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Рерайтинг и перевод

@Hey, Amr. Let’s start. Could you tell, please, about yourself?@

My name is Amr Ashraf, I am an Egyptian media entrepreneur. Originally, I am from Alexandria but I decided to move to Cairo and currently I live here. I co-founded an advertising agency called Food Pixel. We specialize in advertising and digital marketing for F&B brands and restaurants. I also co-founded Creative Industry Summit which is Egypt’s first hub for the creative ecosystem, gathering the creatives in the fields of marketing, advertising, branding, fashion, art, music.

@Tell a little more about yourself. What do you do in your free time?@

Obviously, I love food. I like to try new restaurants; And I like also to read, I do it a lot. And there is some of my favorite series, episodes that I watch, like Game of Thrones, for example.

@Awesome. Could you tell how you did you start all your career, starting from TEDxAUC till now?@

I was working on some activities when I was back in school in Alexandria. And I used to go to a library in Alexandria often trying to learn new things. And then, when I came into American University of Cairo, when I moved all my life in Cairo, I travelled to attend the conferences in New York at 2010, thus called The New York Just Peace Summit. I was selected as one the most social active student across the world. I spent 10 days there and I was working on environmental project related to climate change and organizers gave me funding. After that, I came back and I launched it in Alexandria.

And then, the year after, at 2011, I was invited to give a talk in New York about how it lives as Egyptian going through difficult time and telling my personal story that I went through in this period. I tried to travel, but I couldn’t as there were many restrictions on the visa and the embassy’s office was closed in Cairo for the whole revolution. It was a huge challenge for me to go there. So, what happened was: they had me recorded to talk here and then, sent it and they played it during their event in New York. Then, at 2012 I was invited to go there to help to organize the same conference I already gave speech in. I travelled there and I went to New York and I’ve met some people from TED. I knew more about TEDx initiative and I had an idea why I can’t bring TEDx to AUC and organize TEDx in AUC. And that’s what I did. I came back to Cairo, I applied for a licensee, and I took it. And I started TEDxAUC in 2012 and we had 2 big events.

And this was basically how everything was started. I was organizing events and I was interested in marketing and advertising. I was reading and teaching myself about it. I was freelancing for social media: let’s say consultancy for some people. I was doing also some work in digital marketing.

Then, right after TEDxAUC, I had an idea for Engezni. I wanted to have one solution for people to order food online instead of calling a person by phone. And I worked on it. I travelled to Barcelona and I gave a speech about Engezni in front of investors (there an investment pitch competition). I gave a presentation in front of investors and one of them, an investor from Jordan gave 20000$ for me to launch it. They invested, and then we launched the app. But we noticed that mobile application was not trending as we wanted it to be. It wasn’t high on user base. What we did was: we just turned the whole business around from mobile app to an advertising agency for food & beverage. And that’s where we are staying in right now.

@When you started to build up your company, what kind of obstacles did you have and how you were not afraid of to launch it?@

I think I always had a belief that the market is where you need to listen and this is where you will know, you should continue with the direction or not. Because once you launch new idea and you see how people using it, you see, actually, your potential and your limitations. Because you don’t have endless budget to scale up the business. Once you see your limitations and you see potential - this is where you should go.

So, we were a mobile app and we had a dream that this mobile app on a web-site will be like the biggest online ordering platform in the region. And it will be in Egypt, in other countries and people can order it online. And I always wanted this to happen. But then, once I launched and I saw that my budget is not big enough. I couldn’t sustain it for the time needed for me to reach this goal. At the same time, I always was getting requests from all our clients, like a request related to how we can do social media. For example: ‘’We want to launch a web-site. We want to have a new idea for video campaign’’, and similar things. We were handling them one by one without noticing that we have a talent, we have a potential in advertising. And then that’s why we shifted. Once we realized it that this is a new direction and that we have talent in this. And our orderings were going well, I restructured the whole team, new partners joined and the team grew bigger. We changed our office, we did many many things and we launched it. We even raised a new investment after the launch of the new idea.

@If we are talking about Creative industry summit, how do you see its development?@

For Creative Industry let me tell you a story from the very beginning. It is a very interesting story and I am sure you gonna ask about this later on. Creative Industry started with the vision that I have that. I noticed that there was no a connector between all the elements of the creative environment in Egypt. And by the creative environment I mean all the people who are working on the side of creating value on creating content for everything: TV, radio, social media, the marketing agencies, the advertising, the designers, the art work, the fashion designers, the bloggers, the media, the journalism, all these people. There was nothing connecting them and bringing together every year. And it was the beginning 2014, it was my last semester in the university. I was sitting with my partner organizing TEDxAUC together and I had an idea, why we don’t create a place gathers everyone working in this sector? Like the brands, the clients, the agencies and everyone. I told him why not to call it Creative Industry and let it be. Because when we looked it up online we saw that creative industry represents all these sectors, so this was the perfect word to describe all these like this big umbrella.

We had Creative industry and we organized at the first time inside AUC Tahrir campus in 2014. And it had 400 participants. It was big, it was a huge success and it was a profit from the business side. And because of that, we decided to do it again in 2015 and we organized Creative Industry Summit again with a bigger audience, with more agencies, with more sponsors. Also, at 2015 we had one of the speakers, she was the General Manager of a big agency in Cairo. She was giving one of the keynote opening speech in the conference. And she liked the event very much and she loved the concept. She came to us, me and my partner, Hamza, after the conference, and she asked us: ‘’Guys, we loved the idea, why can’t we partner together and make it even grow faster and make it bigger’’. And that’s what we did. We met her and her partner. And we knew that this partnership is gonna produce the great things. They have a huge value to add to Creative Industry.

So, we decided to partner together and to have Creative Industry held twice per year. Once in April as the annual two-days big event summit that gathers everything in the year. And another one, one-day event, like a mini summit called Ramadan’s edition that focuses on the month of Ramadan, because the month of Ramadan is like the most active and the busiest month in advertising, drama, TV, new series, new movies. And we did that. We organized it at the first time last year, 2015. It was the first Ramadan edition. Then, it came last April 2016 we organized the big annual summit for the first time with our new partners. And it was very successful: we had famous celebrities, we had some high profile speakers, we had someone from Facebook - it was really huge. Nowadays, we have been working on the second Ramadan edition which will be in September.

Now you know the history of my vision is going from, we want it to be like Creative Industry gathering of MENA region, all of countries in MENA region. We want to grow outside Cairo, we want to organize the event in Dubai, we want to organize the event in Jordan, we want to scale it vertically and horizontally all across.

@What is the size now of your companies? @

Creative Industry is the team of 6 people with the founding partners and some team members helping us to scale up and do social media in order to help us to be faster. And for Food Pixel, we are 20 people now and we just moved into an office a few months back in Zamalek.

@What were the most important things when you started to think about creating your own startup?@

Team and funding.

Team: if you don’t have right people on your side to help you to launch your idea, then, you are going to do nothing. You can’t do everything on your own and you can’t scale when you are doing everything by yourself. You need to have a team. You need, at least one, maybe 2 people, depending on what the idea requires. And these people should be like the indispensable members of the team, like the people who can’t give up and the people who can’t just be replaced.

Funding: if there is no money or at least a source for you to sustain yourself to work on idea - there is no point to launch it. If you have no money to launch your idea, and also have no time, because you need to work somewhere else to cover your own expenses - this is not good. You need to be dedicated and you need to have a time for this. At least, you need to have some savings on the side to...