Opinion: Expectations vs Reality – what it’s really like to be a startup founder

Eman Al Koshairy is the co-founder of AlMakinah, a programming bootcamp that enables people to become software developers. She co-founded the bootcamp with Bahia El Sharkawy in 2015 and has been able to turn it into a tech hub that now connects people wanting to learn with those who are interested to share their knowledge. AlMakinah also helps companies and startups hire tech talent. 

They’ve run a Full Stack Web Development Bootcamp, FireUp, twice, an intense 13 weeks full time program that graduates junior full stack developers. FireUp has graduated over 30 students and helped them land jobs at tech companies and startups like Robusta, Elves, MoneyFellows and Mumm to name a few.

Eman recently shared her thoughts about how there’s a big gap in expectations and reality of founding a startup. Starting your own company may sound like a fancy idea but reality is far from that. Founders end up doing things that they may have never thought of. 

The article does not cover a lot of details but should give you some idea about why starting a company is about a lot more than just following your passion. 


Let’s build something we love, and fulfill our passion and spend our time doing what we love and create amazing stuff.


The job included tasks that we did not think we were signing up for:

  • We pay the bills
  • We spend hours at the bank
  • We get toilet paper, milk, sugar and coffee.
  • We go to bulk wholesale grocery stores, stationary stores to buy things at lower costs.
  • We ask for tax invoices and go back to collect them for any purchase we make.
  • We cleaned the office ourselves before the first day of work.
  • We handle drama and problems of the “bawab”, “menadi”, neighbors and office keeper.
  • We do paper work, lots of paper work.
  • We call the plumber to fix the stench in the bathroom.
  • We get a technician to fix the water heater after the plumber ‘fixed’ the stench.
  • We have the lawyer on speed dial.
  • We water the office plants.
  • We failed 3 of our office plants.
  • We make lots of cold calls.
  • We fill sheets, lots of sheets of expenses, financial projections and profit and loss.
  • We answer emails, lots of emails.
  • We create Pitch decks, presentations of all sorts and formats.
  • We attend lots of meetings.
  • We answer Facebook, random phone calls, and even unannounced walk-ins.
  • We pull off all-nighters.
  • We learned lots of legal jargon … and we understand them and abide by it.
  • We are the “HR Department”, ” The Legal Department”, “The Finance Department”, “The PR”, “The Marketing”, “The Sales”, “The Business Developer”, “The Operations and Procurement”, ” The Team Counsellor”, “The Office Clown”, “The Master of None”.

We also had to experience things that were way beyond our expectations:

  • We have to deal with rejection A LOT
  • We get disappointed almost on a daily basis
  • We get let down by a lot of people
  • We also unintentionally let people down.
  • We get to see many people leave.
  • We have to listen to every person’s opinion about how they have our business all figured out!
  • We forgot where and how our comfort zone looked like.

However, we keep going because along the way:

  • We got to create something, actually have something that did not exist before … exist.
  • We get to create a home for people who shared our vision and passion.
  • We open doors to opportunities and limitless possibilities.
  • We have stretched the limits of ourselves beyond comprehension.
  • We have made new friends.
  • We get to serve our mission.

In Short,

“It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, it’s compromise that moves us along.“

Eman Al Koshairy
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