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Ah, new years, what’s not to love about them? They’re automatic blank pages filled with the promises of new beginnings and opportunities to start all over again.

As we waltz into the enchanting nature of new year’s, and as we welcome 2021 with a genuinely open mind, we pause with some members of our #StartUpBahrain ecosystem to reflect on the past year. 

We mentioned in almost all of our articles last year that it wasn’t quite a typical year, obviously due to an ongoing pandemic, but also because we value the mindset of slowing down and reflecting. And what better way to honour that than with a group of likeminded people?

Here are 40 things we learned in 2020, brought to you straight from the ecosystem!

  1. Areijie Alshakar – AlWaha Fund of Funds

“2020 has shown why it is essential to build a company culture that can sustain itself through unprecedented times. Surviving a crisis as complex as the current pandemic requires trust and communication to be deeply embedded in a company’s values from the start. For startups, having a clear set of values at the very beginning can be the difference between sinking or staying afloat during difficult times. Going into 2021, flexibility and adaptability will be more crucial than ever before as the world begins to exit the pandemic and a new set of circumstances emerge.”

  1. Sh. Latifa Al-Khalifa – Clever Play

“”When confronted with a challenge, we have 3 choices. We can give up, give in or give it all we have.”

  1. Nawaf AlKoheji – Tenmou, The Collective Hub

“2020 taught me one thing, that technology and digitalization are the only way to grow your business. You need to move away from your analog box and fly into your cloud box. Technology companies were the most agile businesses during the pandemic, let’s invest and nurture the creation of many more.” 

  1. Hamed Fakhro – The Startup Factory
  • Don’t take good times for granted.
  • It can always get worse.
  • We are all sheep.”
  1. Hussain Haji – Inagrab, Dalooni

“One thing I learned in 2020 is that 50% of our meetings in real life could have been emails.”

  1. Nezar Al Moayyed – Mismaar Home Improvement

“We learned that the best laid plans often go awry. A company needs to be agile and adaptive in order to survive and grow. In 2020, building resilience seems to be the most important characteristic for any business that  wishes to succeed.”

  1. Marwa Aleskafi, Brinc MENA
“Times of adversity are a great test for the resilience of startups, their ability to pivot and reinvent themselves. We’ve startups in the most vulnerable sectors thrive during the pandemic, mostly due to being solution oriented and adopting a success mindset regardless.”
  1. Saba Saleem Warsi, The Stories Studio

“1 thing i learned from 2020, is to have multiple streams of income or revenue whether you run your own business, or are an employee. We live in a very fast changing, unpredictable, wonderful world, and it’s always good to have your eggs in several baskets.”

  1. Khawla Al-Shaikh, The Collective Hub
 “2020 has presented some foreseen challenges, but it has also given me an opportunity to learn the value of time, and the power of the presence, even when times are uncertain we are able to adapt, create new opportunities and look forward to the future.”
  1. Khalifa Al-Mannai, Mannai Tech, Evergo App
“The Pandemic has taught us that every business can adapt to the market and is no longer limited by the standard practice that its industry is built upon, but more importantly, showed us that customers are not limited to the local market and will adapt when shown the value the business can provide in its product or service. “
  1. Sarah Schwab, The Experience Accelerator
“We learned that leaders need to work harder to build and maintain trust with their teams when leading virtually. Do ask more open questions, be flexible and receptive to other’s perspectives to keep trust levels high. Recognise that living through Covid is not a one-size-fits-all experience for their employees – our best leaders adjust their approach to motivate and engage individuals accordingly.”
  1. Hamad AlJawder, Beanboat
“2020 has taught us that keeping your customers involved and updated is a great source of support for the business and was an essential key to facing the early unexpectedness of the pandemic.”
  1. Douaa Mahran, Bahrain FinTech Bay
“Spend more time with your family and loved ones. One of the most challenging things during the pandemic was the social distancing aspect. Make time for your loved ones whether you do over a phone call, text message or being physically there but standing 2 meters apart. If this year taught me one thing is to never take anything for granted – even the simpler things. Also this year taught us to slow down, and focus on our health, well-being and understand what truly matters in our lives.”
  1. Muntaha Makhlooq, Brinc MENA
“In uncertain times we rise up from the ashes as a community to shift the cards in our favor.”
  1. Ali Zayer, Tamarran
 “Honestly I learned many things but I think that the most important one was that quarantine at home created abundant time to have a mindfulness pause; an opportunity to step away from the culture of speed and make space for creative energy to flow. This helped me adapt with the “new normal” that taught us that virtual backup and contingency plans are so important for businesses to survive and continue to grow.”
  1. Duaa Al-Aali, FabLab Bahrain
“In 2020, I learned resilience. This year proved that nothing ever goes to plan and that the one thing I can ever be sure of, is that I can never be sure of anything. I used to hate change but I learned that we must go through it to grow.”
  1. Ahmed Mahmood, Doctori App
“Passion and perseverance, two traits that compliment one another and powerful enough to overcome any obstacle”
  1. Fatema Ebrahim, Andra PR
“This year, the biggest lesson for me was how to be adaptable quickly and that is really hard to do in reality. In theory, you think you can handle everything with a ready packaged plan but this is not the case. You have to learn how to have a calm mindset when things take a turn, and understand how to be a flexible team willing to try new ways of doing things and enjoying the process at the same time. This is really what makes a business strong and successful.”
  1. Alexandra Laszlo, Andra PR
“As an account manager, the main thing I learned is to always stay resilient and adopt to change. Tailor your services according to what the market needs and always be ready to pivot. Conduct market research, analyze previous case studies. React to changes as fast as you can and stay alert at all times.”
  1. Aion Digital’s team, Aion Digital 
 “We learned that we as a human race are far more resilient and stronger than we imagined, and that the only one thing that is constant is “change”. We have also learned that we as consumers have an incredible power to change our behaviours to survive and thrive in any new situation. As a Fintech have seen a faster digital adoption by consumers than ever before, and as a result financial brands increased focus on building a “Composable Business”, which means designing their business for resilience by making business and technology very agile, modular and outcome driven.”
  1. Ali Alshaer, Unipal
“If there was anything that 2020 taught me, it would be to be prepared for whatever life might throw at you. And never take your family for granted.”
  1. Mazin Alsawafiri, StartUp Bahrain, Startup MGZN 
“There’s no question that 2020 was a year of struggle and tragedies, but it was also a year that taught us many lessons most importantly is how to control our expenses to manage sustaining our businesses, leverage on digital tools, focus on what really matters and work even harder and smarter to compete.”
  1. Alaa Al-Hussaini, Brilliant Lab 
“”2020 felt more like comfort coming against my will, but that taught me to accept reality as it is, to adapt to it, to learn from it, to grow through it, and to make the most out of it.”
  1. Maryam Ali, Startup MGZN 

