How marketing and travels in Egypt inform Kerdany’s VC experience

Ramy Kerdany next to the Great Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt. Courtesy of Ramy Kerdany.

Ramy Kerdany graduated from the University of Florida with a marketing degree. He’s part of the 2021 Blueprint Investor Track. You can reach him at ramykerdany@gmail.com.

How has your time in Egypt informed your entrepreneurial journey?

I lived in Cairo, Egypt and France. I’ve traveled around a bunch of times. I think about Hustle Fund VC a lot, where they said that good founders come from anywhere that looks like anyone. I think that is so true. Some of the most incredible people I’ve met in my life came from France, Cairo, and even Florida. Two summers ago, I interned in New York City, and the people I met there from Seattle, California, wherever, showed me that great people come from anywhere. Having that experience kind of ingrained in me from such a young age  —  this idea that you meet with anybody, talk to anybody  —  is such a good skill to have. When we look at the VC landscape, where less than 2% of VC money goes towards underrepresented minorities, that’s crazy because good ideas can come from anybody. Actually, in the Blueprint program, we did an icebreaker. One of the things they said was, “What do you think is the biggest change in the next five years?” For me, I hope that a warm intro just won’t be needed anymore. We talked about this too in the program, but if you didn’t go to Yale or Stanford, or any of these really good schools, how are we going to get those connections? You may have the best idea, the best team or whatever. But if you don’t have these privileges, you’re not going to get there.

How do you use your marketing degree?

Marketing is a broad enough term where you can learn so many things about it and specialize in a certain part of it. You have advertising, PR, even finance. The part I liked the most was advertising: How do you get from putting an idea that’s in the brain to an idea that’s out there, and people want it?

I loved my time at the University of Florida, but you learn 100% of things in real life by doing things. I remember once we were presenting to some angel investor and went to print out papers. And I remember the first time printing them, he was like: Is this for class or real life? In class, the stakes aren’t real. You get a C on a test and there’s another one. But if you miss out on an investor, you can miss out on it for life.

How did you hear about venture capital?

Even from high school, I wanted to be part of the business. In eighth grade, I used to build websites and sell them. I had this idea for backpacks with magnet zippers. Then in high school, I was part of DECA and got second in Florida for one of my competitions. At some point, you don’t really get to choose what you’re good at. You figure it out, then you lean into it. So I ended up being really, really good at that stuff.

From college, I was a manager of a cookie delivery company. I was an intern, then CMO, and increased sales by 50% one semester. At the same time, this other person named Jackson, who was building a micro influencer startup called Brij, contracted college students to promote products through pictures on Instagram for money. Jackson had to come to the cookie shop as a client. I ended up leaving the company and joining Brij.

When I joined, we did a total rebrand and raised some money. That’s when we started seeing what the consumers liked and watched the TV series “Silicon Valley.” We loved the show. There, I learned that we can get far by bootstrapping money, but we can get much farther by venture capital. At the time, we didn’t even know Andreessen or Sequoia. The only thing we knew was this ethereal being called venture capital. For Brij, we found a bunch of angel investors and raised $125,000, which seems like a lot of money. But in fact, we went through it like that. We were lucky enough to know some wealthy people who were able to help us out, but no one was actually a venture capitalist.

For my first foray into venture capital, I found this article about Laura Chau, partner from Canaan Partners. She went to my high school in Gainesville, Florida. The article was about how she’s so successful. She was a Stanford undergrad and MBA, but she came from my town, which isn’t really a place that usually has those kinds of people.

I emailed her, and she was super friendly to me. We met for 30 minutes on Zoom. But at that point, we were not ready at all. I was not the CEO, and usually people just talk to the CEO. She was doing me a favor. After that, I really learned that it takes much more to get in front of venture capitalists. Using those connections you have gets you in for the first step, but your ability to stay ready gets you past the second step.

The company dissolved during COVID. I interned at this startup incubator we were in that gave me a full-time position. That’s when I started getting to venture capital. Every day, I had to do profiles on people like Naval Ravikant, Andreessen and different investors. That’s why I started using Twitter a little bit. What’s crazy to me is that you can really almost get a one to one with almost anyone through Twitter.

I have a new startup now, but we’re trying to go full swing into venture capital in the next few weeks and having learned everything that I learned now, it’s crazy. And also, for Blueprint Investor Track, I joined a Slack channel called Gen Z VC, which is started by Meagan Loyst from Lerer Hippeau. Somebody sent a message about Blueprint Investor Track. It took many weeks between application and getting the result back. I thought I didn’t get in. I even sent a follow up saying, hey, when are we going to hear back?


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