Posted on March 13, 2014

Qatar Business Incubation Center kicked off the 10 week QBIC flagship Lean Startup program for all of the startups and scale ups who have been shortlisted for this program. 

The program is held at Mövenpick Tower & Suites Doha, West Bay in Doha. The LeanStartup Program, one of QBIC’s flagship programs, is a ten-week entrepreneurial LeanStartup program that provides real world, hands-on learning experience on how to successfully start a company. Unlike traditional business schools and textbooks, it’s not about writing and also not about executing of a predefined business plan. The teams will spend most of their time being out of the center in order to talk to customers, partners, competitor etc. They use the Business Model Canvas to develop their business model and the Customer Development Model to validate their business model. Based on the customer feedback, the team’s use Agile Development to develop a product that customer’s need. At the end of the program the teams showcase and pitch their startup to judges and potential investors.

The chairman of QBIC Mr. Abdulaziz Al Khalifa visited the workshop on Sunday and welcomed all of the entrepreneurs out there. He addressed them saying: “This is a very interesting and exciting moment for all of us. I would like to welcome all of you. I can see a sign over there that says “No Action, No Talk”. You will see more action from us as the incubation center. This is a great opportunity for us as QBIC, as well for everyone from you. The infrastructure and the building of QBIC is finished. But believe me this is not about a building, this is about you and this is about human capital. This is about the Entrepreneurs who can transform the idea into a real business."

"This is a great learning opportunity for all of us together as entrepreneurs and QBIC. I wish you all the best and success. We welcome professor Les Charm from Babson college. I believe that each one of you is accepting this challenge. I look forward to see the results of this group. Wish you all the success. We thank you for being here today. We are looking forward to seeing more successful case studies from startups and scaleups. You are working in a safe environment as failure is accepted but not encouraged.”, said Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, whom also the CEO of Qatar Development Bank (QDB), one of QBIC founders in addition to Social Development Bank.

What most business schools and textbooks teach us about startups does not really apply in the real world. With the traditional business plan method, everything happens inside the building – but there is little knowledge inside the building, so no business plan survives the first customer contact as Steve Blank, a successful serial entrepreneur and lecture at leading US universities, says. We do it the other way around: instead of concentrating and documenting the future unknowns, we ask our entrepreneurs to go outside the center and talk to customers, partners, etc.

We start with customer validation before product development. They should then develop a minimal viable product, just one inexpensive feature of the final product, and again return to the customers to validate it. Only after customer validation, only then, should they start to develop the product or start writing down the business plan. This is not another or new approach in entrepreneurship, but rather a fundamental different approach in how to successfully start a business.

We have conducted 3 interview with some of the entrepreneurs attending the Lean Startup Workshop.

Habis Heweil [].jpg“My name is Habis Heweil. My project is "Umniyyah". It is an educational project. It aims at fostering and developing children's skills. This Program taught me the fundamentals through which I can start up my own business. I can create the business plan; the basics of the project and known how it is going to move on. It will be great and distinguished.

What I liked most about this Program is the practical experience. The persons involved with us already had actual projects in several countries worldwide. They showed us the magnitude of challenge, whether in relation to a local or a world project; what difficulties we may encounter and how to overcome. This is a step on the way of having your own business after you quit your job. One can achieve himself in the project he wishes to set up.

As to Qatar Business Incubation Center in general, in my opinion; there are lots of incubators that have come to existence lately in Qatar. But Qatar Business Incubation Center is different in the way it attracted people who were present. There was not just one type of people or businesses. There was that diversification. Diversification of ideas, of persons, of fields and of the projects that will be created.

The good thing about Qatar Business Incubation Center, their door is always open, even before that training course. I met the personnel working here. They provided me with their advice. I cooperated with them in many aspects. This thing created some sort of loyalty inside me to Qatar Business Incubation Center. The next step of course when I am done with this course, or over the ten week timespan of the course, I will start working on my project, so that I can apply the things I learn to it practically. I will start my project actually. 

When the course is done, I will recommend it to other people. I started to feel its great effects on me from the first day. I am sure it will make a great difference in the lives of so many people.”

Ammar Mohammed [].jpg“My name is Ammar Mohammed. Owner of "Social Media Solutions" Company. Generally speaking, the Program achieved a great deal of wonderful ideas for us. It developed several skills. Particularly, It delivers the material in a new training methodology and style. The style is a mix of experience and storytelling. We can benefit from both; the cases available, and the experience existing in the training hall.

What is it that distinguishes the Program?

The distinct thing about the training is the diversity of its content. There is the diversity of fields available for the trainees, as well. In this way, we can get the benefit of all fields. There are as well the coaching trainers. They guide us whenever we have any questions and issues that we raise. Furthermore, the Program is appropriate for out culture. This point is very important for me.

As to my opinion on the Incubation Center in particular; it is greatly open. We see at as the greatest Incubation Center in the Middle East. This thing gives us, as youth, the incentive and motivate to move on with the Incubation Center, so that we can be among the first people to start their own businesses, God willing, in the future. This thing makes us foster and push the economy in the Qatari society with the Incubation Center.

What is the project name?

Project name! We have companies that provide consultations and training in the filed of Social Media Solutions. It is the first Qatari company that provides these services throughout Qatar. We started with some projects. We provide consultations to a number of ministries inside the State of Qatar and abroad. We wish you success Mr. Emarah. Good Luck!”

Fatimah Fadi [].jpg“Please introduce yourself?

My name is Fatimah Fadi, a student at Qatar University, third year. I think this Program is greatly creative. I attended several programs, but this Program provides a great deal of information within a very short period of time. I feel it has a "goal". Every time you get upgraded, you get new benefits.

There's interaction?

Great interaction. We can even benefit from each other; as there many people attending the Program. I got acquainted with many people. One gets the benefit of acquiring experiences in many fields. The good thing about this Program is that they are hosting one of the "Top 25 Entrepreneurs" from several parts of the world. They deliver coaching to us. This is our opportunity for benefiting from them and acquiring their experiences over the years. They have practical experience not just "coaching".

They have great deal of experience in many fields and industries. They are now summarising all these experiences and delivering them to us in "one week". Really, this is a great opportunity. I just hope we are greater in number so that there should be greater competition.

Fatimah, what is your own project?

My project, mm! That we gather all the small business and entrepreneurs in Qatar under one roof and shed light on their activities. People can get to know them faster through the connections that will be created.

What do you think about Qatar Business Incubation Center?

Firstly, I would like to thank them very much for providing us with this opportunity. This is their first program. But the organisation is "okay". People are interactive. All persons here are "okay". I would like to thank them, again, greatly.

What was your vision about this program? How does it change after you have come here?

Before I came here, I thought the Program would be difficult and monotonous. But when I show up, I got involved immediately. People here are friendly. The environment is great.

You aspire to the next day?

Yes, surly.

You are welcome!”

The LeanStartup coaching program is being given by instructors from QBIC and Babson College. Professor Les Charm is one of Babson College’s leading entrepreneurship teachers who has spent the last 30 years working with start-ups. Professor Charm has taught throughout the world on a variety of topics regarding entrepreneurship and governance.

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