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Establishing a start-up in Saudi Arabia: the Innosoft story

Riaz Ahmed Mohammed (Entrepreneurship Institute, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia)
Mamon Horoub (Entrepreneurship Institute, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia)
Husam Walwil (Entrepreneurship Institute, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 13 August 2019


Subject Area


Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are to explain the importance of passion in entrepreneurship, develop an understanding of the business model canvas and its elements, identify typical challenges faced by a startup (during early days and while growing), explain the role of seed fund and customer feedback for small business success and identify the appropriate hiring strategy for startups.

Case overview/synopsis

The case traces the journey of two Saudi under-graduate software engineering students, namely, Loai Labani and Riyadh Al-Tayib, who had a vision to establish the best information technology (IT) services company in Saudi Arabia. With no previous experience of establishing a company or working for a startup, coupled with the fact that the culture of entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia is still in its ascendancy, they knew it would be challenging. Nevertheless, at the same time, they were convinced it would be totally up to them to do the hard work needed to propel their vision into reality. The case, after introducing the founders, talks about their respective backgrounds and how it complemented their goal/vision of establishing an IT services company. The case, with references from the literature, also throws light on the entrepreneurship culture in Saudi Arabia but the focus is the various challenges faced by the team in setting up their business and the strategies they used in dealing with the challenges. Some of the challenges discussed are securing early customers, initial financing to support startup, business model development, managing daily operations and hiring and marketing strategy. The case ends with another challenge faced by the founders, for the readers to think about the possible ways of dealing with the challenge at hand.

Complexity academic level

The case will be used for under-graduate level students.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 3: Entrepreneurship.



The authors would like to extend their sincere thanks and gratitude to Ms. Gerry Yemen, Senior Researcher at University of Virginia Darden School of Business, Professor James G. Clawson, Johnson and Higgins Professor of Business Administration Emeritus at University of Virginia Darden School of Business and Dr.Jacquelyn Elliot, Consultant at Academic Leadership Center, Saudi Arabia, for their support and guidance in the fulfilment of this case study.

Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names; financial and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.


Mohammed, R.A., Horoub, M. and Walwil, H. (2019), "Establishing a start-up in Saudi Arabia: the Innosoft story", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 9 No. 2.



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