Last Sunday, Zain’s newly launched incubator ZINC hosted The Startup Revolution, a community meetup driven by entrepreneurs looking to celebrate and revitalize the startup ecosystem in Jordan.
The meetup was organized by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and aims to create a healthy environment for startups. This week’s event was focused on discussing common mistakes, challenges, investment, and other hot topics relevant to the regional ecosystem.
Some of the entrepreneurs present were Saeed Omar, who spoke about the Startup Jo initiative, Tamatem Games CEO Hussam Hammo, who led a discussion with MXD3D CEO Muhannad Taslaq on accelerators outside Jordan and how to go about reaching global markets, then Yaqut founder and CEO Ammar Mardawi, Arabia Weather cofounder Yousef Wadi, Palringo game producer Ata Alqadi, and Social Dice founder Saed Shela, who all contributed to a discussion highlighting common mistakes by entrepreneurs.
Tech Spaceship cofounder Alaa Abdelhaq also spoke about supportive communities.
Here are some of the most interesting thoughts shared during the event:
1. Always do market research before launching your product. Products launched when the founders don’t have a proper understanding of market needs almost always fail.
2. Build your product first. It’s possible to waste a lot of time on these startup competitions and attending events just to network and build connections. If you’re just starting out then don’t waste your time on this; focus on building your product and business and leave networking to when you actually need it.
3. Don’t start fundraising until you know exactly how you’re going to spend the money.
4. The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs making is spending a lot of time and energy marketing a bad product. If you have a trash bin, it doesn’t matter how much you decorate it – it will still be a trash bin.
5. Don’t bend over backwards to impress investors. We often see entrepreneurs changing their whole business just to impress the investors. Don’t approach investors until you have an opinion of your own, and don’t do what they say unless you’ve thought about it carefully and are in agreement.
6. Vet your investors. Make sure your potential investors know what they’re talking about. We’ve sat down with investors who didn’t know what a term sheet was – how will they help grow your business if they don’t know the basics?
7. Look for investors who add value. The wrong kind of money can be detrimental to your company. Investors are not cash cows.
8. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Some teams can be really good at software, for instance, but aren’t cut out to build a business.
9. Knowledge sharing is crucial. If you get experience from outside, consider it your duty to come back and teach your team and other members in the ecosystem. We can only come up with solutions to the problems of our ecosystem if we work together.
The Jordanian ecosystem
10. Taking control of our ecosystem. One of the biggest problems I see with our ecosystem is that we let the private sector and NGOs dictate what we need. We need to take the lead and drive our own ecosystem; the private sector and NGOs should be there as enablers and supporters, but not as dictators who tell us what we need.
11. Entrepreneurial education. Aside from access to capital, our biggest problem is entrepreneurial education throughout high school and university. Students in Jordan need access to mentors and investors so as to learn how to operate a business and what challenges to expect.
Arabic Managing Editor Maya Rahal contributed to this article.