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A Deep Dive Into Egyptian Tech Startup Instabug's Recent Retreat To Nepal

Omar Gabr, Instabug’s CEO, tells us how the startup’s annual retreats have helped boost their growth.

Egypt’s bug-reporting startup, Instabug, has made it a tradition to shut down their entire office, snap their laptops shut, and pack their bags to set off on a much-needed retreat to both take a well-deserved break and build a stronger team. Last year, they travelled to Beirut and had a blast. This year, the Middle East’s next unicorn went bungee jumping Nepal.

We believe that we still have a long way to go to become a unicorn,” Instabug’s CEO and Founder Omar Gabr tells Startup Scene. “We're taking small yet consistent steps towards our goals. We believe that getting too confident can break a business, which is why we like to focus on the big picture while celebrating the smaller achievements along the way.”

Startup Scene: How did the Beirut trip affect the team's productivity in 2018?

Omar Gabr: It was a well-deserved break. After the Beirut trip, the team was ready to hit the ground running when it came to working and advancing Instabug. It was a boost of energy that everyone needed. But honestly, it's not just about productivity, we're building a company and we want to enjoy while doing so. It's the memories we create as a team and getting to know one another out of work, and enjoy our time together.

SS: And how was Nepal different in terms of team building?

OG: Nepal was different as the number of team members had doubled this time around. We wanted to head to a location that was uncommon and would pleasantly surprise our team. Each #BugSquad member got to mix and match between optional activities, so some of us got to have an extremely action-packed week of bungee jumping, canyoning, hiking, paragliding, ziplining, ...etc., while some of us chose to just chill and go with the flow, and others were in between.

SS: Year-over-year progress in terms of performance, customer satisfaction, revenue?

OG: When Cairo Scene first interviewed us in 2015, we had 25 million end-users and exactly a year ago we had 1 billion end-users, that's a 3,900 percent growth in two years. Today we have 1.5 billion end-users which is a 50 percent growth from last year. This is literally 20 percent of the entire world's population, and we're still working on the remaining 80 percent.

Also earlier in the year, we launched our new product "Surveys and Feature Requests" targeting product managers and it got ProductHunt's product of the day award.

SS: What were the challenges that you overcame in 2018?

OG: Over the years, we have definitely faced some challenges, had our fair shares of ups and downs, but we do learn from these challenges and they definitely help us grow. This pretty much applies in everything that we do all around the company where our processes have definitely evolved and improved over time with the growth of the team. Everything from the development lifecycle and adapting the agile and squads methodologies on the product side to our marketing approaches, users management and recruitment process on the business side. We always strive to continuously grow and improve in every aspect towards reaching our goal of becoming a unicorn and we believe that with every new #BugSquad member, we get one step closer to this goal.

S: What were the mishaps that happened last year in Beirut?

OG: Nothing major to be honest. Maybe the only glitch that plane got delayed for a few hours, which actually ended up being fun because we had the whole airport to ourselves.

SS: How did you avoid them in Nepal?

OG: As the team had doubled in size, we wanted to make sure that we did it right with a proper schedule and better organisation. That's why we picked Gazef (another Egyptian travel startup) as a travel partner so that instead of handling everything ourselves in terms of the itinerary, accommodations, transportation, travel visas, and everything else related to planning and logistics, we decided to rely on the help of professionals.

SS: Shutting down the entire company and going on vacation seems like a crazy idea to many startups. What was the main motivation and why is this worth the investment - money and time?

OG: Team Bonding; team members interact with others who they have never talked to before, even though we've been in the same office together for a year. Motivation; once the retreat is over, we come back to the office energised and excited to collaborate and tackle new challenges together. Break the Routine; travelling helps break the daily routine that people get accustomed to and fosters creativity by giving us a fresh outlook. Break out of the comfort zone; the retreat exposes the team's hidden talents, allowing us to discover new things about each other and even about ourselves.

SS: What would you advise other startups who are struggling with team building?

OG: The smallest activities that help you break the everyday routine of the working day will help with team building. It doesn't have to be as extreme as going to another continent, just breaking out of the office for a day and do something unconventional and you'd be surprised with the results. Organising a retreat is hectic and tiring but it will definitely be all worth it when you see your team being revitalised and brought closer together.

Photo and video credits: Instabug


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