How to deal with obstacles in entrepreneurship

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Khalid Al-Mutawa, Kuwaiti who started his own company right after the college, and built hundreds of projects for other companies, is the star of our newest blog post. Since he is very active in Kuwait’s startup community and also an entrepreneur for the last couple of years, recently we had a chat with him about obstacles in business and how to deal with them.

At this moment he is focusing on three main startups – StudentHub (recruitment platform for students and fresh graduates), Plugn (Instagram comment management for teams), and The White Book (event planning platform). On August 2nd he will be a speaker at Coded Talks, where he will share his previous experiences in startups with the audience.

Anyway, Khalid says the biggest obstacle for him was shifting from a developer/tech mindset to a business mindset.

His initial thought process was next:

  • I’ve heard its difficult creating a company license, so ill hire someone else to do that for me.
  • I like building things, so I’ll do it for free for whoever asks me to do so.
  • I can do this in 5 minutes, do I really charge for this?
  • Do we really need to talk about pricing?
  • Why do I need to do accounting? I can count what’s in my bank account.
  • What’s an investor? Do I need that?
  • I can just get more employees and it will increase the amount of money I make.

This is what he realized along the way:

  • People fear what they don’t know and make it sound difficult. Just because someone else couldn’t do something, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself.
  • Creating a company is not difficult if you go through the process yourself and learn the process and requirements.
  • Everyone likes free stuff, you do something for free and people will take advantage. Be sure to always get something in return even if it’s of low value.
  • If it was something someone else can do as well within 5 minutes, they wouldn’t be approaching you in the first place. Your 5 minutes are probably worth 5 hours to someone else.
  • Pricing is always important to discuss, there’s no reason to avoid the topic.
  • I believe building a business requires basic knowledge of what investors are and why they invest, just to make sure nobody takes advantage of you.
  • Recruiting the right people is difficult, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

As an entrepreneur, Khalid advises you to do your best to stay motivated and keep working regardless of what obstacles you face. You should fail, learn from your mistakes, and start over keeping in mind what to do to avoid or bypass that same obstacle.

He believes there is no obstacle that an entrepreneur can’t pass with the correct mindset. The biggest obstacles are psychological ones: fear, greed, lack of patience, and emotions faced when things are not going the way you planned them to.

We would like to summarize this blog post in two funny images chosen by Khalid, which describe what he sees as being the biggest obstacle for entrepreneurs – emotions.

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2016_08_01_day_life_entrepreneur

Main photo: niu

Coded Talks: Abdullah Al-Dabbous – The MyFatoorah Story

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This blog post appeared on Coded blog on July 18th, 2016. It is published on StartupQ8 blog with the consent of the author and Coded.

Author: Ana Tadić

Coded started off with their Summer Full-time Bootcamp, which is taking place at Mefazec from July 17th to September 10th. And that means Coded weekly events are back again. The first Coded Talk will be with Abdullah Al-Dabbous, founder of a startup called MyFatoorah.

Coded: Could you tell us more about yourself?

Abdullah: I graduated from Arizona State in 2008 joined Arcapita in London for a year then EY transaction advisory services for 3.5 years. After that I did my MBA at Insead. When I came back I started MyFatoorah.

Coded: How long have you been involved with startups and how?

2016_07_18_abdullah_al_dabbous

Abdullah: I have always been a business-minded person looking for opportunities to venture with. I guess I have been influenced greatly by my father who is a businessman himself. While I was a full time employee, I started an exchange business which involves buying and selling physical currencies and an online currency platform from there. Furthermore, I enjoyed setting up a GMAT Boot Camp where many of the students joined top universities.

Coded: Could you tell us more about MyFatoorah? What is it about and when was it founded?

Abdullah: MyFatoorah is a unique online payment solution which has over 1000 registered vendors today. I started it in early 2015 and approached vendors in September that year. MyFatoorah gives you the key to simple SMS invoicing, online payment collections, and simple connections with your customers. There’s no need to download any software, as this sophisticated payment platform can be integrated to any new or existing site. You can bill clients via the web or their device, making it more convenient than ever for them to press ‘pay’ with the touch of their finger.

Coded: Can you share few main topics you will talk about on Tuesday?

Abdullah: On Tuesday, I will talk briefly about my background. How MyFatoorah started, how it works and the key challenges in working on a startup. Then I would like to share the key takeaways entrepreneurs should keep in mind when starting their own business.

