The Impact of Relationship Networking on Advancing Your Startup to the Next Stages

Pequity is an application that works on creating a market that connects investors with small and medium-sized business owners by developing tools that enable business owners to evaluate their projects financially based on several inputs, unlike the prevailing evaluation process in the market, which relies on evaluating the equipment and devices present within the project or evaluating the project as a whole based on the owner's estimate. Pequity takes care not to interfere in any buying or selling process to avoid any legal obstacles or direct responsibility.

Pequity started after the founders noticed the difficult economic situation that Egypt and the world were going through and people's confusion in finding ways to preserve what remains of their savings. With the absence of viable and safe investment opportunities, some turn to ways that expose them to theft or fraud, and at best, they turn to real estate or bank certificates that do not protect them from inflation to a great extent. At the same time, we find millions of small and medium-sized projects that achieve reasonable profits and have good opportunities for expansion if they have access to sufficient financial resources.

The truth is that there are many numbers indicating the existence of the problem, and talking about the enormous market size. For example, small and medium-sized projects represent about 98% of the Egyptian economy and 97% of the Algerian economy. These projects have very small capital and involve a limited number of individuals, such as cigarette kiosks on the street, bakeries, small carpentry workshops, and others.
In addition, the percentage of individual investors in the Egyptian stock market represents only 6% of the population, while it reaches 55% in the American stock market. If we look at the percentage of vacant houses/apartments, this reinforces the founders' hypothesis.

The founders started working on the Android application and marketed it through Facebook ads. They were able to reach a good initial model in a short time ready to be published on the Play Store. They decided to focus on Egypt, North Africa, and third world countries that have a high population density and an economic structure similar to Egypt so they could test the idea in different places at the same time. They provided the application with support for different languages that cover the group of countries they target, such as Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Urdu, and others.

Category: FinTech
Industry: Investment
Business Model:
Marketplace / Freemium
Date: Dec 2020 – Jun 2021
Company Status: Closed
Country: Egypt
Original Article:
Ahmed Abdelfattah
“Co-Founder”
+8 years of experience in Embedded Software Engineering and Product Ownership.
Yasser Fathy
“Co-Founder”
+8 years of experience in Embedded Systems Engineering and Software Engineering.
Challenges and issues that led to the closure of the company:
Product market fit

When they uploaded the application to the Google Play store and ran limited ads on Google and Facebook at a cost of less than a thousand dollars, they were able to reach over a thousand downloads for the application and 400 new user registrations. They noticed a great deal of interest from Middle Eastern countries, particularly North Africa, but they did not achieve sufficient growth in their own database, where the most important indicator for them was the number of companies registered on the app looking for funding or purchasing for their projects.

The founders began working on different approaches, such as conducting surveys on Facebook or hiring a specialist employee to communicate directly with interested business owners. They also communicated with the many messages that reached them, whether through the phone or Facebook. However, the volume of responses after communicating with message owners was weak and not sufficient to help them apply to any startup accelerator programs. A strong weakness was that they could not identify a large number of users in the application file when they applied for several programs, which led to rejection from some programs. Due to the founders' primary job and the Piquity adventure starting after their primary job hours, the energy and enthusiasm gradually decreased with the low market reaction. Over time, they began to abandon different application attempts.

Lessons learned:

  • One of the most important lessons is the necessity of working on bootstrapping, as long as you are able to execute all the required tasks to launch your own project. Statistics show that 99% of new projects and ideas fail, so the best option is to invest your efforts and time instead of risking your own or someone else's money. You are also the most passionate about your idea, so you will work hard to achieve the highest possible quality.

  • The lack of strong relationships in the field of entrepreneurship and fintech was one of the factors that affected the founders. If they had a strong network of relationships in this field, it would have had a significant impact on their success. Therefore, they tried to join various entrepreneurship programs, and one of the founders joined a grant for entrepreneurship in this field. However, the market judgment is the ultimate truth, and the market did not respond to their idea in the way they presented it.

  • Among the other problems the founder saw that they would face if there was a strong reaction was the lack of a clear strategy for profit. They focused primarily on gathering as many users as possible, but they did not think about putting a specific profit model in place. They had a preliminary idea of applying the freemium business model as a profit model, but without any details about the implementation strategy.

In conclusion, the experience was very enjoyable for the founders, and they touched on many aspects of the project. This is completely different from working in a company where the nature of the work is more specialized in a specific aspect. They hope to be able to repeat the experience in another field with a new idea, and perhaps achieve sufficient success in future experiments and see a more positive reaction and more communication with a larger number of interested parties.

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