RIYADH: Startups do not need to have a brand new idea in order to succeed, chairman of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Jeff Hoffman said as he talked up the importance of trying to fix current problems.
Speaking on the sidelines of the global entrepreneurship event Biban 2023, Hoffman shared his entrepreneurial insights and guidance with Arab News.
Hoffman went on to explain that startups usually focus on building something that is new and unique, but they should focus on fixing something that is broken as it is one of the fundamental guidelines for entrepreneurship.
“The market is so big that there's room for everybody. So you do not have to have a brand new idea that nobody’s ever thought of in order to be successful in business. It just has to be a big enough market,” Hoffman told Arab News.
One idea is for entrepreneurs to focus on building products that satisfy regional discrepancies by taking what is already done and recultivating it onto cultural values.
“If I'm launching something in the United States, I wouldn't have the cultural background to understand how to work with customers in the Gulf region. So you could launch the same idea, but with the cultural salt and pepper that makes it work here,” he said.
He added that as long as there are humans, there will always be problems for startups to solve.
“There's a lot of people here in the Kingdom and in the region that have great ideas, but they've never built a company on their own. So having access to mentorship, events like Biban, and having access to people who've done this before and having access to content about entrepreneurship so that the local entrepreneur that has an idea has help launching it into a business, that is what we focus on,” he added.
Hoffman explained that Saudi entrepreneurs should seek mentorship as well as a customer-centric approach when starting a business.
“You can't build this yourself, whatever your idea is. And too many entrepreneurs are struggling, trying to do everything themselves. From the beginning, you need to start looking around to see who you can add to your team so that the best team wins,” he said.
“A lot of times people are inventing and working on ideas in their office, and I used to spend a lot of my time out of my office going to the store, going to the mall, going to the airport, wherever my customer was. I was out of the office listening to and learning from customers,” he added.
As more Saudi entrepreneurs spearhead into the startup sector, resources can appear scarce, especially for small and medium enterprises.
“Specifically for SMEs in the Kingdom, the ecosystem is growing fast, but it's relatively new. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and startups here in the region, here in the Kingdom and all around the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region and a lot of them don't know where they can get resources yet,” he stated.
He added that as the ecosystem continues to grow, resources are getting clearer and in reach for startups in the Kingdom.