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Innovation starts at home Empower your employees to drive your business forward

Bringing in
An eye for the business
Leveraging the
success law of attraction
to win new
Muse Capital clients for your
co-founder Assia enterprise
What it takes to be an
angel investor (that
entrepreneurs would want
to have on board their

Driven by passion
P.N.C. Menon
The founder and Chairman of Sobha Group on his “unending pursuit
of excellence” as an entrepreneur

9 77231 1 541 008 >

August 2017 | | UAE AED20

august 2017

PNC Menon,
founder and Chairman,
Sobha Group

20 26 30 72
Driven by passion An eye for success PRO Q&A
PNC Menon Assia Grazioli Venier Understanding the Middle Inspiring loyalty
The founder and The co-founder of Muse Capital East’s skills gap Alborz Toofani, founder and
Chairman of Sobha Group on what it takes to be an angel Market trends are CEO of Snappcard, looks
on his “unending pursuit investor (that entrepreneurs reprioritizing valuable back at his entrepreneurial
of excellence” as an would want to have on board skills, and in some cases, journey over the past five
entrepreneur. their enterprises). demanding completely years.
new competencies, writes’s VP of Employer 82
Solutions, Suhail Al-Masri. ‘TREPONOMICS:
70 Innovation starts at home
MONEY: Salman Dawood Abdulla,
VC VIEWPOINT Executive Vice President,
Envisioning potential EHSSQ and Business
Enabling Future’s managing Transformation at Emirates
partners Saad Umerani Global Aluminium
and Hubertus Thonhauser (EGA), makes the case
explain the Dubai-based VC for empowering one’s
firm’s investment approach employees to drive
and considerations. innovation.

26 Assia Grazioli Venier, co-founder, Muse Capital

august 2017 Entrepreneur 3

CONTENTS August 2017

34 42
Blockchain: [much] more #TamTalksTech
than a buzzword Gadgets and doodads
Ian Dillon, co-founder, Now that you might’ve missed
Money, explores how the out on, sourced by a tech
fintech innovation can make aficionado. Yes, it’s okay
a positive impact on global to want them all… and no,
issues. it’s not our fault.

44 42 Huwaei Honor 9
50 Educators have key roles to play in nurturing their students’
entrepreneurial spirit ‘Trep gear
The executive selection for
the entrepreneur on your
78 50 list that has everything.
START IT UP: CULTURE: Okay, maybe for a little self-
Q&A LIFE reward as well.
Conquering the globe Fueling the future
Dubai-based startup Tanvir Haque, founder, 46
Shedul’s software for the Freshstone Consulting, ‘TREPONOMICS:
beauty industry has been explores ways in which ESQUIRE GUY
adopted by over 40,000 educators can identify Happy endings
merchants in more than 120 innate entrepreneurial skills The Esquire Guy walks you
countries- in a span of just in children at a crucial age, through the best way to
two years. and support their growth. wrap up a business meeting.

William Zeqiri,
co-founder and
CEO, Shedul

10 Entrepreneur august 2017

CONTENTS August 2017

34 Blockchain: [much] more than a buzzword

66 48
Reimagining Iraq Constraints make you better
Things are moving in the James Clear on why the right
right direction for the limitations help in boosting
country’s entrepreneurial performance.
ecosystem, notes Marwan
Ahmed, Director, Mishwar,
a grocery delivery startup in 44
Baghdad. Classic Fusion
16 Berluti

Building your personal Usability first 60
infrastructure Clinton O’Leary, Chief CULTURE:
Business coach Murtaza Commercial Officer of BUSINESS UNUSUAL
Manji offers five Yvolv, says it’s key to Gifting done right
suggestions to help you pay attention to the user UAE startup joi wants to
achieve excellence- be it experience aspect of your become the go-to portal for
personal or professional. tech product. all things gifts.

Snappcard’s Emre
Kistak, Managing
Partner UAE, Alborz
Toofani, founder and
CEO, and Onur Witt,
Creative Director

12 Entrepreneur august 2017

EDITOR IN CHIEF Aby Sam Thomas Contact to receive
CEO Wissam Younane Entrepreneur Middle East every issue
CREATIVE LEAD Odette Kahwagi
STARTUPS SECTION EDITOR Pamella de Leon PO Box 502511 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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For all commercial enquiries related to
COLUMNIST Shoug Al Nafisi Entrepreneur Middle East contact
EVENTS LIAISON Mark Anthony Monzon
All rights reserved © 2016.
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors.
Entrepreneur Middle East and all subsidiary
Marwan Ahmed James Clear Murtaza Manji publications in the MENA region are officially licensed
Suhail Al Masri Nick Davis Ross McCammon exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region by
Fatima Al Shirawi Salman Dawood Abdulla Jasmine Montgomery Entrepreneur Media Inc.
Helen Al Uzaizi Ian Dillon Clinton O’Leary No part of this magazine may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means without written
Fida Chaaban Tanvir Haque Hubertus Thonhauser
permission of the publisher.
Matthew Chaban Shelina Jokhiya Saad Umerani

Images used in Entrepreneur Middle East are credited when necessary. Attributed use of Printed by Raidy Emirates Printing Group LLC
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14 Entrepreneur august 2017

Time is money
Are you burning through a modern currency?

s someone who often one, that’d help me see if we can
feels there aren’t enough get things done over email itself (or
hours in the day to fin- maybe a call), and if not, we’d now
ish all of the tasks on my be clear about the main points of
plate, I am always be- discussion when we do meet with
fuddled by those who seem to have each other- surely, that’d be a bet-
time to spare for meetings with ter use of time, be it yours or mine!
me on a work day, with the agenda One important note here though:
primarily being “just to catch up.” if you are going to set an agenda for
In the modern economy, time re- a meeting, make sure it is specific
ally is money. How are you spend- and to the point. For instance, time- and you sure as heck cannot
ing it? Is there an ROI? requesting me for a meeting “to ex- expect anyone else to set aside
“Catch up” requests, especially plore collaboration opportunities” their time for you for no reason.
when they come from entrepre- doesn’t mean anything to me- I’d Keep it real, people.
neurs, often set off warning bells in much rather have you do some re-
my head. If your aim with a meet- search of your own, and then come
ing is to apparently only exchange to me with potential action items
pleasantries with me, rest assured that could work for the both of us.
that I am already skeptical about For one, this shows me that you
you and your intentions, and I defi- have seriously looked through
nitely do not appreciate the seem- our work, and found out ways to
ing disregard for my time as well. perhaps add value to what we do,
Sure, there may be something you while satisfying your own priori-
actually want to discuss in person ties- a win-win situation, if you
with me- but if that is indeed the will, and that is often enough for Aby Sam Thomas
case, wouldn’t it be better if you me to want to invest my time with Editor in Chief
simply laid that out in your first you. As entrepreneurs, you don’t @thisisaby
email requesting the meetup? For have the luxury of wasting your

16 Entrepreneur august 2017


Building a community
Palestine early-stage VC firm Ibtikar Fund raises
US$2.5 million from regional and global investors

inancial support, espe- agree with our current investors
cially in the early stages in the potential of Palestinian
of a business lifecycle is a startups and welcome them to
missing link most startups in our fund,” he added.
Palestine (and perhaps in many As per Ibtikar Fund’s invest-
parts of the Middle East) suffer ment strategy, laid down on
from. Helping make things its website, the firm supports
better for Palestine’s entrepre- companies in two stages- seed
neurs in this regard is Ibtikar and early-stage, and is looking
Fund, an early-stage venture to “invest in highly-skilled and Ahmed El Alfi, founder, Flat6Labs, H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment and International
capital fund with a mission to complementary management Cooperation, and other officials at the MIIC signing event
“close a critical funding gap teams that are willing to take
between acceleration and VC, risks and go out of their com-
and other later-stage investors” fort zones.” At the seed level, Enabling Egypt’s
for Palestine startups. And now
the VC firm has got a boost
the Fund looks for entrepre-
neurs through local accelera-
in achieving this objective, as tors, and it also remains open Flat6Labs Cairo announces first close of
it has announced raising an to make Series A investments its EGP100 million fund
investment of US$2.5 million in its portfolio companies. Man-

in July 2017 from the Interna- aged by Hazzan and Ambar arly-stage startups in Egypt, joining the accelerator (250,000
tional Finance Corporation (IFC), Amleh, the Fund benefits from the time is ripe to get your in cash, and 250,000 non-cash
the Dutch Good Growth Fund the involvement of some of the pitch decks ready, and pre- investment), and up to EGP1
(DGGF), and Reach Holding (a country’s renowned business sent your venture to Flat6Labs million per startup in follow-up
Middle East-based global entity executives- its board is chaired Cairo. The accelerator program investment, allowing Egyptian
headquartered in Palestine) as by Hashim Shawa, Chairman has announced the first close of startups to reach their customer
investors. With this raise, Ibtikar and General Manager of the its EGP100 million Cairo fund base and scale their operations
increases its capital to $10.45 Bank of Palestine (the fund’s called Flat6Labs Accelerator locally and regionally,” says Wil-
million, giving it the ability anchor investor), and includes Company, which, according to lie Elamien, Managing Director,
to invest in more Palestinian Zahi Khouri, Chairman and CEO, Flat6Labs, will help them “di- Flat6Labs Cairo. While MIIC says
startups. National Beverage Company. rectly support over 100 Egyptian it aims to support entrepreneurs
“We look for ideas and start- While this marks the first in- early stage-startups over the develop their skills by provid-
ups that are scalable, and which vestment in Palestinian venture upcoming five years” with seed ing a conducive environment for
serve the MENA region or glob- capital and in MENA region funding of up to EGP1 million per growing their business, EAEF, on
al need,” declares the website of overall by DGGF, this is IFC’s startup, training, mentorship and its part, has said that it identi-
Ibtikar (meaning innovation in first investment in Palestine’s a host of other services. This in fied a shortage of seed capital in
Arabic), which launched in May ecosystem and the second turn will help create “more than Egypt, and decided to align with
2016, and has made 14 invest- under its new Startup Catalyst 1,000 high-impact jobs” in the Flat6Labs to help address the
ments in Palestinian startups so initiative (the first was its Egyptian market, says Flat6Labs. gap.
far, and growing. “These new support to Flat6Labs Cairo in The close of this round is As an early-stage startup
investments are a validation Egypt). “We believe Ibtikar can supported by commitments accelerator, Flat6labs supports
of our work over the last two play a pivotal role in strength- from Egypt Ventures- a com- startups at “idea, concept or
years, and a vote of confidence ening the area’s entrepreneurial pany of the Egyptian Ministry prototype or early-revenue gen-
in our management,” Habib ecosystem, creating jobs, and of Investment and International eration stages” and Elamien says
Hazzan, Managing General attracting more investment,” Cooperation (MIIC) managed “they are sector agnostic, [but]
Partner, Ibtikar, said in a state- Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC’s by NI Capital, and the Egyptian- are particularly interested in
ment. “We are glad that the Regional Director in the MENA American Enterprise Fund [supporting] education, health-
IFC, DGGF and Reach Holding region, said in a statement. (EAEF) with each party pooling care, fintech, digital content,
in EGP10 million each. With consumer internet and ICT start-
this financial injection, Egypt ups.” Flat6Labs Cairo’s ninth
Ventures and EAEF join the In- accelerator cycle is scheduled
ternational Finance Corporation to start later this summer, and
[that invested EGP50 million in according to the organization, | flat6labs

November 2016] in the list of the cycle has already witnessed

strategic institutional backers an “unprecedented” number
investing in supporting Flat6Labs’ mission to of applications- with over 500
innovative palestinian help grow Egypt’s entrepreneur- Egypt-based companies compet-
startups ship community. ing for a space in the program
“The fund will provide seed and to receive seed funding.
funding of EGP500,000 upon

18 Entrepreneur august 2017


“This is my playing
ground- it’s not
work! I get maximum
enjoyment from this…
It is [my] passion.
It’s not business;
it’s a very personal
P. N. C. Menon, founder and Chairman,
Sobha Group

20 Entrepreneur august 2017


Driven by
Sobha Group founder and Chairman P. N. C. Menon

By Aby Sam Thomas

. N. C. Menon is a detail- a truly remarkable entrepreneurial journey,

oriented person- that which sees him today at the helm of the
particular aspect of his Sobha Group, which was established back
personality became quite in 1976 in the Sultanate of Oman. As its
clear to me as soon as I founder and Chairman, Menon has essen-
began my conversation tially spearheaded the growth and develop-
with the 68-year-old ment of the Sobha brand for over 40 years
entrepreneur. I could now, and he continues to do that to this
see Menon’s inquisitive very day- when I ask him what drives him
nature come to the fore as he peppered me to come to work every day, he laughs and
with questions relating to my background replies: “This is my playing ground- it’s not
and career so far- he was interested in work! I get maximum enjoyment from this…
knowing the specifics, he wanted to know It is [my] passion. It’s not business; it’s a
the how and the why. (The fact that Menon very personal thing.” >>>
had actually listened to me and registered
all that I said became apparent when he “[dubai] is one of the best places
later introduced me to other members of his to do business. You are not
organization by correctly recalling all of the disturbed in any way; you just
Image courtesy Sobha Group

particulars that I had told him.) Of course, do whatever you want to do to

such attention to detail is one of the many be the best. Every opportunity
traits that has stood Menon in good stead is provided by the environment
over the course of what can be described as and the country.”

august 2017 Entrepreneur 21


Given that response, it’s easy to see “Diversify, get into something else. Move into
where Sobha Group got its “Passion At
Work” motto from- Menon certainly another geography… The growth is never-
seems to live by that principle, and ending. Even for the biggest companies in the
his company is following his lead in
terms of what he calls “an unending
world, I’d say that there is a tremendous
pursuit of excellence.” With operations amount of opportunities for them to grow
in India and the Middle East, Sobha further. Sometimes it may not be in the same
has, since its inception, delivered over
89.64 million square feet of real estate domain- you just have to take a diversion.”
projects, and is currently at work on
71 projects with a developable area of expertise (Menon notes the company’s third largest real estate development
101 million square feet. In India, where capabilities as a backward integrated company, in terms of total square feet
Sobha Limited is a listed entity, it was institution as being one of its main dif- delivered. In the meantime, Sobha
recently declared by the 2016-17 Brand ferentiators), as well as the uncompro- also made its entry into the UAE’s real
X Report to be “the top national realty mising quality of its products, will help estate scene in 2003, with the Dubai-
brand across asset class” for the third it become a market leader in this par- headquartered company focusing pri-
consecutive year. In contrast to that, ticular space. Of course, Menon’s track marily on residential and commercial
Sobha is a relatively new entrant in record so far does tip the odds in his projects. Menon has nothing but good
the UAE’s real estate space, but the favor- after all, Menon’s now legendary words to say about doing business in
developer has still managed to garner success story began with the Indian Dubai- he’s an unabashed admirer of
quite a lot of attention and interest for entrepreneur arriving in Oman with the growth the Emirate has seen so far,
its current projects, which include the only seven dollars to call his own in and he is definitely on board to partici-
US$4 billion Sobha Hartland and the 1976. With borrowed capital, he set up pate in its continued development in
$8 billion Meydan Sobha District One a small business that dealt in furniture the years to come. “It is one of the best
developments in Dubai. With regard and interiors on the streets of Muscat, places to do business,” Menon declares.
to the current state of the real estate and this outfit grew slowly (but surely) “You are not disturbed in any way; you
market, Menon notes that while there into an enterprise that became known just do whatever you want to do to be
may have been challenging times in the for its quality of work. As time passed, the best. Every opportunity is provided
past year, he’s expecting an uptick in the company began securing a number by the environment and the country.”
activity in 2017. “The real estate busi- of noteworthy interiors contracts, At this point, it’s pretty easy to see
ness is cyclical, the world over; it’s not including projects from the Sultan’s that Menon has accomplished a lot –a
only Dubai,” he explains. “According to office, which led to its next phase of lot- over the course of his entrepre-
me, this year, we have gone into a posi- growth. As the business solidified its neurial career. But what’s particularly
tive cycle.” presence in the Gulf, Menon then made interesting to note about his journey
This, of course, bodes well for Sobha a move into India’s property sector so far is that when Menon reaches a
as an enterprise in the UAE’s real estate by setting up Sobha Limited in 1995, particular stage of success, he then
sector, where it hopes its finesse and which has since become the country’s goes and raises the bar for himself, by
setting new goals to aspire toward. It’s
a curious little trait- but it also makes
it clear that Menon, as an entrepreneur,
is never complacent. “You are born
with that kind of outlook, you know,”
he says. “You are never happy with
what you do- there’s always a feeling
that there’s a gap. And when you fill
that gap, there’s another gap- so it’s
an unending pursuit of excellence. I
don’t think you can go to market and
start developing that quality- it’s in the
DNA of a person, who looks for that
perfection.” As the saying goes, noth-
ing succeeds like success, and Menon
believes in that wholeheartedly- ac-
cording to him, there is no finish line to
the growth one can aspire to for their
enterprise. “As a businessperson, you
cannot [ever] say that you’ve reached
the peak of whatever you wanted to
A Sobha Group residential project achieve,” he says. “You cannot say that

22 Entrepreneur august 2017

P. N. C. Menon,
founder and Chairman,
Sobha Group

there is no further scope for tation, among some of his “You’ve got to be extremely patient.
you to grow. Diversify, get staff at least, as he himself
into something else. Move put it, of being “a terror.”
You’ve to be extremely careful with
into another geography… Sobha Group President your name and reputation- build that,
The growth is never-ending. Jyotsna Hegde tells me that create a strong foundation, and then
Even for the biggest com- there were times not too long success is automatic. But if you’re going
panies in the world, I’d say ago when Menon would lose
that there is a tremendous his cool at subordinates who,
to be in a hurry, you’ll have a weak
amount of opportunities for say, had made a mistake, foundation, and you will collapse.”
them to grow further. Some- or hadn’t ascribed to the
times it may not be in the same level of perfection he that feeling. “When you Once you understand that,
same domain- you just have believed in. But Hegde notes look at it from his side, it then you see the value of
to take a diversion.” that such temper flare-ups was frustration,” Hegde everything you thought was
Menon’s refusal to budge were simply a reflection explains. “Because he gets difficult, and you become
from the high standards he of Menon’s passion for his it so quickly, and he knows accepting.” However, this
has set for the company has work- he just couldn’t see it so quickly- and he is frus- matter is no longer a topic of
also led him to have a repu- why others didn’t share trated that you don’t get it… discussion at Sobha, Hegde >>>

august 2017 Entrepreneur 23


reveals- Menon’s temper issues are

now a thing of the past. Last year -on
“You are never happy with what you do-
October 3, 2016, to be exact (yes, Me- there’s always a feeling that there’s a gap.
non remembers the date all too well)- And when you fill that gap, there’s another
Menon lost his temper for some reason
in the office, following which Hegde gap- so it’s an unending pursuit of excellence.
told Menon that his actions would hurt I don’t think you can go to market and start
the confidence of the young upstarts developing that quality- it’s in the DNA of a
who had joined their company, and
might even cause them to leave. “So, person, who looks for that perfection.”
she said, you know, this will kill our
company,” Menon recalls. “If you want time.” Did it work? “I have now needs to be convinced of the right-
to build a professional company (which completed 10 months without shout- ness of a particular course of action.
we are looking at, definitely), she said, ing,” Menon says, happily, with Hegde And once he has done so, it’ll be hard
you need to please stop doing this, and confirming the veracity of this state- to budge him even a little from that
it will be in the interests of the institu- ment. Of course, this is just another particular path- a quality that seems to
tion. I said, give me three months’ testament to Menon’s psyche- he just have kept him on the right track for all
his years in business.
For people who are just entering the
P. N. C. Menon, Middle East arena to set up their busi-
founder and Chairman, nesses, the environment they have in
Sobha Group
front of them today is a lot different
from the one Menon set foot in all
those years ago. Menon notes that en-
trepreneurs today seem to be in a hurry
to see their businesses succeed- it’s a
characteristic that he –no surprises
here- is not particularly fond of. “We
should never be in a hurry,” he says.
“The foundation, you know, is horizon-
tal, and the growth is vertical. And the
foundation of the business has to be
done effectively… This is where I have
seen most of the people fail [with their
businesses]. They are in a hurry, they
want to be a billionaire, they want to
get to X/Y/Z- [but] it will not happen
like that. You’ve got to be extremely
patient. You’ve to be extremely careful
with your name and reputation- build
that, create a strong foundation, and
then success is automatic. But if you’re
going to be in a hurry, you’ll have a
weak foundation, and you will col-
lapse.” It may be a real estate-centered
analogy, but Menon knows what he’s
talking about- building the Sobha
brand to what it is today has, of course,
taken an awful lot of patience and
hard work, but it has also involved an
absolutely strict unwillingness to cut
corners in any aspect of the business.
It’s a value system that Menon has put
in place at the top, and he believes it
has indeed differentiated the company
from its peers, and also ensured its
longstanding success. “If you start
chasing money in any business, you will
fail,” Menon declares. “Start chasing
success- money is only a byproduct.”

