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  • Writer's pictureHani W. Naguib

Mentor Journey: My favorite founders in 2023

In 2023, I met with many early-stage founders, and I would like to highlight some of my favorite up-and-coming founders. The people on this list are not there because they are influential, disruptors, or other big buzzwords. The people on this list are there because they ask good questions and passionately seek to find answers. From experience, this might be the ultimate entrepreneurial experience any founder can undertake in its purest form.

Another thing that everyone on this list has in common is passion. They all have a passion for life, people, and building something they can be proud of. Finally, They are all building their startups from scratch, with minimum support and resources. They know it is not easy, but it doesn't stop them from going full ahead, never less.

Shall we begin? 😊

upper Egypt, Egypt

Founders of Flourish

Question: How can we empower women with ecofriendly jobs?

I met the founders of Flourish during my Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship Workshop at Athar Accelerator in the fall of 2023. They are both university students; Doaa is studying chemistry and microbiology, and Hanan is studying business. Doaa is the CTO, and Hanan is the CEO of their two-women army of a startup.

Those two young ladies are working diligently to develop eco-friendly natural dyes and use them to produce fabrics and materials that can meet the increasing demand of the fashion world for sustainable, eco-friendly materials. And they want to do all of it by employing, training, and empowering local women from rural areas. It's a big dream, but more importantly, they know it, and they are going for it, and It is just inspiring.

Cairo, Egypt

Question: How can we inspire people to consume water responsibly and efficiently?

I met Samah at Techne Summit Cairo 2022. At the time, she was a computer engineering student at a local university. She envisioned using technology and awareness to inspire people to consume water responsibly and efficiently. Samah works very hard on herself. Since graduating in 2023, she has been wholly dedicated to building her own company and accomplishing her vision one day. She works very hard on herself and how she learns. She learns faster than any founder I met in 2023 and is one of the very few founders who made remarkable developments in such a short period. Her enthusiasm can seem to be limitless despite all the challenges and setbacks.

But that is not all. Next to her startup, Samah is paying it forward by working hand in hand with the community around her. Her enthusiasm can be contagious, and anyone can see you on the faces of the people around her.

One final observation about Samah. She is one of the few entrepreneurs I have met during the past ten years whose questions can reflect her mindset's quick development and maturity progress; working with her as a mentor has been a privilege.

Lahore, Pakistan

Founder of Parcely Express

Question: How can family members send valuables to each other safely and securely?

I met Talha online in the spring of 2023. He found my website during a web search and sought mentoring to develop his business model further. On our first Zoom meeting, I asked him why he was looking for mentoring; he gave me one of the most exciting answers I had in many years from a mentee. He said, "I am looking for a mentor who can highlight all the things I can do and not all the things I can't." In his experience, most mentors only gave him the "what could go wrong" responses to his plans and dreams. But that didn't answer how he could move forward. And he was determined to find answers, even if it meant he had to find a mentor in another country.

Talha works hard for what he wants and doesn't hold back. He embodies the proverb, "If there is a will, there is a way." He is building his startup one layer at a time with minimum resources but with the support of his community and team. This kind-hearted young man wants to give family members certainty in their transported privacy. In other words, he wants to ensure that a grandmother gets her meds sent by her daughter without interruption. A son would receive his mother's wedding ring intact on time so that he can propose to the love of his life.

"There is power in genuine family interactions, and I want to ensure it can happen long distance." He said to me. So, he innovated many features to his app to achieve that. One is the live video stream, where the sender can watch the package live as it is transported from one point to another.

This young man is asking good questions, and much can be expected of him.

In the world of entrepreneurship, these founders embody the essence of meaningful innovation—driven not by trends but by unwavering passion ignited with the right questions.

Their stories transcend startups, representing dreams woven from dedication. Doaa, Hanan, Samah, and Talha aren't just building businesses; they're fostering empowerment, redefining consumption, and safeguarding connections.

Amidst the allure of instant success, their journeys stand as beacons, illuminating paths for countless others. They remind us that true innovation springs from genuine questions and unrelenting dedication.

Here's to anyone unafraid to ask questions and go out to find answers. You are a true entrepreneur.

Goodwill & Respect

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