What is your background briefly?
I hold a MSc. in Real Estate Development from the University of Manchester and I graduated with a BBA from the American University in Cairo, with a major in finance and double minor in economics and political science international relations, I started working at and building my network at a young age. My network started out strong due to family connections, but I started to grow it from the age of 16 till today, having CEOs, ex-Ministers and Hedge fund managers in the mix. I started investing at young age with my brother and both of us had the support of our family. I have worked in multiple industries; Advertising, Wealth Management, Public Relations, Management Consulting, to name a few, but I never found myself really believing in the corporate structure and how it enslaved people. Ever since I have been trying to find a way to help and give back especially that I already have been involved with my family business since a young age. Concepts like, sustainability and sustainable development, are always on my mind. So in an effort to branch out; I started working for myself full-time in 2016 as a Strategic & Business Development Consultant as well as an Angel Investor and an Entrepreneur, during which time I was selected through an application process to be part of the Presidential Leadership Program, see link after text, and the culmination of our work was the “World Youth Forum”, that was held in Sharm El Sheikh last November (2017) where I was one of the “Official Spokespersons” for the forum; this was a very exciting experience where it resulted in me going on 3 interviews, 2 of which were shot On-Air. The forum was under the direct supervision of the Egyptian Presidency and the Egyptian government
Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?
My Experience has brought in close contact with a varied network of people working both in government and in the private funding realms as well as media, also I have worked on multiple strategic development projects as part of my work with the Egyptian government as well as working with multiple startups, now, as well as my own experience running my family business with my brother and growing it since we were 18. I have worked in banking, Management Consulting, Project Management in construction and I have conducted Strategic and Business Development projects. I’m young but my first job was at 16 as a Public Relations representative at the Alexandria Library, this Job at that time and age was a life changer for me.
1 min pitch for what you are doing now?
I’m currently an Angel Investor/ Entrepreneur, I’m also working with Innoventures, a VC in Egypt; working with startups in their journey to becoming successful companies, as one of the mentors for companies at initial seed stage and even pre-seed stage.
I’m also trying to start my own ICO advisory services and consulting services firm as I’m passionate about blockchain, crypto and ICOs; that’s because:
1- The technology is amazing and can really lead to a decentralized society.
2- The applications are limitless.
3- Linking the Startup as well as any business establishment, to a new funding platform of new investors globally and instantly and vice versa.
That said, the ecosystem still needs to have more forms of protection “from the ecosystem to help the ecosystem” maintain its integrity, how should it be done? This is a question I’m still thinking about, because the only solution requires community wide acceptance.
Why are you getting involved with ICOs? Why do you think it is such a powerful idea?
My passion comes from a vision I have of enabling the ecosystem of the crypto world to grow; the global economy is too far behind and is still pushed by a conflict war based economy, hence tech advancement will always be fueled by hidden agenda, until some few visionaries started changing the world small steps at a time, i.e Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and others.
Today’s revolution with crypto and blockchain, decentralization can become a reality and as I always say, any system is finite, it can become Outdated and it has to be constantly Updated. That said I’m not saying that the ecosystem is there yet but its on the right track to reaching a halfway meeting point where both systems, fiat and crypto, will meet, on a more regulatory sense, in the near future, especially looking at the “Future of Money” speech given by Mark Carney, there a lot of messages in there, from the demise of crypto, to having it show the way for the financial institutions on how to better themselves and eventually leading to Central Banks Digital Currencies, but not in the near future.
For the previously mentioned, it should be fair to say, how is it that there are people still “NOT” interested. The whole World is talking about Crypto and the waves it’s making to the status quo.
How can people find out more about you & your work?
People should follow me on LinkedIn to find out more about me, also message me I try to be as prompt as possible and please feel free to recommend other platforms to use for this industry. I’m a very friendly person who believes in Karma ” What goes around, Comes around” that’s why I like to “Pay it Forward”. Really good things happen. My Personal website is still under construction, will update people via LinkedIn when it’s ready.