24 Entrepreneur august 2017


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mention their lofty claims

that streaming would inject
more money into the music
business than ever before.
And Spotify was marred by
disbelievers, with talent and
industry folks buying into
unfounded negative stories
in the press that it wasn’t
paying artists. But Spotify
persisted, proved their model,
built their product, evolved
it continuously to attract
and retain loyal customers,
Muse Capital co-founder Assia Grazioli-Venier and have since pumped the
music industry with billions
on what it takes to be an angel investor (that entrepreneurs of dollars.”
would want to have on board their enterprises) Grazioli-Venier is today also
on the board of advisors of
Northzone, a European tech-

By Tamara Pupic
nology investment company
here is a list when it comes to assessing sist disruption, but embrace whose portfolio includes Spo-
of character an angel’s belief in the less the change,” she says, in her tify, iZettle, MarketInvoice,
traits that experienced, how high would talk. As Grazioli-Venier sees Outfittery, Trustpilot, Fyndiq
entrepreneurs you rate someone who sees it, achieving the impossible and Qapital. Furthermore,
look for (or “no” as “on” as being one of and never taking no for an since 2012, Grazioli-Venier
should look their strengths? This may answer is part of her daily has been on the board of
for) in an be an everyday battle for agenda- and in today’s entre- Italy’s Juventus Football
angel investor, with putting someone with dyslexia, like preneurial age, that is a skill Club, being the first female
a signature on the back of Assia Grazioli-Venier, but definitely worth having. and youngest board member
a check or on the bottom this Los Angeles-based media “The best advice I can give to serve in such a role in
of contracts being just one executive, angel investor and an entrepreneur is to go with the club’s history. With this
of them. Various accounts, advisor to high-growth tech conviction, surround yourself professional background,
including those often featured startups and investors has with the smartest people Ivy League education, and
in our magazine, favor pos- found value in what many (smarter than you), and be an obviously undefeatable
sessing industry expertise, may consider a hindrance. firm but flexible with your personality, she stepped
facilitating introductions Speaking at a TEDxLUISS idea,” she says. “Most of the into a new role in 2016 by
to their broad networks of edition in her native Rome most successful businesses co-founding Muse Capital,
contacts, following a code of last year, she shared her ex- today had naysayers, and in an early-stage strategic
conduct (this seems to have perience with dyslexia as one fact, some could say that the angel investment fund that
risen in importance only example of how she learnt to more naysayers you have, focuses on consumer-facing
recently), and the list -by no endorse disruption from an the better the idea could be.” entrepreneurs and technolo-
means exhaustive- goes on. early age. “Life has already One example, she notes, is gies. Network and experience,
There are different degrees taught me how to anticipate Sweden’s music streaming she says, are something that
of all of those as well. But the unexpected, and not re- company Spotify, which is most young entrepreneurs
reportedly valued at US$13 don’t have, but both are vital
billion, where she has served to a fledgling startup. For
as its Director of Special that reason, Grazioli-Venier
Projects for over six years. explains that a good angel
“When I started advising the investor needs to have the
founder, Daniel Ek, and the power, experience, and influ-
business, Spotify had under ence to help an entrepreneur
100 employees, and although bring his or her vision to
they had a proven business life. “A great example of this
model in their local Sweden, is our role as investors and
everyone was telling them advisors to our portfolio
they were crazy,” Grazioli- company, ReplyYes,” she
images courtesy muse capital

Venier says. “They were says. “When we met them,

told there was no way that they had an excellent team, a
Assia Grazioli-Venier is a Los Angeles-based media executive, angel investor and advisor streaming could reinvigorate proof of concept and revenue,
to high-growth tech startups and investors. the music business, not to but had been declined by 26

26 Entrepreneur august 2017

Muse Capital co-founders
Assia Grazioli-Venier and
Rachel Springate “You invest in 100, hoping for
one big win, but you can only
do that when the 100 you have
invested in are well-managed,
great ideas led by truly
talented entrepreneurs.”
neurs. There is incidentally a burgeoning ecosystem that
no shortage of women entre- is not yet ripe and matured,
preneurs, as Al Masah Capi- needs young, experienced
tal estimated in 2016 that strategic investors, who work
women-led SMEs in the Gulf alongside institutional inves-
are worth $385 billion. There tors, with a global vision and
is still a deficit of venture a local approach. The reasons
capitalists in the region, and are plenty- Careem, Fetchr,
those that have been there Bayzat, Souqalmal, and
have not historically made Laundrybox are just a few
any significant plays. But this examples of UAE-based start-
is slowly changing.” Dubai, ups that can go global, she
by itself, is turning into a real adds. From her personal per-
startup hub, she adds. “Until spective, she reveals that the
recently, the UAE has been Muse Capital team plans to
leagues behind the Valley, or raise capital for one of their
even cities like New York, DC, funds to invest in a well-
and London. It has struggled balanced array of innovative
to get there because, while startups both in the US and
historically the wealth was the UAE over the next five
there, the talent was not. years. So, what is their take
After all, the Zuckerbergs of on the next big disruption?
the region knew they were Rachel Springate, co-founder
likelier to succeed if they at Muse Capital, says that
relocated to an already estab- it will come from artificial
lished hub like San Francisco. intelligence. “First, there
But this has been changing was the internet/web, then
significantly over the last mobile, but now the future is
“There is incidentally no shortage of 1.5 years. The government is voice and using AI-enabled
women entrepreneurs, as Al Masah pumping funds into Dubai’s voice assistants,” she says.
Capital estimated in 2016 that women-led free zones and mini cities– “We will be controlling all
Internet City is a good ex- aspects of our daily life with
SMEs in the Gulf are worth $385 billion.” ample. Also, whereas money our voice, from summoning a
used to immediately leave car, to navigation to control-
investors. Within two weeks note address. With respect Dubai to Europe, for example, ling our homes to ordering
of us investing, we had raised to the UAE’s entrepreneurial investors are now staying groceries, and so on. The ear-
them just under $2 million ecosystem, Grazioli-Venier put. After Brexit and the liest iterations like Siri and
from leading funds in the US, notes quite gladly that the potential breakdown of the Alexa/Google Home are just
and supercharged their busi- number of angels, incubators Eurozone, people are playing the beginning.” Meanwhile,
ness development outreach and accelerators here are all it safe and doubling down at the fund’s associate Zach
to generate revenue more ag- on the rise. “I am thrilled to home. So, over the last two White thinks that emerging
gressively. This led to further see that some of the most years, we’ve seen a sudden innovations in the financial
investments by Disney, for prominent angel networks jump in activity in the UAE, service industries will be the
example, who have now taken are centered on women, such with Dubai finally becoming largest technologically-driven
them into their accelerator as WOMENA that unites high a major hub. It is now a cool, disruptive force across the
program.” net worth women to make hip, and savvy environment, globe in the next decade.
This autumn, Grazioli-Veni- joint investments, and the encouraging and attracting “With the proliferation of
er will attend the 19th Global Women’s Angel Investment talent as well as funds. Tal- data-intensive platform-
Women In Leadership Eco- Network (WAIN) that brings ent is now not just cropping based services offering a
nomic Forum in Dubai, where together female investors to up, but staying.” wider range of products, the
she will be delivering a key- support women entrepre- In her opinion, the UAE, as average retail investor will >>>

august 2017 Entrepreneur 27


“While the right investors will increase gel’s investment and

your startup’s success rates, the wrong support, the concept
will come to nothing
ones will put your business on the with a weak team.
wrong trajectory, waste your time, and The second reason
even cause you to miss opportunities to not to get infatuated
raise more money.” with an idea is that
ideas change. If an
have access to more sophis- game of Russian Roulette,” angel only invests in
ticated capabilities around she says. “You invest in 100, a company because
their finances than ever hoping for one big win, but they’re in love with
before,” he explains. “Once you can only do that when their idea, they’ll be
niche areas of finance with the 100 you have invested disappointed when
little traction, services such in are well-managed, great the practicalities
as P2P lending, cryptographic ideas led by truly talented mean the concept
exchange, mobile payments entrepreneurs. As talent has to evolve into
and banking, and fully au- stays in the region, strategic something differ-
tomated advice and wealth investors start investing, and ent. They might
management are all examples titans of the business world even hang on to the Muse Capital co-founder Assia
of the democratization of the get involved, the environment original idea for way Grazioli-Venier spoke about her
battle with dyslexia at a TEDxLUISS
industry. The flattening effect will be more open to risk.” too long, holding the edition in Rome last year
of this once very institution- Grazioli-Venier is also hope- company back from
ally operated business, in ful about seeing more people doing what it has
combination with greater di- become angel investors in to. Another misconception spect, flattery, and subservi-
rect access to the internet as the region- but for that to angel investors have is that ence. Once an investor has
well as sources of data, will happen, she notes that some they’re going to be a part of this attitude, the company
cause the average individual misconceptions about this the company and its lifestyle. is in trouble, as they’re ex-
consumer to benefit most. As space need to be eliminated. While many startups have pected more and more to
the increase in financial of- “The biggest misconception I a great team and exciting bend to the will of the inves-
ferings drives prices down as see from new angel investors environment, angel investors tor, rather than doing what
a whole across the industry, is that they want to fund cannot be there to make they know is best for their
large banks and financial exciting projects, rather than friends. An angel investor company.” To prevent such
institutions will need to supporting incredible teams,” needs to give the company situations from happening,
aggressively and continually she says. “They become space and distance to carry Grazioli-Venier says that the
pivot in order to offer consis- infatuated with an idea, and its idea to execution. Becom- onus is on entrepreneurs to
tent value to their clients.” get involved so they can help ing friends with the team pick the right investors to
To all of those willing bring it to life. There are might be tempting, but it will associate with. “Founders
to support these kind of a couple of problems with ultimately waste time they should be on the lookout for
forward-thinking ideas in the this. The first is that an idea need to become successful.” these behaviors when look-
UAE, Grazioli-Venier’s advice is nothing without a smart, This can lead to destructive ing for an angel,” she says.
is to be patient and optimis- capable, visionary founder at behaviors that angel inves- “While the right investors
tic. “Investing, especially an- the helm, along with a strong, tors need to be wary of, says will increase your startup’s
gel investing, is ultimately a vital team. Even with an an- Grazioli-Venier. “There is success rates, the wrong ones
often an innate passion that will put your business on the
an angel investor has towards wrong trajectory, waste your
the company she or he is time, and even cause you to
investing in,” she explains. miss opportunities to raise
“And that passion can be more money. Conversely,
funneled to accelerate the founders might endow their
business, but can also lead angels with this power. They
to an over indulgent investor might expect the angel to be
who sees himself as co-CEO. a miracle worker, who can
Or worse, co-founder. One give them all the money, con-
of the most destructive nections, and customers they
behaviors an angel investor need. Angel investors need to
can exhibit is a thirst for look out for this and not feed
power. When you invest in a this behavior. They need to
company, they are necessarily strip the founder of their il-
reliant on you. It’s all too lusions, and work with them
Grazioli-Venier is the first female and youngest board member to serve has been on
easy to start feeling the allure on the foundation of what is
the board of Italy’s Juventus Football Club of that power, and expect re- realistically possible.”

28 Entrepreneur august 2017


up many possibilities for new types of

work (i.e. remote patient screening and
smart contracting).
Another example is the shared
economy services. Think of Careem,
Airbnb, and Udemy as examples. These
new platforms empower the individual
to be a self-employee, self-promoter,
self-marketer, and, in a way, an overall

As a result, these market trends are
reprioritizing valuable skills, and in
some cases, demanding completely new

the Middle East’s


Today’s most critical skills

Luckily, most of the skills that are in
high demand remain to be soft and

skills gap
transferrable. According to employers,
the top three most important skills
for mid-career or junior positions are
Skills gap is the difference between teamwork (83% of employers said it
the skills required on the job and the is very important), time management
actual skills that the job seeker (or (80% said it is very important) and
Market trends are reprioritizing employee) possesses. As a matter of written communication (76% said it is
valuable skills, and in some cases, fact, 65% of business leaders and very important).
59% of job seekers who participated in Job seekers also agree; 84% of them
demanding completely new the 2017 Middle East Skills said that teamwork is a very important
competencies By Suhail Al-Masri Report believe there is a skills gap in skill, 83% said time management is

the market. very important, and 79% said written
nemployment is one of the For a starting place, think about the communication is very important.
biggest challenges that the technological acceleration, and how It is positive to note the fact that
Middle East faces, and has it is impacting the type of skills that employers and junior job seekers agree
faced for quite some time. In are in demand. The number of people on the most critical skills. From a job
this very youthful part of the who are online as well as the amount seeker’s perspective, knowing what
world, competition for jobs creates an of data they are generating is growing employers expect from you and being
overwhelming amount of pressure on exponentially. The development of vir- right about it can only help one focus
job seekers and on companies alike. tual and augmented reality as well as on developing those particular skills
Job seekers now have to go several the Internet of Things (IoT) is opening and land a job faster.
extra miles to stand out from the large
applicant pool. Businesses and organi-
zations are often bombarded by the
Most critical skills for junior positions
volume of applications and are chal-
lenged to narrow down the prospects
and make the most confident hiring 47 Employers
Creative thinking 59
decision. Global mindset 44
Even startups that are just begin-
Design / visual thinking 43
ning to dip their toes in the water can 53
easily receive hundreds of applica- Time management 41
tions, emails, and pleading letters for 40
Logical / critical thinking
the handful of positions they offer at 59
a time. Entrepreneurship 49
But there is another big elephant in People management 39
the room that we must confront, and 38
Team work
it is known as the skills gap. No, this 87
is not just a buzzword that is thrown Written communication 76
around in research conferences and Emotional intelligence 34
thought leaders’ Twitter feeds. This is 31
Job-specific skills
a serious issue that affects everybody 60
in the marketplace– employers and job Technology and computer skills 66

seekers alike.

30 Entrepreneur august 2017



When it comes to senior roles, the top what are today’s most critical skills?
three most important skills are time JUNIOR
junior ROLES
roles Employers Job Seekers
management (89% of job seekers and
employers said it is very important),
team work (88% of employers said it is
very important and 89% of job seekers
said it is very important) and people Team Work Time Management Written Communication
management (87% by both). 83 80 76
There is a large agreement between 84 84 79
employers and job seekers regarding the
critical skills for this career level. There
are, of course, some small differences
in their ratings of importance for each
skill, but only one is big enough to indi- Technology and Computer Skills People Management Job-specific Skills
cate that it is not due to chance: visual 68 67 66
thinking. 75% of employers rated it as 74 76 70
very important while 69% of job seek-
ers said it is very important. Creating
powerful, highly visual presentations is
a great way to influence and stand out
as a senior resource in the company. Creative Thinking Logical / Critical Thinking Emotional Intelligence
Senior job candidates should realize
62 58 55
how critical it is and allocate time to 74 67 60
develop it.

Matching talent with

So, given that job seekers and employ-
Design / Visual Thinking Global Mindset Entrepreneurship
ers agree on the most important skills
53 51 48
in today’s marketplace, how difficult 60 60 62
is it for job seekers to find jobs and for
those hiring to find skilled talent?
Chart 4: Critical skills for mid-career and junior roles (% very important 8-10)
Finding good candidates for junior or
Question asked to employers: When searching for candidates for mid-career/ junior positions,
mid-career positions is very difficult for What if job seekers and employees be- mindset and 53% claimed to be “very
about one in three companies (32%). It how important
lieve they areare eachaof
doing thesejob
great skills?
on Please
these use good”
a scale from 0 to 10,
at visual where 0 means “Not
seems a little easier for junior candi- critical
importantskills, while
at all” and 10hiring companies
means “Very However,
important”. | Question askedthere
to jobisseekers:
a discrepancy in
How important
dates to find a job matching their skills, think
is eachthe contrary?
of these their evaluation
skills in improving your chances in finding a job? Pleaseofusetheir creative
a scale from 0 think-
to 10,
whereas a quarter of them claimed that where 0 means “Not important at all” and 10 means ing skills
“Very against what employers said:
it is very difficult to find jobs matching Spotting the mismatch 59% of job seekers evaluate themselves
Bases: Employers looking to hire for junior roles (n=291) & Current job seekers for mid-career /
their skills level. Job seekers and employers are very as “very good,” while 47% of employ-
There is a much bigger gap between junior roles
aligned on(n=2,876)
the skills that are most ers say it is “very difficult” to find this
what employers and job seekers think important in the market nowadays. Yet, skill. It seems clear that candidates
when it comes to senior roles. Just both parties are challenged and most overrate themselves on this skill and it
under a quarter (24%) of senior job employers are having difficulties find- may be that “creative thinking” means
seekers have reported that it is very ing the type of skills they need in their different things to businesses and can-
difficult to find a job matching their prospective employees. So, what skills didates altogether.
skills. On the other side, the major- are the most difficult to find, and how For senior roles, 53% of employers
ity of businesses (58%) face major do job seekers evaluate themselves on claimed that it is “very difficult” to find
challenges in sourcing employees with these skills? candidates who possess creative think-
relevant skills for senior positions. This When looking to hire for mid-career/ ing. 51% of employers said the same
may be surprising because it seems that junior positions, 47% of employers about critical thinking, while 49% said
the skills gap in the Middle East is not surveyed said that they face the most that about global mindset.
a matter of awareness, and despite the challenges when searching for candi- Similarly, to junior roles, job seek-
fact that companies can probably bet- dates skilled at creative thinking. 44% ers rate themselves highly on the most
ter communicate their required skills, of employers said global mindset is very critical skills. 93% of them said they
there is already a common knowledge difficult to find, and 43% said visual are “very good” at team work, 87% said
about them in the marketplace. thinking is very difficult to find. they are “very good” at time manage-
What if the skills gap does not come Job seekers seem to tell a similar story ment, 87% said they are “very good” at
from a lack of agreement on what the by rating themselves lowest on two of written communication, and 86% said
important skills are but from a mis- these skills. Only 50% of job seekers they are “very good” at people manage-
match in the assessment of one’s skills? claimed to be “very good” at global ment. >>>

august 2017 Entrepreneur 31


current talent, as well as their prospec-

Most critical skills for senior positions tive pipeline.
It is also very wise for employers
53 Employers to maintain close contact with the
Creative thinking 74
Logical / critical thinking 51
Employees technological changes at the macro
76 level, but also when it comes to talent
Global mindset 49
67 acquisition and skill matching tools
Time management 47 such as Over 40,000 em-
46 ployers rely on for the hiring
Entrepreneurship 69 technology as well as the latest market
Team work 93 insights and data, and millions of tal-
Design/ visual thinking 44 ent matches have been made success-
fully. is home to more than
People management 86 28.5 million CVs that employers can
Job-specific skills 80 navigate and hire from. Companies who
Emotional intelligence 42 use rely on its powerful tech-
41 nology that simplifies and streamlines
Technology and computer skills 80 the screening and shortlisting process
Written communication 87 through precise filtering tools, ranking
algorithms, screening questionnaires
and assessments, and many other tools
However, on time management and governments, educational institutions, that make skill verification and match-
team work, the gap between candi- businesses, and individuals. But com- ing talent significantly easier. This way,
dates’ evaluation and businesses’ panies of all sizes can also champion companies looking to hire can bypass
difficulty in finding the right skills is
to the extreme: for time management,
this process by investing in the training
and professional development of their
the tedious stages, and focus on the
most qualified candidates.
87% of candidates rate themselves as
very good, while 47% of companies
said they have big difficulties in finding what are today’s most critical skills?
good candidates with this skill. Simi- senior roles
SENIOR ROLES Employers Job Seekers
larly, for team work, 93% of candidates
rate themselves as very good, while
45% of recruiters find it very hard to
find good employees with this skill.
On job seekers’ self-evaluations, the Team Work Time Management Written Communication study revealed that they 88 89 84
rated themselves highest on the same 89 89 86
skills they said are the most important.
This is consistent but may also suggest
that candidates feel compelled to say
that they perform well on the skills
they had identified as being critical. Technology and Computer Skills People Management Job-specific Skills
In conclusion, it is evident that the 83 87 79
mismatch is between the skills compa- 82 87 81
nies have difficulty to hire for and the
job seekers’ self-rating on these skills.
This means that job seekers often over-
rate themselves, when in fact they need
to take certain measures to upgrade Creative Thinking Logical / Critical Thinking Emotional Intelligence
and develop their skills. 84 81 73
In light of the market trends and the 81 77 71
mismatch discussed above, it becomes
clear that the skills gap is a fully
relevant topic today, and everybody
should pay attention to it.
Without doubt, working within Design / Visual Thinking Global Mindset Entrepreneurship
these conditions requires the effort of 75 75 74
everyone involved in the marketplace– 69 70 71

Chart 5: Critical skills for senior roles (% very important 8-10)

Suhail Al-Masri is the VP of Employer Solutions atQuestion Al-Masri
asked has more than
to employers: When 20searching
years of experience in sales
for candidates forleadership,
senior positions, how
consultative sales, account management, marketing management, and operations management. His mission at goes in line with
important are each of these skills? Please use a scale
the company’s mission to empower people with the tools and knowledge to build their lifestyles of choice.
from 0 to 10, where 0 means “Not
important at all” and 10 means “Very important”. | Question asked to job seekers: How important
32 Entrepreneur august 2017 is each of these skills in improving your chances in finding a job? Please use a scale from 0 to 10,
where 0 means “Not important at all” and 10 means “Very important”.
doesn’t grow
on trees?

At Virtuzone it does – for you

Simply refer a friend who is looking to set up a business in the UAE and
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Go to and fill out the form to introduce your friends

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T&Cs apply

[much] more
than a buzzword
By Ian Dillon

34 Entrepreneur august 2017

lockchain is Blockchain is simply a In the scenario of a cross-border money
the big buzz- refined method of relaying
word in finan- and verifying information.
transfer, blockchain simply rearranges
cial services at William Mougayar, author the same parties, so they instantly receive
the moment, of The Business Blockchain, the same information simultaneously.
seen as the uses a wonderful analogy of This is like Google Docs updating everyone
next big thing, the way in which blockchain at the same time. All parties receive the
much like “big data” was be- works versus existing meth-
fore it, and the “cloud” was ods, saying the traditional encrypted transaction information at
before that. If you’re like me, way of sharing documents the same time.
you’ve likely been to a num- is to send a document to
ber of blockchain confer- another recipient, and ask pass it onto the next– hence
ences, forums and seminars them to confirm or make why the recipient can be
where you find yourself sur- revisions to it. The problem waiting up to five days to
rounded by slightly bemused with this is that you need to receive their money. It also
bankers, lawyers and other wait until receiving a return gives criminals a number of
professionals who are all copy before you can see or opportunities to intervene.
excited to be part of this next make other changes, because Any modifications made -in-
great innovation in fintech. you are locked out of editing tentionally by criminals or
However, it quickly becomes it until the other person is unintentionally through er-
apparent that few, if any, done with it. Two owners rors- are then passed on like
of the attendees at these can’t be editing the same Chinese Whispers. The slow
events arrive or leave ever record at once. By the same processing time and risks
knowing what blockchain analogy, he says, blockchain inherent with this model
actually is, what applications is like Google Docs- both mean that banks have to al-
it will have, or when. As the parties have access to the locate capital to insure them
co-founder of NOW Money, same document at the same against these risks– costs
a startup using innovative time, and the single version which end up being passed
fintech to solve problems of of that document is always onto the consumer.
financial inclusion and re- visible to both of them. In the scenario of a cross- tions are also fully traceable
mittance costs in the Middle border money transfer, –meaning that consumers
East, I am excited about the William blockchain simply rearranges know where their money
opportunities that block- the same parties, so they is and when it has been
chain will bring in so many instantly receive the same successfully received– in
areas– but most significantly, information simultaneously. stark contrast to the current
the impact it could make for Again, to use Mougayar’s system, where seemingly no
the two billion unbanked analogy, this is like Google one knows where the money
people across the world. Docs updating everyone is for the few days after you
So, what is blockchain? at the same time. All par- send it.
Blockchain was actually ties receive the encrypted All of this is very nice, of
developed in 2008 as the in- transaction information at course, but how could this
frastructure behind bitcoin. the same time. Provided all benefit the two billion cur-
Bitcoin has had a bumpy ride parties confirm with the rently unbanked individuals,
so far, and whether it will same details, the transac- many of whom live in rural
prove to be widely successful We can use the above anal- tion is processed instantly. Africa and Asia? Remit-
remains to be seen. However, ogy and apply this to a If there are any anomalies, tances from abroad are the
blockchain is proving to real-life example of sending the transaction will not lifeblood of many families
be far more important and money to another country. be sent. For a criminal to and even economies around
wide-reaching than perhaps This is a familiar, expensive intervene, they would need the world. For example,
even its creators imagined, and opaque process that to successfully hack each of the World Bank estimates
with applications being com- most people have been the banks at exactly the same that 32% of Nepal’s GDP
pletely separate to bitcoin. through. The traditional time– although theoretically comes from money sent from
But it’s far from the first method using SWIFT takes possible, the chances of this abroad. That’s a staggering
time an invention has uses 3-5 days. By Mougayar’s happening are close to zero. amount. Even in the huge
far beyond its original pur- analogy, this is the docu- All of this means that the 1.3 billion-person economy
images © william mougayar | wiley

pose– Play-Doh was origi- ment being passed from one risk to banks is almost elimi- of India, foreign remittances
nally a (mediocre) wallpaper party to the next. It’s easy to nated, reducing their costs– received make up 3.3% of
cleaner before being adopted see how this takes so long. and these cost reductions their US$1.9 trillion GDP.
as one of the most successful Each bank takes its time to should (in theory) be passed Remittances to the develop-
toys of all time. process the transaction and onto consumers. Transac- ing world total half a trillion >>>

august 2017 Entrepreneur 35


dollars annually, and are the most. Blockchain, in the lives of the unbanked? Why not only a major advantage
worth three times more than example of remittances, has is fintech so important to to the customer, but also to
the global aid budget. These the capability to dramatically solving the global issue of the bank or other institution
remittances often support reduce costs and time taken financial inclusion? And why processing information– as
the poorest or most needy of for the recipient families to will fintech do this, when they can now do so far more
the population. The average receive the money. This will nothing else before it has? quickly and efficiently. In
NOW Money customer in have a direct and positive After all, banking has –in this sense, blockchain is no
the UAE sends 65% of their impact on the populations some form or another– been different to almost all other
earnings back to their fami- that need it most. around since before the fintech innovations. They all
lies, predominantly in India, Ancient Greek and Roman focus on improving the cus-
Pakistan, Bangladesh and Fintech as a power periods. The first banking tomer experience, efficiency
the Philippines, and each for good systems were founded to for the financial institution,
worker’s monthly remittance It is heartening to see wide- facilitate trade in the MENA and often both. Modern
supports 5-10 family mem- spread and growing support region, however, today, 86% fintech innovations (such as
bers in their home country; for fintech companies and of the population in MENA blockchain) are just the lat-
sometimes as many as 20. innovations, and blockchain are excluded from financial est in a series of innovations
African countries are also in particular, being shown by services. Why have banks that have occurred to date,
highly reliant on remittanc- countries in the Middle East, throughout history exclu- including the introduction
es; however, they face the given that it is estimated sively served the wealthiest of core banking systems
highest remittance costs in that 80% of the world’s in society, when by the very in the 1970’s and 80’s, the
the world. Remittance costs unbanked live in Muslim ma- virtue of being able to ac- introduction of ATMs in the
average 10% in sub-Saharan jority countries. cess banking services, these 1990’s, and the introduction
Africa, and can reach as However, with all the talk people have been able to of mobile money (e.g. M-
high as 20%. That means if of fintech and blockchain, grow their wealth further? Pesa in Kenya) in the 2000’s.
someone sends $100 back I often feel that the “why” As I outlined earlier, Possibly the first modern
to their family in Botswana, about the importance of all blockchain reduces manual example of fintech including
their family will receive just this gets forgotten. Why does processes, and therefore the financial inclusion is the
$80. The Financial Times access to modern financial time taken, in sharing and introduction of core bank-
estimates the cost of this services help improve the updating information. This is ing systems in the 1970’s.
to African people to be a Before the introduction of
“supertax,” totaling over $2 Blockchain is an important fintech core banking systems, each
billion per year. innovation- it will allow companies and bank branch manually pro-
These costs, delays and in- cessed its own transactions
efficiencies are not absorbed
individuals to agree and settle contracts
by hand. Unsurprisingly,
by the banks; they are passed and transactions very quickly and this was a labor-intensive
on to the consumer, the very efficiently, and removes the need for process– and consequently
people that need the money intermediaries or central counterparties. a very expensive one. These
costs were passed onto con-
sumers. Only the wealthiest
could afford to sustain
these costs, and therefore,
only the wealthiest had a
bank account. Core banking
introduced an IT system that
allowed a network of bank
branches to all be connected,
and log and settle transac-
tions on the central “core” IT
system. This drastically re-
duced processing times and
costs to the bank of provid-
ing a simple bank account,
meaning that banks could
profitably bank less wealthy
customers for the first time.
In Europe, in the period
between 1975-1985 that core
banking systems were intro-
duced, the number of people
with bank accounts tripled.

