MONEYBALL… ROLL ‘EM! FINANCE FLICKS REVISITED… AND THEY STILL GIVE US THE CHILLS
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
WISSAM AL MANA
LUXURY OUT OF THE
THE FAMILY BIZ, THE LIMELIGHT, AND THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING… THE BRAND
COST EFFICACY IN DIGITAL BUSINESS MARKETING MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES FOR YOUR TARGET MARKET WHEN ADVERTISING ONLINE WITH THIS SIMPLIFIED GUIDE
ENSURING INVESTMENTS FOR YOUR BUSINESS PRIVATE EQUITY MAVERICK SHARES 13 PITCH TIPS THAT WILL MAKE HIM COMMIT THE FUNDS TO YOUR PROJECT
NUANCES OF EXTRAVAGANCE
CEO MOHAMMED ABDUL RAHIM AL FAHIM BROKERS IN BEAUTY
9 772311 541008 > MAY 2014 | ENTREPRENEURMIDDLEEAST.COM | UAE AED20
68 It’s time to analyze the importance of sales to your newly-minted business.
The Arabic Factory Ahmed Naguib’s El Masna3 has its eye on your Arabic marketing direction. Find out what they’re doing differently.
84 ASK THE MONEY GUY
The maverick speaks Ziad Abdelnour gives you 13 big hints on how to make that pitch turn into cold, hard cash.
88 VC VIEWPOINT
Fund investment cycles Why do VCs often turn away promising investments? Here’s a clue or two.
88 Fund investment cycles
58 START IT UP: WACKY IDEA
72 YOUR MONEY
Pageboy Ibrahim Nehme Crowdfunding in the Middle East turns a page with this successful campaign.
You wanna go offshore? CEO Reza Afshar explains offshore registration for GCCbased companies, and why it might work for your business.
It’s time to make money! Simon Hudson has walked you through startup steps from the get-go, and now it’s time to analyze the importance of sales to your newly-minted business.
Two regional startups make us wanna invest! Google MENA hosts Jordanian Oasis500 startups in Dubai… and we’ve chosen two of five great ‘treps for you to support.
84 Investor Ziad Abdelnour
ERRATUM The April 2014 article, Raytheon’s Got Game in the GCC, suggests that both Oman and Kuwait recently purchased the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System. In actuality, Kuwait purchased new Patriot fire units and Oman purchased a ground-based air defense system (GBADS). MAY 2014
INNOVATORS: BEING THE BRAND
THE NUANCES OF EXTRAVAGANCE
TECH: MOBILE TECH
Wissam Al Mana The youngest of the Al Mana brothers explains the family biz, and how he plans to make good on his promises to do whatever he can, no matter what it takes.
Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim We set out to learn about Paris Gallery’s marketing strategy from their persuasive and commited CEO. What we got was something very, very different.
Apps and more Flickr gets awesome and Sony goes wireless-sharing. Like!
26 Paris Gallery CEO
Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim
48 ONLINE ‘TREP
Going digital Rani Nasr talks about the transition from offline to online, and what your company needs to do to get there.
52 ASK A GEEK
Going once, going twice Bidding on Facebook or LinkedIn advertising? Mohammad Hijazi gives you a crash course on how to get your money’s worth.
The third dimension We took the 3Doodler for a spin. 16 Wissam Al Mana, Managing Director, Hermès Middle East & Luc Perramond, CEO, La Montre Hermès
EDITOR’S NOTE By Fida Z. Chaaban
ASK A PRO
Moneyball Amal Chaaban revisits some of the cinematic moments dedicated to finance. It might be over, but the watch is as good as ever.
Grooming and baggage essentials We’ve got your staple travel bags narrowed down for you, as well as airline-friendly grooming essentials. Get packing!
60 BUSINESS UNUSUAL
Wrap it up! Emirati entrepreneur tells us how she’s managed to get her brand GCC-wide. Find out what’s behind the decorative niche market that she’s cultivated for herself.
34 ‘TREPONOMICS: ESQUIRE GUY
Handling a PR crisis with style Ross McCammon has a few suggestions on that everso-delicate public relations catastrophe.
Treat failure like a scientist James Clear advises you on how to roll with the punches, and while you’re at it, learn a thing or two.
For those who do... it better David Roman says that just because they’re on top doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard to get there.
With great power… Elias Jahshan goes over some of the lessons he’s learned in the newsroom. Learn how a highly pressurized and time-sensitive environment has improved his managerial skills.
34 Handling a PR crisis with style
38 ASK A PRO
Crisis control Octavia Nasr analyzes some recent household name PR blunders. What went wrong?
46 David Roman speaking at Lenovo’s 2014 Global Kickoff in Marrakech, Morocco
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In addition to our print edition, we’re bringing you all sorts of industry news on our web mediums. Joining us online means getting relevant business and startup content in real-time, so you’re hearing about the latest developments as soon as we do. We’re looking forward to interacting with our readers on all of our social media and web platforms- like any thriving business, we’re looking to give and take. #TrepTalkME is already happening on all of our digi platforms, and all good conversations go both ways. See you on the web! EntMagazineME @EntMagazineME | @FidaChaaban Entrepreneur-me EntrepreneurMiddleEast EntMagazineME EntMagazineME EntMagazineME
A New Generation of Steel
www.egyptian-steel.com MAY 2014
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN PRESS RELEASES
am, on a daily basis, flooded with requests for coverage. Don’t get me wrong, I like hearing what you’ve done, and I do really think it’s important to share entrepreneurial news with media outlets… But. But. But. But.
KNOW YOUR ROLE. Having
a strong PR agency and the budget to have them at your beck and call does not mean you should be the decisionmaker in this regard. You’re a businessperson, so focus on doing business. You are not the agency. The agency is the agency.
STEM THE FLOOD. Just because you can afford a big email blast by one of the most influential agencies in the Middle East doesn’t mean you should encourage them to flood people with irrelevant updates. Some examples of what constitutes an irrelevant update: 1. That you now have X amount of likes on your Facebook page. 2. Your product is going on sale and/or promotion. 3. You’ve made a public appearance at an event that no one cares about. 4. Any other superfluous information that has no added value for the reader. CONSIDER YOUR LEVEL OF EXPOSURE. Your PR agency
knows what to do and when. It’s their area of expertise. If you continue to badger them to get you interviews and they are reluctant, chances are they know that you are overexposing yourself. This is a strategic error, and your PR people know best. Take their word for it when they say you need to take an interview hiatus. 10
PICK AND CHOOSE YOUR MEDIUMS. Your agency knows
who is suitable for your image. If they are sending your material to everyone –both relevant and irrelevant media outlets- it’s probably because you are demanding tons of press mentions. Trust me on this one, less is more. It’s better to have two or three strong and suitable features than having 12 randomized mini-features that don’t project your image and message properly. MINIMIZE YOUR SELFPROMOTION. Your agency
is very aware of the media’s feelings about relentless publicity-seekers. Let them do their jobs. You are paying them a hefty sum on retainer so that they can advise you on an appropriate brand image for you and your business. You are the brand, and they are the ones who are “in the know”. Let them determine what level of self-promotion is suitable.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Your agency knows when it is most advantageous for you to do your round of press, and they know when it’s timely to send releases. Don’t force them to engage the media with things that will get dismissed. Why? Because when you do have something big going on, the media will not pay proper attention to you since they get fluffy emails about you regularly. I personally have
unsubscribed from three lists this month because of spamming. Why am I telling you all of this? Because of the hashtag #UAEPR on Twitter. A lot of the media in the UAE have taken to that particular social media platform to stick it to agencies and PR people across the country, myself included. This got me thinking about how PR people are in a bit of bind- the client demands coverage and the client will often not listen to reason. Entrepreneurs, if you think that you know better than the agency that you’ve contracted, then why have them on board at all? They do know better than you do how to deal with the fickle and judgmental media. I am telling you the truth, and I hope you take it into consideration. Whether or not you agree, you can let me know on Twitter or by writing in via email. I look forward to hearing from you… even if you just feel like giving me a piece of your mind.
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CAUTION: QUARANTINE SYRIA’S IN FOR A WHOLE MESS O’ TROUBLE
yria’s polio outbreak has been making headlines for a while, emphasizing the plethora of public health issues that emerge during armed conflict. The first outbreak took place in October 2013 in Deir ez-Zor in Eastern Syria. The World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that the outbreak there was due to the destruction of its electrical and water infrastructure, in addition to the lack of immunizations since the start of the unrest. By November 17, reports of children paralyzed by polio in three Governates of Syria began surfacing. According to UNICEF, Syria was polio-free for 15 years before the recent outbreaks. Today, there are only three endemic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. In a conference in November 2013, WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region countries declared the polio outbreak
in Syria as a regional issue rather than a national one. A mass vaccination campaign was designed to immunize 22 million children under the age of five in a six to eight-month period. The campaign involves WHO, UNICEF and other UN agencies, the Syrian Red Crescent, as well as local and international NGOs. While the campaign is underway, it has been difficult to immunize children in Syria, due to restrictions as a result of the existing political upheaval. This slow period means that as summer approaches, there are fresh concerns that the virus will cross borders to areas with refugee camps, notably Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Monitoring travel is difficult as is, and given that most refugee camps are not well organized, let’s hope that these new challenges will not lead to new polio patients.
Minority Report IRL
Chicago’s police computer labels birds of a feather… By Pamella de Leon
Sci-fi flick The Minority Report is turning into law enforcement reality. The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is introducing a computer system that predicts potential criminals. The system was developed by Miles Wernick, Motorola professor and director at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Wernick won’t elaborate on the details, but says that the algorithm selects names from the CPD’s crime
database, consisting of a ‘heat list’- a list of recommended names involved with or connected to people who have been convicted of crimes (both major or minor offences). The lists include anyone who may have a likelihood of being involved, and locations called ‘hotspots’, where past crimes have taken place. The creepy program draws inspiration from Yale sociologist Andrew Papachristos’ social
POLIO VIRUS MICROSCOPIC IMAGE CREATIVE COMMONS
By Kareem Chehayeb
Electron micrograph of the polio virus
networking theory, wherein a person’s network and their neighborhood can statistically determine their potential involvement in future illegal activity. Just under 60 out of 400 people on the hotlist have been personally visited and told by CPD officers that “they’re being watched”, causing concerns over invasion of privacy and profiling. Are people being branded for living in neighborhoods with high crime rates and being acquainted with a few bad apples? Most importantly, the question that begs an answer: Will it perpetuate a slew of self-fulfilling prophecies? THE ALGORITHM Led by Miles Wernick and Commander Lewin, CPD’s information technology lead, the National Institute of Justice granted over US$2 million to the department to proceed with two phases from their predictive experimental program. Wernick likened the structure to scrutinizing for an area’s anomalies by seeing the big picture through a person’s network, even predicting the possibility of the subject being involved in an act of violence. The full report about the program will be published in 2016.
IN THE LOOP
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s 2014 Arab Youth Survey By Kareem Chehayeb THE ESTABLISHMENT STILL MATTERS Believe it or not, the data in the survey finds that Arab youth have confidence in their governments when it comes to sorting out several issues, and their confidence in the Arab Spring is dropping, which is most likely due to the lack of tangible results that have occurred thus far. Over half of the youth interviewed still find the Arab world better off as a result of the Arab Spring, and they also agree that their lives will be better off because of it five years from now. One caveat? Numbers significantly dropped from 2012 when 72 of the 100 Arab youth polled said that they believe their lives are better off because of the Arab Spring. As of now, only 54 still feel that way. While they expressed the most confidence in their government when it comes to economic stability, living standards, unemployment, and security issues, they were the least confident in issues such as wealth creation, scarcity of resources and climate change. “GET OFF THE COUCH, AND GET A JOB!” The biggest fears that the surveyed Arab youth expressed were unemployment and the rising cost of living. Both are issues that have taken a much larger precedent over the past few years. Unemployment concerns were expressed by 49% of Arab youth, whereas
63% mentioned the rising costs of living. When it comes to the latter, it’s an issue that seems to be of equal concern regardless of region; whether you’re in the GCC, Levant or Northern Africa, approximately 60% of Arab youth surveyed noted it. When it comes to unemployment, there is little concern in places like Oman, UAE, and Kuwait, averaging at around 36%. That said, 62% of youth in Egypt are greatly concerned about unemployment, while countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Iraq are all hovering around 55%. WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? It almost makes sense for Arab youth to be more concerned about their safety, rather than how effective or swift the democratization process has been in their respective countries. This is probably given the increased violent situations that have occurred in Arab states that have had popular uprisings. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of Arab youth in the survey who believed that civil unrest is the main obstacle in the region has increased from 44 to 55, whereas lack of democracy decreased from 43 to 38. Interestingly enough, this is something that youth across the region seem to find, more than lack of democracy, lack of strong leadership, and even terrorism. Perhaps the fact that increase of civil
unrest usually stalls democratization changed their minds, especially with reports of spillovers from the Syrian conflict, and the ongoing series of uprisings in Egypt. ‘TREPS IN THE MAKING ARE MULTIPLYING Entrepreneurial spirit is quite high among Arab youth- most believe that more businesses will start up in this generation, both in and out of the GCC. While percentages average at around 67%, entrepreneurial spirit is exceptionally high in Jordan and Egypt at 71%, both startup hubs in the region. That said, it’s surprising to see Palestine and Libya up there at 71% and 72% respectively. There is also an increased preference in working in the private sector; the GCC youth’s interest has been steadily increasing since 2012, but those outside the GCC had a much higher interest in 2012, despite this year’s increase. One thing is for sure though, while more Arab youth still prefer working in the public sector, those numbers are steadily in decline.
This could possibly correlate with political instability or the potential instability, depending on external factors. COME ON, GIVE US A BREAK! An overwhelming percentage of young Arabs find that energy, electricity, and vehicle fuel (gasoline) should be subsidized by their respective governments, averaging at 74%. When it comes to the biggest challenge facing the region today, climate change and the environment is at the bottom, and the rising cost of living at the top. What’s interesting is that because energy costs are subsidized across the region, you can safely assume that this is related to the lack of concern for climate change and the environment. Stick with me here- while rising cost of living is the biggest concern, government subsidies on energy and electricity will not do much to help. In fact, paying for energy, electricity, and fuel at the market rate would help alleviate that issue; Jordan recently put this into action in 2012.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
WISSAM AL MANA THE FAMILY BIZ, THE LIMELIGHT, AND THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING… THE BRAND By Fida Chaaban
I accosted Wissam Al Mana. It’s true. I’d been following the youngest Al Mana brother’s movements for years, so when I finally had the chance to approach him for an interview, I wasn’t going to let it slip through my fingers. I wanted to know more about this hybrid Qatari who gives off dueling energies of a hands-on businessman attending his own events –less in a ribbon-cutting capacity and more in a hands-on ownership type of scenario- and a harangued privacy-seeking international figure of interest. While I understand that his public appearances could fall under the do-what-you-gotta-do scenario, I wanted to hear Al Mana tell me for himself- about his work, his life, and yes, about the sensations of both privacy and unorthodoxy in whatever (serious) press coverage there is about him. Why am I referring to him as a hybrid? Because later I find out that he’s got a slight pan-Euro accent with a touch of British inflection, and an East meets West mentality that permeates everything from his business decisions to his conversational demeanor. >>> MAY 2014
“WE’RE BECOMING VERY SELECTIVE IN OUR APPROACH; WE TRY TO WORK WITH THE BEST BRANDS IN EACH SEGMENT, AS OPPOSED TO THE MOST BRANDS.” I wait for an opportune time at the private kickoff of the La Montre Hermès “Of Mastery and Time” instillation at the Dubai Mall, and I make my not-so-subtle move: “Mr. Al Mana, I want you to be on my cover.” Notoriously private, I expect him to flat out refuse. “Your cover? Really?” The charismatic Qatari businessman, smiling down at me from his six ft. plus height, for some reason decides that I’m not overly crass for cornering him at an event (a bit of a media no-no), and takes me seriously enough that he agrees to a private sit down on-record later in the week. “You can ask me anything you want;
“ONE OF THE CULTURAL RESTRAINTS I’M FINDING IS THAT WE DON’T WANT TO WORK OR DEAL WITH ALCOHOL FOR CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS REASONS.” 18
I’m very opinionated… except about my private life. I don’t want to talk about that.” But talk about that he does, that and so much more… Like how it feels to be in a PR catastrophe: “People want to take advantage of you, because all of a sudden you’re famous, and you’re in the headlines and it’s easy to get that attention.” And why he challenges himself perpetually: “It’s about being able to manage and to be skilled at operating different types of businesses. I have to, I get bored if I don’t.” I’ve fast forwarded to a few days later, and at this point I’m seated with Al Mana in a well-lit room at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai, and he’s much more frank than I expect. Reclining comfortably in national dress, Al Mana is pleasant, wellspoken and polished, and initially I have a difficult time gearing up to grill him as it seems like a violation of the quiet waves of sincerity that he emits. “I don’t have Facebook, I don’t
have Twitter. I don’t have anything, because believe it or not I’m a very, very private person! I don’t even have WhatsApp! I don’t like to pry into people’s business.” Wissam Al Mana had more than his fair share of press… and not all of it is flattering nor is it cohesive. To begin with, his official work position with the Al Mana family group of companies is confusingly reported in many different ways – when I meet him, it’s in his capacity as the Managing Director of Hermès Middle East, one of the brands encompassed in the mammoth and diverse family portfolio that includes everything from automotives to F&B. “My late father was the agent for Nissan, he was one of the first to bring vehicles to the region. Our relationship with Nissan and Renault is one of [our] major revenue-streams until today.” Still in the context of revenue streams, Al Mana says that their biggest boons are “probably broken up between distribution, real estate, retail, and within the retail division it’s very diversified. I want to sell everything, I’d even open up a candy store,” he says smiling. It’s apparent that family matters to Wissam- he mentions his late father, Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana, several times during the course of the interview, and talks often about his older brothers Hisham and Kamal. “Between my brothers and I there is a structure. We basically handle different responsibilities and different companies within the group. We all enjoy doing different things, we all like to put our hands in certain industries and activities. There’s no rule that I can’t do this because my brother is. I do most of the business development. We’re becoming very selective in our approach; we try to work with the best
Hermès exhibition “Of Mastery and Time”
brands in each segment, as opposed to the most brands. We’ve tried the ‘most brands’ way, and it doesn’t work because you end up in these situation where 20% of your brands make up 80% of your profits, the 80-20 rule.” Within this framework, being a family-oriented conglomerate seems to be a strength of theirs, with a division of labor that Al Mana
says works very well for them. “The way we operate as a group, the management is very horizontal, it’s very flat. We don’t have this typical hierarchical pyramid where you’ve got all these CEOs and vice presidents and everyone’s reporting. It doesn’t really work. We try to take companies and work with them individually because we feel that every company has specific needs and we are fortunate to be young enough to take a much more active role in our operations, and in our company structure.” One of the topics that elicits the most effusive response from Al Mana is how and why he joined the family biz. “I always wanted to. My father
passed away when I was quite young, and I felt that it was my duty to kind of pick up the flag and to continue the business, and try to continue the legacy and the family name. It’s in our blood, we’re merchants. When I was a child, I looked at my father’s passport and his occupation said ‘Merchant’. I asked my mom, and she explained that we are merchants. We take pride in that, it’s our heritage.” >>>
“BETWEEN MY BROTHERS AND I THERE IS A STRUCTURE. WE BASICALLY HANDLE DIFFERENT RESPONSIBILITIES AND DIFFERENT COMPANIES WITHIN THE GROUP [...] THERE’S NO RULE”
Wissam Al Mana, Managing Director, Hermès Middle East & Luc Perramond, CEO, La Montre Hermès
INNOVATORS Right: Wissam Al Mana & Geoffroy d’Anglejan, Managing Director La Maison du Chocolat
These merchants seem to believe in plotting their way forward, and they’re now setting their sights on a slice of the highly sought-after KSA-pie in two of the family’s current expertise arenas: Luxury retail and niche sporting goods. “I’m travelling to Saudi Arabia for a few days. We’re planning on entering the Saudi market in 2015, so we’re laying the foundations for that. It’s a huge market and we understand that there’s great potential there. We’ve been very cautious about how to enter the market because we know of other groups who’ve entered and failed. There’s a certain culture in Saudi Arabia that is somewhat different from the rest of the GCC, and that has to be respected.” Respect is something that Al Mana has for a few different ideas that we touch on, namely his cultural heritage and religion. This comes into play at different business-context junctures, primarily in the F&B sphere and the decision to only team up with brands who are willing to adopt Muslim religious mores- and that means eschewing products involving alcohol and pork. While F&B is not a large part of the Al Mana portfolio, their business is growing in that direction. The family launched the Golden Arches of McDonalds in Qatar in the late 90’s, and now have newer upscale hospitality pursuits like La Maison du Chocolat in Dubai Mall that opened November of last year, and he adds that they’re currently in the process of launching their new premium food division. “One of the cultural restraints I’m finding is that we don’t want to work or deal with alcohol for cultural and religious reasons. So it’s trying to find the concepts that will work without actually serving it.” Who opted
