Blog: Karim Motawi

Co-founder and vice president of Motawi Tileworks, Karim Motawi is half of a brother-sister team that turned their custom tile garage startup into a $2 million business.   An entrepeneur and innovator, Karim explains how new ideas can bring small start ups big help.

Post No. 4

What are you bringing to the party? As we at Motawi have enjoyed some modest success over the past few years, I've met several people who want to get into the art tile business. They ask me "What made you think you could do it?" The truth is we didn't think about that when we started. We started young, in our early twenties, and my sister and I didn't really think about how we would do it.  NaivetÇ played a big role in our beginning. I think I have a better understanding now, 15 years on, as to how we did it. Now, the first thing I ask a person who wants to start a art tile business, but I figure it applies to any new small manufacturing business, is "What are you bringing to the party?"

The existing companies in any established market have several advantages. They have an experienced production staff, distribution, marketing and knowledge of the market. A new player must overcome these advantages to build a success. So, what is so special about what you are doing that people will buy your product instead of the other guy's? And will you be able to keep developing new products that are special enough? "What are you bringing to the party?" Is your design better? Is your manufacturing process better? Something has go to be better. The desire to succeed is not enough. As a small player in a market being just as good as the other guy is not enough. You have to be better.