36 Entrepreneur august 2017

People could, often for the tions to shape the future of jobs. It creates a raft of new very quickly and efficiently,
first time, receive interest our economies and business opportunities in online and it removes the need for
on everyday savings; and get ecosystems. The next wave of retailing, credit and lend- intermediaries or central
finance to start businesses, innovation could make finan- ing, loyalty and many other counterparties. This is espe-
finance major purchases cial inclusion possible for all, areas. People can access the cially relevant within Islamic
such as houses and cars; all and the need for this in the world of opportunity that the finance –one of the core prin-
of which helped contribute MENA is especially pressing, privileged few of us couldn’t ciples of which is to have en-
to an increase in standard of given the astonishing amount imagine our lives without. forceable contracts which are
living. Another example is of financial exclusion in the Fintech innovations are fair, transparent and agree-
the aforementioned M-Pesa. region. But how will bring- changing the face of com- able between parties– where
By simply allowing custom- ing these people into the panies. 20 years ago, it was the opportunity to help its
ers to access finances via financial system change the inconceivable that a company community is the largest.
their mobile phone –close world, or even the business in the UAE without stores The huge potential reduction
by and convenient, unlike landscape? And how will this could grow from nothing to in cost of transactions that
the few bank branches affect us as individuals? being a sustainable and prof- blockchain brings means its
around in Kenya– M-Pesa Bringing an individual into itable business sold for $650 reach and potential impact is
tripled financial inclusion the formal financial system million within 12 years- this enormous. It is important to
between 2006 (the year allows them to build a credit year, has done just remember that blockchain is
before its launch) to 2013. It history, access credit, start that. And this achievement just the latest in a long line of
is estimated to have directly companies, pay for goods and has been realized with 86% fintech innovations that have
lifted 850,000 people out of services online, among many of the population unable to changed the face of business
poverty, with up to 50% of other things. All of these access its services- imagine for consumers– however, this
Kenya’s GDP flowing through actions help individuals grow the opportunity if we get this time, it really could make the
M-Pesa. their wealth and improve population into the financial final leap required to making
So, it is clear that fintech quality of life. In the UAE, system, and able to purchase the world a fairer, more in-
innovations will allow great- Moody’s research implies goods and service online. clusive, and more prosperous
er access to the financial that a 20% increase in card Blockchain is an important society– and this will benefit
system for unbanked indi- penetration would bring fintech innovation- it will us all, and who knows– one
viduals. Blockchain is widely a 0.5% increase in GDP, allow companies and indi- day, blockchain could per-
anticipated to be the latest worth $8 billion a year, and viduals to agree and settle haps be more famous than
in a line of fintech innova- generate 100,000 new skilled contracts and transactions Play-Doh.

Ian Dillon is the co-founder of NOW Money. Ian was educated at Cambridge and Exeter Universities, and while at Cambridge, he started a successful
e-commerce business which has recently been sold. Ian’s former banking career was spent at HSBC, working in retail and corporate banking and
FX, before taking a management role within investment banking capital markets. In 2015, he co-founded NOW Money, an accounts and remittance
service for the unbanked population of the Middle East.

august 2017 Entrepreneur 37


outlet, or on the shelf of your user research, user-centered

daily grocery store; rather it design, and experience design
could be in your pocket or on can help resolve some of these
your desk, accessible with issues.
the touch of a few buttons. It Building a great user experi-
is because of this factor that ence requires research and
user experience is of such planning to determine what
criticality. the customer needs, where
This multidimensional each element should go,
concept goes beyond the tried and what the design should
and tested task-oriented ap- convey. Here are the most im-
proach of traditional human- portant aspects of an efficient
computer interaction (HCI) user experience design:
and brings out facets of fun,
Usability first pleasure, beauty and personal
growth. Apart from basic us-
Discovery Discovery is a huge
part of user experience. It
Pay attention to the user experience ability, enjoyability is a vital includes seamless and unique
aspect of your tech product- that’s key part of user experience. This interactions with the key
to its success By Clinton O’Leary paramount shift from usabil- stakeholders, learning every
ity to experiential factors has aspect of the customer’s

ith digital design mentality, standard forced researchers to consider business. Often, stakeholders
transformation tools, and techniques used to what user experience is, and might have different goals,
enveloping every produce desired effects in a how to evaluate and improve which, might overlap. Based
aspect of our person or persona. The advent upon it. User experience on the research, the UX
lives, or rather, the entire of user-centric designs, web (UX) outlines the individual designer needs to prepare
human civilization adapting accessibility, and usability expectation, evaluation, cog- feedback and plan the design
to the digital way of life, transformed the way websites nition, and communication of accordingly. The product
user experience has evolved were created. Gone are the a product interaction by the structure, content and audi-
as a characteristic worth days when a website had the user. Not paying attention to ence are a direct reflection of
investing in with world’s best looks of a simpleton with the user experience during the these discovered goals.
technologies and technical products elementarily listed. development of technically
minds. At the center of this Today’s websites and applica- mature products can result in Building personas After goal
transformation, resides the tions are glossy, user-centric, absolute failure. However, by setting, the next step is to
customer– the ever maturing multiple-view abled, and a focusing on positive experi- identify the customer base
and evolving customer. User result of psycho-analytical ence design during product and create personas. Personas
appeasement is at the center study and research on human development, the potential to are the personification of us-
of how user experience is buying behavior. create exciting products and ers who will use the product.
ideated upon, planned, and customer loyalty increases A product can have multiple
finally implemented. THE TRANSFORMATION manifold. personas, and each per-
In recent years, websites OF THE WEB A study conducted by sona can have different back-
and web applications have Traditionally, only two fac- Institute of Electrical and grounds, personalities, needs,
undergone significant changes tors influenced design– what Electronics Engineers gives a and end goals. Segregating the
and have experienced a would look good, and would better understanding of the personas and identifying the
fundamental shift in their as- the client like it. The last de- criticality of user experience course of action helps provide
sessment of user-product in- cade witnessed a transforma- design and on why software the best possible experience.
teractions. Emotional aspects tion of the web. The number fails. The result shows that
are becoming more important of web users has increased organizations spend almost Content is key Understanding
than traditional aspects, globally to roughly 3.4 billion US$1 trillion on Information the goal and audience helps
such as mere usability and users. The increase in access Technology (IT). 15% of these develop the right content.
functionality. How and what to the internet via various IT projects are estimated to be Creating engaging and
is the user experiencing with devices, like mobiles, tablets, abandoned or failed because relevant content is key. Con-
the product? A once one-way laptops and desktops along of poor user experience. sidering the shorter attention
static medium has evolved with more browser options, Failure of these projects is span of users, engaging them
and advanced into a very rich and various internet connec- avoidable. Some of the rea- quickly is critical. Provid-
and interactive experience. tion types, has resulted in the sons why a software fails are: ing users the right kind of
Design professionals use the surge of accessibility. Your unrealistic project goals, inac- content plays a major role in
phrase “user experience de- favorite product is no longer curate assessment of needed customer branding.
sign” to describe certain user- just available only behind the resources, poor reporting
centered design methods, glass showcase of the brand’s tools, unmanaged risks, com- Business benefits Cost saving
mercial pressures, and use of is one of the primary benefits
immature technology. Focus- of user experience. A survey
Clinton O’Leary is the Chief Commercial Officer of Yvolv, a ing on user experience by way conducted by Econsultancy,
technology joint venture between Alibaba Cloud and Meraas. of stakeholder interviews, reveals that almost three-

38 Entrepreneur august 2017

quarters of companies con- of a customer friendly yet tions, including the UAE and eMarketer predicts the UAE
sider the role of user experi- result-oriented user experi- Bahrain, are at the forefront and Saudi Arabia will witness
ence relevant for escalated ence is nothing less than dire of this digital transformation. an 80% increase in internet
sales and conversions. The necessity. According to Digital McK- users by 2020.
study was carried out in as- insey reports, there are 128 The standard procedure
sociation with WhatUsersDo, Today’s websites and million active smartphone for designing a good user
and involved more than 1,400 applications are glossy, users, and as this represents experience is consistent
digital and e-commerce pro- user-centric, multiple-view only 53% penetration, sig- across the globe. There is
fessionals. abled, and a result of nificant headroom remains. no independent “Middle
psycho-analytical study and The MENA region recorded East user experience.” It is a
research on human buying
USER EXPERIENCE IN THE the highest mobile data design where the experience
MIDDLE EAST traffic growth in the last few revolves around the user.
The Middle East is no excep- Over the last decade, data years. The most interesting What it requires is a better
tion to the global digital flow connecting the Middle forecast is an increase in understanding of the user’s
transformation, nor is the East with the rest of the 3G/4G users from 170 million needs, motivations, and
importance of an effective world has witnessed a to 330 million by 2020. Con- goals. After all, the Middle
and efficient user experience. substantial increase, almost sidering these developments, Eastern user experience may
With world’s top brands more than 150-fold. The digital-first organizations incorporate unique trends
rushing towards the Middle Middle East is at the center are leveraging the structural from the region, but the user-
East to cater to the shopping of a digital transformation. shift in how industries treat centered experience remains
friendly region, the existence Several Middle Eastern na- customers. In its Q1 forecast, the same.

| in the loop |

in the tech such as Emirates Post, DHL,

Aramex, and others, for smart drones ship-
The UAE could soon see the future of logistics in its surroundings ping solutions. Johmani says the growing
e-commerce industry in the MENA region,

eople in the UAE could soon locations across Dubai in “30 minutes or gives them “an integration opportunity”
receive their online shopping via less.” The drones, which will run with a pro- with companies like, for instance.
autonomous drone delivery service if prietary mobile application, will allow users “Souq at the moment uses more than
everything goes according to the plans of to track and manage their orders as well. 200 bikes to deliver their items to their
Space Autonomous Drones, a new Dubai “We have already manufactured and tested customers in Dubai alone, which has a high
company created as a result of partner- the drones in San Francisco, and done a full operational cost attached to it from Salik,
ship between UAE-based tech company operational test with Swiss Post in Switzer- to fuel and drivers associated costs; Space
Eniverse Technologies and San Francisco- land, and in September [2017], we are con- Autonomous drones will cut these costs to
based drones maker Skycart as announced ducting first delivery test in Dubai, aiming almost zero, hence we are actually creating
in July. Currently seeking legal approval at getting the regulation approvals to start a new market and category in the logistics
from the Dubai government, Space Au- operations between March and September industry,” he says.
tonomous Drones estimates the launch of 2018,” notes Mohammed Johmani, CEO, As part of the partnership, the US-based
the service to be “between 2018 and 2019,” Eniverse Technologies, and founder, Space Skycart will bring its drones experience and
and expresses confidence in a statement Autonomous Drones, speaking about the technology to the UAE, while Eniverse (a
that “it will fulfill all the legal criteria and plans for launch. Johmani says the com- company that prides itself on “incept[ing]
kickstart operations ahead of schedule.” pany plans to price the solution between ideas that become successful businesses”)
Once launched, Space Autonomous AED10-15 per delivery, while traditional will “draw the operational structure of
Drones’ technology will enable shipping of deliveries usually cost up to AED25. “This Space Autonomous Drones,” to meet all
products weighing up to five kilograms to shows you the economics of the concept in regulatory requirements of the UAE. With
comparison to the tradi- the UAE’s emphasis on Smart City initia-
tional delivery methods,” tives, and with governmental entities such
he adds. as RTA and Dubai Future Accelerator using
As industry reports technology to improve quality of living for
estimate the demand for Dubai residents (for instance RTA’s autono-
Image courtesy Space Autonomous Drones

drone technology in the mous air taxi, which was tested in June
Gulf region to reach over 2017, and is set to start the trial operation
US$1.5 billion by 2022, soon), Johmani is confident that “Dubai
Space Autonomous -through its Dubai 10X program and
Drones aims to capture Dubai Future Accelerators- will realize the
a part of this market potential of the autonomous drones, and
by collaborating with its positive impact on Dubai’s economy.”
established companies Here’s hoping to catch soon the drones in
that would be interested action in the UAE skies!

august 2017 Entrepreneur 39


these assessments are analyzed and verified

by an expert business psychologist, in com-
bination with an array of other structured
behavioral exercises, they form a much
fairer guide than relying on gut instinct or
the poor predictive validity of the aver-
age unstructured job interview. By putting
in place such an objective and thorough
recruitment assessment process you can
alleviate many of the cognitive biases that
sabotage recruitment practices, you can
pinpoint leadership potential early on, and
you will improve staff retention rates.

Know who to promote (it isn’t

always easy)
If you have recruited selectively and wisely,
your workforce should now be populated

If you expect excellence and demonstrable with eager, intelligent and engaged employ-
leadership from certain employees, you ees. With the cream of the crop, how do
need to invest in them and provide them you know who to promote, or who to offer
good with the tools to grow. leadership development?
There are a lot of misconceptions about
employees Excellent leadership begins with
recruitment assessment
leadership, and acting on these misconcep-
tions can prove pricey in a number of ways.

into great When hiring for a given position, it is a

wise move to look to the future. For most
For example, you don’t want to simply
promote your top performing employees.

leaders roles, you don’t want to hire someone you

believe has no potential to improve, climb
the ranks or provide further value down the
They might be excellent in their current
role, but do they have the necessary charac-
teristics required to lead a team? Can they
Secure your company’s future line. It’s a much smarter decision to recruit motivate and inspire, while uniting a team
by investing in the right people an individual who is proactive, willing to behind a given project? Are they constantly
By Nick Davis learn and who is both enthusiastic about micromanaging? Do they exhibit trust and
improving the company as well as them- instill it in others? Similarly, you don’t
selves. want to promote those who are simply the
Great leadership matters. Regardless If you think this sounds like a complicated most extroverted and confident. Keep an
of whether your company is a global enter- task, you’d be right. Not only do you have eye out for quieter, calmer employees who,
prise or an SME, you should be concerned to consider leadership skills and charac- despite their introverted nature, are able to
with succession planning. You’re going to teristics for both current and potential motivate others to be productive.
want to ensure that the right people are be- future positions but you also need to take You don’t want to waste time and money
ing trained, and given the tools they need to into consideration those personalities who backing the wrong employees for top posi-
become your inspirational company leaders would best fit within your existing (or tions. Put in place thorough development
of tomorrow. Without the right people, desired) company culture. This will require centers to assess for key leadership compe-
your company is likely to have a short a comprehensive analysis of the critical role tencies and don’t overlook certain employ-
future and lose out to competitors who competencies, what your company stands ees just because they’re not aware of their
have put solid, well-constructed leadership for, what its values are and where it aims to own leadership potential.
development plans in place. be in two to five years’ time.
So how does a company appropriately se- In order to obtain as much objective and Let your employees know you
lect, manage and encourage leaders so that reliable data as possible, many companies promote from within
they are able to reach their potential and decide to make use of psychometric testing. There are a lot of benefits, financial and
unite a team? There are a number of ways In fact, approximately 80% of the Fortune otherwise, to promoting from within. Your
of doing so- and it all begins with recruit- 500 employ psychometric tests in some existing employees have shown themselves
ment and hiring for potential. You then way or form. During the recruitment as- to be reliable, are aware of the company
need to take the necessary steps to ensure sessment process, you’ll be able to explore culture, and they know how the business
these employees are given the opportuni- each candidate’s personality, leadership operates. On average, external hires also
ties, confidence and training necessary capability, motivations and attitudes, as tend to perform worse than those hired
to excel beyond their own expectations, well as managerial judgement, potential from within. On top of this, promoting
remembering the whole time that great behavioral derailers under pressure and existing employees can do wonders for
leaders are not born- they are developed. cognitive abilities. When the results of company morale. Once your company

Nick Davis is a business psychologist and Director at Davis Associates, an HR consultancy based in Surrey, UK. Davis uses his knowledge and
expertise to improve organizational performance for companies around the world.

40 Entrepreneur august 2017

knows that you favor existing panies choose to utilize leader- them to take charge of their and become excellent future
employees, you begin to develop ship development programs. own professional development. leaders, but as no leader is born
a more loyal reputation, which Such a program should be Many executives feel a sense of with all the skills and strengths
will actually facilitate future tailored to your needs and can isolation in their senior role, necessary, they need their com-
recruiting efforts. It will also help potential leaders learn especially when faced with panies to lend a helping hand.
demonstrate to your current how to cope with the complexi- crucial decisions. Coaching can Put in place thorough
employees that you are invested ties inherent to a managerial facilitate this transition and recruitment assessment
in them and their futures. This position. Employees will also be make the whole process seem processes. Highlight potential
means they will be able to able to explore what leadership less daunting. A coach will help and succession plan through
more confidently work towards means to them in their role and shine a spotlight on behaviors structured development
a leadership role with your company, what the positive and that if overplayed can become centers. Give your leaders
organization, instead of looking negative consequences of their counterproductive and impede the training necessary
for opportunities elsewhere. natural style of leadership may leadership effectiveness. This is through a tailored leadership
be, how to cope with change perhaps why Psychology Today development program. Then
Many companies decide and deal with the pressures of has stated that “every CEO support those in senior
to use leadership the role. needs an executive coach.” At positions through executive
development programs a time when CEOs and senior coaching. Demonstrate to your
Deciding who to promote to a Behind every great CEO managers are facing more chal- employees that you have faith
leadership position is only part is an executive coach lenges and pressures than ever, in their abilities, you appreciate
of the battle. You then have to Executive coaching is a confi- a little help can go a long way- their efforts, and you believe
give them the developmental dential, one-on-one experience, particularly given the tendency they have the building blocks
support required to become a wherein the executive is given CEOs have to burning out. for leadership. In time, you’ll
great leader. This can be done impartial, third-party sup- There are a number of ways to benefit from dozens of potential
in many ways, and some com- port, which ultimately allows encourage employees to develop future leaders.

| STARTUP FINANCE | As for his experience in raising funds for

“We got funded!” in the region, he believes that

since the founding team is “well-connected”
Algorithm-based online recruitment startup in the GCC business circles [founders’
closes US$3 million funding background is in private equity and they
are serial entrepreneurs], it gave them

AE’s algorithm-based online recruit- ing a few of the company’s core offerings, something to leverage on. “You should be
ment platform has he says its features include “scientific prepared to answer any question relating
closed a US$3 million funding round matching percentages, probabilities of suc- to your venture, your differentiation, the
in June 2017, led by GCC-focused private cess, candidate 30-second pitching videos, industry you are in, and its dynamics. Sur-
equity firm Noble Partners with participa- insightful dashboards for both employers round yourself with at least one strong and
tion from ProCapita from Kuwait, Oman’s and job seekers, in addition to an advanced exposed co-founder, and be ready to work
Mohamad Moosa Abdulrahman Investment but smart online recruitment monitoring 48 hours non-stop- no holidays, no rest,
office, Al Serkal and Al Shafar from the software for employers.” and more importantly you should never
UAE, among others. The entrepreneur holds a firm belief that give up,” says Khamis, sharing takeaways
With this financial injection, with data playing a huge role in the lives of for MENA’s aspiring entrepreneurs from his
aims to accelerate growth across MENA individuals and companies when it comes to own fundraising experience.
(by expanding in Saudi Arabia), enter decision making,’s premise to
Indian market, invest in advertising, and utilize big data to streamline the recruit-
Ahmad Khamis,
strengthen its team to support operations, ment process has potential to scale as a co-founder and CEO,
aiming to grow the current 16-member business- both in the MENA region and
team to 40 by the end of 2018. The HR globally. Acknowledging that the Middle
tech startup, which started operations in East is home to numerous conventional
January 2016, says both business and team recruitment portals, he adds that, at Bloovo.
size has gained momentum since then, with com, “adopting data science in the recruit-
its employer base (clients) growing from ment play was [their] theme.”
260 in 2016 to over 1,850 employers as of Besides creating a product that scientifi-
May 2017. cally ensures appropriate fit for open roles,
“The job mismatch problem is a univer- with growing concerns of robots and other
sal one, and what we try to do at Bloovo. technology taking over human jobs, Khamis
com is to find the means to solve such a says he wanted to “create something that
Image courtesy

problem through the use of data science is algorithmic, [and hence] would not only
and advanced algorithms to make job survive in the technological disruption
matching a reality,” says Ahmad Khamis, era, but be a best choice when it comes to
the startup’s co-founder and CEO. Explain- recruitment.”

august 2017 Entrepreneur 41


Gadgets and doodads that you might’ve missed out on, sourced by a tech aficionado.
Yes, it’s okay to want them all… and no, it’s not our fault.

Style and substance

huawei Honor 9

Huawei has launched the partnerships with Grammy matter when or where you
new and improved Honor 9 Award winner Rainer Mailler are. Huawei also continues
smartphone. The upgraded and Monster for audio fine- its commitment to security
flagship device features a tuning and optimization. with Honor 9’s front-facing
dual-lens camera, which Thanks to its 5.15-inch FHD fingerprint sensor, which
includes a 20MP mono- screen with 428 PPI, offering lets you quickly unlock your
chrome lens and a 12MP RGB true-to-life color reproduction device without picking it up.
lens with hybrid zoom and and color saturation levels Honor 9 is uniquely designed
Huawei Histen 3D sound field of up to 96%, this device with a curved 3D glass back
technology that has three dif- is certainly nice to look at. and metal frame, and for a bit
ferent modes -near, front and The sunlight, night, and eye of additional style, it’s now
wide- to replicate surround comfort modes ensure that available in a cool new color
sound. Huawei also leveraged your screen looks great, no called Glacier Grey as well.
Honor 9 smartphone

Honor 9

42 Entrepreneur august 2017


Touchscreens all around

Sony Xperia Touch

Sony is pushing past its Sony Xperia Touch Sony

competitors with the launch of its Xperia Touch

new smart projector, the Xperia

Touch. Built with the latest
Sony intelligence, this compact
and lightweight short-throw
projector transforms a wall,
table, floor, or any flat surface
into an interactive 23-inch HD
touchscreen. Whether you want
to play games on the living room
floor, project a recipe onto the
kitchen counter, or simply make
your wall a message board,
Xperia Touch adds a whole new
dimension to your home. The
projector features presence
sensing technology, two-way Xperia Touch
stereo speakers, horizontal and
vertical displays. It’s also Wi-Fi
connected and compatible with
Android apps and games in the
Google Play Store.
Sony Xperia

Print on the go HP Sprocket app

HP Sprocket

HP puts the fun back in ink cartridges and prints vibrant,

photography with the Sprocket smudge-proof photos in a
Photo Printer. This pint-sized matter of seconds. You can also
device prints 2x3 inch photos print from your mobile device
on peel-and-stick paper that’s running iOS or Android using
both tear and water resistant. the HP Sprocket app. Sprocket
IMAGES COURTESY: huwaei | sony | hp

Sprocket is petite, portable, and is available in white with rose

it truly does fit into your pocket. gold accents, and comes with a
It uses HP ZINC Photo Paper, 10 pack of HP ZINC Photo Paper
which eliminates the need for to get you started.
HP Sprocket

#TAMTALKSTECH Tamara Clarke, a former software development professional, is the tech and lifestyle enthusiast behind The Global Gazette, one
of the most active blogs in the Middle East. The Global Gazette has been welcomed and lauded by some of the most influential tech brands in the
region. Clarke’s goal is to inform about technology and how it supports our lifestyles. See her work both in print regional publications and online
on her blog where she discusses everything from how a new gadget improves day-to-day life to how to coordinate your smartphone accessories.
Visit and talk to her on Twitter @TamaraClarke.

august 2017 Entrepreneur 43


‘Trep trimmings
The executive selection
From better goods to better wardrobe bests, every issue we choose a few items that make
the approved executive selection list. In this issue, we present our selections from the
Salvatore Ferragamo Spring/Summer 2017 range, a timepiece combining the best of two
brands, and an eyewear piece worthy of your collection.