“WE’RE PLANNING ON ENTERING THE SAUDI MARKET IN 2015, SO WE’RE LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS FOR THAT.” 20
to draw this line for the Al Mana umbrella holding? “It was my decision to be honest, I’m the one who is developing this division of the group. It was my choice not to venture into alcohol and pork because it’s against my religion. It’s really that simple- I thought it was the right decision to take. I think it’s the easy way out to secure brands which serve alcohol, because alcohol makes up 30% to 40% of the profit.” The group recently secured noted Italian gelato-purveyor Grom and eventually “decided to purchase shares in the mother company itself, because we feel that they have a lot of potential internationally and in wholesale and in other areas.” And as for the brands who don’t want
to localize? “I’ve backed away from big deals because of this, and the culture that certain companies have. They don’t want to embrace your culture, and I think they’re setting themselves up for failure.” Wissam is adamant that a “When in Rome” policy is needed for brands wanting to open up shop in the Middle East, and he brooks no excuses, faulting the companies for a lack of consumer insight and cultural awareness, giving examples of flawed visual presentations that flout MENA region cultural norms. “We work with a lot of fashion brands and every season they send us their advertising visuals, and the number of visuals that are rejected in the UAE is very similar to that of Qatar and Saudi. It’s actually the brands’
“I FELT THAT IT WAS MY DUTY TO KIND OF PICK UP THE FLAG AND TO CONTINUE THE BUSINESS, AND TRY TO CONTINUE THE LEGACY AND THE FAMILY NAME. IT’S IN OUR BLOOD, WE’RE MERCHANTS” fault, and we tell them time and time again that we need visuals that conform to this part of the world and the culture here. I don’t think they take it into consideration enough.” His involved attitude doesn’t end there, Al Mana wants to be part of every level of the business, and he’s got a soft spot for a few of their endeavors in particular. “Yes money is important, the performance of the brand is important, but there are also brands that have meaning. If something is the best in its field, its nice to have.” Hallmark brands are of interest
to Al Mana, but so are businesses in need of an overhaul. “I recently purchased a very small company here in Dubai. They approached me and asked for help, offered a majority stake to manage and turn the business around. I’m in the process of restructuring. It’s a nice challenge to take on these kinds of deals. It’s a bit like playing a game where you’ve been playing it for many years, and you need to raise the level,” he adds, likening it to a digital chess game, upping the ante and the level of difficulty. As for tech, Al Mana exudes enthusiasm here,
detailing a rather complex plan that he hatched revolving around Apple. “I’ve always wanted our Group to get into technology as a personal passion, and it’s a sign of the times. It’s an area that we need to develop and be a part of. I approached Apple in the Middle East and I told them that I wanted to work with them. I wanted to throw my experience in retail behind it, and use my experience in APR -Apple Premium Reseller- stores. My goal eventually is to be the biggest APR retailer in the world. When I met with Apple, I told them and I put it in the presentation. They looked at me and they all smiled, and I‘m like, ‘But you know we just started…’” Al Mana laughs with me here as I goad him about such an ambitious statement, but then again why not? For the Al Mana family and their multitude of companies, such a grand declaration does seem feasible when taken in context, especially hearing Wissam detail the scope and breadth of the extended scheme. “After service support, work in B2B and B2C segments, we’ll look at other parts of the sector. We’re talking to various service providers who have business solutions as well.” In this and other parts of their businesses, Qatar figures prominently, but Al Mana says that the family direction hasn’t been affected by the 2022 FIFA World Cup win, despite its implications for business. “2022 allowed us to consider other opportunities in Qatar, and of course we’re very happy about the World Cup, but I’m not sure it’s really changed our strategy.” His opinion of the melee surrounding the controversial sporting event? “Some countries are just bad losers, they’re bad sports,” he laughs. “I think certain countries were expecting to win, and we ended up winning. It’s a great thing to allow small nations, who are developing at the rate that we’re developing, this kind of opportunity. It should happen to other nations too, not just to us. Why should it be that only developed countries are the only ones who win these types of events?” he says rhetorically. I suggest that this is a textbook self-and-other case, in light of both the World Cup being granted to Qatar, and the UAE’s recent Expo 2020 victory. Perhaps >>> MAY 2014
WISSAM AL MANA AND JANET JACKSON IMAGE COURTESY OF AL MANA GROUP
the rest of the world just doesn’t want to see Arab countries land these types of global happenings? “I think there a lot of misconceptions about this part of the world, stemming from hatred toward Arabs and Muslims. I think that a lot of Westerners who come to this part of the world are pleasantly surprised. We’re seeing more and more candidates from the West wanting to join our organization, wanting to work in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar. There are a lot of opportunities especially for entrepreneurs; they can benefit from the favorable factors like no taxes and so on.” Al Mana and his brothers have all spent time in various Western countries, giving them an advantageous edge: They can see what others may miss in terms of globalization and East-West integrations. I find his carriage Western, but his orientation towards discretion decidedly more Eastern. He surprises me by bringing up his personal life, and the lack thereof when discussing paparazzi coverage and the internet. “That’s primarily because I’m married to a very famous woman. What’s happened since then? There’s been an interest from the media to understand more about me and the fact that I’m from the Middle East. It’s positive, it’s negative, why? Because people want to be negative about you, it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s pick on him today,’”he says gesturing, and I tend to agree after researching the existing articles written about him, even by regional media. I don’t share my sentiments on this with Al Mana, doubtless he’s aware of the somewhat cheap shots that the media has taken, but even business-staple Forbes debates his “billionaire status” and seems a tad
Wissam Al Mana and Janet Jackson with Giorgio Armani
“I SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN THE WEST, AND MY BROTHERS HAVE TOO. I THINK THAT’S ACTUALLY A KEY TO OUR SUCCESS [...] WE’VE MANAGED TO UNDERSTAND CULTURES ACROSS WEST-EAST” gossipy when they mention him. Al Mana does talk about reputation management and sounds cynical regarding the wildfire media coverage by “some Jumeriah Jane” and her slanted take on the controversial sacking of two of his former staff: “It’s irresponsible… Why didn’t she pick up the phone and ask for my side of the story? The reality is that’s very poor journalism.” That, and his marriage to performing artist Janet Jackson is the subject of tabloids globally, mostly eclipsing any real articles about the youngest Al Mana’s fervor for his life’s work. “I spend time with my wife. It’s a luxury. We love travelling… we love going to nice, exotic places far away from the world and from prying eyes. Over time, like anything in life, you find ways to master it and you learn how to do that.” He has learned how to master many things if my hourand-a-half long conversation is any indicator, including time management. “Time is like a very good friend who you don’t see very often,” he observes almost to himself. “There is this relationship: Time is the good friend that you’re always chasing; time is luxury. Spending that couple of hours to do your own thing; I love looking at antiques, reading...”
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and despite the lack of tact in using that particular example in a region filled with royalty, it’s the best thing I can think of for this son of merchants who has managed to both transcend and transform the image of the modern Arab businessman, while still paying solemn homage to his family legacy. How does he feel about his family name actually being a brand? “I’m very proud. There’s so many factors involved in being a good businessman- ethics, honesty. It’s a huge responsibility. I spend a lot of time in the West, and my brothers have too. I think that’s actually a key to our success. The fact that we have this cross-cultured approach, we’ve managed to understand cultures across West-East. It’s an advantage to us.” There is something that resonates with me long after the interview is over. Al Mana’s even, forceful gaze as he sums up his goals for the future: “I will do anything that I feel will be beneficial to our Group, and at the same time help others.” It comes across almost like a vow, and as he locks his eyes with me, I get the distinct impression that he isn’t the type of man to make guarantees that he cannot keep, no matter the circumstances. MAY 2014
THE NUANCES OF EXTRAVAGANCE CEO MOHAMMED ABDUL RAHIM AL FAHIM BROKERS IN BEAUTY
By Fida Chaaban
verything about Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim during our interview centers around the cadence of his speech. His power of delivery, his gestures, and yes, even his crisply pressed attire- they all seem to ebb and flow with his particular rhythms and intonations. When I enter the Diyafa Room at DIFC’s Capital Club, I’m greeted formally by Al Fahim and Mohamad Jaber, Paris Gallery Group Marketing Manager. I’m not entirely sure what to expect from the media-savvy CEO, but I do expect him to know his luxury products, so that’s where I start. The purpose of this sit-down is to determine what it is that Paris Gallery wants to convey and how they’ve done it thus far. Some things that I learn during the course of this interview are to be expected -like the meticulous attention to detail worthy of a purveyor of better goodsand some things are not. >>>
CEO Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim and Mohamad Jaber, Paris Gallery Group Marketing Manager
“This is not fair.” Al Fahim laughs lightly as he declines to reveal his own personal fragrance preferences. I suggest a few hallmark houses to him and he smiles good-naturedly. “Creed is our partner, Cartier is our partner, and so on. Once I spoke about fashion houses [in an interview] and missed one of the brands -also our partnerand the very next day they sent me an email asking why I didn’t endorse them as well… which is true.” It probably won’t surprise you that Al Fahim is elegant- he is, after all, surrounded by the best of the very best as a matter of course. He gestures often and easily, and he’s got the aforementioned personal cadence of speech that’s a bit hypnotic, truth be told. What part of Al Fahim’s personality do I see in Paris Gallery? After spending time with him, I am sure that so much of the prestige retailer’s
“THE NEGATIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL AFFECT WAS MORE APPLICABLE IN THIS REGION THAN THE ACTUAL FACTS OF THE MARKET” 28
direction and identity are imbued with his touch. So much so that at about halfway through our conversation I notice that I’m having difficulty separating Al Fahim the person from Paris Gallery the brand, and vice versa. For those of you who want to know about the “dollah, dollah bill”, Paris Gallery’s financials, you need to understand that discussing money is usually somewhat untoward, even for a magazine about entrepreneurship. All of the aspects of filthy lucre are exactly what a brand like Paris Gallery needs to not discuss- to keep brokering (successfully) in the illusion of providing you with privilege and prestige by sheer dint of being a client at one of their 52 locations across the GCC. It is essential that a luxury consumer forgets the heavy association with money to continue to part with their resources in exchange for products that a large of the population deem unessential. Al Fahim’s strategies and theorizing are the very picture of precision, and it serves to drive his points (and products) home. According to Al Fahim, the breakdown of business across their many categories is fairly stable. “We’re very balanced when it comes to percent-
age of sales. It’s not like one category is much bigger than other categories. We have eyewear, accessories, watches, fashion watches and watchmakers. Similarly we have prestige perfume and niche luxurious perfumes and cosmetics and skincare- you name it. Each category is where it should be- it’s not like one is big and one is small. We like to keep it balanced by continuously enlisting new brands and products in each category.” I turn the conversation to the economic downturns of the last decade, and mention proven statistics that suggest when the North American economy is faring poorly, prestige beauty product sales are historically proven to increase. Al Fahim, aware of the inverse relationship, makes a valid point: What makes for huge losses in the West doesn’t generalize over to the Middle East and in specific, the GCC. “Back in 2009, toward the second quarter, when there was a lot of negative talk globally in the media about the market and market downsizing and the crisis, what they said really applied to their own countries, but since the media is very global, news flies in no time so it became a global conversation. What happened in the U.S. affected their market, no question. Similar things in Europe, some parts, when they regulated the balances. When it comes to the UAE, it affected certain parts of the market. Aviation, telecommunication, some parts of real estate, were not affected. The negative psychological affect was more applicable in this region than the actual facts of the market, so the luxury business including our brands –not our shops, but the fashion houses that we work with- went down about 35 to 40%. It wasn’t a lot.” It certainly sounds like a lot to me, but Al Fahim is quick to note that relative to the considerably higher numbers that the GCC is driving, 30 to 40% is actually negligible. I didn’t take the scale of business into consideration, and the Middle East is a formidable luxury consumer hub. Al Fahim says
that the “Lipstick Trend” manifested thus in the UAE: “Some clients shifted downward to brands like L’Oreal, but the big percentage didn’t- they stayed with the brands they trusted. My business wasn’t affected. Contrary to the global market trend in niche perfumery, the demand increased here and continues to increase until today. France, Italy, has tapered, according to our partners. Germany is a bit better off, and London is fine due to the tourists from the Middle East. All of their department stores attend to the Middle East client, it’s a big part of their total business annually. During the past few years, Chinese tourists are increasingly visiting here, and the Russians returned. Everything that was foretold in 2009 and proven not to apply gave the people confidence again.” Giving me perspective about more than one aspect of the luxury retail sector, Al Fahim discusses his vision for the UAE: He wants Dubai, in line with H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin
“CONTRARY TO THE GLOBAL MARKET TREND IN NICHE PERFUMERY, THE DEMAND INCREASED HERE AND CONTINUES TO INCREASE UNTIL TODAY”
Rashid Al Maktoum’s wishes, to be the biggest and the best in catering to the fine goods clientele which includes tourists and residents alike. “Our leadership wants this country to become the center of luxury retail worldwide- the center of luxury retail, which will happen very soon.
We have positioning in Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman… they used to experience Paris Gallery in the UAE. Today, many Iraqis who visit Dubai, they ask why Paris Gallery hasn’t yet opened there. These country aims are beneficial to us. We, and our colleagues in the industry, are participating, >>>
“SINGAPORE USED TO VERY MUCH TO BE TALK OF THE WORLD. WHAT THEY HAVE DONE IS AMAZING, BUT TODAY SINGAPORE IS VERY MUCH FOLLOWING DUBAI.”
together with the shopping malls, we are working to improve retail through selection, service level…” Both segments of customers are important to Paris Gallery, and when the discussion moves to global hubs including Hong Kong, Al Fahim’s claims ring true. “Singapore used to very much to be talk of the world. What they have done is amazing, but today Singapore is very much following Dubai.” In his opinion, the best service level is Japan, and he says matching this is both a challenge and a window of opportunity for the retailer. “In our 30
company, we employ more than 70 nationalities. They all come from different cultures and corporations. They learn positive and negative things, and take that with them. Since 2006, we have tried to change the Paris Gallery corporate culture. One part of our culture is that you own the business, you are accountable. You treat your areas of responsibility as your own, and whatever you feel is appropriate to do must be done. A big proportion of our junior managers and managers take decisions that aren’t in line with the brand. Prior
to you joining us, Mohamad was just discussing that with me detailing the number of transactions that occurred from a customer service perspective that aren’t in-line with our official policy,” says Al Fahim, locking eyes with Jaber and smiling. “I tell him it’s okay, and he doesn’t think so.” Here Jaber interjects that as someone employed by the company, he personally vouches for and takes advantage of Al Fahim’s direction to “own” the business. “My ownership is to the level that I have the freedom to express my opinions even if it is inconsistent with those of the CEO. Of course I have to follow his strategy, but if I’m not convinced, then I’m not convinced.” I tell them both that I disagree that this can be generalized across the staffing board, because of two simple facts: Jaber is senior management and his relationship with Al Fahim is clearly quite close. It is an altogether different dynamic. Jaber is able to own the business, because he is an integral part of the overall Paris Gallery schema, and highly positioned in the ranks, not to mention having the confidence of the CEO personally. The hugely diverse Paris Gallery staff cannot and will not ever be in Jaber’s position, no matter how much they would like to. This discussion leads to an additional another angle of diversity- the customers. Thinking about the GCC’s insanely mixed-bag of potential clientele makes for a marketing migraine. How do you create a marketing campaign and targeted sales direction for such a heterogeneous client-base? Al Fahim goes into consumer dynamics and
the fine lines of propriety that must be observed, relative to a consumer’s origins. How does one educate their staff on who to approach and when? Personally, like many Western shoppers, I prefer to be left alone to browse and when I’m good and ready, I’ll ask for the assistance of the many onsite staff. I feel pressured and uncomfortable being trailed around from counter to counter. Al Fahim throws me for a loop when he predicts this, and then proceeds to educate me on the assistance-preferences of Gulf nationals versus Asians, and so on. “It’s very diverse. Every segment of our customers has different cultures and tastes. The Westerners want to be left alone for a while. The locals want to be greeted from the door, and shown products, and perhaps even walked to their cars with their purchases. We educate our staff on that. They encounter a local with a Western friend…. They encounter a local with a friend from the subcontinents… The challenge is big, but we are addressing it.” One liability that Al Fahim points out is turnover and staff retention- the CEO considers it flattering when their heavily-trained staff is recruited by other companies, whether inside or outside of the luxury industry. “Because the industry is so dynamic and ever-changing,
the human resources stability is not there yet.” Stability in staffing is specifically an issue in KSA, apparently. Saudization encourages workforce integration, and more female-friendly spaces- meaning more female staff. The very counters themselves are also different in Saudi Arabia, men’s and women’s ranges of the same brands are positioned separately. Al Fahim in no stranger to all of this, have spent
in excess of a decade in the Kingdom. He negates my idea that the market there, despite massive GDP and purchasing power, is bigger. “In most cases it’s the same size of the market, and sometimes even smaller.”
“BECAUSE THE INDUSTRY IS SO DYNAMIC AND EVER-CHANGING, THE HUMAN RESOURCES STABILITY IS NOT THERE YET.” Perspective in all things is important, but in business it could be a game-changer. Al Fahim has taught me a lesson: You cannot hope to control every alternative of every scenario no matter how precise you are, but you can take an overview using that same idiosyncratic policy that encourages best practices, and hope that they catch on. It’s a subtle art, and you’ve got to be both calculating and elegantly laissez-faire to do so. MAY 2014
business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN
FLIGHT-FRIENDLY GROOMING ESSENTIALS Instead of packing your full-size grooming products for travel (or your gym bag), opt for these handy minis that are small enough to pass even the most stringent airport security. THE STAPLES For men, we like the Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash. A fresh-textured gel cleanser that rids the skin of impurities (with a wake-up effect of citrus and menthol), making it a nice postflight perk. Apply a small amount on a wet face, lather and rinse well both morning and night. Be sure to avoid the eye area, and follow with a lightweight moisturizer. For a great shave? Try Kiehl’s Ultimate
Over hill, over dale Land Rover is trippy
The annual “Land Rover Ride & Drive Desert Event”, staged by Land Rover’s exclusive Qatar importer Alfardan Premier Motors Co., took a special invitee guest list out for a day of land challenges. The popular motor-enthusiast event featured treks through Qatari sand dunes, with family-friendly activities at Khor Al Udaid. A training session, encouraging safe driving and navigation, proceeded the sand dune experience with off-road motor experts educating the Land Rover fans on how to safely master the dessert terrain in sport. Driving Miss Daisy? Not with this kind of excitement and power behind the wheel!
Brushless Shaving Cream with menthol and camphor. In addition to the refreshing cooling effect post-shave, the rich texture protects and hydrates. Use a thin, even layer for a close shave, and to prevent clogging your razor. For both men and women, we like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion. These great travel sizes of staple products are both useful and effective, and a little goes a long way. Both of these products boast Imperata Cylindrica Root extract (a natural antibacterial agent), and are formulated free of parabens, silicone, fragrance, and oil.
SPECIAL MENTION Sephora Weekend Kit With five handy refillables in a clear plastic baggy, you’re good to go on even the strictest airlines. The 40ml fluid bottles are clearly marked as per international aviation standards, and enable you to pack your favorite products that aren’t available in travel sizes. Travel tip: use the little containers for your meds or vitamins. Clearly ergonomic!
LEAVING ON A JET PLANE Saudi Arabia’s Al Tayyar Travel Group in acquisition mode
audi Arabia’s Al Tayyar Travel Group has expanded regionally after acquiring 70% of Egypt’s Al Hanour Tourism and Services Company. The deal, worth SR 40.95 million (approximately US$10.92 million), H.R.H Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of involved Al Tayyar’s SCTA, visiting the STTIM event 2014 with Abdullah Aljabr, subsidiary group, Assistant Marketing Manager, Al Tayyar Travel Group Al Tayyar Holidays. Twenty-six year-old Al Hanouf Tourism and Services remains a popular choice among tourists originating in the GCC. According to Al Tayyar, it has provided services to over 4,500 Hajj and Omrah travelers annually, in addition to being a top option for tourists visiting from the GCC for vacation and business travel purposes. Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in its tourism sector, and all points indicate that Al Tayyar’s move was a wise choice given that they’ve opted for a tourism company in Egypt that has lengthy history of activity with the GCC market, and specifically that of KSA.
business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN
You’ve got baggage!
TRAVEL SOLUTIONS FOR ‘TREPS FROM THE URBAN STAPLE BACKPACK TO THE HANDHELD CARRY-ALL, DIESEL’S GOT A FEW GOOD OPTIONS THIS SEASON FOR ‘TREPS ON THE GO.
Opt for the Diesel Unchained Longway backpack for work trips that include flight transfers- there’s enough room for your laptop and other devices including hard copies of whatever you need to cart along. Slinging it over the shoulder when you make terminal transfers is easier than handling a briefcase bag, and it’s sturdy as heck.
