Egypt, Entrepreneurship

From Cairo to Chicago [Egyptian Success Story]

My Story in the outsourcing industry started year 1998. I was one of those few Egyptians who got 9 months extensive…

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My Story in the outsourcing industry started year 1998. I was one of those few Egyptians who got 9 months extensive training in Internet and Communication Technologies through the ITI (Information technology Institute), directly after being graduated from Ain Shams University, Communication Engineering department.

Observation is the root of Innovation:

Few months after working as a web developer in a local ISP, I took a step back to look panoramically at what I am doing. So yes, I am building websites through a language called HTML (I was from this generation that used Notepad to build websites through Native HTML programming). “It is a cool job, I deliver my work online, I communicate with my clients in Egypt through emails and we are all connected through the Cyberspace…” I was saying to myself.

Wait a moment here! We are all connected through the Cyberspace. This observation has a value inside. If we are all connected through the Cyberspace, why I am focusing on providing my services to the Egyptian market? Can’t my client be abroad?

Derived by this thought, I reconsidered my assumptions. I need to create a smooth business model that allows me to target International clients. I Believe I can efficiently deliver work and meet clients’ demands regardless of their geographic location; whether they were in a room next to me or located in a different continent.

Success Journey
Your success journey is not always as easy as it seems to be …

Yes, I am capable

My second challenge was Capability, am I capable to really meet the International Standards in Web development? Again I took a step back to look panoramically at my own resources. “I am educated, got some experience, I believe in the Cyberspace communication model, but more importantly, due to this cyberspace I share the same resources of any Developer in Europe and USA. We read same online articles, we read same books and tutorials, so it is now about Courage, Dedication and ability to learn and these are true core values for All Egyptians. “I can win this battle…” This is what I said to myself at this time, years before having Thomas Friedman illustrates this same concept in his great outsourcing book “the world is flat”!

A Purpose Driven mission

So it is now about Courage, dedication and ability to learn.  I put a mission to myself “I believe that Egypt can play an influential role in the International Software Industry and I am determent to prove that”. Believing that Purpose is the cornerstone of any success, I set a mission that is “much higher” than just making profit. I need to prove our capabilities as Egyptians in the International Software Industry. Later on I discovered that this same mission was acting as the lens that focused all my energy to produce outstanding results! It was the motive behind staying working till 3 AM to solve an Issue with a USA client; it was reason behind these great words that our clients said years after “Our web Ninjas team In Cairo….The most devoted and responsible team we worked with…”

Luck is the marriage between an Opportunity and a Capability.

Age about 25, backed by my observations and my higher purpose, armed with my courage, dedication and ability to learn, I started to find ways to transform my mission into an action plan. I found business matchmaking sites for online freelancing jobs and decided to work in this as a part time job. After some unsuccessful tries I managed to catch a client. I committed myself to walk ten extra miles with him, I did an outstanding job , I gave him a $2000 value work and I took only $500 at this time, but this $500 I got year 1998 still have a great value for me. Far from its financial value, it did prove that my model can work! At this time I didn’t know that I was literary a “Technology Export Entrepreneur” who was technically working in the field of “Outsourcing”. I was just trying to prove my mission, to follow my purpose with full passion.

When passion Dominates:

Year 2000 I quit my full time job and I joined a Multi-National ISP in Egypt, with branches in USA, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. I worked as “Egypt Web department manager”, managing a group of 7 developers. In less than few months I convinced the higher management to centralize all Web development work for all branches in Egypt, in less than one year my team was providing all web development work for all branches. My Passion expressed itself widely, even at my full time job. We did a great success that made me more courageous and persistent. After few years I quit my full time job and I decided to dedicate all my power to my International Web Development business, leaving behind a very good package and stable life.

A new Start:

I opened my own first company. Being a one man show I stepped back from the seat of management and enjoyed programming again. I did a big case with an American client who became later a friend (He is currently the IT manager of one of the biggest airlines in USA), I confronted all the challenges of details (For USA and Europe clients, formatting, alignment and site layout are much more important than functionalities), I remember I was staying online with him 3 hours in his morning for 2 weeks just to adjust “the search engine” on top the page, so the page “doesn’t flicker” when being refreshed. There are key important things to care about while dealing with international clients. the most important one of them is caring about details, the second is clarity of communication, the third is being truly ethical and honest so you build eternal trust and the forth is to be direct and finally is to look at your plate and to never point fingers instead of seeking professional solutions to the situation.

