Startup Watch: IKEA domination, young blood, and death by space travel

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 what we’re reading on success, big dreams, the zeitgeist, and a little something to lighten the end of the working week.

Do you know what success looks like? Ikea. Not the flashy fame of Apple or the bright but short lived triumph of Yahoo, but the kind of success that is so entrenched it pervades and informs global lifestyles for decades. Bet you want that for your startup (without the horrendously complex assembly instructions). This is how they successfully got out of Sweden and into 28 countries around the world. (Spoiler: do your homework).

Middle East is a field of dreams. MENA will be the global blueprint for how to establish a vibrant tech sector in the shortest time possible - it’ll see huge exits every year from 2019 onwards - local acquirers will be in the driving seat... Predictions like these can’t be sneered at anymore as this region has moved further and faster than many thought possible. If this is how far MENA has come in five years, who knows where it’ll be in another five?

MENA entrepreneur dreams... they're led by events like the Rise Up Summit. (Image via Heisenberg Media)

From us to you: MENA digital media needs a kick. While your 12-year-old is getting world-famous on, you can’t scrape together enough advertisers to keep your popular-in-MENA Youtube channel going. Just know it’s not you, it’s them. Brands need to step up, get digi-savvy, and start putting money into digital media talent because it’s not up-and-coming anymore, it’s arrived.

We all love a bit of schadenfreude. Admit it, you love watching other people’s crises. From the big things like Egypt’s economy going down the toilet, to the little things like when your competitor torpedoes its reputation with a social media gaff. But when they happen to you it’s a bit different. This is one of the best things we’ve read on crisis management in a while so read it, adopt it, and remember: to never waste a crisis you’ve got to know how to use one properly.

Africa, the land of the payment pioneers. Africa - East African nations specifically, before anyone accuses us of ‘Africa is a country’ thinking - have long been familiar with mobile money system M-Pesa. Many think that this training in using an online alternate currency also makes the continent a perfect candidate for wide scale Bitcoin adoption. But until the trading and payment interfaces become as simple as an analogue mobile phone this dream, like many that revolve around ‘building Africa’, is likely to remain in stasis for some time.

Time for a holiday in Lebanon. We’ve solved the mystery of why global pop star Sia was in Byblos on Tuesday and slightly less famous pop star Mika was in Baalbeck last week: the World Bank, France and Italy have been pumping money into Lebanon’s summer festival circuit. While it may seem like a not especially auspicious time for Lebanese tourism - being blacklisted by Saudi, ISIS over the border - at least they have three supporters who think the country should have a more thriving tourist market. We’re not suggesting now is the hour for tourism entrepreneurs to dive in, but keep an eye on it.

Harvesting the young to keep the old alive. Scientists have found that injecting young blood into old mice gives them an extra lease on life, one might say, so now they’re trying it out on human beings. The study itself is taking flak for, a) making participants pay $8,000 for a trial that no one knows will work, and b) not being especially scientifically designed. But surely we should be more worried about the billionaires already promising the “blood from children of whatever age”. Let the Hunger Games begin.

Deep space radiation is killing the first astronauts. Are our dreams of space travel doomed? Will our aims to conquer distant planets come to naught? Are we, as one alternative Superman universe suggests, never to encounter alien lifeforms? It’s too soon to tell, but it certainly looks like deep space travel is a sure way to die young - and not in a fiery explosion.

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