SS17 SS17 SS17 Salvatore Ferragamo
Spring/Summer 2017
Fresh from the departure of the
House’s former Creative Director,
Massimiliano Giornetti, Salvatore
Ferragamo showcases a renewed
take on the brand that hints at
adventure. Bringing in dark toned
jackets atop silk shirts, the SS17
collection makes for the ideal
summer scenester suit. The pieces
are light and comfortable, without
sacrificing structure. Along with
office attire, you’ll find variations
for both streetwear and sportswear.
Need to tone down your ensemble
for a casual night out? Look no
further, Ferragamo’s latest line goes
the extra mile.
Salvatore Ferragamo SS17

Salvatore Ferragamo SS17

SS17’s pocket squares
images courtesy Salvatore Ferragamo, Hublot, Tom Ford

Completing Salvatore Ferragamo’s SS17

range is the interesting selection of
suited up pocket squares. Step up your
game with the House’s fine silk pocket
squares. Need a touch of excitement to
change up your existing wardrobe sta-
ples? Then opt for a few of these beau-
ties, which will instantly add a burst of
color and personality. After all, it’s the
details that count.

44 Entrepreneur august 2017

Hublot x Berluti
Worthy collabs often produce
the best results. Bringing
together the watchmaking
expertise of Hublot and fine
leather craftsmanship of Berluti
is always a good idea, and we’ve
got proof as this is the second
time the two tag team created
an especially noteworthy piece.
With the Hublot Hublot Classic
Fusion Chronograph Berluti
edition, the brand wanted to
improve it by applying the
concept on a chronograph- a
concept that may seem simple,
but still requires (and shows)
skill in having a dial, and two
counters made of leather.
Available in two styles, black
ceramic and warm gold, as well
as black leather and brown
leather, this timepiece is sure to
up your ante.

Classic Fusion Chronograph Berluti

Tom Ford Tom Ford

Private Eyewear Private Eyewear
Collection Collection

Tom Ford
Tom Ford Private Eyewear
Private Eyewear Collection

Editor’s pick
Tom Ford
If there’s a brand that has become known for mastering
flattering looks, it’s Tom Ford. Smart enough to be paired
with a suit, and cool enough for the weekend, we’ve taken
a shine to the brand’s Private Eyewear Collection. Made
with Japanese titanium for an ultra-light weight feel, the
photochromic lenses will also darken and lighten depending
on illumination levels. Look sharp!

august 2017 Entrepreneur 45


Happy endings
The Esquire Guy walks you through the best way
to wrap up a business meeting
By Ross McCammon

ast impressions are under- What you do
rated in business. Else- Obviously, you shake hands with
where? Not underrated. At everyone. Obviously, you smile. The
a restaurant: dessert. At key is to shake hands and smile in a
the Olympics: closing cer- way that suggests you are, say, 30%
emonies. At the end of The Cannon- more pleased with how things went
ball Run: a hilarious blooper reel. than you actually are. Politicians do
But at the end of a meeting? Some this all the time. Especially after a
handshakes and business cards. debate. Fathers of the bride do this,
What restaurateurs and Olympics too. So do the North Koreans after
organizers and movie producers their leader says something. The
know that the rest of us don’t is scientific term for it is: Post Event
that a good ending magically makes Feigned Delight. Used in a sentence:
you think that everything preceding “Bob, nice work in the meeting, but
it went off better than it actually would it have killed you to have
did. The last impression is a power- upped the PEFD a little?”
ful thing. The ending is important. This is straightforward if the
Especially in a meeting room. meeting was innocuous. But
To be clear: this isn’t about end- what if the meeting was difficult?
ing a meeting. Ending a meeting has For advice on that, we turn to
never struck us as all that difficult. a group of people who have
This is about what happens after been indispensable to us when
this is about what happens after
the meeting has already ended. The discussing meeting etiquette in the
the meeting has already ended. The
handshaking. The small-talking. past, people who have witnessed handshaking. The small-talking.
The walking to the door. The asking more difficult meetings than almost The walking to the door. The asking
where the restroom is. This is about anyone: former White House press where the restroom is. This is about
leaving- but in a meaningful way. secretaries. leaving- but in a meaningful way.


No matter how contentious the “Great meeting!” The best attitude to have while
meeting, always shake hands After a bad meeting, don’t say, “Bad leaving a meeting room is: hopeful.
with your counterparts while meeting!” The second best attitude to have is:
looking them in the eye and saying After a ho-hum meeting, don’t say, kind of hopeful.
something positive. “Ho-hum meeting.” Do not tout the quality of your
No hugs. In fact, never, under any doodling.
No high-fives. circumstances, say “ho-hum,” ever. Unless it is of remarkably high
No butt slaps. Do not say, “Hey, let’s be careful quality with fine lines and a certain
If you’re hosting the meeting, see out there” … unless you just panache.
your guests out as far as the door or wrapped up a meeting with your Leave the last doughnut.
elevator. fellow police officers. You can go back in a few minutes and
Talk about anything except what Do not hand out gold stars to those grab it after everyone else has left,
you just met about. who did a good job. but for now, just walk away from
After a great meeting, don’t say, Even metaphorically. the doughnut.

46 Entrepreneur august 2017

In other words, move on- which is How to wrap up a meeting
what you’re physically trying to do
anyway. Template 1
In the interest of equal time, For when you want to make sure
here’s Dana Perino, former press each person knows that you value
secretary for the George W. Bush their time, talents and hard work:
administration: “If the meeting “Well, I think this has been a
didn’t go well, having a chance to [positive adjective] discussion of
say something that is more person-
[meeting subject]. We’ve figured
al, or neutral, is good. In the brief-
out how to fix [the problem]. We’ve
ing room, even if I wanted to scream
inside or sometimes cry, I wouldn’t discussed new ways to [tasks]. And
let them know it. It’s a little bit of [name of person in meeting] showed
a poker face, but also a grounded- us how to sleep with his eyes open.
ness that I believe in what I said, I Oh [name of person in meeting], I’m
believe in my idea and I’m grateful I kidding! Your input was [positive
met these people.” adjective] as always. So unless
The question often comes up anyone has any questions, I think
of who to talk to when leaving a we’re in [middling-to-positive
room. You want to engage who- adjective] shape for now. Thanks,
ever’s nearby. Because that’s the
most social thing to do. “There’s a
tendency for people when they are
getting ready to leave a meeting to Template 2
go talk to the highest-ranking per- For when you’re not all that
son in the room,” McCurry says. “I concerned if each person knows that
always sought out the person that you value their time, talents and
for whatever reason hadn’t partici- hard work:
pated very much.” “We’re done. Hand me that Boston
It’s an interesting notion. cream. I like a good Boston cream.”
Not only is it a generous act, but
it also fulfills the mission of the
meeting in the first place: to get key The question often comes up of
“In a meeting that has been conten- people into the room so everyone who to talk to when leaving
tious, with some difficult emotions can participate. You’re retroactively a room. You want to engage
whoever’s nearby. Because that’s
expressed, it’s never good to have imposing that participation upon the most social thing to do.
people leave a room angry, because the reticent, but still.
it’s not going to serve whatever get from somebody is, ‘I’m so grate-
common purpose you were trying “In a meeting that has been ful you gave me any time at all.’”
to address,” says Mike McCurry, contentious, with some difficult But don’t linger. Everybody has
emotions expressed, it’s never
former press secretary for the Clin- work to do, and your business has
good to have people leave a room
ton administration. “There has to concluded. So, move along. Walk
angry, because it’s not going to
be some kind of acknowledgement serve whatever common purpose and talk. After all, as Perino told us,
that there was a difficult conversa- you were trying to address.” “No one will believe you value their
tion. To name the difficulty and to time if you seem to be wasting it.”
acknowledge that we’ve dealt with What you communicate What’s going on when you’re
the difficulty, even if it’s unresolved, The main message you want to leaving the room is socializing. The
it leaves people thinking their impart is: gratitude. “You never business is over. The process of be-
See this article in its entirety at

emotional input to the meeting has know if those meetings are going to coming people who aren’t obsessed
been acknowledged.” lead to something else,” Perino says. only with numbers and strategy has
Establish common ground even “And the people you meet on the begun. A meeting is an alternate
if you couldn’t find any in the way up are the same people you’re reality that you should consciously
meeting. Irony and sarcasm can going to see on the way down. So, transition out of. When you’re
be useful. (“Well, that was easy.”) you’d better be nice to every single leaving the room, you and everyone
But I think it’s better to be honest. one of them, and take that oppor- else become re-humanized. You’re
(“Well, that blew.”) Then pro- tunity to thank somebody for their putting yourself back in the context
ceed to have an equally authentic valuable time, and smile and hold of real life, which is useful, because
conversation that has nothing to your head high as you walk out. One that’s where the best ideas happen
do with what you just met about. of the highest compliments you can anyway.

august 2017 Entrepreneur 47


a network, barely enough resources.

Certainly, some of these constraints do
hold us back. However, there is also a
positive side. The constraints in our
lives often force us to make choices and
cultivate talents that would otherwise
go undeveloped. Constraints drive
creativity and foster skill development.
Just as the constraints of futsal forced
Brazilian children to develop creativity
and better ball handling skills, con-
straints can also drive your own skill
development. In many ways, reaching
the next level of performance is simply a
matter of choosing the right constraints.

How to choose the right

AFF AIS Futsal From what I can tell, there are three
Championship 2016 primary steps to follow when using
constraints to improve your skills.

Constraints 1. Decide what specific skill you

want to develop. The more specific
make you better the skill, the easier it will be to design
a good constraint. For example, futsal
Why the right limitations boost performance didn’t help players develop the skill of
By James Clear being good at soccer. That’s too general.

It helped them develop creative ball
n 1930, a 23-year-old teacher in players get 600% more touches during handling skills, which turned out to be
Uruguay named Juan Carlos Ceriani a typical game than soccer players do. valuable in the game of soccer.
created a new sport. Ceriani wanted Throughout the 1930s and into the Similarly, you shouldn’t try to develop
to design a game that was similar to 1940s, futsal migrated from Uruguay the skill of being “good at marketing,”
soccer, but that his students could to Brazil, where the Brazilians fell in for example. It’s too broad. Instead,
play indoors throughout the year. love with the new game. (Even today, focus on learning how to write compel-
His new game became known as over 75 years later, more people play ling headlines or analyze website data-
futsal. futsal in Brazil than soccer.) It’s hard something specific and tangible.
Futsal is very similar to soccer, but it to say why futsal became so popular
has a few important differences. First, in Brazil, but one thing is for sure: the 2. Design a constraint that
it is played in a much smaller area. (Ce- young Brazilians who grew up playing requires this specific skill to be
riani designed the game so that it could futsal throughout the 1940s and 1950s used. There are three main options for
be played on YMCA basketball courts.) developed incredible ball handling and designing a constraint: time, resources,
Second, the ball is smaller and has less technical skills. and environment.
bounce than a regular soccer ball. Third, Eventually, these children grew into Time Give yourself less time to accom-
there are only five players per side adults and made the transition from plish a task or set a schedule that forces
rather than the typical eleven players futsal to soccer. The athletic creativity you to work on a skill more consistently.
per side in a soccer match. they developed in those futsal games Resources Give yourself fewer re-
This combination of factors -a tighter would help the Brazilians to shine on sources (or different resources) to do a
playing environment and a less bouncy the world stage. During the 12-year task.
ball- requires futsal players to develop span from 1958 to 1970, there were four Environment According to one study,
more creative ball skills because they World Cup championships. Brazil won if you eat on 10-inch plates rather than
are constantly playing in crowded three of them. 12-inch plates, you’ll consume 22%
spaces. Additionally, because there are fewer calories over the course of a year.
fewer players, each person touches the Constraints accelerate skill One simple change in environment
ball much more than they would in a development can lead to significant results. In my
futsal image © feelphoto / shutterstock

standard soccer match. In fact, accord- It is common to complain about the opinion, environmental constraints are
ing to research quoted by Daniel Coyle constraints in our lives: too little best because they impact your behavior
in his book The Talent Code, futsal time, not enough money, too small of without you realizing it.

James Clear writes at, where he uses behavior science to share ideas for mastering your habits, improving your health,
and increasing your creativity. To get useful ideas on improving your mental and physical performance, join his free newsletter To have James speak at your entrepreneurial event contact him

48 Entrepreneur august 2017

3. Play the game. Constraints can
accelerate skill development, but they Accelerating ideas
aren’t a magic pill. You still need to put in
your time. The greatest Brazilian soccer UK Lebanon Tech Hub gets US$3.2 million boost
players were still playing futsal all the for Lebanese tech startups
time. The best plan is useless without

repeated action. What matters most is n the spirit of fueling the growth 20 startups were chosen to attend
getting your reps in. of Lebanon’s ecosystem further, a week of product development
the UK Lebanon Tech Hub workshop. After a week, six startups
The idea in practice (UKLTH) has launched The were shortlisted to join The Nucleus’
I am currently experimenting with dif- Nucleus, a venture building program full three-month acceleration
ferent constraints to boost my skills in whose objective is to turn tech program. The six startups would
certain areas. Here are a few skills I have ideas and minimum viable products receive an investment of $20,000
been working to develop and the con- into marketable solutions- and it in cash and $30,000 in services, in
straints I am placing on myself to make commences with offering financial return for a 5% equity stake. Over
them happen: support too. The Central Bank of the course of three months, startups
Lebanon will fund the UKLTH with would undergo workshops on finance,
Writing skills I want to be a better US$3.2 million -in parallel to the legal structures, raising funds,
writer, so I set a schedule where I have to fund pledged by the UK Embassy- marketing and sales, as well access
publish a new article every Monday and totaling its funding to $6.4 million, to office space, legal and auditing
Thursday. The schedule is my constraint. as announced by Nicolas Sehnaoui, services support, and HR services.
It doesn’t matter how good or how bad Chairman of the UKLTH, during the After the program, alumni startups
the article is. It doesn’t matter how long launch. can still receive support through
or how short it is. I have to get something From 176 applications, with 37 facilitating partnerships and potential
out every Monday and Thursday. This applicants from outside Lebanon, investments.
forces me to be creative and to do the one
thing that good writers do: write. I don’t A scene from the launch of
always hit the mark, but I have stuck The Nucleus program at
UK Lebanon Tech Hub
with this schedule for two years and I’ve
written over 200,000 words.

Strength skills I only lift three days

per week. To someone who doesn’t work-
out, this might sound like a lot. However,
many strength athletes train four to six
days per week, sometimes twice per day.
With restricted training time, I have to
be very deliberate with my workouts if
I want to make progress. Right now, I’m
prioritizing foundational strength over all
else. I’ll move on to in-depth technique
development once my strength levels are

Storytelling skills I have some Startups showcase

friends who are amazing storytellers. I’ve The six ventures selected to be a part of The Nucleus program
never been great at it, but I’d like to get
better. The constraint I’ve placed on my- DOX An energy startup offering JALEESA A tech-driven platform
self is scheduling talks without the use of predictive maintenance algorithm to connecting parents with verified
slides. My last five speaking engagements monitor the performance of drones. caregivers.
have used no slides or a few basic images.
Without text to rely on, I have designed
a constraint that forces me to tell better HANDISS A platform for engineer LGALX A platform offering legal
stories so that I don’t embarrass myself and architect freelancers in the answers and services using AI and
in front of the audience. construction sector. blockchain tech.
What do you want to become great at?
image courtesy UK Lebanon Tech Hub

What skills do you want to develop?

Most important, what constraints can Imagineme An online publishing NOTIFER An app aiming to boost
you place upon yourself to get there? platform utilizing augmented reality to your memory and productivity with
Knowing the answer to this can help you create personalized children’s book. actionable reminders.
get to your goals quicker. Good luck!

august 2017 Entrepreneur 49


they may still succeed off their own

back, a little encouragement could go a
long way. Research from the Institute
of Education (University of London)
shows that there are some small, yet
fundamental differences between future
entrepreneurs and their peer group.
Here are some of the institute’s findings
around the signs exhibited by children
at 10 years of age:

Extremely high levels of self-

It takes no great leap of imagination to
understand that self-esteem is linked
to entrepreneurship. In truth, it takes
a great amount of confidence to start
and sustain a business in the long
term. According to the research, future
entrepreneurs scored 0.13 on this trait,
whereas their peers averaged at -0.01.
Fueling the future It is therefore fair to say that entrepre-
neurial students tend to be more outgo-
Educators have key roles to play in nurturing their students’
ing and confident than is the norm for
entrepreneurial spirit By Tanvir Haque their age group.

hen you stand up in front entrepreneurial behavior from as young High levels of self-regulation
of a classroom and impart as five. Yes, it is at this formative time In the same respect, business owners
knowledge, you have that there are noticeable differences need to regulate their own lifestyles
genuine power, and that’s between them and their peers. While and workflows. You may think that
why educators can make a many may simply overlook the charac- this is a learnt characteristic, but the
real difference to the future teristics associated with entrepreneur- findings tell a different story. In fact,
success of their students. But it is not ship in children, educators have a core entrepreneurial children came in at
as simple as merely equipping them duty to identify and nurture them. Case 0.15 on self-regulation. Compared to
with the necessary tools. Instead, it is in point, there is a huge body of evi- the average of their peers, which was
about identifying their innate talents dence, well documented in the Acade- -0.01.
at a crucial age, and supporting them my of Entrepreneurship Journal, which
to grow into the entrepreneurs and suggests that educators do indeed Slightly higher IQ levels
leaders of tomorrow. So, how can you play a vital role in the future business Now, here’s a surprise for most of us.
go about doing this? Well, there are pursuits of their students. As they note, While some imagine that entrepre-
some remarkable tools, resources, and “Students’ entrepreneurial self-efficacy neurs are vastly more intelligent than
methods you can apply. can be enhanced by positive, encourag- those around them, the results show
ing comments from teachers.” something altogether different. In real-
The data shows young people really Armed with this knowledge, it is, ity, there was only a variation of 0.01
are our future therefore, crucial that educational between the two sets of students.
What makes a successful entrepreneur? institutions put great emphasis on their
Many think that a business person students’ entrepreneurial traits from Lower reading abilities, but higher
is merely “created” through their the earliest possible age. math abilities
upbringing, their lifestyle choices, and, Finally, it is worth considering chil-
indeed, their level of education. While The challenge of spotting a young dren’s aptitude for basic skills, such
all of the above may well be true, data entrepreneur as math and reading. According to the
shows that there could also be a natural There is no doubt in my mind that sample, students who went on to be
element to entrepreneurship. In other there are children out there with entrepreneurs had higher math abilities
words, what if these traits were innate? entrepreneurial spirit who slip under than their peers and yet lower reading
The chances are they might be. the radar. For whatever reason, these skills. While these results won’t be true
Contrary to popular belief, children individuals are not given the help they in all cases, you should keep them in
have been known to start exhibiting need to thrive in the future. While mind.

Tanvir Haque is currently the Chief Commercial Officer at Lifecare International, and he is the founder and Non-Executive Director of
Freshstone Consulting. He thrives on developing customer-centric business relationships, and as such he is currently focused on revolutionizing
Lifecare’s customer experience and driving the company’s digital transformation plans– all with the aim of unlocking Lifecare’s full technology
potential. With a career spanning back more than 20 years, Tanvir’s experience has been gathered in professional services, banking, and
telecommunications, having worked with PwC in Sydney, Andersen in Sydney and London, and Standard Chartered Bank in London.

50 Entrepreneur august 2017

is the Open Psychometric over. The stumbling block
Test Resource, a collabora- for many, though, is how to
tive project established by take the next step and nur-
UK universities and research ture the talents that these
students. Here you can ac- young people possess. To aid
cess tests revolving around you with this conundrum,
aptitude, leadership, nu- it’s worth looking at the
merical skills, and, indeed, research from the Academy
entrepreneurship. The test of Entrepreneurship Journal
looks at key attributes, once more for some useful
such as creativity, passion, insights to use in classes and
control taking, achievement workshops.
striving, and industrious-
identify such traits. The tool ness. Each candidate simply First identify, then develop
Of course, merely noticing is centered around 10 core has to answer 50 questions, natural talent If a young
these traits is not enough to talents that are essential in saying whether they agree person has completed the
brand a student as a “young any entrepreneur and seeks with each statement using BP10 and it has shown
entrepreneur.” Still, if an to find out whether indi- a measure of “very inaccu- that they have particularly
educator does notice these viduals already have them. rate” to “very accurate.” The strong business building
signs, there are some spe- When you have bought the results will then offer a full talents, then it is important
cific scientific tools that are test on behalf of your insti- breakdown of the student’s to understand this is only
out there which may help. tute, you will be able to use abilities. the beginning of the story.
In using them, teachers will it with your students and in Working from the assess-
have the chance to identify the classroom environment. How to nurture young ment results, the educator
students within their class- Each student will have to entrepreneurs can provide further learning
rooms who may be the next take a 30-minute assess- Once an educator has used activity to nurture these
generation of entrepreneurs. ment and the results will be the above information and talents– starting with the
almost instantaneous. The tools to identify gifted stu- amount of time and focus
Scientific tools that results come in the form of dents within their institute, that these areas are given on
identify entrepreneurial an in-depth evaluation of their job is by no means a daily basis. >>>
traits each student’s strengths and
There is not an exact science depths of the 10 core en-
to figuring out what makes trepreneurial talents. Using
someone an entrepreneur. them, an educator should be
However, there are tools able to gain a stronger un-
which allow you to identify derstanding of those whom
students with these traits. they teach.
So, it may be worth, as
an educator, having your The Open Psychometric
students complete these Test Resource
assessments so that you Should finances be an issue,
may better understand their there are also free resources
talents. Here are a couple of online which may be equally
options that you may wish as effective. One such place
to consider when finding the that you can find a wealth of
entrepreneurs and leaders of useful tools and information
tomorrow in your institute.

