KoraStats came about because my business partner and I were not satisfied with how national team players were being selected, so in 2009 we decided to find a way to evaluate players’ performances based on their progress on the field, as opposed to their level of fame and recognition. The football community was a tough one to crack, as there aren’t many startups within the sports industry and I didn’t have many connections, plus I knew nothing about entrepreneurship back then. So it all started as just a small project where we began analysing player performances and hired a team to work on this analysis, until we found our first customer. We spent a year and a half on our first product, then in 2011 we found a TV channel and our first paying customer, filgoal.com, in 2012.
It was a bumpy ride for us, as the Egyptian league was suspended after the Port Said Stadium tragedy, one of the ugliest moments in the history of football, and the whole industry was affected including KoraStats.
We started working for two years analysing the Saudi league, but had no luck in getting customers. Then, in 2014, the Egyptian league was back and we finally got one coach Jaime Pacheco, the former coach of Zamalek. I’m always proud to tell this story, as Zamalek are giants of African football, being ranked 2nd on the continent. The year we started working for Jaime, they won the Egyptian premier league for the first time in ten years, winning eleven out of twelve games. At that stage, our presence was crucial for him, as we were able to provide analytics.
In 2015, we met Hany Ramzy, our second paying customer, who went on to become the Egyptian B team coach and we also worked with the Egyptian A team analyst, thereby proving that we could work with coaches. In 2016, the year I met enpact, we had four clubs and had begun working with DMC Sports, providing on-air live stats during matches. The mentor I had throughout the startup mentoring programme, Oliver Beige, helped a lot with this deal. I can appreciate that it was tricky for the team at enpact to match me with a mentor, as there are so few who know about the sports industry, but I was very happy with Oliver. He asked me about my startup over dinner the first time we met, and he really listened, without giving much initial feedback other than a couple of questions. I thought this meant he simply didn’t have much to say in response, but he is the type of person who goes away and thinks about things before making comments, which I like about him. He turned out to be one of the smartest people I know and has made me so appreciative of mentoring. Oliver came up with things I never would have thought about in my usual working environment, so he really opened my eyes and encouraged me to think for myself.
I first heard about the programme through my friend Con O’Donnell, the co-founder of RiseUp Summit, who shared it amongst his community and so I called him and ask if he’d recommend it for me. I applied, had a short talk with Sebastian, then had my interview and thankfully they accepted me! For me, the highlight was just how much my mentor enabled me to take my business to the next level. I also learned a great deal from my fellows, as most of their startups were in the same stage of development, and they were all so focused on what they were doing. It’s a beautiful thing to meet the same people three times a year, with a good amount of time in between, so each time you see one another you are able to see how everyone has progressed and you can learn from each other. However, I didn’t just learn about other businesses, I made friends from all over Europe and MENA, which is something really special.
The enpact community on Facebook is very strong and there is always someone to answer questions and respond to problems.
For example, recently one of the alumni called me to ask what we were doing and offered to introduce our service to women’s football in Austria, which was totally unprovoked. Connection and community are at the core of the mentoring programme and I learned so much, namely to be patient and persistent. Success is a choice; out of these past eight years at KoraStats, only the last few have been successful in terms of revenue, and there have been moments where I’ve wanted to give up, but I listened to that voice inside of me telling me I had something worth holding on to. Not giving up is what’s enabled me to achieve what I have today and now I have a team of nine and get people calling me up to ask if they can work for KoraStats. The other thing I learned a great deal about is networking and finding connections, which is a two-way thing, involving give and take. Communities like enpact are all about helping one another and not waiting for anything in return, about being willing to provide the right information, which is really a very valuable thing. It has actually inspired me to help other startups to progress, as for me it’s less about money and more about creating an impact.
This year, we are trying to expand outside of Egypt and have signed MOUs in order to help promote our service in Dubai, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. We have also recently set up KoraStats Academy, our annual training course. These days, I simply have so much energy to do the things I want to do… it reminds me of the afternoon we toured Berlin and, along with a few of the other fellows, I ordered a pack of 12 donuts and ate four in a row. We started giggling, high off the amount of sugar we’d eaten, and decided enpact was like a “sugar bomb” – it fills you with energy and happiness!