2014-01-06

The Hypentrepreneur

For the past 3 to 5 years, all I hear has revolved around the buzz on how great it is to be an entrepreneur. Local and international publications have been blowing the horn of entrepreneurship loud enough to bring down the walls of Jericho.

Inside the mind of the Hypentrepreneur
Inside the mind of the Hypentrepreneur

The amount of buzz words related to this has grown so out of proportion that it induces immediate unpleasant physical side-effects when I hear any of them.

Here, try it yourself, repeat these words out-loud until you become lightheaded or nauseous:

Incubator, accelerator, seeding, investor, angel ,crowd-funding, gamification, freemium, IPO, Private Beta, Gen-Z...

not enough? Add some tech-jargon:

Framework, Bootstrap, CSS3, HTML5, jQuery, bootloader, jailbreak..





The Lebanese market has been taken by storm by what I lovingly refer to as Entrepreneurship Mongers who take the art of portraying a rosy picture of what this life offers to new limits. This however is not entirely by their own merit but quite possibly made easier by the following notorious native Lebanese character traits:


  1. Individualism: We are not, have never been, and never will be team players. The few successful collaborations by groups of Lebanese are just the exception that proves the rule. There's always a catch when something is happening too smoothly within a team or a business. The pumped-up form of the one-man-show would be the one-family-show. I won't even address how bad we function as a society.
  2. Easy Money: A common local proverb, used to portray how profit-oriented a person is, roughly translates to: "He would sell his own father"; Pay attention: not "betray"...literally "sell". Why? Because we are always seeking the proverbial quick-buck, the shortcut to making as much money right here, right now regardless of ethics or moral values.
  3. Over-inflated Ego : Not to be confused with point (1), this only complements it by means of attitude, show-off, fancy titles or use of pompous words. It also involves not returning calls or emails and posing with local celebrities even if you begged them to take a picture with you.
With the exponential rise in popularity of digital media and all the "shabang" that goes with it, it was only a matter of time before almost everybody you meet ended up wearing thick plastic-framed glasses, the tech equivalent of "bling", and calling themselves Geeks.

So, like Chef Antoine and Teta Latife would say in their cooking shows, let me repeat the ingredients:
Equal measures of ego, individualism and thirst for profit, well mixed with easily impressed young minds, bolstered by greed of sponsors/investors/Skimmers-on-the-side. Well stirred in an incubator or an accelerator and served chilled with a side dish of arrogance,

The perfect recipe for everybody's latest and trendiest cocktail: The Hypentrepreneur.

Some qualities of the Hypentrepreneur:
  • The Hypentrepreneur knows best!
  • The Hypentrepreneur does not need a job before going entrepreneurial, it's in their blood because they are...yes you guessed it...Lebanese.
  • The Hypentrepreneur only pretends to work at other companies because they are smarter than everybody there combined.
  • The Hypentrepreneur begs for freelance gigs as long as he or she needs the extra cash and drops the project half way through when funding comes through. (Or after they buy those Beats headphone they wanted so bad)
  • The Hypentrepreneur sucks up to the owners of the incubators or shared workspace facilities. It's not called sucking up, it's networking.
  • The Hypentrepreneur follows the rules of Doing Business in Lebanon but never admits it.
  • The Hypentrepreneur is always short on money but lives at home with the parents where breakfast is served in bed by a foreign domestic worker in the morning and where mom lays out nicely their outfit for hanging out at many of the overpriced night clubbing venues in the evening.

The Hypentrepreneur is like the thin crust of dirt that covers a beautiful piece of silverware and that needs that special cleaning liquid to be rubbed off. Once out of the way, you can admire the beautiful true craftsmanship done by many people for whom I have the utmost respect. To those people I reserve the right to be called entrepreneurs and to them I say carry on like I have repeatedly expressed in private conversations.

What our young tribal, confused society needs is more discipline, more streamlining (see I can use buzzwords too). By portraying to people (youngsters mostly) that having a regular paying job, a career of some sorts, in places where rules and systems are well set, we are simply setting ourselves up for a bigger disappointment.
Entrepreneurship is cool, when it works, for that tiny percentile! For everybody else, things won't come that easy and it will involve taking the long road to success and learning along the way to respect experience, value opinions, assume responsibility, accept consequences and emerge much more polished than that raw material you were when you thought your were an Entrepreneur.
So, for a change and for whatever my advice is worth: Get a life...Get a Job!