The Builder Profile 10

(BP10) Assessment by
One of the most direct
ways to establish whether |

someone has a natural talent

for the world of entrepre-
neurship and business is to
check out which traits they
currently possess. Gallup
offer the BP10 Assessment
on their main site, which is
available at a charge and can

august 2017 Entrepreneur 51


Entrepreneurs raising
Think about curriculum development entrepreneurs
Once talent is identified, there needs
Entrepreneurial parents, here’s what you need to pass on to your kids
to be methods in place for students
By Helen Al Uzaizi
to nurture and develop their innate
talent. One key aspect for educators to The entrepreneurship road hasn’t always may be all too familiar with. One way entre-
consider is creating a curriculum that been easy, but one thing is for sure, it has preneurs find fulfilment and the energy to
allows students to “practise” their tal- taught you some valuable lessons- and for keep going is helping others around them.
ents, much as they would practise any some of us, we wouldn’t have it any other Developing a sense of belonging to the
of the traditional subjects. The objec- way. Whether you would like your children community will give your children greater
tive is to develop talents into strengths. to follow in the same path, or take over the perspective on the world around them and
business you have established, passing on the problems facing their immediate com-
Learning experiences with entrepreneurs some of the knowledge you learned along munity. You can start by setting an example
“Vicarious learning” is the act of your journey can help them succeed in for your children by volunteering in various
experiencing and taking on knowledge theirs. These lessons will help your children community initiatives and exposing them to
from the success of others. For ex- regardless of the path they choose in life, regular activities like food donation drives or
ample, teachers may invite successful make them well-rounded individuals, and environmental projects. You will be teaching
entrepreneurs into the classroom to give them the ability to take on any future your children that they can make a differ-
deliver speeches or even skill lessons. challenge. ence if they participate, a belief they will
Over the years, there have been various carry into adulthood.
studies to support the idea that this The value of money and how to
technique is effective on a small scale. manage it If you recall how hard you had Cultivate empathy Empathy is a crucial
The inclusion of entrepreneurs and to work to earn your first dollar, this gave skill that needs to start at home. Relating to
business owners within an educational you a deeper sense of appreciation and others’ emotions and working with people
setting may seem unusual, but it is one understanding of the value of money. While to help accomplish their goals is a vital skill
that could seriously pay off in terms of your children may have it easier than you, for entrepreneurs. Being empathetic is the
results. they still need to learn the value of their difference between an effective leader who
work and what it takes to earn money. Just is respected and one who is not much liked
Positive reinforcement from teachers as important, they need to know what to by their employees. You can set an example
While every educator seeks to encour- do with that money when they do earn it for your kids by showing them how to
age their students, there may be a and this requires a basic level of financial listen to others and the value of supporting
deeper meaning behind this act. In literacy. One way to start is to give your those around them. Emotional intelligence
fact, the research suggests that “verbal child opportunities to earn money by doing requires a role model who practices active
persuasion” -giving children positive chores or helping out around the house. You listening, understanding, and is consistently
reinforcement on their successes- can should also help them take that money and respectful to others.
help to boost their leadership skillset. put it into a bank account so they develop a
basic understanding of saving, interest, and Embracing failure and remaining
Fear prevention lessons Of course, investing. positive Did you give up after your
one of the major things that holds first failure? Probably not, otherwise you
young people back when it comes to Reward their curiosity A healthy wouldn’t be where you are today. Failure
entrepreneurship is the fear of failure sense of curiosity has propelled many en- carries a heavy stigma in our society, but
itself. Hence, the research suggests trepreneurs to create innovative businesses in the world of entrepreneurship, it’s a
that teachers should work alongside and find creative solutions to age-old fundamental part of the equation. Many en-
students to diminish fears surrounding problems. This sense of curiosity however trepreneurs fail, but it’s the successful ones
autonomy and leadership. In doing needs to be nurtured and encouraged at a who didn’t give up and tried again. Fear of
so, they can help to give young people young age. Rewarding your child’s curiosity failure is learned at an early age, but if you
the confidence they need to start up a and encouraging them to pursue methods want to raise a successful entrepreneur, you
business alone in the future. of finding their own answers will help them need to show them how to deal with it in a
throughout their entire careers. They will healthy way while remaining positive. Even
After identifying the necessary traits learn to question information and think more important, you need to guide your
and including the above-mentioned critically about daily challenges, a valuable child (at a healthy distance as to maintain
approaches in the classroom, educa- trait for independent individuals and innova- their independence) through their failure
tors can give their students a fighting tors in any field. so they can learn from the experience. As
chance in the arena of leadership and they learn to embrace failure, your child
entrepreneurship. Nurturing select The value of giving back to the com- will develop resilience which will help them
students in this area will not only munity Entrepreneurs face a great deal of overcome setbacks in the future and keep
give them confidence, but gives them loneliness during their journey, a fact you moving forward.
the best possible chance of realizing
their potential. It is in this way that
Helen Al Uzaizi is the CEO of BizWorld UAE and founder of the entrepreneurship education
modern-day educators can truly make platform for the MENA region, Future Entrepreneurs. With a 15+ year career in the corporate
an impact on the future. and startup world, Helen directed her passion to the entrepreneurship education field,
working to instill the entrepreneurial mindset in the next generation of leaders.

52 Entrepreneur august 2017


industry. You will need to get what you’ve created. Educate,

an in-depth understanding of showcase and demonstrate
their wants, their needs, their what you’ve created. Tell a
interests and their challenges. story about how it can help
The clearer your picture is them and add value. Sharing
of precisely who you want what you have created shows
to attract, the easier it will to the people who you want to
be for you to identify where attract that you not only have
those people are, and when a deep understanding about
they present themselves (also them, but in fact that you
known as, “being in the right are one of them. And that’s
place and right time”). the secret why step two is so
Bringing in the business 2. Be who you want to
important– we attract what
we are.
Leveraging the law of attraction to win new attract The second step is
somewhat counterintuitive, 4. Partner with who you
clients for your enterprise and because of this it usually want to attract The final
By Matthew Chaban is where most people give up, step is to form mutually
however they do so at great beneficial relationships or

highly profitable busi- have hundreds, thousands, loss because actually being partnerships with the people
ness with year on year or even millions of customers the person you want to attract who you are now attracting
revenue growth, an lining up to use their products opens new levels of insight into your business. Using our
impressive list of high- or services. We only need and understanding. Let’s take example, it means partnering
value clients, and an excep- to think of people like Mark the entrepreneur example with new potential clients
tional brand that attracts Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Rich- again- your business is look- who are entrepreneurs. They
a continual stream of new ard Branson, and Bill Gates, to ing to attract passionate, see that you understand them
opportunities– this is a dream name a few. proactive entrepreneurs who and are in fact an entrepre-
business enterprise that so Well, you might say, these desire to build disruptive, neur yourself, which naturally
many aspire to, but only few people just got lucky. They game changing businesses. attracts them to you, because
achieve… why? were just in the right place at Being the person you want you’re attracting what you
Is it actually possible to the right time. But how ex- to attract (i.e. the passionate are. The more people you at-
build a business like this? If actly do you position yourself entrepreneur), will enable you tract, the more partnerships
we look to the many talented to be in the right place at the to gain firsthand, personal, in- you can form and this begins
entrepreneurs who started right time? depth insight into the wants, an upward cycle of attraction
out on shoestring budget and Through the law of attrac- needs, interests and chal- and partnering which can
went on to build global busi- tion. Put simply, the law of lenges of entrepreneurs on an propel you and your business
ness empires, then the answer attraction means you will at- emotional as well as intellec- to new levels of success you
is a resounding yes. tract what you focus upon. tual level. previously thought unattain-
So, what key element sepa- In business, there are four able.
rates those that achieve this steps we can follow to lever- 3. Share with who you Most unsuccessful business-
level of success and those that age the law of attraction. want to attract Once you es focused on selling alone,
don’t? have a clear understanding skip the first three steps and
I think the answer can be 1. Know who you want to of who you want to attract, jump straight into the final
found in the law of attraction. attract The first step is to and you’ve gained an in-depth step of trying to win a new
One of my favorite mentors have a crystal-clear idea of understanding of their wants, client. In sales and market-
Jim Rohn once said: “Success who you want to attract into needs, interests and chal- ing, we have terminologies for
isn’t something you pursue, your business. For example, lenges by actually embodying this, such as “client-conver-
it’s something you attract,” it could be attracting lucra- that person yourself, you’re sion,” and “closing the sale,”
and this appears to be self- tive new clients, reputable now able to combine this however, in reality, we’re
evident when you look at business partners or talented understanding and insight not closing or converting
successful entrepreneurs all new team members into your with your talents to create anything. The person we’re
over the world. business. Let’s take a look at something innovative and looking to form a relation-
Successful entrepreneurs attracting new clients as an outstanding. It might be a ship with is choosing to
aren’t cold calling hundreds example. If your business is product or a service, as long engage with us, because we’ve
of people begging them to buy looking to attract new clients as it’s something that helps attracted them. The more
their products or services. who are entrepreneurs, you the people you want to at- attracted they are to us or our
Nor are they engaged in high will need to know more than tract. The next step is to share business, the more likely they
pressure sales tactics or inter- some simple demographics that creation with them! will be to partner with us and
ruptive advertising, yet they such as their age, location or Share a piece or a part of become a client.

Matthew Chaban is the founder of Marketing Masters Consulting, and he helps companies and consultants with impressive growth trajectories
to date reach their next level of growth. Chaban relishes the challenge of championing innovation and growth within a company, and he writes
regularly on strategic marketing and entrepreneurship.

54 Entrepreneur august 2017

the MGM Hotel and Bellagio Resort to the We are confident that each of these unique
Middle East for the first time. Construction projects will contribute significantly to
work for the project will commence in Dubai’s flourishing real estate landscape in
December of this year, and the hotels are their own way, and together they will bring
due for completion within only four years. thousands of new residential units onto
wasl is also working on Dubai’s second the market. These projects will also further
Driven by duty luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel, which
is due to open in November 2020. This
enhance wasl’s property portfolio, as above
all we are committed to supporting the
H.E. HESHAM AL QASSIM will be the second Mandarin Oriental by government’s vision of making Dubai the
wasl; the first one is being developed world’s top residential destination by 2021.”
The CEO of wasl Asset Management on Jumeira’s beachfront and is due to
Group on how his company is open in the fourth quarter of 2018. What are some of the other
helping make Dubai “the best city Alongside the MGM and Mandarin Oriental projects in wasl’s pipeline that
to visit, work and live in” projects, wasl has recently launched the you would like to highlight?
Hyatt Centric The Palm Dubai hotel, which “We recently announced a new project
will be the first from the Hyatt Centric brand in Warsan, which has been launched as
H.E. Hesham
Al Qassim, in the region. Designed with the modern- part of our strategic preparations for
CEO, wasl day and responsible traveler in mind, the Expo 2020 and will deliver much needed
rooms will be equipped with environmentally accommodation for hospitality staff. The
conscious bath products and Bluetooth- project will comprise of 26 buildings in a
enabled electronics. The project is due resort-style lay out and is distinguished
completion in the fourth quarter of 2018.” from other developments by the fact that
it will provide hospitality employees with
Tell us about wasl’s existing projects 3,866 residential units spread over a
such as wasl Gate and wasl Tower- built-up area of 2.6 million square feet.
what do you think these projects will We also have several other projects in the
add to Dubai’s real estate landscape? pipeline such as our development in Qusais
As Dubai gets closer to its hosting “Amana Contracting is due to commence 5, which is aimed at low and middle-income
of Expo 2020, can you talk about site work at wasl Gate soon and will be tenants. An infrastructure contractor has
how wasl is contributing to ensuring responsible for the project’s first phase, recently been appointed to undertake the
the success of this mega event? which includes 256 townhouses and a work on the project’s 62 buildings, which
“Everything we do at wasl is driven by a community center. The second phase will bring 6,200 units to the area on a 4.4
duty to support the government’s vision will feature 1,440 hillside apartments, million square foot site. The project will
of making Dubai the best city to visit, which are currently under design, and a also feature high-end facilities and modern
work and live in. We are pleased to be contractor will be appointed by Q1 2018. infrastructure, as well as parks, schools
furthering this ambition with the launch of The wasl Gate project will be accompanied and kindergartens. It will be handed over
an unprecedented number of major hotel by a lifestyle-oriented hospitality and in phases, with the first phase due for
projects in 2017, which will bring globally entertainment offering, a world-class sports completion by May 2020 and the second
acclaimed hospitality players including MGM, complex, K-12 schools with international phase due for completion by March 2022.
Mandarin Oriental and other renowned curriculums, and a central park connecting Another upcoming development is our
names to Dubai. By working with such the community’s commercial and residential project at Ras Al Khor, which has been
celebrated hotel and resort operators, we neighborhoods. The project is due launched to provide low to middle-income
are significantly raising the bar of excellence completion in the fourth quarter of 2019. earners with 2,500 residential units housed
across the board– from mid-range to As for wasl Tower, Arabtec was appointed in 42 buildings. Infrastructure works are
the height of luxury. We are confident in May of this year as the contractor for almost complete and the main package is
that these projects will cement Dubai’s the 63-storey mixed-use development, expected to begin in July 2017. The main
position as one of the world’s favorite where site work is expected to commence contractor has commenced mobilization
destinations by offering not only tourists, soon. The project includes residential, for phase one with enabling works in
but also residents and visitors, ever more commercial and hospitality elements progress, and work for phase two and
extraordinary experiences and opportunities. as the tower will contain not only 148 phase three is in the preparatory stage.
Our projects are particularly important luxurious residential apartments and a Residents will be provided with every
in the wider context of Expo 2020, which full suite of sports facilities, retail outlets, comfort, including health clubs, a school,
is fast approaching and will see Dubai restaurants, cafés and other services, a mosque, retail shops, and green gardens
receiving millions of new visitors. We but also the five-star Mandarin Oriental with water fountains. The project is due
are fully committed to supporting our hotel with a further 257 rooms. for completion by November 2020.”
government’s high aspirations for Expo wasl Tower will incorporate ceramic
2020, and our mega hospitality projects façades with photovoltaic solar panels to Mandarin Oriental
will ensure that our international guests help regulate its interior temperature and Jumeira
are catered to in the world-class style that reduce ambient noise, while its vertical
Dubai has become globally renowned for. garden will support sustainability and help
H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al to significantly reduce the tower’s carbon
Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister footprint. The development will provide a
of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched fully integrated residential offering and is
the one million square foot, semi-artificial being developed as a commanding addition
island on Jumeira’s beachfront in March of to the city’s skyline. The tower is due
this year. This project will see wasl bringing completion in the fourth quarter of 2020.

august 2017 Entrepreneur 55


all your effort, all your resources, and

gambling your future -as well as the
future of your family, friends, employ-
ees, families of your employees- on one
investment: you.
You are today the sum total of your
experiences and learnings over your
lifetime, minus the lessons you have
not yet learnt. Question: are you a solid
To answer that question, let’s consider
what a “sound investment” comprises.
Besides the obvious financials, what else
would you consider when buying shares
in a company? Its history to date, its
management (and their reliability), its
performance and growth across multi-
ple sectors, the clarity of its plans, its
provisions for setbacks, its potential for
scaling up… Now, if you were to score
yourself on these factors, how well
would you do?
Building your personal The truth is, doing all of the above
alone is tough. It would take a very spe-
infrastructure cial sort of person enjoying very unique
circumstances to be able to accomplish
Warren Buffett put it best when he said: it. Most of us have multiple demands on
“The best investment you will ever make is in yourself”
our money, time, and resources. From
By Murtaza Manji families, to work, to hobbies, juggling
them all while still focusing on bettering

nfrastructure (noun): The basic physical a country is no easy task- look at all the ourselves is, well, hard! If we take “doing
and organizational structures and facilities countries in the world that know what it alone” off the table, then we are left
(e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) they need today, but aren’t able (or will- with two options. The first is -regret-
needed for the operation of a society or ing) to deliver it to their people. Antici- tably- the more commonly selected one:
enterprise. pating what a country will need in a year doing nothing at all. “If I can’t do 100%,
-or five years, or a decade- in advance, what’s the point of starting?” There is
Living in the amazing city of Dubai, we and investing in building it is a whole enough logic there to reinforce a limit-
can almost be forgiven for taking the other level of brilliance and foresight. ing belief, and, for some people, that is
brilliant infrastructure around us for In admiring all this that we are blessed enough.
granted. Assume, for a minute, if Sheikh to have around us, however, there is a Another -smaller- group of people have
Zayed Road was closed for a day, or if big lesson to be learnt: to be world-class a different solution. They don’t try to do
the metro stopped working, or if the tomorrow, the time/money/effort invest- it alone, because they know the diffi-
sewage treatment facilities, or telecom- ment needs to be made today. No project culty, and they don’t do nothing because
munication hubs, or the airport were to with a large, sustained impact can be they recognize the price of inaction. For
get intermittently interrupted. We have built in a hurry.
become so accustomed to having these You wouldn’t live
services available to us that we almost in a tower that
don’t notice them anymore. was designed and
Yet, there was a time -not too long ago- built overnight,
when a lot of these were less reliable, or nor would you
perhaps even non-existent. Sending an put your hard-
SMS was a big deal 20 years ago, and earned money in
MMS was expensive (anyone remember buying shares in
MMS?), but today, I can scan a check on a company that
my phone, submit it via an app, and have launched yes-
the money transferred to my account terday and went
in seconds. Building the infrastructure public today. Yet,
necessary to meet the requirements of you are investing

Murtaza Manji is an award-winning business coach and the founder of Kaizen Consulting, the first ActionCOACH firm in the Middle East. In the last
six years, he has worked with over 400 successful CEOs, directors and business owners from over 15 different industries in Dubai and London to
achieve higher profits, greater productivity from their teams, and sustainable growth by creating efficient systems and structures. Find him on Twitter
at @CoachMRM.

56 Entrepreneur august 2017

them, doing it well requires a place where people would
doing it together. They invest regularly sit and meet, both Creating content that creates
in their personal infrastruc- socially and for work. It
ture, by building the channels was a place where the focus
to share information and re- was on human-to-human 80% of businesses are using content marketing,
sources, by creating systems communication. Today, we but only 38% use it to drive sales
to help prevent overwhelm, have such a massive reli-

and by developing sup- ance on technology that we f you are a part of today’s be more valuable than just a
port networks to help them are losing the benefit of real digital marketing industry, webpage. Ultimately, includ-
achieve their personal and human interaction. Create a you have undoubtedly heard ing a “strong and smart” call
professional goals. For them, space -both physically and the term “content is king,” to action will likely determine
there is no “if” when it comes in your calendar- to meet over and over again in your the success of any content
to getting what they want to with friends, colleagues and line of work. However, Pay- marketing effort, ensuring
get- only “when,” and “how.” guests. No amount of emails Fort’s recent infographic on prospective customers to
If achieving excellence can communicate the trust content marketing stresses take the next step, says the
-personal or professional- is conveyed in a handshake, that creating content for the infographic.
your target, and perhaps if and no voice message can sake of creating helps no one,
you have already begun feel- truly convey the happiness and what matters is creat-
ing the overwhelm of trying of laughter. Develop strong ing content that nudges new
to do it yourself, here are five friendships, nurture them, users to come to you. The
“personal infrastructure” and use the power of rela- study, offering seven tips to
suggestions that can help you tionships to your advantage. “create content that creates
succeed. customers” finds that 80% of
4. Build a “city of you” businesses are using content
1. Fix the cracks The idea behind allocating marketing but only 38% use
Where are you losing time, entire areas to one activity is it to drive sales.
effort, money, and/or energy? to boost chances of success One of the strategies the
These are precious resources, in that focus area. Create a infographic offers is to create
and losing what you need to professional “city” around content that relates to typical
keep growing is the best way you, where every element is “pre-buying” themes, which
to stunt your growth. Areas designed to help you excel. customers are likely to re-
to improve on: have good You are what you make of search on before dealing with
time management systems yourself, so from office spaces your company. Also critical is
in place, create and follow a that you enjoy working from, the formats of content- cre-
personal budget, sleep and to people who support you, ate materials that people can
eat properly, and monitor each customizable ingredi- download and own, since
your mood. Once you identify ent in your environment such resources are found to
where the leak is, stop every- should be part of your recipe
thing to fix it immediately. for success. While there are
some things that you can’t
2. Clear the drainage influence, you can definitely a good one) and study your growth, business success and
While what we need is eas- have metrics to track your highs and lows. Gratitude quality of life. The investment
ily lost, what we don’t need professional growth (not just for what you have today made by the country into
somehow manages to stick activity), carve out learning is powerful, and reflection itself has paid back hundreds
around. There will always be and self-development times, on the challenges will help of times over, and will keep
wastage, and a good system get a coach or mentor to you prepare to face them in paying back. The people who
has an efficient disposal accelerate your growth, and your future. Invest in your take this same approach to
mechanism. Cutting out the continually seek out con- learning, your reading, and life see the same results, and
clutter in your life and work structive feedback. There is a your health. Your days at the it is not just multi-million-
will leave you with more huge difference between ten peak of your game are already aires and CEOs. All around
time and space to focus on years of experience and one limited by time, don’t allow us, there are people who have
the necessary. Some areas year experience repeated ten them to finish any sooner. done and are doing what
to look into, and work on times. In the GCC, Mecca and needs to be done to ensure
may include: organizing your Medina are perhaps the only their success. What we see is
physical space, managing 5. Do a “happiness survey” locations that had something a result of years of efforts and
typical challenges, and learn- At the end of the day, what truly unique. All the other investments. It is more than
ing to ‘let go’ of things beyond more do we want from life natural resources that the worth it. The takeaway to live
your control. than to be happy? Stop and UAE enjoys are similar to the by, in the words of Warren
reflect on your life, look back resources of the other Arab Buffet, is: “The best invest-
3. Have a majlis at your journey at appropri- countries. Yet, this country ment you will ever make is in
In Arab culture, a majlis was ate intervals (birthdays are is leading the way in terms of yourself.”

august 2017 Entrepreneur 57


Fahad Al Hassawi,
Chief Commercial
Officer, du

Enabling the future

Tailored telco solutions ing faster broadband, devices
nurturing entrepreneurs such as tablets and smart-
phones, MS Office 365 with
of today and tomorrow free business emails, 1 terabyte
By Fahad Al Hassawi, (TB) of cloud storage, and ap-
Chief Commercial Officer, du plications including Word, just
to name a few. These tailored

large number of the plans provide significant cost
world’s greatest entre- savings for entrepreneurs.
preneurs started their As a UAE company, du’s pri-
businesses with apprentice- mary responsibility is to benefit
ships, with the original concept the community. du interacts
of earn while you learn. At with the community regularly
du, we have recognized a new and believes in supporting lo- reality TV show in 2012, which can engender a more support-
breed of entrepreneurs; the cal enterprises. The UAE is a provided seed funding and ive ecosystem during a panel
youth, and we have fostered great place to start a business mentorship to a new genre of discussion. The open forum
the importance of encouraging and the economy relies on the driven and creative entrepre- session was a great way for
entrepreneurship in the region contribution of SMEs. In fact, neurs. As an organization, du SMEs to interact with large
in order to drive the economy the UAE is in the top 20 for also regularly works with or- enterprises and a diverse range
from a grassroots level. entrepreneurial attitude, activity ganizations in all different sec- of other startups to exchange
Since its establishment in and aspiration. du believes in tors of business including DED, learning experiences. During
2006, du has provided support supporting entrepreneurs and Microsoft, Wamda and Dubai a panel discussion, du’s SME
to the UAE’s entrepreneurial SMEs in their journey, as they SME. Furthermore, du has sup- Business Head discussed the
scene in various ways. du has grow their business, through ported events in the UAE such various challenges for corporate
created tailored telecommuni- tailored solutions, engagement as the Young Entrepreneur enterprises looking to sup-
cations solutions for small and programs, funding events, du Competition for three consecu- port the SME sector. This year,
medium enterprises (SMEs), operates with a 360-degree ap- tive years since 2014, which du also supported the STEP
such as the Business Mobile proach to promoting business. provides advice and opportuni- conference, which is an event
Plan that ensures uninterrupted Highlighting this support, du ties to SMEs on procurement that brings together MENA
communication and optimum extended its entrepreneurial and contracting procedures. entrepreneurs, investors, and
cost-savings. Colleagues can branch to The Entrepreneur In support of the youth of the tech and media enthusiasts
call each other for free and flex- show, which allowed aspir- UAE, du introduced its youth from the technology, digital and
ible add-ons meet businesses’ ing entrepreneurs to promote entrepreneurship program, the entertainment industries in a
day-to-day requirements. In their ideas to future partners Agent 055 Network initiative three-day event. In addition, our
addition, the Business Connect and investors that contribute to emphasize innovation in support ranged across to the
and Office Devices plans from meaningfully towards the social 2015, as well as diversification #xtalk concept, which consisted
du provides businesses with a development of communities. of revenue streams towards of a series of interactive discus-
one-stop shop solution, includ- We created the nation’s first being a knowledge-based sions between entrepreneurs
economy. The du Agent 055 organized by TiE, a prominent
Network is aimed at promoting non-profit global community of
entrepreneurship as a viable successful Indian executives.
career option among college Entrepreneurs can change the
and university students. The way we live and work and are
project combines the dual a great national asset, their
benefits of gaining training innovations can improve life
and experience by working on aspects in many ways. At du,
behalf of a reputed organiza- we believe in providing as much
tion and earning an income. support as possible through
During Entrepreneur Middle a well-rounded approach to
East’s Enterprise Agility Forum promoting business for the
presented by du in 2016, du UAE, and creating a prosper-
drove the conversation around ous society for many years to
Entrepreneur Middle East’s Agility
Forum 2016 presented by du
how corporate entities in the come through our solutions
Middle East and North Africa and entrepreneurial support.

