Yasmeen Turayhi is a product marketing and commercialization specialist at Operization. She has launched over 200 software products across a number of different industries in Silicon Valley, and has a wealth of experience helping leaders develop their go to market strategies, commercializing and launching software products, creating feedback loops for product roadmaps, and creating key performance indicators to measure success. Through her go-to-market process, she helps companies find product market fit in existing and new markets.
In March, Yasmeen embarked on a roadshow tour to Amman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in order to present her talk: “From idea to launch.” We caught up with her to hear her about the trip:
What is your relationship to MENA and your background in tech?
I’m a first generation Iraqi-American. I was born in the midwest, spent a large portion of my life in New York and only recently moved to San Francisco. I am a product marketer and have launched hundreds of software products. I’m passionate about understanding the user experience, and what makes companies grow, scale and ultimately succeed.
How did you get involved with Tech Wadi?
When I moved to San Francisco in August 2014, I was a member of the Arab Bankers Association of North America headquartered in New York. I wanted to get more involved but I no longer worked in finance and had recently moved to San Francisco to pursue a career in tech. Instead, I looked for similar organizations in tech and was introduced through my network to TechWadi. I applied to mentor and for a year I mentored two startups through the Sprint & Acceleration Programs. In September of last year, I led several workshops for the MIT’s “MITEF” Arab Silicon Valley Program. I’ve really enjoyed my time being involved and I’ve developed a great network through the organization.
How did you decide to go on the roadshow?
I was previously asked by TechWadi via Google to go on a larger roadshow last October, but I couldn’t make it on the original date as I was in the middle of an important project. Nonetheless, I was interested in the opportunity and the conversation was kept open. Once the time was right — I’d left my past job and started my own consulting practice — I accepted.
What was unique about your experience?
The trip gave me new perspective on the entrepreneurial mindset in the region. I valued the Q&A sessions a lot as they helped me to gain an understanding of the limitations and strategies present in the region. I learned how financing and communication worked differently than here in the US and I loved getting insight from founders on the ground. I observed that access to capital, as well as to potential employees properly trained for the tech job market, is an unfair barrier to entry for many of the companies I interacted with. The trip led me to understand that there is a lot of talent in the region who face an education and capital gap in the region.
How did the different places you visited compare?
Amman was very MENA-centric and the attendees were mostly of Arab of Middle-Eastern descent. The challenges were local and much more region specific. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, had much more mature markets and understanding of need for startup founders. The crowd was more eclectic and diverse including representative not just from MENA, but from Europe and Asia.
Was there any moment that stood out from the rest?
Yes! The talk in Dubai took place at the same time as some of the most severe flash floods in years. I was worried turnout would be negatively affected as it took an uncharacteristically long several hours to make the commute from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Nonetheless, people still came and turnout was great. The enthusiasm was amazing to see!