An Entrepreneur. A Quality.

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Every year, hundreds of new Entrepreneurs are born everywhere in the world. Here is a list of a number of famous entrepreneurs that you probably know, but do not know much about the secret of their success. Each one of them will be introduced by an important quality of him or her that is considered to be critical for every entrepreneur who wants to run a successful business.

Steve Jobs (of course…): Creative

Okay, apparently this guy is going to show up whenever someone speaks of entrepreneurs. Well, if it is so, then, there must be a good reason for that.

« Creativity is just connecting things » he believed. Creativity is the magic formula for the success of any product and any business. Apple wouldn’t have been as strong and successful as a company if the whole business were not relying on creativity and constant innovation.

Jobs believed that creativity can be present anywhere, in any field, and creative people are simply the ones who are constantly looking for new original/ alternative ways to do things. Anything. Creative people may be creative in writing, drawing, organinzing, managing, delivering a speech, or even in communicating an idea. Creativity is so attractive that if you are known for being creative, you will always be on the top of people’s minds whenever they feel thirsty for change which is the case for Apple’s loyals.

Oprah Winfrey : Emotionally Intelligent (Equiminent)

Human beings are emotional creatures by nature. However, some people tend to know how to control their emotions, positive as well as negative, better than others. Oprah Winfrey is really good at that. Ms. Winfrey started it all from scratch and built a whole empire, all thanks to her well-developed communication skills and emotional intelligence. You may still wonder what on earth does this emotional intelligence stand for. Well, no one could deny how great Oprah is as a communicator and show presenter. You can always feel that she knows exactly what to say, when to laugh, when to comment, when to cry, when to scream, when to be happy, when to be sad, when to tell a sensitive story and when to tell a stupid joke. And people love that. People are influenced by her attitude and feel comfortable talking to her and being around her, and it is thus easy for them to be influenced by her speech and by her advice. Successful entrepreneurs are those who know how to control their emotions and do the right thing, with the right people, at the right time and in the right place.


Walt Disney : Perseverent

Many are huge fans of Walt Disney classics and even transfer their deep love of Disney cartoons to their kids and would spend months saving money to be able to spend one day in the World of Disney Land ! I wonder though how many are those who know the story of the man who is behind this phenomenal success and how he started creating this magical world for kids (and even adults).

Walt Disney went through a lot before he actually made it. He created his first animation studio in 1921 and was obliged to dissolve his company as he was no longer able to pay the rent. He was then fired and rejected a myriad of times after that before his dream became true. Some people even claim that he was rejected 300 times. Can you imagine being in the same situation? Would you be as patient and persevering as he was? Would you believe in your idea and self strongly enough not to give up instead of doubting if everyone else around you was right about your incapacity to succeed? Well, now you should think about that.

Mark Zuckerberg : Strong Communicator

Mark Zuckerburg is a real success story. The entire globe is connected through a platform that he originally created to connect a couple of University students back to the time he was attending college. Now, Facebook has became the most popular social Network worldwide as the platform users have surpassed 1.79 billion in 2016. Seriously, wow!

A strong and skilled communicator is hiding under that grey hoodie. Mr. Zuckerberg knows exactly what to tell people and what to make them believe in order to keep them loyal users to Facebook. But wait a second. History proves that this guy was not that good of a public speaker back to his first times showing up in public for an interview. He was literally sweating out of discomfort. And look at him now. He is among the best speakers and communicators in the word. He seems by far more relaxed and spontaneous when speaking to the public.

All this being said, communication a real shortcut to people’s minds and hearts, which makes it a real key to succeed in literally anything!

Why do Startups fail in Tunisia?


Tunisia: MENA Startup Hub

Have you ever wondered why someone who is very passionate about his or her work, who has both needed physical and intellectual capacities and above all, is filled with determination, patience and necessary skills to succeed in his/her business, yet fails?

The good part of the story is that despite the Tunisian instable economy and the growing number of unemployed universities’ graduates, Tunisian youth never seem to give up. Creativity and innovation are the weapons they chose to use in order to solve both dreadful social and economic situations of the country. The number of startups started to constantly increase then and Tunisia is even expected to become an important Startup hub in the MENA region. The sad part is that, unexpectedly, only few of these freshly-created businesses have survived.

What could be the reasons behind startups failure?

The main and most obvious reason behind a startup or any business failure is that there is no market for the product the company is offering. That does by no mean imply that you are not doing a good job. It may simply be a matter of culture or need. Let’s take a random example. In Asia, mainly in China, Korea or Japan, chopsticks are sold everywhere. Everyone uses them to eat at home, at restaurants, fast-foods, or even at picnics. It’s part of their culture, history and heritage. Now, imagine an entrepreneur creating a business in Tunisia, and starting to sell chopsticks. You may think: well, there are many people out there who are into Asian traditions and are very much interested in the Asian ways of doing things. These people may need to buy chopsticks to eat sushi obviously! But how many are they, and how many times a week (or a month) do they actually buy them? Let’s face it: the number of Tunisians who would purchase the product is not only very restricted but the purchase frequency is very low. Apart from the fact that the minimum profit would be hard to make as chopsticks are very cheap. In a similar situation, chances that the business fails are indeed very high.

