All you need is a few colorful bean bags and a casual open space to bring a startup community together to talk about what they do - and don’t - want.
Over 80 people came to the second Wamda Mix N’ Mentor ‘Nuwait edition’ in Kuwait which was held on November 3, to try to uncover the real business problems local entrepreneurs are facing.
Some of the assembled startups may have even mutated into something new: “You just found your founding team,” mentor Hashim Bahbahani from coding academy Coded told three groups trying to solve the same issues.
The mentorship sessions at Mix n’ Mentor are where some of the most fruitful conversations take place, so here are the top ten tips that came out of Kuwait:
1. Don’t overvalue your startup
Arzan VC’s partner Hassan Zainal believes asking for too much money can hurt a startup.
"Don’t get more money than what you need, because you’ll be overvalued and the investors will avoid investing in you."
2. Hire well to avoid firing
OMijbel Qattan from Impulse tells startups to hire slowly so they avoid firing impulsively, and putting their business reputation at stake.
Abdur-Rahman El Sayed from Waveline Media recommends starting with a small essential team that can evolve.
“Hire a tech team in-house. Outsourcing should be for a short term. Don’t sacrifice the quality of the initial team.”
3. Don’t micromanage
Ghaliah Tech’s Khalid Al Sultan advised entrepreneurs to disconnect from work in order to be able to watch what is happening in the business from a fresh perspective.
“Don't micromanage, ask yourself what's the worst that could happen.”
4. Fake the egg to solve the chicken-and-egg problem
In the online marketplace business the real issue was sometimes unknown, said Muteb Alobeiwi from payment gateway Payfort. It was up to the entrepreneurs to listen to their potential clients’ challenges in the first meeting, then come back with a solution.
"You have to solve the chicken and the egg problem and most of the times you have to fake the egg."
5. Find your matching skills set
As a cofounder, "you wear many hats, but you can't have that compromise efficiency,” said Bahbahani.
“Clear matching of tasks with skills sets is needed early on among a business's core team.”
6. Monetize data
Data is the future and every startup is sleeping on a gold mine that needs to be exploited.
“Your best asset to your startup as it evolves is the data you've collected,” said Jasim Al Mutawa from TAT Group, who advised entrepreneurs to figure out a way to monetize from their data.
7. Don’t fall in love
Getting so attached to the ideas prevents entrepreneurs from looking at the business side and being critical to what works and what not. “Sometimes entrepreneurs fall in love with their ideas and have an analysis paralysis,” said Ijaz Ahmad from Impulse.
8. Know your terms
The business terms that is. Neda Aldihany from Brilliant Lab asked attendees to familiarize themselves with few key terms like business development.
9. Don’t quit your job yet
People who have enough savings to quit their jobs and focus on their business, as physical storage solution Boxit did, can do this. Haider Al-Mosawi from Sirdab Lab said that as for the others, “your startup needs your job until you prove you can make revenue”.
10. Read the Lean Startup book
Both Mutawa and Alobeiwi advised entrepreneurs to learn about the ‘Lean Startup’ approach. This approach saves development costs by helping entrepreneurs first come up with a minimal viable product (MVP) to identify the exact need then iterate. The goal of this approach is to save unnecessary costs on what could be an unwanted product.