Just like their peers from the rest of the world, every Bahraini startup founder who dives into the world of startups does so with the conviction that they have a great business idea to bank on. And that’s great considering that no startup founder worth their salt should ever embark on a new venture unless they are sure about its potential.
But then, while self-confidence is a must-have trait for entrepreneurial success, sometimes it is easy to get carried away and slip into the jaws of overconfidence. Especially when you are part of the StartUp Bahrain ecosystem.
In fact, this is a serious problem many young and promising Bahraini startup founders face early into their career. Buoyed by the relatively easy access to investors, abundant government support, world-class infrastructure, and a conducive business environment, they often overlook some of the essential basics that form the very foundation of startup success.
To know more about these blind spots that end up harming many otherwise-promising startup founders and entrepreneurs, we reached out to three eminent personalities that have seen the Bahraini startup ecosystem from up close. Here’s what they had to say:
Blind spot#1: Unrealistic expectations
Those of you keeping a tab on the Bahraini startup scene over the past few years are probably already familiar with the name Hussain Haji.
Haji is currently serving as the co-founder and CEO of Inagrab, a tech startup that’s disrupting the retail sector by offering AI and Data Analytics-based solutions that allow enterprises to scale their business efficiently. As a serial entrepreneur with a number of successful ventures to his name, Hussain has been around long enough to see the rise and fall of many fellow startup founders.
According to him, over expectation is a common folly that eventually spells doom for many otherwise-promising ventures.
“I think the major blind spot is that many new startup founders over exaggerate the potential growth of their product thinking everyone would immediately adopt it. So basically VERY high expectations is a problem,” Hussain noted.
His assessment checks with the ground reality considering that many startup founders do, in fact, overrate their innovations and products. And by setting unrealistic expectations, they often lose out on funding opportunities, among other setbacks.
To avoid falling into that trap, you should internalize the fact that while it is possible that your startup is quite similar to another in the industry you’re competing in, that doesn’t automatically bring its valuation on par with that of the incumbent. You have to justify the valuation you’re seeking by providing a realistic expectation of growth, customer acquisition estimates, revenue model, and other key metrics.
Blindspot#2: Inadequate research on competition
Assessing the competition in the market you are dealing in is one way to make sure that you have set yourself a realistic growth strategy. Saleh Abbas, Marketing & Outreach Manager at Flat6Labs Bahrain, thinks it is one of the key necessities every entrepreneur should take time focusing on.
Unfortunately, however, Saleh thinks that this happens to be one aspect that many emerging startup founders overlook, only to eventually pay a hefty price later.
“Knowing their competition [is crucial]. We meet founders all the time that don’t know who their local, regional or global competition is. Additionally, even if they do know, they usually haven’t researched the competitors’ business model or product very well. That makes the investor lose confidence in the founder,” Saleh told StartUp Bahrain while discussing common issues that impair many early-stage startups.
He is in a perfect position to assess that given that he is one of Flat6Labs Bahrain’s in-house experts tasked with overseeing the acceleration of startups in Bahrain.
Therefore, always make sure to do your homework with due diligence. The best way to go about this is to try and figure the business model and strategy of your competitors. Try and find out what they’re doing well.
While at it, you will also want to gain an insight into what your customers and prospects like or dislike about the competition. Following these simple strategies will enable you to further improve your products in terms of both quality and price.
Blindspot#3: Not having a team of co-founders
Many emerging startup founders fancy becoming the sole proprietor of a new venture as it puts them in total control. The reality, however, is that the “lone-wolf” approach doesn’t always resonate all too well with many investors.
Tenmou is Bahrain’s first business angels company. Over the years, it has guided numerous homegrown startups to success by providing them with both capital and mentorship. Therefore, when the Chief Executive of the company, Nawaf Al Kooheji, urges emerging startup founders to seek competent co-founders to support their planned ventures, we believe it’s a piece of advice worth listening to.
The Tenmou CEO explained: “I think founders tend to forget the importance of a team of founders, where investors want to see a team of founders rather than one founder. A team of founders supports and complements each other.”
Having a team of co-founders also helps with risk mitigation. Launching a new startup, after all, can be pretty scary risk-wise. So naturally, you are likely to do better if you had someone to shoulder the risks with you. Additionally, it also helps in the decision/strategy making process by introducing new and fresh ideas that you probably wouldn’t come up with all by yourself.
While seeking co-founders to start a new project, you should ideally seek partners with complementary skill sets so it becomes easier to divide responsibilities.
So, those were in essence three of the biggest blind spots that emerging Bahraini entrepreneurs should try hard to steer clear of. Do you have any experiences with any of those that you would like to share with the community? We’d love to know what you think!