WEBsessed
Razan Khatib's commentary on life on/off the web

Why Jordan could be the next silicon valley? 0

A skeptical friend of mine the other day asked me while we were attending the Global Entrepreneurship Week launch event in Jordan why do people think Jordan is special and why would it ever be the silicon valley of the region?

Through answering him I explained how Amman is similar to the US in one important aspect. We are a city that grew through immigration of displaced people from different parts of the region throughout the years.

This sense of starting new, passed down from generation to generation. While the apparent difference in this analogy comes from the fact that when people settled in Jordan it wasn’t seen as a dream come true like what immigrants in the US felt. Nonetheless, I see this spirit of making it big in many of my circles, the social and professional alike. With people from older generations, the 40 somethings as well as my generation of 30 somethings. Now i see it more in the 20 somethings.

They all want to make it big, want to follow their dreams, want to be the next Microsoft, Google or Facebook or the better Starbucks, Landor.

It gets to a point at my startup that people get out to start their own after a while, might be annoying at times to an employer but the bigger picture is that they take the risk, they go and follow their dreams.

I don’t have statistics but I am sure if you look at the number of new tech companies that started up the past 10 years you will definitely see a sharp curve.

The torch for the next silicon valley was ignited already, we are still struggling to create an ecosystem but i see it happening. Yet as Fred Wilson mentioned recently in a blog post:

But it takes time. And you can’t fast forward because we are talking about experience which can’t be manufactured. You simply have to put in the time.

We have a long way ahead of us, the private sector needs to start investing in educating the next generation we must be proactive in creating innovative ways to bridge the gap between our existing educational institutions and what the workforce needs and not wait until our government does so. Sponsor innovation by investing in internal labs to experiment with ideas. We need to enable other Arab talent an easy path to come and start their dream in Jordan not get stuck at lousy immigration policies. Look at how many people from an Indian origin live in Silicon Valley? See how they are celebrated.

The Maktoob deal earlier this year ignited this hope once again, it gave everyone a successful picture and a reality that could be theirs in the near future or something along that path.

My 5 Things MBA Schools Won't Teach You 1

Was just reading OnStartups latest post  Startups: 10 Things MBA Schools Won’t Teach You and getting all excited I started to comment then I felt I had more than one item to share, so thought to just blog it!

1. Its a roller coaster ride, one day you think you are on top of the world; the next day you might be thinking of how to close shop!

2. Having reserves is so nice on an excel sheet, working to actually have some is a totally different story.

3. A two week collection time on an invoice is not as binding as you might think it is. Every client has their own payment policy, prepare to be agile in planning your cash flow!

4. Giving a big discount to get more work from a client in the future, is a hoax. Next time -most of the time – they will demand the same discount for giving you more work! Make sure you know what you are doing!

5. Doing good is great, and if you are as passionate about the stuff you help build as I am, then you need to exert a lot of effort into how many pro bono/at-cost projects you might want to do. This however, they teach you very well in MBA schools!

That’s it for now!

Disclaimer: I don’t have an MBA.

Arab-based startups at Tech-world popular blogs 4

I was wondering why I keep reading posts about startups from everywhere in the world at the most popular tech/web blogs, but none come to mention Arab ones. So I did a search on the following keywords in TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and Mashable:

Arab, Arab startups, Middle East, arabia, Maktoob, d1g, yamli, ikbis, watwet, and of course my own startup questler.

and here are the results:

TechCrunch ReadWriteWeb Mashable
Arab 10 Results, 8 with “arab” in “comparable”, 1 with “arab” in “sharable” and one about censorship!!! 57 Results:
1 about Queen Rania YouTube Channel
1 About innvovation in UAE
1 About EgyptianYouTube Channel
7 with “comparable” so I only browsed the titles of rest!
3 Results, one with Ikbis mentioned!
One mentiones flickr being bloced in UAE and the third one has no mention of the word arab anyway.
Arab Startups 0 0 0
Middle East 6 Results, talking about different web companies targeting the middle east, one about Middle East Oil and one about the Internet cables! 2 posts about World wide Internet Penetration rates Just too many to go through! Sorry!
Arabia 5 Results, all mentioning Saudi Arabia 0 1 Result mentioning Saudi Arabia
Maktoob 0 0 0
d1g 0 0 0
ikbis 0 0 0
watwet 0 0 0
yamli 0 0 0
questler 0 0 0

In comparison, there was a long post on ReadWriteWeb the other day about German twitter clones as a phenomenon. Korean startups, Canadian ones, China of course, Philippines, Spain, Portuguese.

So I tell you, cloning or lack of real innovation is definitely NOT the problem here, So is it because of:

  • That the words “Arab” and “Middle East” are synonymous with Internet censorship?
  • No interest?
  • Not many startups to make the news?
  • Bad marketing?
  • Worse of all, low self worth, that many Arabs suffer, thinking that they won’t make it big anyway so they don’t contact these people?

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