How to succeed in Morocco or Silicon Valley: Advice from Akram Benmbarek of Social IQ

Moroccan entrepreneur Akram Benmbarek spent most of his career working working as an investment banker in Silicon Valley, focusing on the tech sector.

In 2005, he co-founded TechWadi, a Silicon-Valley based NGO designed to connect high-impact entrepreneurs in the  Arab world with mentors, capital, and acceleration in the U.S. And in 2009, Benmbarek went on to found Social IQ, a platform that helps brands develop marketing campaigns by leveraging influential social media users. (For more on Social IQ, watch the interview our late contribtuor Karim Jazouani). 

Here, in an interview with Wamda's French Editor, Aline Mayard, Benmbarek discusses how being an investor prepared him for being an entrepreneur, what challenges he sees entrepreneurs facing at TechWadi, and in Morocco more specifically, and how he thinks entrepreneurs need to shift their mindsets in order to succeed.

"The biggest challenge is choosing what not to do," he admits. And while several entrepreneurs in the Arab world arrive in the U.S. with unrealistic expectations and aspirations, he says, they still need to strive for perfection in order to achieve excellence.

Using the spaghetti strategy- "you throw the spaghetti against the wall, if it sticks, cool, if it falls, you let it go"- won't work, he explains.

Watch the video above to also see his take on how Moroccan entrepreneurs are caught between the French market and the Arab market, and how they should proceed.

0:38: Do you think being an investor prepared you for being an entrepreneur?
1:00: What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
1:43: Do you have any lessons from that experience?
2:15: Did you have any moments when you were afraid you would fail?
2:42: What are the biggest issues you see entrepreneurs struggling with at TechWadi?
3:58: Are there any issues specific to Morocco?
5:14: Do differences in culture between France and the Arab world hold Moroccan entrepreneurs back?
5:51: How can Moroccan and Arab entrepreneurs overcome these challenges?

Wamda's Mix n' Mentor Casablanca event kicks off this Saturday, July 6th. 

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