foss enterpreneurship

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FOSS Entrepreneurship and Business

By: Ahmed Mekkawy AKA linuxawyFounder | CTO Spirula Systems

[email protected]


Free Open Source Software

Free Software is a philosophical idea, a social movement, based on consumers rights

Open Source software is a practical development methodology, looking from the developers perspective

Philosophy vs. Practicality? why not both?


Who's an entrepreneur?

Let me tell you a secret, I'm considered an entrepreneur and I'm not sure what it is, I even miss-spell it all the time.

Entrepreneur creates a startup company, so what is a startup company?

Startup Company

Great idea ( or so it seems ).

Low fund.

Small team with high ownership.

Unstable, quick changes.

Having fun.

Non-experienced team, lots of mistakes.

High learning curve.

Who Can Do That?

Creative and smart.

Able to realize his idea.

Workaholic? not a must, but a hard worker.

Hunger to success.

Positive and optimistic.

Accepts challenges, and accepts failures as well.

Company Output



(Infrastructure|platform|software) as a service.

How To Get Funded?

First, when will you need to get funded?

Stages of funding: 3F, seed, angel, VC.

Exit strategies: IPO, sell to a big fish, no exit.

What to prepare to get fundedIdea, idea, idea

Core team

Business Plan

Lots of caffeine

Everything that could cheer you up

Bad Practice - Business

It seems great, people will like it. But I'm not sure how to make money from it twitter style

It exists all around, and generates profit, so I'm guaranteed to win supermarket style

It's already made 100 times, that's why it's not gonna fail this time el kabda el dameya style

I don't have an idea, but I'm passionate about having my own startup, so I'll search for anything that seems promising no style

Unethical Behavior - FOSS

Capitalize the community efforts with some marketing strategies, than I'm gonna donate 0.0001% of my profit to them ***** style

Gonna claim that I'm supporting FOSS only by letting it run on my platform ********* style

Gonna be a FOSS black hole, only taking community efforts, giving almost nothing back, or giving very tiny stuff ****** style

So What Should I Do?

Think of a win-win situation, in both aspects: FOSS and business.

FOSS created a funny community, producers are consumers and consumers are producers. Your startup is a consumer (using FOSS), don't forget to be a FOSS producer.

Direct your passion to success not money, and direct your success to be useful, not to take more.

Balance between paying back your debt to the community, serving your customers, and benefiting the shareholders is the key don't lost it

Bottom Line

Spirula as an Example

Founded February 2010

A long shot, at a tight timing

Self fund, very tight bootstrapping

Started with one employee: me

Started in a single room, stayed there for more than than 18 months

Spirula Success

ROI after 12 months.

Handled massive projects, like referendum and elections, akhbarak & al-akhbar, & elbaradei2011, meedan, alsaha, eglug, nezal, and supermama.

Very good reputation.

Employees number doubled 7 times.

Our own office now :)


Rare service in the area.

Addressing existing need.

Solid technical background.

Community activities.

No tolerance towards ethics.

Focusing on success more than profit: Don't look under your shows (unless you have to).

Patience: Don't Panic.


Following the professional open source business model, and embracing free software values, Spirula aims to support the small to medium business to switch its IT infrastructure - or part of it - to the use of open source software.

Supporting the local free/open source software communities is a commitment that we have taken upon ourselves, as without such communities all the software we use would not exist.

Vision & Mission

Vision:To support and encourage business decision makers in adopting Free/Open Source Software, by offering high quality, reliable, and affordable services.

Mission:To give systems and infrastructure services to small to medium businesses, while targeting the local market , the MENA region, and the whole world.

Slogan:Openly managing and securing your digital world.


[email protected]