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And wash your face every morning, how Riham keeps a fresh spirit!

I was both curious and confused first time I connected with her. To me, her simple, open attitude and communication style didn’t match my expected image of a sharp, assertive serial entrepreneur with her experience and track record and all the fights and hurts that I would expect to come with them.

Probably this curiosity and confusion conveyed my own struggle to understand and practice the right balance between completely letting go of our past experiences and reflecting digested lessons on our present character, attitude and expectations.

Believing that keeping it real, and avoiding past pitfalls would require us to keep something from the past, you know, a genuine scratch here and there, a sharp eye contact, a reminder that we had been through hell and back a few times already.

I’m sure you already know that life is quite tough, and you probably also know that the world of starting and growing your own business is much more tough, critical wounds don’t come from the natural turning of events, it’s the hurts of human-induced betrayal that stays for years and often shape the next chapter if not the remaining story of our lives.

If you hadn’t been used by your honest mentors, betrayed by your trusted confidants and back-stabbed by your team mates, then you’ll probably hardly relate to the wrinkles of our hearts and the psychological energy it consumes to recover from these incidents.

Some people lead very “stable” lives, and pride themselves of record free of any heart wrinkles or betrayals and they have our respect for their choices, though, once you decide to risk and venture into the unknown, the unsure and the unstable, you’ll have to encounter all these experiences.

So far, to me, Riham Abu Elinin seemed to be an exception, she maintained a wide smile, open communication and almost childish fresh spirit in whatever comes in.

I would have never left that without investigating.

Like I always enjoy to do, mixing my own curiosity and drive to learn with the need to communicate stories of Egyptian entrepreneurs to the world, I requested an interview for Egypreneur’s Survival Guide.

Growing up pampered by her father, a self-made entrepreneur who started with nothing and made it big in the world of media and advertising, Riham Abu Elinin lost her father to an accident at the tender age of 17, her mother was left with five siblings and no income.

It was time for her to face the world on her own, while still being an undergraduate student of Fine Arts, she started a career in Graphic Design, Arts and Training and started growing a thick skin, making her way in a tough world for ambitious young ladies.

With a liquidity event of her father’s past companies, finally she was able to seed her first venture into petrochemical sector, with the challenge and excitement of setting up something new, acquiring new experiences and finding innovative ideas and solutions to what kept everyone else in the industry challenged.

The young lady’s ambition, drive and ability to navigate her way in the industry with much success, yielded the usual result of being considered a threat to powerful, connected individuals, who used their influence to block her progress and the power struggles, landed her into the back of police arrest car (Known as Box), handcuffs on and some detention time.

Though, even the handcuffs, shaking of the back of a police truck and direct threats in detention didn’t stop her, a patterns of resilience I have witnessed with successful entrepreneurs.

Though, when the enemy fails to get to you, it’s often those who you expect their betrayal the least are the ones who deliver you, betrayed by her partners, Riham were stripped out of a company she started and her rebellious entrepreneurial journey seems to have reached an end.

As I hear the story, I could feel memories of similar betrayals excelling in my mind. When your walls are not collapsing and it’s your confidants who deliver your flesh to the enemy, this is a point in time when you guarantee that your ideas, character and attitudes will be different.

Despite the terrible experience, being stripped off the success she created and betrayed by some of the closest, Riham Abu Elinin proceeded to found 4 companies not only that but these terrible experiences and tough times didn’t change her attitude or the way she welcomes every new morning.

Realizing that Riham’s experience was actually tougher than most entrepreneurs, next step was to understand and analyze, how does this work? How can you let go of similar experiences and move on without anyone realizing what you had to go through.

I have listened to probably tens of hours of advice, speeches and philosophies on letting go of past hurts, but seeing a living example was more inspiring to pursue the same route.

Don’t let whatever happen to you change who you are.

If you are still polluted by stories of the past, you won’t be ready for new opportunities and blessings coming your way.

Wash your face every morning and take off, the hurts, the pains and the betrayals of the past. Facing the world fresh as if it’s the first day of your life.

Egyptian culture and popular songs almost glorifies the idea of being betrayed and what the world has done to you, you probably hear is as frequent as I do, that it almost becoming an excuse to bad attitude, gloomy face and unproductive life.

There is no glory in letting the world know that you have suffered or that you are suffering, refuse to give the world anything but a fresh smile and glowing face.

In every morning, while washing your face, make sure it gets to your heart and mind, that what happened yesterday and the day after is gone. And it’s not an excuse for you to be unhappy, unproductive or to spread that among those you get in contact with.

Riham Abu Elinin also wrote:

Turn your face to the sun and all your shadows will fall behind … Good morning universe …I am watching one of your sunrises..

