Calculating, confident, and well aware of the myriad needs and opportunities provided by the reality we live in, Nabil Rostom represents the full entrepreneurial package. The fast-rising businessman has ventured into differing projects that demonstrate ingenuity and a keen eye for gaps in Egypt’s market. eniGma’s Mahmoud Al Badry spoke to Rostom about his unique approach to business, his various entrepreneurial ventures, and how he views the turbulences inside the Egyptian economy.
Despite graduating with a degree in construction engineering from the American University in Cairo, Nabil Rostom never really fancied utilizing his education to work for any of the field’s numerous conglomerates. His mind always drifted into building his own unique path for life through the various projects that he’s ventured into. In his mind, any successful entrepreneur has to focus more on investing in ideas rather than in pure money-making ventures. It’s not a surprise, then, that Rostom’s career goals are simple and concise. He naturally wants his family to have the best life possible; he feels a sense of obligation to provide help to underprivileged children; and, as a fitness aficionado himself, he wants to help people lead a healthy lifestyle.
These goals have been translated into the three projects that currently fill up his time: Red Coral, Jump Suite, and Qudua. In each, he seeks to beat the competition by devising frameworks that incorporate “humanistic elements” into business. In Red Coral, the multi-million luxurious seaside complex in Sahl Hashish which he spearheaded, Rostom’s special angle was to very selectively market the project only to prospective tenants that would “fit in with the rest of the community”, to make sure that the quality of his clientele is preserved. The project took three years to be completed and had him considerably lean on his construction background. Looking back, though, Rostom jokingly remarks that his main goal behind it “was to get as far away from Cairo as possible.”
With Jump Suite, on the other hand, he took classic fitness training to the next level, through introducing a worldwide, tech-savvy network that allows users to find and select trainers from any place on the planet, depending on their regimen preferences. That same level of commitment and ingenuity is also translated into Qudua, a charitable, fund-raising project that Rostom cofounded with his wife to help less fortunate children. “Only when I had my first child did I begin to appreciate how fortunate I was to have the life that I do,” he reflected. “Luck is a huge element of life. We don’t choose who our parents are.” Indeed, in all of his entrepreneurial efforts, Rostom seeks to use his privileged status to serve a society that, in his mind, is failing its members.
Nothing really bothers him as much as the blatant stagnation that’s plaguing the country’s workforce; wherever he looks, he can’t help but think of ways through which the situation could be improved. To him, the two roots of all the problems lie in Egypt’s continuously rising inflation rate and the government’s decreased role in recent years. He cites a 2015 statistic which found that only 33 percent of doctors, generally accepted as the best educated people in Egyptian society, were able to find a job within a year of graduation. That’s naturally beyond unacceptable in his eyes. “When you get to a point where doctors can’t find a job in their field of choice, that’s when we must admit that we have a very real labor problem,” he asserted. “The country’s inflation rate is currently much higher than the interest rate. So even if we invest our money in real-estate or put it in a bank, it’s still losing its value.”
Notwithstanding, though, Rostom remains an optimist. He believes that there’s enormous room for entrepreneurial advancements in Egypt, since that level of spontaneous specificity is something that’s sorely lacking in the market. He understands better than most how difficult entrepreneurship is, but that’s really what makes it so fun to him. It’s all about swimming against the tide long enough to build a bridge over these troubled waters.