Coded: Who should benefit the most of your talk?

Abdullah: People involved in tech, developers, existing business and people thinking of starting a business.

July 19th, 7:30 PM, Mefazec – be there!

Top 3 websites to learn coding

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With all available resources that we are surrounded by today, it’s easy to learn anything you want. Coding or programming, whatever you call it, is much easier to learn nowadays than 15 years ago. Video tutorials, online courses, you name it – knowledge is just a few clicks away thanks to easy access to the information.

Since Hamad Mufleh has been on all sides of software projects; as a client, manager, developer and UI/UX designer, we asked him to recommend few websites that he finds useful for people who want to learn coding.

  1. Codecademy

Codecademy is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in 11 different programming languages. Some of those are Python, Java, PHP, JavaScript (jQuery, AngularJS), Ruby, SQL, as well as markup languages HTML and CSS.  It’s free, and difficulty level is easy to intermediate. This website allows you to quickly and easily gain familiarity with a variety of coding languages with little to no prior experience. If you are a beginner, this is a good place for you.

  1. Code School

Code School is an online learning destination for existing and aspiring developers that teaches through entertaining content. Each course is built around a creative theme and storyline so that it feels like you’re playing a game, not sitting in a classroom. They combine gaming mechanics with video instruction and in-browser coding challenges to make learning fun and memorable. Code School offers almost 60 courses covering Ruby, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, iOS, Git, and databases. Their courses are more in-depth to train, they can turn you into an expert with the industry’s best practices. Difficulty level of Code School’s courses is intermediate to hard.

Some of their courses are free and some of them are $29 per month. If you decide to go with an annual plan, it will cost you $19 per month. They also have a blog where you can read interesting pieces of advice and helpful tips.

  1. Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a Q&A website site for professional and enthusiast programmers. It’s built and run by the community as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With the help of community members, they are working to build a library of detailed answers to every question about programming. On Stack Overflow you can use the tags or browse the lists of questions, or simply use the search box. It’s pretty sure you will find some solution to your coding problems there. If you don’t find what you needed, you can go directly into the chat rooms arranged according to languages and platforms.

You can start with those resources, or you can apply for Coded’s part-time bootcamp and become a professional full-stack developer in 14 weeks.

5 books every startuper needs to read

Startup Stock Photos

It’s never easy to start your own business for the first time, and this is where good books come as a real treasure. Especially to those who are just about to enter the world of entrepreneurship or they work in a startup. We bring you top 5 books by the choice of Kuwait’s notable young entrepreneurs.

Saleh Al-Musallam, co-founder of Ghaseel, an on demanding car wash app, really liked these books:

  1. How to Build a Billion Dollar App, George Berkowski

Apps have changed the way we communicate, shop, play, interact and travel and their phenomenal popularity has presented possibly the biggest business opportunity in history.

Berkowski draws exclusively on the inside stories of the billion-dollar app club members, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Candy Crush, Square, Viber, Clash of Clans, Angry Birds, Uber and Flipboard to provide all the information you need to create your own spectacularly successful mobile business. He guides you through each step, from an idea scribbled on the back of an envelope, through to finding a cofounder, building a team, attracting (and keeping) millions of users, all the way through to juggling the pressures of being CEO of a billion-dollar company (and still staying ahead of the competition).

  1. Zero to One, Peter Thiel

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

  1. Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment, as defined by bestselling business guru Guy Kawasaki, is not about manipulating people. It transforms situations and relationships. It con­verts hostility into civility and civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers and the undecided into the loyal. Enchantment can happen during a retail transaction, a high-level corporate negotiation, or a Facebook update. And when done right, it’s more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence, or marketing techniques.

Kawasaki argues that in business and personal interactions, your goal is not merely to get what you want but to bring about a voluntary, enduring, and delightful change in other people. By enlisting their own goals and desires, by being likable and trustworthy, and by framing a cause that others can embrace, you can change hearts, minds, and actions.

Hashim Bahbahani, co-founder of Coded, and a man who is very active in Kuwait’s startup community since 2011, aside from Zero to One recommends the following books:

  1. The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

  1. The Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank & Bob Dorf

The Startup Owner’s Manual guides you, step-by-step, as you put the Customer Development process to work. This method was created by renowned Silicon Valley startup expert Steve Blank, acknowledged catalyst of the “Lean Startup” movement, and tested and refined by him for more than a decade.