58 Entrepreneur august 2017

business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN | TRAPPINGS

Here’s the ugly truth: you are

not immune in a village like this.
Before you write something on
social media, or talk too much
in this village, think about who
will be the recipient, and the
potential people with whom they
could share your details.
I was fortunate to join the social media
world when many of its platforms were
just starting out, and so I could make
mistakes, be more open even, but that’s
something you just can’t do now! You
must be careful about what you write
on these platforms. You can’t have
Dubai Twitter fights like in the good old days
(I had some epic, awesome ones in the
past)- you must now remember that
Better safe than sorry such posts will be seen by potential
customers, employers, or friends, with
Think before you tweet (or talk, for that matter) this being the case, it’s better to be safe
By Shelina Jokhiya than sorry.

The same rule applies when meeting
iving in Dubai is like living in a this particular premise, especially when people in real life. You cannot talk about
village. This Emirate may look like networking or on social media, and people to strangers without think-
a huge city, but there are often only provide strangers with their personal ing there will be repercussions. In all
two or less degrees of separation details or gossip about other people. likelihood, the listener will either know
between everyone here- for me, it’s They seem to think that there will be no who you are talking about, or knows
one degree, in most cases. How is repercussions for providing too much someone who knows them. If you say
that possible? Shouldn’t there be at information. something negative about this person, it
least five degrees of separation (as we all I’ll give you an example. On a Fa- will come back to them, and this could
have with Kevin Bacon)? cebook group for businesswomen, a be detrimental to your life here in a
Well, if you are on social media, it is lady asked for help with growing her way that you did not envisage when you
easy to connect with a mixture of people business. Without going into the details started talking.
in this town. Social media is huge here, of the post, she wrote a few posts on Now, I’m no angel. I have made mis-
and everyone is connected to some- her personal life, including informa- takes and made enemies in this village.
one on one of the platforms, whether tion most of the followers on the group I have a low tolerance for nonsense,
it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or didn’t know about, but I know that a and so I will be quite blunt with people
LinkedIn. In addition, if you are an en- lot of people knew who she was refer- online or offline if they are being intoler-
trepreneur like me, you attend various ring to in her post. By revealing her able. I am known in the village as being
networking events on a monthly basis, personal life, she demonstrated that she frank and quite blunt, but I know my
where you meet people you either know didn’t know (or didn’t care) that Dubai limit. Over time, I have created a filter to
in real life or from social media. There was like a village, she lost trust among ensure I don’t get myself into trouble for
are always new people to meet at these her peers, and most importantly, she my comments and retorts to intolerable
events. You start talking and realize lost her credibility as well. Her prod- people. I also have a trusted network of
during the chat that you know the same uct is awesome, but now I would never people I can talk to about the village.
people either from Dubai, or sometimes recommend her to my clients, friends, Unfortunately, a lot of people have
even globally. If we don’t seem to have and followers on social media due to the either not learnt the art of diplomacy
connections whilst talking, I usually content of her posts, and also due to the and restraint, or think they are immune
find that they are connected to several fact that she decided to post such per- to it. Here’s the ugly truth: you are not
people I know on LinkedIn (when I add sonal information to strangers. I could immune in a village like this. Before
them post-networking). share my views on this person to my you write something on social media,
So, why am I talking about Dubai be- close friends, who may then pass it on or talk too much in this village, think
ing like a village, where a lot of you will to other people. Within a short space of about who will be the recipient, and the
often have just one degree of separation time, she would then be known not for potential people with whom they could
from everyone else? Because I’ve found her great product, but for her indiscre- share your details. Do you really want
that people here tend to forget about tions on social media. everyone to know your business?

Shelina Jokhiya is the founder of UAE-based startup Decluttr Me. DeCluttr Me has recently become the first international accredited member
of the Association of Professional Declutters and Organizers U.K. (APDO).

august 2017 Entrepreneur 59


“The sentiment behind send-

ing a gift was lost along
the way. It’s not just about
delivering a package. It’s
about making the person
feel truly special.”
even for same-day delivery
when possible, with a weekly
or monthly subscription for
flowers available. For enter-
prises, there’s also joi@work
to exhibit appreciation for an
employee or client’s loyalty,
with even a ‘sorry-as-a-
service’ package available to
help diffuse an unpleasant
situation, such as when a
client encounters a negative
experience with a company’s
service. With operations in
UAE and KSA markets, joi
works with well-liked brands
as merchant partners such as
The joi team jones the grocer, Lime Tree
Café, Edible Arrangements,
Godiva and Magnolia Bakery.
Gifting done right On the tech front, they’ve
built the joiCam feature on
Startup joi wants to become the go-to portal for all things gifts the app to allow senders to
By Pamella de Leon record a video or audio mes-
sage for recipients to play,

and reply to it too. Users can
With operations in UAE f you always find yourself gifting,” says Tilani, noting also check on their gifts’ de-
and KSA markets, in a bind when it comes how other sites had made livery status through SMS or
joi works with to figuring out a good, the process seem purely push notifications, make use
well-liked brands as
merchant partners
thoughtful gift, this transactional. “The senti- of a calendar feature to mark
such as jones MENA startup can help ment behind sending a gift significant days throughout
the grocer, Lime save the day. The brain- was lost along the way. It’s the year, and also enjoy
Tree Café, Edible child of Ritesh Tilani not just about delivering a a notification service for
Arrangements, Godiva and Alper Celen, joi is a package. It’s about making special days with suggested
and Magnolia Bakery. web and mobile gifting the person feel truly special.” gift ideas. There’s also the
platform offering a variety joi offers its users an intui- automated and intelligent
of more than 1,000 refined tive interface that lets them joi Assistant, which recom-
selections. The entrepre- focus solely on selecting the mends gifts based on the
neurial duo built joi after right gift, either from their recipient’s characteristics
noticing a lack of reliable gift desktops or their mobiles, and preferences.
platforms in the region- they and in case any help is On top of all of the above
sought quality and curated needed, one of joi’s Angels features is the startup’s
product selections, packaged (i.e. the company’s customer dedication to offering qual-
as a one-stop shop covering care representatives) are on ity customer satisfaction,
everything from flowers to hand via live chat or phone which, Tilani says, is one
cakes, with reasonable prices to assist with selection. of joi’s core USPs. Ensuring
and guaranteed same-day The platform offers curated their portfolio has a special
delivery, done in “a present- products from flower ar- touch of “joi” in all aspects,
able way that made the rangements, eateries, gift their customer care is
recipient truly feel special.” baskets, novelty gifts like ensured by joi’s Angels, and
And it is this idea that drives personalized jewelry and gifts are hand-delivered by
their platform: “joi focuses grooming products, and Agents of joi in concierge-
on the sentiment behind experience-based packages, style uniforms for recipients

60 Entrepreneur august 2017

to build the backend with
the web and mobile web The executive summary
versions first, followed by a joi co-founders Ritesh Tilani and Alper Celen
mobile app. They utilized a
full stack of marketing and joi co-founders and co- ness development company
analytics tools, and opened CEOs Ritesh Tilani and EXA Partners, CareZone, a
in Dubai with just a call Alper Celen have both mobile loyalty platform for
center as customer care, and had prior experience with social good, and headed
an operations team with two entrepreneurship. Celen was iMENA Group’s UAE of-
agents and delivery vans. As behind KSA’s Groupon-like fice to support portfolio
a startup reliant on logistics, startup Fursaty, FoodOn- companies, besides being a
outsourcing delivery was an’s KSA operations, mentor, angel investor and
option; however, since the Kenya-based MondoRide. board member to various
startup aimed to make the com and Verity Decision startups and accelerators.
receiving of gifts an experi- Analytics, as well as being In 2015, the duo launched
ence by itself, assigning such an angel investor and advi- enhance, a holding company
a vital feature to a third sor to tech startups such developing web and mobile-
party was out of the ques- as Video on Demand (VOD) enabled businesses in
tion. Finding the right talent platform On MENA, building businesses
was also an early hurdle for the other hand, Tilani co- from scratch- joi is the first
to feel special too. Fun fact? the startup, in addition to founded cross-border busi- venture under its portfolio.
These Agents of joi don’t getting brands on board.
just deliver physical gifts, What got them through?
but also experiences, like “Perseverance and believing
singing telegrams. Be it with in the vision were the keys “Convertible notes are becoming the norm,
a Happy Birthday medley, there,” Tilani replies. The which speeds up fundraising; the lack of
Jingle Bells for Christmas platform’s customer base
(dressed as Santa Claus, of addresses the needs of those which, was the main reason I had to shut
course), or Nat King Cole’s looking for convenience, down one of my previous startups.”
L.O.V.E for anniversaries quality and value for money,
(which turned out quite and so far, they’ve made its launch market in Dubai, round of US$1.5 million.
popular for Valentine’s Day), their mark. The team found to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah As someone who has been
Tilani says such efforts leave that their users are loyal: in the UAE, and Riyadh, familiar with the MENA
their gift recipients feeling “Once someone uses joi, Jeddah and Medina in KSA. ecosystem for a while now,
extra special. However, the they keep coming back on a Owned by enhance, a UAE- Tilani believes that it is
joi team have had troubles regular basis. So, the chal- based holding company with today a better environ-
resulting from these offer- lenge is, just getting them backing from Silicon Valley- ment with more startups,
ings as well- on a Valentine’s to try it once,” says Tilani, based 500 Startups, as well entrepreneurs, investors
Day, for instance, after and added they’re utilizing as angel investors from the and global players. He notes,
receiving more orders than online marketing chan- US, Europe and the GCC, joi “Convertible notes are
expected, they ran into nels to target customers. is currently in the process becoming the norm, which
delays in delivery. But joi’s Today, joi has grown from of finalizing a seed funding speeds up fundraising; the >>>
response afterward is what
is noteworthy: the team
called every inconvenienced
customer, with even Tilani
and Celen joining in to
apologize, explain the
circumstances, and offer
solutions. “[We] managed
to convert some of these un-
happy customers into loyal
joi patrons with our honesty
and sincerity,” Tilani says.
Launched in late 2015, the
co-founders call joi’s de-
velopment stage as a “chal-
lenging time.” They wanted
to launch with complete
features from the start, so

it took longer as they had Gifts are hand-delivered by Agents of joi in concierge-style uniforms

august 2017 Entrepreneur 61


they’re interested in explor-

ing, as they hope it would ‘TREP TALK
increase engagement and Ritesh Tilani, co-founder and co-CEO, joi
loyalty, particularly in being
able to intelligently predict What drives you forward as to the potential partner.
a user’s needs and offer an entrepreneur? How do Whatever you do, don’t think
recommendations without you deal with setbacks? about how you’re going to be
prompt. In the near future “The thing that motivates profitable on Day 1. Invest in
though, joi Luxury, a new me the most is the desire to the relationship.”
sub-brand would be launch- make an impact, to make a
ing for a different clientele, difference. I want to make a What are your top three
with its customer base and positive change to the world tips for an entrepreneur to
marketing strategy differing around me. CareZone was an start a business in MENA?
from the main portal. At the attempt at exactly that, to “[First], don’t start a business
same time, Tilani says that empower people to give to for the sake of starting a
they’re working on strength- their favorite causes without new business. Identify a real
ening their tech for more having to give anything extra problem and find a feasible
tools to boost their customer out of their own pockets, and solution for it that somebody
service, while also upgrad- to encourage brands to give would pay for. Building a
ing its delivery and routing back to the community. With solution for a problem that
process. In the longer term, joi, we’re making people’s doesn’t exist, or doesn’t
“We think there’s a real the platform wants to step special moments a little more apply to most people, is one
opportunity to innovate in up by enabling users to send special. We called the holding of the biggest mistakes I’ve
this space by using technol- gifts globally, as well explore company enhance for the seen first-time entrepreneurs
ogy, not just at a regional including a gift concierge same reason. It helps make a make.
level, but also globally.” service, bots to provide positive difference in the lives [Second], study the market
relevant suggestions, and of the digital users it touches. to make sure you know who
lack of which, was the main leverage big data to identify I’ve had my fair share of your competitors are, and
reason I had to shut down trends to offer better prod- setbacks in life, but I don’t what they’re offering. If there
one of my previous startups.” ucts to its customers. “We look at them as failures. I are offerings that are similar
He still sees a need for more think there’s a real opportu- look at them as opportunities to yours, it’ll be difficult to sell
government entities to step nity to innovate in this space to learn what not to do next your product as a brand new
up in decreasing red tape by using technology, not just time. And then you just have company. Always differenti-
and costs of starting new at a regional level, but also to get up and get back on that ate, and provide something
business, including funding globally,” Tilani says, noting saddle. As long as you don’t that your competitors don’t.
and supporting early-stage the opportunity for joi to lose sight of the bigger goal, That’s how you’ll get your
startups. As for joi itself, become a household name hitting a few stumbling blocks customers’ attention.
Tilani says the plan is for it in the MENA (and beyond) along the way shouldn’t [Third], don’t hire employ-
to explore new markets, and when it comes to gifting- and change much.” ees. Recruit believers. These
developing more apps with from the looks of it, joi could are people who see the vision
new features is also on the be well on its way to becom- What are your tips to fel- and will work day and night
agenda. AI is also an area ing just that. low entrepreneurs who are alongside you to make it
in the process of working happen. And don’t sacrifice
with strategic partners for on talent. Surround yourself
Cacti their startup? with A-players, people who
arrangements “I would suggest you think have excelled at what they
from joi’s do. That’s the best way to
about the potential partner
and what they value. Think succeed.”
about how you can fill that
gap for them. It could be an Ritesh Tilani,
opportunity to bundle your and co-CEO,
service with their offering to joi
differentiate themselves from
their competition. This is a
very common way for larger
partners to drive customer
adoption and increase loyalty.
Perhaps as a startup, you
[could] offer access to a niche
audience that is of interest

62 Entrepreneur august 2017

business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN | TRAPPINGS

from your palette helps with if we take the reception area,

focus and communicating which has an impact on a
ideas better when executing client’s first impression of
plans and strategy. Another your business, applying ele-
color that can influence your ments of beige and yellow to
personality is black, which the room can help achieve
will only work best with a a feeling of friendliness and
starlight personality. Black reassurance. For the account-
helps to create an atmos- ing department, it is advised
phere of authority and power, to use hues of blue in the
which helps an individual furniture to subconsciously
The Gracious F become more confident in help the employees to focus,
color kit their business choices. as they are constantly dealing
Once you have identified the with numbers. For the human

Colors of success colors you will use in your

workspace, it is advised to
resources department, em-
ployees need to feel balanced
Using the right hues in your workspace can follow the rules of feng shui and reassured, and since
to help harmonize your work- green is the universal color of
help with your business goals ing environment. Feng shui is love, it is a great hue to use.
By Fatima Al Shirawi a great tool for creating bal- Furthermore, in order to have
ance and capturing a person’s a positive impact on clients,

he workplace is the groups: Firelight, which iden- wellbeing as well as balancing entrepreneurs should use
initial foundation for tifies to the colors of autumn; their productive life, emo- different shades of brown and
any entrepreneur to Starlight, which identifies to tions and environment. At beige in meeting rooms, as
succeed, and with the colors of winter; Morn- this stage, it is imperative to these hues help create an am-
that being the case, inglight, which identifies identify the right placement biance of calmness, reliability
one must take extra to the colors of spring; and for your work interiors. In and security, while subcon-
care when designing the same Dreamlight, which identifies order to create an environ- sciously building trust.
for one’s business. An impor- to the colors of summer. It ment where you feel calm It is most definitely a big
tant decision to be made in is advisable to hold a color and stable, it is advisable to risk to start your own busi-
this process is choosing the consultation in order to de- position your back to a solid ness concept, however being
right colors for your sur- termine the right color group wall or item to position a determined and positive
roundings at work- after all, that applies to you. You will force of stability behind you. throughout the process will
with color psychology becom- be given a color kit to help It is also advised to refrain help you strengthen your
ing increasingly prevalent, it guide you towards the correct from positioning your desk enterprise, and take it to the
has been proved that being color palette, which will help near the door or window, as next level. Creating a positive
exposed to colors can affect influence your choices in it transfers the energy out of workspace environment is
one’s moods. As a result, terms of style and colors that the working area. crucial in having a thriving
adding the right shades of a you can then apply in any Entrepreneurs must also business, and keeping that in
certain color in the workplace working environment. identify the purpose of each mind, entrepreneurs would
can indeed help promote the Studies have shown that departmental workspace, as be wise to use the correct
creativity and productivity of 80% of our color choices are different colors impact differ- shades that match their per-
an individual that’s working subconscious, therefore we ent professions. For instance, sonality in their workspace.
for you. As the founder of The must consciously be aware of
Gracious F, a Dubai-based the affects they can have on
color consultancy business, us and our decisions, as well
here are a few of my ideas as the impact it has on our
that can help you create a clients’ and consumers’ be-
working environment that is havior. When entrepreneurs
conducive to strong business discover and surround them-
growth. selves with the correct colors
Before designing your from their palette, it will
workspace, it is important to automatically stimulate crea-
take into consideration your tivity and help them to focus
own personality and personal on important elements of
choices, and then identify their business goals. In addi-
which color group you belong tion, adding furniture pieces The Gracious F
Image courtesy The Gracious F

Feng Shui
to. There are four color with the right shades of blue

Fatima Al Shirawi is the founder of The Gracious F, a Dubai-based color consultancy business. Al Shirawi is a graduate of George Washington
University with a BA in Sociology and Marketing, and holds certifications from Polimoda Fashion School in Florence and London College of Fashion.
She is also a qualified certified color consultant by the Colour Affects Institute.
in pictures

It’s party time! Samer Chehab, COO of yallacompare,

added, “The Saudi Arabian factor
compareit4me rebrands to yallacompare was crucial in our decision to rebrand
to yallacompare. In several markets

ay goodbye to compareit4me- lacompare CEO Jon Richards, in a state- around the Middle East, including
and welcome yallacompare! The ment. “We honestly didn’t think ahead Saudi, we’ve been operating under
Middle East’s leading com- to international growth and expansion, the brand name, as it
parison site has gone in for a re- and we didn’t realize that what we’d resonated more with markets in which
brand, with the change happen- built would become as successful as it Arabic is the primary language. With
ing as the company gets set to scale up has been across the MENA region. Our yallacompare, we’re bringing everything
with an entry into Saudi Arabia. For the success outside of the UAE is what’s together under one roof, in an easy-to-
homegrown brand offering comparisons informed our decision to create a brand understand, powerful call to action. Do
on everything from personal loans and that better represents our English- and you need a financial product or insur-
flight tickets, to telecom packages and Arabic-speaking customers. Today, we ance policy? Yalla, compare!”
car insurance, the rebranding signifies compare everything from personal loans To celebrate its new identity, yalla-
the comparison site’s strategy to appeal to flight tickets; we’re the largest insur- compare threw a party at its headquar-
more strongly to its customers in the ance aggregator in the Middle East by a ters, and by the looks of it, it looks to
Middle East. considerable margin; and we’re active have been one heck of a party- here’s
“When we first started the company, in nine markets across the region. We one startup that certainly seems to
we had no idea that it would become needed an identity that better reflected believe in the “work hard, party harder”
the business that it is today,” said yal- these realities.” maxim!

64 Entrepreneur august 2017

Onward and upward
The yallacompare timeline

August 2011 launched in the UAE

April 2014 compareit4me signs first round of investment
with a group of angel investors led by Jonathan Hall of
Mulverhill Associates.
May 2014 Launch of the second version of compareit4me.
com- responsive and completely rebranded.
August 2014 Launch of compareit4me Bahrain
December 2014 Launch of compareit4me Kuwait
April 2015 Launched in Saudi Arabia under the brand (“your money” in Arabic); this offers the
same finance comparison services to users in the Kingdom.
July 2015 Launch of amwalak Egypt
July 2015 Launch of compareit4me Lebanon
September 2015 compareit4me announces that it has
raised $3 million in VC funding. The funding was led by
STC Ventures, the VC arm of Saudi Telecom, with backing
from Wamda Capital and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority
November 2015 Launch of amwalak Jordan
January 2016 Launch of amwalak Oman
February 2016 compareit4me launches the UAE’s first
ever car insurance comparison portal
September 2016 compareit4me announces that it has
raised a further $2.3 million in bridge funding from existing
investors, as well as a few new ones. The money goes
towards building out a state-of-the-art call center designed
to serve the company’s insurance customers.
April 2017 compareit4me launches the UAE’s first
automated online health insurance comparison portal,
allowing users to compare and buy health plans from the
leading providers online.
May 2017 compareit4me announces that it has raised
over $3.5 million in an initial closing as part of a larger
Series B round of funding. This takes the total amount of
money that the company has raised to well over $9 million.
July 2017 compareit4me starts a new chapter in its
history by rebranding to yallacompare.

august 2017 Entrepreneur 65

start it up ecosystem | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE

While oil revenue makes up

nearly 95% of Iraq’s budget,
the country has been reeling
under an economic crisis
since 2014, when prices
began falling from a high of
above $100 a barrel. The
rise of ISIS in 2014 made
the situation even worse. All
the projects were affected
one way or the other, with
some even being shut down.
The government and other
foreign entities focused on
fighting the enemy, starting
a long and expensive war. At
the same time, every major
businessman or contractor
had to look for alternatives
to their traditional lines
of business. Just as the
Erbil, Iraq government started to think
about the diversification of
its resources, those busi-

Reimagining Iraq
nessmen started to think
about how to develop other
revenue streams, meaning
Things are moving in the right direction for the country’s that money should no longer
entrepreneurial ecosystem By Marwan Ahmed be spent on oil rigs, heavy

machinery, etc.
Having said that, most of
most of the country’s nvestments in than their more developed the country’s money is being
money is being frontier markets peers, and have much higher circulated internally, with
circulated internally,
with some good
–which, for returns on investment when some good amounts being
amounts being the uniniti- things click. spent on shopping, whether
spent on shopping, ated, refer to With this being the case, it is on smartphones, par-
whether it is on markets around Iraq is today considered a cels, car accessories, and,
smartphones, parcels,
the world that frontier market -and even of course, the big one: food.
car accessories, and,
of course, the big one: are beginning an untapped market- when Iraqis tend to spend most
food. to develop and it comes to investing in tech of their money internally,
have yet to become com- startups. Iraq has one of the due to the decades of living
pletely stable- are not new most youthful populations in isolation from the world
in the global scene. There in the world, with the UN since the 1990 economic em-
has been a great increase in noting that about 60% of its bargo. Two generations grew
the amount of investments 2015 estimate of 37 million up without being exposed
in this space over the past people are under the age of to the culture of vacationing
6-7 years- for instance, 25. At the same time, the outside the country. In ad-
in the US, investments in unemployment rate in 2016 dition, Iraqi youths are not
these markets are now four was 16%, up from nearly well-versed travelers when
times the size of internal 15.5% in 2015, and 14.9% in compared to their counter-
investments made there, 2014, according to the World parts in Turkey, Iran, and
in comparison to 2010, Bank. Internet penetration the GCC, because of the
when both of the invest- in Baghdad is at a record difficulties in obtaining
ments gauge were on equal level, with data plans being foreign entry visas. As a
footing. The reason for this more and more affordable, result, this massive pur-
is pretty straightforward: and smartphone penetration chasing power has been
frontier markets typically at almost 90% within the considered able to accom-
trade at cheaper valuations 17-40 age group. modate the exponential in-

Marwan Ahmed is an entrepreneurship evangelist who’s the co-founder of The Week bootcamp, and the Director of Mishwar, the only grocery
delivery startup in Baghdad.

