Egypt Entrepreneurs convene in Stanford for Growth & Innovation Program

Author: Zeina Foda, Marketing & Communications Associate

Building on Endeavor’s partnership with Stanford University, currently in its sixth year, last August we organized the week-long Stanford-Endeavor Innovation and Growth Program done in collaboration with the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) and exclusively designed and tailor-made for Endeavor Entrepreneurs to foster innovation and help them build leading companies in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

“The program was very inspiring. It has given us new insights and ideas on strategy and has significantly contributed to improving our organization”, said Nour Shawky, CEO of Softec International and Endeavor Egypt Entrepreneur.

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Nour was among the 50 Endeavor network members from 19 countries at the program this year who also included from Egypt Sherif Radi, Endeavor Entrepreneur and COO of TA Telecom, and senior leadership from Endeavor company Vezeeta,  Adel Khalil, CTO, and Martha Sami, People and Culture Director.  

Focusing on innovative approaches to scaling their businesses, “the program contains a mix of lectures and workshops that are perfect for our current scale-out stage,” Shawky explained adding that “key areas covered (in the program included) product-market fit, scale-out strategies such as partnerships, team building, product design and fundraising.”

The Innovationn and Growth Program  is taught by the same renowned GSB faculty who teach in the MBA program.

For TA Telecom, one of MENA’s fastest growing tech companies, this was not the first time Stanford’s program has impacted the company and its growth strategy. “Our Executive Chairman, Amr Shady, attended the same course four years ago and since then we applied many of the key learning points, which positively impacted our business” Radi said. “On the growth side, what attracted me (about the program) is learning about best practices for managing growth, which tackled human resources, dealing with conflict and most importantly what other companies are doing when they’re expanding in new geographies and new markets, and how they cope with cultural differences.”

The Stanford campus and the surrounding environment of Silicon Valley also provided an extraordinary setting with access to the area’s leading tech hubs adding a unique dimension to the learning experience. For Shawky this offered “a unique opportunity to network with international entrepreneurs from all over the world, exchange experiences and meet some of the most interesting lecturers in Silicon Valley.”

Participants got to meet and network with world-class experts and top entrepreneurs and VCs from the Valley. For Radi, these included Stanford’s Russell Siegelman and Andy Rachleff whose expertise, approach to innovation, and the veracity of their stories and experiences left a significant impact on him and other attendees.

“The fact that most of the program was hands-on and taught by people who have practical experience from the industry enabled us to practically apply key lessons learnt”, said Shawky who is already in the process of implementing the concepts he learned to his pioneering cloud and enterprise solutions Company.

“The program has surpassed all expectations,” said Martha Sami who leads People and Culture at Vezeeta upon her return. “The university’s undeniable contribution to the creation of today’s Silicon Valley makes it the most relevant institute to learn from the best startup practices and growth hacks,” Sami added.

Digital healthcare platform Vezeeta, led by Endeavor Entrepreneur Amir Barsoum, is currently undergoing a major regional expansion plan having recently announced going into Lebanon and Jordan with more markets in the pipeline. “The highest touch-point with my need personally was establishing an understanding of user adoption standards to confirm product-market fit; with Vezeeta MENA expansion it is fundamental in forming our expansion team and KPIs,” Sami explained.   

Peer-to-peer connections and exchanges was another valuable aspect to the program. “Living with 50 entrepreneurs from different countries and learning about their stories is very inspiring,” Radi explained. “The concept of a study group and learning from diverse opinions in every case, makes this course very unique and different from other courses. Engaging with participants who have diverse entrepreneurial experiences was extremely beneficial. We found out that we have similar problems. But to see them across different companies and countries, and trying to find solutions for them is very beneficial.” Radi added.

As the program concluded participants took the experience, connections and all the learnings back home to reflect on them and plan how to turn some of these into actionable items in their companies and ventures.

“It is a remarkable program that is enriching, inspiring and fun; and a unique opportunity for scale-out entrepreneurs to significantly develop themselves and improve”, concludes Shawky as he reflected back on his Stanford experience.

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