[Email from Mohamed Kash on Sep. 29, 2012]
Sorry for this delay.
I tried to put this in few words but I felt that if I didn’t mention at least all those i know, I would have ignored their favor. So I decided to tell the whole story with all the names who really helped and I’ll do my best here to put the light on the moments when my votes got boosted up. I’ll leave it to you to remove from that. I did not mention the tons of friends who helped in that and spread the word nor the tens of pages that posted on
When I first started I was aiming at the prize because I believed it would be very expensive for us to attend the conference. The competition was not high by then; we had to only pass the 120 votes. We started by sharing this among our friends and followers. After that we tried mentioning others in our posts and asking friends to help us in that. We were pushing all our friends not only to vote and share but also to guarantee us 100 or 500 or more votes. We realized after a couple of days that images would spread faster and we can tag people in them so that their friends get notifications of that. We created two posters asking people to help us attend the conference and we focused in the arabic version on having the Egyptian Flag and mentioning that we are an Egyptian company.
By that time there was no other Egyptian company registered in the competition yet. I would say that the first boom in our votes came after I got help from the following people:
Maged Mesallum (@MagedMes): He’s an Egyptian activist and he’s the general coordinator for “Fatihoun” campaign that is supporting one of the presidential candidates. This friend helped me a lot because I was asking him for more all the time and he kept on helping us. Because of him our post was re-tweeted by many others and shared on several facebook pages. Among the pages I tracked were “Fatihoun”, which has lots of lovers and supporters of Dr. Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, who was running for the presidency. Another important page was “Egyptians and we support Libyan revolution” that has over 45,000 fans.
I also have to mention in this stage that we got support from my friend Fadi Gwanny who has 9500 fans, Fadi Gwanny (Gwannian Photography) who has 89,500 fans, Abdelrahman Magdy & Egypreneur (an initiative that promotes and supports entrepreneurship), Nahdet El Mahrousa (NO supporting social entrepreneurs), GEP-Egypt (The Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) is a U.S. State Department-led effort to promote and spur entrepreneurship around the world), Mike Ducker from GEP, and Dalia Al-Said from GEP. Dalia helped us a lot and kept on sharing our posts all the time.
We got more support from Flat6Labs and their fans and followers, Ahmed Naguib @ahmednaguib (18,400), Ahmed Alfi, chairman of Sawari Vantures (3200 followers), Hany El sonbaty @HanySonbaty, Co-founder of Sawari Ventures (1975 folowers), Masarat Daud @masarat (3897 followers), Zeinab Samir @ZeinabSamir (48,700 followers), Muhammad M. Mansour @TripleM (9,200 followers), Tarek Nasr @TarekNasr360 (9,500 followers), Mahmoud Hazem @Moodeey (2800 followers), Hanan Abdel Meguid @hmeguid, CEO of OT Ventures (21,400 followers), Con o’donnell @kanaafa, an angel investor and founder of Sarmady Communications that was acquired by Vodafone (2700 followers). Jamal Elshayyal, a reporter and senior news producer for Aljazeera English, is a friend of mine and he helped me spreading the word and this gave us a big push.
What a boost right ? :D
Now the second group of influencers who made a big difference to our votes are:
Asmaa Mahfouz (public figure), an Egyptian activist and one of the founders of “April 6 Youth Movement”. When I approached her, she responded fast and showed interest in helping us wining the competition. I believe that her posts on facebook and twitter reached almost one million users because many people and influencers share and re-tweet her. We also got a big support from “Al Ahly” fan page. This is the biggest soccer team in Egypt with lots of fans. They shared our posts several times. Ziad Aly, a serial entrepreneur and a public figure helped us spreading the word too. I approached some popular online media and it paid off because “Teet Radio” with its 30,000 fans and its founder Ibrahim El Garhi (@Ibrahim_Elgarhi) who has 49,200 followers responded to my request and supported me. Then i approached government organizations and the Technology Innovation Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) responded and supported me asking people to vote for our startup being an Egyptian company who needs all possible support to make it to the valley. Last but not the least, I got support from inside the valley from a friend of mine Teija Ahlfors, who works as a consultant at apple and has experience supporting entrepreneurs and in social media.
I divided the influencers into three groups because those are the people and organizations I approached after whom i saw the noticeable increase in votes. Moving to the third group, this has something interesting and valuable to us. We approached the following people who gave us lots of support spreading the word about our startup and asking people to vote for us.
Hazem Arafa, a designer with 16,900 fans, Momken magazine (21,000 fans), Mohamed NeamatAlla a social media specialist (23,000), and Crowdsway, a crowd sourcing platform for video producers in Egypt, Canada, and U.S.
I also worked with my network and friends in Italy: Daniele Trombetta, a consultant at I3P, the Innovative Enterprise Incubator of the Politecnico di Torino (He has a big network in Europe and U.S.) as well as Agnese Akame Vellar who’s a social media consultant at I3P.
I have friends who helped me spread the word on these networks as well: American University in Dubai, American University in Cairo, American University in Dubai, Stanford University, Harvard University, Columbia University in New York, Chalmers University Sweden, and their Alumni networks.
I have to note that we used facebook, twitter, google plus, and what’s app. We made a message on what’s app asking people to click on this link from their mobile and vote for our startup and to broadcast the message to 25 of their contacts (because we know that this is the maximum at a given time). However, we insisted that our close friends and networks send this message to as many as possible and we know that some people send this to at least 500 of their contacts.
What’s really impressive and worth mentioning is that among all this, one Egyptian guy we don’t know sent me a message saying that he likes our idea and he wishes us all the best and he doesn’t know how he can help us other than just voting and sharing. Then he sent me the image attached to this email saying that this is the least he can do for us to make our Egyptian company make it to the valley. He made an Ad for us on facebook from his own pocket and got us 1,000 visits to our voting page. This guy’s name is “Mohamed Mostafa Abdel Naby”. Then I got a similar message from another Egyptian guy living in the United Arab Emirates telling me that he made an Ad on facebook for us as a support and that he’s expert in this area.
This made us think of making facebook Ad on our own and we did. We didn’t have any experience in doing facebook Ads and this made us consume around $300 the moment the Ad was published just because we used a high bid and high daily budget (no one learns for free :D). However, I created something like 15 different Ads ($1 each) just to test which ones are more attractive and will get us the highest Click Through Rates. And finally we got around 2200 clicks to our voting page from countries outside Egypt including the U.S. because we thought that we do not need Ads inside Egypt anymore.
We sent lots of emails, private messages, and SMSs to lots of politicians and TV presenters. Some of them replied to me saying that they will support us and others favorited our tweet. But we couldn’t track if they did support us or not so I did not include them here. I also got support from my previous colleagues in the Science & Technology Development Fund (STDF), which is a government fund under the supervision of the Prime minister Cabinet. But this was not an official support from STDF but rather from its members.
Finally, I want to mention that during the voting, some people faced difficulties liking our application either because they couldn’t find the “Like” button or they get errors when they click on it. We found out that the first issue was because the “Like” button takes time to appear and the second issue was due to permission problems in facebook and it happens when the sharing box appear after some people click on the button. We sent to GIMC these issues and we tried to solve that fast by sharing posters that explain how to like asking people to wait for the “Like” to appear and we also told them that when the share window appear click on cancel.
That’s it :) .. I’m really sorry for such long email but it was a great experience for all of us and I wanted to make you live the same experience with us and I ensure you that there are lots of details and supporters that I’m sure I’ve missed.