This book will help you:

  • Avoid the 9 deadly sins that destroy startups’ chances for success
  • Use the Customer Development method to bring your business idea to life
  • Incorporate the Business Model Canvas as the organizing principle for startup hypotheses
  • Identify your customers and determine how to “get, keep and grow” customers profitably
  • Compute how you’ll drive your startup to repeatable, scalable profits

Did you read any good book about startups? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments with us.🙂

Startup Investment Guide for Kuwaiti Investors

Two weeks ago I was in talks with a person (that I greatly appreciate) to help them out with their new fund. They wanted to invest in startups and my job was as an advisor in the fund. While I really liked the initial idea and the people behind it, we disagreed on the strategy of the fund and how everything should work.

I had my own investment thesis that I developed myself. I’m no investment expert, I actually never invested in anything before except for a couple of bad stocks that went bust!! But hey, I still worked in Private Equity, passed CFA level II and did my MBA in one of the top 10 schools in the world and been a full time entrepreneur more than 5 years now🙂

Anyway, as most of you know I like to share my crazy ideas, and here is why I decided to share my amazing TOP SECRET investment thesis:

1- It will start an interesting discussion.

2- It will help others to think of their own investment strategy.

3- Some of you might actually get excited and start investing himself/herself.

4- Might open new opportunities.

I constructed the theory based on two main factors:

1- The type of Startup

2- The problem they are trying to solve (is it local, regional or global)

After that I applied many factors based on my personal opinion and experience. The factors used to create the thesis:

  1. Type of startup
  2. What a startup need to succeed
  3. Does the startup has potential to grow globally, regionally or only in Kuwait.
  4. Startup stage
  5. Acceptable valuation range
  6. Potential exit
  7. Potential return
  8. Potential acquirers
  9. Probability to succeed 

After creating the thesis I converted it to a guide (aka a cheat sheet) that any Kuwaiti or GCC investor can use. I preferred to use specific numbers and narrow ranges to be more practical. However, these numbers can be far from reality, but it should give you a good sense on what to expect when investing in startups. Again I used so many assumptions to arrive to some of these numbers, so please don’t use this guide as something written in stone.

Here is a link of the full guide in Google Sheets:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NjL5Hm2kXpGAU7HiWKDnHboxPY9NTLuAJi5YPeZFjJ8/edit?usp=sharing

Please feel free to write any comments in the sheet, will be interesting to get your feedback. Below is further explanation of the guide.

1- The Pure Tech:

These are startups that are building pure technology and the team should be heavy in technology. These startups usually focus to solve a specific problem for businesses or regular people. Usually these startups comes in a shape of a web app or mobile app. An example of these companies will be something like Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Mixpanel..etc.

These companies usually charge in a monthly basis or per usage (aka SaaS startups). Usually minimal human interaction is required and often the customer doesn’t really care where the startup is based. A pure tech startup needs to be close to a pool of talented programmers.

Pure 2

2- The Marketplaces:

A marketplace connects buyers to sellers. These startups don’t really have a product to sell, they sell other people products or services. Example is Uber, Airbnb, talabat.com and fishfishme.com.

Lots of ground work is usually involved here and the startup needs to be close to it’s sellers and buyers.

Marketplace 2

3- The E-commerce:

Either you sell your own branded products or a third party products. Will still see new e-commerce companies emerge as long as we have new platforms coming up. Also we get to see some clothing brands that do online only. E-commerce startups need to focus on their product, UX/UI and marketing.

E-commerce websites need to be close to their suppliers, customers and investors.

Ecommerce 2

4- The Hardware:

Hardware startups develop physical technology. We rarely see these startups in Kuwait and the region, but if we do usually they do well. Why? I think a hardware startup get better media coverage and it’s cooler than a software startup. Also usually they solve a local problem ignored by giant global manufacturers, thus very focused and relevant to the local market.

I have few example of these in the region, but to give you an idea a Saudi women created an electronic coffee maker Yatooq. Kuwaiti Sakhar computer was also considered a successful hardware company back then (I feel very proud about Sakhar being Kuwaiti!).