For the double-daily, we like the Diesel Swingy with padded, adjustable shoulder-strap and carry handle. The Swingy has both laptop and smartphone compartments, and there’s enough space for more travel essentials- like chargers! The added benefit is that this slick bag is suitable to take right into the boardroom, so no worries about having to store your bag before meetings.
For the overnight work trip, we like the blue denim Diesel Vanguarding duffle bag. It’s roomy with sides that give, so you can stuff as much as you need to. With black leather trim and hardware, this upscale duffel is acceptable to pair with work clothing so you won’t look out of sorts. One of the better points of this one? A removable adjustable shoulder strap and rubber bumpers to prevent wear and tear.
SHADY BUSINESS Sunglass are always a travel staple. Diesel’s SS14 collection has several ranges, but we’re fans of two styles in specific: The Denimize line (trendy wayfarer shape), and The Sister line (pilot-influenced shape).
ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO
The Esquire Guy on
handling a PR crisis with style By Ross McCammon
f this column were having a PR crisis, I would not put myself in charge of managing it. I wouldn’t determine when and how frequently to respond, and I wouldn’t determine what kind of information to deliver. I would hire someone to do that for me. But I would put myself in charge of one crucial layer of the response: its tone. Not the content of the message, but its character. This is about the style with which you respond to complaints lodged about your company over social media ... or in the press ... or at a party. (Though if you are actually at a party, best to just find someone else to talk to.) If your message has style, then your message cannot contain indifference, annoyance, defensiveness or panic. You may be feeling one or all of those things, but style will displace them. At least publicly. There are two things you cannot get away with: You cannot get away with condescending to or mocking the complainer. In general, and especially over social media, if the complaint is worthy of mockery or condescension, there are people unaffiliated with your company who will do that for you. So let them.
“LOOK DOWN AT THAT SLOPE AND ASK YOURSELF: A) HOW FAR DOWN DOES IT GO? AND B) WHAT IS THAT-A PETROLEUM PRODUCT? SOME SORT OF MACHINE GREASE?”
“When the complaint is obviously not firmly anchored on hard ground, I’ll sit back and let other people reply before I’ll jump in--especially on Facebook or Twitter.” says Henry Posner, director of corporate communications and online reputation manager for New York City-based electronics store B&H Photo-Video. I’d rather get a pat on the back than dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back.” This brings up an important point: Policing social media is the slipperiest of slopes. It’s so slippery that when you slip, you can fly off the slope altogether, and onto a brandnew slope- a slope of your own creation, lubricated by the grease of your own certitude. Then you fly off that slope, too. So, first, look down at that slope and ask yourself: a) How far down does it go? And b) What is that--a petroleum product? Some sort of machine grease? But if you do respond, the tenor of your message should be guided by this understanding: When someone goes after your company, their attitude or anger is braver and less concerned with tact than it would be in daily life. You are dealing with
their representative--an invisible agent they’re employing to handle things for them (an angry comic-book villain, basically). The agent is being sent in to both inflict and take hits. The mistake we can make is to send our own representative in to do battle with the other person’s. Says Posner: “Customers who say the most insult-
KEY TECHNICAL MATTERS When typing your witty rejoinder over Twitter, first go to the drop-down menu on the upper right and select “Sign out.” To be clear: Whatever your initial response to an attack on or complaint about your company is, disregard it. Never utter it, type it, handwrite it or send it in a letter. (Though if you are in the habit of sending letters, God bless you, for it is a dying art.)
The tenor of your eventual response should be: steady, even-keeled, well-balanced and all sorts of other synonyms for “not freaked out.” Never talk down to the complainer. Never minimize the complaint. Never maximize the complaint, either. (For the life of us, we don’t know why you would maximize a complaint, but still, don’t do it.) Keep the focus on the facts. Express no opinions. Other than: This
complaint is valid. Unless it is remarkably invalid. In which case, express no opinions. When your company is attacked over Twitter, keep in mind that the phrase “attacked over Twitter” involves the word “attack” as well as the word for “a series of light chirps,” and note the inherent absurdity of the situation you find yourself in. Do not point out this absurdity to the Twitter attacker.
ing things about B&H aren’t talking about me. So I try to maintain an even keel, be very factual and very careful about distinguishing facts from opinions from beliefs.” Distinguishing those things helps keep you objective, he adds. “Not dispassionate. Not uninterested. But objective.” You want the customer to understand that you’re concerned about righting a wrong. When dealing with attacks on your company, you should not wear the mantle of Defender of Your Company. In fact, you should not wear any kind of mantle. If you are currently surrounded by a mantle, throw it off. (Note: If the mantle is part of a fireplace, you have found yourself in an entirely different metaphor.) Daniel Diermeier, professor at the Kellogg School of Management and an expert on crisis leadership and reputation management, says that solving the customer’s problem is almost beside the point. There’s something larger going on. “It’s an opportunity for you to show customers you really care,” he says. “The mindset that’s important here is that these attacks or crises can also present an opportunity for businesses or leaders to show what they’re made of.”
So, triangulate. Take on the role of arbitrator between two parties: the customer and your business. The customer should be helped to understand the facts, just as the company should be helped to understand the facts. The facts are your cover, your rock. If you establish the facts, then you subdue the attitude, vitriol and snark. Facts allow you to be principled in responding, and they allow you to seem vigilant but not defensive, mindful but not obsequious. They allow you to seem professionaland human. Of course, you might not win over the complainer. “At some point, you’re not dealing with the customer, you’re dealing with all the other people in the audience who are watching you go three rounds with the customer,” Posner says. “Even if you’re not going to win, you can demonstrate patience and a willingness to help, despite the customer’s apparent intransigence and unwillingness to be helped.” The victory is that you’ve shown that your company will remain firm and not debase itself to try and score an easy point. And that it’s always guided by principles--even on Facebook and Twitter. Especially on Facebook and Twitter. See this article in its entirety at Entrepreneur.com
BACK @ ‘EM
A competitor is retweeting any and all complaints about your company’s latest product.
“While we appreciate the handy RTing of complaints about us, please know that we reach out to customers directly when we make them cranky.”
You retweet complaints about your competitor.
A Twitter user with fewer than 100 followers mocks your business.
You respond robotically, saying that you’d love to solve the problem if they’ll let you.
You mock the complainer’s low follower count ... to your tens of thousands of followers.
A celebrity with fewer than 100,000 followers criticizes your business.
You earnestly retweet, adding: “We loved you on... that show!”
You state how you wish the celebrity were as big a fan of your business as you are of his guest spot on CSI.
A celebrity with more than 100,000 followers criticizes your business.
You earnestly retweet, adding: “Thor hates us. :( ”*
You state how you wish the celebrity were as big a fan of your business as you are of his oeuvre.
One of your customers crowdsources the identity of a weird buzzing sound coming from outside.
“Who knows! But have you heard the buzz about our company?”
ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO
WITH GREAT POWER, COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY BEING THRUST INTO A LEADERSHIP ROLE MEANS MASTERING THE LEARNING CURVE
Steep learning curve Fluency
By Elias Jahshan
his time last year, I had no ambition whatsoever to become a newspaper editor. I was so focused on becoming a senior journalist; I just wanted to keep writing and report on issues and events that mattered. The desire to lead and manage a team of journalists was never on my radar. The one motivator that shone through more than anything? The somewhat egotistic ambition to be noticed and I wanted to break away from the limited chains that came from being an average journo. I wanted people to recognize my name.
When the opportunity to become an editor for the Star Observer arose, I knew I had to take it. It meant re-evaluating my career goals, but pros of taking this job far outweighed the pros of remaining a journalist with my former employer. It was the perfect opportunity to raise my profile in Australia’s highly-competitive media environment. Becoming Star Observer’s editor meant breaking away from News Corp Australia, part of Rupert Murdoch’s international media empire– but I knew it was the right move for me. I was ready
I WANTED TO BREAK AWAY FROM THE LIMITED CHAINS THAT CAME FROM BEING AN AVERAGE JOURNO. I WANTED PEOPLE TO RECOGNIZE MY NAME. 36
to dabble in independent media and gain a heap of new skills on the job a lot faster than I would have had while trying to work my way up the ranks in a major media organization such as News Corp. More than anything though, the idea that I would lead one of Australian media’s most respected news sources and set the agenda on the sort of stories it reports was incredibly exciting. Being an “instant editor” is something that I don’t take for granted, but there are some caveats. Firstly, I bypassed the highly-regarded in-house leadership training courses that News Corp Australia offers to its staff looking to take on editor roles in one of its many newspapers. Secondly,
since being in the job since mid-November, it’s been quite the baptism of fire (excuse the cliché). Before I took on this role, the only real editor skills I had were when I took university interns under my wing, giving them feedback and guidance on their work, and the basic proofreading during deadline. Despite this, I have been incredibly surprised at myself at how fast I adapted to the role. The learning curve has certainly been steep -I am still in the middle of it- but it’s been very rewarding. I have been privileged to be at the forefront of ongoing change and reform, and to meet a variety of new people and highly-regarded community figures. I underestimated how much I would enjoy leading a
team of journalists- it’s always exciting hearing what sorts of story ideas they want to write, and to give them guidance and feedback on how to go about tackling them for publication. I also underestimated how much I would enjoy editing- and subsequently becoming more of a grammar snob while doing so. I’ve noticed that leadership in this industry is like leadership in any other- there are a two key elements that I put into play and that can generalize over to any industry. 1. TUNE IN
One major skill I have realized that is essential to being an editor is the ability to listen to your team members. This is crucial. The newspaper is just as much their “baby” as it is mine. While I have the final say
on everything that is published, their feedback and suggestions are things I always value. The ability to listen is also crucial when it comes to resolving conflict in your team, and to resolving any sort of publication hiccups that may arise on deadline day– and after the paper has gone to print.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I have been awfully blunt, but I am naturally an optimistic person. I always look on the bright side of everything– it’s what keeps me sane and it’s how I cope with stress. I feel that it’s a good way to maintain a good morale in a high-speed work zone.
2. SET THE MOOD
I have learned so much in such a short frame of time, and I feel like there is still more to come. In my former journalist role, I felt like my career had plateaued and I was thirsty for a new challenge. Being a team leader has given me new sense of purpose, and brought to light skills that I didn’t fully know that I possessed. The career change has been both exciting and rewarding, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
Another aspect that I find has been helpful as a senior staff member is the need to maintain a setting of positivity and calm. The job is generally a demanding, stressful role and often means long hours. I spend a huge chunk of my week in the office, so the need to remain positive is crucial. Even on deadline day– it’s okay to be stressed, but I don’t see the value in channelling that stress (ie. lashing out).
Elias Jahshan is a former journalist of News Corp Australia, writing for several newspapers based in Sydney. Since November 2013, he has been the Editor in Chief of the Star Observer, Australia and he is also a current board member of the Arab Council Australia. Jahshan holds a double degree in Communications with a major in Journalism and International Studies from the University of Technology, Sydney. Follow him on Twitter via @Elias_Jahshan
SAVING THE PLANET IN THE LAP OF LUXURY?
BENTLEY HYBRID CONCEPT Toyota, Peugeot and Lexus are in the game of developing hybrid vehicles. But what if you want to do your part to save the planet, while indulging your fetish for fine automotives? Fear not, Bentley is not far behind- the Bentley Hybrid Concept made its debut at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition last month. Promising to deliver efficiency and performance
without compromising on luxury, it’s Bentley’s first plug-in hybrid model. This means it will include a battery pack and as Bentley claims, at least 50km on electric power alone. According to Bentley’s specs, the hybrid system will offer 25% power increase and 70% reduction in C02 emissions. CNET theorized that it seems like Bentley has incorporated the electric system without downsizing the engine, which suggests more power and better fuel economy. As part of the Volkswagen Group, Bentley also has the advantage of being able to utilize previous research success from hybrid car technologies such as the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid and Volkswagen Golf GTE. When can we expect to see this baby on the road? Bentley’s projected release date is slotted for 2017. MAY 2014
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The bigger they are, the harder they fall By Octavia Nasr
US Airways realized its mistake and removed the tweet an entire 60 minutes later. It also issued a stern statement in which it said, “We are investigating!” Scandals are not new, nor are they exclusive to the internet or social networks. They’ve erupted before the emergence of social media. Therefore, this error and others like it are not a function of social media, they just happen to have erupted on that type of medium. This fact begs the question: Can you implement your pre-SM PR strategy in this
day and age and expect the same results? The answer is a resounding no! NSFW How the lewd photo made it to the Twitter timeline of the US Airways account is more a function of the imagination with a variety of scenarios leading to the NSFW photo and tweet. While the reasons might vary, all of them will likely fall under the following three themes: 1. Carelessness 2. Ignorance of social media 3. Archaic PR While you might think that the carelessness started with the person who actually posted the offensive tweet without checking the imbedded link, the truth is that was only the last leg of carelessness. Your social media accounts are your identity cards. What people see there, from the biography, to the timeline and public interaction, represent your identity and should be managed as such whether it is a personal or corporate account. That’s why who runs your accounts is as important as the postings themselves, as well as the sharing tactics and engagement strategies. The US Airways fiasco is a perfect example of failed social media community management.
THE US AIRWAYS PR RESPONSE, “WE ARE INVESTIGATING,” IS UNACCEPTABLE. BECAUSE THERE IS NO NEED FOR AN “INVESTIGATION.” WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. 38
US AIRWAYS TWITTER ACCOUNT IMAGE © TWITTER.COM
here were certainly many instances of brand blunders on social media before the recent US Airways Twitter megafiasco, but it is highly doubtful that any involved pornography and were as offensive as that particular online incident. If you missed it, in a response to a client’s complaint, US Airways included a photo of a nude woman and… a toy airplane! Ouch! How could this happen? But then again, in this day and age, does anything really surprise you anymore?
Here is what we can deduct from the known sequence of events. The person who sent out the lewd tweet most likely: • Did not properly train to live-tweet on behalf of the airline. • Was not taught about the importance of never sharing links without first ascertaining and examining the content. • Was not made aware of the importance of remaining alert and checking reaction to tweets and devising appropriate real-time remedy options. It took a whole hour before the error was discovered and the tweet removed. THE FALLOUT This responsibility falls on the shoulders of the social media manager of the account whether it is a person or an agency, and whether it is a US Airways employee or an outside contractor. It is for this reason that the US Airways PR response, “we are investigating,” is unacceptable. Because there is no need for an “investigation.” We all know what happened. That’s actually the only known fact- what actually happened. Admitting the mistake and apologizing will garner your brand forgiveness because everyone knows that people there is
always the potential of human error. Employing the old PR tactic of non-transparency and using language that leads nowhere will only alienate you from the base you are trying so hard to be in touch with, thus the Twitter account. Had US Airways treated people like the smart, intelligent consumers they are, the airline could have (and in all likelihood would have) benefited from this embarrassing situation. The brand could have even turned its misfortune around and used it to their advantage. Another recent high profile failed effort was the feelgood hashtag campaign the New York Police Department (NYPD) launched. The hashtag #MyNYPD encouraged tweeps to solicit photos and memories that New Yorkers have involving members of the NYPD. In-
stead of the positive responses the campaign was geared to attract, the account was bombarded by negative shares and bad experiences broadcasted on social media for the world to see. Realizing very well that these reactions are real, the NYPD embraced them and pressed on with the campaign reversing the trend in the process. The NYPD also expressed its insistence even to expand the department’s social media efforts- way to get things back on the right track! If you are visible and successful, there will always be negative campaigns against your efforts. Some will be highly organized while others might erupt spontaneously. This is a fact of life and you must be ready for it and not surprised or shocked when and if it happens. Potentially, every effort can backfire just as every video can become viral. There
is no clear science to this and there is never a guarantee of success or failure. Five sure bet points? 1. Preparation 2. Consistent follow up 3. Action plan in the case of success 4. Action plan if challenges or controversies arise 5. Modern PR strategy to fit the modern times Once you’ve covered your bases, shoot for the stars!
HAD US AIRWAYS TREATED PEOPLE LIKE THE SMART, INTELLIGENT CONSUMERS THEY ARE, THE AIRLINE COULD HAVE (AND IN ALL LIKELIHOOD WOULD HAVE) BENEFITED FROM THIS EMBARRASSING SITUATION.
Octavia Nasr is the founder of the United States-based Bridges Media Consulting (BMC). Specializing in integrating traditional and digital media, media and newsroom management consulting. BMC also executes staff training, talent coaching, in addition to reputation building and management. BMC serves an elite clientele of brands, businesses, and individuals in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Nasr moved to the entrepreneurial world in 2010 after a long career in journalism, 20 years of which were in various senior positions including Executive Producer, Anchor and Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs at CNN. Nasr’s first job was with LBC in Lebanon; she served as Assistant News Director, Executive Producer and later War Correspondent. To read Octavia Nasr’s opinion editorials, visit her blog octavianasr.com and follow her updates on Twitter @octavianasr.
WOW-zers New Arab Woman Forum 2014 Organized by Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group and Al Hasnaa magazine in cooperation with the French Institute in Lebanon, the seventh annual New Arab Woman Forum (NAWF) will be held on June 4th, 2014. Under the theme of “Empowerment through Entrepreneurship & Innovation”, this year’s NAWF will focus on challenges women face in the entrepreneurial sphere, and how women in the MENA region can help to burgeon economic growth both in their respective nations and the Middle East as whole. In addition to workshops and panel discussions, NAWF will award Arab female figures who have demonstrated exceptional successes during their WOW ceremony. www.nawforum.com MAY 2014
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“YOUR CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED” Germany bans calls après-work… and France isn’t far behind
She’s implementing the rule for managers to stop calling or emailing staff outside of work hours (except in emergencies), and she also means to ensure that there will be no repercussions for staff making themselves unavailable after work. In an effort to encourage German bosses to follow suit, von der Leyen has started the limitations in her own department to assuage the stress of being constantly oncall… hoping to prevent employees experiencing mental burnout. Statistics prove to be on their side as well: A study surveying 5,600 mobile enterprise employees at 1,100 companies Chancellor Angela Merkel worldwide, executed
n an era where people can’t help but be at the beck and call of their smartphone’s incessant notifications, a person’s work-life balance is on the line (no pun intended), causing strain during “off hours”. Germany’s Labor Ministry thinks so too, headed by Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
and Ursula von der Leyen
by Wi-Fi network provider iPass and Sheffield University’s Institute of Work Psychology indicates that other than disrupting work-life balance, “connected” staff experience reduced productivity, sleep disorders, and predictably demonstrate higher stress levels. German companies who have jumped on board? Volkswagen, E.On, Puma, BMW, and Deutsche Telekom. Another country serious about getting their workers to cultivate a sense of work-life balance? According to French press, there’s a new labor agreement to protect 200,000-250,000 French technology and consultancy sectors’ workers by letting them “disconnect” from their business emails and phone calls afterhours. More time to enjoy la belle vie! Perhaps it’s time for a new standard for the modern workplace after all.
Watch this space
Historic watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne (Lange) produces just a few thousand watches per year in Glashütte, Germany. What better way to show off their timeless existence than a book, of course. Japanese watch forum Webchronos has started seeking unique and rare timepieces, initiated and authored by an influential Japanese blogger. The enthusiast is one of the most engaged specialists and collectors of the brand, and he says his aim is to exhibit exclusively selected Lange masterpieces. Initial stage of the book’s research includes locating
rare brand specimens- prompting owners to register their Lange watches online at Webchronos.net for possible inclusion. Once the timepieces are submitted, Lange experts initiate a verification process to ensure authenticity. What makes the timepiece noteworthy? If only one of its kind exists, as well as if it features custom engravings, special dials, or is customized with materials that differ from the original series. Set to print in 2015, the book is meant to honor the 200th birthday of Ferdinand A. Lange, the founder of the Saxon watchmaking industry.
CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL AND URSULA VON DER LEYEN IMAGE © 360B | SHUTTERSTOCK
Hot on the trail of collector timepieces using internet crowdsourcing
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FUNCTIONAL FASHION Jawbone wearables By Tamara Clarke
P24 is the newest hardware option for the UP system which includes a wristband, app and data service designed to help you make better lifestyle choices. UP24 connects wirelessly to your iOS or Android device to provide continuous data on how you sleep, eat, and move. Want to track your caffeine intake and understand how it changes your sleep patterns? There’s an app for that too. The smooth, sophisticated, medical-grade rubber wristband is a stylish accessory and makes healthier living as simple as a flip of the wrist. Jawbone has also reinvented their signature headset; the ERA is 42% smaller and comes with a convenient charging case that delivers 10 total hours of talk time. The revamped device, available in four shades to coordinate well with your smartphone, allows for calling functions and music streaming leaving you free to engage in another task. That’s handy!
Office munchies SNACKS TO FIGHT THE MID-DAY OFFICE SLUMP By Shoug Al Nafisi
hen looking for the absolute best to refuel, you’ll want something with minimal prep time that fills you up, without compromising taste or texture. Try and prep your list of snacks for the week ahead of time, and get all the necessary goods. If you’re looking to maintain your energy levels, try mixing and matching high fiber and protein-rich foods.