Riham Abul Einin on Instagram

For inspiration, you might turn back to some decent music:

Hamza Namira – Kollo Bey’addi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZGaZM3CLco

Hassan El Shafei ft. Abla Fahita:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0WPQ6oP1aY

Hamza Namira – Hansa:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggXfR1lwbLI

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Digested lessons and step by step process to recover from the dusty, hurtful world of business will be featured in section 4: Leadership and dealing with people at Egypreneur’s Survival Guide. Request an interview to share your experience with fellow entrepreneurs.

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Stories

The power of a “Personal Vision” for Leadership!

As he sat down with his coach at a career coaching session the corporate he just joined provides, he told his coach that he sees himself as the General Manager in 15 years, the coach requested a logical path for this to be the result and he was told it’s just what it is, a personal vision.

It was only after 7 years, Ehab Eshak was named the youngest corporate leader globally at Grundfos, at 39 of age, he is in charge of the company’s operation in Egypt and a few other countries.

How was he able to make the shift from the narrow and deep specialized sales engineer type into the responsibilities of a corporate leader in such a short span of time and what lessons and stories he might share with entrepreneurs about “setting up” and “Growing into your personal vision”.

That was the purpose of my initial interview with Ehab Eshak, General Manager of Grundfos Egypt and one of the first 100 members of Egypreneur.

What’s too apparent is that “Personal Vision” is the driver for all changes and it seems to be – beside relentless acquisition of knowledge and experience – the best instrument in the challenge of “Growing into the CEO position” most startup founders face.

You’ll learn more about these 7 years in which Ehab led himself to grow into the position of a corporate leader and what lessons young entrepreneurs and aspiring startup CEOs can learn from, at Egypreneur’s Survival Guide.

If you think you have a story to share with entrepreneurs and young CEOs, shoot me an email and let’s talk. I love listening to these stories and featuring them on my upcoming book.

P.S. This transition from the narrow and deep to a position of leadership will be shared at the “You come first!” section at Egypreneur’s Survival Guide.

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Stories

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 months of operations for an undisclosed amount.

There seem 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 a regional subsidiary.

From Understanding The Startup Funding Game Booklet

Entrepreneurs often talk about “Lean Startups” and “Pivots” as short term strategy adjustments 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 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 corporations, 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 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 grows by its founder in a different form that was probably not anticipated is a very good example of 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

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The story will also be featured in the “Think strategy!” section of The Egypreneur Manifesto, check details about the book project at https://www.egypreneur.com/manifesto

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Entrepreneur Global Stories

Kolikoo.com: An Egyptian Entrepreneur Going Global

While some people lead their entire lives with boxes of doubt depriving their ideas of sufficient room to grow, others simply refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer. A well thought of idea is worth nurturing, and all it takes is the proper soil to grow. And that’s why Egyptian entrepreneur Ibrahim Khalil, co-founder and CEO of Kolikoo.com, was persistent enough to locate the proper soils for his project to prosper, even if it meant taking it overseas.

With a rich e-commerce experience in Souq.com, Ibrahim was well equipped to take his knowledge to a younger market where both, consumers and business owners are in need for what he has to offer.

Eastern Europe E-commerce Market

According to the Eastern Europe B2C Ecommerce report released in 2013, the e-commerce market in Eastern Europe has witnessed an average growth rate of 35.7% over the year 2012, which ranks it the strongest growing e-commerce market in Europe. The report also announced that the annual growth of e-commerce sales in Eastern Europe outpaced Western Europe by 13 percentage points in 2012.

“There is a lot of potential in the Eastern European e-commerce market. First of all, only 27 million of 162 million inhabitants are shopping online – a percentage bound to increase once internet penetration is picking up pace. As demand will rise across this region, logistic services will improve, enabling retailers to serve also the less urbanized areas”, says Wijnand Jongen, Chair Statistical Board Ecommerce Europe.

A Project with Potential

Kolikoo.com is the first social e-commerce network in Bosnia & Herzegovina, a place where businesses and individuals can offer their products for sale in a social interface, combining web shop and social network business models into one business model.

Although Khalil, and co-founder Amir Ahmetovic, have been working on Kolikoo.com since 2012, it had an impressive boost as the winner of the Balkan Venture Forum which took place in Sarajevo on May 16th, 2014, and was considered as one of the most promising startups in the region, which qualified the team to participate in the European Venture Summit in Dusseldorf in December 2014.

Future Plans

According to the 2013 Eastern Europe B2C Ecommerce report, a double digit growth rate above 20% in Eastern Europe was expected for 2013, though this growth rate is estimated to reach a climax by 2017.

Meanwhile, Khalil plans on scaling out within the next 5 years through Europe, with Turkey, Czech and Italy being on top of the expansion list. He is also currently in the process of securing his first round of investments for expanding.

It is worthy to mention that Turkey has topped the 5 emerging countries in % growth, according to the 2013 Eastern Europe B2C Ecommerce report, with a 75% growth rate.

With an Egyptian e-commerce market that’s currently flooded with activity, it brings us pride to see an Egyptian entrepreneur penetrate a new fresh market with knowledge and experience obtained on Egyptian lands.