Hardware 3

5- The Social/Content/Media Startups:

These are startups that fall into the social network, content publishing and user generated content category. I usually underestimate these startups, but I see them do very well. I think mostly because of their social and viral element embedded in most of these apps. Some of the success startup that comes to mind are Nabd and Mojaz. 

Social 2

I probably missed some types of startups, such as gaming startups for example. But, I guess you can easily apply the concept to any startup type. 

Fund Structure:

 

Fund size: US$3M-5M
Number of investments: 30 – 40 investments (remember only few startups succeed, high risk high return game)

Duration of the fund: 5-8yrs
Fund deployment period: 3 years (target of 10 investments per year)
Focus: GCC startups (locals and non-locals)
Your job as an investor: help in fund raising (connecting with other investors) and finding potential acquirers.
Duration to make a decision : 1 month (from first meeting to wiring money). However, Round 3 investments should probably require more diligence.
How to get deal flow: Start by co-investing with well know angels in Kuwait. Then co-invest with well known VCs in the region.

Sorry for the long post. But, thought will be interesting for some of you. I can go on and on talking about this, but I’ll keep it till here and wait to here your feedback. Please share this with your investor friends and encourage them to give their feedback as well!

Dana Alfaraj: Why did I choose to work in a startup right after the graduation?

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After 23-year-old Kuwaiti Dana Alfaraj graduated from the American University of the Middle East in January 2016, she decided not to go with the flow and take some job in a public sector, but to start her career in a startup. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and is currently working as an intern at Ghinwa, a startup that won the first place at recently held MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition.

StartupQ8: What (or who) motivated you to start your career in a startup and not in a public sector? When did you decide to do so?

Dana: Ever since I was young, I lived an ordinary life like any other teenager. Half way through college, I had a turning point because I realized that I don’t want to live the routine life anymore since it is not who I am. I have many ideas in my mind that I have the potential to accomplish, but I never had the courage to take action. I shifted my perspective of life and I started liking change and taking the risk of trying new things.

My mentor Mohammad AlMunaikh, who is the CEO of Ghinwa, had a huge role in motivating me to enter the world of startups and stepping out of my comfort zone. Before graduating in a month or two, I made up my mind to go for it. In both cases, if it turns good or bad, I’ll learn something from it. So far, I love it and believe that I fit there perfectly because I’m learning a lot in a very short time and I’m enjoying the experience.

StartupQ8: Since the team is based in Dubai, from where do you work?

Dana: I work remotely in Kuwait, but I fly to Dubai whenever I am needed there. In general, most of our meetings are via Skype. Though, there are few meetings that take place in Kuwait. Eventually, when I get the full time job, I’ll be moving to Dubai.

StartupQ8: What is the most challenging part of working in a startup?

Dana: For me, I think the most challenging part is that we are all in different locations. I find it a bit hard sometimes to communicate with the team through Skype or Slack all the time. Although, it is getting easier by time. I also didn’t meet the entire team yet. I would like to meet them and know more about the people I’m working with. This is my first official job and all the members of the team are well experienced. Sometimes, I find it challenging to catch up and be on their pace. The good thing is that I get to observe and learn from their experiences.

StartupQ8: Is there any piece of advice you would like to share with fresh graduates when it comes to choosing private sector over public sector?

Dana: People have different backgrounds and experiences. Some people might fit in the private sector rather than the public sector and vice versa. From my experience, the best advice I would give is to try new things and give it time to discover what you really passionate about to end up in the path that you love. Simply, choose the job that makes you sincerely happy, because it will lead you to gradually succeed in what you’re doing. Make sure you live the journey that you want and enjoy the ride.

We couldn’t agree more with Dana.

How to Make Kuwait a Regional Tech Hub? StartupQ8 Monthly Event Brings the Answers

StartupQ8 event for June was one of the best monthly events we ever had, we can say that without doubt. Not to mention that Mefazec’s coworking space on the first day of June was full of people who wanted to explore the world of startups in Kuwait and how can we make it better.

The event was also a crown of Coded Spring Bootcamp 2016. Co-founder of Coded Ahmad Marafi handed over diplomas to their students with the help of Richard Kramlich, well-known venture capitalist. He is also a co-founder of New Enterprise Associates, a global venture capital company that invests in technology and healthcare.

In the meantime, CEO of fishfishme Abdullah Alshalabi, founder of Lumba, Inc. Abdullah Alzabin, and former CEO of Talabat Mohammed Jaffar as panelists, and Hashim Bahbahani from Coded as a moderator were getting ready to take over the stage and discuss on how to make Kuwait a regional tech hub.

