Yasmine ElMehairy

If you are a founder with a recent exit or successful fundraise, and you’d like to publish lessons learned on Times of Entrepreneurship, reach out to Elizabeth.macbride5@gmail.com.

SuperMama, the biggest Arabic language parenting portal has made its exit! I won’t take credit for that, it was my co-founder Zeinab Samir who made it happen over the course of 2019. I want to talk about the journey of the amazing SuperMama, a company that we have built over the years, and share what I learned for other entrepreneurs.

I co-founded SuperMama in Cairo, Egypt along with Zeinab in 2010 , launched it in 2011, led it until Q1 2016 then sat on its board until it was acquired by the regional content giant Mawdoo3 in late 2019.

SuperMama has been special ever since the day it was born; a company that won hearts of so many we spoke to and won a several startup competitions locally & internationally.

We’ve been incubated in Startupbootcamp Copenhagen, the coolest Startup accelerator; a learning and growing experience I will never forget.

We’ve raised two rounds of funding from strategic investors across the years. (Editor’s note: the investors along the way were MBC Ventures, MENA Venture Investments and Wamda Capital, according to Pitchbook. Wamda merged with MENA Ventures and sold its shares to Equitrust a few years ago, according to ElMehairy).

We’ve signed one of the best media representation agreement to help us sell online ads and sponsorships, so we got to work with clients including Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, Henkel, and Proctor & Gamble. Our media rep is DMS- Choueiri Group. 

We grew from two cofounders to a team of more than 20 talents with a pool of about 50 amazing freelancers for both written and video content.

We’ve helped millions of mothers all over the Arab world, with our traffic reaching over 5.5 million monthly!

As the face of SuperMama I’ve been featured in media including NYTimes, BBC, CNN, and Forbes, been on TV a few times, and written about in two international books, Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East by Christopher M. Schroeder and Arab Women Rising – Knowledge@Wharton Network by Nafeesa Syeed and Rahilla Zafar.

My story was used as a case study by INJAZ Egypt | إنجاز مصر and TIEC. I’ve been a speaker and a panelist in several conferences and told SuperMama’s story to the world.

Now this all sounds glorious, right? It is! And I am very grateful for everything and thanking Allah every day. But that’s not the point. The point is in the journey and the learnings. And here are seven things I have to share with you:

1. It is never easy! Ever! It has always been hard work; different types of hard work at different stages, but always hard work. Be it fighting against the current to build a company, struggling with numbers to raise funding or to keep the key performance indicators under control, managing the cashflow and the P&L, knocking doors and pitching your heart out to do sales and get clients, learning and trying and failing and starting all over again, managing and growing a team and growing our user base. Even when I stepped down as CEO, I still had to fight for the future of the company in our board meetings which was a completely different ballgame. Trust me, it was never easy!

2. No one does it alone! It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a team to build a company. Talented staff that believe in the vision, mentors that believe in your capabilities, clients that believe in your product, and a support system (family and friends) who believe in you personally.

3. Cash is king, and yes, cashflow is (almost) as important as your mother. What’s the point of running a great company that everyone is talking about if you don’t have enough cash to pay your suppliers, team and most importantly yourself!

4. Valuation is of no significance what-so-ever. It goes up and down and swings sideways depends on which side of the table you’re on. What really matters is revenue and income. Are you making money? If not, well, reconsider your business model.

5. Be very careful with your contracts; from client agreements to shareholders agreements. Know them by heart! There will be trouble at some point, you need to know your rights and responsibilities in order to have visibility of what to do and how to act.

6. Watch your energy level and your health. Doers don’t calm down until its done, and in startups, it’s never done. Be careful not to reach burn out. Once you’re burnt out, you’re no use to anyone.

7. The journey is exhausting yet exhilarating, depleting yet rewarding and by all means addictive. It’s a crazy rollercoaster ride, so enjoy responsibly and learn to pace yourself.

What’s next, you may ask?

Well, the team moves to Mawdoo3 to continue growing SuperMama out of Cairo. And, Zeinab will still run SuperMama as part of Mawdoo3.

I will continue growing Coushies (my second startup, if you haven’t heard – but one I’m not speaking too much about yet) until its exit. Yes, exits become addictive once you try them. And I will also look for other brilliant ideas and crazier challenges!

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.