Startup Watch: startup civil wars, rich Arabs, and Egypt's illicit entrepreneurs

The world of entrepreneurship news is a complex one, with people ever ready to give their two cents on how you should be running your business/VC fund/incubator.

Here’s our wrap of how to deal with factionalism in the workplace, the choice between marriage and startups in Tunisia, and a little something to lighten the end of your week.

Winning an intra-startup civil war. Your devs have pitted themselves against your marketing team, as both claim to have the best route forward for the product and/or company. Trench warfare like this can be devastating but it is fixable, and possibly more easily than you expect.

Investors’ trigger warnings. Talking about ‘trying’ or exit strategies or even mentioning the concept of ‘co-CEOs’ is likely to have an investor running for their own exit. Learn the trigger words, avoid them, and get money. If only it was that simple, huh.

Richest Arabs are mostly entrepreneurs, if you stretch the definition of entrepreneur. About 70 percent, or 29 of the 42 billionaires in MENA, are (allegedly) self-made men. Saudi has the most billionaires (10) followed by Egypt and Lebanon with seven each. The UAE is next with five, Kuwait with four, Oman and Morocco have three each, and Algeria has one. Qatar, surprisingly, only has two billionaires.
Illicit entrepreneurs round 3: forbidden meats. We’ve had a run of stories about illicit entrepreneurial types in the last few Startup Watches, and we’ve finally found one from Egypt. It’s about bacon. We realise bacon (like heroin, heroin again, and smuggled gold) is not illegal in Egypt but, like the aforementioned goods, it has currency far outweighing its substance.

Wamda of the week: marriage and startups don’t mix. In Tunisia entrepreneurs are beginning to choose between their business and their partner. The costs of marriage can be immense and some are now just saying ‘no’.

From the Beirut social media desk. More true for some MENA countries than others.

We took this pic, in our office. (Image via Wamda)

Banks are (still) stealing your money. We’ve seen a lot of fintech companies in MENA, but few are dealing with the crazy rort that is international money transfers. Western Union charges $10 just to send $100 if you’re doing it in person, at a rubbish rate, and banks are equal offenders. That’s pretty disgusting, especially given many people sending cash home aren’t wealthy ‘expats’ but hard working ‘migrants’ supporting families. Transferwise’s CEO has gone on a tear about this.

Free zones are not safe zones in a downturn. We’ve occasionally mentioned over the last couple of years the risk companies are taking by depending on free zones as a base in the Gulf. Those risks are coming home to roost as governments begin looking to the businesses based there as potentially lucrative revenue to shore up shaky budgets and austerity. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Retail tease is not entirely fake news. There’s a reason why we (initially) fell for Jadopado’s April Fools online-offline mega mall: it’s not actually that farfetched. Stores, mostly in the West, are experimenting with how to make the shopping experience better. So, now, we’re waiting for Jadopado to step up and give us the Uber shopping carts they promised.

Feature image via Odys Online.

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