You’re probably psychology major or have studied pharmacy, but you eat, breathe and speak business most of the time. Capitalism is all around us, microeconomics are ruling Egypt more than ever and businesses are the backbone of our daily life: convenience stores, bakeries, even governmental energy & water companies. Lately, businesses got into our lives more and more; we go to work in an Uber, sell our houses on an app, buy cool furniture from a boutique manufacturer & we live in houses automated by ingenious local businesses. We speak business, economics & marketing without realizing it, every single day.
There are businesses who don’t work and there are those that do. Here is our take on businesses that actually “do” or eventually will. Let’s start by our definition of success, and right here we will borrow a very easy definition from academia: successful businesses are those ones that keep a “sustainable competitive advantage”, because one hype doesn’t mean success at all except to the shallow narrow-minded observers.
Those Who Bring Technology Into Our Life
When Satya Nadella visited Cairo, we were invited to attend the speech and a major clause struck us all, in a positive way. Satya, inspiring many Microsoft commercials that year, declared the end of the digitization era. He explained is by taking us back to the era of inventions when passing signals between cords was miraculous, followed by the era of personal computing for the first time and then internet communication and its bubble and finally social networks. This can all be concluded by an overall era of digitizing: digitizing words and scriptures into signals, bytes & messages, digitizing our desktop into a monitor desktop with a virtual mouse running on it, digitizing documents and information, and eventually digitizing social relationships. Satya envisions that the next era of successful businesses belongs to those who can bring technology into life like Uber, Airbnb and eventually virtual reality and internet of things. Those businesses bring technology into our daily lives as opposed to those who take our lives into the digital world. Those businesses prevail and will keep prevailing.
Technology-Enabled Problem Solving
Let’s do a quick scan of businesses that are based on the so called Sharing Economies, which basically means having a platform that connects a huge number of stakeholders to help them share a service, commodity or knowledge. Those could also be known as collaborative platforms. Here is a very easily recognized list of those platforms that are very commonly used in Egypt:
Uber, Careem, Bey2ollak, Airbnb, Elmenus, Otlob, OLX, Mumm, Tutorama, Shezlong (not sure they know it’s spelled Chaise Longue), Wuzzuf, Eventtus, Raye7 and dozen others.
One major common thing about those companies is that they define the small business scene in Egypt. Around 95% of companies starting up in Egypt belong to this category of sharing community companies. What is not common about those apps or tech companies is that not all of them are really relying on heavy technology to solve a problem. They all are using simple technology to connect people together, they are not all basically and mainly relying on technology. For example, Elmenus is nothing but a website or app that gathers scanned or text-based menus. The technology they are using dates back to the early 90s; just gathering and listing menus on a website or an app.
We wish the best of luck to those trying to start collaborative platforms now, and we hope they realize it is already too late. Get over it and move on guys.
On the other hand, Uber uses very complex algorithms in order to connect drivers and riders in seconds using loads of data across many networks, almost literally in no time. This cannot happen without advanced technology, and this is what we believe is the future of platform technology. And we are certainly positive that the next platforms that tries to connect pet owners together for example is not going to do any better than its ancestors. They have to have a “sustainable competitive advantage”. That said, we wish the best of luck to those trying to start collaborative platforms now, and we hope they realize it is already too late. Get over it and move on guys.
Further to the platform discussion, there is one major aspect that is commonly missing in all platforms: personalized selling. It definitely is not the only successful way of selling, but it has been proven to be more successful in some areas.
Let’s take the example of real-estate platforms that connect landlords with those want to buy or rent real-estate. It’s very convenient to search an app or a website for the location, area and specifications of the real-estate you’re looking for and even better the one you want to sell. No commission, just advertising profits for the platform. But you can never control the brokers who just enlist any fake random estate to capture the attention and contact information and then use their networks to sell you their own products. You end up in a situation where you need to contact a broker, roam around and look for what you want. The app or website is of no use.
Another great example is the great success of Elmenus which simply shows you the menu and lets you order by phone, as opposed to the fully automated Otlob experience, which lacks the human interaction that most Egyptian clients need. This doesn’t it will last forever. People will change and evolve.
All the pressures put by the government, new regulations and recent economic conditions lead towards manufacturing or, more generally, creating tangible value. Transforming natural resources into value is indeed a great potential in Egypt. Yes, we are decades past the industrial revolution but we never caught up with it in the first place. We, Egyptians, have always been behind and now we’re paying the price.
While manufacturing that uses local raw materials has recently become very profitable, sustainable environment-aware manufacturing that uses and utilizes natural resources is on the hype for a new peak in Egypt. Many companies such as KarmSolar, Solarize, Up Fuse and Tagaddod are on the path to lead the sustainable development scene, giving a great example of how a new great Tesla can emerge from Egypt.
Businesses That Do Not
Many entities, events and corporations keep talking about starting up businesses and encourage the youth to start more businesses up. The hope here is that, statistically, chances are a good sustainable competitive business will pop up. The more businesses the better, at least statistically.
Problem is, there is a downside to business failures on the economy. Investors will eventually lose apetite in investing and the trust in Egyptian entrepreneurs will be lost, with every single business failure taking place. Investments put in failing businesses will also end up with banks, insurance companies or other less competitive businesses benefiting from these losses. In all cases, it’s a waste of money. On the personal side, mroe and more people suffer from the negative economic depression resulting from this unfair path of money. Eventually the entire economy suffers.
Words like “ecosystem, crowdsourcing, incubation, acceleration, monetizing, traction” should die because being more elaborative and rhetorical about something doesn’t mean being good at it.
This doesn’t mean we should stop encouraging startups. On the contrary, we should in fact encourage the right ones to work the right way. We should just stop talking and start doing. Let’s cut the overflow of meaningless terminology that reflects nothing but shallowness. Words like “ecosystem, crowdsourcing, incubation, acceleration, monetizing, traction” should die because being more elaborative and rhetorical about something doesn’t mean being good at it. Using classic business terms is actually easier to be understood but the majority of business players. No need for more terms.
We will stop talking and keep doing and achieving what we always wanted to do… To actually “do”…
We practice what we preach; we support businesses that “do”. We at Wall Corporation work with businesses that manufacture, locally produce, improve daily life or push forward the urban sustainable development in Egypt. We will stop talking and keep doing and achieving what we always wanted to do… To actually “do”…