Another reason behind companies’ nonperformance may simply be the lack of Uniqueness. Working in the business world is pretty much similar to living into the wild. Rule number 1: Kill or be killed. To translate into a business context: do not be like everyone else in the market, otherwise no one would pay attention to you, and you will be literally ostracized. Many startups may have an excellent idea behind their creation, but unfortunately end up being very similar to many other in the market, and that doesn’t help at all.

A third important reason that should be taken into consideration is not being “approachable” by customers and not to seek their feedbacks. Customers need you to be flexible and to listen to their preferences. You may be running a very interesting and profitable business, however, your target users need you to change or remove a very small detail to be fully satisfied, and thus to purchase your product twice or three times more than they currently do. A two-way communication is a culture that must be established and be associated to your business and company. As a matter of fact, not paying attention to customer’s preferences may cost a lot, and sometimes even put an end to a supposed-to-succeed business.

The choice of the wrong team members would also create disharmony and complications in the long run. Building a business is no different from building a house. Choosing carefully your material and putting a clear plan of what is needed to frame a solid construction is critical. You team members are the pillars of your to-be-built company. Therefore, it is indeed very important to gather a number of smart, skilled and motivated human beings to work with you on developing your startup, but make sure they love what they are doing and they believe in you, your idea and in the success of the enterprise. It’s all about being surrounded by positive and perseverant people. Keep that in mind!

Last but not least, the biggest obstacle that many Tunisians face when creating their startups is the scarcity of financial resources. Unfortunately, in some cases, it is hard for young entrepreneurs to get the minimum of money they actually need to turn their business ideas into real corporations. It is also not always easy to find and convince investors. Sometimes, even if it works at the beginning, some startups get stuck in the middle of the journey, run out of cash, and find no savior!


I’m an Artist, can I be an Entrepreneur?


Let’s think about it for a minute. Even though the term Art is still vague and always hard to define, there is no doubt: artists are creative human beings. In other words, an artist is constantly looking for change, inspiration, innovation, anything that is out of the ordinary. An artist is also perceived as someone who is exceptionally good at something, and this something can be music, painting, choreography, crafts, pottery, fashion design or anything else.

Basically, what artists do is turning an abstract idea into a real concrete thing. Pretty much what entrepreneurs do. The only difference that may exist here is that typical entrepreneurs tend to create what they create for the sake of satisfying other people’s needs, while artists’ creations are usually meant to answer artists’ needs.

This does not mean that artists are not capable of providing people with things they need. Think of a musician soundtracking a movie, a photographer taking wedding pictures, a cartoon artist entertaining hundreds of thousands of kids from all over the world, a fashion designer making dresses that a myriad of women would wear, a graphic designer who turns websites and blogs into genuine pieces of art, or a even a pastry cook who bakes cakes of all flavors and shapes to be served in special occasions or in family gatherings. How better kind of entrepreneur can you be?

Now, all that being said, being an artist does not only mean you can be an entrepreneur, but chances that you become a unique and brilliant one are indeed very high! Let’s start with the fact that becoming an artist-entrepreneur means that you will turn your passion into a profession, which will keep you perseverant and passionate despite all obstacles and hard times you may face throughout your journey. Also, a curious and imaginative mind as yours will keep your work original and trendy. Last but not least, being an artist means to strive for perfection and to pay attention to details, which is critical for the success of any business.

So, ladies and gentlemen, the answer is not a “yes, you can” but rather an “OF COURSE, YOU ONE HUNDRED TIMES CAN!!!”

With the Founder Institute, you get that chance without even needing an idea to start with and you get to build a tech fast scalable business, based on your passion and art.

Photo Credit:  © UNHCR/E.Dorfman

Meet Our Mentor : Sami Ben Romdhane

We are very glad to announce that Sami Ben Romdhane will join us as a   Mentor with the Founder Institute Tunisia for our mentor idea review session, one of the big milestones of the semester. What a delight to benefit from  his great expertise  as a  fervent startuper, blogger, coach and mentor.

For those who don’t know about Sami Ben Romdhane, he is an excellent graduated from ENSI, started his  career in France where he  developed software for Mac and then got hired by Apple Europe and ended up relocated in Cupertino,CA,  after 8 years.

His Entrepreneurial journey started in early 1996, when he founded his first startup, developing a WYSIWYG HTML editor for MAC, that was sold the same year to Symantec Java division where he became Chief Architect for their internet Middleware division.

sami ben romadhane

In 2000 he start a new entrepreneurial adventure, founding his 2nd startup  that developed a full internet application backend stack. He then sold it to BEA Systems (now Oracle) in 2005 where he became Director and Chief Architect for the Weblogic Application platform.