SMALLER BITES YOGURT WITH BITS Low-fat Greek yogurt
is an excellent choice of protein that is very easy to handle. Enjoy a good crunch with raw vegetables or add cereal and some honey if you feel like something sweet. This lean treat needs nothing but a refrigerator. OATMEAL WITH BITS Oatmeal is easy to
prepare and versatile. Try different recipes each week to keep things interesting. Adding a homemade trail mix is one healthy
option, especially when going for the unsalted varieties and less fatty nuts, like pistachio. POWER SMOOTHIE WITH BITS A milk-based drink would be nice and thick, and caters to almost all of your needs. Blend in almonds and berries, or granola, banana, and cinnamon for a nice change of pace.
THE GOOD OLD SANDWICH A regular sand-
wich can be a decent pick-me-up if made right. Noting that this doesn’t replace a proper meal, opt for a slice of wholegrain toast with turkey and low-fat cheese with your pick of veggies. Easy on the spreads!
BIGGER BITES PROTEIN-RICH SALAD Ordering in? This is one option easily found on most restaurant menus. A salad with a protein source is a well-rounded energy boost. Don’t be afraid to experiment by adding fresh fruit, especially seasonal produce. Easy on the mayo! To get the best flavor in a meal, you’ll want to go easy on the dressing.
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You’ve gone and broken my heart this time Internet pandemonium? Heartbleed hits you where it hurts
A viral tshirt inspired by the Heartbleed bug. Conceptual development and execution Martin Mulazzani and Adrian Dabrowski
flurry of media activity ensued when tech experts hit the airwaves talking about a large-scale security vulnerability using descriptors like “catastrophic”, “chaotic”, and “detrimental”, calling it the “worst” thing to happen to the internet… possibly ever. If you aren’t familiar with tech speak, words like that are almost never used in relation to digital issues, prompting near internet hysteria. What is Heartbleed exactly? It’s a problem with open-source Open SSL websites -some of the biggest names in digi are currently licking their wounds including Facebookand the estimates of the amount of sites that use it run as high as half a million. According to Heartbleed.com by Codenomicon (the techy peeps behind the name and the logo of Heartbleed), “This weakness allows
stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).” In short (and in English), Open SSL is used for secure connections by an estimated “66% of websites”, including things like online credit card transactions.
“THIS WEAKNESS ALLOWS STEALING THE INFORMATION PROTECTED, UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS, BY THE SSL/TLS ENCRYPTION USED TO SECURE THE INTERNET.”
What happened? A flaw in the code was found and a patch was released, but in many cases security certificates still need to be updated. Links went live informing the public of which websites had already made the first step toward correcting the problem (by applying the patch), and advising people to wait to change their passwords until the websites went “green”, meaning the breach was addressed. The current problem? Heartbleed was in existence for two years before someone finally caught on, meaning that during that period of time, the information was available to anyone who knew how to look for it. The good news is that many banks do not use Open SSL, so depending on which institution you bank with, your financials might be safe. One notable repercussion of Heartbleed was the bug allowing someone to access over 900 Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) on the government of Canada’s tax arm site, prompting an immediate shutdown. On April 14, 2014, Andrew Treusch, Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), released a statement reassuring Canadians that “CRA online services are safe and secure. The CRA responded aggressively to successfully protect our systems. We have augmented our monitoring and surveillance measures, so that the security of the CRA site continues to meet the highest standards.” Treusch added that the individuals who were victims of the breach would be provided with additional credit protection and would be notified in writing. The internet is still buzzing about Heartbleed, and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. What a bloody mess!
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MAKING FLICKR AWESOME
Taking hints from Instagram for Flickr’s new app
tarted by entrepreneur Sean Bonner through the viral campaign that rocketed off from a Twitter hashtag #dearmarissamayer, loyal Flickr fans asked the then-newly designated CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Meyer to bring the site back to its former glory. It’s evident that Yahoo! listened and continues to do so as it rolls out with a sleek, new mobile app update– with Instagram-like elements. The app adopted Instagram’s popular features with 14 filters, 30-second HD videos (considerably more compared to Instagram’s 15-second limit), lots of shar-
By Pamella de Leon
ing options, and hashtags to explore. A smart move since most people use their mobile phone as their camera. Thankfully, there’s no selfies and amateur food pictures. The Flickr app focuses on core experience and what it’s really about– photography. With serious photographers as their target audience, the app stays true to its distinctive features of publishing high-res photos, extensive privacy options, intricate search options stretching to groups communities and Exif data, meaning you can see what camera was used, the aperture or shutter speed details. Plus, new
features of seamless infinite scrolling of pure photos and videos, and the sweet bonus of a 1Tb monthly upload, instead of the previous 300mb limit. A few hitches are being unable to add photos to the groups, irking devoted users, and the issue of signing up with just a Yahoo! account – a a risk considering the rumors of poor security. Let’s see, maybe Yahoo! isn’t done “making Flickr awesome again.” At least for now, we have an alternative app if the selfies are too overwhelming on Instagram, and we can go back to focusing on the art of photography.
“But first... let me take a selfie”
SONY GOES WIRELESS SHARING By Tamara Clarke
ony has introduced its new DSLR-style Cybershot camera, the DSC-HX400V, which packs an extraordinary punch with 50x Optical Zoom. Even better, it features on-board GPS and Wi-Fi which allows you to pin photos and videos to a map and send them straight to your compatible smartphone or tablet. No more wired connections or waiting to share, now you can post high quality photos to your social media sites in a matter of minutes. You can even use your phone as a handy remote controller for group photos or (yes, you guessed it) a #selfie. The DSC-HX400V’s ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens and high-resolution Exmor R CMOS sensor with 20.4 megapixels produces clear, vivid images. With Optical SteadyShot and Intelligent Active Mode, DSCHX400V produces sharp, blur free, full HD videos too. But, if video recording is more your thing, you can opt for the new Sony Handycam. The HDR-PJ820E also features a CMOS censor and takes Wi-Fi a step farther by allowing wireless transfers of movies and stills for playback on your TV. Just download the free PlayMemories Mobile app for your iOS or Android device and get your wireless on! MAY 2014
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Treat failure like a scientist By James Clear
recently had a wonderful conversation with my friend, multidisciplinarian Beck Tench. During our chat, Beck told me about an interesting shift in thinking that occurred while she worked at a science museum. During her time there, Beck said that she learned how to treat failure like a scientist. How does a scientist treat failure? And what can we learn from their approach? Here’s what Beck taught me…
TREAT FAILURE LIKE A SCIENTIST When a scientist runs an experiment, there are all sorts of results that could happen. Some James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, 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 JamesClear.com/newsletter, to have James speak at your entrepreneurial event contact him jamesclear.com/contact 44
results are positive and some are negative, but all of them are data points. Each result is a piece of data that can ultimately lead to an answer. And that’s exactly how a scientist treats failure: as another data point. This is much different than how society often talks about failure. For most of us, failure feels like an indication of who we are as a person. Failing a test means you’re not smart enough. Failing to get fit means you’re undesirable. Failing in business means you don’t have what it takes. Failing at art means you’re not creative. And so on. But for the scientist, a negative result is not an indication that they are a bad scientist. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Proving
a hypothesis wrong is often just as useful as proving it right because you learned something along the way. Your failures are simply data points that can help lead you to the right answer. FAILURE IS THE COST YOU PAY TO BE RIGHT None of this is to say that you should seek to make mistakes or that failing is fun. Obviously, you’ll try to do things the right way. And failing on something that is important to you is never fun. But failure will always be part of your growth for one simple reason… If you’re focused on building a new habit or learning a new skill or mastering a craft of any type, then you’re basically experimenting
in one way or another. And if you run enough experiments, then sometimes you’re going to get a negative result. It happens to every scientist and it will happen to you and me as well. To paraphrase Seth Godin: Failure is simply a cost you have to pay on the way to being right. Treat failure like a scientist. Your failures are not you. Your successes are not you. They are simply data points that help guide the next experiment. A version of this article was first published on JamesClear.com
“YOUR FAILURES ARE SIMPLY DATA POINTS THAT CAN HELP LEAD YOU TO THE RIGHT ANSWER”
IMAGE STILL OF THE SPACE REPLAY VIDEO © VIMEO
Image still of the Space Replay video
| GEEK |
Are you being followed? No, it’s just an eerie floating orb
tairs, tunnels and elevators –the in-between places when people are neither here nor there yet- are often just passed through. What if something is lingering behind you, replaying echoes
of people’s conversations or footsteps while you travel through these spaces? Not to sound freaky, but there is such a thing. Designers from London’s Royal College of Art created the Space Replay- a
By Pamella de Leon
dark, floating orb that stalks people, records and plays back footsteps, snippets of conversation, and ambience of environments, creating what they describe as a “delayed echo of human activity.” The
project, brainchild of collaborators Julinka Ebhardt and Will Yates-Johnson of Design Products, and IED tutor John Fass, was born from a desire to examine how “sonic objects mediate” between people, technology and places, and explore transitional public spaces. The black hovering ball (weighing only 120g), is actually filled with half oxygen and half helium, allowing the latex balloon to float after reaching a “neutral buoyancy”, guided only by natural air current. It responds sonically to people and its surroundings from a battery-powered Arduino, an Adafruit Wave Shield tinkered to record every 20 minutes, then replays the sound. In essence, it’s an audio recorder that acts like a creepy, floating audiovisual installation. Just don’t go near it with a pin.
| THE FIX |
Keyboard case for your iPhone? Nope, not now anyway BLACKBERRY PROTECTS ITS KEY ASSET IN COURT
t’s a common sight here in the Middle East; you have a BlackBerry for email and messaging purposes, and an iPhone for everyday use. For iPhone users growing tired of touchscreen and missing the BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard, you’ll be sad to learn that Typo, the keyboard case for iPhone that made big headlines, has lost the preliminary injunction to BlackBerry’s claim of keyboard patent infringement. For those of you who haven’t yet heard, Typo is basically a case for iPhone that allows for a keyboard, pretty much turning an iPhone into a BlackBerry. Much to the relief of BlackBerry, Typo Products LLC, co-funded by American Idol host and TV personality Ryan Seacrest, has been prohibited from selling the $99 iPhone case- disastrous for the tech company
since pre-orders of January and February of this year were already sold out. Although BlackBerry is “flattered” by Typo’s design bearing a likeness to the mainstay keyboard, they won’t allow the copycat behavior, marking the similarity between Typo’s iPhone keyboard case and the BlackBerry Q10. After losing its appeal in the consumer market, BlackBerry is concentrating on government and enterprise customers, which seems to be the market that Typo is aiming at since there are tons of businesspeople who prefer using iPhone, but still want the convenience of a keyboard. Typo has indicated their disappointment in a recent statement confirming that they will appeal the court ruling. In the meantime, it looks like you’ll still be stuck carrying two phones. MAY 2014
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For those who don’t, Lenovo’s David Roman is here to tell you about those who do, and how they did it By Fida Chaaban
David Roman speaking at Lenovo’s 2014 Global Kickoff in Marrakech, Morocco
t the moment, I can tell you that it isn’t saying enough from the consumer side,” says David Roman confidently. “It” is Lenovo’s logo. “We don’t really stand for something specific. That’s why we’re sort of going through this whole transformation.” As Lenovo’s Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President, Roman is pretty well situated to trans-
mit and unencrypt the messages that logos and corporate slogans aim to send out into the world, and not just about the brand he’s working with either. A graduate of Architecture and Industrial Design from Queensland University of Technology, the master communicator also holds an executive MBA from INSEAD Paris. Formerly VP of worldwide marketing communications for
HP’s Personal Systems Group (PSG), Roman’s “The Computer is Personal Again” HP campaign was an award-winner, a fact that I glean from his bio. What else do I learn? Pre-tenure with HP, Roman was VP of Corporate and International Marketing at NVIDIA, and he also spent some time at Apple in a few different roles in Europe, Asia Pacific and the U.S., finally leaving when he was the cult brand’s VP of worldwide advertising and brand marketing. Roman caught my attention by bringing all of Lenovo’s senior management to the stage at the Global Kickoff (including the CEO) to recreate the now-historic Ellen DeGeneres Oscars star-studded selfie. He good-naturedly admits that yes, it was a gimmick, and sure, it served its purpose. “Gimmicks work, they bring attention; they bring focus to something.” Focusing on Engagement Marketing, Roman has an agenda and he’s gotten everyone at Lenovo on board. So yes, I think it’s safe to safe that we should trust his judgment, and if he says that the catchy “For those who do” slogan could or should be doing more, then so be it. The tagline, the movement… surely it’s contributed to their consumer segment allegiance? Ashton Kutcher, a Project Engineer at Lenovo, manages to make fun of the tagline often and well, despite (and possibly because of) the seriousness of his commitment to the brand. “For those who do, as a tagline, was not
random. We thought a lot about it internally. We said what Lenovo is good at doing is making things. We’re an engineering company. We do things… this positive, entrepreneurial, optimistic sort of culture. Making this relevant, exciting, getting the tone of the personality right. As we work through this, the marketing will revolve around that.” Roman, during his address at the 2014 Lenovo Global Kickoff last month in Marrakech, Morocco, went over a few of the brand’s key identity points and the consumers that that identity is attracting. Their loyal customers include “Design Trendsetters” who Roman says are approximately 70% millennials; this particular demographic is open to new brands as long as the design resonates with them. They’re closely emulated by “Design Followers”, impressionable consumers who pay close attention to the aforementioned opinion leaders. Another part of Lenovo’s impressive market share rests with the “Balanced Buyers”they’re one of the more difficult segments to impress, having an appreciation for value and quality. The lattermost, youthful shoppers that weigh tech and functionality carefully, also do their research. Their research might tell them that Lenovo took home 61 awards at the CES 2014 for everything from the ThinkPad 8 to the Vibe Z. Their research might also tell them that Lenovo is the PC breakthrough kid: Under the
DAVID ROMAN TWITTER ACCOUNT IMAGE © TWITTER.COM
leadership of Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing, they’ve managed to edge out a lot of the big league, household-name competition. While Roman can effortlessly point out some of the brand’s strengths, it’s also a matter of masterful storytelling. He frames the facts, states supporting arguments, and then sets the stage with an emotion-imbued narrative. A conversation with him could perhaps be considered a microcosm of his Engaged Marketing strategy, and it will be worth the watch to see where he takes the brand’s communication methods after the relatively quick climb to the top. PCs, tablets, and smartphones- all these are doing well, and things have never looked better for the brand globally, and on a smaller scale, in the UAE. “These new categories in PCs are pretty cool. Horizon, the idea of a tabletop PC with a different user-interface got a lot of interest. There will be more form factors coming out. There’s a lot of interests in all-in-ones, we’re seeing it in surprising places. A few years ago, people asked if young people would buy a desktop. As it turns out, all-in-ones are the hottest selling things on univer-
sity campuses, because it’s the perfect product to have.” Q4 2013 preliminary figures released by the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicate that Lenovo’s sitting at a 22.4% market share making them the number one PC brand in the Gulf nation, and they’re also ranked number one in Jordan, Lebanon, and Qatar. Lenovo UAE outperformed the market significantly with YTY growth of 56.4%, healthy growth only outmatched by the numbers they’re pulling in Qatar: 93.3% YTY growth and 27% total PC market share. Where is Lenovo planning on throwing its marketing weight? “PCs is not such a monolithic space, so within multimode PCs, Yoga was a great product so people looked at that. I think we’ll be more focused on specific products that represent a category. Mutlimode turned out to be a very interesting thing, so it was a good way to communicate with people. We certainly overweight tablets and smartphones. Tablets first, because tablets are very close to PCs in terms of infrastructure, and to go into smartphones, we really have to have the support, the relationships with the carriers and so on. Smartphones, other
than tablets, is where we do tend to invest more.” In addition to traditional advertising, the company seems to harbor serious intent to nail the social media sphere. Roman leads by example, tweeting the aforementioned Ellen-style selfie in real-time from the stage at the Kickoff. The response? A non-celeb getting 56 retweets, 28 favorites, and 14 comments is pretty decent… and engaging.
“WE CERTAINLY OVERWEIGHT TABLETS AND SMARTPHONES. TABLETS FIRST, BECAUSE TABLETS ARE VERY CLOSE TO PCS IN TERMS OF INFRASTRUCTURE, AND TO GO INTO SMARTPHONES, WE REALLY HAVE TO HAVE THE SUPPORT, THE RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE CARRIERS AND SO ON.”
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SPONSORED BY CADILLAC IN THE SPIRIT OF LINKING SUCCESS WITH POTENTIAL
kaleidoscopic ecosystem of the near future. Having the privilege to work as a Digital Planner for Born Interactive on establishing a Responsive Marketing program with a talented team of industry experts gave me the opportunity to witness great talent at work and to learn from the best by working side by side with them. I’m here to share some of the golden rules we incorporate in our work to help hundreds of clients take a new efficient and optimized approach on conducting business by going digital.
BRINGING YOUR BUSINESS TO THE FOREFRONT OF THE ONLINE MARKETPLACE By Rani Nasr
ot only is the digital frontier the new battlefield on which brands are all gearing up to fight for their market share, it’s also an algorithmic alternative of an outdated corporate system that needs replenishing. Rapid growth and unpredictable shifts makes its nature similar to that of a tidal wave; what stands between catastrophe and riding the tide is adequate equipment and sufficient experience. You can’t survive with a knife in a gun fight, the same way you can’t survive in the modern market without establishing
your online presence. Not only will digital activity save you from the moving sands of being directionless, disintegrated, and completely ignorant about your online market share, but it will also save you time and money on avoiding duplicating yourself via mass marketing by narrowing down your target audience and getting to know your costumers first-hand. Until sufficient resources have been invested in both planning and executing digital marketing, businesses will not be agile enough to face the economic transformation from its present linear form into the
> LISTEN 1. TURN DATA INTO INFORMATION INTO KNOWLEDGE Prior to entering into any business venture, the first thing you need to do is gather intel: Know your resources, know your audience, and know your competitors. As simple as that might sound, this is the part where most errors are made. Research is not just about gathering numbers, it’s about finding meaning in those numbers. Data is useless, unless it’s translated into information, which is turned into knowledge using analytical experience and appropriate resources. One important and oft-overlooked point that should be taken into consideration is the pace of growth of digital platforms. Not only are digital platforms advancing in quality and quantity, but the pace of the growth is also growing exponentially. Meaning? The emergence of new technologies allows more new technologies to exist, which makes the growth graph exponential. Getting accustomed with the factor of change will level-up your knowledge into market intelligence. Once market research is
done properly, knowing exactly how to one-up the competition becomes a game of Lego assembly. 2. ALL FRONTIERS ARE DIGITAL… EVEN PRINT When setting up a marketing plan, resources are divided among different categories ranging from media, PR, events, ATL/BTL, social, digital and so on… Nowadays, the boundaries between all these different branches of a marketing scheme are blurring rapidly and becoming integrated into a digital melting pot. Connecting these dots and making them all work together as one homogeneous entity is becoming tricky business. That’s why we came up with a responsive marketing package that works on all frontiers to maximize their collective potential while optimizing the distribution of content
for maximum efficiency. The secret ingredient to this mix is digitalizing the entire process, and whatever can’t be digitalized can be exploited as a gateway of interaction to get offline consumers to interact with this newly created digital ecosystem. 3. GENERATING PRODUCT DEMAND Although spreading awareness is part of generating product demand, with digital optimization the route to get the consumer to finalize the transaction can be reduced to a convenient minimum. With responsive design and a wellbuilt e-commerce platform, your entire inventory can be at the fingertips of a happy consumer. We say happy, because keeping the consumer happy is why we developed this form of Responsive Marketing. It’s not just about being available on all
frontiers as much as it is about providing a complete solution that includes interacting with your customers, serving their needs, and most importantly, being there for them when other establishments won’tafter point of sale. If you want your customers to be loyal to you, be loyal to them. 4. BRAND VALUES ARE ESTABLISHED BY EMOTIONS, NOT JUST PROMOTIONS This is a very simple concept, but it’s tricky to implement. Having heart in everything the brand enhances user engagement levels. People don’t care about brands as much as they do about causes. Brands should always show that they care, whether it be about a cause, their consumers, or just about being good without crossing the hypocrisy line. Honesty is the best policy after all. So if
the brand doesn’t care, don’t try to sugarcoat it, make the brand understand the value of caring, then broadcast it. > COMMUNICATE 5. DON’T JUST SEND A MESSAGE CREATE AN EXPERIENCE With the advertising clutter that’s going on, getting the consumer’s attention has become highly competitive. Dispersing branded messages telling your audience how “cool” your brand is or why they should use your products is not enough. The average person sees somewhere between 1000 and 3000 ads per day, and it has become human instinct to filter out this spam. So how do we navigate around that? By immersing the users in a memorable experience that will stay with them even after the campaign has ended. Make them part of a bigger community serving a higher cause. The digital realm provides a great landscape for user engagement by creating a virtual reality or simple story telling, but the internet is a competitive place. Although this requires creativity, experience, and high industry intelligence, once accomplished it’ll leave an impressive impact on the customer, brand image, and ultimately the ROI. 6. MARKETING IS NOT LINEAR ALGEBRA, IT’S AN ITERATING FUNCTION There’s no one way to do things, and certainly not a right way to do things save for the obvious things your brand should be avoiding online. Sometimes great ideas don’t catch on, and sometimes dumb ideas go viral. Remember that you’re dealing with human nature, and every person has their own opinion and view on things. Don’t freak out if things don’t go as planned, as every interaction is an opportunity to learn something new. Even great companies such as Nike have experimented with their advertising modules, releasing 10 different approaches >>> MAY 2014
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simultaneously and later on dropping what didn’t catch on and following up with what did. See how your ideas play out, and optimize your plans accordingly. Experimentation is key to success, but one caveat: It’s not to be mistaken with recklessness. > DISTRIBUTE 7. DON’T RELY ON REACHING OUT, BE SUMMONED With the clutter mentioned earlier, a brand can’t only rely on reaching out to its crowd with its branded messages anymore. On the contrary, brands should give the users a reason for them to reach out to the brand instead. Easier said than done, but the first step is to be conveniently available for interaction on every frontier that the target audience is active on. If you’re ambitious, maybe go one step ahead and create an owned platform of interaction. After that is set into place, it becomes a game of chess to come up with strategic approaches that use the brand image to establish the brand as an authority in its specific industry. 8. ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS Nothing lasts forever, so enjoy the little things in life. In digital, this has a completely different meaning than its inspirational face value. Platforms don’t last forever, no matter how powerful or big they are now. It’s a medium with a turbulence of change on a daily basis. MySpace was the biggest thing to happen to the internet few years ago, today Facebook is what MySpace used to represent, how long will that last? With hundreds of new platforms emerging on a daily basis, some of them catch on fast and some of them die immediately. Enjoy the little things, for when they become big, you grow with them. New technologies are not always what they seem, sometimes they’re just a stepping stone for a more elaborate technology to take place. Be a sport and play.