Egyptian Team, international standards:

Mohamed Zidan scoring in Brazil - FIFA Confederations Cup 2009
Mohamed Zidan scoring in Brazil – FIFA Confederations Cup 2009

Building a team is never an easy job, especially when you want this team to “act differently”, to follow international standards (and behaviors). Difference of culture is a truly big challenge! I did all what I can to handover concepts I learned over the years to them, and to create a culture of innovation where everybody can express her/himself openly and suggest new ideas. I did everything to paint the

mission and its purpose in their mind.. Soon this team became much more dedicated than me. In many occasions they inspire me. There is a fact that I learn from them each day. We gathered our forces and we challenged ourselves to be more professional in our work. In 2009 we became both ISO and CMMI certified. Within 5 years from our start we were able to successfully deliver more than 300 projects in USA only.  But any success became truly small against hearing a European client saying “We are regularly awed by the magic the Egyptians achieve in their projects….”

Younger generation is MUCH better!

I never position my company as an outstanding Web development company. I never say “We are the best technical firm…” Being a mentor to many younger entrepreneurs I can say with full confidence that younger generation are more innovative, energetic and creative. May be they just need to be more persistent and care more about leadership and communication Skills, but I always see that Egypt has a great potential in the outsourcing field.

Ark Development Team Having Fun [Stella Di Mare, 2013]
Ark Development Team Having Fun [Stella Di Mare, 2013]

This is my mission that I am trying to prove either within my company working framework or by Nudging younger entrepreneurs to be more courageous and attack the international market like me. It is a hard mission but when you succeed you gain a true self confidence, you empower the economy and you create more jobs for other programmers. Just be passionate about what you do, follow your purpose, be a true leader to extract the best of your team and success will follow you.

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Ark Development CEO, Technology Expert and an Outsourcing Entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Knowledge Base, Recommended Stories

When and how to start outsourcing your business?

There is a reason why freelancing and outsourcing is becoming a popular trend with many international companies. With a tough…

There is a reason why freelancing and outsourcing is becoming a popular trend with many international companies. With a tough local and international economy, companies have to do what it takes to maintain a steady profit, and find ways to reduce costs.

Outsourcing is becoming a big trend in many industries, due to its many advantages and low costs.

For small and big businesses alike, there comes a time when a decision must be made. Do you build a new team or primary service, buy certain tools or do you outsource for a short time?

That is another way that outsourcing can help.

 

So, when should you start considering to outsource?

Do you procrastinate when faced with a particular task?

Is it a one-time task? Is it a primary service that your business offers, or something for a specific client or project?

Is it a once a month task? Such as Legal duties, or financial accounting?

Are you still saving up for an expansion? Could you afford an expansion for this task?

Is it a non-essential function of your business?

If you’ve answered all by one of those as yes, then that is when you should be outsourcing.

A definition for outsourcing is “the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources.”

The reason is simple, because it can be advantageous most of the time.

Your business is saving money, effort, time and energy, making it more efficient on that tasks that truly matter.

 

Why should a business outsource?

So, you know when you should be looking into it, or maybe you’re interested.

The thought still lingers in your mind, it might be a good idea but why should I?

There are many things that you can consider that could make outsourcing a great opportunity for your business.

 

1. Employee costs and non-productive hours

Office space, cafeteria benefits, hospital visits, insurance, and lunch breaks are things that cost the company profit per full-time employee.

These are also things you can save on when outsourcing.

These make a full-time employee more than twice as expensive as a short offer for a freelancer.

 

2. Efficiency

Freelancers and outsourcing give you a special opportunity, an opportunity to capture and use talented people that you may not have been able to afford otherwise.

Talented graphic designers, high-end lawyers, highly-organized accountants, and smart assistants can be found as freelancers, and at a lower-price than full-timers.

They tend to be more efficient as they have stricter deadlines than full-timers, and may be able to do the job better than you or any other current employee.

 

3. Frees up internal resources

Getting freelancers doesn’t only work as a way to do unrelated or menial tasks, they also function as a way to lift weight off of your shoulders.

Using a content marketing freelancer to prepare content calendars, or receiving content from freelance content creators, can help free up internal resources.

Freeing you and your employees up for other important tasks, tasks that they can handle more efficiently with less of a work load.

 

What are you waiting for?

As you can see, outsourcing could be a very beneficial strategy for you and your business.

