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Interview With Entrepreneur Ziad Boutros Tannous Of Start-Ups.Co On Crowdfunding And Starting Up In the UAE



While the KillerStartups team would love nothing more than for all of the internet entrepreneurs we spotlight to see referee debacle-Twitteresque traffic immediately after our coverage, we understand that it takes multiple supporters to build the NFL-sized fan base that will change the game. Startups need all the attention and help they can manage. If you’re not familiar with Start-Ups.Co already, please take a look at this technology blog from the United Arab Emirates. We had the good fortune to chat with founder Ziad Boutros Tannous and learn more about our fellow internet entrepreneur advocate.


How’d you come up with the name for your company?

Well my blog features daily web 2.0 and internet technology start-up news, reviews, and interviews. So Start-Ups.Co made perfect sense–reflecting on the target audience and content I am tackling on my blog.


What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?

Check my emails, respond to them, and schedule a timeline for submitted start-ups to be published on my blog.


How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?

I am the sole founder of Start-Ups.Co. My blog is based on user generated content, so I am able for the time being to manage it, maintain it, and update it by myself.





Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describes the struggle you went through?

I am neither a developer nor a designer, so I faced some difficulty at first in terms of building Start-Ups.Co to meet my expectations, however, since I am very familiar with WordPress CMS, I finally managed to put it all together. Also approaching start-ups to be featured was a daunting task at first, but once my blog started to pick up in terms of quality and relevancy of content, my blog gained considerable traffic. Start-ups started to approach me themselves to be featured.





How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?

I usually take a short break, calm down a bit, and get back to work with a refreshed spirit–and with motivation to solve whatever pending issues need to be addressed.


What’s your office environment like?

I am a one man show, so I work from home.


How do you picture your company in 5 years?

Well I would like for Start-Ups.Co to become an authority blog that people from all around the globe can refer to for everything related to web 2.0 and internet start-ups.


Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?

What really inspires me is seeing young entrepreneurs becoming founders of very successful, innovative, creative, and world-class start-ups. To name a few: Andrew Mason (founder of Groupon), Ben Silbermann (co-founder of Pinterest), Matt Mickiewicz (founder of 99designs), Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowski (co-founders of Dropbox), Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (co-founders of Instagram), Matthew Corrin (founder of Freshii), Jason Baptiste and Andres Barreto (co-founders of Onswipe).


How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded?

For the time being, it is self-funded in terms of paying for operational cost such as hosting, plugins, etc. However, I would love to discuss partnerships with potential angel investors and venture capitalists to take my blog to the next level. Crowd-funding is a viable option as well down the road.


Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?

Entrepreneurs need to have enough will and determination to go on till the end. Whatever obstacles and barriers they might face along the way, nothing should stop them from realizing their dream business idea or concept. They can reach out to the sky if they put enough passion and commitment into whatever they plan on doing.




What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500, 000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?

Well building the next big crowd-funding platform has been a passion of mine for quite a while now. So if I had this sort of money at my disposal, I would certainly would like to build the next KickStarter or Indiegogo; however, it would be targeted towards the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), because this is where I am based and it is still a very untapped market for this revolutionary idea to be implemented.





Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?

It is still too early to call myself a successful entrepreneur. Once whatever business I am running becomes sustainable and profitable, only then I believe I would consider myself successful.


Website you couldn’t live without and why? The crowd-funding business model is not only profitable and sustainable on the long term, not only restricted to monetary gain, it goes way beyond that–literally empowering the world by stimulating and boosting the entrepreneurial spirit and the creative, artistic and innovative minds of our community. Crowd-funding uses the power of the crowd to make entrepreneurs’ dream ideas and projects tangible reality.


Mobile App you’re in love with and why?

AppAdvice: I am an Apple fan, and this mobile app literally covers all news and reviews related to iPhone and iPad, and it features a plethora of daily, cool apps.


Dogs or cats?

Dogs; they are more loyal and man’s best friends.


iOS or Android?

iOS; for its user friendliness, intuitive UI, rich features, and the plethora of cool and useful apps available at your fingertips.


What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?

Discerning knowledge and raising awareness about the latest cool web 2.0 and internet technology start-ups and their founders.


Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?

My Facebook or my Twitter page.


Any other projects you’re working on that we should check out?

Yes, I am the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of; a subsidiary of Dependent Lifestyle FZ LLC; a group buying deals website based in Dubai, catering to all 7 Emirates of the UAE.


Photo Credits

Courtesy of startup founder | Start-Ups.Co

Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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