> MEASURE 9. MAKE SURE EVERY FRONTIER IS UTILIZED TO ITS FULL POTENTIAL When establishing brand presence on any platform, be there fully. It’s the most common mistake for a brand to focus on one end of the rope and leave the other loose. For example, investments of time and money go into the corporate website however social media and the mobile application are poor. This will backfire, because every platform is a new frontier of interaction with a different user, and most users will see only one side to your story. Like chess, if one frontier is weak, it might cause your entire army to fall. It’s not an excuse that the brand can’t afford to grow in all directions at the same time, take solid strategic steps and you’ll eventually get there. Keep the big picture in mind. 10. ‘JUST ENOUGH’ IS MORE If there’s such a thing as a rule of thumb, this should be the one. Just like in social gatherings you shouldn’t talk about things you don’t know about or don’t need to bring up, this applies to digital communication as well. Say what needs to be said, not more. Don’t say in two pages what can be said in one sentence and don’t pretend to know what you don’t. Don’t overcomplicate a design that will hinder user experience. Don’t add useless functionalities to your apps or website, and don’t be over the top on your social media platforms. Simplify, optimize, be honest and lighthearted.
Rani Nasr is a Digital Planner with Born Interactive, an independent new media agency dedicated to offering creative, innovative, state-of-the-art digital and interactive communication solutions and experiences. Active on the digital marketing frontier for 18 years, Born Interactive works with multi-industry and multi-national clients of all sizes, to meet the evolving needs of local, regional, and global institutional and corporate clients. MAY 2014
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COST EFFICACY IN
DIGITAL BUSINESS MARKETING By Mohammad Hijazi
Facebook vs. LinkedIn advertising: which one is suitable for your business?
ithout a doubt, online advertising has become a necessity for businesses, brands, and organizations online. It allows your content to be exposed to a wider audience, but it requires a lot of attention and knowledge of the market. Knowing how to use the advertising tools available on platforms is just as important as having the budget to do so- study your target audience, then choose your medium.
Before you start an online advertising campaign, you should consider all of the following factors.
YOUR OBJECTIVES FOR THE CAMPAIGN
What are you hoping to achieve from the campaign? Is it brand awareness, acquisition, increasing likes, call to action, competition participation, etcâ€Ś?
YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Who are your customers or users? Who do you think will be interested in participating in your competition or reading your content? YOUR TARGET PLATFORM
Where is your target audience present online? Are they on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, news websites, e-commerce platforms? YOUR RESOURCES
How much money are you willing to spend on an online advertising campaign per month? Who will be managing the online campaign? YOUR CONTENT STRATEGY
Do you have a content calendar? Will your content change throughout the campaign and do you want to invest differently in different phases of the campaign? THE ADVERTISING MARKET
Do you know what the average price per click or impression or action is? Is this season a high or low advertising season? Are the prices higher or lower now? 52
Once you have those topics addressed to your satisfaction, you can consider the investment. You need to understand the different methods of online advertising compensation.
1. Cost Per Mille (CPM) The advertiser pays for every thousand impressions for his/ her content. An impression is each time the ad is displayed to the users. 2. Cost Per Click (CPC) The advertiser pays every time a user clicks on the ad/content. 3. Cost Per Action (CPA) The advertiser pays every time a user fulfils an action, such as filling in a form, participating in a competition, applying for a job, downloading an application, and the like.
4. Fixed cost The advertiser pays a fixed amount for the ad to be displayed for a certain amount of time irrespective of amount of exposure, such as website banners and background ads.
MEDIUM & METHOD On Facebook and LinkedIn, advertising generally can be compensated by CPC or CPM. The trick is to anticipate how the user will interact with your content. If you think that the user will click on your update (content such as photos, videos, links), it is wiser to choose the CPM compensation method. If you think that your content is not clickable (such status updates or photos that do not need to be enlarged), then perhaps you should consider using a CPC compensation strategy. CPA can be used for specific objectives, such as app downloads on Facebook or having people apply for jobs on LinkedIn. Twitter also has similar bidding methods, but in the region, it seems that SMEs aren’t utilizing the promoted tweet method much, perhaps due to high cost or lack of platform knowledge.
Facebook and LinkedIn advertising rely on a bidding process, where prices change on a continuous basis (sometimes every minute). Prices are different according to different countries or cities (where supported). They also vary according to time of day (after midnight, they are cheaper), time of year (more expensive during holidays), and demand (when a lot of other advertisers are running campaigns, prices go up). Facebook gives you the option to have your bids automatically regulated according to a “recommended” bid, but I’ve found that this is generally more expensive
than if you manually regulate your ads. The trade-off is that you actually have to regularly monitor the bid price and adjust accordingly. Facebook provides you with the average CPC or CPM of campaigns similar to yours. What I find works is bidding 20%-50% less than the average, and I’ve gotten impressive results. LinkedIn advertising is very expensive compared to Facebook, and should be used sparingly. When to use LinkedIn advertising as opposed to Facebook advertising can be determined by seeing where your needs fit most.
NEED & NICHE LINKEDIN ADVERTISING
Your product is B2B or B2G
Your product is B2C
Your product is catered to skilled individuals
Your product is catered to the general public
You are recruiting specialized employees
You are recruiting unspecialized employees for general labor
You want to target using job positions, education, skills and experience.
You want to target using age, location, language and interests.
You want to promote professional content.
You want to promote general content.
To collect professional feedback
To collect general feedback
Mohammad Hijazi runs the Online Collaborative, an NGO that aims to promote awareness about technology and social media, and is the organizing entity of the Beirut Social Media Awards set to launch in several GCC countries this year. In addition, he is the Editor in Chief of Cloud961, a print and online magazine dedicated to the online community that addresses digital and social media topics from the MENA region. Hijazi also executes marketing consultancy and digital media strategy with some of the Middle East’s top agencies and institutions. A graduate of American University of Beirut (AUB) with degrees in biology and marketing communications, Hijazi is a blogger at Mind Soup, and an instructor on computer literacy, social media techniques, and social networking for senior citizens as well as corporate digital marketing courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn and talk to him on Twitter @mhijazi
business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN
MONEYBALL FINANCE FLICKS THAT GIVE US THE CHILLS By Amal Chaaban
IN 2008, ECONOMIES AROUND THE WORLD FELT THE REVERBERATIONS OF THE WALL STREET PARTY COMING TO AN END. MILLIONS IN THE U.S. LOST THEIR HOMES, AND MILLIONS MORE AROUND THE WORLD THEIR LIVELIHOODS AS CREDIT DRIED UP, THE HOUSING MARKET CRASHED, AND COMPANIES BEGAN ENACTING HIRING FREEZES LIKE DOMINOS. THIS WEEKEND, WATCH ONE OF OUR PICKS FOR THE FILMS THAT ATTEMPTED TO CAPTURE THE GLOBAL CRISIS EITHER BY DRAMATIZATION OR DOCUMENTARY.
Inside Job (2010) Directed by Charles H. Ferguson | Starring Matt Damon as Narrator Roger Ebert calls this movie “angry and well-documented” and the opening line of The New York Times review uses adjectives like “meticulous and infuriating”. Narrated by Matt Damon, Inside Job features interviews with several people with intimate knowledge of the 2008 crash (including those who warned of the coming crash and were ignored). The film breaks down a complex series of financial
events enough for the layperson to understand one essential factthe economy crashed because a bunch of people in finance wanted to bet against their own game. By turns angering and terrifying, it is suggested that the U.S. banking sector is still running amok with no regulation and with little political will to force reform. Inside Job took home the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2011.
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) Directed by Alex Gibney | Starring Eliot Spitzer Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a.k.a. the “Sheriff of Wall Street”, made a great many enemies during his tenure overseeing investigations (some might say crusades) against the high rollers of finance. The speculation that they may have had a hand in his downfall is alluded in this documentary, but Spitzer is very careful to point out that responsibility for his actions is his and his alone. Director Alex Gibney brings to life the circumstances surrounding Spitzer as “Client
9” and attempts to fill in the gaps on how he was first drawn to the Emperor’s Club VIP ultimately leading to his downfall. Interestingly, some of Spitzer’s most bitter enemies appear in this documentary and none of them even attempt to hide their extreme dislike of Spitzer with one of them openly stating, “I hope his private hell is hotter than others.” What was somewhat disappointing was to see how reviews of the film focused more on the escapades of Mr. Spitzer than on the film itself.
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) Directed by Michael Moore | Starring Michael Moore Director Michael Moore is not known for his subtlety. In this documentary, he remains true both to his bull-in-the-china-shop demeanor and to his liberal viewpoints. Moore uses Capitalism to show the human tragedies behind the crash of the economy and Wall Street’s reckless gambling with everyone else’s money. As he moves through the film, trademark Moore weaknesses like grandstanding do appear, but the bulk of the film is dedicated to the stories of those who
are trying to survive in a post-crash world. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone dubbed the film “a genuine and welcome rabblerouser”- also using the same descriptor for Moore himself. While the documentaries that explain the economic implications of the collapse are extremely relevant, one should not forget that for every million dollars lost, there are likely two (or more) families who’ve lost their homes. That’s what Moore is out to get us to remember.
Unraveled (2011) Directed by Marc H. Simon | Starring Marc Dreier and co. If Bernie Madoff hadn’t stolen the spotlight with his multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme then Marc Dreier would’ve been a household name. Dreier, a former lawyer in New York City, was responsible for defrauding 26 people out of over US$700 million dollars. This documentary focuses on his time waiting for sentencing (in his 20 million dollar New York apartment), and mostly features free-flow interviews with him. While Dreier doesn’t attempt to justify his actions and freely admits what he did was immoral and unethical, it’s quite disturbing to hear him downplay the situation: “It was only 26 people.” The New York Times describes Unraveled as “a mesmerizing one-man dive into narcissism, entitlement, and unchecked greed.” Simon’s efforts garnered him the 2011 Nantucket Film Festival award for Best Story Telling in a Documentary.
TOO BIG TO FAIL (2011)
Directed by Curtis Hanson Starring William Hurt, James Woods, John Heard
Based on the book of the same name, this is the dramatization of the week that Lehmann Brothers bankrupted and AIG began to implode. For those familiar with the details surrounding the financial crisis, this dramatization will hit very close to home and may cause a slight feeling of terror when you realize just how close the entire world came to a full blown depression. The acting is impeccable and the tension just increases as the movie moves behind the scenes of the public face of the crisis. This made-for-HBO movie earned 22 well-deserved nominations and three awards despite mainstream media not giving it much steam.
business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN
SIX TACTICS TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
ORGANIZE YOUR WORKSPACE By Pamella de Leon
hether you work in an office or from home, it’s easy to lose focus and feel out of sorts. Your space does affect your mental wellbeing and work output. Consider these tips in cultivating a happy, healthy and productive workspace.
1. SOUND Instead of listening to high volume music, why not try ambient noise? A study by the University of Chicago concluded that ambient noise was ideal for creativity as it help you analyzing difficult data, compared to high noise
levels that stifle information processing. A few places to sample for café ambience are Coffitivity, Soundrown, Focus@Will. If you prefer the calming ambience of nature, try Jazz and Rain or Thunderspace.
2. CLEAN VS. CLUTTERED
Contrary to popular belief, there’s actually benefits to having both a clean and a cluttered desk. A study from Psychological Science found that it’s useful to have a messy desk at the beginning of a project and a clean one at the end. It was observed that in a disorganized
environment, creativity is stimulated since people are free to come up with more ideas, while tidiness encouraged people to do what was expected of them– being charitable, eating healthier and making better choices. When you switch from your normal work environment –i.e. your organized space- to a creative messy space, it sends a signal to your brain and if you do this enough, it will learn to recognize that it’s time for a creative work marathon. Austin Kleon, best-selling author of Steal Like an Artist, thrives in having a creative messy desk
and a minimalistic work desk. So if you can’t afford to have a messy desk, at least have an area of your desk dedicated to your “messy” side.
3. ERGONOMICS It’s beneficial
to indulge in basic ergonomics. Adjust and make sure that everything you need is within reach to reduce muscle strain later on, and so you cut down on the time-wasting activities of trying to find that misplaced document.
4. OPEN VS. ISOLATED
Open spaces are increasingly popular in office design. Feng shui principle suggests that rounded furniture tends to generate more creativity, and a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that sitting in circles or curved environments sparked more brain activity linked with reward, “aesthetic appreciation”, and a collective mindset. But an open floor plan can be disadvantageous too, stating lack of privacy as the reason from a study by the University of Sydney. At TED 2012, Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, expressed the need for offices to support
reflection and individual work. There really are just particular tasks that require individual contemplation, undisrupted by others. The solution to this conflicting need for collaboration and privacy can be to learn to differentiate which tasks can be done in the presence of a team and which require solitude, and work around those parameters.
5. CREATIVE TRIGGERS
Triggers are actions that set off an automatic urge, which forms a habit. By identifying the actions that start the procrastination process or those that facilitate working intensely, we can see which trigger to alter to a new habit. To form a new habit, it has to be intentional at first but with time and consistency, the habit becomes automatic. Zen Habits suggests, “When you do the trigger, do the habit without fail.” In terms of workspace creative triggers -they can also be a self-development credo- being
surrounded by inspiring reads or a vision board helps. It can be location based too, as one set of activity can be on collaborative open spaces, and core tasks at your desk. Behavioral patterns paired with scene changes will motivate you to complete specific tasks. My personal triggers are my to-do list, water or tea, and the kitchen table or an office for admin tasks and my desk or isolated outdoor spots with limited Wi-Fi (it frees me from browsing the internet) for creative work, prompting me to get in the zone. With minimal efforts, your brain can recognize that you are engaging in work mode.
6. NATURE Increase natural light rather than fluorescents. Researchers in 2012 established that working with artificial light causes sleepiness at the end of the day. If your workplace has artificial light all day, take outdoor breaks as a natural refresher. And if you can’t, a study executed in 2013
INCREASE NATURAL LIGHT RATHER THAN FLUORESCENTS. IF YOUR WORKPLACE HAS ARTIFICIAL LIGHT ALL DAY, TAKE OUTDOOR BREAKS AS A NATURAL REFRESHER. suggested that adding a potted plant to your desk increases productivity and cognitive attention. Why? Whenever you gaze at the plant it helps you reconnect with nature thereby increasing refreshment. A health benefit is that your plant filters the air to expel bacteria. These are just few tips of enhancing your workspace- on your own, experiment through trial and error, and certainly do your research about spaceproductivity theories backed by actual science and statistics. One final tip? Note what productive colleagues are doing, and emulate the tactics they use in their workspace surroundings that foster great work.
MY BELOVED Tehran-based Ramin Shirdel will be on exhibit at Ayyam Gallery Dubai’s DIFC space beginning May 5th. The solo exhibition, Whispers of Love, will run until June 5th, showcasing several of the award-winning architect’s newer largescale works. Previously, Shirdel’s art has done extremely well on auction- May 2012 saw his work acquired for nearly quadruple the outset estimate. Ramin Shirdel Whispers of Love from May 5 - June 5 at Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai, UAE www.ayyamgallery.com MAY 2014
start it up
Wacky idea | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE
“ was really fed up from the
work environment in Beirut and wanted to leave the region,” said Ibrahim Nehme, Editor-in-Chief of The Outpost magazine. The 28 year-old ‘trep from Lebanon stopped packing his bags once he realized that the Arab Spring created an opportunity in the market for what he calls “quality print products.” It seems that the emergence of a more active generation of Arab youth inspired Nehme. “I felt there’s an opportunity to stay and make something different, making something that would be part of the revolution,” Neheme explains, “that would help us imagine a new Arab place, a media voice that can capture our imagination, provide us with a space to dream, speak up, think freely, be who we are as Arab youth.” Born in Lebanon, Nehme studied business at the American University of Beirut
By Kareem Chehayeb
despite developing his love for journalism after writing for ArabAd during his junior year, eventually joining them as a writer. While he later became involved in other types of work, he realized that his “heart remained in print” and the publication he eventually founded, The Outpost, aims to “ignite a renaissance” across the Middle East. “Indie media plays a huge role because it tells the real stories,” explains Nehme, “it goes beyond the headlines, it’s not owned by corporate or political powers, it’s grassroots by nature, and it champions the voice of the people.” When it comes to conceptual development, Ibrahim Nehme told us that it was no easy task, taking almost two years. “It took us a lot of time to conceptually develop the big idea, not just art direction,” he said. Nehme also elaborated on how it took a while to sort out the magazine’s image, from its ideological identity to its goal as an independent publication. “After all that was clear, after almost a year of incubation and thinking, we started developing the brand identity with a Spanish designer.” The Outpost was not set up on a particular budget, having no angel investors and relying on multiple sources for startup capital. “We relied a lot on free support from friends and acquaintances, which
IBRAHIM NEHME HASN’T THOUGHT ABOUT ROI… YET
you can’t put a price tag on,” said Nehme, “I used up all my savings and took a loan,” ROI? “Umm. We haven’t done that.” While the magazine’s writers and designers wrote for free, allowing the magazine to sustain itself for a year, Nehme then took an unorthodox approach to keep the magazine in print. “Our initial business plan was solely reliant on advertising
to generate revenue.” Nehme struggled to attract advertisers, and after a year of no bite, he decided to give crowdfunding a go. It “was an attempt to enlist the help of the people who most value what we’re doing– our readers basically.” The Outpost’s crowdfunding campaign expanded their readership internationally, also garnering the support of funding
organizations in Europe. “We’ve signed with one already, and we’re talking to a few others,” Nehme told us, “On top of that, we are looking to expand The Outpost universe in such a way that would allow us to generate revenue from other activities to fund the print edition.” Nehme estimates that it costs between US$8,000 to 10,000 per issue, all factors included. “Between online and offline we raised US$37,000 out of the initial $53,000 we asked for,” said Nehme, “We didn’t have have a lot of time – we did it in 28 days.” Among the top donors were Dutch organization Hivos (Humanist Institute for Cooperation), the Ain Agadem Foundation, and Palestinian artist, Omar Joseph Khoury. Why aren’t more people using
crowdfunding in the Middle East? Nehme thinks it’s as simple as online payment issues: “I think the major problem hindering crowdfunding here is the fact that people are still afraid of using their credit cards online. During our campaign so many people –both friends and strangers– were calling us asking how can they donate offline because they don’t use their cards online.” He believes that local crowdfunding companies like Zoomaal will increase confidence in engaging in e-commerce in the region by starting projects at a local level. Despite the struggle Nehme faced to fund the publication, The Outpost was well-received, not only among the audience he targeted but in demographics as well. “When we first started we
thought that we had a narrow target. The young Arab adults who are well-educated and exposed and who consume their media in English.” It turns out that he was in for a surprise, not only finding issues picked up by a more mature readership in the region, but also by readers in Europe and North America. “We get requests from Peru!” In the Middle East, their readership is concentrated in “Beirut, Dubai, and Egypt. I think it’s because they’re the most accessible to some extent liberal markets.” What’s next for Ibrahim Nehme and The Outpost? “As far as the English print edition is concerned, we need to continue pushing our own limits in terms of concepts, quality of stories, and design, as well as
expanding our global distribution network.” He also stressed the importance of making this publication a more sustainable venture. While he has plans for both an Arabic edition and a digital platform, you can tell that he feels slightly hesitant about the latter. “I mean what’s for sure is that we won’t take our PDFs and dump them online and charge people for it. Once we having the funding for it, we will surely venture digitally, but we have a different plan for how we’re going to tell our stories there– be it on a website, a smartphone, or a tablet.” It seems that we will be hearing some interesting things from the folks from The Outpost in the near future, having cleared at least one more year of financial hurdles. MAY 2014
business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN
Wrapping things up right Emirati entrepreneur Aysha Buti Al Meheeri on Wrapt UAE’s brand proliferation & brand extension
came and positioned Wrapt as a creative, artistic work, a lot of handmade work. I made it an international business with franchises across the Gulf region,” explains Aysha Buti Al Meheeri. The MBA graduate of University of Strathclyde formerly worked as the UAE Ministry of Economy’s Public Relations and Media Office Director. “I have been lucky to work on different positions with the UAE government- this enhanced my skills with people and communication. However, anyone who has known me for a
long time, even before I started my own business, was aware of my energy and speed. I am very dynamic when it comes to work, which was an expected transition to move into business. On a personal level, I have enhanced my management skills through education and practice which is the most important in the business. I’ve been self-employed since 2007; life has changed a lot since then, I have learned and grown in [the] past few years because being in the private sector is totally different than being [a] government em-
ployee. All my experience since my graduation made me [a] better person, more productive and focused.” The entrepreneur started Wrapt in 2009, and has since collaborated with some of the UAE’s mainstay companies, like for their Toyota Ramadan giftwrap, BlackBerry’s employee gifting campaign, and Dubai World Cup giveaways. The most significant collaborations between Wrapt and various UAE government entities? Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) premium gifts, UAE National Day Minis-
try of Labor giveaways, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) giveaways to promote public transport awareness, and New Year’s gift hampers for the Ministry of Foreign Trade filled with products of 100% Emirati production, to convey national pride. For Qatar National Day, Wrapt was commissioned to create a slew of items for the Qatar Foundation. Al Maheeri is enthusiastic about female representation in business: “UAE has seen [a] huge rise in female entrepreneurs in last decade. An enormous number
of women entering the SME market. Actually UAE -among other GCC countries- and in the Middle East in general are the most supportive and encouraging governments for women in workforce and women in business. We are so lucky our rulers encourage women entrepreneurs.” In light of the recent shift toward gift cards, how does she plan to sustain her business? “This category you are mentioning is minor in the Arab world, and funny enough they still come to Wrapt and pick out beautiful envelopes or money-wrapping holders or tiny boxes to place the gift card in. In our culture presentation
stagram, and they do maintain a Facebook and Twitter presence as well. “Social media plays an important role in how consumers discover, research, and share information about brands and products. In fact, 60% of ‘consumers researching products through multiple online sources learned about a specific brand or retailer through social networking sites,’” says Al
Meheeri, quoting a widely referenced Nielsen statistic. “Active social media users are more likely to read product reviews online. On the flip side, another interesting trend is the interest of ‘consumers to act as ambassadors and advocates for brands through social media.’ It’s scary how business marketing approaches are continuously evolving, and we have to
cope with what comes.” Despite the elaborate and extravagant packaging and decorative wares that Wrapt provides, Al Meheeri says her personal tastes lean toward “practical brands. In general I love homegrown businesses and exotic stores more than big brands. They have unique offerings.” The entrepreneur describes herself as a “hands-on person. Add >>>
“UAE HAS SEEN [A] HUGE RISE IN FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS IN LAST DECADE. AN ENORMOUS NUMBER OF WOMEN ENTERING THE SME MARKET” is everything. I am glad, that regardless of adopting USA gift card style, the culture of presentation did not fade out. Also, I would say that within Arab culture they find it a bit weird to know the price of your gift! And gift cards expose that, that’s why it’s still not picking up as much it did in USA,” adds Al Meheeri. In addition to a website, Wrapt is also very active on In-
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to that frank and direct, I can never fit in any act or diplomat situation!” It’s perhaps this strength of will that allowed Al Meheeri to gain market share, growing to operate across the GCC with large-scale corporate and government relationships that are very lucrative. She’s now looking West for potential opportunities, and since she’s adamant that “a lifestyle does not have to be expensive, [just] truly beautiful and classy,” we expect that she’ll fit in just fine into the less ostentatious European and North American markets. “We started from nowhere, to somewhere close to everyone’s hearts. Who doesn’t love to get gifts or buy gifts and wrap it?”
