2015 was the year of my evolution. My entrepreneurial journey began out of conviction, necessity, and a sense of exploration into the universe of possibilities outside corporate life. I felt my human impact was buffered by working in a multinational corporate company, and as I began reading more into the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series by Robert Kioysaki, it became clearer how wealth could be produced for myself and my family and not regenerated and kept for the benefit of the already wealthy.
I became curious about entrepreneurship
After trialling and exploring various startup ideas, I began to filter what I pursued in terms of whether I felt I could build a good team around an idea. But I didn’t necessarily look for the idea behind Iqraaly. When I discovered audio books, I burnt through so much on my English reading list, but my Arabic literature appetite was not nearly as dented as I would’ve liked. Pitching the idea of a mobile app for arab audio content to two partners was my first market test. They came on board; we had our prototype in March and launched in July 2011.
Then we waited for the floods of people to come; if the demand was there and the market understood the product (and given that Egypt was built on an oral tradition of knowledge transfer and storytelling, surely it did), then users would roll in like flames, right? But we quickly learnt that to achieve the reach and uptake we expected, we would need to be producing Arabic content more consistently, market the product heavily and develop a smoother content delivery app.
All of this required hiring more people, which required money, so we began looking for early stage investors and a whole new learning journey began.
At a certain stage I became interested in finding a mentor and reaching new entrepreneurial climates. The fact that the enpact program promised to expose my business to international networks was a bonus to me, especially in light of a growing pessimism I hold about the leadership and economic future of my country, Egypt.
I wanted to explore European markets, but interestingly, not only did I find new things about other countries; I also saw my country through different eyes. I was impressed to see how others talked about the scale of our market and the level of development in Egypt as an entrepreneurial “ecosystem”.
That said, as a country, there are a lot of mistakes we have to deal with and rectify; and as citizens of Egypt, we have a duty to put this into practice in our own lives too. I look towards 2016 as a year in which to face new challenges, pursue a strategic vision that adds value to my life and the life of my family. After nearly half a decade as an entrepreneur, the journey really has only just begun…