better understanding of what to do and what not to do. One thing he advocates is helping others.
“The most interesting part is when you start to give back to the ecosystem through a session talking about how to be successful, or via an email from someone asking for a recommendation, feedback or advice,” he says.
“At these moments, you see the integration of the value chain. There were a lot of people who helped me and gave me the chance when I arrived in the UAE.
“Now it’s my turn to help others crack this market and tackle its challenges.
For information, tips and advice on setting up a new business or insights from those who have taken the leap into the world of entrepreneurship, click on the Arabian Business StartUp section.
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