Fishfishme is Announcing a Partnership with Uber

OK, this is a pure promotional post, but I thought StartupQ8 community will be interested to know what’s going on here in Dubai. Today we are announcing a partnership with Uber (yes, Uber the on-demand black car service App, the company that just received around US$260M in funding from Google ventures). Amazing right! Yeah we are so excited too 🙂

The partnership is just for Dubai though, so now whenever someone books a fishing trip in Dubai, they will get a free pickup and drop service with a nice luxurious car (you’ll get 70AED for going to the boat and 70AED for getting back home or to the hotel).

Yes, this is me in the photo! and below is how it exactly works:

  1. Book a fishing trip in Dubai[1] with
  2. You’ll receive a promotional code to use for your Uber account[2] (two free rides up to 70 AED each in your Uber account)
  3. Download Uber App from the App storeor Google Play
  4. Register on Uber using the promotional code you received[3]
  5. Use the App to request a luxurious car (you’ll either get a Lexus, Mercedes, Audi or BMW) to take you to the boat (Click here to learn how to use the App – video by fisfishme team)

Uber photo

Majed Abukhater, General Manager – Uber Dubai,  comment about the new partnership “Uber is happy to partner with fishfishme to provide our services. We love fishfishme and want to see it grow and succeed and we’re doing our best as Uber to make that happen. This partnership also  makes sense for us because we have done similar campaigns around the world and as a new entrant into Dubai this is a great way for users to learn about us and try us out.”
Uber iphone App

[1] Pickups only in Dubai but drop-offs anywhere in the UAE

[2] The promotional code will only be valid for new Uber users that have not previously taken rides

[3] You only need to enter the code once but it will apply to 2 trips: to and from your fishing trip

Why The New Gmail SUCKS!

I’m starting to hate Gmail so much after their recent design update. I’m writing this post hoping that it will reach someone that works in Google and they are going to do something about it. If you use Gmail you’ll know what I’m talking about. My theory is, Gmail was great, but there were employees sitting in the office doing nothing and google are paying them tons of money. To make themselves busy they said lets do a redesign!

Below I’ll list all of the reasons that made me hate the new Gmail:

1- No Space to write :

What the heck Google, Seriously! 3 line space to write a full reply. Its an email, not a tweet!! I need more space, I feel so tied up. I usually start by pressing enter 3 or 4 times to get more space before starting typing.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 2.53.09 AM

2- Edit subject (when replying):

I bet you a million dollar that if my dad uses Gmail, he will throw his PC from the window because of this. How can you edit the subject? Check where did they hide it!!

Edit 1

And then after you press it see what happens!!

Edit 2

Whyyyyyy! So stupid.

3- Formatting (when replying):

Why I need to click on the A every time I need to format. Why you add an additional step for no reason!! Just to make the already small writing space even smaller!! For the first time in my life I felt that Microsoft might actually be smarter than Google in something (I started using Word to type then copy past to my email).

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 2.53.17 AM

4- Adding cc and bcc (when replying):

Another thing that didn’t make sense to me is what you should do to add someone in Cc or Bcc. Again, why you added two more clicks for something that didn’t need any!!

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 2.53.15 AM

5- New email (compose):

Similar to when you reply, you get this much smaller window to write your email. And if you have an email signature then you basically feel there is no more space to write anything!

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 2.53.12 AM

Please leave a comment if you share my frustration, and please help me get this post to someone that works at the Gmail department, or anyone at Google.

Google, I love you, but sorry, I really think your new Gmail SUCKS.


Update & Contribution: We received this from Peter Nixey (@peternixey), thought will be interested to add it to the post. Thanks Peter

Book: The Year Without Pants

9781118660638_cover.inddEvery aspect of our lives – from relationships to commerce, weddings to funerals – has been forged by conventions that we’ve adopted from those who lived before us. Sometimes these conventions are useful in simplifying our decision-making, by offering us routines to follow. But, in many cases, they stifle innovation and confine us not to the wisdom of our forefathers, but their ignorance.

Those who step out of conventional thinking and choose to do things differently offer others the opportunity to break out of their own cages and benefit from a new approach.

