Weekly Hot Startup Questions And Answers On ArabCrunch.NET

21 Jan, 2010

ask buttonEver since we launched Startups Q&A application in ArabCrunch.NET we had important questions asked, and we had great answers to them from leading industry professionals, entrepreneurs and executives. Today we start posting a weekly post that highlights hot startup questions that were posted on startup Q&A application section of ArabCrunch.NET coupled with a selection of their answers. ( ArabCrunch.NET is still in private beta.)

Here is this week selection (if you do not have an invite to ArabCrunch.NET and want one to use ArabCrunch.NET Q&A section  the first 3 comment in this post and I will invite you.)

hi all

i am ahmed from egypt ,me and my friends working on web project in the field of management solutions on the cloud
we targets small and midsize companies in the middle east and north africa but i have problem in the marketing plan
i do not know how i can put targets to our marketing plan i how i can measure and forecast this targets
our product will be free trial for small period and after that will be divided to packages and will be payed service

Answers:

Ammar Mardawi

How important is it for your business to forecast sales volumes accurately? What difference does it make? Are you going to take different actions?
With most startups, sales forecasts are not as important as it appears to be. All what you need is set a target that you can measure your progress against. Just make your best guess at the market. There are two schools of thoughts on setting a target:
– Set it to the maximum that you believe is still possible. This will make you work harder and achieve more. But will also make it less-likely to achieve and may make you feel a little disappointed by the end.
– Set it to something that you can blow out! Guy Kawasaki recommends this, as it’s more important to feel motivated by the end of the year when you achieve double or triple your targets than setting them high at the beginning.
Anyway, make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

Nader Soliman:
Ahmed, that’s a bit hard question, so let’s poll the conversation with something actionable.

1. You want to live say for 1 year. See how much cash you have, how much you spend and plan to spend for a 1 year then you can find how many customer you need to keep you afloat. That’s a simple equation.

2. You need to keep track of *conversion* rates and tie up these conversion events to actions you are doing. For example, and assuming you are marketing from your website. What actions lead to more visitors to your site? What actions made more of these visitors fill up a form to get a free trial? etc. These actions that increased conversions needs to be magnified.

As usual, these are general suggestions and needs your creativity as entrepreneur when implementing it, so we need to hear back from your experience for better benefit to the whole community 😉

Djilali Tabbouche:

Ammar and Nader sum it up: you need metrics and milestones to measure and adjust your progress according to the market feedback.
The key is to find your market: writing a business plan, we all end up on throwing the thing down the drain as the only valuable and accurate info you will get are those coming from your clients.
I believe in the fremium model (not always applicable):
• let people try it for free
• get feedback
• iterate
• get feedback
• …
• GENERATE VALUE
• CHARGE
Hope it will help.

Hello World!

I have ideas for couple of projects I want to implement and maybe turn into my own business. I know how to implement them technically, but the point is i don’t know for sure how to plan for it from the business side of view..
I want some tips on :
• creating a good business plan
• raising capital, specially in Egypt
• How to choose the team
• Should the team members get salaries at first, or should it be revenue share
• what are the difficulties involved?

and other questions, but lets start with these.
I appreciate your time in advance.
Answers:

Yasser Tawfik:
http://www.tbpc-astf.net/static/download.html

Dyana Pari Nafissi:

Business Plans:
I employ one or two very simple models on the concept to get the informal thought process on the business rolling.  One I call the “journalist’s approach” where the inventor defines the who, what, when, where, why and how of the concept. OK – to be specific, I usually use an excel here  for an opportunity that will appeal to multiple markets.
The primary business plan model I use is “Purpose, Process, and Payoff.” Sure I change those words into something more mainstream depending on the sector and the environment I for which I am developing the plan. But it is easy for me to think….what is the purpose of this thing?  what are the steps we need to take to fulfill this purpose?  why are we doing this?
As you bring your team together, you will engage them in this process too; us innovators get caught up in the moment, the daily production, but is is essential to keep your strategic goals aligns with your daily activities.  Lots of brainstorming and white board erasing comes with the turf of developing a effective business plan yet so many entrepreneurs skip this highly lucrative step.
This understanding your concept and the value it creates – societal, financial, perhaps environmental – can be repurposed into a 2-page executive summary and the seeming increasingly standard 10-12 ppt presentation.

