Bringing the Younger Entrepreneurs Out!
Mayar Hossam, Arcadia
A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning….
This is what motivated Mayer Hossam _co-founder of Arcadia Entrepreneurship programs for kids_ and her partners to take their first steps towards that project, Arcadia….
How did the idea of Arcadia come about?
Arcadia is a city in southern Greece that was known to be heaven on earth. We therefore consider it our kingdom, one where entrepreneurship has no age. What we do is that we tailor entrepreneurship programs for school students aging 7-18 to implement an entrepreneurial mindset in them. We take them through a hands-on journey in which we show them the entire entrepreneurial process from coming up with an innovative business idea, up till the point where they validate their business with a prototype.
What sparked the idea?
We are 3 founders (Mayar Hossam, Hana Barakat & Yehia Basha) who all studied Management Technology in the German University in Cairo. In our first semester, during a course called Introduction to Management, our professor, Dr. Raghda El Ebrashi introduced us to a concept called “Entrepreneurship”. The word was foreign to us and kept ringing. We started to notice that there is no business education in schools, let alone a concept like starting up your own business. So, we decided to do something about it.
Where does your passion come from?
Our goal is not to create young entrepreneurs but rather to transfer the mentality of entrepreneurs to them. This includes problem solving, teamwork, financial literacy, creativity and many more skills.
Which of Arcadia projects you’re most proud of?
We have worked with entities like the German University in Cairo, KidZania, Manchester International School and have made a summer camp on our own called “The Galactic Battle” and a winter camp with Flourish foundation.
How did your project come to life?
We submitted the idea in Injaz Egypt’s Startup Competition in 2014 and worked on it with them till we reached the finals. Although we didn’t win, we decided to continue nevertheless; so we bootstrapped and self-funded, and started our journey. We got the help of mentors like Dr. Hala Hattab and Dr. Hadia Hamdy professors of entrepreneurship and innovation in the BUE and GUC. We also were a part of IMAGINE GUC’s cycle and we got coached by some of the finest mentors.
How did your project serve as a getaway from traditional occupations?
Working in Arcadia had and still is a very fun journey. We don’t do things regularly in our startup. We don’t work from 8 to 5 and we certainly wear loads of sweatpants to work. When we didn’t have an office, we used to work anywhere. We always bond over food and we always work loudly. There’s music everywhere when we are doing our job and we are more of a family than work mates. Whenever anyone leaves, they know they will always at heart be Arcadians. We have an organic structure and our titles range between King, Queen, Princess, Duke and Duchess. So you see; there’s nothing traditional whatsoever about our days in Arcadia 🙂
The dream you’re trying to achieve with Arcadia?
Our vision is to create an entrepreneurial hub for school students in which they get to truly find their passion in life, create the path they want and have the mindset that aids them throughout. We aim to see an impact in students we deal with and a difference in their minds and hearts after they leave the program.
Tell us more about the obstacles that met you and how did you survive them?
Our biggest obstacle was getting entities and parents to trust us with their kids. The other was sustaining ourselves financially until we start making profits. And finally learning how to turn some of the students’ ideas that seem unrealistic, infeasible and hard to do into ones that they can actually work on. Their creativity sees no boundaries and their minds see no obstacles and this is something we learned from them.
Piece of advice to those who wanna have their own getaway career!
It takes time, perseverance and passion. You can’t give up when challenges arise because this is what makes the journey worthwhile. Educate yourself and keep researching and learning even after starting. Know your customers and hear them out all the time. Your team is the most important thing in your startup, they can either make it or break it; so choose wisely who you have on board. Take action. There’s a thing called “paralysis by analysis” which is over analyzing or over thinking something to the point where no action is taken. For a business that is fatal. We live in a very dynamic environment and if you don’t do it someone else will beat you to it. Finally, have fun with what you do. The best thing about starting your own business is that it’s something you love and are passionate about, so let that be your drive.