It does come with its own issues, such as communication and delivery of work, but if you plan it right, it will help you and your business thrive.

So, what are you waiting for?

Have another reason why outsourcing won’t be a part of your business strategy? Let us know in the comments below.

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Brand Activation, Egypt

Meet first Egypt-made smartphone NILE X

Egypt’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has unveiled today the specifications of the first Egypt-made, Nile X, smartphone at…

Egypt’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has unveiled today the specifications of the first Egypt-made, Nile X, smartphone at Cairo ICT 2017.

Manufactured by the Ministry of Communication-affiliated SICO Technology, the smart phone was made with 400 million Egyptian pounds in investment in the company’s factory in Assiut.

Having five production lines spread over 4,520 square meters, the factory has a capacity of producing 1.8 million devices per year.

The telephone was presented by the Egyptian Minister of Communications, Engineer Yasser Al-Qadi, to President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, the first of four lines of production.

NILE X Specifications

The First Egyptian Made Cell Phone is an Octa Core CPU Dual Camera 4GB RAM, 64 GB storage, 5.7 HD display, Android 7.0 Nougat.

The new smartphone name is Nile X to be launched with 4G technology, fast charging feature USB Type-C, 13 mega pixel dual camera and fingerprint sensor.

Expected to be priced at an average starts from LE 2,000 up to LE4200, the foreign component in the device is provided in partnership with China.

NILE X Ambition and Future Plans

SICO Technology aims to capture 5 percent of the Egypt’s mobile market during the first year of production. In addition, SICO mobile phones are now considered to be the first local brand in the industry as the percentage of 58% local component.

Moreover, The company’s technical centers will exist in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Assiut, Sharkia and Luxor governorates.

Egypt’s Nile X smartphone, produced by SICO, will be available on the market on December 15, 2017.

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Egypt, Featured Stories, News

Omar Samra & Omar Nour take on world’s toughest row with DHL Egypt

The Ocean. Filled with wonderous unseen spectacles, yet home to some of the deadliest things on Earth such as Great…

The Ocean. Filled with wonderous unseen spectacles, yet home to some of the deadliest things on Earth such as Great White Sharks and lethal Hurricanes. Until now, humans have yet to have fully discovered its hidden treasures, or even completely travel all of its hidden spots.

This December, a two-man Egyptian group is aiming to survive the grueling journey across just one of the world’s oceans, all while competing for first place in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Throwback ➤ Omar Samra; The first Egyptian to ski to the Geographic South Pole

Famed Egyptian explorer and future astronaut Omar Samra, and Egypt’s first ever professional triathlete Omar Nour, will be taking the reins as Egypt’s first ever entries in the challenge, as well as the Arab region’s.

The pair is set to be the first ever Egyptian and Arab team to complete what is known as the “World’s Toughest Row.”

O2 Prepares for World's Toughest Row

Finally the wait is over 🙂 I'm so excited to share my next challenge with you! On the 12th of December 2017, Omar Nour and I will be attempting the unthinkable… to row across the Atlantic Ocean unsupported for 5000Km enduring 50 foot waves, crazy storms, sleep deprivation and extreme isolation!! Follow our journey here.#TeamO2 #AtlanticChallenge #WorldsToughestRow

Posted by Omar Samra on Tuesday, April 18, 2017

 

The duo will be learning the real effects of team work, achieving under all circumstances, and breaking records during the challenge, all of which are also a part of DHL’s identity.

“Teamwork is key for DHL’s business growth. As we are stronger together than apart, we work together to overcome all challenges and to achieve one goal which is delivering our customers’ shipments across the world in the safest and fastest way.” states Ahmed Elfangary, DHL EXPRESS Egypt’s Country Manager.

Dubbed “Team O2,” both Omars will be roughing it at sea. With the inability to ask for help on issues such food rations and even for repairs, as well as battling sleep depravation and exhaustion, team members have to rely on each other to make it through.

Thank you DHL

Thank you DHL for being a solid and committed partner in our upcoming rowing adventure across the Atlantic Ocean. Your continuous support has made it possible for us to reach the start line in a few days, and represent Egypt and the Arab world in one of the world’s toughest rowing challenges. Omar Nour and myself #TeamO2 look forward to making you proud. .لرعايتكم لمغامرتنا اللي جاية عبر المحيط الآطلسي DHL شكرادعمكم المتواصل ساعدنا للوصول لخط البداية وتمثيل مصر و العالم العربي في واحدة من أصعب مغامرات التجديف في العالم #RowingTheUnkown #TeamO2 #DHL #TWAC2017 #mountains2oceans #AtlanticChallenge

Posted by Omar Samra on Monday, November 27, 2017

“Taking on the world’s toughest row across the Atlantic Ocean is an enormous challenge for both of us and a real opportunity for us to test our mental and physical limits and to grow.

