For two days, the young Egyptian entrepreneurs we’ve been mentoring have been focusing on business challenges my fellow U.S. and Danish delegates and I have given them. On the third day, we told them it was their turn to challenge us. We picked four of their suggestions, which we felt would apply to the majority of their fledgling companies. But they still had work to do—they had to come up with solutions.
The first group I met with had an excellent start-up idea revolving around group-buying websites. They didn’t have any business plan, nor a PowerPoint. They just had a really good idea with some sense of the direction forward. I decided that I wasn’t doing them any favors if my feedback wasn’t honest. I was straightforward. I told them that they must have their plans written down, that they had to answer some basic questions. When would they launch the website? When would they start to approach other businesses? To their credit, they took these tough questions in great stride. I introduced these eager entrepreneurs to a group I had worked with on Monday, the second day of this week-long experience. Monday’s group shared their plan with Tuesday’s, and my latest mentees seemed grateful.