Starting a business is a big adventure. To make a business successful, it takes the collaboration of time, passion, finance, and efforts. Firas Shrourou, Founder of Cham Solutions and Programs sharing keynotes on entrepreneurship and business success has 24 years of experience and a lot of success stories of implementing new technologies utilizing the best available in the market to the best benefit of clients and employers.
Firas started his career as a junior programmer at an IBM business partner in Syria, early in 1997. The team consisted of two programmers with a supervisor, the task was to create an archiving system, and the environment was IBM AS-400. Firas didn’t know anything about this system. With the help of rare manuals and Red-Books, he delivered the system within 5 months of hard work and late night programming sessions. At 22 years, Firus was promoted to the head of the development team. With this new role and as the first certified IBM expert in the country, he made a lot of success stories. His team installed the first national email system, implemented the first mainframe in the country, and modernized the national ID system.
“The success was big, but the ego was bigger. I made the first career mistake, by early 2000 when I decided to establish my own software development company,” shares Firas. The team produced a fine Pharmacy management system, with very attractive features, and in two years they managed to sell the system to 80+ pharmacies. As the expenses were much bigger than the income, the company was bankrupt. Learning a lesson from this, in 2003, Firas was hired as an assistant IT manager in a newly established bank. Within a year, he was promoted as an IT manager of the bank. In Syria, the banks were owned and managed by the government and this bank was the second private bank to open its doors for more than 50 years, where all the executive employees were from outside, including Jordanians, Lebanese, and French. Firas was soon promoted to Head of Branches and Individual Services. He introduced new services to the country such as SMS Banking, Internet Banking, Phone Banking, and VIP banking which was a huge success. 2011 was a very distinguished year for Syria when the war started, where the fighting was affecting everybody, including small businesses and enterprises. Firas managed to send his family to Egypt in 2013, while he stayed in Syria for 6 months. Later, he managed to have a job in Qatar as an IT Manager in one of the construction companies. While he was on the job, Firas established Cham Solutions & Programs as a software company. “In 2016, I resigned from my job in the construction company to dedicate fully to my company. Cham Solutions & Programs has developed many applications and systems now. Our client base is growing fast, and our success story is in the writing,” shares Firas.
Solution According to Demand
Firas always listens to his customer’s needs and considers this as one of the strongest success factors of the company. He launched his first product, Res Restaurant Digital Menu on tablets and iPads in 2015. The company noticed that the customers want their menu on TV as digital signage, and hence they introduced their second product, Restaurant Menu on TV. Some of the clients asked to produce a POS system as they were suffering from the support of other products in the market. The company introduced its first POS and Accounting system in 2017. The clients also asked for time attendance and payroll solution, hence the team expanded its products. During the global pandemic, the clients also asked for a restaurant contactless menu.
“In January 2021, we are offering to our customers a full turnkey restaurant solution called ‘Qatar Delicious’ which is helping them to manage all aspects of their administrative work. We say to our customers: ‘Focus on the kitchen and leave the rest to us’,” says Firas.
Cham Solutions & Programs have loyal customers who are using its app from the first version and are still dependant on the products. The team is always with the customers to help with the new features, supporting and training them. The company also helped its clients understanding their pain through the coronavirus economy. With the use of the apps, the clients feel that their business is growing, their administrative work is becoming simpler using the systems, and they feel secure to have people answering their phones in the middle of the night on weekends to give them support.
According to Firas, there are two lessons to be learned. The first one is to keep learning from everyone around. He suggests learning from the good and bad experiences, implementing the good things, and avoiding the bad things. The second lesson is to have a mentor. He says, “You can’t make success without looking up to a person to a modal to a mentor.”
He goes on to say that his work is his hoppy, which drives him to work every day. “I love the ‘wow’ expression on the face of my clients when they find a feature in the app that will help them grow or ease their lives. It is the small things that drive me, the smile on my customers’ faces.”
Writing the Future
Firas believes that achieving goals are never a one-man show, but teamwork. According to him, success is to find inner peace, feel satisfied within the soul and success doesn’t necessarily mean having a big bank account or fancy cars.
“The task for us now is to survive the Coronavirus economy. It will be as such for at least 12-18 months. This is a big task for a small company taking into consideration that 60% of small and medium companies are struggling to survive. Future Plans are already in the implementation, we are going to introduce our products in the GCC market within 2021, and eventually in the global market in 2023 and beyond,” concludes Firas.