Insights from Mix n' Mentor Cairo: What You Missed

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This Saturday, we kicked off our 2013 roadshow by hosting Mix n’ Mentor Cairo, which brought around 300 of Egypt’s leading entrepreneurs and mentors together under the Egyptian sun in Giza for intensive chats about the topics that trouble entrepreneurs the most.

Against a backdrop of palm trees and greenery, at Cairo’s Swiss Club in Giza, entrepreneurs and mentors gathered around small tables, lounging on beanbags under umbrellas, debating team building, sales and marketing, and fundraising.

After several hours of discussions, we came together at the end for a fun, interactive fireside chat with four entrepreneurs and mentors. As we bounced questions back and forth from the crowd and asked crowd members for their opinion, it made for a fun final session with plenty to absorb. 

Here are three of our main conclusions:

  1. There’s a lot of energy around starting up companies in Egypt. On the whole, this is a positive, but sometimes it leads to large co-founding teams. Co-founding can be a great way to get talent motivated and engaged in building the company from the ground up, as co-founders will be far less motivated to leave, and yet for some, it had become a challenge to designate roles and creating hierarchies.

    Tip:
    Make sure that you try to complement skills between co-founders and align on the vision. Teams of 2 or 3 tend to be more productive. 
     
  2. Entrepreneurs in Egypt are facing challenges finding investment beyond the seed round. The current political climate isn’t helping their case, yet the amounts they were asking for were generally far less than those in other ecosystems. However, many reported not having enough options for follow-on funding once they graduated from accelerators. For those struggling, a good look at how to pitch what differentiates their idea and makes it an idea of the moment, as well as their product-market fit, might solve the problem. 

    Tip:
    Be sure to assess your product-market fit before pitching to investors, and give accurate breakdowns of how the money will be spent. Don’t forget to reach out to investors in the rest of the Arab world if you can’t find funding locally. 
     
  3. Egyptian entrepreneurs have strong technical skills, and access to a large market. For most of these entrepreneurs, there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity. One of the downsides is that, with such a large domestic market (80 million overall and 30 million online), some are missing the regional opportunity in a push to go local or global. The ecosystem’s emphasis on tech has left some startups with less of focus on marketing, but a bit more development of their marketing angles would help some of these startups scale quickly. 
     
    Tip: Don’t forget that sales and distribution are as important as building a good product. Decide to track metrics that make you disciplined about hitting your sales goals when it comes to reaching users and clients. 

We’ll be creating tutorials on Wamda soon to elaborate on some of the biggest challenges we saw. For more on the ecosystem in Egypt, also read our overview of the e-commerce sector.

For more, check out the tweets on #mixnmentor. To attend a Mix n’ Mentor in your city, go to www.wamda.com/mixnmentor. 

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