GET TO THE POINT OVERVIEW “I think I have
proven here to the world [that] art and creativity is profitable with nonstop growth in past five years. We have grown 200% in past two years although we have maintained our prices as is since 2009! NICHE “When I started back in 2009, Wrapt created its own niche market [with] its own customers who appreciate quality and art at affordable prices. Many come to us to be inspired with colors and ideas. Slowly Wrapt become a necessity of every occasion and completed an unseen gap. The response was encouraging and that is the drive behind our growth. Arab culture are gift-lovers, it’s part of our hospitality and nature to exchange gifts all year round- now you do that with Wrapt style.” CSR “We mean everything that we have on our website in regards to CSR- 90% of our
products are made of recycled materials. We work only with factories who care for the environment and are against child workforces. We participate in a lot of local events supporting small business, in fact Wrapt stores are a hub for new, creative works from different artists; we give many free workshops and much more. The only drawback is that we do not highlight our CSR in the media which we should do in future.” EXPANSION Wrapt has four outlets in UAE, two in Qatar, one in Oman, one in Saudia Arabia, and we are opening soon in Kuwait and Bahrain. We’ve covered all GCC countries. It’s time to go to the UK and New York I guess! We do have growth plans and expansion in production to cater to European buying needs. We are not only retail, we have corporate and distribution wings as well.” E-COMMERCE “Wrapt online shopping option is not activated yet. We still [are] working on this, but mark my words, the day
we launch Wrapt online, it will be different than any online shopping experience. We could have done it two years back easily; however we’re a creative and different brand. We need to show that fun experience online, rather than just be another shopping portal. My team did some experiment of mobile apps, but couldn’t sell the idea to me! There’s a significant difference between mobile commerce and e-commerce. [Customers] do not like to search for things or scroll through a lot of content [and] if there’s just too much content -which is not appealing to the customer- he or she will just close the application.”
Emiratization underway DALYA AL MUTHANNA HEADS UP GENERAL ELECTRIC GULF
eneral Electric (GE) Gulf has appointed a new President and CEO: Dalya Al Muthanna. As the first Emirati to have a senior leadership role in GE Gulf, she is hoping to play a vital role in strengthening GE’s already-strong presence in the GCC. In addition to appointing a woman to a senior leadership role -still relatively uncommon in the Gulf corporate world- GE appointing Al Muthanna shows their intent in promoting and supporting localization, something that has been high on the agenda of GCC states of late. Emiratization is up there on the UAE’s priority list, with the Interim Committee for Nationalization (ICN) recently reporting that there are about 45,000 Emiratis looking for work in the UAE. In fact, the UAE is hoping for a tenfold increase of
Emirati employees in the private sector in the next seven years; part of a plan called UAE Vision 2021. To help fulfill UAE Vision 2021, the 14th edition of Careers UAE 2014 was staged from April 22-24 in Dubai under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The event had representatives from 160 private and public sector companies, providing ample opportunities for nationals. Dalya Al Muthanna is also a board member of the Emirates Solar Industry Association’s Women in Solar program, is also a member of the Steering Committee of the MENA Clean Energy Business Council. That said, it should be interesting to see GE Gulf’s CSR activities with Al Muthanna at the helm.
INS & OUTS FRANCHISE FOCUS By Kareem Chehayeb
THE IMPORT EUROPEAN FRANCHISE OPENS ANOTHER DXB DOOR Baguette Express, known for its popularity in Scotland and the UK, is opening its third outlet in Dubai. The franchise’s unique selling point, unlimited fillings in your sandwich, has been the main reason for its rapid growth and expansion. The Scottish brand was unveiled in the UAE
by Galaxy Food Concepts, a business venture by Eros Group, known for its consumer electronics distribution rather than fast food franchises. Dubai’s third Baguette Express store is located at Emaar Business Park, with the other two located in Deira at Al Ghurair Centre and in Oud Metha. Looks like unlimited filling sells, and people are buying.
| TRAVEL |
Bringing the brands to Bahrain Two news hotels are expected to open up in Bahrain in July 2014. American hospitality and tourism giants, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide have signed an agreement with Dubai’s Majid Al Futtaim Properties to open The Westin Bahrain City Centre and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre. Both hotels are connected to the Bahrain City Centre, also owned by Majid Al Futtaim Properties, located in Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Being near some of Bahrain’s most popular shopping areas and tourist attractions, these two internationally acclaimed hotels seem set to contribute to some of Bahrain’s future growth. 64
THE EXPORT UAE-BASED FRENCH BAKING BRAND AIMS FOR FRANCHISE SUCCESS IN MENA The folks at Pascal Tepper French Bakery are paving the way to international expansion. The Dubai-based French bakery (yes, it took me a while to grasp that), founded by French Master Baker, Pascal Tepper, has enjoyed a success in the UAE since its launch at Dubai Media City three years ago. Their expansion scheme can easily be described as ambitious, planning to launch 20 Pascal Tepper branches over a 36-month period in countries across the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. It doesn’t stop there though; Pascal Tepper is also venturing into the South East Asian market, eyeing Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. Tepper’s brand is a partnership between UAE’s Atlas Hospitality and himselfalso acting the as the face of the brand. Let’s break bread together.
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THE THIRD DIMENSION IN UAE Review: 3Doodler
n outsider at Safa Park’s The Archive probably thought the group of press trying to work the new 3D doodling pen (3Doodler) were playing with glue guns. The colorful plastic creations include someone ‘doodling’ the finishing touches on a miniature replica of Burj Khalifa, and a small detailed umbrella. After a few minutes of prodding and concentration, I manage to do a 3D doodle of our title: Entrepreneur ME. The workshop, staged by CTT Consulting, took place before the product’s demonstration
at Comic Con 2014. The Kickstarter-born 3Doodler is basically a 3D printing pen that began as a Kickstarter fairytale, developed by Peter Dilworth and Maxwell Bogue of Wobbelworks Inc. The duo initially aimed for US$30,000 and ended up raising a staggering $2.3 million -becoming the third highest funded technology project of all time on the platformsubsequently catching the attention of Lothar Hohmann, President of Precise, a 3D printing services company and the now-retailer of the product.
By Pamella de Leon
After launching in the U.S. and Europe, UAE is the fifth country to introduce the pen to the retail market with Japan and Singapore hot on our heels. It’s worth mentioning here that 3D printing is causing a stir as prices dropped as low as $500 at New York’s recent Inside 3D Printing tradeshow.
A simple and brilliant device, like a glue gun morphed to the shape of a stubby pencil, the lightweight oblong pen is coated in black plastic casing, easily held between your thumb, index and middle finger. On the bottom, two buttons control the speed of the plastic that
THIS COOL GADGET WILL POTENTIALLY APPEAL TO ARTISTS, ARTS AND CRAFTS ENTHUSIASTS, DESIGNERS, ARCHITECTS, AND CAN BE USED AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL FOR CHILDREN.
released from the pen, while at the top, a small LED light turns red or blue when it’s heating up (approximately a minute or two), and when it’s ready to print ABS and PLA plastics. The plastic is pushed through the top, liquefied inside the 3Doodler, and comes out as a malleable solid. The metal tip gets hot (a definite caution when using the 3Doodler with kids), but cools quickly.
It isn’t easy drawing a 3D object, but if you’ve got the patience, determination and a bit of an artistic streak or at least an eye for doing detailed work, you can make pretty much anything. My first attempt was to follow the design off the tracing paper. As a first timer, tracing was simple enough and later on I try my hand at freestyle doodling the Entrepreneur logo. It’s only
THE DEVELOPERS INITIALLY AIMED FOR US$30,000 AND ENDED UP RAISING A STAGGERING $2.3 MILLION -BECOMING THE THIRD HIGHEST FUNDED TECHNOLOGY PROJECT OF ALL TIME ON THE PLATFORM when you try to draw in the air that it becomes a bit more challenging. From what I’ve seen watching others create architectural structures, since you’re basically fighting gravity, the key is to doodle a support frame and then add layers of scribbles as it solidifies. This cool gadget will potentially appeal to artists, arts and crafts enthusiasts, designers, architects, and can be used as an educational tool for children. Unlike other 3D printing technology that is being used for prototyping or bioprinting (the process of creating human tissues using 3D printers), I don’t see it being used for business or medical purposes- the results are unpredictable and inconsistent. I put it down a few times because of annoyance that I couldn’t create what I wanted– partly due to my inexperience with the tool. It may not be perfect yet, but the possibilities for artistic
purposes are endless, as seen from its growing community of 3Doodler users (spread around the internet with the hashtag #WhatWillYouCreate) who design key chains, jewelry, dream catchers, and even Christmas tree ornaments.
SPECS: ABS & PLA ABS and PLA are thermoplastics, which means they become soft and moldable when heated and return to solid state when cooled. ABS is strong plastic, more flexible, good for interlocking pieces, and easier to recycle. This is perfect for engineersprofessional, and mechanical purposes. PLA is derived from plant products, is more ecofriendly, and gives a glossier look, in more colors, and sharper printed corners. PLA is perfect for home printers, hobbyists, artists, and schools.
DIRECT RELATIONSHIP Jabra Rox Wireless earphones
The new Jabra Rox Wireless earphones boast great sound with no tether, eliminating the cord-clutter. The earphones pair with devices via Bluetooth, or for those who have NFC-enabled devices just by holding it close by (some Android models and BlackBerry 10). A recent Honoree at the 2014 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards, the company is hoping to corner the active lifestyle market with the wireless tech, and they’ve even put in a hidden USB charging port. Clever! MAY 2014
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SOONER OR LATER YOUR STARTUP HAS GOT TO GENERATE SOME REVENUE
SPONSORED BY CADILLAC IN THE SPIRIT OF EDUCATING TOMORROW’S ENTREPRENEURIAL TALENTS
SEED CAPITAL, S CHECK. BRAND, CHECK. SALES? o far we’ve explored the raising of seed capital and what you and your cofounders should expect in the early days after the initial raise. For anyone with that killer idea and who is looking to raise the seed- get yourself a solid pitch deck, a good prototype and a truckload of contacts. Already raised your capital? Good job! Firstly a big congrats- but don’t celebrate too quickly. The early days after the raise will require a new injection of focus and patience. Remember, as an entrepreneur there is no rulebook, but following a few key basic guidelines will help you succeed. Did somebody mention a sales team? Now you have the money in the bank, keys to the office and that all important finished productit’s time to make some cash.
By Simon Hudson
BRINGING THE FIRST FEW CLIENTS ONBOARD NOT ONLY BUILDS CONFIDENCE, BUT IT ALSO HELPS TO CREATE THAT ALL-IMPORTANT SALES MATERIAL.
BEGIN AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON
The first thing we need to be clear about is that not all startups will be focused on sales. If you look at some of the big boys like Instagram, Snapchat, or even the early days of Facebook and Twitter- there was no revenue model or early sales. If this is the case for you, then your seed raise should reflect this and you will have enough dollars in the bank to fund you through the early stage. Every startup is different, but in my opinion, whether the focus is to start sales from day one or to build up the user base first, getting out there and selling the brand will always be an advantage. In my previous articles I mentioned that there is no rulebook for being an entrepreneur; however, when it comes to sales, the basics will always apply. I am no expert in sales, but I do know that the more calls you make, the more meetings you get and in turn the more sales you generate. I was once told the 100, 10, 1 rule.
Basically, one hundred calls will get you 10 meetings and result in one sale- say what! Yeah, that’s what I thought. As you get better and more confident, the pitch gets cleaner, the meetings get easier and the numbers grow. As a startup and what I have found from personally building Brndstr, is that no one knows the product better than you. This being the case, I decided rather than bring in a sales director at day one, I’d do it myself. Bringing the first few clients onboard not only builds confidence, but it also helps to create that all-important sales material. Since my first meeting, our sales material has tweaked and been edited many times with the end result being a crisp, clean sales pitch that is easy to understand. Once you have a clear understanding on the sales flow, you can then start to recruit that salesperson to take over this arm of the business. What about the contracts? Each startup, industry and client is different. If your service or product is pretty standard there are many tem-
THE DOWNSIDE IS THAT YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, MANY TIMES, AND FOR A LONGTIME!
plates out there, but I would always suggest that you double check with a professional. You should also already have a lawyer in place from the term sheet days- for a fee your legal counsel will always be able to draw you up a custom contract. Basically, if you know your product, have a clear sales pitch and make the calls, the sales will come. YOU’VE CLOSED THE FINAL DEAL, NOW WHAT?
Well first and foremost - high five! Awesome job. Not only will you be feeling pretty pleased with yourself, but your team will be hyped and the business is officially a business. The downside is that you are going to have to do it all over again, many times, and for a longtime! If you chose to do the sales yourself and you’ve got a few deals under your belt, you should start the recruitment process for a sales guru. In previous companies that I’ve worked for the sales focus is usually split. Have your core bread and butter accounts that will act as your underlying sales framework in place first, then once this network is built and ticking over nicely look for the “wishlist” accounts and the big ones that would be game changers to the business. I can only comment on my experi-
ence from starting Brndstr, but know that by having that solid sales plan and exerting dedicated focus, you’ll soon get your first account. If you followed the advice at the beginning and you have your partners in place remember that you’re not on your own- call upon your extended network as everyone will be willing you to succeed. Sales at the beginning are not everyone’s key focus, but eventually revenue is. By starting off on the right foot and selling your product yourself, it will only get stronger and over time the figures will grow. Now is your time ‘treps! Sell your heart out and best of luck. I will see you next month to check in on how things are coming along.
Simon Hudson is the CEO and Founder of Brndstr.com. Having recently closed a large funding round, Hudson is well versed with the challenges ahead of any startup. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Hudson worked as Marketing Director for Trump Towers in Miami and more recently as a senior figure at Groupon Middle East. Over the past two years he has been busy helping to grow, build and develop the Dubai startup circuit. As the Founder of ThinkTank.ae, ex-Chapter Director for Startupgrind.com, moderator of the previous Young Arab Leader event, and a coach at this year’s Dubai Startup Weekend, in addition to contributing the monthly entrepreneur column for newspaper 7days UAE, Hudson is well positioned to offer help and advice to any budding entrepreneur.
ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO
Nine valuable lessons that I’ve learned launching & executing my own business By Iman Ben Chaibeh
’ve founded and run Sail eMagazine www.sailemagazine.com for about four years now- it’s an online Emarati magazine that covers topics in community, culture, and creativity. The magazine’s content is fully written and illustrated by Emaratis -which gives it the twist that it’s all Emarati contentmaking it one of the few if not the only publications that you can read the real (and true) Emarati opinion. Over the years, Sail had its ups and downs, recognitions Iman Ben Chaibeh and abandonments from the mainstream media, and so on, until finally we were recognized by 70
the British Council as the “Digital Publisher Entrepreneur of UAE”. In those years that I’ve been running Sail, I’ve learned a few things that are terrific business lessons for any industry. 1. THE WORK PERSONA DIFFERS
Writers are a very sensitive bunch. Running a magazine means the editorial process has to be thorough, more than any regular blog and at sometimes more than a daily newspaper. Every article goes through several levels of review until its last form, which means, most likely, the article will change at least a little along the way from the original draft. I learned along the way that if any of your staff is one of the sensitive ones, you should stop trying to correct them, and just learn how to deal with them in a way that brings out the best in them, and understand that their sensitivity is also behind their creativity.
2. UNPREDICTABLE USER BEHAVIOR
I learned that some content that I may think would sell because it is well structured and well thought out doesn’t always sell as I hoped. And some content that I wouldn’t have thought would be read much is sometimes what hits the jackpot. People’s tastes are
different; always remember that when offering a service or a product, your customers won’t necessarily have the same opinion or taste as you. 3. DEADLINE MOTIVATORS
Running people without money is one of the hardest and easiest things on earth. I run an empire on contributors, so it can get
tough to get them to submit the content on time when there is nothing really at stake- in this case, pay or tenure. But it always comes back to the same basic stuff to get anyone to deliver anything, remind them that they are doing what they love to do, and the end goal is to have their name out there in the best form possible. If your team loves what they do, they’ll deliver in abundance and way ahead of time. 4. UNLIKELY SOURCES OF GREAT IDEAS
When you receive opinions or suggestions, and you will receive plenty in any business you run, make sure you jot the ideas down and keep an open mind, even if it’s not exactly something that you like. Sometimes it’s those ideas that make the radical breakthrough for your business. 5. ANALYZE POTENTIAL PARTNERSHIPS
Some people will always want to be a part of a great business, and they most likely will
approach you to form a bond. If your business have been running for a while, it gets harder to partner up because you’ve already come a long way in your particular journey and oftentimes, the other person has a different agenda than you do. Unless you are willing to compromise a lot, then it’s not right. Even if you are willing to compromise, you need to ensure that this person has the same mindset, goals, and objectives as you, or else they can take the business direction elsewhere. If partnering isn’t working out, remember, you can still recruit them as relevant executives in their area of best delivery. Why miss out on a dedicated resource who can benefit the business well? 6. PICK YOUR PATHS
People will always come forward with ideas, but you can’t execute all of them. You won’t
“MAKE SURE YOU JOT THE IDEAS DOWN AND KEEP AN OPEN MIND.”
always have the resources or the manpower to get it done- in specific the people who offer up suggestions (and volunteer to do the work) can drag you down a long way before you finally realize they’ll never really do it. So choose the ideas you want to run wisely to avoid wasting your time and energy on a suggestion that isn’t even worth it. Choose your battles wisely. 7. PRIORITIES ARE PRIORITIES
Content matters, but an engaged audience is just as important. Quality content is important, but a content that sells is just as important to stay in business. 8. KEEP THE GOAL STATE IN SIGHT
Having a vision as to where you want to take your business and why you’ve started it are the most essential things. It’s easy to get distracted and detour into a million different directions with the abundance of opinions, suggestions, and collab requests that you get along the way.
9. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP
You need to keep believing in what you do, no matter how many downers you face, how many rejections, and how many slow periods you may go through. Just keep going, keep persisting, keep working hard, and you’ll eventually reach where you want to be. You’ll create the success you dreamed of that is rightfully deserved!
FASHION WEEK FROM THE FRONT ROW… VIA MOBILE
Moda Operandi launches app Imagine having the newest collections of Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, and Phillip Lim at the tip of your fingers. Moda Operandi, a fashion startup that’s been shaking up the online retail world by offering the accessibility of letting customers pre-order pieces and accessories straight off the runway, is enticing even more fashion enthusiasts by bringing the experience to iPhone and iPad devices via mobile app. During a time where having anything instantly is expected, the fashion
and tech venture allows shoppers to score their coveted runway pieces in days, rather than wait for it to be available in-store. The app displays different looks organized neatly by designer, navigated by swiping right if you like the look or left if you want to see something else. You can also add items to your “watchlist” and receive notifications once pre-orders go live. Currently available on iOs devices, we’re sure an Android version won’t be far behind. www.modaoperandi.com MAY 2014
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SO YOU WANNA GO OFFSHORE?
CEO Reza Afshar gives you the deets on the what, where & why of corporate registration abroad… and then some
ith the majority of SFM Offshore clients based in the UAE, Reza Afshar is well-positioned to tell you why you should or shouldn’t take your corporate registration abroad. Businesspeople in the GCC are both globally-minded and well-travelled, so really knowing the details inside and out is going to make or break any entrepreneur specializing in offshore registration. With access to some of the biggest multinational law firms, entrepreneurs in the UAE specifically (and in the GCC as a whole), can smell an amateur from the get-go. “From the beginning of SFM eight years ago, we always had a close relationship with clients in the GCC. It is a market we love because our clients in the GCC -more than anywhere else- are extremely business savvy, and therefore our task becomes much easier when we work with clients that have a very high level of industry knowledge,” says Afshar. Knowledge indeed, many ‘treps in the Gulf nations can rattle off the top 10 offshore locations from memory, making them a hard 72
bunch to please when handing over their corporate registration. “Being the CEO of SFM I would naturally be biased in my opinion of our service levels, however our core principles are around service. We aren’t the cheapest in the market, but I am confident that we offer the best service. We provide our clients with a single account manager in their spoken languagecurrently speak over 10 languages between our account managers. Also, we have the majority of our functions online. When using multiple jurisdictions, we provide a single point of contact which is proven to save time and make the process of forming companies a simple, efficient process.” In terms of business hubs, Afshar says that other than Dubai there are more MENA locales to cultivate clients: “I think other cities such as Doha, Abu Dhabi, and even Beirut are very dynamic cities that are certainly interesting for us in terms of business development.” The CEO spends most of his time in Dubai, but travels often to their other global office locations. “My second city is Geneva where we still have about 20 staff.” Formerly based in Switzerland, both Afshar and the SFM Offshore shareholders felt that “moving the compa-
ny’s headquarters to Dubai was a major step for us, both personally and professionally. Switzerland is a country where everything is set like a cuckoo clock, which is ingrained in the business culture. So it was with some apprehension that I first moved to Dubai, but once here it was very apparent that this city is very business-oriented and facilitates the implementation of foreign companies to a level that sets a standard for itself- and that other cities should aspire to.” In hindsight, what does Reza think they could’ve done differently? “Looking at the rapid expansion and growing number of competitors, we should probably have started looking at India and China at the start of our business,
“MOVING THE COMPANY’S HEADQUARTERS TO DUBAI WAS A MAJOR STEP FOR US [...] SWITZERLAND IS A COUNTRY WHERE EVERYTHING IS SET LIKE A CUCKOO CLOCK, WHICH IS INGRAINED IN THE BUSINESS CULTURE.
LOCATION OFFSHORE HUBS THEN & NOW Nassau, Bahamas “Different jurisdictions are used for many different reasons. Most commonly the reason [that companies choose Nassau] is double tax treaties (DTA). The Bahamas has a great list of DTAs in place which for international structuring makes it a suitable jurisdiction for many applications.” Panama “It’s well-known that Panama lost its footing due to political instability in the mid 80’s. This combined with a terrific piece of legislation drafted in 1984 -the BVI International Business Companies Act- leading to a mass exodus of people from Panama to the BVI. Panama is still a jurisdiction very commonly used however the stigma of years gone by still surrounds it and its reputation.”
rather than five years later. Emerging markets are extremely important for us, and we discovered this only a few years after having started operations.” The reputation of registering offshore has been affected by pop culture; it has swayed public opinion considerably. The general public’s “knowledge” of corporations operating offshore is often gleaned from author John Grisham’s wildly popular bestsellers… and it hasn’t given it this common business practice the best reputation. How does Afshar feel about the idea that pop culture makes offshore accounts sound shady to the general public, encouraging the idea that they aren’t operating in a legal and ethical business sphere? “The public loves a negative or criminally inclined story. We see this on the news every night, negativity gets publicity. Journalists and novelists know this, and exploit it for their gain. The reality is very different from the perception we are asked to digest- international tax
“THERE ARE SHADY DEALS TAKING PLACE IN EVERY COUNTRY AND IN EVERY BUSINESS SECTOR- IT’S PART OF THE WORLD WE LIVE IN” planning and corporate structuring is perfectly legal and has been done for decades in this same way. In today’s world most of the offshore jurisdictions have more stringent controls for setting up companies than the UK, so the perception that these companies are used in shady ways is very misleading.” In addition to books a-plenty, there’s also the offshoot films that, regardless of business accuracy, still make for a great watch and usually end up as box office smash hits. “One of my favorite films is Lord of War which relates the life of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. A common paradox is that offshore structures are used for money laundering purposes, and this film unfortunately enforced such paradox.” Afshar takes the conversation seriously, saying that “there are shady deals taking place in every country >>>
Cayman Islands, BWI “Our industry is constantly evolving and since 2008 this evolution has increased exponentially. What used to be a standard 15-20 years ago is certainly not the same standard today. We have experienced a change in clients’ preference in terms of jurisdictions, whereby Cayman, BVI or other Caribbean countries were clearly the priority some years ago but today, relatively new jurisdictions such as the Seychelles or Ras Al Khaimah are emerging as new standards. Generally speaking, the offshore industry is an industry that is evolving continuously and rapidly, and thus the importance of dealing with a provider that is always up to date in regards to the latest legislations and global trends.”
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KNOWING THE DETAILS INSIDE AND OUT IS GOING TO MAKE OR BREAK ANY ENTREPRENEUR SPECIALIZING IN OFFSHORE REGISTRATION. and in every business sector- it’s part of the world we live in. The fact that this occasionally happens in offshore jurisdictions is inevitable as there are millions of these companies in operation today. I’m sure if the media ever gave a true indication of how these companies were used and were advised to be used from all of the biggest legal and financial institutions globally, maybe we wouldn’t have any negative perceptions – however this would make for a boring story plus the politicians would lose a scapegoat every time an election came around.” Fortunately, most businesses are aware of the offshore benefits, and haven’t missed the boat.
LOGISTICS THE HOW-TO What documentation does a company need to register offshore? “All documents allowing us to conduct our work according to standards commonly known as KYC (know your client) and DD (Due diligence). This includes corporate documentation, passport copies of all persons involved in the structure, bank reference, and proof of address. Our request for due diligence is very similar to that of banks.” What are the benefits of a GCC-based company registering offshore? “Many GCC-based companies set up companies offshore for different reasons: this could be international expansion into developing markets. In this example, rather than setting up a company in the Central African Republic with an unknown judicial system (to the client or investors), clients could prefer to use a company where English law prevails, such as any of the crown dependency jurisdictions; Jersey, Cayman, BVI…
Secondly, we see a lot of people setting up a holding company to own their GCC operating company. This gives protection to the shareholders of the business, and takes the ultimate ownership and control out of the GCC.” Which type of companies stand to benefit most from registering offshore? “It is very hard to say what type of company can benefit the most from registering offshore, because offshore companies are used for a high number of different applications which usually benefits from the underlying assets or purpose from the company. The entity itself is merely the vessel. In broader terms, there are market segments that have successfully proven a track record in using offshore entities. These include property, joint ventures using a natural jurisdiction from both parties, consultancy business with an international client base, and of course clients who have successionplanning motivations.”
Make way for MERS
THE GCC SEES MORE NEW CASES OF CONTAGION Another virus that has been making headlines in the region is the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS), a virus that is fatal through respiratory infections. The first case of the virus was confirmed in September 2012 in Saudi Arabia, with numbers increasing since then. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 228 cases, 92 of them being fatal. While the overall numbers over the two-year period are not significantly high, 15 new cases were confirmed over a four-day period last month. In addition to Yemen confirming its first case of MERS, the UAE has also confirmed new cases of MERS, including five health workers who are in quarantine, after another died because of the virus. As of April 30th, KSA’s health authorities confirmed that the total number of cases had reached 361. Jordans’s two newest confirmed cases, as this issue went to print, are a Saudi man and the medic who treated him. While UAE health authorities released a statement saying that the MERS virus is not a public health issue yet, people have been taking serious precautions. 74
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REAL ESTATE TRENDS 2014
DUBAI IS (LITERALLY) BUILDING ITSELF BACK UP AGAIN AFTER BEING HIT HARD BY THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS. ONE INDUSTRY THAT IS MAKING REMARKABLE PROGRESS AND IS EXPECTING FURTHER GROWTH IS REAL ESTATE. INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT COMPANY AND REAL ESTATE SPECIALISTS, JONES LANG LASALLE HAVE RELEASED A REPORT THAT COVERS SOME OF DUBAI’S TRENDS IN REAL ESTATE FOR 2014.
While Dubai is recovering after bursting its bubble not long ago, there’s always going to be some latent fears of yet another boom and bust cycle. This especially comes with Dubai winning the bid to host Expo 2020, a milestone achievement for the city. Why? The first thing Dubai residents will mention is the ever-increasing rent. The Savills World Cities Live-Work Index shows us some alarming numbers, resulting in Dubai being ranked as the seventh most expensive city to live in worldwide, with rent increasing over the past year by 41%. That said, conditions are different this time around and Dubai’s planned to have this sorted out. Investors are being much more cautious, but that doesn’t mean Dubai is slowing down; larger projects are still taking place, but they are much more in line with demand. Another positive sign is that there are more effective regulations being implemented that will keep the market stable.
GET GOING While Dubai’s growth is more cautious than before, you can still expect more mega-projects, notably Mohammad Bin Rashid City, Habtoor City, and Dubai Canal. They’re just moving at a steadier and safer pace this year. New and improved regulations means there will be legal implementation to keep growth steady and stable, and in line with demand. Cooperation among master developers is another objective for 2014, which also contributes to safe but positive growth. Finally, something many have been curious about, projects that have been put on hold due to the economic crisis will resume; make way for Nakheel in Palm Deira!
PLAN AHEAD If things
get out of control with Expo 2020, Dubai can potentially experience some severe problems. There are two areas of concern that Dubai will be scrutinizing this year, which they describe as both excessive price expectations and potential new supply. So what’s the game plan? Limit the immediate impacts of winning the bid to host Expo2020 and let the impact play itself out in the long run. Dubai plans on reaping these potential benefits for the hospitality, logistics, and retail sectors. As a side bonus, along with the tourism sector, the growth of these arenas also
means growth in real estate. Then despite the focus stable and cautious growth during a buzzing period, many Dubai residents are still skeptical about potential problems they’ll face with housing costs.
Another factor shaping 2014 in Dubai’s real estate industry is the series of transformations occurring in the workplace. The report claims that there are several driving forces causing this, though some seem obvious. Dubai’s economy is improving, and growth is back on the agenda, so overall improvement in
business performance is playing a positive role. This leads to the next point, which is attracting and retaining staff. With the economy improving and new plans being unveiled, Dubai is once again becoming a fascinating place to work in for people worldwide. Thirdly, the report gives credit to the merging of organizations, as well as consolidations. At first glance it might not make sense, because it sounds like the big fish are eating the little ones up. That said, larger enterprises that prioritize constant growth and expansion naturally benefit the real estate industry on a greater scale.
Dubai has always been associated with having a thriving hospitality industry, and it certainly is playing a role in its improving real estate. Dubai currently has many operating hotels, and with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing revealing numbers indicating large increases of hotel guests from around the world, the hospitality industry will still be key. The report also gives credit to the diversity of “players” in the market, which is of course critical to the industry’s dominance, appealing to the widest audience possible. In addition to that, the report also gives credit to loan maturities.
LARGER ENTERPRISES THAT PRIORITIZE CONSTANT GROWTH AND EXPANSION NATURALLY BENEFIT THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY ON A GREATER SCALE.
trend for 2014 is the twospeed investment market. Two points were outlined to back this claim: Limited interest from Western institutions and a strong interest in private investors. More Middle Eastern institutions have been building strategic relationships in Dubai. In addition to that, there has been increased interest from deb investors. Finally, Dubai’s government has backed Chinese investment in real estate developer, Dubai Pearl. In February, Dubai Pearl sold assets valued at US$1.9 billion to an investor in Hong Kong, amidst speculations of greater Chinese interest in Dubai’s real estate market. >>>
REAL ESTATE TRENDS 2014 KEEP IT UP
When discussing growth in Dubai, the term “sustainability” is a word that’s used quite often. Abu Dhabi still leads the way, but Dubai is trying to catch up. They’re now turning talk into action, primarily focusing on nailing small-scale initiatives that can be expanded in the future, and have already introduced some new regulations, most notably new green building codes. The report uses the U-Bora Tower as a case study. According to the report, there’s been water and waste reduction, in addition to 15% energy savings. Add its low capital cost into the equation, you reduce service charges and increase tenant appeal. That’s sound planning for the future.
Plans to improve valuation and measurement standards are thoroughly laid out, and it seems like the primary reason is to ensure the most qualified personnel are taking control. That said there are other benefits that are evident in these plans. Dubai is raising the bar by adhering to International Valuation Standardsexpected to improve transparency
REAL ESTATE ABU DHABI THE ROAD TO RECOVERY CAN BE BUMPY OFFICE Things are looking good for Abu Dhabi’s office market. While government and hydro-carbon sectors are still highest in demand, the growth of other sectors has positively impacted the market. These include finance, hospitality, aviation, healthcare, and tourism. The growth of these sectors means that companies have found it necessary to expand their spaces, so business is getting better for real estate. as well as local knowledge and skills for property valuers. When it comes to measurement standards, Dubai currently has many different standards being used, which can impact transparency negatively. That’s why they are hoping to use global measurement standards. For example, all projects will be measured in square meters, rather than square feet. Unlike metric units, imperial units have no place in a growing economy. Good riddance.
RESIDENTIAL Rents in residential spaces have been increasing after Abu Dhabi recently stopped implementing a 5% rent cap. Many tenants have been feeling the heat now that landlords are in full control of rent, opting to move to “off-island” locations such as Khalifa City A and Mohammed Bin Zayed City. That said, the Abu Dhabi government is launching a property rental index that ideally should be used by landlords and tenants to set fair rates, though there are no official release and implementation dates as yet.
BUILD A BETTER BUILDING? PROJECT QATAR 2014 Project Qatar, the 11th International Construction Technology & Building Materials exhibition, will be back from May 12-May 15, 2014. Considered one of the most important expositions in Qatar’s construction sector, it’s an opportunity to showcase the latest technology and equipment available on the market to key buyers and industry leaders. While it presents exposure for exhibitors to leading dealers and distributors, the event provides a platform for premier professionals to make contacts and develop future developments in Qatar’s construction sphere. www.projectqatar.com 78
Cityscape Qatar 2014 is the premier event for real estate professionals and investors in the State of Qatar. With 50% more exhibitors this year - Cityscape Qatar continues to influence the Qatari real estate market proving that it has become the leading platform in attracting great participation from local and regional real estate developers, consultants, architects, and industry experts.
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Wacky idea | who’s got VC | Q&A
Below, top to bottom: Google MENA Head of Communications Maha Abouelenein, Elizabeth Filippouli CEO and founder Global Thinkers Forum
Meet me halfway! Oasis500 ‘treps pitch their hearts out at Google Mena By Pamella De Leon
ENA region women are making their mark in entrepreneurial ventures. Last year, according to The Economist, female entrepreneurs were said to “average 35%” in the region. We got to see this in action at Google MENA’s Women, Entrepreneurship & Innovation event, organized in collaboration with the Global Thinkers Forum and Oasis500, an event geared toward encouraging women-led businesses. Hosting the event was Google MENA’s Head of Communications, Maha Abouelenein, who discussed Google’s intention to continue to support entrepreneurs. Abouelenein stressed the need and benefits
MAY 2014 APRIL 2014
of supporting women in creating businesses online, citing how only 7% of venture capital goes to women, yet women-led companies gained a whopping 35% higher returns. Salwa Kathuda, Investment Manager at Oasis 500, the Jordanian business incubator supporting the event’s entrepreneurs, announced that 73 investments were made to date with a USD$18 million raised. Elizabeth Filippouli, CEO and founder of Global Thinkers Forum, noted the significance of believing in talent and potential in the region, adding, “Having inspiration and vision is not enough. We need to do things.” Doing things, indeed. Five female entrepreneurs
were chosen to present their startups to prospective local investors with a five minute time limit. Check out our picks of the pack: Gallery AlSharq and Feesheh. There’s a definite demand for both in the market, and we think they’ve got great potential to penetrate the region. Good luck on your funding! Feesheh founder Nur Alfayez pitching in Dubai at Google MENA
GALLERY ALSHARQ www.galleryalsharq.com CEO & Founder Riham Mahafzah
“I felt proud pitching at a women [centric] event, where I showed Gallery AlSharq addressing the difference in perspective between the East and West when it comes to our identity in the MENA region.” WHAT Based in Jordan, Gallery AlSharq is a website dedicated to selling stock photography, with a selection of sound effects and videos. Mahafzah, formerly employed in advertising, knows the hassle of finding images relevant to the region and culture first-hand. She subsequently founded Gallery AlSharq to target agencies, media outlets, and production houses by producing MENA-appropriate creative content at reasonable prices. Revenue streams Gallery Alsharq CEO & Founder Riham Mahafzah pitching in Dubai at Google MENA
are obtained from charging per image or subscription models; contributing professional photographers garner a 30% share of image sales. A win-win situation for both sides. WHY WE’D INVEST It’s a challenge taking on Getty images and other competitors, but Mahafzah is turning barriers into opportunities as she’s got the market edge in understanding the audience and market niche. With the Arab region’s identity often stereotyped in stock photography and other mediums, here’s a startup defying misinterpretation by providing unique categories for varying needs and occasions relevant to the modern Middle East. Stock photography’s licensing fees globally generate approximately $1.8 billion dollars annually, and the demand for Gallery AlSharq’s localized content is strong. UPCOMING In the coming 18 months,
Gallery AlSharq plans to cover the marketing needs in the MENA region, a sign that they’re ready to take on bigger markets, starting with Turkey. Other than that, their mobile app that’s integrated with their online library is in the planning and design stage.