Some examples in business include:

  • Replacing the rigid (and dreaded) work schedule, with a results-oriented work environment (ROWE) that evaluates employees based on their results, not their attendance
  • Giving employees the freedom to pursue side projects during work hours, which has helped Google launch successful products that were the creation of ambitious employees (GMail being a popular example)
  • Startup culture is a fairly new development that made many creative individuals realize that they can start their own businesses and avoid settling for a government job, or joining a cubicle farm

And in his soon-to-be-released book, The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work, Scott Berkun shares with us how Automattic, the company behind the most popular blogging platform, is run 100% remotely, without office space to house its 170 employees. Scott worked at Automattic for one year, and his book recounts his experience leading a team that’s scattered across the globe.

I asked Scott a few questions to highlight the most important takeaways from the book. Here are my questions and his answers:

What did you admire most about Automattic before you decided to join their team?

I’ve known Matt Mullenweg for a few years and he’s a hero. He’s done amazing things while maintaining exceptional integrity, a rare combination. I loved many things as an outsider: their free spirit, their talent, and the fact that the entire enterprise was about writing (even if they often forgot to think of it that way).

What kind of companies do you believe can benefit most from a remote working arrangement?

The higher percent of time employees spend working digitally, the easier remote work is to include in an organization. Many conservative companies that are slow to adopt new ideas already have work cultures where most interactions between employees are through machines. If that’s the case, it’s not as different as people assume.

Would you recommend that large corporations transition towards working remotely?

No, but I do recommend corporations of any size transition towards treating talented people like adults. The more respect granted to motivated employees, the more productive they are, not less. Remote work is just one element: it’s not for everyone, but it should be an option to any employee who thinks they’d be more productive.

One of the earliest decisions Yahoo!’s current CEO, Marissa Mayer, made, after her appointment, was to overturn the company’s remote-work policy. Do you agree with her decision?

Mayer is a CEO of a specific company and her decision was about her specific company. Despite all the attention she got, didn’t initially make a general statement about working remotely. I wrote about this here:

What other lessons did you learn while working at Automattic you believe can benefit budding entrepreneurs and startups?

Most managers get the fundamentals wrong. If there isn’t basic trust and good talent, no method or book or course will help. We forget this. Getting the fundamentals right is very hard and rare and few people experience it in their careers. The story I tell about Automattic is one of those stories and in the reading of it many managers will learn first hand what it takes to create and mantling a great working culture.

If you’re interested in a book that challenges the conventional wisdom on how employees should work, and are interested in reading a success story of a company that is run remotely, order Scott’s book from Wiley Publishing, or from Amazon.

You can also check out his blog and follow him on Twitter: @berkun.

A tour inside In5

My friend Mohammad MJ is visiting me in Dubai and is helping us at to  create some videos for our boat partners in UAE. During his stay he suggested we do a tour for our incubator in Dubai In5 and meet other startups. Below is the video:

Big thanks to MJ for making this video 🙂

Founding Teams

We often read about the qualities for making a good CEO, a great founder, and more importantly how to successfully lead a team; but we often disregard the importance for startups to have a good founding team.

Early-stage investors always look for teams that have complimentary skill-sets and communicate well with each other. They invest in enthusiastic teams that have a blend of corporate and start-up experience which disciplines and challenges one another think outside the box at the same time. They look for passion, determination, curiosity, hunger, flexibility, efficiency and more importantly, mutual respect between the founders. We have all witnessed fallouts of founding teams that have cost startups millions of dollars due to conflicts that primarily arise from founders not getting along.

Especially at the start of the journey, you’ll find yourself spending 12-16 hours a day with the same group of people and will come across a lot of conflicts to make the next big thing happen. Here are a few thoughts that might be helpful for you when thinking of your next startup founding team.

As we come across ideas and start sounding them off to our small circle of friends in the community, idea founders almost by default assume their entitlement to become CEO of the startup. “Ideas are worthless, execution is everything” and without a team/company that can commercialize the idea, it will only fill in history books. When you share your idea with your circle, make sure you sound it off people that are better than you in what you do, a team that can better execute than you alone and have the will to step down off the driver’s seat if a team member can drive better. The founder of the idea doesn’t always need to be part of the founding team, and in some cases may not have an executive role in the startup itself.

