Staylic.com: A passion turned into a burden
Entrepreneurship and establishing product or service oriented startups in Qatar is underestimated from a wide range of people in the community. Entrepreneurs follow different approaches to start their business ideas, and it might end up as a success or failure. In Qatar, there is a big movement towards encouraging people to be entrepreneurs, an experience that they never went through as the country is moving towards diversifying the economy. Workshops, boot camps, hackathons, tech-talks and startup competitions, all are signs of how much different entities in the country are focusing in developing individuals’ skillset. If you have a brilliant business idea, you are passionate about it, and you found the “right people” and investment, there you go! And still you may fail, but the chance will be low. Unless you have a disorder in one of the building blocks of any new startup: The TEAM, then waking up every morning will be uncomfortable, like drinking coffee with no water in it!
I often hear that in Silicon Valley, people celebrate failure. Yes! It’s a culture that they grew up with. Why would a startup fail? Failure in some cultures is a negative sign, and usually means this is not your field, Go find another field, or just stop doing it. Is not it an experience that everyone in the team enjoyed and learned from?
When I graduated from College in 2015, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. I took a gap year in which I co-founded ARVEX VR. Later, early 2016, I was frustrated that whenever I go to the barber shop I have to wait to get a turn, call the barber many times to ask about his availability, and no one knows if first time experience with a new barber is rewarding unless its recommended by a someone. Then I looked for a team around me to think of a way to change how salons do their business using technology. After few meetings with potential interested and not interested talents, we came across a conclusion that the market is more towards girls not boys in terms of revenue and market size. Surprisingly, the idea turned into a business to help girls find information about their nearby salons and perform booking. At that time, it was not a blue market, though it existed in other countries in GCC and the world, that we got in, but there was a pain and yet no one has developed a solution for it in Doha.
It took 12 months to develop the first beta version of staylic.com, because of lack of investment and poor team communications skills. Everyone in the team though we will be the next Talabat.com for beauty Salons, but that was not a motivation that guided our daily work activities. Commitment and good communications among the team where missing, although each one in the team has great skills and experience in his/her field.
WhatsApp witnessed a couple of misunderstanding incidents in the team’s daily discussions. None of the team members have a real experience in working in startups ( I mean real work) Thus it was a great learning experience. And the environment was challenging and there was no financial income. At some point, I felt that there is something missing, and should be addressed. Then I discovered that the team can’t work together because none of them has staylic.com as a priority in their schedule, and the members in the team have different objectives in life to achieve. Then I realized that the team motivation went down, and there was a period where no one talked in the startup WhatsApp group for a month!
The passion became a burden, and team members lost interest in building what was considered as a need for some customer segments in the Qatari market. The website is still running but with no updates, although in average we get 15 visits per day, which means someone has benefited from what’s in staylic.com.
The reason why I am sharing this story is that: you should never think that building a startup is something luxurious and easy, although some workshops/people advertise for it in this way. It takes hard work and determination to achieve remarkable results. I am glad that everyone who was part staylic.com has benefited in some way, which is an experience carried for other future projects to consider, not to be blamed of. For me the number one priority in a startup is building a strong team! That’s what I am focusing on ARVEX VR, as a learning outcome from staylic.com.