66 Entrepreneur august 2017

since the plunge in oil prices, many to the Iraqi market, one
of the food ordering apps
businessmen pivoted from depending making it to the threshold
on the dried resources of governmen- of 1,000 orders per day, or
tal contracts to starting up their local government and inter-
own businesses that target the local national aid agencies making
market’s lack of leisure spots. In sum, more pragmatic moves. Es-
tablishing co-working spaces
entrepreneurs have finally started could be another force that
putting money into businesses other would help support the
than restaurants. ecosystem as seen in other
neighboring countries. Just
recently, a co-working space
food delivery app Foodo. Yet, has opened in Erbil, and
the entrepreneurial ecosys- another one is in the plan-
tem has grown significantly, ning phase at The American
although still very small in University of Iraq Sulaimani.
crease in new restaurant and size- for instance, one can Zain Iraq and Iraqi Private
coffee shop openings over now spot three delivery Banks League are also in the
the last three years. apps, three taxi-hailing apps, process of building their own
Alongside this, since the a dozen shopping websites, appealing to the public, the separate co-working spaces.
plunge in oil prices, many and a grocery delivery ser- two telcos have started offer- The startup movement
businessmen pivoted from vice as well in the country ing a bunch of services, such has just started gaining
depending on the dried today. as the ability to purchase the required momentum
resources of governmental In terms of investment, iTunes, Steam, and Google regionally, being fairly new
contracts to starting up foreign money looks hardly Play cards directly from your to everyone, not necessar-
their own businesses that accessible, as regional accel- phone, thereby killing a pain ily only Iraq. The above-
target the local market’s erators, VCs, and other key point that long existed in the mentioned decisions will
lack of leisure spots. In sum, players are not making any Iraqi market. Zain Iraq later certainly have an impact on
entrepreneurs have finally effort to put Iraq on their stepped in to boldly embrace the Iraqi market in general,
started putting money into future agendas. However, a an e-commerce website but also on drawing eyes to
businesses other than res- recent move might be a game called Chanbar, which is the potential of the country’s
taurants. For example: four changer: Careem is explor- a marketplace for brick- untapped startup market in
waterparks are now being ing Iraq by entering Erbil. and-mortar stores that are particular. It will reimagine
constructed in Baghdad, Although the Careem service already conducting or willing Iraq in the eyes of VCs and
and four major malls will be still isn’t operational, they to conduct business uncon- regional players. The trick is:
added to the existing two. have hired a team, but the ventionally, which basically who will get there first and
Other small businesses, such question is: why Erbil? means marketing and taking surprise everyone? After all,
as paintball fields and escape The answer is yet not clear orders through Facebook. these first strategic entries
room lounges, are also mak- enough, but we can assume Things are about to move and partnerships will be able
ing their presence felt as it is due to this city in the in the right direction in the to shape the market in the
examples of unconventional Kurdish region being con- future due to different fac- coming year, and yield the
businesses in the country. sidered safe according to the tors, such as Careem’s entry best returns as well.
However, the vast majority region’s standards.
of investors and business- Another improvement in-
men are still not entrepre- cludes two main Iraqi mobile
Image courtesy Mishwar, Foodo | | erbil image © shutterstock

neurial minded, and seem operators -Zain and Asia

rather distant from investing Cell- developing two mobile
or backing any startup. The wallets- Zain Cash and Asia
reason might be that they Hawala. Although both are
don’t understand them, or still barely at the first mile
they have not yet seen a of the one-thousand-mile
model that could be con- journey to get the needed
sidered a success story that traction to sustain their
would inspire them to follow business, it is still a valid
suit. Some rare exceptions in reason for investors to think
the market are two rela- positively of what is yet to
tively well-funded startups, come. To accelerate the ef-
namely the e-commerce fectiveness of these mobile
platform Shoppini, and the wallets and make them more

august 2017 Entrepreneur 67

start it up ecosystem | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE

Baghdad, Iraq

brands from the Muslim world, Don’t advertise- make

like Tche, a Jordanian dining the world a better
chain; Papa Roti, a snack bar place
from Malaysia; and Saipa, an Visually, Baghdad is chaos.
Iranian car brand that is the The detritus of destruction is
preferred vehicle for Iraqi taxis. everywhere. Piles of bricks, like
Places where global brands anthills, pockmark the pave-
cannot or will not operate are ments. Architectural aesthetics
an opportunity for regional have given way to fortifica-
brands. tions, occasional traces of past
Hopefully, the future will also beauty assaulted by barricades.
see the emergence of local Iraqi Everything seems random, jum-
brands that target their own bled, as if an earthquake had
people and offer a uniquely occurred.
Iraqi vision of “lifestyle” in In the city center, local brands
Branding in Baghdad post-reconstruction Baghdad. (and some international ones)
have plastered billboards above
How to market even in a post-conflict zone Trademarks are tricky disheveled shops, in a chaotic
By Jasmine Montgomery Fakes abound in Baghdad. For mosaic that replicates the gen-

example, fast food chains such eral landscape of the city.
lad in a flak jacket This desire to restore normalcy, as Kentucky Fried Chicken and But people don’t seem to
and flanked by recover and rebuild is evident McDonalds, which were origi- mind because, right now, the
security guards, I re- in small pockets of affluence nally set up in the Iraqi capital main thing on the minds of
cently spent a week in across Baghdad. In Iraq’s for the U.S. and British military, most Iraqis is the hope for a
Baghdad as part of a capital, brands like Timberland, disappeared when the troops peaceful future where they
branding research pro- Mont Blanc and Ray Ban are withdrew. But their influ- can resurrect their devastated
ject. That’s what I do: starting to appear. Apple’s ence lives on in the numerous country and their families’
my U.K.-based Seven Brands iPhone 6 was a sell-out when rip-offs which have appeared future within it.
specializes in creating, design- it launched in Iraq at the begin- throughout the city. Any marketer who adds
ing, marketing, advertising and ning of 2015. Specifically, there are KFG another billboard is simply
managing international brands Why is this? Aspirational (Kentucky Family Group), Ken- adding to the general noise and
that appeal to multi-cultural brands represent hope. People tucky Chicken (complete with chaos. Yet there are small green
audiences. associate these world-famous an image of Colonel Sanders) shoots of recovery. In places
We help global businesses names with the better lives and MgDonalds outlets every- like Mansour Mall and Mado
reach the least accessible audi- they hope to build. The impli- where. Young girls carry fake café, a visitor sees glimmers of
ences in the world- like the au- cation here is that it’s up to Michael Kors handbags. There the emergence of a new city, a
dience in Iraq, where the lesson, brands to decide whether they is also a large “gray market” Baghdad filled with color, lights
it seemed to me, was that, at its should exploit this hope, or for mobile phones that includes and sparkle.
best, branding is hope. seek to live up to it. fake iPhones, in order to avoid So, if your brand wants to
Why, for example, in a place the 18% duty that the govern- stand out, don’t put up another
where the roads are pock- Opportunities exist ment puts on telecoms in Iraq. billboard. Be a part of the re-
marked from car bombs and where others fear Trademark protection? The construction story, rebuilding
the detritus of war litters the to go traditional methods will not the devastated infrastructure,
streets, would 17-year-old girls Western brands have struggled be strong in places like Iraq for and bringing beauty and order
be obsessed with Michael Kors for years to resonate with Iraqi some time. Global companies back to people’s lives. How to See this article in its entirety at / baghdad image © shutterstock
handbags? Why do brands mat- consumers in the war-ravaged need to decide whether to do that? A brand that put in
ter in a city where practically country. In Iraq, the period expose their brands to such a street lighting (maybe branded
every resident has a personal of United Nations-imposed market. Some will choose to go with illuminated logos), or
story of tragedy? sanctions, from 1990 to 2003, ahead, knowing that the gray built (branded) bus shelters or
The director of news at Al- prevented most international market in the long run is creat- lifestyle cafes would win hearts
sumaria TV described the Iraqi companies from doing business ing demand for the real thing. much more successfully than a
mentality this way: “Twenty there. And the security situa- Others may create brands brand that simply advertised.
people will die in a car bomb, tion since the sanctions were especially for new frontier mar- This is a lesson that applies to
and everyone cleans up, and lifted has deterred many from kets in order to establish them- brands seeking entry in many
then gets on with their lives entering the market. selves without exposing their parts of the world: don’t put
within half an hour,” he said. So, the gap created has been valuable international brands to up another billboard. Instead,
“They want to live.” filled, to some degree, by an unregulated market. make the world a better place.

Jasmine Montgomery is co-founder and CEO of Seven Brands, an advertising and social media agency focused on high-growth emerging markets.
Before setting up Seven, Montgomery was managing director of FutureBrand London. As head of branding for Singapore’s largest bank, DBS, she
had firsthand experience building an international brand. Her background is in brand strategy, naming and market research, at companies such as
Interbrand, Millward Brown and Fitch. Montgomery was listed by London’s Sunday Times as one of the 35 Most Influential Women Under 35. The
American-born Montgomery, who has a magna cum laude B.A. from Harvard University, is currently writing a book on global branding.

68 Entrepreneur august 2017

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money ask the money guy | vc viewpoint | your money | ECON

Understanding the methodology that drives a VC firm’s investment approach
will better your startup’s chances of getting funded
By Saad Umerani and Hubertus Thonhauser

s a venture capital firm head- At first, it’s very important to understand At this moment, it’s very important to
quartered in Dubai, there are a the knowledge level, the professional leave your personal interests aside. You
couple of things that make our qualities, the level of commitment and cannot make assumptions about what
organization, Enabling Future, the dynamics of the founding team. For works or what doesn’t without putting
stand out from its peers in the industry us, the founding team is key. After all, yourself in the shoes of the customer.
here. Firstly, we are not solely focused on down the road, say, in three years’ time, Having a structured mindset is essen-
the MENA region- we are actively explor- the company will look very differently tial- we reach out to advisors or experts
ing investment opportunities in the US, from what we discuss in the first meet- from the specific industry of the startup,
Europe or Asia. 60% of our investments ing. We are data-driven investors, and as and we try to understand the challenges,
have been made in companies outside the a result, we like to see how the founders distortions, opportunities of the market
region. We are affiliated to six investors are going to stir the company forward, and the size of the addressable market.
networks in the US, Europe, Australia, and develop their strategy applying For example, one of the most success-
and MENA, and this enables us to be ex- financial metrics and KPIs. ful businesses that we invested in was
posed to different startups and advisors What we want to know and see is the Babil Games- despite not being gamers
or experts from a variety of industries, to founding team’s way of thinking and ourselves, we knew that it was a very
keep an open mind. capabilities. We want to see that the peo- interesting segment, and we understood
We are often asked what remains ple whom we are talking with have the its potential.
constant in our investment approach, or capacity to anticipate changes needed, This is thus an important part of our
what connects the startups that we in- and to implement them. Due diligence is, process: we try to understand if there
vest in, and the answer to that is we have of course, very important, but, some- is any real competition for the solution
a very strong methodology in choosing times, one meeting with an entrepreneur that the startup has designed, how big
startups that offer solutions to real life is often enough to decide if we want to is the market, and what is the long-
problems. At the moment, the partner- work with them. For example, in the first term potential. We like startups that
ship has a portfolio of 12 companies, val- few minutes of meeting Stuart Oda, the are driven, passionate, and can envision
ued in total over US$1 billion. We chose founder of Alesca Life, a startup that
these startups through a process which offers urban farming solutions, we knew
has become our own, and it’s worked re- we wanted to work with him, purely
ally well for us so far- here’s an explainer because of his knowledge and passion for
for the same. what he does.
In terms of our methodology, we have Secondly, we evaluate the startup’s
developed a structured assessment perspective on the market. Are they
process, consisting of checklists, which solving a problem, and are they the best
we adapt according to the development at solving the problem they are tackling?
stage of the startup, and which we also And do they have the potential to gain a
constantly update based on our learning. monopolistic position in their segment?

Saad Umerani and Hubertus Thonhauser are the Managing Partners of Enabling Future, a sector agnostic venture capital firm
headquartered in Dubai, UAE. Enabling Future provides seed and early-stage funding to entrepreneurs who challenge conventional
wisdom and look to create true disruption.

70 Entrepreneur august 2017

ask the money guy | vc viewpoint | your money | ECON

and build the world of tomorrow, today.

This is connected to the reason why we Enabling the MENA ecosystem
like to read science fiction: it gives you a
Careem backs Egypt-based transportation startup Swvl
sense of how the world will look like in
with seed funding
the future, and it enables the mind to be

creative and imaginative, and not reject ere’s a homegrown company to have played a part in promoting
revolutionary ideas that might seem out that has a mission statement entrepreneurship in the region,” he
of the ordinary. to simplify the lives of people adds, explaining Careem’s reasons for
During the early stages of the com- in the Middle East, and it’s putting investing in Swvl.
pany, we often act as constant sparring money where its mouth is: ride- Founded in March 2017 by Kandil
partners to the entrepreneur, while also hailing app Careem has announced an and co-founders Mahmoud Nouh
being facilitators to their growth through investment of US$500,000 in Egypt’s and Ahmed Sabbah, Swvl aims to fill
our international network. At the same homegrown bus transportation the gaps in “affordable, reliable and
time, our role changes once the company startup Swvl. The company, which convenient” public transportation in
reaches later stages with new lead inves- aims to reinvent the daily commute of Egypt and other emerging markets.
tors joining. For instance, in the case of Egyptians by enabling riders heading The app users simply need to enter
Babil Games, Hubertus was involved in a in the same direction during morning their exact pick-up and drop-off
double role, as investor and co-founder, and evening commutes to share a location to reserve a spot, and can
being involved in all corporate matters, ride in a van or bus, was founded by also track bus/van location on the
until the negotiation terms of the exit. Mostafa Kandil, a former member of app. Currently accepting payments
In post-Series B companies like Thrive the Careem team. A Reuters report via credit card, the company says
Market, with valuations north of $500 notes that Swvl is not an on-demand it plans to “roll out four additional
million, we became passive investors, service like Careem or Uber, but a bus payment options over the next few
although still maintaining a healthy transportation service where pas- months including wallets, cash on
relation with the founders and some lead sengers can reserve and pay their fare delivery and more.” Swvl co-founder
investors. through the company’s mobile app. and Chief Hustler Kandil believes that
One thing we really care about is the As per a statement on the seed Careem’s investment will enable them
way Enabling Future operates after the funding, Swvl proposes to utilize to re-model Egypt’s mass transporta-
investment has been made. We want the investment to “expand into new tion system, and hopes to gain from
founders to know we are one phone call cities and markets, as well as roll out Careem’s vast local knowledge built
away, and that they are not in this by new product features within its app, over the years.
themselves. Founders usually tend to get including new payment options.” With Just earlier in June, Careem an-
lonely in hard times, and these are the this investment, Careem’s co-founder nounced the second close of its Series
times they need to talk to their investors and Chief Experience Officer Magnus E funding round raising US$150
and regain their confidence. That is the Olsson also joins the Swvl’s Board. million, and thereby cemented its
most exciting part, being supportive and “Swvl and Careem share a similar position as the Middle East region’s
watching the startup transform and grow. mission in that we both wish to solve homegrown unicorn (or unicamel, as
The best thing a VC firm can do is be the transportation challenges facing the company refers to itself). This ac-
good to the founders of the startups they the MENASA region,” Olsson says quisition of a minority stake in Swvl is
are investing in. We are very supportive, in the statement. “Our investment not Careem’s only initiative to develop
we make connections, we give advice, in the company is a clear bet on the public transportation systems in the
and we are there if they need us. value we believe Swvl will bring to the region. In 2016, the startup partnered
As for the road ahead, we have a flexible Egyptian people, and further fulfills with NEXT Future Transportation to
structure that allows us to take the best our promise to be a source of inspira- bring driverless transportation solu-
of both worlds, angel and VC invest- tion to local startups. We’re also proud tions to the MENASA region.
ments. One of the key things we think
about while investing in startups outside
the region is that we can plan a stra-
tegic role in bridging the gap for these
companies to the Middle East. We like to
discover companies such as OfficeRock,
and see their potential and relevance
for the Middle East market, and then
support their growth. We don’t have a
specific mandate; we can do the deals
we want to do. We are going to continue
looking for teams who are driven by pas-
sion, empowering startups that aim to
solve problems. By doing this, we want to
build our credibility, as well as a success-

ful track record of exit strategies.

august 2017 Entrepreneur 71

Snappcard’s Emre Kistak,
Managing Partner UAE,
Alborz Toofani, founder
and CEO, and Onur Witt,
Creative Director

pact. Giving back is very important to

me now. I was lucky enough to be men-
tored by people, such as Roland Daher,
Head of Dubai 100, and Will Hutson,
founder of LMTD, and now I’m trying
Alborz Toofani, founder and CEO of Snappcard, to pass that on. I’m also very drawn to
seeing whether there is an angle where
looks back at his entrepreneurial journey over the past five years
we [Snappcard] can make more social
By Tamara Pupic
impact. Before, my goal was to create
purpose for myself, now my vision is to
create purpose for other people.”
Alborz Toofani’s entrepreneurial which 1,000 have turned into active Before buying a one-way ticket to
journey started in July 2012, which users, collecting close to 4,000 snaps Dubai, Toofani had graduated from
was when he -23 years of age at the or points per day, which has resulted Cologne Business School, started a real
time- moved from Germany, where he in US$2.2 million worth of rewards to estate business, using profits to pur-
was born and raised, to Dubai where date. chase five real estate units and even-
he started up Snappcard, a mobile However, there is much more to this tually becoming a rentier, and -also
customer loyalty app, after spotting a story than meets the eye. “As an entre- in Germany- spent two years working
gap in the market for a digital loyalty preneur, I am now more drawn towards for a boutique angel fund, focusing
program catering for the region’s tech things that have an impact,” Toofani on different aspects of its investment
savvy population. Five years later, says. “I started Snappcard based on an process, from sourcing the deals to
Snappcard has evolved into a business opportunity. I have always been very post-investment support. In 2012, digi-
intelligence and consumer engagement good at spotting opportunities as well talizing loyalty cards, he says, seemed
digital platform that now covers about as dealing with people. When I started, an idea worth pursuing since “it was
700 locations in three markets -UAE, I didn’t have a passion for customer not about trying to reinvent the wheel.”
Kuwait, and Bahrain- in addition to loyalty, but for building a business. I With $120,000 in his pocket, having
a few clients in Saudi Arabia, Turkey was 23, and I wanted to build some- sold one of his apartments in Germany,
and Germany. The Snappcard app thing that created value. However, I’m Toofani headed to Dubai. “The reason
has been downloaded 2,000 times, of now more interested in making an im- was that I had a friend who had sold a

72 Entrepreneur august 2017

ecosystem | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE
start it up

business in Germany and moved to Abu

Dhabi,” he says. “I knew I wanted to do “We are enabling brick and
something towards loyalty and retail,
and I thought Dubai would be a great
mortar‘TREP TALK
businesses to compete
place for that. So, I did market re-
search, deciding between Istanbul and
in the digital world.”
Dubai. The reason I chose Dubai was Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attempted in Therefore, our solution enables offline
because the city has the highest smart Istanbul on July 15, 2016] happened, stores with the exact same tools. We are
phone penetration in the world, the half of them closed their businesses. enabling brick and mortar businesses to
highest spa per square meter density During the following six months, many compete in the digital world.”
and one of the highest restaurant per small retailers there were struggling a Describing Snappcard as a technology
square meter density in the world, in lot because they lost revenue from tour- enabler, Toofani says that they charge
addition to a huge eating out culture, ism and even the locals started going a fixed fee of AED800 per month for
and no taxes. So, it was the aggrega- out less. We downsized from eight to a full-service solution package, which
tion of those facts that made me choose four people, and our last employee left includes consultations, setting up a
Dubai.” two months ago. So, we took a year to system, creating and producing the
Toofani’s aim with Snappcard was downsize Turkey, although we still have artwork, and regular visits by the Snap-
to capture the complexity of custom- about 15 bigger customers there who pcard team to firstly train the client’s
ers’ everyday purchasing decisions are being serviced from here.” staff, and secondly, review the collected
and simplify it for businesses, but only Over the same time, Snappcard’s mis- data on a quarterly basis. “So, we are a
those which already have a customer sion has become clear to Toofani. “We SaaS, but it is a handhold, ongoing so-
base and can embrace high-quality, are all about enabling the merchant,” lution. We are constantly in touch with
actionable customer loyalty data. “We he says. “Too many times in history our clients since self-service solutions
don’t refer to markets as countries but it happened that a new or tech player don’t work in this region,” he adds. This
cities, because we are looking at net- came, disrupted a market, and left the steeled determination to empower tech-
work effects, and the most important merchant bleeding. So, for all those nologically challenged business owners
factor for a city is the density of good merchants who might be left out, we has led the Snappcard team to develop
merchants,” he says. “What constitutes give them an amazing piece of technol- four additional verticals, namely CRM,
a good merchant is yet to be defined, ogy, and if they utilize it correctly, they customer feedback, ordering for deliv-
but the point is that if you have a coffee can compete in the digital world. If ery and pickup, and campaigns, having
shop and your coffee is not good, Snap- you look at retail, they have hundreds realized that businesses needed a clear
pcard can’t help you. We have a lot of of customers every day and they have road map for how to cater for their
people approaching us, but we don’t no clue who those customers are. The customers’ needs. “We started as a loy-
sign them up because we they come reason why they are losing from online alty program, but we have expanded to
with wrong expectations. If you have a stores is because e-commerce tells you include much more than that, because
good business, we can help you make it how much traffic you are getting, what we realized that loyalty itself is good
great, but if you don’t have a customer your conversion rates are, and so on. but not good enough for merchants,” >>>
base, we can’t help you. We have a vet-
ting process in place for that reason.”
The Snappcard app was officially Snappcard covers 700 locations
launched -first on iOS and later on in the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain,
in addition to a few clients in
Android- in July 2013, after Toofani KSA, Turkey and Germany
registered a British Virgin Islands hold-
ing company that is today the umbrella
entity for the three sister companies
in the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain. In the
UAE, Snappcard was a part of the first
batch of startups in the in5 incubator.
The geographical expansion started in
the summer of 2014, with Turkey be-
ing the first international market they
entered but also exited. “We started
very slowly in Turkey,” Toofani says.
“The way I launch markets is very lean.
We hire one person, we test it, and if it
goes well, we allocate a bigger budget.
We have a four-stage growth plan for
each market. In Turkey, we had eight
employees at one point and 120 cus-

tomers, but when the coup [the failed

coup d’etat against Turkish president

august 2017 Entrepreneur 73

start it up ecosystem | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE

Toofani says. “What we are focusing

on now is customer engagement. For “Raising from angels is easier in a sense
the consumer side, it is about loyalty
rewards, getting extra points for giving
that you know where you are standing,
feedback every month, getting extra it’s their own money.”
points if you share it on social media,
and so on. For the merchants, it is I’ve had the management team in place, requirements to report to their LPs,
about business intelligence and con- who all have equity in the company, but for a fact, out of 400 they met, they
sumer engagement.” and we make every decision together. I knew that they would not invest in 200
Since we are on the topic of empow- have one vote only. That has helped me of them, even before meeting them. I
ering others, Toofani adds that he is as in terms of leadership, but also in not don’t agree with that, and choose to put
big a supporter of his 18-strong team, needing to be involved in day-to-day. It more effort into growing my business
as he is of his clients. He says that there was crucial for me that after some time, and trying to raise from people who
are lots of considerations that tend to it would evolve beyond me.” make more sense. All my investors add
lead to him hiring a candidate, but key For many startup founders, less value. Raising from angels is easier in
among them is assessing the candidate’s time spent solving the company’s a sense that you know where you are
cultural fit. “I follow the rule that I will everyday problems means more hours standing, it’s their own money.” As
never hire somebody to do something of being glued to their laptops working for Snappcard itself, the path ahead
new,” he says. “I have always hired to on investor pitch decks and other is two-fold: raising a $3 to $5 million
increase efficiency, so it has been either fundraising-related requests. Not for investment round, or being acquired
hiring for something I was doing or Toofani- following his initial capital (or acqui-hired) by a larger corporation
somebody on my team was doing, but it injection, Snappcard has raised about which “can give it that exponential
grew. I do a lot based on the need and $2.5 million in eight angel rounds. growth that it needs.” Toofani adds: “If
because of that my role has changed “Fundraising is the hardest part of we go for an M&A, I don’t need to go
multiple times. Finding talent is one of starting up a business in this region,” out, I don’t need to sell my shares. The
the biggest challenges. Only one person he says. “Angels are good, but there people on the management team still
on my team was hired through a job is another side of the coin to that as have about 60% of the company, so we
post. I rely on recommendations from well, especially for first-time angels. can convert it into the new shares of
my existing employees or my network. Although it is easier to get money from the new entity because we believe in
The hardest position to fulfill, and even them, some of them want to be involved the business. That makes a deal much
to understand, was COO. I wanted to too much, get emotional and don’t easier. Some of our investors think the
move out of day-to-day, but it was hard know where the boundaries are.” same, especially the bigger ones who
for me to even define that role. For However, talking with Toofani gets would prefer to be a part of a bigger
example, we moved from six different particularly interesting when he thing. So, it should be an M&A that
platforms to Salesforce three months expands on the region’s investment makes sense.”
ago. That’s what the COO role is about- landscape. “I know all the VCs here, While it seems that he could poten-
looking at existing processes and and I respect them. Many of them don’t tially be getting close to the end of one
optimizing them by hiring somebody waste your time, but some do end up stage of his entrepreneurial journey,
or by driving more technology. I hired dragging you along. As a sole founder, Toofani exudes calmness and confi-
somebody for that one and a half years when I go into fundraising, it means dence when talking about the choice
ago, and it didn’t work out. One of my that the company is not growing. The he made five years ago. “I always say
major lessons is that I tend to try to fix VCs here take a really big pride in it’s tough, but it is worth it if you do it
people, and I should have let go of that saying that they met with 400 startups well,” he says. “Some businesses, you
person after two months, but I tried for and invested in only four. It feels like cannot start from here. The likes of
five months. Then I realized that I had that they all get credibility because they Instagram, meaning any business that
somebody internally who could fulfill are so amazing that they only chose does not have revenue, or does not have
that role. Over the last nine months, four. I understand that it is one of their short-term revenue goals, will never
come out of the region, because the
funding ecosystem will not fund it for
Snappcard users a year or two, not knowing whether or
have collected
4,000 snaps or
when it will make money. The educa-
points per day, tion in this area is improving now, but
resulting in US$2.2 still, if there is no revenue, there is no
million worth of
rewards to date.
funding. So, certain business models
you cannot start from here, but from
London, Berlin, the US, and so on.
Then, they wonder why there is no
startup that starts in the Middle East
and goes globally- it is because the
funding ecosystem does not allow it,
not yet at least.”