It’s important to sound off your ideas to your circle of friends in the community and not just any individual with a specific skill you need. The reason behind that is to avoid falling in a dating trap on your big idea; you would want to have dated your co-founders prior to sleeping with them then realizing that chemistry between you and them doesn’t exist. Always remember that talent can be acquired, interests can be aligned, but team cohesiveness is priceless.

Startups can’t afford to have overlapping skill-sets in their founding teams. With that said, there’s no magic formula or number of minimum founding members required for your idea to fly; the number depends on the functions required for your business model to actually work. Two test questions to determine if an individual deserves to be in a founding team as Steve Jobs highlighted are “do we have a company without them?” and “can we find someone else just like them?”. If both answers are no then you found yourself a co-founder, otherwise you can always have this individual as an early employee at a later stage with the right incentive.

Having a unified vision is a very important principle all co-founders must share. Every member of any organization knows what he/she does, some will know how they actually differentiate themselves from others but only a few will actually know why they are doing their work. I love the example Simon Sinek gives in his famous TED speech about Apple; “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

The founding team is the corner stone of any startup, so make sure the 12-16 hours a day you spend in the next startup worthy enough!

Startup Chile is Coming to Dubai

You already know by now how much I love StartupChile (you can read my posts about Startup Chile here, and here. And my interview with the CEO of StartupChile here). Now they are coming to Dubai in the 15th of Sep to meet new startups that want to join their program. Wither you are a startup from Dubai or Kuwait or any other country you should consider joining this event. Click here to register and see event details.

StartupChile connecting the world

For those that don’t know what’s StartupChile is a program to help early stage startups to stand on their feet, how? They will give US$40,000 for free , mentorship, networking and working with other 20 startups for 6 months in Chile. After the 6 months you can do whatever you want. If you are an early stage startup then you should defiantly consider this opportunity.  I’ll be in the event, let me know if you are coming, see you soon

Quick Q&A with Moe Korayem

It feels good to be back..

The next StartupQ8 Monthly Event is this Monday, and we’ll be joined in the interview chair by serial entrepreneur Mohamed Salem Korayem. He co-founded his first startup while still in college, and hasn’t looked back since. Some of his more prominent startups include Qabila TV, Wasalny and Social Fruits. We did a quick Q&A with Moe ahead of our interview Monday, and here’s what we discussed:

