ENERGY Boost event took place on the 23rd of May 2015 at the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, we joined our listeners with our successful entrepreneurs, face-to-face, to ask their questions and interact with ENERGY.
Ali Aknan: Georges what is the difficulty of going from Lebanon to launching your business internationally?
Georges Abboud: It is not easy, yet starting in Lebanon was difficult. Our problem was that we started working with the government and didn’t get paid.
We had 2 choices either close and fire our employees or go outside, and that is what we did, keeping our business operational in Lebanon and abroad.
Regardless of where you will operate, you need to perfect your system and offers, before launching anywhere in the world.
Georges also give an example about food chains, and how they went into other markets.
Georges insisted that Lebanon improved a lot in the environmental and green industry.
Ziad Abi Chaker explained that their business model is to not rely on the government, and have their projects to sustain the company. In addition he stated that their philosophy is not to go outside Lebanon. The challenge was to do business without the need of working with the government.
They decided not to go into the corrupted way, and doing what they love.
Tarek Fawaz: What do you advice a person who is starting a trading business?
Ziad said that this industry is competitive and before you start you need to read the book Blue Ocean Strategy and differentiate in your business idea.
Ziad also explained their strategy behind dealing with waste and the government, based on being unique in the market.
Mohammad Muhsen: How do companies respect the environment?
Ziad clarified that the industry do not pollute yet people are the ones who do it, and mentions the concept of Social Responsibility.
Melhem Rechdan asked Ronald about the online businesses, and how he was able to survive launching digital startups?
Ronald Sayegh explains that he did not rely on the Lebanese market, and he started checking for sponsors, then people living abroad sent him emails on Skileb.com to reserve their activities and this is how they started generating income. In addition Ronald clarified that all his ventures do not rely on the Lebanese market.
Naji Bejjani asked the entrepreneurs if the business plan is essential for new entrepreneurs, and what are the 4 features of the successful entrepreneur?
Ronald stated that he does’t like numbers and still doesn’t know how to do a business plan, yet he affirms that it is essential sometimes. In addition he talked about Silicon Valley and how they go practical about starting the business and funding entrepreneurs with good business ideas.
Ronald talked about his experience how he started from his hobbies, passion, being persistent and stubborn about continuing and learning during the journey, forecast is really hard.
Georges stated that business plan is nothing, if you are really passionate about your dream, if it keeps following you for months, just START. He started working by the age of 12 years old, an entrepreneur has to create something new and he gives some examples.
Georges believes that the entrepreneur should be stubborn, crazy and has a vision to know where he is going, and follow your dream, that is exactly how to get there.
Ziad said that the really successful entrepreneurs, are so passionate about what they want and they get there, it is not related to money nor the business plan.
Successful Entrepreneurs are superstars but not necessarily super millionaires, success is not related to how much money you make.
Cedar Environmental faced bankruptcy twice and they continued with what they believed in as a Research and Development environmental engineering company.
As an Industrial Engineer and through the years, Ziad developed a high respect for accountants, and believes that Business Plan is essential. Once you know how to interpret numbers, you find a good way to discover where you might fail.
Out of 100 startups, only 3 celebrate the 7 years, if you don’t have a business plan, you will run out of money.
According to Ziad, an entrepreneur should be Passionate, Crazy, somehow Organized, and you have to be Profit Mechanic as Tom Peters says.
Ziad gives an example about how Sony survived, and how they Cedar Environmental survives selling fertilizers.
Georges Abboud answered a question about adaptation in Africa specially within dangerous zones, and he explained that they are fulfilling a big need and the market was waiting for their services.
Andre Abi Awad highlights the business idea of an insurance company who handles kidnapping and negotiation, as a business that was created based on a problem and a need.
Andre asked Georges about his dream as an Entrepreneur.
Georges‘ dream is to empower more entrepreneurs with unique ideas, they are currently looking for people who have brilliant ideas and need some services or logistics, to support them. He believes that all successful entrepreneurs should support other wantrepreneurs to create more successes.
Andre asked Ziad about how they are reaching Zero Waste based on their experience.
Ziad stated that they reached Zero Waste with all the technologies they developed.
Their challenge is to introduce the engineering and R&D sector to the waste sector, and shift people’s perspective from considering the waste as a problem, to being a source of income.
Zero Waste is a fact and we only need time to shift people’s perspective about it.
In addition Ziad talks about their initiative of recycling glass bottles.
Andre asked Ronald about online businesses, people think it is an overnight getting rich, so how did you choose your startup ideas, how difficult it was to generate money, and what is your advice for those who are thinking about starting their online business?
Ronald confirms that successful entrepreneurs are not necessarily generating millions of dollars, and that Lebanon is a tough market, they faced a lot of challenges and still struggling. He started with his hobbies, like SkiLeb, which was really successful and generated a lot of money for the company.
The team is composed of 4 members yet Ronald sometimes says it’s 10, because everything is being automated, and adapted to the market.
They started a flowers delivery network after the tourism sector was down because of the bad situation in Lebanon, in addition HobbyGulf.com was started based on a hobby.
Online Businesses might be the source to generate money, but it needs a lot of work, being active on social media, and hiring the right people who can push the business with you.
Ziad adds that Bigger is never better, he talks about the books of Tom Peter, and the Mojo of the company from the book “Small Giants“, the group of people who are connected in the same company because of their thoughts and creating a profitable company, no matter the size and location of the company.
if you want to create a successful company you need to have Mojo.