74 Entrepreneur august 2017

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nels. El-Hajj points out, “You

Let’s go cashless should never miss a transac-
tion, because your cus-
Startup PayMob wants to make Egypt (and the whole MENA region) tomer didn’t find a suitable
payment method.” Working
transact from their mobile phones
with both the issuance and
By Pamella de Leon acceptance sides of pay-
ments, the co-founders say

ccording to PayFort’s is co-founded by CEO Islam develops white-labeled they have a distinct perspec-
State of Payments Shawky, COO Alain El-Hajj, mobile wallet products for tive to the problems from all
2016 report, 42% of and CTO Mostafa Menessy. mobile network operators angles, thus making it easier
Egyptian consumers shop Given Egypt’s reliance on and banks. He adds that the to offer solutions to improve
online, yet 91% of Egyptian cash, El-Hajj says that its mobile wallet solutions that the experiences of both end
shoppers still use cash on economy is at risk to lose they provide allow for inter- consumers and merchants.
delivery as a payment op- money through cash-based operability- meaning, “a user Founded in 2013, the
tion. It’s not surprising, as fraud, theft, costly insurance, from one wallet provider can co-founders were originally
the country predominantly as well as from the time- engage with users from other working on a social e-com-
has cash-driven businesses, consuming task of counting providers.” On the accept- merce project, and pivoted
with Harvard Business and reconciling cash bal- ance side, PayMob enables when they realized that being
Review citing that only 10% ances- and digital payments merchants to accept pay- in a cash-dominant market
have access to a bank ac- can definitely help reduce ments from their customers will hinder the growth of e-
count, and 94% of financial this kind of waste. Shawky using various payment chan- commerce ventures. Boot-
transactions are conducted also points out that the focus
in cash. In a cash-dominated on cash excludes people
society, financial inclusion from the financial system
is essential for individuals, and its benefits, and PayMob
enterprises, and economies can help turn that around,
alike to prevent hurdles to saying, “We’re working on
progress- and this is the empowering the masses
opportunity that PayMob is with tools to perform digital
trying to tackle. The startup transactions, and get access
is an electronics payments to financial services using
solutions provider converting their mobile phones.” The
cash payments to electronic, startup provides solutions
using existing payment chan- for both sides of payment,
nels such as credit card, mo- issuance and acceptance.
bile wallet and cash. Based Menessy explains that from Alain El-Hajj, co-founder and COO, Islam Shawky, co-founder and CEO, Mostafa Menessy,
in Egypt, the fintech startup the issuance side, PayMob co-founder and CTO

76 Entrepreneur august 2017

strapping funds, they decided to build “What we envision in the foreseeable
PayMob to solve the payments problem. future is a cashless society where users
Shawky says that as of June this year, rely on the mobile devices to perform ‘TREP TALK
PayMob processed over EGP3.8 million all financial services. We want to make What drives you forward
sending a payment as easy as sending an
through different products, with the as an entrepreneur?
SMS or a Whatsapp message.”
platform today having around 150 mer- Islam Shawky, co-founder and CEO,
chants using it, including Jumia, The When asked regarding most-oft con- PayMob: “A grand vision that
GrEEK Campus, Yashry and Easy Taxi. cerns of MENA consumers on unfamili- sometimes can’t be articulated,
Currently focusing on Egypt’s market arity with online payments, or privacy and a team that fully believes in
(with an eye to enter other markets), and security issues, Shawky asserts the vision and their willingness
the startup received an undisclosed that it’s all about educating users to to sacrifice to reach it. The scale
seed funding from Egypt-based A15 a build trust. As they comply with inter- that we are dealing with, the
year ago, and with A15’s background of national standards for payments pro- opportunity of being able to touch
investing in digital products, particu- cessing, handling questions is an easy millions of people’s lives and
larly online and mobile solutions, the process of discussing with clients, and trying to make them easier, is very
co-founders count on their support as developing materials to educate them. exciting. I believe this love and
a strategic move. As for its business At the same time, Shawky counters that passion that comes from being
model, PayMob takes, as a commission, most concerns are around credit card, totally invested in the vision is
a transaction fee for its processing ser- and how Egypt is starting to foster a what drives the team to spend
vices. The startup has five core services: mobile wallet-friendly culture, saying, sleepless nights in the office and
online payments, mobile wallet pay- “Mobile wallets are associated with work on holidays.”
ments, in-store payments, standalone much higher levels of trust.” Partnering
checkout to let users pay using credit/ with banks and mobile network opera- What are some of the
debit card, and card on delivery. The tors, plus retail chains, the startup uses current trends you see in
card on delivery feature is a patent- the reach and infrastructure in Egypt to the fintech sector?
pending service, allowing customers educate, onboard and handle inquiries. Alain El-Hajj, co-founder and COO,
to pay with their MasterCard and Visa The startup also works with partners PayMob: “We believe the attention
credit/debit cards from their doorstep. and clients in other sectors wherein and support that the Central Bank
This is an indication to the startup’s mobile wallets can offer a solution to of Egypt is giving to financial
future outlook- Shawky says they view traditional payment processes through inclusion is extremely important
the cash mentality as their biggest a cost-effective payment method. As and beneficial to all stakeholders
competitor, and so rely on partnerships an example, Shawky says: “For micro- of the ecosystem. There have been
in the ecosystem to “create the big- finance loan payments, when it’s easier nationally-run TV ads from the
gest impact.” For instance, PayMob has and cheaper to use a mobile wallet, Central Bank showcasing mobile
partnered with MasterCard to launch rather than make a long journey to wallets, which is unprecedented
a mobile wallet solution for Vodafone, make a cash payment in person, it be- in terms of national support for a
and there’s also the cash on delivery comes an easy decision for users to use financial initiative.”
service with Arab African Interna- mobile wallets.”
tional Bank (AAIB). These partnerships So, is going entirely cashless really How do you see Egypt’s
have been essential in developing new possible for the region? While it con- fintech ecosystem
products too- for its new payment ac- tinues to gain traction, the CEO admits progressing in the future?
ceptance service, Accept, the startup that they are just at the tip. Cash is still Mostafa Menessy co-founder and
has partnered with AAIB, MasterCard, dominant, but Shawky notes the growth CTO, PayMob: “We believe the
Egyptian Banks Company and Vodafone rate of users joining cashless initia- infrastructure we helped building
too. A product of PayMob, Accept is a tives. “Even developed markets aren’t along with our partners is at a very
payment aggregator providing online 100% cashless, and though, yes, we’re mature stage. What is missing
and offline businesses with payment ac- at an early stage, it’s a process that has now are campaigns to spread
ceptance services whether in store, cash started, [and it] can’t be stopped.” With awareness. It is very challenging
on delivery, credit card on delivery, the startup’s vision to “never miss a to change what people have been
mobile wallets, and online and mobile transaction,” in the next few months, used to doing for hundreds of
payments gateway. A note here: all of besides continuously catering to their years, i.e. paying in cash for goods
this didn’t quite come as easy for the clients’ needs, the co-founders plan or services. But we’re working with
co-founders- as young 20-something to form further strategic partnerships all types of organization and from
‘treps, Shawky recalls that an early hur- to develop new solutions and services all angles to make mobile wallet
dle was convincing partners that they regionally. “What we envision in the technology ubiquitous. As Alain
have the know-how and capacity to foreseeable future is a cashless society mentioned, we’re now starting to
execute critical systems handling trans- where users rely on the mobile devices see national campaigns for mobile

actions. Though it took time, with their to perform all financial services. We wallets, so the puzzle is almost
early mentors’ support, coupled with want to make sending a payment as complete.”
their persistence and commitment, the easy as sending an SMS or a Whatsapp
team built and grew their partnerships. message.”

august 2017 Entrepreneur 77

start it up ecosystem | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE

Shedul’s software enables

salons, spas, and other well-
ness businesses schedule ap-
pointments, reduce no-shows
with the help of automated
reminders, and undertake
point-of-sale activities among
other tasks. The entrepre-
neur says given the status of
occupancy rates in the beauty
and wellness industry, and
with industry players “los-
ing billions of dollars [due to
occupancy issues],” Shedul’s
technology helps connect
small businesses directly to
demand. However, the biggest
credit for Shedul’s growth tra- jectory (the portal claims over
William Zeqiri and
40,000 merchant sign-ups
Nick Miller in more than 120 countries,
in under two years) should
go to its free-to-use model.
“Our monetization strategy is
Conquering the globe to charge a small commission
fee per booking on our soon-
Dubai-based Shedul’s software for the beauty industry has been adopted to-be-launched consumer
by over 40,000 merchants in more than 120 countries- marketplace, and keeping the
main SaaS [Software as a
in a span of just two years By Sindhu Hariharan Service] tool free,” says Ze-

qiri, explaining the startup’s
“We are a global e it to get a ride to scription-free platform.” The aggressive user acquisition
business with most work, or to indulge cloud-based software is acces- strategy while keeping an eye
users internationally, our food cravings, sible via an internet connec- on revenue.
and we just happen technology seems to tion on any device, with most
to start the business “Our technology is helping
be propelling most users found to be accessing
in Dubai… Our story is businesses optimize their
that we are serving aspects of our lives today, the platform on their mobiles.
schedule with real-time
the globe out of Dubai, and so, it shouldn’t come Besides taking the hassle out online availability, and in some
rather than targeting as a surprise that this kind of operations management for cases, it has increased user
the local market.” of disruption is hitting the salons by automating key pro- revenue more than 30%.”
beauty and wellness indus- cesses such as appointment
tries too. Consider Shedul, bookings, customer records, It’s also this growth (which
a booking and scheduling inventory, financial reporting the founders consider “almost
platform for salons, spas, and and other tasks, this platform entirely organic through
other wellness businesses, is also addressing a key chal- word-of-mouth”) that helped
the brainchild of entrepre- lenge for the industry- that the startup close a US$6 mil-
neurs William Zeqiri and of resource utilization. “The lion round of Series A financ-
Nick Miller. “We did some main pain point is the inef- ing, backed by both MENA
research and found out that ficient utilization of appoint- and Silicon Valley investors in
the majority of businesses in ment schedules, which is June 2017. Led by Middle East
the beauty industry operate causing low occupancy rates Venture Partners (MEVP),
offline, without any software for businesses and loss of and backed by Dubai’s BECO
at all. 52% of salons in the US revenue,” says co-founder and Capital and San Francisco-
still manage their bookings COO Miller. “Our technology based Lumia Capital (a VC
with pen and paper,” says co- is helping businesses optimize firm that backs the Middle
founder and CEO Zeqiri. their schedule with real-time East ride-hailing app Careem,
Looking to change that, online availability, and in among many other startups),
in 2015, the duo launched some cases, it has increased the new round of funding also
Shedul, which Zeqiri declares user revenue more than follows an earlier seed round
to be “the world’s first sub- 30%.” (also led by MEVP) in October

78 Entrepreneur august 2017

William Zeqiri, co-founder and CEO, Shedul

What are your thoughts on Based on your current

the MENA entrepreneurship fundraising experience, what
ecosystem, and its evolu- would be your top three tips
tion over the years? for the region’s startups to
“The entrepreneurship pitch and clinch funding for
ecosystem has grown their ventures?
tremendously over the last “[First], solve a real-world
four years. With this fast problem with an innovative
expansion, consumer behavior product. [Second], demonstrate
William Zeqiri, is changing, and new forms traction and growth with
and CEO,
of businesses are simplifying users. [Third], articulate a clear means of interaction. For [a] monetization strategy. Before
thriving startup ecosystem, approaching any investors it is
it’s important that local important to build and operate
2016. Without going into the ings” are made through policies and regulations adapt a working product that has real
details, the entrepreneurs the platform each month to these new technology- customers using it, to show a
say they plan to use the growing at an average rate of enabled business models. trend of at least three months
funds to expand their prod- 35% month-on-month, it’s Dubai, in particular, has of strong growth and traction,
uct development and engi- significant (and also intrigu- been very progressive at and to be meticulous with your
neering teams to support the ing) to note that almost embracing the latest trends. It unit economics, P&L reporting,
roll out of some new features half of this Dubai-based is refreshing to see the advent and burn rate.”
of their platform. The found- startup’s users are in the US of big traditional players now
ers’ feeling of triumph is (40%), followed by the UK entering the startup and “Before approaching any
apparent as Zeqiri notes that (15%), Australia (11%), and technology ecosystem. For investors it is important
they had aimed for the best Canada (7%). The MENA example, Alabbar [Mohamed to build and operate a
VCs in the region, and so market, where they have Alabbar] has become very working product that has
managing to seal a deal with about 2,000 salons and active in this space.” real customers using it.”
them was definitely music spas using their platform
to their ears. “It’s critical till date, is hence still a
to align on the big picture growing geography for the internationally, and we just explains Zeqiri. The entre-
or vision with VCs, before tech startup and represents happen to start the busi- preneurs’ lofty ambitions for
getting into the detailed about 5% of their total user ness in Dubai… Our story is their scheduling platform
analysis [of the deal]. Being base (with more than half in that we are serving the globe is to “process over $1.5
a global company, we got lots the UAE). “We are a global out of Dubai, rather than billion worth of appoint-
of interest from international business with most users targeting the local market,” ment bookings by the end of >>>
VCs, and are proud to have
San Francisco-based Lumia
Capital joining the round,”
he says. The investors too are
upbeat about the startup and
its product, with MEVP’s
managing partner Walid
Mansour noting in a state-
ment that Shedul is a “truly
global success story, [as] the
growth they achieved in two
years is remarkable.” Chris
Rogers, partner at Lumia
Capital noted that Shedul
has “made best-in-class
software accessible to the
massive beauty industry,
which still largely operates
images courtesy shedul

While the company notes
that “millions of book-

august 2017 Entrepreneur 79

start it up ecosystem | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE

local services online, SaaS

products are in fact already a
norm when it comes to food
delivery, transportation,
and other basic services,
and the entrepreneur duo
behind Shedul are confident
that the beauty and well-
ness space is also making
the transition at a positive
pace. Interestingly, in a bid
to prevent users from leaving
its apps, tech titan Google
too launched “Reserve with
Google” in July 2017- a fea-
ture (in the US) that lets us-
ers book health and wellness
appointments directly from
its Search or Maps apps
via a “book” button. Such
Nick Miller, enormous competition not-
co-founder and
withstanding, Shedul has its
eyes set to help businesses
in the salon and spa indus-
2017,” and they believe they ing a familiar name in the Top 20 Salon Management try thrive- and armed as it
are on track to achieve this. global beauty and wellness software under the cat- is with a business model
“Word-of-mouth factor is industry. Moreover, from not egories of “Most Popular”, tailored to take advantage
strong, our users are the best even being in the reckoning “Most User-Friendly” and of the SaaS boom, as well as
ambassadors spreading the just over a year ago, Shedul “Most Affordable” software. a passionate and ambitious
word within their own com- has also managed to bag top With netizens the world team, the company seems to
munity,” says Miller. “We slots in Capterra’s independ- over more confident than be well on its way to real-
have a solid 5/5 user rating ent review reports for 2017’s ever to book and pay for izing its goals.
on [a platform
that helps businesses find
the right software for their Investor viewpoint
operational needs], and Amir Farha, co-founder and Managing Partner, BECO Capital
believe that if users require
training on how to use our Why did BECO Capital globally. We are honored to process tens of millions of
system, we have not done a decide to get on board as be part of their journey and dollars in bookings per month,
good job building it.” investors- what impressed will do our best to help them and they are looking to launch
you about Shedul? succeed.” a marketplace, which should
“Our monetization strategy is “The management team at capture some of those dollars.
to charge a small commission Shedul is extraordinary. They Do you see Shedul evolv- If they can execute on that
fee per booking on our soon- are second-time entrepreneurs ing as a profitable business plan, the potential revenue
to-be-launched consumer
who have a long working with their free-software scale is enormous, not-to-
marketplace, and keeping
the main SaaS [Software as a
relationship, and have clearly model? Financially, what mention, the ancillary revenues
Service] tool free.” demonstrated superior excites BECO Capital in the that can exist in the future.”
execution capabilities. Given deal?
In line with this belief, the the relatively short life of the “Every business needs to find
Amir Farha,
team finds that merchants company, the product they a revenue stream that scales, co-founder
adopting Shedul often “rave have built is outstanding, and Shedul has plans to do and Managing
about its easy setup and relative to others in the market that. At the moment, their Partner,
BECO Capital
intuitive interface, as well with rave reviews from a sticky focus is purely on product,
as its personable customer customer base. Furthermore, experience and ensuring their
images courtesy shedul | beco capital

support.” The founders are we love their vision and customers are happy. Once
also grateful for the vo- ambition. Will and Nick are they have achieved scale and
cal backing they get from looking to build something high retention, they will be able
their partners, which, they truly transformational that to monetize through various
believe, has a key role to play will disrupt the spa industry business models. They already
in their software becom-

80 Entrepreneur august 2017


actionable ideas that have the scheme is not a black

delivered more than US$70 hole. A successful submission
million audited savings to the has a clear journey. Likewise,
business. if an idea is unsuccessful,
By opening up direct access one’s supervisor can explain
to the company’s decision- why the idea is not feasible
makers, EGA has nurtured a and work with the employee
deeply motivated and loyal to make it a worthwhile sug-
workforce. More than 600 of gestion.
our employees have worked at
EGA for more than 25 years. 2. Sharing the benefits
Here’s how you can go about Companies renowned for
implementing an employee their innovation like Google
Innovation starts suggestion program in your
and Facebook invest signifi-
cant amounts to nurture em-
at home ployee innovation schemes.
1. Empower the employee Investment helps employees
Empower your employees to drive The first step to implement a to understand the real value
your business forward By Salman Dawood Abdulla robust scheme is recognizing that their input has had on
your employees’ potential to the business. At EGA, we

he word “innovation” that we call innovation come innovate. When employees consider the monetary value
is thrown around so from? Some companies are feel ignored, they may think of every idea we receive and
much in business that turning to “innovation con- that innovation is futile, but ensure that we have enough
at times it seems like sultancies,” paying millions when they feel listened to, budget to turn it into a real-
just a buzzword- a of dirhams for third-party they speak up. Employees ity, and share the returns. The
canned excuse to consultants to tell them how responsible for the workplace employee, the supervisor and
change how things are done. to improve their processes have an in-depth knowledge the department representa-
The word has become so and products. of their jobs, and this enables tive all benefit monetarily,
overused, that it’s easy to lose Yet, that kind of investment them to generate ideas that sharing a percentage of the
sight of the value of genu- begs the question: “Why are are incremental and foster savings from the implementa-
ine innovation to business we looking outside the busi- a work environment which tion of their idea.
strategy. ness when our employees sit makes jobs easier and safer to
Today’s businesses operate closest to our problems?” do. Incremental innovation or 3. Celebrate success
in a complex environment. When we outsource idea improvements are imperative together Celebrating
Climate change, skills gaps in generation, we are adding as they add and sustain value employees’ innovation is an-
the labor force, and the need to our expenses and telling to existing processes, prod- other simple but enormously
to maintain healthy mar- our employees that they’re ucts and services. In the long impactful way to endorse
gins in the face of financial not paid to think. Also, is the run, such innovation plays an the scheme and gain loyalty
pressures are just some of final product really our own important role in maintaining and buy-in. Be it an internal
the challenges that we face. innovation? Such a scenario the organization’s competitive awards event where you rec-
Innovation, when correctly stifles innovation within an position in the market. ognize employees in front of
implemented, can add value organization. In other words, step away their peers or a nation-wide
to existing strategies and en- An employee-based pro- from the suggestion box and competition, you will stand to
able targets to be met. gram that is equitable and provide a forum to employees motivate your internal inno-
The impetus towards in- has built-in incentives can that puts them in charge. At vators and develop a reputa-
novation is especially strong generate both innovation and EGA, supervisors directly tion as a company carried by
in the UAE. Innovation is a engagement. It promotes true assess, scrutinize and provide its people.
central pillar in the delivery grassroots innovation from feedback on an idea. This No matter what route you
of UAE Vision 2021 and the within the organization. means that on any given take, no one can know the
government’s plan to shift to The impact of a well-run day, employees can discuss business better than the peo-
a knowledge-based economy. suggestion scheme is some- directly with their managers ple who live and breathe the
There is a clear recognition thing that we at Emirates and entrust them with their operations every day. When
from businesses that genuine Global Aluminium (EGA) ideas in a safe space. On top we empower them to share
innovation has the capacity know firsthand. EGA has had of that, we have also found their feedback and make sug-
to give us an advantage in a suggestion scheme since that transparent processes gestions, we give them a stake
the marketplace. But where 1981. Just since 1999, it has with categories and criteria in the future and accelerate
do the earth-shaking ideas generated over 220,000 reassures our employees that our mutual success.

Salman Dawood Abdulla has served as Executive Vice President, EHSSQ and Business Transformation at Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) since
2016, and has a wealth of experience designing, building, operating and maintaining large industrial plants. Since joining DUBAL (which merged
with Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) to form EGA), in 1984 as an engineering apprentice, he was promoted through the ranks to a number of senior
positions, including General Manager of Power & Desalination at DUBAL, Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Operations at EMAL, and
then Senior Vice President of Al Taweelah Operations, before being promoted to his current role.

82 Entrepreneur august 2017