Diary of a Google Finalist: Do Arab Entrepreneur Tournaments Help Startups?

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Sarah Wali left the U.S. media scene and returned to Egypt to pursue an idea for a citizen journalism platform for the Middle East. With her business partner Mahamad El Tanahy, that idea became CitJo.com. Within months of its inception, it joined the running in a Google competition for Arab entrepreneurs seeking funding and mentorship for their startup companies.

Recounting the experience for Arabic Knowledge@Wharton, Wali writes about the effort to get the fledgling media outlet off the ground, from making connections and courting investors, to the learning curve she went through getting the business skills she needed.

She also examines the phenomenon of entrepreneurship competitions, which have filled the gap in angel investors and mentorship in the Middle East. Though they bring much needed exposure and knowledge transfer to embryonic companies and entrepreneurs, she writes that the results of these competitions could be discouraging to some startups.

[Wamda Editor's note: For more on CitJo, check out our interview with Sarah at Google's Ebda2 Competition in May.]

Mahamad El Tanahy and I sat in the lavishly decorated Fairmont hotel rooftop in Cairo anxiously awaiting the final results of the Start with Google competition, also known as Ebda2. From thousands of ideas, ours CitJo, a Middle East-based citizen journalism portal

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