30 Nov 2014
How Founder of Otlob.com continued to “Pivot” and Grow!
Everyone remembers him as the co-founder of Otlob.com one of the earliest successes of the dot com boom in Egypt, the magic startup that was sold after 7 month of operations for an undisclosed amount.
There seems to be two conflicting attitudes about his story among entrepreneurs in Egypt, one is that he was too lucky to sell his startup after 7 months of operation and make serious money, something all entrepreneurs are struggling with. The other is that he prematurely sold his startup dream and wasted a great opportunity for exponential financial success.
Though, as I sat with him for an interview for my new book Egypreneur’s Survival Guide, the story of Ayman Rashed gets more in depth than what you’d hear from fellow entrepreneurs and mentors.
What I was surprised to know today is that the same dream of Otlob.com has continued to pivot for 15 years, until it reached a 120 strong corporate structure with arms and legs in 6 different business lines with regional subsidiary.
From Understanding The Startup Funding Game Booklet
Entrepreneurs often talk about “Lean Startups” and “Pivots” as short term strategy adjustment to a potential company, but what Ayman shows is that the entrepreneur himself as well is often influenced to take a “Pivot” in the journey of actualizing his/her dreams.
You all probably know that Otlob.com was sold in 2000, but what you don’t know is that right after selling Otlob.com, Ayman started a tech company that creates different Otlob.com-style startups, he started with corsat.com a Mall for training as he describes it which then failed to make it as a financial success and Ayman was challenged with the model of his company.
But despite that Corsat.com was not a financial success, the company built great assets, experience and data operating in the training industry that they were ready to become Egypt’s first Training Management Service Provider, creating one of the first SAAS offerings in 2001.
With more experience gained in the training industry, and the availability of funding for this particular line, Ayman started Gates Training Center, a specialized IT training center that worked with some of Egypt’s largest IT corporate, the training center operated successfully till funding ended in 2001 and Ayman had to exit the training center to make another pivot.
Learning that investing all capacity in a single sector puts your business in a great danger, Ayman learned the lesson and started diversifying the portfolio of his company which was re-branded into IT Blocks.
Ayman built capacity to operate within 6 different business lines, defending the company’s ability to adjust with changes in the market and guaranteeing its sustainability based on a sharp strategic vision.
In 2010, IT Block made another pivot into entering the MENA market with the first subsidiary in KSA and continued expanding its operations regionally. A company that now hires 120 of the best IT professionals in Egypt and continue providing innovative products and services to its stakeholder.
The story of how the concept of Otlob.com continued to pivot till now until it grow by its founder in a different form that was probably not anticipated is a very good example to how an entrepreneur should expect to “Pivot” change and evolve towards building great, sustainable and scalable companies.
Ayman currently maintains his dream as IT Blocks www.it-blocks.com
The story will also be featured in the “Think strategy!” section of Egypreneur’s Sruvival Guide, check details about the book project at http://egypreneur.com/survival