Anyway I’m open to all kinds of ICOs, I like to listen and see if I can help so I can’t say I only work with a certain kind or type of company since I’m new to the space. Always open to have a chat or conversation and see if I’m a good fit for any ICO and I move forward from there.
What tips would you give to new startups looking to be successful?
First and foremost, “know WHY you are starting this adventure”. Startups will go through a series of ups and downs, that is a given fact, but what makes some better than others, is a combination of reasons:
- Always keep in mind the end goal as well as the routes that you can take to achieve that goal/task.
- Have a clear Mission and Vision, followed by an execution plan that shows the routes towards realizing those goals.
- The Team Dynamics.
- Laying out Objectives and following through.
- Flexible Top Management. This is due to the fact that the initial idea will constantly evolve to reach it’s maximum potential. Thus is rigid system wouldn’t be able to handle these changes or required adaptations fast enough.
- Passion, Drive, etc.
- Most Importantly, not afraid of FAILURE, can adapt and move forward.
The 5th point being the most important, because only failure leads to learning. I have had failures before, and I’m not afraid to admit it. “I am, who I am, today because I learnt from my mistakes, failures”.
How do you decide whom to invest in?
Well, this is dependent on a lot of factors:
- The Team. Who they are, professionally and on a personal level, since I like a hands-on approach, so dynamics have a role to play, we have to get along.
- The Idea. What is the competitive advantage of that idea and what makes your idea DIFFERENT?
- Chances of Success as well as the Sustainability of that Success.
- Am I or can I, be passionate about this idea? If the answer is yes, then this is a big factor, this is because as stated I like to work with the team and get involved and brainstorm on how we can grow the idea.
- Will I really add-value to this person and vice versa? I have safe investment options available to me with acceptable risk free returns here in Egypt. What pushes me to take on risk, is not just the promise of financial growth, but there has to be something more, not just money. As I said I’m all about sustainable development and social inclusivity.
Tell us about the startup scene in Egypt? What are you excited about?
Well, the startup scene is on fire, essentially. Let me put it to you in other terms, Egypt has a population of nearly 100 million, it is considered to be the 15th largest country, population wise, in the world. The majority of the population is comprised of youth, who are tech savvy and always looking for the next best app or next big thing in tech, same as everywhere. The appetite for tech products and online solutions and Smart solutions products is always rising, hence the increase of number of startups and platforms in different fields, check out “Rise Up” a 3-day tech startup event in Cairo.
Also to give you an example of an app that took the world by storm, which was developed and owned by Egyptians, Instabug.
The Ecosystem is still young, big VCs like in the San Francisco Bay area or London haven’t penetrated the ecosystem heavily, which is a positive and a negative thing.
Positive, because you don’t get VCs fighting over a handful of startups pushing valuation up for no reason. People involved, like me and even way before me as angel investors, are the ones who really care, so the Startups get to really benefit of working with mentors, as well as have real partners, most of the time.
Negative, because Startups sometimes face, lack of funding sources, the community is small and word travels fast and the lack of or nearly non-existent ecosystem for industry specific funds.
But, the overall sentiment, from my newly acquired perspective being a mentor with Innoventures and my involved over the past year with the Egyptian Government, shows me that there is huge potential for growth and International direct investment, due to the exchange rates favoring the foreigner investor, the market size, the need for innovation and the presence of strong qualified talents in the ecosystem. These are all, in my opinion, factors that investors should factor in when looking at Egypt or the Middle East and Africa regions for investment.
Finally I’m mostly excited about the opportunity to be able to engage in this ecosystem from my position and exposure while this market is still young and full of potential, and my excitement doubles when I try to see the potential of ICOs and blockchain tech application the Ecosystem and how it can further enhance it.
This is the link for the Presidential Leadership Program if you’re interested to know what that is as well as Innoventures website.