Having built or ran companies, humorously referred to as Unicorns, our panelists shared their secret sauce about how to build and run billion dollar corporations – in less than 10 years! – further cultivating the oasis of MENA entrepreneurs.
The panel was led by Dr. Ford Tamer, CEO at Inphi Corporation, a leading provider of high-speed analog semiconductor solutions for the communications and computing markets, providing high signal integrity at leading-edge data speeds that are designed to address bandwidth bottlenecks in networks, minimize latency in computing environments and enable the rollout of next-generation communications infrastructure. The panelists included Dr. Magid Abraham is co-founder and Chairman of comScore, which provides marketing intelligence across 6 continents and 41 countries and is valued at over $1B on NASDAQ. Magid was also named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008. Omar Tawakol is founder and CEO at BlueKai, the world’s first and only complete enterprise data activation solution for intelligent marketing and which was acquired by Oracle for $400M in 2014. Dr. Louay Eldada is founder and CEO at Quanergy Systems, Inc., a privately held Silicon-Valley-based technology company developing smart sensing solutions. In January 2014, the company raised financing from strategic investors including the founders of Tesla and Rising Tide Fund. Sam Daoud is CTO at Souq.com, the largest e-commerce site in the MENA, featuring more than 400,000 products across 100s of different product categories. Souq.com raised $75M at over $500M valuation and employs over 1,400 people across 6 geographies.
During the discussion, Magid cited how the culture in Silicon Valley invests not in great ideas but in great teams. Omar explained the value of knowing a specific space before beginning a venture in order to know the pitfalls, assemble a successful founding team, and attract clients and investors, all in turn enabling entrepreneurs to be ahead of the competition. Sam explained that the key to successfully raising money should not be raising money itself but creating an amazing company, with raising money as a vehicle to get there. Louay stressed how important corporate culture is in defining how a business is run in structure development through customer validation. An equal weight on aptitude and attitude is essential to hiring a winning team.
Magid recalls facing adversity in 2000 when the market crashed only one year post-founding comScore. He attributes overcoming these obstacles to delivering on enough promises to reassure investors and employees, making some tough decisions and admitting mistakes to accelerate movement, and ultimately having a founding team and CEO that does not lose faith. Omar adds that pivoting adds continuity to a company rather than wasted effort.
Louay weighs in on innovation in product development with Quanergy’s product, stressing the importance of phased roll outs. Quanergy’s hardware allows them to be a data services company through 3D mapping, which is applicable today; however, the technology also have the potential to save lives when autonomous driving becomes the standard in the future.
The panel also discusses quality of investors, creating a culture of teamwork, having to live an unbalanced life in the beginning years of building a company, and the importance of having a supportive family.
Hear more below:
“If innovating and achieving aren’t your biggest source of energy, maybe you’re not made to be an entrepreneurs. It’s really what drives everything, it’s the love of what you do. Do it for the fun of it, be an achiever, deliver on your commitments, don’t do it for the money, the money will come.” –Louay Eldada