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#GEW Talks: Why Most Startups Fail? 5 Mistakes to Avoid

“There is an 80% postmortem rate of startups with patterns of repeated mistakes,” says Ibrahim Mahgoub, entrepreneurship Instructor at Injaz Egypt. The startup expert is starting a 2-day workshop today at Cairo’s Greek Campus, as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. Before he kicked off his panel, Mahgoub shared with BarakaBits some insights on the five “deadly traps” startups fall into.

1. The big launch trap: “We think that the bigger the launch, the greater are the odds of success. This might be true if you are a 30 year old company that already knows who the customer is and what they need,” he says. When starting a business, it is better to focus on developing products in response to the constantly changing demands of the market instead of expecting an overnight success. “Why go to grave in a fancy suit?”

2. The efficiency trap: “Achieving failure is successfully executing the wrong plan,” says Eric Ries, illustrating the importance of questioning assumptions. “Because entrepreneurship is not about getting things done, its about getting the right things done. We need to leave behind the obsession of planning and executing plans,” Mahgoub affirms.

3. The great founder trap and self-sabotage: There is no need to be a great leader; a good leader is enough. “If you’re a founder and you’re doing almost everything on your own, welcome to the club: you’re self-sabotaging yourself into the great founder trap, which means you are deserting your spot as a ship captain to serve your men some tea,” he exemplifies.

4. Feeding a dead pet: “The majority of sailing startups die because they ran out of resources before reaching a product market fit. So start investing only in what will grow your assets, such as your network, your financial resources, your talent, your personal brand,” he says, as he highlights that money is not the only resource.

5. The positivity trap: Why can’t we cry our failures? Mahgoub is very didactic about this: “A vision is an image of your optimum destination, a strategy is how you get there; a pivot is a change in strategy while holding on to your vision. We hate pivots, because they make us uncomfortable while we realize that we were wrong. In addition, they make us feel week. Well, as entrepreneurs it is our job to set a hypothesis and then use it as a starting point of testing to see what will happen, and then pivot accordingly. The more pivots you make, the more likely you’re going to succeed”.

For more information: visit Ibrahim Mahgoub’s Facebook Page.

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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