We spoke to designer and manager, Bader Kamal, to get an inside look into Bahrain’s premier independent digital publication for startups and entrepreneurship.
When was StartUp Bahrain founded?
StartUp Bahrain was founded in March of 2013. At the time, Bahrain was just starting to build its startup ecosystem and putting all the pieces together. Financial institutions started offering financing to small businesses, workshops, boot camps and mini-accelerator initiatives. Tamkeen played a big role in shaping that ecosystem with all their programs for small businesses.
What is your aim exactly?
At the time, there was no medium to communicate all that was happening to those that were interested. Nobody was effectively communicating success stories to inspire more people to pursue the path of entrepreneurship. StartUp Bahrain aimed to do just that and more. We share success stories from Bahrain and the region to inspire more people to pursue this path. We also aim to spread awareness about the events and programs within this ecosystem.
One of my favorite sections is the StartUp Opinions section. Can you tell us a little about this? What kind of questions do you try to put out every month?
StartUp Opinions is also one of our favorite sections. People love being heard, but also love to hear what others have to say. Forming an opinion can be cumbersome, however reading what a friend has to say about something and being on the same page can sometimes be more convenient. There’s a lot that’s happening and we wanted to know what people really think, in more than 140 characters or a simple image. We wanted something with a little more depth. Our questions are generally focused on what we believe are heated discussions happening in Bahrain or in our circles around that time.
You’ve mentioned in a previous interview that you’re reader-focused and your advertisements and sponsors are thoroughly filtered. How is that working for you?
People love what we’re doing in that regard. We always get comments that make us want to continue with it. People don’t like advertising, simple as that, and we don’t either. We aim to make our sponsored content as relevant as possible to our target audience. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel in any way. In the same way that you’d find a car ad in a car magazine, we have Tamkeen ads in our publication along with sponsored content from financial institutions that provide financing to small and medium enterprises.
The magazine is very interactive. What are the main features of the magazine and which according to you are the most important?
Interactivity played a big part in making StartUp Bahrain unique and attractive to our readers. Our readers happen to spend a lot of time online swiping, tapping, and pinching all day long. Why shouldn’t they expect to do the same for content they are interested to experience? The fact that you can easily scroll through what you are reading, tap what you want to know more about, or interact with it, you are experiencing great changes in the way you interact with content.
So why digital? Why not a print magazine? Do you believe that print media is dying? Do you think that digital interactive magazines are the future?
Digital is the future. More people spend their time online than anywhere else. The print industry is definitely dying. It’ll take some time, but it’s on the way to playing a much smaller role in the industry. We decided to go digital for a number of reasons, one of which is that getting into print is costly. If I can reach my audience digitally without the overhead of an old system, why not? Interactive magazines and digital publications, on an app or on the internet, is definitely the future.
What is StartUp’s personal advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
We’ve spoken to more entrepreneurs than most people and one of the things they all tell us is to have passion and never give up. We fully agree. We think that people need to have a passion in not giving up until something works. Take a break from time to time, but move forward and build again, until what you build works. No one gets it right from the first try; it takes time.