After working for several years in engineering, Amr Fawzi decided to quit his job and start his own business when he saw a problem in shopping for and delivery of groceries. In 2014, he co-founded GoodsMart, an e-commerce application that delivers groceries in Cairo in a pre-installed box in a no interaction process. The startup now has a team of 200 people and closed an investment round last February. It is now preparing to raise its Series B round.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I did not know that I wanted to become an entrepreneur, I wanted to start something and I always like to learn new things and see what is new in the market. In the last three or four years at my work, I thought "I want to quit,I want to quit". It took some time but then I did.
How did the idea for GoodsMart come about?
As usual, I would go and buy the groceries and then people at home would call and say get this and that on the way back. There are always those calls and there is always something missing at home. I saw all the fights and hassles about it, so I decided to automate this process.
When did you know it was the right time to quit your full-time job?
I was actually doing great and I was in my comfort zone so I thought I would never leave my job in the UK. But I really wanted to start my own thing but it was a difficult decision to start because I traveled a lot and I was comfortable where I was. But then I called them at the company to schedule a meeting and told them I will quit and then went back to Egypt and started GoodsMart.
What were your main challenges when you first started?
The main challenge was understanding what a business is. I was new to this. This is my first startup and there were not a lot of people or accelerators to help us. I had some money in the bank and I thought I had enough money to start four or five startups but that was not the case.
What are your challenges now?
Cash is available now, but good talent in the market is very little because of the brain drain and also because of education; people want to work for big companies and multinationals but for them, startups are just a small thing that will die.
What is the biggest sacrifice you have made?
You get something that is better so it is not really a sacrifice. I am very grateful for the experience. I lost my job to a much better job, the experience I had to a much better experience that I am getting every day. I spent everything I owned but I learned a lot and the future is great and the company is growing. You have less free time than anyone else but you get a lot more experience. People work for eight hours but I spend all my day enjoying my time doing what I do.
What are the main lessons that you have learned?
Things take longer than expected. The most important thing is the team. Get the right team and give them all the support and power and they will build so many things. I mentor a lot of startups and that is a lesson; I learned a lot through helping others. When you teach something you like, you learn twice.
What are your plans for expansion?
We are planning to expand to other areas within Cairo. We now operate in Sheikh Zayed and 6th of October and we plan to go to New Cairo and then Maadi. The target is to grow out of Sheikh Zayed and gated communities and compounds and go to other areas. We get a lot of requests from people to go and launch there. That is only phase one then we are planning to go to one GCC city by the end of 2019.
What will your sector look like in the next decade?
The sector of e-commerce is already growing very quickly. I believe the traditional way will not be able to compete with e-commerce. Having a physical store compared to having your goods delivered to you at your comfort and you get everything you need.