Ask Christopher Schroeder
This article is written by Jeremiah Uke, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.
Christopher Schroeder is an American entrepreneur, advisor and investor.
He is the author of the recent bestseller, and the first book on startups in the Arab World, Startup Rising — The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East
Christopher Schroeder’s book “Startup Rising — The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East” gave people in developed economies a much crystal clear sense of events in the Middle East, and then the fear of missing out on what is going on in the region became prominent for many investors and other parties, during his session at Startup Istanbul 2015, he was interviewed by Ozan Sonmez, founder of Growth Circuit and investor, questions and answers from the session are below:
Can you talk about how the book idea came and what happened afterwards?
I was an internet entrepreneur before I was an entrepreneur, I built all the online businesses with a great team at Washingtonpost.newsweek and I was in the publishing business overall, so I have been exposed to many parts of the world because we are a global operation, I have travelled to over 40 countries. I broke off from Washington Post to co-found a company called Healthcentre.com, which became a very large platform for online health and wellness. In all the companies that I ran, I always outsourced technologies to every emerging growth market that you see, so it was absolutely clear to me what would happen when there is universal access to technology anywhere in the world, I saw it everywhere, in the west, you see one thing about the Middle East and Africa. It was in 2010, that two people put money together to create the amazing gathering called “Celebration of Entrepreneurship” and really dragged me there because it was not relevant to my business and I was intrigued about what was happening, and in many respects I viewed my world as before and after that event because there were 2500-3000 young people, nobody wanted to talk about Israel or Obama’s speech, they were all building amazing things of amazing calibre, I was so impressed with what I saw that I extended my trip and went to Egypt and Jordan, where I saw hundreds of young people doing the same thing and I was hooked.
What do you think is the role of technology and social media in making the eye of the spring?
I think we are in the midst of something a friend of mine calls a participation revolution, when I wrote the book, very often people especially in the United states would say “this came because of the Arab uprisings”, but what I think that they miss is when you have universal access to technology, and you can see everyone and how they are behaving, and you can see people like you doing things you want to do, and you can have an unfiltered dialogue with people, you want to have a political and societal voice and talk about the different concepts in society. The unleashing of this technology has allowed this to happen not just in the Middle East but through the entire world, which is why the next 10 years will be significantly different than the last 10 years.