Tarek Ahmed Fouad, a rising entrepreneur, has already founded 2 startups in 2013 and has launched his third one this year which he referred to as ‘Maverick Media’. With over 8 years of experience in leading business entities, strategic marketing & lean business models, Mr. Tarek is an excellent example of a successful rising entrepreneur. We decided to interview Mr. Tarek to have more insights on how he made it to the top.
Q: Which was more challenging for you: the process of launching your startup or the process of maintaining it throughout out time by making sure that it keeps competing successfully in the market?
A: Both are equally challenging! In the beginning, entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas in mind and face a lot of obstacles to get those ideas into practice. It is true though that certain things become easier after the startup is launched and is deemed to be successful as once you have the right employees in place and the right structure in place then things start to go in a smoother way. However, once you are in the market, you immediately start facing competition and the key element to survive and assure success is to innovate on a consistent basis. The moment you stop innovating is the moment you lose your competitive advantage. So both are challenging but with time an entrepreneur starts to adapt and get better at it.
Q: We know that failure tends to be common when it comes to entrepreneurship as most entrepreneurs have failed before they became successful, how did you deal with failure?
A: Throughout our several years in business in different industries, the way we looked at failure was simply to face it, learn from it and move on. We actually created a culture where we rewarded ‘failing’. In fact when we hire people we ask them for providing us with their CVs of failure instead of those of success. To put down everything that you are good at is easy but putting down everything that you are not good at and the failures that you made throughout your journey and how you dealt with them, is what gives a notion on the person’s attitude towards facing issues and that is what really matters in the end of the day.
Q: What were the most important decisions you made that contributed to your success?
A: Two things; hiring a lawyer and hiring a finance manager who ended up being my partner. Without those two people in place, you might easily start taking decisions based on emotions instead of reason. So having people who are focused on finance and legalities is going to save you from a lot of failures which are based on emotions, since these people tend to see things from a different perspective. In addition to that, learning from the head start not to trust anyone, learning how to control our cash in and cash out, and looking after our finances consistently are important decisions that we took and which contributed to our success.
Q: What motivated you to be the Launchpad facilitator?
A: I first want to thank Impact Hub for inviting me to be part of this wonderful experience which enables me to contribute to the entrepreneurial world. Being part of a place that can harness all the ideas and create things that can actually impact the world around it is the prime motivation that makes me want to be part of the Impact Hub. Another reason is obviously networking as you get to meet a lot of ambitious people with amazing ideas who are interested in transforming an innovative idea into reality; that in itself feeds me with energy and motivates me to be part of this process and share my experience with these people.
Q: If you could give one advice to the participants what would it be?
A: Remember that businesses do not succeed, people do. No matter how difficult it is to make your business successful and maintain it that way, it is the team that makes it that way not the business itself. So the focus should be on your personal development and in developing your team. We are all in business for money however in the end we realize that money comes and goes but what really stays is the legacy. You want to leave something that people can remember you with after you die. It is indeed an extremely challenging journey for the rising entrepreneurs as in the end of the day success depends on how much perseverance you have to keep moving forward regardless of the obstacles you face. So my advice to those participants is simply to never assume that the entrepreneurial journey is going to be an easy one in which in couple months down the line they are going to be rich, but they have to expect that they may stay five years holding on to their idea without having any glimpse of success. Entrepreneurship takes a lot of patience and mostly perseverance. If you are motivated by money then you will probably give up during the first years but if your motivation is based on creating an impact and a legacy then you will be able to persevere until you meet your vision.
Q: If you could go back to day one of your startup, what would you do differently to avoid the mistakes and failures that you faced in the past and hence save yourself time and money?
A: I will first of all hire my finance manager and legal assistant from the first day. The second thing I would do is to make more market research before launching the startup. The reason I said that is because in the market there are a lot of rules that do not apply, you may assume that they apply but they actually don’t. There are a lot of tips and tricks that you don’t uncover until you are in the market. You get to learn those tricks once you are in the market and when all of a sudden you bump into people who tell you “oh you could have done that differently” and you realize that a lot of those things could have saved you time and money. This is what I mean by market research; it is acquiring as much tips and tricks from people who already have experience in the field before getting started. It is quite easy to establish businesses here in the UAE as the laws are easy but yet the country is so expensive so you need a lot of capital to start with which is not the case in a lot of other developing countries. So having somebody who could give you tips and tricks on how to be as lean as possible would probably be what I could have done as well if I were to go back to day one.