I know many people hire business plan writers and certainly that is an option. But I think if you are going to invest your time and energy, I think you need to write your own map. (-:
What do you think?
GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!
Ammar Mardawi:

All what’ve been said is great. But you don’t have to do that if you’re technical. Just identify your market (as accurate as you can, doesn’t have to be perfect). Set up your 3 month minimum targets in any term that you find suitable. I suggest that you don’t get money involved here, try number of active users, new registered users per week, downloads per week .. etc. And just throw in a prototype for people to try.
If you are achieving your minimum targets, then look into business planning, hiring a team, investing your own money and creating a business.
My point is, if you can transform an idea into a prototype before starting a business, then you have a great prevelige of verifying your market without taking any risk. Good Luck!

Question: Which mobile devices are recommended to develop Mobile apps for them?

hello everyone ,

i have an idea for mobile application and i wonder which mobile devises ( android, IPhone , Nokia S60 , …)  that are recommended to develop the apps for them based on their market share in Arab world and its users are they willing to download/buy the application .
Thanks

Answers:

Amir Kabbara:

A couple of questions:

Is your application specifically for the Arab World or the Arabs in general? Can your application be used by anyone else? There are a lot of Arabs that reside outside the Arab world, would they also be interested in the application you will be creating? If there are Arabs in the US that are interested in your application then you need to look at the US mobile market.. the iPhone leads the smartphones market there.

I know that it’s just an application but the first thing I would do is understand who my customer really is. From there, I’ll try figuring out which devices my customers are using. Even if the iPhone is leading the market, if my users are business users then i’m more likely to create apps for BB.

As for the app prices, I have a different view point.. I’m a finance guy :).. if you can make money on something then go ahead and charge for it or at least figure out a way to monitize it..but Gaith does have a good point, you need to create a brand name for the future..I would recommend a fremium model where you have a free limited version of the app (to create a name for yourself) as well as a paid version with advance features so you can cater to both your paying and non-paying customers and make enough money to develop your next application.

I personally purchase ovi and iphone apps frequently and don’t ever remember looking at the company/developer’s name.. Unless its companies like EA and Zynga I usually get what seems interesting and useful and check out the customer feedback and rankings then make my decision from there..but that just me.. not sure how the mass market thinks..

Let us know when the application is available..and where you decide to develop it..

Ammar Mardawi:
@Samer: I agree, just do a great app!

Mobile app development for the iPhone and Android still do not have their competitive edge in the region. And it does not have anything to do with market penetration. It’s simply because iTunes is still not available, and you can’t buy from the Android market in you’re in the middle east.

The reason of mobile apps vendors success in the iPhone didn’t have a lot to do with the technology or market penetration. It was all about the app store. Apple’s 7 years of experience in selling music on iTunes (iPods) before the iPhone is what made it possible for some app vendors to make a million dollar a week in revenue from their iPhone apps.

So, pay more attention on how you’re going to market and sell your app before looking into market figures.

The other thing that I can point out is the devices variety of the platform. iPhone app developers didn’t have to update/create new version for the new iPhone versions (3G and 3GS). Unfortunately, it is not true for android. I had a simple app in the Android store since the G1 which I had to update when Android 1.5 and 1.6 came out. And it’s very likely I have to update it again for 2.0 and 2.1. The variety of screen sizes and availability of the physical keyboard is another pain. Nokia has the same problem but multiplied by the number of nokia devices 🙂

So, there is a lot of work to be done. You’re very likely to spend a lot of time and effort porting your app. But first, just do a great mobile app!

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