2 minutes with Jan Lachenmayer: Why VC money is crazy and why Cairo is the focus of the Startup Guide

If you can create a business that you do not need a fund for, then you create the best business (Photo courtesy of Enpact)

In the sidelines of the RiseUp Summit 2018, German non-profit association enpact announced the kick-off of the Startup Guide Cairo, which is created by enpact’s partner organization Startup Guide and is set to be released during the next year. The guide aims to take an in-depth look at Cairo’s startup ecosystem to help entrepreneurs navigate the city’s startup scene and grow their business.

In the run-up to the launch, Business Forward caught up with the director of enpact’s Startup Meter Jan Lachenmayer to know when it is time to seek investment as a startup and what enpact is planning in 2019.

When should an early-stage business seek investments?
If you can create a business that you do not need a fund for, then you create the best business. Focus first on revenues, creating a business and income. The goal is not to raise investment; the goal is to create a successful company and a good market product.

If you can create this without getting investments – that is the best thing you could do.

Venture capital money is crazy money. It is specialized in the niche of giving money to someone who nobody else gives money to. You are neither getting money from banks, nor from anyone else because it is too risky. So, it is better to have something scalable that has proven to be successful. If not, find an alternative but make sure that you achieve a product-market fit and that people want to pay for your product.

Another crucial question is: do you really provide a solution or are you solving a problem? Are you building an aspirin or a vitamin? An aspirin is going to relieve pain, but a vitamin may or may not help.

Why was Cairo picked as the Startup Guide’s next stop?
Egypt is enpact’s MENA hub. Through the partnership with the Startup Guide, we will be able to develop a key cornerstone of our work: the Startup Meter Index which evaluates cities’ startup friendliness.

The index helps understand what is needed and what is not in a city’s startup ecosystem and thereby, enables us to drives decisions on what programs to run in each city. We can also drive policy recommendations from that.

For example, in Cairo, we found out that accelerators are still needed, especially with a global competitive standard. We also came to realize that attracting investment is not urgent in order to boost the startup ecosystem in Cairo.

The Startup Guide is a written handbook with a lot of information about the current status of the ecosystem, such as the key players, prominent success stories and support organizations. We also invite the local community to nominate the startups, support organizations and key players that should be featured in the book.

What is enpact planning in 2019?
We are planning to proceed with our second stage of development. Our Startup Haus Cairo – a home to startup workspaces, services, amenities and collaboration in Downtown Cairo – is already occupied by 85 percent and we are planning to add more space to it.

In the startup space, we have many programs lined up in 2019, including offering scholarships for startup cofounders and running travel and tech accelerator programs.

In the research domain, we will be analyzing Cairo’s ecosystem, plus five other cities, to produce comprehensive reports of the startup ecosystems at the city-level. We are also planning to hold three conferences next year.



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