“Nothing is permanent, we can do much more than we think we are capable of, and we can cope with a lot of changes if we want to.”

  1. Sabah Aljalahma, MoICT –
 “2020 certainly left a remarkable impact on the world’s economy, some businesses were challenged and other flourished. The theme of 2020 is digitization and the future is innovation.”
  1. Safa Sharif, GEN Bahrain 
 “2020 taught me to be rational and realistic neither positive nor negative, sometimes you have to put aside emotions and only focus and work.”
  1. Ameen Altajer, GDG Manama 
 “The year 2020 has been the year of adaption and the ultimate slap to whoever thinks otherwise.”
  1. Sama Al-Shawi, 500 Startups  
 “Life doesn’t always go as expected.. be resilient, face the challenges, and move on”
  1. Dhafer Alqahtani, Bidayatech 
“The factual take away from 2020, is to stay on course irrespective of the impediments, while being prepared to pivot, roll, spin and swivel to stay on the same course.”
  1. Amal Sanad, Tamkeen Bahrain 
“The experience of the lockdown has been an awakening. 2020 gave me the chance to deeply connect with myself and appreciate my health. Which is the most important thing in our life to enable us to see happiness in simple things around us and slow down to reconnect with our creative mind. And most of all, this year was a huge investment to my personal growth in different areas from fitness to art to yoga, I achieved 10 k run and built a habit of journaling my daily achievements ❤️”
  1. Tariq Al Olaimy, 3BL Associates 
“This year has been a big lesson on digital wellbeing. There have been too many weeks of relentless, full days of back-to-back online calls. Whilst it is necessary to be hyper-present in the world, it is also necessary to withdraw and unplug, so that when we are present, we are doing so with complete intentionality.”
  1. Ali Al-Alawi, Unipal 
“The power of human connection is irreplaceable and in 2020, we realized how much we’ve taken it for granted. And that applies to both, personal and business perspectives.”
  1. Jenan Al-Mukharriq, StartUp Bahrain, Startup MGZN – 

“The 1 thing I came to appreciate the most in 2020, is my colleague Sarah. She’s pretty awesome. I also learned that with just a little bit of love for what you do, in whatever aspect in life, you can reach places you couldn’t have even imagined.”

  1. Sarah Faisal, StartUp Bahrain, Startup MGZN – 

“Surprisingly, I learned that there’s so much more that we could do to spend time and have fun! We’re so used to restaurants and coffee shops, 2020 was quite an adventurous year for me and I got to explore different things. I also feel like we all became a whole lot kinder to ourselves, and each other in the past year.”

  1. Springring’s Team, Springring 

“In 2020, we learned that teamwork and collaboration should not be taken for granted. Open and cohesive communication is essential to effective teamwork – even when you’re not in the same office with your team.”

  1. Regnum Studio’s team, Regnum Studio 

 “”Team building shouldn’t be only through business activities and training, it could be simply done through collaborative games too! ???? #AmongUs”

  1. Emir Isik, Tarabut Gateway

“2020 has been both an interesting and exciting year for us at Tarabut Gateway. If there is one thing we have learned it is that change is constant, and being both open to these changes and adapting to them is the optimal way to advance ”

  1. Hussain Memari, Tarabut Gateway

“With the unique challenges 2020 brought upon us, we learned that the best course of action is to keep moving forward. From our expansion into the UAE to working on new Open Banking products, I am thrilled to see what the coming year holds for us”

  1. Loay Malas, GetHenlo

“2020, the year I’ve learnt to focus on my mental health and prioritise what I really love doing, henlo! – If you have a concept or even an idea, just start, it’ll be the greatest feeling ever.” – Louay Malas

  1. Wasan Yousif, Tamarran 

 “Don’t ever take a normal, boring day for granted.”

Here’s to a year of more lessons learned, open minds to receive those lessons, and resilient spirits to go through them all. 2021, we’re ready!

What about you? What did you learn in 2020? Share your quote with us on our social media platforms on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!