-Introduce yourself!
I graduated from Electronics and Communications Engineering faculty of Ain Shams University in 2005. I started my career as an Automotive Embedded Software Engineer in IBM & Valeo, testing the technology you see today in Ford like easy parking back in 2005. I also worked in Business Consulting (because I’ve seen brilliant Engineers who fail to understand business) and Digital Marketing (where we helped businesses establish sustainable online digital versions of their organizations). After gaining knowledge in 3 major domains, I started my entrepreneurial journey of discovering the missing links between Psychology, Technology and Business for the masses by co-founding SocialFruits, Kherna, Wasalny and QabilaTv back in 2011.
-Tell us about the startups you co-founded. What was your role in their launch and how did the ideas come about?
Each startup had a different story. My very first was back in 2001. It was a college network for HAS students way before I knew anything about business or even hear the term social network. It was sparked by a late night course revision before an exam when I discovered a missing paper in a pile of papers I need to memorize. I asked, “why isn’t there a way to just ask for it and get a copy?”. That’s when I decided to start in 2001. Unfortunately I knew nothing about business growth and sustainability though I made some money out of advertising so it naturally died right after graduation.
Kherna’s idea hit me in 2010 during Ramadan. Suddenly, a few NGOs were making tons of ads to entice people to donate to charity work. During college, I volunteered in NGOs and I knew there were so many. After research, I found that there’s 32,000 NGOs. So why does only 5 afford to reach out? all NGOs need money more than anything. I took the concept and submitted it to Yahoo/Maktoob Social Initiative starts with You fund with my co-founders @amira_salah and @ahmedyahia. Thankfully we were among the 9 shortlisted winners. Yahoo’s fund broke the only barrier we had that stopped us from resigning from Digital Marketing career and that was seed money, though it was only sufficient for 6 months. We took a deep breath and jumped ship on 15th of Jan 2011. Of course we didn’t know we were 10 days into a revolution that will forever change the course of Egyptian history.
I was playing several balls to find a reason to quit my job. So in addition to Kherna, I co-founded Qabila TV which is a crowdsourcing platform to produce non-typical online video content. The spark came right after Canon released their almighty 5D Mark 2 DSLR camera. Moving my passion for photography into filmography was suddenly possible because that was the first DSLR camera that could shoot video. I immediately realized the disruption such camera will do  to the whole industry because of its super cheap price. We practiced before the revolution for many months, but it was until 25 Jan that we shined because we focused on producing simple clips that explained democracy to a population who knows nothing about how their country is being ruled. We later signed a contract with government to produce even more videos that was aired on all TV Satellite channels.
Wasalny is a different story. In 2009, I wanted to do traffic app and I pursued the owners of the company I worked for but they didn’t buy the idea. In 2010 two startups hit Cairo, Wasalny and Bey2ollak and to me Wasalny was the closest to what I had planned to do. Fast forward in 2012, I met Wasalny’s founder and was astonished that he was a solo-founder with basically no team because he works abroad. Our hearts and minds met on different levels and we agreed to work together on Wasalny.
In parallel to the above, we established Social Fruits as service company specializing in Social Media. We do consulting and campaign design and implementation.
-What is the single most important ingredient to build a successful startup in the Middle East?
It’s absolutely 100% the culture. The culture is the team’s contagious state of mind that makes moving into the unkown future possible. You see, any company can have a vision, funding, talent…etc. But the problem in the Middle East and the arab world in general is that we lack proper work ethics and professional mindset. We mix friendship with business. Having a professional yet human-centric culture in place amends the people’s imperfections that is rooted due to lack of good educational systems and tough life conditions. The real struggle to maintain such culture is caused by misalignment between what how people interact with each other inside the organization versus going in the streets. To shed some light on this point, imagine that one of your team’s core values is respecting other team members in the team. Employees can abide by that for a day, but this value is broken once they hit the streets and break a red light sending disrespect message to other people in their cars watching this. It’s a struggle between the startups system and the whole broken system around us. It’s totally subconscious and affects everything.
-Tell us a little more about the ecosystem in Egypt and how it compares to Kuwait.
I have to say, I am really impressed with the youth scene in Kuwait. People here are real producers rather than consumers. The spirit of entrepreneurship is everywhere; on virtual space like on Instagram & Twitter, to the physical world like small nail salons to cup cake bakers. It gives me the goosebumps to see such energy from youth desiring real disruption in lifestyle and challenging the status quo.
The situation for entrepreneurs in Egypt was filled with high hopes until a very recent time. Currently many are thinking of flocking outside because they just can’t forget their dreams for success.
The market in Egypt is indeed huge but lack of smart phone penetration and mobile internet is still a barrier if your app targets main stream customers. But the trend is growing with an acceleration rate. In comparison, the Kuwaiti market is much more mature. Basically everyone here carries one or more smartphones. 4G is basically everywhere. This fact alone is making DSL ISPs vanish eventually as people depend on mobile internet than land-line based. That’s totally the opposite in Egypt.
The real challenge in the Kuwaiti market is to appeal to different ethnicities. Unlike Egypt, the same message can be read and understood by everyone. Here you need to carefully articulate several messages for different cultures.
Investors in both countries are holding their horses. Both countries (and the rest of the arab world) still lack many success stories that would break the staleness we’re seeing right now. We aim to be among those companies.
In general the startup scene in Kuwait needs more trials by entrepreneurs, awareness in universities and schools, risk taking from investors and support from government. By my humble experience, having unified coalitions like StartupQ8 will make such change a reality. Most important thing is entrepreneurs should support and collaborate with each other and never compete or fight each other. It’s too early for that. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs who act as if they own a multinational corporation. Without an ecosystem, everyone has nothing. You need all startups to succeed for yours to succeed too. Silicon Vally wasn’t built in 3 days. It took many consistent trials. Without the many failures and successes, startups in 2013 establishing itself over there wouldn’t have had an supportive ecosystem to make it a reality.

If you have any questions for Moe, please let us know, and join us at the StartupQ8 Monthly Event this Monday, September 3 (you can RSVP on Dawrat or Meetup).

%d bloggers like this: