Today I attended the Achieving Women’s Forum at the Ritz Carlton JBR organized by Entrepreneur Middle East, featuring some extremely successful female entrepreneurs and business women. For those that aren’t active on Twitter, I’m compiled key points that resonated with me today (and paraphrased heavily!). These were quick notes so if you spot any errors, please let me know and I will rectify them.
- Noor Sweid – Managing Partner, Leap Ventures – @nsweid
- Maha Abouelenein – Managing Director, OC – @mahagaber
- Racha Ghamlouch – Speaker and Entrepreneur Relations Manager, ArabNet – @__racha
- Rosemin Manji – Founder, RR&Co – @RoseminManji
- Firdaus Shariff – Head of Marketing EMEA, SAP – @fishariff
- Noha Hefny – Director of Corporate Affairs MEA, PepsiCo – @Koukou2009
- Nisreen Shocair – President, Virgin Megastore Middle East – @NShocair
- Rania Rustom – Chief Innovation & Communications Officer, GE MENA – @raniarostom
- Ghada Abdelkader, Senior Associate, Crescent Enterprises
- Nina Curley – Managing Director, Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi – @9aa
- Chantelle Dumonceaux – Operations Director, WOMENA – @ChantalleALD
- Ambareen Musa – Founder – Souqalmal.com – @ambareenm
On Making It
Keynote Address by Noor Sweid
- You spend 80% of time on something you have to do and 20% on what you want to do. Make what you want to do something you’re passionate about to get you through the rest.
- Find a partner. That might be family, cofounder or someone to depend on.
- Take it one day and more importantly, one week at a time. You might lose one day but take stock on the week and see where you’ve succeeded and where you need to catch up.
On Digital Branding
- Create your digital footprint so you can control the content that appears when someone Google’s you. After all that’s the first thing people do when they meet someone you.
- The best way to deal with online criticism is to accept it – no spinning, no deleting.
- Be mindful what you post. Treat yourself as a brand.
- As a brand, always have a crisis strategy.
- Your most negative commentators can become your best asset if you can turn the passion from negative to positive – they can become an ambassador.
- The line between personal and professional has blurred.
- Your online communications need to remain human and authentic.
On Being a Woman
- Be accessible via culture. You don’t just need dedicated programs encouraging gender diversity.
- It’s important to be bold as a woman. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
- Be an effective networker. Pick specific events and seek out those you want to meet.
- You can’t compromise or fundamentally change who you are. If your organization doesn’t match your ethos, then it won’t work.
On Raising Financial Capital
- It doesn’t matter if you have a finance background. If you’re running a business, know your numbers.
- Don’t take just money. See what the VC is providing.
- It’s not just the ideas. It’s the ability to show that you can execute on the idea.
- Be flexible with funding options.
- Make sure your projections are validated based on market expectations.
- You are not just pitching for money but for trust. Have you done your research? Show traction and revenue.
- The founder is extremely important in early stage startups. Track record and personality driven
- Are you capable of attracting good talent because execution is everything.
- Answering VC questions isn’t rocket science. Take a step back and do your homework.
- Is your market going to make a 10x return? Have a VC partner that has the same objectives (exit, IPO etc)
- Key numbers: Cost of acquisition, customer LTV
- A good VC can rocket your business and a bad one can take it down.
- Can you show scalability? i.e. 10x growth in 5 years
- Traction. Execution over ideas.
- Market compatibility
As with any event, there were some insightful tweets. You can catch-up on the conversation on the EntMEWomen hashtag. Thanks BNC, Entrepreneur team and Fida for having me. Hopefully this inspires some female entrepreneurs to take the plunge!