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Startup Watch: Quit the social, call your angel, and cut down on the hype


The world of entrepreneurship news is a complex one, with people ever ready to give their two cents on how you should be running your business/VC fund/incubator.

Here’s our wrap of what we’re reading on money, loads of money, how we are addicted to social media (yes, newsflash) and batteries. We love batteries.

Your Facebook is the salt to my sugary Twitter. Binge checking apps is not your fault. Tech companies spend billions on breaking down your self-control and feeding an addiction. But one man in the Valley is pushing back with a “Hippocratic oath” for software, to encourage ethical app making. This is a long read, but it did make us aware of just how much time was spent on Facebook and Slack in the making of this article.

Batteries are an even bigger hype-generator than startups. Fisker Karma - an alleged Telsa/Nissan competitor, is being hyped (again) for not only a comeback but also bringing in a super amazing battery that will blow your mind. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to find any evidence of this battery being used outside a lab. Scientists are also side-eyeing outrageous claims like these guys are making about the same kind of graphene storage system. Experimental batteries have a tendency to blow up in their makers’ faces once out of the lab (see here, here and this most excellent book). So the lesson is, when someone says they have the next best thing, back away, slowly.

Wamda of the week: War in the north, fintech in the south. When it comes to entrepreneurialism, Iraq always provides little snapshots of a people who, despite years of crushing circumstance, are still keen to give things a go (there’s Nawres Arif in Basra and a food startup revival in Baghdad). This time it’s fintech, a sector that’s proved time and again that ideas from countries in the most need make the biggest impact.

(Mobile wallets - those where you can pay using your phone credit and don't need a bank account - are on the rise in Iraq. (Image via Akhbarak)

Have you called your angel lately? They want to hear from you, they’d love a call, maybe just an email? A one-second Snapchat? To make the most from your angel investors you’ve got to actually talk to them. You presumably brought them in because you thought they’d be useful for more than just the money. The angel in this story has some advice for entrepreneurs: to extract that value from your angels, let them know how you’re doing.

Raising a cool $1B doesn’t mean you’re all that. Being well capitalized - that is taking on a pile of VC money - does not mean your startup will make it in the long term. MENA is yet to see any big IPOs by its most charmed startups, but this study of 71 of the best performing companies in the US raises an interesting point: raising less venture capital while private correlated with public success. We’re not saying venture capital is not essential at the right time, but we are saying that aiming to be a unicorn is not the right goal.

The correlation suggests (remember - correlation does not mean confirmation) that the less venture money you raise the better you do post-IPO. But then again, since MENA's largest raising has been sub-$1 billion from Careem, these are numbers to think about for the future, not the present. (Image via Founders Collective)

A $100B Saudi marriage. The Softbank-Saudi deal to launch one of the world’s biggest tech funds last week caused a few ripples. Whether it was just a publicity stunt for an indebted Japanese investor and an ambitious prince was one. But the background to the deal - the “marriage of minds” as one insider put it - is an interesting insight into what it takes to woo Saudi’s high-flying deputy crown prince.

The White House launched a startup. Really, despite Obama’s speech this week saying you can’t run government like a business, he kind of tried. According to those on the US Digital Service team it was an exercise in adaptability: they had to realise that some policies and rules were there for a reason, and the departments they worked with had to realise that, sometimes, their rules were ridiculous. This interview is a rare meeting of the minds, as business and government begin to understand just how they can, and can’t, work together.

Selling requires just three things, does your team have them? The best salesperson for this Medium writer was a Pakistani woman from the ‘70s (ie, his mum). But not all of us can hire our mums to sell our products (or do our dishes, which explains the threatening ‘your mother does not work here!’ notes in office kitchens around the world). So, instead, you as CEO have to find that person who has resilience, goal-orientation, and intellectual curiosity. And then find a way to make sure they aren’t poached.

Feature image via Cakechooser.

October 20th 2016, 1:46 am
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