Initial Results From the USAID, GEP, and ECP Sponsored StartUp Cup Egypt Entrepreneur Tour

A small team of StartUp Cup mentors and coaches headed out to Cairo, Egypt on June 18, 2012 to support launching the Cairo StartUp Cup. Along with conducting a series of extreme business model and startup building workshops, we had one goal in mind, to put a meaningful dent in Egypt’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

We wondered if it was possible for us to mentor 86 aspiring startup teams to advance their ideas into operating businesses? Could we change their lives in three short days through 30 hours of extreme coaching and mentoring?

Mike Ducker with Egypt’s Competitiveness Program coaching a startup team using the Business Model Scorecard

The answer is a universal dent bending, “Oh yeah”!

Read on to learn more about our transformative journey . . .

StartUp Cup and StartUp Academy Redesigned for Egypt

Over the last seven years we have coached and mentored hundreds of startup teams through business model design and the universal steps of going from idea to operating business. One of our entrepreneurial programs, StartUp Academy, is designed around a 16 week accelerated go-to-market strategy that focuses on team development, entrepreneurial mindset, business model design, customer engagement, assumption testing, and revenue generation.

The success rate of the StartUp Academy has produced above average results with 37% of all startups participating launching and remaining in operation. Results for StartUp Cup have been even more impressive with 100% of StartUp Cup grand prize winners over the past six years (since 2006) still in operation and 61% of StartUp Cup Top 12 remaining in operation.

At the request of Egypt’s Competitiveness Program (ECP) we challenged ourselves to redesign and condense our 16-week StartUp Academy into three 10-hour days which included training and certifying 21 mentors and nine Cairo StartUp Cup judges.

Startup Mentoring Goals

The majority of entrepreneurs participating the Cairo StartUp Cup had limited or no experience starting or building a company. Very few of the Cairo StartUp Cup coaches and/or judges were experienced with business model design and accelerated customer development strategies. Therefore, the ECP and StartUp Cup goals were:

1)   To support each startup team in understanding that they needed to look beyond their business idea in order to advance their startup. It was important to introduce each team to the entrepreneurial mindset and visual thinking as a foundation for startup success.

2)   To share the key elements of business model design (Using the Business Model Scorecard) including: customer development strategies, revenue model development, team building, bootstrapping techniques, and accelerated go-to-market strategies.

3)   To inspire startup teams to take action and start testing their customer and business model assumptions by going out and engaging customers, securing key licenses and certificates required to start their company, securing limited funding, and start selling their product(s) or service(s) right away.

Mentoring an Egyptian cafe startup through the Business Model Scorecard at the American University in Cairo. Over 200 entrepreneurship students from the AUC entrepreneurship program participated in the graphically facilitated session.

4)   To train a collection of Egyptian mentors and StartUp Cup judges on business model design, accelerated customer development, and go-to-market strategies that support entrepreneurs to launch their startups quickly and, in the process, secure customers, generate revenue, and/or secure funding.

The Results

  • 30 hours, 86 startup teams, 736 coaching sessions, by 18 coaches and mentors setting a three day mentoring record in Egypt
  • 95% of all startup teams invited to participate in the extreme startup coaching workshops participated over the three days
  • A significant number of startup teams went out and engaged customers and secured necessary licenses and certificates validating their business model
  • A significant number of startup teams readjusted their business models, including target customer, revenue model, and go-to-market strategy
  • StartUp Cup coaches mentored 75 ten minute high impact Business Model Scorecard sessions with 75 startup teams using accelerated go to market techniques
  • The Business Model Scorecard has been translated into Arabic and is available on the Cairo StartUp Cup website
  • Supported identification of the Cairo StartUp Cup Top 26 advancing into the first round of live business model pitching
  • Coached 60% of Flat6Lab Accelerator members and graphically facilitated two StartUp Game Plan sessions
  • Coached over 240 student entrepreneurs at American University in Cairo on business model design and accelerated startup building techniques
  • Actively engaged Global Entrepreneurship Week Egypt, Innovention Egypt, Fab Lab Egypt, and Enigma, an MIT Egypt social entrepreneur program.
  • The StartUp Cookbook – A Visual Guide to Designing and Building a StartUp has been downloaded by 154 Egyptian entrepreneurs.
  • The Business Model Scorecard has been downloaded by 104 Egyptian entrepreneurs.

Lessons Learned

  • StartUp Academy and StartUp Cup programs works (Entrepreneurial Mindset, Business Model Design, Team Development, Customer Engagement, Revenue Generation, and Tailored One-On-One Mentoring)
  • The Business Model Scorecard accelerates the design and building of a viable business
  • The StartUp Cup process has the potential to change lives and empower people around the world to create their own career path

Next Steps

A very excited startup team advances into the Cairo StartUp Cup Top 25.

USAID, GEP, and ECP understand to be successful we need to measure short and long-term startup success and also ensure the sustainability of the Cairo StartUp Cup program to grow jobs and viable businesses. Working with ECP we will be measuring the impact of startup teams to create viable businesses and grow jobs. We will also monitor the impact of mentors trained to actively coach business model design and accelerated go to market strategies. Meaningful entrepreneurial ecosystem growth takes years, not months. StartUp Cup and StartUp Cup will remain committed to actively being involved in the process of advancing Egypt’s ecosystem, including ongoing research to see how much of an impact we are truly making.


Thank you to the amazing ECP team of Mike Ducker and Dalia AlSaid for their efforts to mobilize and orchestrate such an amazing collection of entrepreneurs and organize Cairo StartUp Cup.

Thank you to USAID and GEP for sponsoring the StartUp Cup mentoring team’s visit and for supporting the launch of Cairo StartUp Cup business model competition to include non-technology companies.

Thank you to Shelly Porges at the U.S. State Department for your confidence in our ability to put a dent in Egypt’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Thank you to the StartUp Cup mentoring team who traveled to Egypt with me, Kristen Bergman and Darren Fuqua, we could not do this without you. And to Bill Handy who kept our social media active while holding down the StartUp Cup fort during our travels.

And to our entrepreneurial partners in Tulsa, Oklahoma – Tulsa Community College, the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, and the City of Tulsa for showing us that entrepreneurialism is not only for those with a technology-based idea.

And last but certainly not least. Thank you to the great entrepreneurs of Egypt, you inspire us! You are the reason we work so hard to support the growth of entrepreneurialism around the globe. We look forward to our next Egypt Entrepreneur Tour.