Startup Rising | Christopher M. Schroeder

Summary of: Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East
By: Christopher M. Schroeder


Welcome to the exciting journey of ‘Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East’ by Christopher M. Schroeder. This book introduces the myriad of tech startups that are currently flourishing within the Middle Eastern region, despite its political instability. It unravels the three main factors contributing to the rise of entrepreneurs in the Middle East, while highlighting the transition from cronyism to fairness in business. The summary also sheds light on technology’s role in transforming the region’s educational infrastructure, as well as providing Arab women with unique opportunities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Rise of Middle East’s Entrepreneurial Generation

Innovation is on the rise in the Middle East, with a new generation of entrepreneurs leveraging technology, political risk-taking investors, and changing market dynamics to fuel their success. Tech transparency, connectivity, and access to capital and markets are contributing factors, paired with a young market of over 100 million people under age 15. While political instability is a risk, the success of the BRIC countries has shown investors that it needn’t deter investment. The uprisings in the Middle East also inspired younger generations to pursue change and contribute to their countries and economies. Major global investors and tech companies like Google, Intel, and Cisco are taking notice and investing in this promising region.

Embracing Entrepreneurship in the Middle East

In the past, the Middle East’s business success relied heavily on “wasta” or cronyism. Your connections, not qualifications, determined your fortune. However, successful startups like Maktoob, the first Arabic internet portal, sold for $175 million in 2008, changed the game. Its founder, Samih Toukan, did not rely on wasta, but instead offered support to fellow entrepreneurs. As more and more wasta-free businesses thrive, it encourages others to join them. The Middle East is now embracing entrepreneurship and the promise of success without wasta.

Middle Eastern Entrepreneurs

In the Middle East, over 83% of the population goes online every day. This internet consumption has influenced the current Middle Eastern entrepreneurs in three ways: improvisers, problem solvers, and global players. The problem solvers focus on tackling the Middle East’s educational infrastructure, which needs help. The region lags far behind in secondary and higher education enrollment. Two recent developments can change this: businesses’ prioritization of strengthening society to improve their own working climate and significant innovation potential from the bottom. Young professionals have access to technology that enables them to learn through the internet and advance their newfound knowledge across society.

Thriving Female Entrepreneurs in the Middle East

Female entrepreneurs in the Middle East are on the rise, with 48% of competing teams in the 2012 Middle East MIT Business Plan Competition being women. The reason behind their success in the tech space is the ability to reach wider spaces through social networks like Twitter. Women have found a platform where they can voice their opinions and ideas, which was once closed off to them. Female entrepreneurs thrive when they focus on gender-specific concepts. The internet has created ample opportunities for women’s businesses, with low entry costs and flexible working hours being the key advantages.

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