Startup 101 Series: Dealing with Entrepreneurship Uncertainties in the Middle East - Storat.com Early Lessons.
When you are building a new IT company, a new product, or a new online platform, you are often faced with so many uncertainties. The decisions you make in dealing with those uncertainties are so critical to the success and failure of any startup. Eventually a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs either abandon the idea early on or give up in the first few months when they uncover the elevated level of risk and uncertainties in building a new online platform. Many of them have the stamina to stay the course, but unfortunately run out of money before reaching the end of the tunnel.
At Oryx Cloud, we have decided to launch a Series of articles called Startup 101 Series: Storat.com early lessons. The articles are written by the founders of Storat.com to record and share their experiences launching an internet startup in the middle east. The intention is to share our early experiences so other entrepreneurs in the Arab world can learn from our right and wrong decisions in dealing with the uncertainties of launching a new online platform or an IT business. The articles will cover a wide range of experiences including marketing, talent acquisition, financial planning, competition, technology choices, growth hacking, and many other topics.
We will do our best to release 3-4 articles per month. The main motto of Oryx Cloud team and Storat.com is: “It is about the journey, not the destination”. So, this is a recording of our journey before we forget, regardless of where it leads us, we thought it is important to share it to encourage a culture of openness and collaboration among middle east entrepreneurs.
Some of the uncertainties that every startup has to deal with range from simple questions to more complex issues:
- Do you have the right execution strategy?
- Do you focus on growth in the early years or do you rally toward profit?
- Do you run after a wide user acquisitions to build a network or do you focus on small customers base and build revenue and profit?
- What is the right marketing strategy and how can you build a brand with no or little marketing budget?
- How do you deal with product uncertainty? Can we build a product as we envisioned?
- How can you attract the best talent to a startup?
- How do you deal with the operational aspect of the business like legal, facilities, operations, accounting? Those aspects can distract a startup from focusing on product\customer value. However, they are as critical to the success of the startup.
- Do you outsource the product development or hire a team and develop it in-house?
- How do you build a financial plan for your startup so it doesn’t run out of money before reaching a safe harbor?
- Which development platform to go with, how can you make sure the development team you hire is building a scalable, secure, and performing applications?
- Do you invest in buying an expensive .com domain, or do you go for a cheaper or longer domain? Do you build a new domain for each country country (ex: .ae vs .com) or focus all in countries in one domain?
- Do you focus on mobile platform first, or the web first? Which development platform I should use?
As we write our experience and share it, some of the early lessons are:
- While working for or building a startup is serious hard-work, 15 hours per day shift for the first few years, the level of learning, excitement, and adventure can’t be acquired in any established business or in a standard job. Very few people will have a chance in their career to be part of the first 10 people that forms a startup. A sincere advise, if you ever get that chance, don’t miss it.
- You can’t avoid making mistakes, but you should really work hard in avoiding making strategic mistakes. Building a startup is working from 5 AM to 10 PM everyday correcting tens small mistakes and resolving issues every single day. You learn that the world doesn’t differentiate between big business and small business. Even with a small team, you have to deal daily with a host of issues related to legal, banking, finance, government regulation, software development, market reach, etc. I have seen a lot of small businesses being overrun by those issues as the founding team underestimated the level of attention they require.
The first article in this series will cover an important technical uncertainty: Which programming language and web platform to choose for your upcoming online web application?
CEO & Founder
Oryx Cloud & Storat.com