• Casandra Lidel

Acceleration without a tech cofounder - Interview with Hesham Zreik CEO & Founder at Faster Capital

The Bridge is proud to present a ‘No Filter Talks’ interview where we explore together with Hesham Zreik CEO & Founder at Faster Capital how startups can benefit from joining their programs.

Faster Capital is an online incubator and accelerator that is supporting startups by offering technical, business, and investment services. They have multiple programs that cover a plethora of startup needs like technical development, business development, increasing sales, growing into new markets, matching with investors/mentors.

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your experience and FasterCapital?

In 2002, I started ZGroup Mobile, a developer and a publisher of mobile content and services with less than $20/month and grew it to reach a valuation of $2.5-$3.25 million in 2005 by Public company Incagold plc. In 2010, I have cofounded and started FasterCapital. We started with a model and we want it to be validated. We have worked with more than 30 entrepreneurs to validate the model over five years. The model has evolved over the years and we have reached many goals and milestone but our main goal is still the same; supporting innovative people start and grow their businesses even if they lack skillsets, resources, or funding.

2. FasterCapital has quite an interesting set of programs. From my experience, there are a lot of people who would like to start a tech startup but do not have the knowledge or know who is a good developer. It would be great to hear about FasterCapital’s Tech Cofounder program and how it addresses this issue.

Yes, thanks for the question. Actually, the Tech Cofounder program is the program that we have first started with. When FasterCapital was founded in 2010 technology had already become an essential part of any business. Many entrepreneurs who had no technical background started feeling out of place with the high standards and the competitive environment that the fast-paced development of the technology world.

The program is a very good option for founders who are looking for a technical cofounder, a CTO, or a full technical team. FasterCapital’s internal team handles software development, backend systems, cloud solutions, IT support and insights, UI and UX development, and other technical services. After assessing the costs of the technical development needed, we cover 50% of them and the founder will only have to secure the other 50% which is also an advantage for startups who are low on budget to find the technical team and execute technical development while securing 50% of the costs. FasterCapital gets equity shares in exchange for its services and investment.

After moving forward to providing sales, marketing, and funding services through our growth program, we have been solely focused on the Tech Cofounder program which enabled us to build our resources, team, and network strongly enough to provide high-quality services that we are proud of.

3. Covid19 has definitely changed many things around us. With people staying more at home, some losing their jobs, or just rethinking their career paths have you seen an increase in people requesting FasterCapital’s services in bringing an idea they have into a business, or just building a new company and looking for technical expertise. If so, in which verticals?

Sure, Covid19 has certainly had a big impact on the entrepreneurship world and on the mindsets and realities of the carriers of many people. We have witnessed an increase in HealthTech businesses joining FasterCapital. Lots of interesting FinTech startups too. We have also been joined by many innovative EdTech ideas and businesses.

Our launch of the Raise Capital program has been synchronized with the COVID19 crisis which also led to many businesses joining us due to the increased difficulty in finding investors after the pandemic.

4. What are the challenges and opportunities of running an online incubator?

Still being able to run your business even in times of a global pandemic is on top of my list! Since we manage our communication and operations online, we could move forward and work even during the pandemic.

Another point on the positive side would be the ability to connect with innovative and dedicated people from all around the globe. Being an online incubator and accelerator has enabled us to work with many entrepreneurs from different backgrounds, cultures, and markets.

On the other hand, these benefits can bring up some challenges along the way. There is the challenge of communication due to not being able to meet the team in person which might lead to delayed response rate and sometimes miscommunications.

We do our best to face these challenges with a positive attitude and to come up with the best and most effective solutions.

5. Working with so many startups and founders, what do you think that are the most common features that successful startups have? And also what are the most startups that fail have in common.

I think the number one factor for a successful business is the people. A successful team and a dedicated founder in most cases equal an eventually successful business. It might take time and it might be challenging but if you have the right people in the right places, you know you are going somewhere.

Another common feature among successful startups is their ability to adapt. A business plan that is more flexible and adaptive is definitely more likely to succeed. Adaptability is big for businesses in their early stages, the market changes, the customer change, the product might need to change, and as a founder you need to have an open mindset and a plan B in your pocket at all times.

Resources, network, the targeted market, execution, marketing, general economic situation within a market, luck, and many other factors will come into play for a startup to succeed or fail but it is always the founder’s choice whether to move forward or to give up.

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