After his two successful startups, Sami didn’t stop. In 2009, he joined eBay where he is now Technical Fellow and Vice President.

Sami’s experience is not only impressive from a professional perspective but also his community involvement has been impressive.  He also is very fond of his native land Tunisia. He felt a duty to give back to his nation and its people.

As a blogger, he joined a US state department delegation to North Africa in 2011 to promote entrepreneurship.  He also recently volunteered to represent the ICT minister initiative to promote offshoring “Smart Tunisia” and become its ambassador in Silicon Valley.

As part of the diaspora in the Silicon Valley, he is an example everybody should follows in benefiting his country. We are honored to have him amongst us. We believe with no doubt that founders will greatly benefit from his feedback, while they pitch him their ideas and try to convince him and our amazing pool of mentors that they are the drivers of the economic revolution in Tunisia

Meet Our Mentors: Fatène Ben-Hamza

It all starts with a dream right? a dream of a revolution helped collapse a dictatorship regime and a dream of making of Tunisia the next startup Hub is a dream on which a lot of young entrepreneurs are working so hard to achieve.

Entrepreneurship was never only about creating startups because if the environment is not ready to embrace the new businesses all will very soon collapse. Entrepreneurial spirit can never be fostered without a culture of sharing  . What made places like the Silicon Valey become the home of the largest high tech corporations  is a desire to create, willingness to share knowledge and a drive to a big change.

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That’s why Cogite was founded, the first co-working space in Tunisia. Cogite is not only a physical space for early stage startups , Cogite aims to promote the culture of sharing among  Tunisian youth by creating a space where they can create, express and exchange ideas.

Fatène Ben-Hamza is the Chief Operating Officer of Cogite.Fatène is a French-Tunisian business strategist who moved to Tunisia in 2009 . Fatène  returned to Tunisia with lots of dreams and drive to share her expertise with those around her as she worked for six years  in the advertising industry as a brand strategist working with many international and local clients.

Co-founded the Afkar conference, a think & action tank bridging spaces between government and civil society to promote concrete solutions to relevant problems in Tunisia. Fatène is also the organizer and co-curator of TEDxCarthage since 2011, and TEDxCarthageWomen.

She is passionate about building spaces for people to create, express and exchange ideas. After six years, Ben-Hamza has joined Cogite, a coworking community of change-makers and entrepreneurs in Tunisia.

Rym Baouendi

Rym Baouendi is an urban sustainability catalyst and social entrepreneur with over twelve years of experience in the field of urban sustainability and social innovation.

Rym wears many hats including co-founder of Cogite, the first co-working place in Tunisia , she is also working with the Biat Fondation on an entrepreneurial program as well as a consultancy firm that works in the region. She’s deeply passionate about working on sustainable development and concepts of cities and how people, especially youth, interact in cities.

Rym  holds a Master of Applied Science degree in Building Engineering from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada,  a Masters of Civil and Urban Planning Engineering from INSA Lyon (France) and a Diploma in Initial Studies in Architecture from the School of Architecture of Lyon (France).


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In 2010 Rym  founded Medina Works, a sustainability consultancy based in the UAE and Tunis. She is now its managing director . ´´Medina works ´´ provides technical and advisory services related to sustainability in the built environment, sustainability management, impact measurement , reporting and capacity building.

Rym is also a founding member of the Tunisian Green Building Council and  City Changemakers . In her early career, Rym worked  for several agencies across the region like : Abu Dhabi Urban Panning Council, Buro Happold, Estimator ..

Rym is a passionate and dedicated person that would stop at nothing to contribute to the establishment  of sustainable  solutions working on human capital development and entrepreneurship.

Meet Our Mentors : Hassine Labaied

With an experience of over 12 years in the banking industry within big financial institutions, Hassine Labaied has a deep knowledge in business development, risk management and strategic planning.


Hassine is currently the managing partner of  Saphon Energy, a Tunisian-based cleantech startup specialized in research and development [R&D] in the wind industry.  Hassine won the  2015 Gulfstream competition.  According to Mr. Labaied, their design is mainly inspired by the mechanism of a sail boat, and is a new and better way to collect the kinetic energy of the wind.

Hassine Holds a BA from IHEC Carthage and an executive MBA from London Business School .  Prior to co-founding Saphon Energy , Hassine was a Director at Citibank  Dubai where he managed the top-tier local corporate team.

The Founder Institute is honored to have Hassine in its pool of mentors.  Being the modest and humble person he is, Hassine is very popular amongst the founders and his fellow mentors . He does not hesitate to share his experience and expertise with those around him.

With his strive for accuracy and fairness Hassine is   leading an innovating business with a lot of passion and ambition.