Mix N’ Mentor Nuwait Edition reveals big need for mentorship in Kuwait

  • Nov. 10, 2015 -

Mix N’ Mentor - Nuwait Edition organized by Wamda in cooperation with the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises was concluded by emphasizing the importance of transferring the experience of knowledgeable mentors to beginner entrepreneurs in order to capitalize on success stories and avoid failures.

70 entrepreneurs and 28 mentors participated in the event. The inaugural Nuwait edition of the event sponsored by the National Fund for SME Development, which announced the launch of Nuwait in its first forum.

The event began with morning workshops on team building, fundraising, online user acquisition and business development. The afternoon was dedicated to workshops on making a business model canvas, user experience design (UX), nurturing and closing deals, and client and user growth.

The participants emphasized that “in spite of its small geographic size, Kuwait has an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is vibrant and dynamic. Nevertheless, it still needs to overcome the challenges of finding experienced mentors for the entrepreneurs, learning from best practices, business registration, obtaining work visas attracting technical talents.” The latter was a large concern for the attendees.

In this regard, Mohammad Al-Meer, founder and CEO of software service startup Q8 Software, said: “I want to find someone who is better than me and who can focus on operations. “I want to be able to focus on business development and sales,” he explained.

“Many small and medium enterprises struggle, especially at the beginning, to hire talented and experienced people, who often prefer working for big companies or for the government” he added.

“There’s also a pressure from families to work for big companies, Al-Meer noted. However, selling a vision and giving people a sense of ownership can help entrepreneurs attract new hires.”

“People don’t believe in your vision,” said Sulaiman Al Tarrah, cofounder and CEO of online flower store 965 Flowers. “They just want money.”

Aiming for fresh graduates greatly improves the chances of acquiring talent, as college students are motivated to work and they can easily adapt to a company’s culture.

The attendees also emphasized on some practices that help entrepreneurs like encouraging young graduates to go to forums, events, and hiring fairs instead of recruitment agencies.

The user experience (UX) workshop discussed key features of website design. Startups should strive for a simple interface and make interaction as seamless as possible.

But to do this, entrepreneurs need to understand their audience and tailor the website to its needs. For instance, a booking website should, have the appropriate booking feature at the very beginning. “Understand what people think and design accordingly” was the major take away from the workshop.

“The recruitment challenge is global,” responded Fadi Ghandour, founder of Aramex and chairman of Wamda Capital. “You might have to recruit people who are not up to the standards but when you grow, you won’t worry about that anymore.”

Ghandour emphasized the importance of expanding outside of a limited geography as a means of growing the business in order to reach more clients and attract new talents. 

“All companies, regardless of size, must set and articulate their values in order to create a cohesive, productive, and enjoyable work environment and retain talent. Building such an environment takes a lot of time, and may mean a flat organizational structure give each employee more flexibility, empowerment and ownership,” Ghandour further advised the entrepreneurs.

At the end of the day, entrepreneurs and mentors debated on whether entrepreneurs should hire a full-time technical cofounder or outsource development. The majority favored the former, as having a technical member on board should make development faster and more efficient, and help avoid miscommunication.

Nuwait is a platform that showcases Kuwait’s entrepreneurs and their journeys.