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  • Writer's pictureHani W. Naguib

Mentor Journey: Ecosystems Notes 2022

2022 has been a very interesting year for our startup ecosystem in Egypt. In this blog, I will share some observations from the field.

1. MVP as proof of founder's seriousness

An MVP is a tool to help you discover the point of view of your customer toward a solution. However, it does not help you understand the problem, the challenge, or the struggle your customer is going through. An MVP is the startup's response to a specific customer's problem.

When programs ask founders to apply with an MVP without asking about the validation for the perspective of the customer problem, they are not really examining the understanding of the founder of what they are trying to build.

Serious founders put equal weight on the exploration of the problem as to the solution they are building!

2. Winning competitions or getting funded as validation

Many entrepreneurs still confuse funding with validation. The only thing winning competitions tells you is that you are good at pitching. Nothing more, nothing less. In fact, winning competitions has become the end of the means-to-end approach. When you say that something is a means to an end, you mean that it helps you to achieve what you want, although it may not be important itself. Startup Competitions are good for founders to practice their pitches and spotlight their startups to potential investors and are a great way to match with co-founders and founding team members. Nothing more, nothing less.

Getting funded is also not validation for your startup. It is a validation of your ability to negotiate and convince. Getting funded is when your journey gets serious because it is then you will have to prove your pitch deck claims to be true to your investors.

3. Building Super Apps is sexy

Lately, everyone is talking about super apps with a fintech solution, a hint of e-commerce, a dash of AI, and just enough bots to make it the next big thing. What everyone seems to be forgetting is that building super apps need huge infrastructure and operations! And building that needs a lot of experienced talents, expensive resources, and of course, substantial funding. Not to mention that a super app will be competing on many fronts with companies that are offering one or two of their products. These companies will be more flexible and focused on the market and customers. Hence, super apps will require more funding to compete and acquire customers and do battle on all these fronts.

Building super apps is not for the weak at heart. It is a grinding endeavor that only a few can master and succeed at. Please don't say that you are building a super app unless you have spent enough time understanding the dynamics of what you are really building inside the context of an uncertain and competitive market.

4. The Rise of a Parallel Ecosystem?

Since late 2021, I have started to notice the rise of a parallel ecosystem where government entities duplicate existing Egyptian startup value propositions and offer them as products of their own. I have seen that mainly in health tech, fintech, and delivery tech. I believe that this will create an unfair disadvantage to our local startups and will entice them to take their business to friendlier ecosystems.

Goodwill and Respect 😊

Check previous Ecosystem notes blogs here:

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