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Learn From Your Mistakes: 360 Daleel Failure Story

Learn From Your Mistakes: 360 Daleel Failure Story

Failure is an integral part of success; as Albert Einstein says, "a person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.”  Mahmoud Ayman epitomizes the example of a man whose missteps taught him more about success than anything else ever could.

Mahmoud Ayman is an electrical and power engineering graduate from Ain Shams University who then received a marketing diploma from the American University in Cairo. He entered the startup scene in 2010 with Imagineers, an innovation hub that offered corporate as well as end user consulting. He then cofounded Systex in 2011 which was a startup that offered digital solutions and web development services. During his time at Systex, he and two of his friends founded 360 Daleel, a startup that aimed to create virtual tours using panoramic 360° technology, which experienced some success until it went bankrupt. He is currently the country organizational development supervisor at Lafarge but he plans to one day return to the startup scene.

Mahmoud’s motivation for startups and entrepreneurship stems from an obsession that he has long indulged, ever since he was a little kid, which is to run his own business that would add value to people’s lives. His vision is to create a startup that he can slowly grow to become a large company that satisfies customers and employees alike. When asked what field he finds interesting, Mahmoud answered that he has no particular field preference but, rather, finds all fields equally fulfilling as long as they have a positive impact on society. His methodology starts off with finding teammates that share his vision and motivation for their venture. The next step is finding a match between market needs and what him and his team can provide based on their collective capabilities. Furthermore, Mahmoud stated firmly that “the idea must be both of value to the customer and profitable for the business to ensure that his teammates are committed to growth.”

Although he participated in several startups, Mahmoud considers 360 Daleel, though it failed, his biggest contribution to the startup scene. “360 Daleel’s vision was to become the biggest online platform for virtual tours that incorporate commerce catering to end users as well as large corporations and local stores,” he says. The aim of 360 Daleel was to give users access to the world by providing them with the enriching experience of visiting and shopping at an unfamiliar store directly from their homes; this is done through virtual tours created on the platform by other users. While 360 Daleel was not able to fully achieve its vision, it was successful in creating online virtual tours for various companies such as Mori sushi and Kids Camp Montessori Nursery.

According to Mahmoud, there were several reasons that led to the failure of 360 Daleel. The first reason is that one of the founders quit the team with his shares leaving behind him a major gap that wasn’t smoothly filled by his successor. Another problem was that the company allocated most of its resources on expanding the product to impress potential investors and eliminate competitors; “the resulting product failed to receive funding and generate revenue because it was too broad and complicated to sell,” he described. In order to solve these problems, Mahmoud tried to instate vesting in the company’s equity, which means that shareholders cannot sell or leave with shares unless they have worked at the company for a period of time. He then stated his desire to reformulate their business model because they had lost focus of the customer needs. However, “at this point, the employees and other shareholders were very demoralized and the pressure on me was too overwhelming so the best decision for everyone was to call it off,” he stated.

Although the endeavor failed, Mahmoud learned various lessons from his mistakes. The first of these lessons is to carefully align the vision with the founders so that the team never lose focus. The second lesson is that a vesting system should be instated with the initial partners, even if they are family and friends, to ensure their commitment to the company. Another lesson is that it is very important to communicate with the customers and heed their needs as opposed to strictly focusing on the investors; Mahmoud further states, “if you’re good, you will get money; no one will give you money to become good”.

Mahmoud concluded with advice for aspiring entrepreneurs saying “Start small in order to find your unique selling point, and work hard with the customer always in mind; don’t look for credit, credit will come to you.”

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