02 Feb 2016
VaTel: How The Technology Chef from Benha sees power in the suburbs, niches and custom-made.
Vatel, The French chef brought from the slums of Paris to rescue the kingdom from political and economic collapse, the right ingredients, the right amounts, the right sequence and the courage to try new forms is what made Vatel an outstanding cook.
By the time he was a first year Engineering student, the 128kbps DSL subscription in his city of Benha did cost a soaring 1250 EGP per month and 1 hour of internet usage at a local internet cafe would cost a full 8 EGP making it very difficult for him and fellow students to access the internet.
The loss of all his carefully structured data in a local hard-drive brought him into a network recovery tool and stroke his first entrepreneurial quality, the ability to exert time in learning and consume days in reading until he knows how to stuff really works.
In a few days, he realized he acquired lots of knowledge in setting up networks and controlling them and while still being at his second year at school, he wanted to become a local DSL provider for the undeserved Qaliobeya governorate (Main cities: Benha and Menoufeia), which are suffering from soaring prices and bad quality.
The family of the second year Engineering student was seriously concerned as he signs Credit Notes worth 60,000 EGP he decided to raise to setup the first local DSL provider in his governorate and he did.
His courageous step provided the undeserved community with quality internet connection in competitive prices, he gives himself credit for inventing the “Wasla” — extending Ethernet cables between buildings to build a local area network sharing a single DSL subscription.
His business went very well and in less than a year, he reached a peak of 3000 subscribers and build a massive network in Benha and Menoufia that he decided not only to settle for sharing the internet but use is as a platform to offer more services as well.
The need to operate as a platform formed him to study more on throttling and controlling a network, he customized hardware and software programs to match the unusual very specific needs of the local network he created.
As the market matures and major DSL providers consider competing in the market and cut off his startup’s access to service, the market in Benha was too small for his ambition, it was time to move to Cairo.
With the experience, stories and disappointments, he arrives in Cairo with the ambition to leave his mark, VoIP (Voice over IP) was just starting to gain feet in the corporate market and with the experience building the network control framework the chef was ready for business.
Based on an open source software, VaTel managed to build a custom 5,000 objects framework on top of the software to further control VoIP networks and use it in creating specific business applications for different sectors.
Since then, he expanded his VoIP network design, installation and service business in different sectors creating very specific business applications for the e-Trading, Transportation and Call Center industries.
As the business needs of the Call Center gets more specific and his clients decide to invest more in the software to optimize the performance in a challenging and competitive industry, VaTel built a very comprehensive framework for managing call center operations.
As he enjoys his success and think about what’s next, the local entrepreneur yearns to give back to his community in Benha, with a program from ITIDA, Mena decided to venture into building the first MEGA Call Center in Benha, he thinks that the location would be very competitive to find and retain talent.
As the decision is made, Mena started the journey to setup Benha’s first MEGA Call Center employing 700 local agents, relying on the advanced experience managing call center operations and human resources and performance.
Phase one of the Call Center employs 200 agents and requires a capital of 5 Million EGP. Relying on an ITIDA support program, Mena headed to the bank for a 3,500,000 EGP loan that he managed to gain approval for in 2014.
Mena is currently raising a final 1 Million EGP to complete the capital necessary to setup the phase one of the Benha call center project, employing 200 if his experience taught him something, it is that working in the suburbs and niches can turn out to be a very successful strategy, if it’s led by the right chef.
According to Porter’s Generic Strategies, what Mena thinks can be very true, choosing differentiation focus can be a winning strategy in Case of selecting the suburbs, niches and custom made.
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