An innovative idea coupled with a business plan, a profit model, solid execution, all followed by a growth phase - these are the things every successful entrepreneur needs. But there are other items just as necessary that are not discussed as often at entrepreneurship events, such as personal motivation, networking, talent acquisition and management.
Entrepreneurs conversing at Elre7la's latest event. (Images via Elre7la)
These relatively untapped areas are the focus of Elre7la, an Egyptian entrepreneurship camp aiming to build a well-balanced network of entrepreneurs who share ideas and creativity in a relaxed, fun environment. "The bi-annual activities we organize in Nuweiba focus on four themes: networking, physical fitness, relaxation, business development, and recently we added artistic events," says Elre7la cofounder Sara Abdelhamid. "An entrepreneur's time is spent in meetings and events that direct him in his business development, but we at Elre7la care very much about stress release and helping entrepreneurs innovate by thinking out of the box."
Connecting with the inner self for creativity
"When I joined the camp, I thought I was going to get some rest and re-strategize some work issues," said Tamer Taha, founder and CEO of crowdfunding platform Yomken. "But I made the radical decision to turn Yomken into a platform for sharing ideas and finding solutions to entrepreneurial problems, as well as crowdfunding."
Juicelabs Program Manager Noha Mahmoud found an outlet from the demanding work routine of the city at Elre7la’s camp. "The bootcamp allowed me a chance to connect with nature,” she said. “The business development sessions I took part in helped me find ways to adapt to stress at work differently. It also allowed me a closer view of entrepreneurship than the technical viewpoint."
Music after a tough day at work is always welcome.
How it began
The first demo of Elre7la, which means “the journey" in Arabic, took place in October 2013, in partnership with reality TV program El Mashrou3. As one of AlMaqqar's several coworking space ventures, the startup "had only 25 participants, where we offered a simple model of activities and events that tend to entrepreneurs' needs," Abdelhamid said. "The positive feedback we received exceeded our expectations." The official bootcamp, however, was launched in April 2014, with 85 entrepreneurs signing up, to be followed by two bi-annual versions so far.
Pleased with their initial success, the six cofounders decided to make their venture an independent business with its own specialization. "We entered into partnership with yoga teacher Sarah Yassin, and companies Open Space Egypt and Holiday Tours & Weekend trip," Abdelhamid recalled. The cofounders also relied on the feedback of participants to improve their activities in the subsequent three events. "We added standup comedy, acting exercises, open-discussions, diving classes, mountain climbing and free walking."
How you can join
Having innovative ideas and projects have become a mandatory qualification for the four-day journey events. Meanwhile, repeating the experience-which many entrepreneurs have done- requires a successful execution of the previously revised concepts and strategies.
relaxing outdoor session.
A bumpy road
Despite their success, several challenges lie ahead of the cofounders, like finding a sponsor. "We intend to target other destinations for our bootcamps, but our financial restrictions govern our decision,” Abdelhamid said. “Some may think that our fees are expensive, but we only managed to make some profit from the last journey, because the program is very diverse and costly. Not to mention that we are all volunteers."
More variety ahead
Besides expanding to Cairo, the cofounders plan to organize field-specific monthly/weekly meetings where professionals of similar interests can attend the same events.
"This is an idea that our customers supported since sessions are usually held [only] during the bootcamp, which prevents them from attending all activities," Abdelhamid added.