Hussein Hallak on March 4th

March 05, 2019 11:51 By Aaron

Bet on Everyone

On March 4th, Alberta Innovates hosted Hussein Hallak, part of the ongoing Alberta Innovation Network meetups this week. Hussein talked about How to Build an Entrepreneur Ecosystem. As a serial entrepreneur and Evangelist at Vancouver's Launch Academy (one of North America's leading tech incubators), Hussein is well-qualified to speak on this topic.

Launch Academy was started by entrepreneurs who wanted to help each other succeed. They receive no government funding and do not coddle entrepreneurs. In fact, Hussein will only mentor individuals who have read a specific set of books and demonstrated that they are worthy of his help. He believes in educating entrepreneurs first and foremost (hence the books), and once they have a foundation of knowledge, will take them on as mentees.

Which books? A few that Hussein mentioned during his talk included:
  • The Lean Startup
  • Running Lean
  • Traction
  • Angel
  • Crossing the Chasm
  • Start with Why
  • Great by Choice
  • Pitch Anything
  • Stealing Fire

Hussein Hallak

Hussein Hallak is a serial entrepreneur and startup founder with over 25 years of experience during which time he has developed more than 20 startups and trained thousands of entrepreneurs. 

Hussein currently serves as the CEO and Founder of Next Decentrum and as Evangelist at Launch Academy, one of North America’s leading tech incubators with over 600 tech startups incubated and over $150 Million raised.

Hussein also created Intro to Blockchain, The Blockchain Course, Blockchain Business Fundamentals, Make the LEAP, The Startup Course, and the Lean Entrepreneur Acceleration Program.

Passionate about tech, lean, startups, design thinking, impact, blockchain and decentralized innovation. He lives to inspire entrepreneurship and unleash breakthrough innovation through connection, collaboration, and community. He is a graduate of the Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme and has his B.Sc. in Electronics Engineering. Hussein has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Roundhouse Radio, and Notable. 

How do you build an Entrepreneur Ecosystem? Bet on Everyone

Before talking about how to support entrepreneurs, Hussein started with a couple of definitions:

What is an Entrepreneur?

To Hussein, an entrepreneur is anyone who does anything and everything to go from idea to action. This does not need to be restricted to business, nor to technology. 

What is a startup?

To Hussein, a startup is a series of experiments in search of a repeatable, scalable business model. 

To support Entrepreneurs who are at the Startup Stage, people need the right Information, proven Frameworks, and established Tools. In his view, support services need to assist entrepreneurs in creating successful high-value companies by:
  • Helping Everyone (once they earn it); and
  • Let People Build Unicorns (something your ecosystem has never seen before, not "the next Facebook" or Microsoft or Google)

Hussein believes this because ideas are abundant, and you never know which will succeed. Like working as a saleperson, having more leads and creating more contacts will eventually lead to more closed sales. It is incredibly difficult to predict which sales will come through. There must be more entrepreneurs in the funnel, and we need people with all roles, backgrounds, skillsets, and experiences. The support organizations need to educate everyone, then mentor those who finish the curriculum (once they've earned the time of the mentors - who must be subject matter experts with significant relevant experience). Mentors must be willing and able to help entrepreneurs solve specific problems within their areas of expertise. 

The common theme, which Hussein said repeatedly was:

"Bet on Everyone"

Since entrepreneurial skills are in fact life skills, it is important to train each and every person that comes through the door. BUT we mustn't offer anything for free, entrepreneurs need to invest in themselves before support organizations and mentors can invest in them. This is because anyone can come up with an idea, but not everyone hustles, most don't want to talk to customers and build a reasonable SOLUTION to the real PROBLEM that the customer is facing. Nothing happens without action and resources should not be dedicated to those who do not put the effort in. Hussein mentioned that he didn't think any government funding should be available to entrepreneurs until they received an education and proven that the entrepreneur is willing to put in the effort. 

The final takeaway? Canadians suck at telling people stories of their success. In fact, Hussein has observed that Canadians:
  • Suck at Marketing;
  • Are far too Humble; and
  • Are hard workers but do not take the time to network.

After the talk, Hussein answered questions one-on-one and talked at great length about the need to build a community first. Entrepreneurs need to come together to help each other find success, build strong networks, and generally get out of their offices (and their heads). By getting out, you create the opportunity and space to make serendipitous connections! This message will not come as a surprise to any members of the Rainforest, in fact this is exactly what the Rainforest exists to do!