Nothing worth achieving is easy, and through taking on this challenge we hope to inspire people – not necessarily to row an ocean but to believe that anything can be done through passion, perseverance and hard work.

If two people who a year ago had almost never rowed in their entire life can cross an ocean, then anyone can achieve whatever they set their minds to.” Stated Omar Samra.

Throughout the year, the duo has completed 300+ training hours on their boat in preparation for their Atlantic crossing in December.

DHL Egypt, the leading global brand in logistics, has supported Team O2 through its belief in accepting challenges, as well as to inspire other industry leading companies to take initiative in supporting Egyptian athletes.

“When we’re out in the middle of the Atlantic, we only have each other to rely on – but we’re determined, resourceful and ready to push the limits of our potential.

To have a partner like DHL, who believes in the same values that we do – team work, dedication and commitment -makes all the difference to our campaign.” Omar Nour added.

“DHL are the perfect fit to our mission and we are beyond excited to have them as Team O2’s presenting and logistics partner – we truly couldn’t complete the world’s toughest row without them.”

The company also aims to highlight more Egyptian sport athletes internationally through more potential partnerships in other sport categories.

Don’t forget to support our Egyptian team during the race, race starts December 12th

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Entrepreneurship, Interviews, Opinions

Explaining Affiliate Marketing as emerging market in MENA region

In an office in agency filled Mohandessin, Araby Ads prepare to expand as they move into their new and larger…

In an office in agency filled Mohandessin, Araby Ads prepare to expand as they move into their new and larger office. As the people behind the growth of Affiliate Marketing in Egypt, Araby Ads is also preparing for its first paid Arab Affiliate Summit, where freelancers and companies come together to discuss the market’s growth and trends.

Sitting down with CEO and co-founder of Araby Ads and the Arab Affiliate Summit, Think Marketing learns more about Mahmoud Fathy and this new emerging market.

 

All right, let’s start slowly. From Physics to a niche marketing industry, and by 26 already a founder of a large company (Araby Ads), how was the transition from a Physics major to marketing then entrepreneurship?

At first, it was all about trying to build my career. With universities in Egypt, I felt unsure about my future, so I tried to make money. I tried to build my own business.

When I thought about my studies in physics, I realized it wasn’t the perfect or greatest match for me, so I decided to make money online.

When searching through the internet, under how to make money online in Arabic, you will find a lot of scams, a lot of spam. I kept searching until I found some articles on Affiliate Marketing, which I studied for 2 years.

I first worked at Bayt.com, where I soon became their top performer, and I was paid around 200k USD in the first year. I also worked at the region’s first performance marketing agency called IKOO.com, it was also the regions first affiliate network. I also became their top performer by the end of the year.

Soon, I felt like it was time, so I started building my team, some of them are still with me, and started to work as a small media buying team, working with clients such as IKOO and Bayt. And from there, we built.

Now we [Araby Ads] have over 70 employees, and I believe we are the leading affiliate network in the Middle East.

 

So, your company, Araby Ads, is aimed towards Affiliate marketing. Could you quickly elaborate on what is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is a type of Performance Marketing.

The main goal of an Affiliate is to make money online, so how do they do it? They can approach companies, such as Amazon, and tell them they would like to work for them. They will most likely be told that they can work as a freelancer. If they are able to promote their products or send them users that are willing to buy something, they will pay the freelancer [affiliate] around 10% of the Sale.

This process is called Affiliate Marketing.

So, the advertiser, Amazon, will pay for any conversions received from the freelancer’s website.

If you are an influencer, and have a following on Facebook or etc, your audience is listening to you. So why not make a video talking about Amazon’s new iPhone?

Let’s say, I am an influencer, and I want to make money from my audience. So I can make a video talking about the new iPhone and its features, that it can be found on Amazon, and here is a special link to a discount from me.

Your audience trusts you, so they will click on the link and buy the iPhone. Now I have helped Amazon make a sale, so Amazon will now pay me for every conversion around 10%. This is one example of how affiliates can make money.

So how does it work?

