At the Blue House, we don’t get why so many people promise us that we will “meet like-minded people”. Why would we want that? We already know way too many entrepreneurs who go to the same cafes as us, who hang out with the same friends, and who think just like we do.
What we really want is to meet entrepreneurs who will challenge us, who will open our minds, lead us to push our boundaries, and to leave our comfort zone. We want to discover people who think differently, and from whom you will learn.
It might sound a bit hippy but believe me it’s not. A few years ago, I was visiting Beirut and got into a conversation with a few Lebanese entrepreneurs at a party. Their vision of entrepreneurship changed mine to the point that I decided I wanted to move there. [I ended up being a tech reporter for Wamda who's behind the main media on Arab startups.]
I learned to be more ambitious. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are relatively small or have really young digital economies, so entrepreneurs have to think global from day one. They have to launch their product in western countries they don’t know necessary know or throughout the MENA region, a complex region with no common language (each country has its dialect, and some prefer using English or French over Arabic when online), no fair-trade agreement, no common currency, and different culture and consumption habits.
I learned to stop complaining about what’s not working, and to do what was needed. Lebanon has one of the worst internet connections in the world (read more on TNW), Algeria didn’t have 3G until recently (read more on Wamda), only 10% of the Egyptian population has a bank account, and failure is still a stigma. And yet, ecommerce is flourishing. How? Entrepreneurs have found solutions! People pay cash on delivery, websites are lighter than normal, etc.
I learned to stop worrying about the risks! Bombs, invasions, wars… Many Arab entrepreneurs know their city can be destroyed, their market shattered, and so they’ve learned to just live with it. What’s the worst that could happen? Start over?
Working with entrepreneurs from the Middle East taught me a lot, so imagine living and working with entrepreneurs from all around the world - From Africa, Europe, North America and even Asia? Imagine living for a month in a rural town of Morocco? Challenging your perception of hospitality, commerce and time?
We created the Blue House so that you will feel at home, and still feel like you’re discovering a whole new side of the world, and a whole new aspect of you.
We want you to live with people from different countries, and with different mindsets and skills; people who will help and challenge you, people who will bring a new perspective to your product; we want you to meet fellow entrepreneurs but also traveling surfers, fishermen, designers, yoga instructors…