The conclusion of the panel discussion is that building a tech sector is definitely a viable way of moving Kuwait from a country that relies on oil for more than half of its GDP to the place where other sectors are equally represented. We are all aware of the fact that capital is here. We’re also working on a talent and legal structure improvement. The most important thing above all is to make Kuwait friendly place for expats so they can decide on moving and working in Kuwait more easily.

The last but not least speaker was Alvaro Abella from BECO Capital, one of the leading venture capital companies in the Middle East. He was joined on stage by Yousef Hammad. They talked about how entrepreneurs can structure a pitch deck to catch investors’ attention, what to focus on in the presentation, and what content to include. They also spoked about how to choose an investor, and what VCs look for in startups.

That’s all, folks! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for more events. And one more thing. Keep in mind that our friends from Coded are organizing full-time summer bootcamp and invite you to apply. Hurry up because the deadline is June 13th and you might get one of the two available scholarships!

Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for June 2016

Mark your calendars for a new StartupQ8 Event!

You really don’t want to miss this one!

The first part will be an open discussion panel on how Kuwait can become a regional tech hub. The panelists will be Abdullah Al-Zabin (Lumba, Inc.), Mohammed Jaffar (formerly of Talabat), and Abdullah Al-Shalabi (fishfishme). The panel will be open and interactive with the audience.

Following that, we have Alvarro Abella-Managing Partner at BECO Capital, one of the leading Venture Capitalist firms in the Middle East. Alvarro will talk about how startups should choose an investor, and what VC’s look for in startups.

The event will be held Wednesday (June 1) @ 7 pm at @Mefazec (Alhamra Tower, 16th Floor). Here is the schedule

7:00– 7:15 Welcome
7:15 – 8.15 Startup Panel
8:15 – 9:00 Choosing the Right Investor
9:00 – 9:30 Networking + pizza

As always, the event will be in English and it is open to everyone (no need to register). Follow our social media accounts for more info (@StartupQ8 on Twitter and Instagram).
See you there!

Did The Technology Industry Reach Its Plateau?

The Technology Hype

There is too much hype around staggering technology startup valuations, unicorns, Apple’s cash position, Alphabet’s vision, and many more. Most of what I hear and read is whether or not the technology industry reached a plateau. Partly the reasoning is the exaggerated valuations, sometimes lavish life style of few technology entrepreneurs, and whether we really want so much new features in our mobile devices, or augmented reality?!

The Scope of the Research

That’s a very broad subject, and I spent time researching various angles that can tackle some of the questions that arise towards the technology industry. In essence, I decomposed the questions I want to answer based on different stakeholders:

Venture Capitalists: Should we raise a new fund? Should we continue investing in more startups? Is there enough room for mergers and acquisitions activity so we exit our positions?

Entrepreneurs: Should I start a new tech startup? Doesn’t it seem a bit too much crowded now to start yet a new startup? Would the big boys with big bucks have any interest/capital in the next 5 years to buy out my startup?

Executives of tech companies: How much more room we have for growth? Can we still play the acquisition game to grow our market share?

Methodology

Obviously, those questions cannot be answered in a one page blog post. However, a simple yet data driven approach can give us amazing insights into answering them.

Business Consolidations

Industries go through four stages until they become so called “mature” or “stable”. Based on the article “The Consolidation Curve” in Harvard Business Review, the four stages are Opening, Scale, Focus, and Balance and Alliance.

Briefly describing, the article tackles the consolidation curve of industries by measuring the market share of the top 3 players of the industry.

  • Opening: A monopoly that soon vanishes and the top 3 players control between 10% to 30% of the market due to an influx of competitors.
  • Scale: Major players emerge and buy up competitors. Top 3 players control between 15% to 45% of the market.
  • Focus: Top 3 players focus on aggressive growth and control 35% to 70% of the market. Still 5 to 12 major players are around.
  • Balance and Alliance: The top 3 players control about 90% of the market and form alliances between themselves.

Current Market Analysis

So if we take that segmentation as a basis to find out how much the technology market has emerged, and how much growth can it still absorb, then what we need to find out is how the top 3 players of the technology market stack against the entire market.