FEESHEH www.feesheh.com Founders Fahed Farraj & Nur Alfayez
“It is always refreshing to attend such events in Dubai where there is a great mix of backgrounds and the chance to meet great people. The event was good for networking, and we got connected to potential investors.” WHAT Feesheh, “plug” in Arabic, is an online retailer for musical instruments aiming to bridge the gap between music enthusiasts and international distributors. The founders -being musicians themselves- knew the inconvenience of hunting for instruments online and offline. Obtaining instruments from shops in Jordan and suppliers and manufacturers in the U.S. and Germany, they want to provide both an e-commerce platform, and an online community for music teachers and prospective students. Their revenue comes from sales, and they also plan to utilize their niche market in the future in several ways, including introducing services such as listings and repairs. WHY WE’D INVEST There’s a market for Feesheh, and the founders are cleverly riding on being the first of its kind in the region. Their platform will be hassle-free of import taxes and clearing customs at reasonable prices without the long wait for those of us in the MENA region. By providing instruments, books and training, it embodies a sort-of traditional music shop’s business model, and becomes an online one-stop music shop, specifically catered to the Middle East. Another smart move they made is by offering the option of pay-ondelivery service, highly popular in Arab countries. UPCOMING After testing the con-
cept in Jordan over the past two years with great results, they’re now planning to concentrate on the UAE. Next, they intend to go regional starting with GCC penetration, followed by Lebanon and Egypt. APRIL MAY 2014
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Wacky idea | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE
AHMED NAGUIB THINKS YOU’VE GOT A LONG WAY TO GO ARABIC MARKETING IN THE MIDDLE EAST WITH EL MASNA3 By Kareem Chehayeb
guess you could say I was always fascinated by the visual aspect of all things since I was a child.” 23 yearold Egyptian entrepreneur Ahmed Naguib wanted to work in media and marketing ever since he could remember. Brought up in a small town near Cairo called El Kanater El Khayriya, his interest in media stemmed from his love for film. “I spent my childhood being a big movie buff with a special focus on the cinematography. That sort of got the ball rolling in my head from that point.” Now the CEO of his own company, El Masna3, Arabic for “The Factory”, Naguib recently earned his major in International
“WHAT WE TRY TO DO AT EL MASNA3 IS TO HELP THEM LEARN ABOUT THE NEW MARKETING AND MEDIA STRATEGIES AND ASSURE THEM THAT THE BEST WAY TO GO IS FORWARD.” 82
Relations and Political Economy and minors in History and Film, from the American University of Cairo. “I started working at a digital agency in Heliopolis, Cairo for a year which I grew the social media department from one member (me!) to eight team members, all of whom were older than I was.” Only 19 at the time, a college freshman among graduates, they “dealt with big names including Mobinil, Egypt Air, Nogoum FM, and Nile FM.” Naguib also was involved in another agency in Dokki, Cairo as a creative consultant. In addition to
running El Masna3, he is also a part-timer at Google, “handling Google+ partnerships in the Middle East.” Why did he decide to set up El Masna3? “I wanted to have my own company so that I can choose my own clients. Our process and philosophy is creative and somewhat unorthodox,” adds Naguib. One important feature about El Masna3 is that it’s specialized in the Arabic language. Naguib says that “part of philosophy at El Masna3 is to celebrate our heritage. The Arabic language is hugely under-represented on the internet and we
aim to combat that by creating high quality content -be it textual or video– that enriches and boosts the Arabic language on the web.” Though Ahmed Naguib’s staff totals at only seven, he doesn’t exactly see El Masna3 as a startup. “Technically yes,” explains Naguib, “but we are in the late phases of being one as we continue to grow and expand, which is a good thing.” When it comes to setting up El Masna3, Naguib explains that it was primarily self-financed. “It was mostly my own money that I had saved up over the years,” but they’ve recently brought in an angel investor for the company. The various costs on the company’s balance sheet are “the usual suspects for the most part- rent, internet, salaries… but the most crucial bit is the equipment.” For a media company, fixed costs aren’t the most burdensome; since they’re “always working on getting the newest and best gear there is in the market,” the bulk of their expenditures sit on the tech spectrum.
“I WANTED TO HAVE MY OWN COMPANY SO THAT I CAN CHOOSE MY OWN CLIENTS. OUR PROCESS AND PHILOSOPHY IS CREATIVE AND SOMEWHAT UNORTHODOX,” The hard work seems to have paid off according to Naguib. “The company was very well received on account of the fact that we’re able to produce studio-quality work despite operating with a small team and seemingly limited resources.” The young CEO maintains that despite the limited resources, El Masna3’s team had the technical skillset to yield high-quality results. We were pleasantly surprised to find that many large businesses opted for a boutique agency like El Masna3. Naguib explains this by pointing out that “many large brands actually prefer to deal with us as we are more flexible and less rigid than large studio productions.” The company has already been involved in various projects with a wide variety of companies, from entertainment-oriented Nogoum Records to internet-giant Google. “We worked with Egyptian singer Mohamed Hamaki on his latest album documentary for Nogoum
Hany Adel Music Clip
Records. We also did a recent project with Sony music.” His favorite project so far? “We worked with Google on the Arabic Web Days initiative videos.” The CEO then shared his experience working on Google’s Arabic Web Days initiative videos with El Masna3. “The shoots were a lot of fun,” he told us, “we got to work with a lot of great Arab influencers from across the region.” One of those was famous Egyptian comedian and satirist, Bassem Youssef. So if El Masna3 is the solution, then what’s the problem with Middle Eastern businesses and their marketing strategies? “Most want to stick to the traditional marketing and media strategies that they spent years utilizing,” claims Naguib. “What we try to do at El Masna3 is to help them learn about the new marketing and media strategies and assure them that the best way to go is forward.” In his opinion, the biggest mistake businesses make is not taking enough risks with marketing. “Playing it safe may work out for the short while, but in the long
run, it’s those who are keeping up –and leading– the curve that end up making it all the way.” With El Masna3 active both in the GCC and in Naguib’s native Egypt, how does he see the demand in the two markets differing when it comes to marketing and media? “Due to the current political and economic climate, I’d say that the GCC is actually hungrier for these types of services.” Due to the heavy promotion of the Arabic language, it comes as no surprise that companies in the UAE are showing interest in El Masna3. That said, Naguib tells us not to ignore Egypt’s efforts to progress and growth, “Egypt is constantly making strides and we are witnessing numerous entities and organizations try out new things every day.” Going forward, Naguib hopes to see more business development for El Masna3. “We’re currently working on expanding within the GCC with a multitude of different projects with multiple clients.” Based on what El Masna3’s been doing, it seems like they’re on the right track. MAY 2014
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WANT ME TO INVEST? PRIVATE 22 EQUITY IS SERIOUS 3 BUSINESS
we have even met you. You won’t do yourself any favors by adopting an overconfident, smarmy persona who sounds at best like a lawyer, and at worst like a used car salesman. Just be yourself and never even think about getting away with any made up story about you or your track record. LAY OUT THE FRAMEWORK
At a high level you can probably reduce your business to a simple formula. If I’m asking about X, just show me where X fits into your overall schema, and we can go from there. Don’t beat around the bush. Be laser-like focused in your answers. I like to set traps and see how you react. ASSUME I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
13 Ways to pitch your idea… right By Ziad K. Abdelnour
am approached by hundreds of entrepreneurs every year pitching me their respective businesses… Some are really polished and focused, and others amazingly ineffective and convoluted. I thought I’d share with you some basic tips as to how you can make your pitch as effective as can be, to capture my attention and that of my team. It’s a fact that some CEOs are masters at communicating
their ideas with their teams, others fare less well (if not miserably). Here are some key general personal guidelines for your consideration.
DON’T OVERSELL I understand how most successful entrepreneurs are passionate about their businesses, but please don’t bullshit me or sound like an infomercial. We have accumulated tons of data to call you on your bluff even before
It is a fact that one of the toughest parts of developing a pitch is determining the balance right between too much information and not enough information. Use your limited time to give us a complete (and succinct) overview. This is so that my team and I truly understand what your product does, why it’s relevant, and what gap it fills in the market. At the same time, please try to be as brief as possible.
WATCH YOUR BODY LANGUAGE Remember that a
great deal of all communication is non-verbal. As humans, we pick up a lot of signals even when we don’t realize it, and you give them off in the same manner. We pick up eye-rolls, sighs, arm-crossing, boredom, etc… We know when you’re disagreeing even if you don’t verbalize the sentiment. If
you disagree or don’t like what somebody says, pay attention that you aren’t inadvertently giving off this vibe via your body language. A better idea? Make a note to come back to it later. I actually think it’s important to think positive thoughts when you disagree with someone’s viewpoint. If you’re thinking positive thoughts, your body communicates positivity and you’re less likely to give off negative body language. I do this all the time- especially when somebody is pissing me off and I don’t want it to show it.
TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW So
many entrepreneurs come and tell us stories about the industry, their exponential growth potential, and how great they are… Frankly, this is of no real interest to us whatsoever as we can access such information- better and more effectively than any entrepreneur ever can or will. What we are mostly interested in is how you are going to execute and create “obscene wealth” for us all. Anything short of that is
honestly for the birds… not for us. Very few entrepreneurs -only the real killersare able to flesh out their “Value Proposition” in a very clear and systematic way. These are the type of entrepreneurs we usually back. Be one of them.
NO COMPETITION OR INEPT COMPETITION STATEMENTS
The number one way to ensure that your proposal is going to rain down from my office window onto the passersby below like confetti on New Year’s Eve is to make the statement that your business idea has no competition. While it may be true that no other company sells a product substantially similar to yours, this does not imply a lack of competition. Any substitute product, process, or service that satisfies the same need is a competitive solution. Stating that no competition exists reveals either a lack of market research or imagination on your part. While you may intend such a statement to imply that your new product, process, or service is so unique,
proprietary, or innovative that it will corner the market overnight, I have to err on the side of caution and interpret the lack of competition as evidence that there is no perceived need for your product, process, or service. If there is a perceived need, then the market is either so risky, undesirable or miniscule as to be unprofitable. Such a statement is an instant deal killer for me.
LABELING THE EXISTING COMPETITION AS IRRELEVANT A close
cousin to “there is no competition” is the statement that the existing competition is too lazy, stupid or any other adjective you might use to denigrate your competition. This will detract from your business plan more than it adds to it. The statement offers
me no insight into why your company will succeed against an entrenched company. It will tell me much about your emotional maturity and indicate a great deal about how you will react under pressure when things do not go as planned- which, by the way, is almost always the case. If the competition has failed to seize the initiative due to its organizational structure, speak to the lack of incentives implied by this type of organization and contrast how your organizational structure >>>
DON’T BEAT AROUND THE BUSH. BE LASERLIKE FOCUSED IN YOUR ANSWERS. I LIKE TO SET TRAPS AND SEE HOW YOU REACT. MAY 2014
ask the money guy | vc viewpoint | your money
latter, I don’t want to be in business with you. In either scenario, I’m not going to back your plan. I operate on the basic premise that business is war and that the only way to win is to be armed with better intelligence. Let me give you a little insightno matter what numbers you put in your plan, I am going to have my analysts and my intelligence network confirm them. If there is a variation of more than a few percentage points, I’m going to think you are not smart enough to know how to take my investment and build it into a healthy return. Pay attention to details and be honest. You are not going to impress me with your fantastical claims and wishful notions. remedies that shortcoming. Identify weaknesses in the competition that are difficult to change (as opposed to poor leadership), which is relatively easy to change. Offer me information that shows me you have a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape rather than hurling invectives against the existing companies. All that is going to accomplish is having me hurl invectives against you.
SWEAT EQUITY MISCALCULATIONS The next
misstep is telling me that the founders of your enterprise have invested X number of hours of their time in the company, thus having X amount of sweat equity. I do like to see that the founders of an entrepreneurial company seeking funding believe in their business enough to make investment and personal sacrifice to sustain its survival, but please do not confuse the two. While forgone salary represents an economic cost of the venture to an entrepreneur, it is not
an investment into the business. Investment translates to “cash” spent for costs related to starting and developing the business. If you have spent a significant amount to do this, please make sure to include the figure somewhere in the financial section of your business plan. If you haven’t put your own money into the venture, don’t expect me to.
MARKET SHARE EXAGGERATION AND GROSS OVERESTIMATION Don’t
use hyperbole in estimating your market or how much market share you project you will capture. I just shake my head whenever I see statements like, “We will sell into the $X trillion global market…” Incorrectly sizing the market tells me one of two things: You lack either the knowledge to assess who would buy the product, or you lack the integrity to delimit this statistic accurately. If it is the former, I will think that you are either too lazy or too stupid to succeed. If it is the
USE OF FUNDS
Knowing why you are raising the capital is as important to me as knowing for what usage you are raising capital. I have some experience in determining operating expenses, and I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what is required for certain businesses to succeed.
Also, if I am going to fund your business, we are partners in a very real sense. I believe that gives me the right, and more importantly, the obligation as part of my duty and service to you to know what you are or will be doing with the money. I am not interested in funding lifestyle entrepreneurs who have somehow convinced themselves that in order to be taken seriously in their business, they have to have a penthouse overlooking South Beach, a chauffeured limousine, and a private jet. I’m looking to fund a performance entrepreneur who leases a space in an office park, drives an appropriate vehicle, and, if it is a requirement, has a membership with a service providing fractional ownership of a corporate jet. I am not opposed to utilizing all of the tools necessary to drive or even force your venture into success. Just show me that you understand concepts like opportunity cost, risk and return, and deferred reward. The trappings of success come to those who have earned them, not to those who are living on someone else’s dime. The bottom line is that I use the old fruit stand analogy when evaluating a business plan: “Lemons ripen early, plums ripen late.” If the deal looks like a lemon early, it probably is a lemon.
I OPERATE ON THE BASIC PREMISE THAT BUSINESS IS WAR AND THAT THE ONLY WAY TO WIN IS TO BE ARMED WITH BETTER INTELLIGENCE.
BE READY TO FIELD QUESTIONS THAT FEW PEOPLE WOULD EVER ASK For
example, if two people are co-founders and co-CEOs, I might ask, “If you got an offer for $100 million, would you sell?” or “If you ran out of cash and one of you had to go, who would it be?” I’m just looking to find out how decisions are made, how open you are with each other and whether there is clear leadership. Anything that can go wrong in a company can and will. I prefer to know how people respond to adverse situations and who is empowered… I might just ask a very simple question such as “What pisses you off?” and see how you respond. Everything for me is about character… and I need and will see beyond the veneeryou can rest assured of that.
of my valuable time and yours looking through your inbox for the email with the relevant stat… For me, a CEO should be in total control of all- if not, go and find yourself a job.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED If
your computer presentation fails, be prepared to wing it. Everyone likes a story of battling adversity and coming out ahead; it’s no different with us. If you can deliver your pitch
seamlessly when the walls are crumbling around you, you do a great service to your business and you are likely to impress anyone. If your computer crashes during your presentation, be prepared to pitch without it. Don’t apologize or lose the valuable time trying to make the technology work, and waste even more of our time and yours. Now get your team ready… Let’s see if you have what it takes.
BE ON TOP OF YOUR FACTS AND FIGURES I
am often approached by entrepreneurs sounding like robots when doing their pitch. Funny, but true. If, for example, I’ve asked a question that they cannot answer on the spot, the typical answer is “I will get back to you on this”. To be perfectly candid, this is not only unacceptable to the Blackhawk team, but a complete turnoff as well. If we are asking for a piece of information which isn’t very central to the way you think about your company, I’d love to learn why on the spot. If you haven’t run the test, don’t have the data handy or need to crunch the logs in order to tease out a piece of information, that’s totally cool… but don’t waste 10 minutes
Ziad K. Abdelnour is President and Chief Executive Officer of Blackhawk Partners Inc., a New York-based private equity firm, Founder & President of the Financial Policy Council, and author of Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics. Blackhawk Partners focuses on originating, structuring, advising, and acting as equity investor in management-led buyouts, strategic minority equity investments, equity private placements, consolidations, buildups, and growth capital financings in companies and projects based both in the U.S. and emerging markets. Blackhawk Partners is also a trader
and supplier of a wide range of commodities to industrial and financial consumers globally. The firm’s customers around the world rely upon Blackhawk as a source of metals and minerals, and crude oil and oil products. Abdelnour also serves on the Advisory board of DPG Investments, a recognized premier multi-strategy global merchant banking, alternative investment, management and advisory firm. Abdelnour is a summa cum laude graduate in Economics from the American University of Beirut, and earned an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. www.blackhawkpartners.com MAY 2014
ask the money guy | vc viewpoint | your money
FUND INVESTMENT CYCLES
Why VCs often turn away promising investments By Sam Hogg
rue story: My VC firm had a fantastic meeting with a potential investment. The company is in a sector we target; it has strong growth potential and a seasoned management team. Yet the meeting ended with us turning them down. In VC speak, the reason behind the rejection went like this: “Our second fund’s vintage necessitated a later-stage investment with liquidity prospects that better matched the LP-contractual investment and harvest period.”
Early-stage startup deals often happen in the first three years of a fund’s life. After that, the investment window dwindles significantlybusinesses without a specific three to five year liquidation strategy need not apply. 88
Translation? We need investments that are going to pay out sooner rather than later. This sort of thing happens all the time. Entrepreneurs with great ideas seek out VC firms that appear ideally matched to support their business model, only to be told, “No thanks.” Often, they don’t understand how the money flows. A common misconception is that VCs simply tap a massive slush fund for their investments. In fact, traditional VCs manage multiple funds, usually with a 10-year span between the time their clients invest and the time they get their money back, plus profits. Here’s how it breaks down: The first five years of a fund’s life is known as the “investment period,” the time when it’s considered active and is invested in startups. The next five years is known as the “growth” or “harvest” period, and it’s when a fund is usually considered inactive. A quick search online for news about recent early-stage investments is a good indicator of whether
the VC has active funds available; this will allow you to cull the list of firms you hit up (saving you time and heartache). The age of your company also has enormous implications on whether an active fund is able to invest. As a fund grows older, the VC has less time to liquidate its assets (the equity stakes in startups) to funnel a return to investors within the 10-year window. This is why earlystage startup deals often happen in the first three years of a fund’s life. After that, the investment window dwindles significantly- businesses without a specific three to five year liquidation strategy need not apply. So if you are rejected, don’t automatically assume it’s your business plan that’s the issue. It could be the firm’s approach to its fund’s investment cycle. If you’re not sure, just ask the people involved. They’ll appreciate (and remember) the fact that you want to understand what they do. See this article in its entirety entrepreneur.com
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Career conundrums Sometimes you’ve got to leave the nest, even if you’re taking a hit By Walid Hassanein
f you would have asked me two months ago if I had any interest of quitting my agency job to go out and start business of my own, I would have quite confidently told you that I had absolutely no interest in such fantasies. I believe that many people had this desire but for myself, I just didn’t see the benefit. Why worry about having to get the next client, make the next sale, and worry about rent and salaries when I could have all that taken care of for me? I go into the agency, I do my job, and I go home. I don’t need to worry about a thing. Did I feel invested in the work? Hardly ever. Did I think that mattered? At the time, I thought no. Over the course of the past two months, two major shifts in my professional life were happening. On one side, a friend who I studied industrial
design with in university, was preparing to spin-off a sister agency off of his existing wildly successful first venture. He and three other designers had ambitions to open the next Mad Men downtown agency. While the first company was profitable, they wanted to create a space where they could more freely pursue their creative passions and have ownership over it. There was only one problem: They lacked somebody on the team with deep experience in digital design. This is where I come into the story. After graduating from industrial design program, I quickly made the switch to the digital side. Eight years later, I’ve worked for agencies on three continents designing digital experiences for some of the world’s biggest brands. They offered to make me partner and head of digital experience design. I accepted, and for the first time in my life I started thinking about my work in a totally new way. I had ownership over this now. The feeling is visceralI was finally just
beginning to experience what every entrepreneur feels. Meanwhile, in my own Mad Men agency day job, an epic battle was developing between our Roger Sterling and our Don Draper. Only Roger Sterling is more of a gruff factory-boss type and Don is a timid tom-boy who’s in way over her head. Who am I in this story? I’m Peggy Olsen. As the typical tension between Accounts vs. Creative played itself out, I stepped up to the plate on the side of creative. Only without a real Don Draper covering my back, I was getting steamrolled by Accounts. Did I think standing up for what I thought was right was helping making my days easier? Absolutely not. Did I think I had any other choice? Again, absolutely not. If I’m not out there standing up for what I believe is right then I’m basically a waste of valuable oxygen. A non-person. Eventually, I imagine accounts grew tired of my banter. One day before my initial probation period was to expire, I was pushed out the door. “Thanks for your contribution and best of luck in your future endeavors.” Before being let go, I was well on the way to executing my transition from my day job to my new venture in the shortest time possible. With this latest development, I find myself all-in right now. Life has a funny way of bumping you around a little. In a way, maybe I owe my old employer a thank you for making the transition for me so efficiently. Nothing could feel more right.
Walid Hassanein is a principal and a founding member of Buoy, a multi-disciplinary collective of strategic design consultants. Prior to starting his own venture, Hassanein brought his expertise in designing user experiences that are both useful and engaging to agencies and clients in North America, Europe and the Middle East. He has worked with industry leaders such as M.I.T’s Media Lab, Norton, eBay, John Deere, Vodafone and FedEx, providing them with innovative design expertise. Having graduated with a B.A. of Industrial Design from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, Hassanein specialized in design thinking early and has carried his learnings throughout his career, and is currently working on growing his design practice by focusing on customer insight and persona development. Buoy’s mission is to provide C-level executives with the right tools to help their organizations gain a better understanding of their customers, resulting better products and services, as well as more efficient and focused internal processes. 90
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