Forbes. Entrepreneurs can build a system from the ground up, says Taha Elraaid

There are certain things that we take for granted -- mobile phones, groceries, an address -- that aren’t readily available elsewhere. Which is why very few people have the experience of building systems like this from scratch.


Taha Elraaid is one of those people. In his home country of Libya, addresses didn’t exist until 2018. And his company got the job done with a new digital addressing system called Makani.


But how does one go about this? Taha shares how they started on this journey in his latest Forbes article:


We needed to know what the map of Libya looked like. Okay, no problem! Just use Google Maps, right? Satellite images from Google Maps had some detail, but not enough.


Where you’re from, you might see a Google Maps employee driving around taking pictures.


Libyan citizens, on the other hand, occasionally see employees from Lamah driving around neighborhoods and taking notes of every building in the area.


Since the data set from Google Maps was incomplete, we had to build our own. Combined with our own sourced satellite images, we started forming a detailed picture of Libya that previously didn’t exist.


We can look ahead and predict what the customer might want from a service or product. But iterating without a solid foundation can be messy.


Taha explains how entrepreneurs can successfully take their product or service to the next level:

Facebook didn’t start as a place for people to sell products, promote businesses and advertise. It started as a social platform and grew in response to needs. Amazon started as an online bookstore, and once Bezos realized how valuable the system was, he grew it.


You can’t build a tower without a solid foundation. Likewise, you can’t grow a company without a reliable base infrastructure. Then when it comes to innovation, it’s helpful to think less about the corporate side of things and more about the experience.


Test out the product or service as a consumer. What’s the ultimate benefit you want to deliver?


The final hurdle to overcome? Marketing. How do you introduce a brand new system or product, and all the unfamiliar benefits it holds, to consumers?


You can tell someone that this shampoo will make their hair grow, but it’s much more convincing to give them the shampoo and let the results play out.


Whether it’s a group of friends or a market research group, the best way to demonstrate the value of your offering is to, well, demonstrate it.


For my company, the only bright side of the pandemic was that it organically demonstrated the value of an address.


With people being at home more, they needed deliveries, services, all based around their address. We were able to show new customers in real time the value of an address and how life-changing it could be.


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