Can you write a blog post, can you make a video, can you convince your audience to buy something from this special link?

The main things to think about are does your audience trust you? Will they interact with your content?

It is all about targeting your audience correctly, and having them trust you and your content.

 

Tell us then, what made you venture into Affiliate marketing? It’s a tight market that most don’t think of in the MENA region.

As a start, it was purely about making money, to be honest.

But after a while, what was my goal? I already made a lot of money as a freelancer, and I can work at any time as long as I have internet and a computer. So, I thought to myself, why not enjoy what I am doing?

It became not about being an affiliate, but building a business. As a young businessman, I wanted to introduce the concept [of affiliate marketing] to the market here.  I wanted to build a business from a local Egyptian one to an international one.

I wanted to become the one place where people know, if you are looking for Affiliate Marketing in the MENA region, there is one destination, Araby Ads. If you want to make [or attend] an event, there is only the Arab Affiliate Summit.

 

So, tell us about the Arab Affiliate Summit, which was created by your company 4 years ago. What made you decide that we needed a place to meet, learn, connect and start talking about Affiliate marketing?

We have a lot of opportunity with Affiliate marketing here in the Middle East. There was no competition, no market, we created the market. So, we said to ourselves, how about we invest in the market? To educate the market.

Most freelancers don’t know a lot about Affiliate Marketing, so we want to educate them. When it comes to advertisers, when it comes to affiliates, and connect all of them in one place.

It was, honestly, also about leaving a legacy. That was our hope.

We already had money, I personally was already rich from being a freelancer, and so was my partner. So, we thought, what about giving back to our industry?

 

And how did that go?

Our first summit was actually free. The first year was the hardest for us, we tried to introduce a new concept to the market. We heard a lot of “no, this isn’t right. No, you have a hidden agenda!” I mean, guys, come on! It was a free event, we didn’t need anything, just attend.

 

Well, we Egyptians don’t accept free.

Yup!

 

Let’s talk Affiliate marketing in the region. Worldwide, this particular marketing industry makes over $7 Billion dollars a year, just how much of that is made in Egypt and the MENA region?

Egypt made around 100 million USD last year, and the MENA region market is around 300 million. The growth rate in Egypt is around 100%.

This year, my company alone, will make around 200 million USD, so the overall market would be around 300 million. We are also trying to expand in Algeria, Sudan, and other countries.

 

How has the industry affected the economy? Has it helped the local economy through ways such as self-employment, increase in GDP, etc?

I enjoy helping both sides, I am trying to help the freelancers just like me and you, or anyone in this country who wants to make money online with a trusted company.  We are trying to get them jobs to help with unemployment.

They contribute to the economy by putting their money in the bank at the end of the day.

 

What are the current ways for affiliates to serve ads, sponsorship or product placement? Are there any new trends that we should look out for?

Influencers because they trust them now, they follow them and their recommendations, and online ads such as Instagram and Facebook ads.

Unfortunately, influencers don’t have as much effect here as they do in the Gulf countries, because Egyptians lose trust in influencers when they start doing ads.

 

What other type of content do you believe will explode in the near future?

A kind of blogging called comparison websites.

 

Should Affiliate marketing be something both small and large companies focus on? Does it make a difference for both sides, or only for certain players?

In the end, both types of companies can benefit from [Affiliate Marketing], because in the end of the day, they want revenue.

For me, big companies are easier to work with because people already trust them, know them and their products well, but they prefer the traditional way of marketing.

But I prefer to work with small companies, because I believe it is more challenging, and I really like to grow with my clients.

 

Who are these affiliates? Who are they, why do they enjoy or prefer this type of work, and are they actually making enough?

All of the are like you and me. Most of them are jobless, they are looking to make a family, but they all face the same issue? They finish college and they ask themselves “what do I do now?”

They want to make something of themselves, they believe in the internet and that it can make great things. Most of them hate their full-time jobs, they love to be free.

Statistically, around of 80% of the affiliates are male. I do think that this model would be perfect for the females in this country, since both genders are already looking for jobs, but females in our region have a lot of issues, aside from cultural issues.

I believe that working from home is the best option for them, to live the lifestyle they are looking for without issues from men and cultural norms in closed countries.

 

Lastly, how would you advise those who are interested in joining the industry as an affiliate?

To be committed, and don’t think it is an easy job. You have to build a good and diverse profile, learn marketing and use your money effectively when it comes to online ads.

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