Unicorns and Listed Companies

My assumptions going forward would be the following:

  1. The basis of the research is the United States market.
  2. Listed Technology companies in the NASDAQ market comprise all the publicly traded technology companies. Link to the list.
  3. Private technology companies that matter are the Unicorns, i.e. startups that reached beyond the $1 Billion valuation. Link to the list.

Total Addressable Market

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.59.44 AM

Top 3 Players of the Tech Market

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.59.54 AM

Scale Stage

Sum of the top 3 players’ market shares is: 27.9%. This puts the Technology industry into the second stage of scale based on HBR’s article.

So What Does This Mean?

To answer the questions we addressed at the beginning, we need to take a look at the scale stage. Here’s how it’s described based on HBR’s article:

Because of the large number of acquisitions occurring in this stage, companies must hone their merger-integration skills. These include learning how to carefully protect their core culture as they absorb new companies and focusing on retaining the best employees of acquired companies. Building a scalable IT platform is also crucial to the rapid integration of acquired firms. Companies jockeying to reach stage 3 must be among the first players in the industry to capture their major competitors in the most important markets and should expand their global reach.

This describes the rapid M&A activity by large players trying to acquire as much good startups as possible to ensure their own survival. In summary, the answers to the questions would be:

Venture Capitalists: Should we raise a new fund? Should we continue investing in more startups? Is there enough room for mergers and acquisitions activity so we exit our positions?

Answer: In short: Yes. There is still room. However, funds should predict the estimated timing of stage 3 of the market. VCs should focus on growth startups in the industry’s transitioning phase into the third stage. Reason why is that the big players won’t have enough time to buy out startups at early stages and can only accommodate growth startups that will immediately add to their top lines and make fast synergies with their businesses.

Entrepreneurs: Should I start a new tech startup? Doesn’t it seem a bit too much crowded now to start yet a new startup? Would the big boys with big bucks have any interest/capital in the next 5 years to buy out my startup?

Answer: While entrepreneurship is always encouraged, and one should be dedicated to growing his/her company, I think with the tech scene becoming too crowded, tech entrepreneurs should have a solid idea regarding their possible exit strategy to one of the major players in the technology scene. That may seem trivial but from personal experience, I see lots of startup founders tackling legitimate problems but not having an idea about their exit strategy. Also, it does not necessarily mean that the exit synergy should ONLY be with Apple, Google, or Microsoft. Although these three are the giants, other major players are still very legitimate options since the industry hasn’t gone through the third stage yet.

Executives of tech companies: How much more room we have for growth? Can we still play the acquisition game to grow our market share?

Answer: Yes. There is plenty of room to grow. 27.9% of the market is way behind the 90% mark. However, acquisitions should be targeted smartly in various verticals in the sense that not only adds to the top line directly, but also makes it harder for the competitors to join that specific vertical. In short, release products and acquire startups revolving around the product to make the barriers for entry in that product’s vertical harder bracing for an aggressive competition in stage 3.

StartupQ8 Event for April reveals a secret to Silicon Valley

On April 24th, we hosted our monthly event which was extra special thanks to guys from Flexport, and our panelists Dr. Mussaad Al-Razouki, Philip Pasler and Abdul Qader Hussain.

The event was held at Mefazec, a venue provider for Coded’s spring bootcamp. It started along with Flexport team, Sanne Manders and Ryan Petersen, who talked about their startup path.

If you weren’t familiar with this San Francisco based startup before, it is a licensed freight forwarder that uses people and software to manage the complexity of international trade. It is also a Y Combinator and Google Ventures backed startup that has been featured in Bloomberg, Forbes, and others. They move lots of air freight and thousands of containers of ocean freight every month, and also provide all the necessary coordinating functions.

During the talk, Sanne mentioned that startups need to concentrate on a customer experience and not look so much on a marketing, shareholders etc. According to him, focusing on a customer experience is the key to a Silicon Valley.

The other part of event was dedicated to angel investor and VC panel where entrepreneurs and investors discussed fundraising for startups. White answering the questions from the audience, Dr. Mussaad emphasized the importance of a good team. Investors don’t invest in your idea, they invest in you and your team. So, if you are running a startup, be sure to find the right people for your team – not only because of potential investments, but your business and success.

After the event came to its end, we rounded it up with networking with pizza as we usually do.

Keep an eye on our Instagram and Twitter account and be the first to find out about StartupQ8’s events!

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