Do it your way, Facebook co-founder tells Saudi entrepreneurs
Saudi startups need not follow European or U.S. approaches, Chris Hughes tells the Jeddah Economic Forum
Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes on Thursday urged the youth of Saudi Arabia not to follow European and American models while launching businesses, but to keep their own distinctive identity.
“Saudi Arabia has its own culture and traditions, just as every other country,” said Hughes in an address to the 2014 Jeddah Economic Forum.
“What is applicable in the U.S. or Europe might not be applicable here because every society has its own characteristics.”
Hughes also advised young Saudi entrepreneurs to think small when launching their own businesses.
“Try to start small projects which does not need big funding, particularly those which could serve the large organizations, so you become a key part of the whole economic chain,” he said in his keynote speech entitled Global Entrepreneurship in Action.
“This will guarantee your product marketing because large companies need small businesses to support it and the whole economic operation will help create lot of non-traditional job opportunities,” he added.
The Facebook co-founder stressed the importance of technological advances and small businesses in long term growth.
“I have seen so much development in technology and electronic services during this visit. That is why I would advise young Saudis to contribute to technological developments and make use of government facilities by setting up businesses that support this domain."
Despite his own financial success, Hughes reminded the audience that creativity is more important than money.
“Money alone does not make projects… thought is what makes them, while money only helps them take off.”
As one of Facebook’s first employees, Hughes made a reported $600 million in the 2012 initial public offering of the social-media site, despite having left its staff in 2007.
After leaving Facebook, Hughes went on to help coordinate Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, and later bought the 100-year-old magazine The New Republic, where he currently serves as publisher and editor-in-chief.
The Jeddah Economic Forum closes today. Other keynote speakers included: Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, and Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia.