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EY KSA’s Entrepreneur of the Year Yatooq Founder and General Manager Lateefa Alwaalan

ADVOCATING AGILITY

H.E. Sheikha al-zain sabah al-naser al-sabah is fighting the good fight The TheUnder UnderSecretary Secretaryofofthe theMinistry MinistryofofState Statefor forYouth YouthAffairs Affairs won’t let Kuwait’s entrepreneurs go it alone won’t let

It’s time for your SME to get visual

Surviving the investor selection process

The low-down on Instagram advertising

Jan Nigel Bladen talks you through it

Understand what pro investors do, how they do it, what type of info they’re seeking

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CONTENTS

november 2015

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H.E. Sheikha Al-Zain Sabah Al-Naser Al-Sabah is fighting the good fight

Hot spots for budding entrepreneurs

INNOVATORS: Advocating agility

The Under Secretary of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs won’t let the country’s entrepreneurs go it alone

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EY KSA’s Entrepreneur of the Year

Yatooq founder and GM Lateefa Alwaalan Lateefa Alwaalan’s successes help to set the stage in the Kingdom for women looking to advance in entrepreneurship.

‘TREPONOMICS: PRO

The top cities in the Middle East for your business, according to Bayt.com’s Suhail Al-Masri.

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SKILLSET

Thinking ahead 10 things managers should factor into an innovation process.

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SKILLSET

Warren Buffet’s two list strategy How to maximize your focus and master your priorities, according to Olympian and entrepreneur, James Clear.

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MARKETING

It’s time to get visual The low-down on Instagram advertising in the MENA region.

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START IT UP: ECOSYSTEM

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Advocating agility: H.E. Sheikha Al-Zain Sabah Al-Naser AlSabah is fighting the good fight

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Entrepreneur november 2015

For entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs A look into what the new Google for Entrepreneurspartnered AstroLabs Tech Hub in Dubai means for the MENA startup ecosystem.


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CONTENTS

november 2015

92 Jan Nigel Bladen coaches you through surviving the investor process

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SHINY

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

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Surviving the investor selection process

Apple music strikes a chord

MONEY: ASK THE MONEY GUY

A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally wellbluntness, honesty and transparency are founder virtues.

TECH: THE FIX Could it be a music biz trendsetter? After Apple acquired Beats Electronics during the summer of 2014, it took just a few months for people to speculate about the companies motives were.

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EDITOR’S NOTE By Fida Z. Chaaban

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START IT UP: Q+A

Shipping made easy Fetchr circumvents logistical challenges with GPS-equipped app.

50 #TamTalksTech: Lenovo PHAB Plus

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Images by Moez Achour for SMF Blog

The executive selection for the entrepreneur on your list

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Entrepreneur november 2015


etro.com


CONTENTS

november 2015

52 Apple Music strikes a chord

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LIFE

Team building time Then opt for clues, cryptology, and crime scenes at either Escape Quest or Hint Hunt. It beats a day of golf!

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LIFE

52 Apple Music strikes a chord

Five energy wasters Mark Sephton says that you need to get these habits in check… and stop sputtering at the finish line.

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CULTURE: TRAPPINGS

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Cash crunch

‘Trep gear

Three hurdles Arab entrepreneurs face when gaining access to capital (and how to get past them).

The executive selection for the entrepreneur on your list that has everything. Okay, maybe for a little self-reward as well.

Meeting the needs of smart travellers

START IT UP: FINANCE

TRAVEL

The Conrad Dubai’s General Manager, Andreas Jersabeck, invests time in the business guest.

81 Fetchr circumvents logistical challenges with GPS-equipped app

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A look into what the new Google for Entrepreneurs-partnered AstroLabs Tech Hub in Dubai means for the MENA startup ecosystem

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Entrepreneur november 2015


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MIDDLE EAST EDITOR IN CHIEF Fida Z. Chaaban editor@bncpublishing.net MANAGING DIRECTOR Walid Zok walid@bncpublishing.net DIRECTOR Rabih Najm rabih@bncpublishing.net DIRECTOR Wissam Younane wissam@bncpublishing.net PUBLISHER Nehme Abouzeid MANAGING EDITOR Aby Sam Thomas CREATIVE LEAD Odette Kahwagi ONLINE LIAISON Kareem Chehayeb COLUMNIST Pamella de Leon COLUMNIST Tamara Clarke COLUMNIST Shoug Al Nafisi CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Amal Chaaban Jan Nigel Bladen James Clear Lovrenc Kessler Loulou Khazen-Baz Ema Linaker Suhail Al-Masri

Ross McCammon Phabiola Menon Soukaina Rachidi May Rostom Mark Sephton Christian Turner Erika Widen

Images used in Entrepreneur Middle East are credited when necessary. Attributed use of copyrighted images with permission. All images not credited otherwise Shutterstock.

MIDDLE EAST

Access fresh content daily on our website!

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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!

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Entrepreneur november 2015


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EDITOR’S NOTE

Thinking of cutting out your middleman?

I

It puts your whole ethical compass (or lack thereof) into perspective for me

often find myself acting as a fixer. For those unfamiliar with media-speak, the fixer is the person that connects you to someone else that might otherwise be out of your reach. I introduce people all of the time, and I help them do business together and get the ball rolling. I do this because I find it worth my time, and also good in a karmic sense. If I can help two entities or two people develop a mutually beneficial, fruitful relationship, I consider it terrific for everyone involved. I’ve been offered paid commissions for this, and I have declined every single time (mainly for two reasons: because I don’t feel that favors deserve financial recompense, and also because I believe in helping people out as much as I can). Now, I have been very fortunate as most of these favors have all come back to me in spades when I most needed them. I’m one of the lucky ones who seems to get back what I give… but that’s not always the case. Recently, I noticed someone who did a great favor for someone else and then got completely excluded after the fact. The backstory was that Person A very much wanted an introduction to Person C. Person B, a close and personal friend of mine, was happy to make this advantageous intro-

duction between Person A and Person C, and agreed to act as the fixer. Person B arranged the meet and greet at no personal gain to themselves, and Person A continued to leverage this meeting for a long time afterward conveniently forgetting who made the introduction. The karmic payback here? Person C reminded Person A (publicly) of who set this relationship up to begin with. What this whole trivial matter indicated to me about Person A was the following:

promotion is a double-edged sword, and you probably need to have some humility when you decide to go that route- and that includes remembering favors.

1. You lack a moral and ethical compass, and you are short on goodwill If you conveniently forget

3. You are willing to step on your early supports to (socially) climb higher You are

the people who put you where you are now, you are both ungrateful and unethical. “Forgetting” favors makes you a very undesirable business acquaintance. This time you “forgot” who facilitated an introduction. Next time you’ll maybe “forget” an owed sum. 2. You suffer from an inflated ego, and you have a myopic worldview If you think that you’ve

gotten so big now that you don’t need to thank people, then perhaps the public reminder from Person C put you in check. This behavior is indicative of your shortsighted vision, and a lack of any actual strategy. Self-

where you are now because your good-intentioned early supporters helped you get there. Be careful who you decide to step on- there’s always someone like me there to remind Person A that you were only using them as a gateway to what you see as bigger and better things. Oh, and those bigger and better things? They don’t come without Person A- as Person C saw fit to remind you. For those of you out there who have helped me out (you know who you are), I very much appreciate you. I will always be there when you need a hand, and I hope I’ve done all of your support justice by showing you respect and loyalty.

#EntMETreps

Do you know a MENA region entrepreneur, startup, or SME that we should be watching?

Post your suggestions with the hashtag on Twitter or Instagram @EntMagazineME

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Entrepreneur november 2015

Fida Z. Chaaban Editor in Chief @fida | @fidazchaaban editor@bncpublishing.net


IN THE LOOP Left: Rashid Hamad Al Marri, Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar, Abdulaziz Al Zeyara, Lusail Director of Strategic and Organization Planning and Development, and Essa Al Mannai, Chairman of QIBS Board of Directors

This edition of QIBS will be significantly larger than previous ones, with over 120 brands from 15 different countries making their way to showcase their boats, including Sea Ray, Princess, Silver Yachts, Sunreef, Ferreti, and Azimut. Qatari brands will be there too, indicating Qatar’s growth in their Qatar International Boat Show 2015 maritime industry, including Al Under the auspices of The Prime International Boat Show (QIBS) Udeid Boats, Balhambar Boats, Minister and Interior Minister, in its third edition will take place Halul Boats, and Nakilat Damen H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser from November 10-14 at the Shipyards Qatar. Registration is Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Mourjan Marinas in Lusail City. now open.

Sweden and UAE partner up for SMEs

W

ith much talk about developing and strengthening SMEs in the MENA region, we often forget that countries across the globe have put that on the top of their priority list as well. That’s why it comes as no surprise that Sweden and the UAE have signed a memorandum of understand-

ing (MoU) that will lead to cooperation in R&D endeavors targeting empowering SMEs over a three-year period. The MoU was signed by the UAE Minister of Economy, H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, and Sweden’s Minister of Enterprise and Innovation, H.E. Mikael Damberg during GITEX 2015. The agreement will see SMEs from both countries gain access to funding prospects, as well as discovering new international market opportunities. We can also expect UAE government departments such as the SMEs Council, the SME Fund, and

The MoU was signed by H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy and H.E. Mikael Damberg, Sweden’s Minister of Enterprise and Innovation

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Entrepreneur november 2015

the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to collaborate with counterparts in Sweden, including the Swedish Trade and Invest Council and Sweden’s “innovation agency,” known as Vinnova. Sharing knowledge and expertise in two very different markets will be a huge boost for both countries trying to nurture their respective entrepreneurial ecosystems, and will help in the removal of obstacles to SME growth. The two-nation cooperation also hopes to draw academic institutions and the private sector into the core of the effort to bolster SMEs.

Kellogg Company acquires Egypt’s Mass Food Group Kellogg Company continues to scoop up international brands to widen its global market presence, most notably its acquisition ofPringles in February 2012 for US$2.7 billion. This time, it acquired Egypt’s Mass Food Group in $50 million deal. According to its website, Mass Food Group, a family business run by the El Bahays, was founded 18 years ago. The company has since expanded to other markets in the MENA region, Asia, and Australia with its Temmy brand, exporting to “over 45 markets.” With such a large market share, Kellogg claims that the buyout won’t have an impact on its annual profit and net earnings this year.

Tunisia National Dialogue Quartet awarded 2015 Nobel Peace Prize When looking back at the period of time that we refer to as the Arab Spring, we often focus on its problematic aspects, notably power vacuums and potential war. However, when it comes to Tunisia, it’s safe to say that they seemed to have handled things pretty well during the transition period. Five years after 27-yearold Mohamed Bouazizi immolated himself, Tunisia’s National Dialogue Quartet, a coalition consisting of lawyers, human rights activists, businesspeople, and leaders of labor unions, was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for playing a pivotal role in the country’s transition to a pluralistic democracy. While many speculated the possibility of a Tunisian civil war after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown after two decades in power, the quartet has managed to defy all odds. While Tunisia still has its fair share of struggles, winning the Nobel Peace Prize is only an additional morale boost to its citizens- and a reminder of the perks of national unity.


innovator

ADVOCATING AGILITY

H.E. Sheikha al-zain sabah al-naser al-sabah is fighting the good fight The Under Secretary of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs won’t let the country’s entrepreneurs go it alone By Fida Chaaban

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ou have to have skin in the game. The reason that we’re seeing a lot of government consultants coming to the region and then little-to-no change is because they don’t have skin in the game. They’re contracted by these governments, they consult, and then they go home. They aren’t part of the implementation process- and that selfinterest to make sure it happens isn’t there. If you don’t have a vested interest in seeing this work through, all these recommendations come to nothing.” This is Kuwait’s Under Secretary of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs H.E. Sheikha Al-Zain, and she does have skin in the game. The game she’s talking about –building an entrepreneurial ecosystem- isn’t a spectator sport. You’re either all about kickstarting Kuwait’s economy –from a grassroots level- or you’re not on her team, and you never will be. You’ll even become persona non grata, and she won’t be deterred from calling you out for what she considers your inaction, no matter who you are. “We have the largest SME fund now in the world; the mandate came out about two years ago. They haven’t done anything yet with it, and that’s the problem. I can sit and draw up strategies and action plans and then mood board it all and make it look beautiful, but if I don’t action it, then what’s the point?” >>>

Entrepreneur november 2015


november 2015 Entrepreneur

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innovator There is always a question that hangs in the sidelines for our readers when we cover a figure of government who is also often of a royal bloodline. I’m sure that same question is on your mind now: “Did she interview Al-Zain because she’s a Sheikha, and they were after a glitzy, high-profile cover?” The answer is no. I aggressively pursued this interview with H.E. Sheikha Al-Zain Sabah Al-Naser Al-Sabah because she’s forthright and outspoken, genuinely experienced in entrepreneurship in both personal and professional capacities,

you who don’t know – and I say this from experience- those born to extreme privilege are almost never apologetic, and they are also almost never breathless with overwork and/or overextension of resources.) So, when you read the rest of this feature interview that was six months in the making, you’re going to have to trust me when I say that being on the cover of Entrepreneur Middle East means that this person has the guts (with often little or no glory to speak of), and has captured my attention because of her actions (not just talk). Al-Sabah is a charismatic and compelling speaker (possibly stemming from her professional background as a broadcast journalist working with the likes of Peter Jennings, Editor-in-Chief Fida Chaaban interviewing Sheikha Al-Zain and later as an at the Ministry for Youth Affairs in Kuwait. entrepreneurial and because she is currently indie filmmaker and producer) (legitimately) working herself but I’ve met lots of those, and and her team at the Ministry speaking doesn’t mean that you into a frenzy trying to support are actually doing something. and strengthen the small but What she is doing is called an determined Kuwaiti entrepre“entre-government,” and it’s neurial ecosystem. She’s not a term she coined during a big on personal publicity, and speaking engagement in Spain she doesn’t leverage her family to describe what her Ministry does. “The idea is that an name -quite the opposite, as entre-government brings in you’ll see later- since being a creatives, entrepreneurs, people royal is often a double-edged from the private sector, who sword. Frankly, she’s so busy advocating for the advancement can leverage limited resources to invigorate and disrupt an and strengthening of youth immobile system. Government potential that at the time of this interview at the Ministry in systems are built to stagnate,” Kuwait City, she dashed into the says Al-Sabah. Anyone who has dealt with the bureaucratic red room breathless and apologetic tape of governments that count for her lateness. (For those of national resources as the base (and often the sole driver) of “What we’re doing their respective economies has, today is starting from with certainty, faced a myriad of a solid base line of unnecessary blockages, frustrainformation. [...] We’re tions with archaic and irrelegoing to develop a vant rules, and has likely stared holistic national a stubborn and myopic public youth policy, and servant in the face at least once. anyone that wants to After producing content and work with youth will have to abide by this.” scripts for ABC during her time 20

Entrepreneur november 2015

idea is that an entre“The government brings in

creatives, entrepreneurs, people from the private sector, who can leverage limited resources to invigorate and disrupt an immobile system. “ in the U.S., Al-Sabah came back to Kuwait and dealt with this governmental quagmire firsthand. “I went to the Ministry of Information to apply for a job in 1997. After years in Boston and New York, coming home was a shock. Staying in the Ministry for a year and a half taught me what needed to be fixed, what it was like to be stuck in the system, how frustrating it was waiting a week for a stamp on some document, and seeing all of the red tape. That on-the-job training was invaluable,” and it later helped her devise the Kuwaiti entre-government schema that’s now being actioned. “This Ministry is the perfect example of the pilot of an entregovernment. Do more with less! We have budget constraints, and Kuwait is finally, with the establishment of this Ministry, starting to understand that youth is the new oil. To propel the system forward, you need to inject energy. Nobody knows how to do it better and do it with less resources, than entrepreneurs and people that have worked in startups, SMEs, and fresh grads.” The Ministry of State for Youth Af-

fairs currently employs a team of 82, but they started off in one room as a meagre team of three. “I literally had to sell this Ministry to people. This is your service to your country- if you have something to give, come give it here. I wanted to infuse new spirit by bringing in fresh graduates. Come serve your country then migrate back to private sector. I was pitching it to everyone- that was my hard sell. The Kuwaiti government is trying to get people to go to the private sector, since upwards of 80% are employed in the government. This cradle to grave mentality is really pervasive here.” She sees the Ministry as a full-on startup since it was established from nothing, and Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs H.E. Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Homoud Al-Sabah charged Al-Zain with recruiting a team, setting out Ministerial directives and the path to turning those directives into tangible successes, and even finding a physical space for them to work out of. “We’ve been in operation for a year and nine months, and hamdulillah,


we’ve managed to find a location, and as much as possible recruit the best team who were all willing to leave the private sector and come to the public sector to help Kuwait.” Al-Sabah is shouldering an immense responsibility to really deliver on her promises, since the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs is the youngest in the Kuwait government. The Under Secretary now has to continue to demonstrate that it is in fact needed, and more than needed, it’s actually going to be effective despite the fact that she has developed a highly unorthodox formula, and she’s pretty much doing everything differently than anyone in the existing government sectors is even familiar with. She had to fight for this all to materialize, and that’s no secret. “I think we’ve gained quite a lot of traction- young men and women have joined this Ministry from the private sector. The average age is 25 here and it’s a startup in every way, shape, and form. The fact that we have people that wear our logo, our THE NATIONAL YOUTH SURVEY OF KUWAIT www.youth.gov.kw

“What we’re doing today is starting from a solid base line of information. It’s a whole ecosystem that we need to develop. What’s more important is now that I’ll have the data, what am I going to do with it? We’re going to develop a holistic national youth policy, and anyone that wants to work with youth will have to abide by this.” What Al-Sabah means by “holistic” is that all governmental and nongovernmental entities that intersect with youth in any way will be part of this process to try and meet the myriad spectrum of needs of Kuwait young people. The goal? To give people with potential avenues to realize it to the fullest, to address and improve upon weaknesses, and to eventually foster an economic climate that champions vibrancy and combats economic inertia. According to Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti

Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah speaking at the 8th MIT Pan Arab Conference in Kuwait. Her Excellency also acted as a judge for the Startup Track competition.

badges, to come to work makes me proud and happy because it means that they are sold on our concept. That gives me the visual that I want- where I see this mobilized army of people that are doing all they can to entrepreneurs need development of “infrastructure, mentorship, even healthcare. Access is limited. [The Ministry] bridges relationships; we have a department called Business Pioneers Rayidat Al-Aaaml, and their job is to create this ecosystem. We based our departments on a lifecycle approach –it’s very out of the box for government- we have the project sector and the development sector.” She admits that they have bitten off more than they can chew, and says that “the other Ministries are not doing their jobs- from health to education to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. If they were, we wouldn’t have seen recruits going to Daesh.” AlSabah admits that pitching this concept of her entre-government was extremely difficult- the existing government entities and governmental structuring elements didn’t “understand it all. When I pitched it, it wasn’t even like, ‘What?” It was like, ‘No.’”

build this country.” Al-Sabah’s team “preaches” according to her, and I was able to verify that they are in fact supremely evangelical in their zeal for this Ministry to work- a lot of this passion, according to Al-Zain, was born from the anger and hopelessness stemming from the inertia of the intractable Kuwaiti establishment. A lack of prospects, a bevy of wasted young talent, and just seeing no place for bigger dreams and innovative thinking -as clichéd as that might sound- served as a catalyst, lighting a fire under AlSabah and her millennials. This same waste of talent and lack of innovative avenues and channels of modern industry hits the Middle East right where it hurts most: in the pocketbook. It actually robs the region of financial leaps forward in terms of opportunity cost, and it also makes dangerous and detrimental alternatives seem like viable ones. Al-Zain is determined to stem the flood, and she says this is exactly why Kuwait must be proactive in approach: “ISIS has built the ultimate brand. The reason they have penetrated so well with this brand is the disenfranchisement that youth across the [MENA] region feel. It’s so

“I literally had to sell this Ministry to people. This is your service to your country- if you have something to give, come give it here. I wanted to infuse new spirit by bringing in fresh graduates.” glamorous the way ISIS have marketed this idea.” One step in her fight against preventing more onboarding of recruits to what is now arguably considered the MENA region’s biggest problem? A two-tier initiative that begins with a nationwide >>> november 2015 Entrepreneur

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innovator youth survey and followed by the development of a comprehensive youth policy based on the results of the collected research. The youth survey has a six-month timeline of execution, and the development of the national youth policy is slotted to take an additional six months post data analysis. I tell Al-Sabah that it sounds like a very ambitious timeline for such a large scale undertaking, but she is emphatic and will not be deterred: “We don’t have the luxury of being anything but ambitious! A lot of people ask if I have a kamikaze streak in me. I do, because at this time we don’t have any other option. We can’t and won’t move forward with anything to do with youth, especially with all of these factors in play –ISIS, drugswithout the accurate data and structure to do so.” Having worked in the private sector for over 16 years before she joined the Ministry, Al-Sabah is used to fast progress and results, and in that regard, she has seen some movement already. “We do have quick wins: we’ve supported more than 300 youth projects in different categories from tech, science and health, to arts and culture. We have so many projects that revolve around entrepreneurship and incubating and cultivating talent. We’re on the ground, and we’re using digital and outreach efforts nonstop- we will do anything that we need to do to make this happen for Kuwait.” And after being there and seeing her tenacious campaigning, hearing her pitch deck, Al-Zain Al-Sabah sold me on the hard sell: Kuwait’s entrepreneurs will no longer have to go it alone.

“We have so many projects that revolve around entrepreneurship and incubating and cultivating talent. We’re on the ground, and we’re using digital and outreach efforts nonstop- we will do anything that we need to do to make this happen for Kuwait.” 22

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PERSISTANCE IN ALL THINGS PAYS DIVIDENDS IN RESULTS GET TO KNOW AL-ZAIN AL-SABAH “Perceptions before the war and after the war were different. Before the war, it was that you were part of the enclosed network- you were expected to finish high school, maybe college, then get married.” This, according to Al-Sabah, is what mindset she was dealing with when she broke the news to her family that she’d be pursuing film school after her successful period as a journalist. This led to her first entrepreneurial endeavor, co-founding Eagle Vision Media Group KSCC, and served at the company’s helm as Chairperson and Managing Director. Al-Sabah could have been a socialite, even during her time as a refugee in London during the Iraqi-Kuwait war. “I was in 11th grade at the time, and I was supposed to start school. This whole question mark that everything could just stop in an instant is what prompted my need to do something with myself. I felt helpless and powerless seeing CNN’s coverage of Kuwait during that period, and their portrayal of the Kuwaiti people. It was all so inaccurate.” For context, as a refugee, like many others who fled the war in Kuwait, Al-Sabah wasn’t able to go to school and since her family’s accounts were frozen, she had to request the Embassy’s assistance in paying for her education. Al-Sabah made herself visible at the Embassy

by volunteering while constantly haranguing them to put her in school. Her persistence paid off, and she finished high school in London, later attending Boston University’s School of Journalism. During her career in New York, she met one of her personal goals: structuring the global narrative about the Middle East. “When Peter Jennings would send me a story about Palestine and Israel and I knew it didn’t make sense, I was in the position to tell him it didn’t make sense and actually write a script that did.” One of the most influential broadcasters in the history of TV, ABC News headlined by Jennings on World News Tonight was a program that shaped global opinions. After returning to Kuwait, she decided to pursue film professionally but wanted to get formal education in the discipline first. “I went through this whole arduous process to get a scholarship for my Master’s. Even my family was like, ‘Zain, film? What’s this?’ Journalism was considered prestigious, but filmmaking was seen as frivolous. I got the scholarship from KU. In Kuwait, one of the

really good things here, was that they put us through a really intensive scrutiny process. It was quite objective, otherwise they wouldn’t have given it to me. I went to USC, and got my film degree.” Film is a very difficult space to break into professionally, and Al-Sabah struggled just like other entrepreneurs to gather investors: “I didn’t have a safety net. There was more at stake for me- my family name was at stake both here and abroad. The fact that my family’s name came into play- if they knew my last name, they wouldn’t give me [an investment], because they assumed I had [the capital].” She didn’t, and successfully managed to follow through on her plans to be the storyteller with accurate narratives about the Middle East. She first opened a production company in Los Angeles with partners, and later in Kuwait. “We did some films that made the rounds at festivals,” with some being recognized as cultural contributions. Next on her agenda was forming an incubator based on a free and open exchange concept for youth in cultural endeavors. It didn’t work. “When you’re coming in from outside, the wall was impenetrable” and together with the creatives, she retreated further in. While she describes this as a happy time, she now reflects on it as one more reason to fight for this overhaul of Kuwait’s establishment- so young people with talent and potential don’t retreat, and instead are an active driver of an economy sorely in need of a new enterprise injection.


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innovator

EY KSA’s Entrepreneur of the Year

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Lateefa Alwaalan Yatooq Founder and General Manager

f you have not heard of Lateefa Alwaalan yet, rest assured that you’ll be hearing a lot more about her soonespecially since she was recently awarded the title of Saudi Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2015 EY KSA Awards in Riyadh. As the founder and General Manager of Yatooq, a startup focused on Arabic coffee and the products associated with it, Alwaalan’s successes help to set the stage in the Kingdom for women looking to advance in entrepreneurship, as well as leaps forward in e-commerce. “It has been such a humbling experience,” says Alwaalan, when asked about her distinction. “It also raises the bar for me and my team to reach

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Entrepreneur november 2015

greater goals. [Being a part of] the awards ceremony has been such a rewarding experience; I met world-renowned entrepreneurs that I used to read about and [about] their companies as a young girl, like the founders of Infosys and Aramex. It’s like being among celebrities- I was truly humbled to be among such an inspiring group of achievers.” The EY Award was presented to her by Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabee’a, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Commerce and Industry, known to be a champion of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and often mentioned by the Kingdom’s influential youth as a trailblazer. Enterprising youth, seeing Alwaalan’s success, might be inspired to try their hand at en-

trepreneurship, especially since Yatooq was a self-funded venture, with Alwaalan using both her own resources and bank loans to get the company off the ground. Ideation phase began in 2009, and Yatooq was officially founded two years later. “We had a long period of research and development with soft sales

in the beginning,” she remembers. “We launched our first coffee machine in 2013, and that is when the real action started, igniting business growth.” Her business, focused on the coffee sector, currently employs 75 people between the local team and company partners, with locations mainly in Saudi Arabia and China. As Yatooq scaled, Alwaalan was able to increase the size of her staff, allowing her to delegate, enhance the startup’s structure, and subsequently focus on ensuring work-life balance, which, she admits, >>>


innovator was a struggle for her at the outset. “I used to work 12+ hours every day. Even when I was traveling for a short break, my laptop and phone used to be with me all the time, processing work on the go. As the business has grown and the idea [has] proven itself, I’ve been able to expand the team, create structure and delegate. Being an entrepreneur is synonymous with hard work; it’s a must if one wants to succeed. However, I am aware now of the necessity of having balance between work and leisure. It’s as important a skill as hard work, because nothing is more deadly to an entrepreneurial spirit than burnout. Staying healthy, both physically and mentally, is as important as achieving your numbers and hitting your sales records, because if you keep your health, you provide sustainability for your role.” Having a strong support system is one of the most important aspects in an entrepreneur’s life, and this founder credits her family and close friends for their consistent encouragement and belief in her goal state. “It’s critical to have [such support], as a female who wants to embark into the trade field. Another source of support has been Badir, the advance

2015 EY KSA Awards: Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim, Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young MENA, greets Commerce and Industry Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah

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Entrepreneur november 2015

manufacturing incubator [with] which I worked with the first few years.” As for fellow ‘treps that Alwaalan finds inspiring, she mentions the Saudi-founded UTURN Entertainment, created by Endeavor entrepreneurs and brothers Kaswara and Soraka Al Khatib. And to those complaining about the lack of funding in the Kingdom’s ecosystem, Alwaalan disagrees with your opinion. “I think capital is accessible in KSA. In general, funding is not the issue here; it’s talent and experience that is lacking,” she says, adding that she considers Riyadh’s startup space “very active, with Khobar and Jeddah to follow.” Alwaalan also notes that networking and mentorship are integral for enterprising women who want to make a business or a professional career work well. In addition to her work at Yatooq, to promote values of cooperation and community reliance, she co-founded a nonprofit initiative in Saudi, Cella, targeting these very aspects: “Mentors are crucial, whether you are pursuing a professional career or as an entrepreneur. Mentors provide advice, expertise, and raise the bar for your achievement. That is why I emphasize on the power of networking, and building relationships with great minds.”

Q&A

What are some stereotypes that you have dealt with as a woman in business? “Well, mostly, women are not usually seen in trade related roles. Generally women are brought up protected and shelled from the outside world -men especially- [and are] not used to taking part in trade related tasks such as bargaining, networking, cold-calling, sales, negotiations with suppliers, customers and employees, holding professional meetings, traveling, etc. These things that an entrepreneur needs to do on daily basis are not part of the skillset a women is used to having. Partaking in such situations can also be frowned upon by society; breaking this stereotype is a personal development activity. A woman must believe in herself, build up

the confidence needed to acquire these skills and feel comfortable doing them. Self-confidence is also important to overcome resistance from the surrounding environment.” What can the media do to further the growth of small businesses in the region? “In general, regional media supports a good positive story. Highlighting local success stories is key to getting people to say, ‘If they can do it, so can I.’ I think publications should dedicate sections for special coverage of what’s happening in the market, like the society photo pages. Coverage should highlight both the personal and the business story. The image of an entrepreneur should be one that is fathomable and approachable. Not all businesses become billion dollar global success; those who are making multiple millions yearly are more common. They create jobs and add value as well, [so] let’s highlight them.” TIPS FOR ‘TREPS 1. Learn from your decisions “Take calculated risks, but make mistakes. When you do, embrace it as a learning experience.” 2. Opt for a sector that you are genuinely interested in “Love what you do. Passion breeds creativity.” 3. Establish beneficial relationships “Network with high achievers.” 4. Put forward only your very best product or service offering “Make your product great. Demand will follow.”


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Thinking ahead The importance of insurance for SMEs

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By Phabiola Menon

ringing up the topic of insurance around small business owners in the UAE often leads to a tepid response. Many view it as an unnecessary expense, while others who may believe it to be important, see it more as a luxury instead of a necessity. However, the fact is that SMEs need to realize that insurance is a necessary investment, rather than an ancillary cost. Insurance allows business owners to run their companies without having to worry about unexpected events that can slow them down or bring them to a complete halt. Whether it is water damage from leaking pipes, money lost in transit theft, or a fire at a warehouse, these are liabilities that cannot always be anticipated. Insurance provides you the confidence you need to keep moving with the knowledge that your assets are covered from loss and other legal liabilities. Unfortunately, with SME insurance penetration levels in the UAE estimated to be around 15-20%, far lower than more mature markets such as the U.K., we see that there are many misconceptions that are holding business owners back from subscribing to these services. The result is that insurance is only considered once the damage is done, or an accident has taken place. RSA is committed to changing this attitude and helping SMEs better understand the value of covering their businesses. With that in mind, here are five important tips that will demystify the process of applying for insurance: 1. Break free of the myth

Insurance is not expensive. As small businesses look to cut the costs of running their

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Entrepreneur november 2015

enterprises wherever they can, there is a common perception that insurance is too high an expense to bear. The truth is that there are

comprehensive packaged business insurance policies that are available in the market for a very reasonable price. SMEs can bundle the right covers for their businesses into one policy and protect themselves against a variety of risks in one package. Under these schemes, a startup can avail policies for an average of AED1,000 per year –less than AED85 a month– while a larger SME business can secure coverage for AED5,000 to AED10,000 per year. 2. Understand the type of insurance you need

Once you realize that insurance is vital and affordable, it’s important to understand

what type fits your business’ requirements. For example, if you run a restaurant, business interruption coverage is crucial, but if your company is focused on shipping goods, marine cargo insurance is a more immediate priority. To accurately assess the policies that are required, business owners need to go through a process of deduction that primarily looks at: • Assessing the value of the property and the contents of your business, and classifying them as critical or incidental assets • Understanding your legal limits and liabilities, and noting all perceived and probable risks >>>


TREPONOMICS • Recognizing any mandatory requirements such as workmen’s compensation insurance While this sounds like a complicated process, insurance companies do not expect you to be able to cover all these areas on your own. SMEs today have the option of speaking to experts and risk assessors who can make this process simpler and provide a more comprehensive While insurance firms have made it simple for SMEs to find and purchase the policies that fit their needs, the right partner can add significant value to a business owner. Agencies that are dedicated to educating their customers, rather than looking for the highest premiums, are the ones you should look to work with.

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understanding of the covers required, in order to help business owners decide which type of insurance is right for them. 3. Growing business, growing insurance requirements As with any

successful business, growth requires owners to broaden the numbers and types of risks they have to manage. Similarly, SMEs need to regularly examine their insurance policies to ensure they are covering the expanding scale of their businesses. To do so, it is recommended that companies get their insurance coverage reassessed on an annual basis, which will allow them to take any po-

tential new liabilities into account. Keeping your insurance agent informed of any and all changes to your business will enable them to recommend the most appropriate additions to your coverage. 4. Look for ways to reduce costs Another benefit of

maintaining a regular dialogue with your insurance partner is that it will allow them to determine potential saving opportunities with regards to your insurance policy. Additionally, business owners should look to keep complete records of their insurance policies, the premiums they have paid, as well as records of losses and recoveries. This information will help them negotiate better terms for their policies in the future. Lastly and most importantly, understand and manage various hazardous risks your business is exposed to, which requires continual maintenance and upkeep. Insurance companies will always reward businesses that manage their risks and will also provide special discounts. As with any successful business, growth requires owners to broaden the numbers and types of risks they have to manage. Similarly, SMEs need to regularly examine their insurance policies to ensure they are covering the expanding scale of their businesses.

SMEs can also take alternative precautionary measures in order to reduce their liabilities, secure insurance discounts, and lower their premiums. Simple measures like installing fire sprinklers, security systems and/or other safety devices can go a long way. 5. Picking the right insurance partner While

insurance firms have made it simple for SMEs to find and purchase the policies that fit their needs, the right partner can add significant value to a

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Entrepreneur november 2015

business owner. Agencies that are dedicated to educating their customers, rather than looking for the highest premiums, are the ones you should look to work with. SMEs can also take alternative precautionary measures in order to reduce their liabilities, secure insurance discounts, and lower their premiums. Simple measures like installing fire sprinklers, security systems and/or other safety devices can go a long way.

For example, your insurance agent should not only be able to support you in terms of securing an appropriate coverage plan, but they should also be able to help you navigate the insurance requirements mandated by the free zone in which you operate and the support you can receive from government entities such as Dubai SME. At RSA, we are committed to developing longterm partnerships with our clients and have not only invested in designing a proposition that provides comprehensive coverage for SMEs across sectors, but we also work with them to build the knowledge they need to better protect their companies. Your business is unique and important to you. Insurance is the key that gives you the peace of mind you need against unforeseeable circumstances and enables you to focus on growing your company. Phabiola Menon is the DirectorBroker Channel for RSA Insurance. She has been with the organization for over 12 years and her strong market and customer-centric approach to insurance have been key differentiators in expanding RSA’s commercial business.

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Hot spots for budding entrepreneurs The top cities in the Middle East for your business

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By Suhail Al-Masri

f you’re hoping to set up a business, finding the right place to start is a critical first step. We have identified the top cities in the Middle East that are hot spots for budding entrepreneurs. Each offers attractive qualities you should look for in a home base: accessible sources of funding, little taxes, and a well-educated workforce to ensure you’ll have plenty of promising job applicants when you’re ready to hire. When it comes to the ease of setting up a new business, Manama and Dubai get the highest rating (53% and 52% respectively). Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Manama are the top cities when it comes to lack of bureaucracy in procedures and paperwork (54%, 52% and 49%). Sharjah is at 47%. In terms of the ease in finding capital to start a business, half of Dubai respondents gave their city a positive rating making it the best city in the region in this aspect, followed by Abu Dhabi (44%) and Manama (42%).

Overall importance of the aspects Overall importance of the aspects

Dubai takes the lead in terms of market willingness to accept new ideas and innovations (68%), followed by Abu Dhabi (56%) and Sharjah (51%). Dubai is also the top city in terms of the supply of local talent to employ (52%). Lastly, Manama takes the lead when it comes to affordability of taxes and fees followed by Muscat and Doha (59%, 54% and 53%). The October 2015 Top Cities in the MENA Survey aims to understand the opinions of people living in MENA countries about their city of residence. It aims to assess the key cities in the region on various aspects that have direct impact on the quality of life of its residents, and to develop an overall index based on several parameters, including the standard of living, economic factors, socio-cultural factors, environment and labor rights. The UAE scores best when it comes to the standard of living, with Dubai at the top spot followed by Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The three Emirates emerge again as top cities in terms of availability of parks/ community gardens, with 81% for Dubai, 77% for Abu Dhabi and 74% for Sharjah. Muscat also gets a high score (73%). When it comes to the availability of healthcare facilities, Abu Dhabi is the best city (82%) followed by Dubai (77%) and Manama (70%). Dubai takes the top spot for accessible public transportation, with 84% of its residents giving it a positive rating; Abu Dhabi follow at 77%.

Overall importan

importance the aspects 77% Overall of respondents believe that of availability of jobs and affordable housing are the most important economic • 77% of respondents believe th aspects. • 77% of respondents believe that availability of jobs and affordable housing are the most important economic aspects. • 77% of respondents believe that availability of jobs and affordable housing are the most important economic aspects. aspects.

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Base: All (n=3,613) important they are to you. Entrepreneur november 2015 Base: All are (n=3,613) All figures %’s Q. Given below are some ‘Economic Factors’ that affect one’s daily life. Using the scale below, could you please tell us how

34

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Availability of jobs

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Overall importance of the aspects

Overall importance of the aspects • •

Almost 6 in 10 respondents find availability of natural areas/ landscapes extremely important.

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Base: All (n=3,613) Q. Given below are in some ‘Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation affectand one’s daily life. Using the scale below, could The happiest cities MENA growth. Leading Factors’ the waythat is Dubai you please us how important you. with about half of respondents Residents of bigtell cities typically earnthey are toRiyadh higherAllwages, are they any happier? expecting a rise in the number of jobs figures but are %’s According to the Bayt.com Top Cities in offered (48% and 47%, respectively). the Middle East and North Africa Survey Dubai is also rated highest in terms of 2015, they are. The survey shows that competitive salaries (43%), followed Abu Dhabi residents are the happiest by Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Doha (all at in the region about their current city of 40%). These statistics are consistent residence, with 83% of them stating so. with results from the August 2015 Middle Manama and Muscat follow closely in East Job Index Survey where the majority terms of overall happiness, at 79%. On of employers in the region said they will the other hand, residents of Beirut are be hiring for new positions in the next the least happy with only a little over three to 12 months. For career growth, a quarter of them (26%) stating their Dubai emerges again as the top city with happiness about their city of residence. 54% rating it positively. In terms of affordable housing, Manama takes the top The best economies spot (48%), followed by Muscat (42%) The economy in the Middle East is and Sharjah (40%). Manama (64%), expected to reach a milestone in the Riyadh (54%) and Eastern Province next few months, with four in 10 (52%) were rated best when it comes to respondents in the September 2015 reasonably priced day-to-day amenities. Consumer Confidence Index Survey Labor rights enforcement saying that they foresee their country’s The Top Cities in the Middle East and economy to improve in the next six North Africa Survey 2015 measured labor months. According to the same survey, rights in a city along seven key factors 43% expect their financial situation that affect the lives of its residents. to improve, while 51% predict better These factors are not only crucial for business conditions. The GCC is home to the working population but also have an the top cities in the region when it comes indirect impact on the non-working >>> to the highest forecasted employment

Defining ‘quality of life’ as measurable factor The best cities to live, work and do business are also those that offer the best quality of life. Defining the term ‘quality of life’ is not an easy task. In fact, what constitutes a good quality of life has occupied philosophers since Plato and Aristotle, and countless definitions have been proposed. Nevertheless, it seems possible to find some elements on which most economists and scholars agree. First of all, ‘quality of life’ is used to evaluate the overall wellbeing of individuals and societies. Although most studies on the quality of life do take into account indicators of economic success such as income per capita, wealth and employment, they also go beyond those measures to include the environment, physical and mental health, education, leisure time, infrastructure and safety. Also often included are concepts such as freedom of expression, human rights, social belonging and happiness.

november 2015 Entrepreneur

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population. They have been identified as follows: 1. End of service benefits 2. Termination rights 3. Vacation allowances 4. Parenthood allowances 5. Wage protection system 6. Health insurance and social security systems 7. Proactive policy-making In terms of labor rights, Abu Dhabi scores best followed by Dubai and Manama. Abu Dhabi (50%), Dubai (45%) and Muscat (46%) emerge as the top three cities in terms of end of service benefits. When it comes to termination rights, Abu Dhabi comes first (42%), followed by Dubai, Muscat and Manama (all at 37%). Dubai takes the top spot in terms of vacation allowances with over half of respondents stating so (54%). This is followed by Abu Dhabi and Manama (both at 49%). Abu Dhabi emerges as the best city in terms of health insurance and social security, with

about three quarters giving it a positive rating (73%). In terms of proactive policy making, Abu Dhabi is also rated highest (46%) followed by Dubai (42%).

majority rating it positively (92%). In terms of manageable traffic, Abu Dhabi is rated best (72%), followed by Muscat and Dubai (69% and 63%, respectively).

Clean air, water and streets

The best standards of living

Environmental factors form a set of important aspects related to comfort and cleanliness that affect the overall quality of life in a city. According to the Bayt. com Top Cities in the Middle East and North Africa Survey 2015, Dubai was rated highest in terms of clean streets and roads with a vast majority stating so (93%), followed closely by Muscat (91%) and Abu Dhabi (89%). In terms of comfortable weather, Amman emerges best (46%) followed by Muscat and Abu Dhabi (both 45%). Muscat is rated the top city in the region when it comes to clean air, as stated by 75% of its residents; Abu Dhabi and Dubai follow (67% and 64%, respectively). Dubai takes the top spot in terms of beauty of architecture and buildings, with the vast

The UAE scores best when it comes to the standard of living, with Dubai at the top spot followed by Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The three Emirates emerge again as top cities in terms of availability of parks/community gardens, with 81% for Dubai, 77% for Abu Dhabi and 74% for Sharjah. Muscat also gets a high score (73%). When it comes to the availability of healthcare facilities, Abu Dhabi is the best city (82%) followed by Dubai (77%) and Manama (70%). Dubai takes the top spot for accessible public transportation, with 84% of its residents giving it a positive rating; Abu Dhabi follow at 77%. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also the top two cities in terms of the quality of their public transportation system

Overall importance of the aspects aspects

Overall importance of the Overall importance of the aspects

Feeling of stability and security (85%), availability of healthcare facilities (83%), water/electricity/sewage systems systems (83%), quality of education (83%) and quality of available health care facilities (82%), all emerge as the most important standard of living factors. important standard of living factors.

77% of respondents believe thatsecurity availability(85%), of jobs and affordable housing are the mostfacilities important economic Feeling of stability and availability of healthcare (83%), water/electricity/sewage (83%), quality of education (83%) and quality of available health care facilities (82%), all emerge as the most aspects.

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charts © bayt.com

• ••


Overall importance of the aspects Overall importance of the aspects Overall importance of the aspects

Clean water (87%), followed by clean air (77%) and clean streets (74%) are the most important environmental Clean water (87%), by clean air and (77%) and clean streets are the economic most important environmental factors forofrespondents infollowed the •• 77% respondents believe thatregion. availability of jobs affordable housing are the(74%) most important aspects. factors for respondents in the region. Clean water Availability of jobs 2 2 4112 1510

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Base: AllBase: (n=3,613) All (n=3,613) Q. GivenQ. below some Factors’ that affect one’s daily Using the scale below, couldcould you please tell us Givenare below are‘Environmental some ‘Environmental Factors’ that affect one’slife. daily life. Using the scale below, you please tellhow us how (89% andare 76%, respectively). The same Cities in the Middle East and North terms of the stability of their political important they to you. important they are to you.

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Dubai received 89% of votes and Abu Dhabi 84%. In terms of availability of educational institutions, Beirut is the leading city, followed by Dubai, Sharjah and Amman. Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Muscat and Dubai are the top cities in terms of the feeling of stability and security. Tolerance, culture and politics

The sociocultural factors are forces within cultures, societies and cities that affect the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of individuals who are a part of them. They include the equal treatment of both genders; the fair treatment of all nationalities; a stable political environment; low crime rates; freedom of expression; and tolerance to different cultures and ideas. Dubai and Muscat are the best cities in terms of equal treatment of both genders (both 76%) followed by Abu Dhabi (72%). When it comes to fair treatment to all nationalities, Muscat emerges as the best city (67%). The three Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah) emerge as top cities in

environment (83% for Dubai and 79% for both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah). Muscat also scores very high, at 82%. In terms of effective law enforcement, the three UAE Emirates are on top (85% for Abu Dhabi, 84% for Dubai and 80% for Sharjah). Manama takes the top spot in terms of freedom of expression (63%) followed by Dubai (60%), Abu Dhabi (57%) and Muscat (55%). Muscat is rated highest in terms of tolerance to different cultures and ideas with 79% rating it positively, followed by Dubai at 74%.

Africa Survey 2015 shows that there is always room in the regional market for new ideas, products, services and multimillion dollar success stories– if one knows where to look.

Top cities for doing business

Middle East professionals have repeatedly manifested an entrepreneurial streak. In fact, the Millennials in the Middle East and North Africa Survey, February 2014, shows that 20% of respondents in MENA would prefer to have their own business. Innovation is never easy, though. Hardship and necessity underpin much entrepreneurial progress, largely because the motivation to enter the unknown in the face of bleak odds simply is not in abundance when more comfortable avenues remain to be explored. The Top

Suhail Al-Masri is the VP of Sales at Bayt.com. Al-Masri has more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership, consultative sales, account management, marketing management, and operations management. His mission at Bayt.com goes in line with the company’s mission to empower people with the tools and knowledge to build their lifestyles of choice.

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TREPONOMICS

ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO

ones focus on value, always looking at their products from a market or customer perspective. The CEO sets the tone in this process and is closely involved from the start. 3. Make sure that you have at least one pricing/ marketing expert in each new product team This is

a simple rule of thumb that will help you ensure that your product doesn’t end up being over-engineered or impossible to sell.

4. Allocate a budget ahead of time to measure customer value and willingness to pay You

can’t make something out of nothing. Even for extremely long innovation cycles that take several years, the most successful companies set aside the necessary budgets early on (e.g. life sciences). 5. Every now and then, take part in product milestone meetings

Thinking ahead

10 things managers should factor into an innovation process

M

By Lovrenc Kessler

ost companies fail to successfully position their new products in the market. This is the result of our Global Pricing Study. Almost three out of four new products fail to meet their profit targets. These problems are self-inflicted and thus curable: pricing and marketing need to be the top priority of the innovation process. By far the best and often the only way to overcome price pressure is through new products, as 77% of the participating managers confirm. 1. Pricing and marketing need to be integrated from the get-go Successful

companies fully incorporate marketing and pricing throughout the innovation process, from the product inception to the market

launch. An example of what not to do: after years of developing a product, a client approaches us a week before the product launch with the question: “Could you help me find the right price for my product?”

2. Make the innovation process and new product pricing C-level priorities

The main difference between companies that succeed and companies that fail is essentially how they look at new products. The successful

We don’t mean a surprise visit, but one that’s been announced ahead of time. Such a visit has an enormous impact on the team: the CEO is interested, the project gains importance, the team gets attention- everyone gives their all. 6. Strengthen your teams by encouraging them to make decisions for the company based on facts and researcheven if it’s hard to hear “The train has left

the station” is probably the weakest excuse for pushing a product that has no future. Regardless of the phase, if you figure out that a new product won’t achieve the profit targets, then you should kill the project as quickly as possible. >>>

*Global Pricing Study Simon-Kucher (in cooperation with the Professional Pricing Society (PPS)) conducts the Global Pricing Study every two years. In 2014, approximately 1,600 participants from over 40 countries, among them 39% C-levels from companies of all industries, took part. 38

Entrepreneur november 2015


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TREPONOMICS 7. Strike unprofitable projects from your list

Make a strong impression on your team by setting a good example. Everyone will know that you practice what you preach. 8. For really important decisions, use two parallel teams An example: the

board of a client always assigns two independent teams with the job of developing a price strategy for the market

ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO

launch of major products. This approach consistently provides the client the best possible results. When you’re dealing with a multi-million dollar product, the approach pays off immediately. The main difference between companies that succeed and companies that fail is essentially how they look at new products. The successful ones focus on value, always looking at their products from a market or customer perspective. The CEO sets the tone in this process and is closely involved from the start.

9. Make your teams share the responsibility for their decisions and recommendations Team

members should sign off personally on all milestone presentations, business cases and forecasts. Of course, no one will be held personally accountable when things don’t go as planned, but each signature will make team members critically check interim results, ultimately improving the overall team results. 10. Beware of wellintended, but flawed incentives Incentives gone

wrong: in one company, project team members were given incentives to bring as many new products to the market as possible, regardless of quality. A major mistake!

You can’t make something out of nothing. Even for extremely long innovation cycles that take several years, the most successful companies set aside the necessary budgets early on (e.g. life sciences). This article was co-written by Dr. Georg Tacke, CEO, Simon-Kucher & Partners, and Lovrenc Kessler, Managing Director of Simon-Kucher’s office in Dubai.

Three ways to capture the audience A social take on public speaking

A

ll speakers come with the common objectives of conveying their messages effectively, keeping the audience engaged, and (hopefully) having their listeners retain key points. They’re not the speakers I’d want to hear. You, my speaker, leave no room for hope or luck, and this is how you do it.

1. Social outreach You know your audience Yes, you probably do the regular homework and ask about the audience’s demographics; but you also go the extra mile and you manage to leave no room for misunderstanding. You see, the audience comes in with preconceived ideas, but you’re

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By Shoug Al Nafisi

already aware of that. Taking that into consideration, how well you get your message across determines your credibility and effectiveness. The magic? Relating their interests to your talk, and still managing to make your point. 2. Network tap You tune in to their ideas Leaving no room for loose ends, you manage to play the field and go back to your subject very smoothly. It takes your credibility to another level predicting the questions your audience may have in mind. Better yet, you incorporate the questions asked into your talk, and use them the next time around. This way you guarantee never

Lovrenc Kessler is the Managing Director of Simon-Kucher & Partners’ Dubai office and has been with the company for more than seven years. Prior to joining the Dubai office, Kessler focused on innovative marketing strategies, portfolio optimization, converged offer development and sales excellence. Fluent in six languages, he has led numerous international projects on a top-management level in Germany, (Eastern) Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia. Kessler advises market leaders in various B2C and B2B industries on how to achieve profitable revenue growth. He received his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany, and an MSc from the University of Vaasa, Finland, majoring in International Management, Finance and Logistics. During his studies he was a scholar of the German National Academic Foundation.

missing out on audience-generated ideas. Your talk is always richer when you’re one step ahead. 3. Speak the language You master your audience’s lingo It’s key that you set an inviting tone at the beginning of your talk, getting your listeners on board for the entire time. One of the most basic requirements to convey a message completely is to have the least amount of distraction possible, the first of which would be to lose the language barrier. Whether it’s a matter of science, tech, or any profession, you tailor the words to be familiar to your audience. That being said, it’s always appreciated when things are put in the simplest of terms, leaving more room to think of the subject at hand. In other words, your stage is a display of your credentials, just not a display of your vocab and mastery of industry jargon.


in pictures

Speaking in code

I

22 fintech ideas pitched in 36-hour hackathon

n the spirit of recognizing talent and turning ideas to concepts, Dubai Internet City’s tech incubation hub in5 Center brought together developers, coders and designers for the third edition of Decode Dubai. Held on the 9th and 10th of October at Media One Hotel, the 36-hour hackathon, sponsored by First Gulf Bank, challenged 22 teams to build and develop banking and financial solutions to improve the banking experience of consumers. The 22 teams pitched web and mobile applications to a panel of judges including Beehive CTO Iain McPhail, Precinct Partners Managing Partner Amjad Ahmad, PayFort Managing Director Omar Soudodi, Telr CEO Sirish Kumar, HoneyBee Tech Ventures co-founder Ihsan Jawad, Gulf Investor Circle Group Partner Nikolas Fotilas, and FGB Executive VP and Chief Information Officer Andrew Murphy. The judges

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assessed team entries across a number of measures including usability, aesthetics, innovation, relevance, and market potential. The first place distinction went to Transacto, an app to organize transactions easily and categorize SMSs from bank accounts, followed by Smart Visit in second place, an app personalizing customer experiences during bank visits, and in third place, Bridg, an app enabling users and SMEs offline cashless payments powered by Bluetooth. Awarded by FGB, the winning projects received cash prizes of AED15,000, AED10,000 and AED5000 respectively. Decode Dubai is one of DIC’s initiatives that are, similar to Drones for Good, HackaMENA and in5, a step to aligning with Smart Dubai’s aims in fostering entrepreneurship through the tech sector. It’s now up to the teams to turn the winning concepts into functioning businesses.


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TREPONOMICS

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It’s time to get visual

The low-down on Instagram advertising

s many of you have already noticed with the ads appearing on your Instagram feeds, the imagecentric social network has begun monetizing its platform here in the Middle East. According to the latest earnings call, Instagram’s ad revenues will make up 5% of Facebook’s mobile ad revenues this year, and that share will increase to 14.0% in 2017. This is thanks in part to the new advertising API, and the projected revenue is expected to rocket to $2.8 billion by 2017, leaving even giants like Twitter and Google in the rearview mirror in the U.S. market. So what does that mean for advertisers? And why does it matter? Instagram was a platform that, for me, was a bit like Google: you simply discovered it. From the platform’s launch in 2010, Instagram relentlessly focused on creating a user ecosystem where the individual became part of the conversation within a user-friendly experience. Unlike Facebook, Instagram has held out: to date, there is no evidence of an Edge Rank or algorithm-type function, which would pre-determine what users will see. If you follow someone on Instagram, you’ll see their posts– without filtered results. And while it’s a stream-style feed, like Twitter, it’s not nearly as fast moving. Depending on how many people you follow, you can easily log in once or twice a day and catch the posts of everyone you follow without missing anything, making it

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quite a refreshing, unaltered experience for the user. Instagram also makes it so easy to like a post. Users can easily double-tap anywhere on the image while scrolling. They don’t need to navigate or maneuver to access the like button. Furthermore, it’s super easy to upload images and engage with others, which makes the whole experience ideal for today’s online consumers.

Sure, Instagram might share Facebook’s scale -Facebook currently has a whopping 1.45 billion users- but it’s still a seriously formidable platform to stimulate reach, when you compare it to Twitter

or Pinterest. Why? Because Instagram really does deliver different experiences which provide deeper engagement and action. For example, when I’m using Twitter, I use it for news delivery, for customer care, and for connecting with people who share longer-form content. This means my frame of mind when using Twitter is completely different. I expect brands to respond quickly to any questions or concerns, or I want to use it as a jumping board onto a deeper dive on moments and news that brands are sharing. Pinterest Vs. Instagram

For Pinterest, a user’s intent

Why is Instagram special?

Part of Instagram’s appeal is that the visual stories you are seeing are true reflection of those you were following despite the filters. For me, Instagram immediately felt more real and raw, and as such, the immediacy of Instagram was so appealing. Each time I opened the app, I felt like I was on a personal journey wherein I had found Instagram and walked into a secret garden of knowledge and wonder. In short, what Instagram provides me, as a user, is a very unique approach to curating content –the platform combines beautiful visuals within a simple format– a formula that seems to work across the board! As a seasoned communicator, I immediately saw the potential of image-based marketing on Instagram– pictures literally tell a thousand words, and we all know the science of storytelling through visuals. In today’s hyper connected world, where we are trying to capture the attention of an audience with the attention span of a goldfish, you have to stand out, and beautifully crafted imagery seems to work.

www,emarketer.com

A

By Ema Linaker

Don’t believe me? Just look at the incredible momentum that Instagram has managed to gain both globally and regionally: • 300 million global users • 30 billion photos shared since 2010 when it first launched • 2.5 billion likes daily • 70 million photos are on average uploaded per day • 25 million users across MENA


tends to be focused on the discovery and curation of other users’ content. Similar to Google, users can use Pinterest to search for specific content or products or ideas. They can then create visually appealing and special boards by pinning and grouping the content they discover. Instagram’s move into search has certainly really developed the platform to be similar to this mode but currently Pinterest has the edge, for now. And more importantly for brands, Pinterest users are predominantly female. In fact, women account for about 70% of Pinterest users and are about five times as likely to use the virtual scrapbooking tool as men, the largest gender difference of any social network. Pinterest users also tend to skew a little bit older, although the core demographic is still 18-34 year olds, representing 56% of users. Men and women are more evenly represented on Instagram; 50% of the platforms users are outside of the United States, making for a more global demographic. This network is also more popular with the younger crowd- two-thirds of users are between the ages of 18 and 34, and popularity drops a bit with the older part of this demographic.

Souq.com Instagram creative

How not to Instagram

Unfortunately, with the growth of Instagram as a marketing tool, I am starting to see what we call “stock image based marketing,” which is really lazy, and ultimately, not effective at all. If you take a look at the data that I’ve seen on many an Instagram campaign, you can see that eye-catching, engaging photography is the single most important factor in marketing optimization for any campaign on this platform. For example, just check out what one of the first brands to embrace beautiful photography has managed to do. Ben & Jer-

ry’s understood that featuring mouth-watering images of its famous ice cream could spread “ice cream euphoria” around the world. It has a strong commitment to its brand values, and it demonstrates this with its focus on building customer connections on a global scale. Ben & Jerry’s is constantly regramming photos posted with related hashtags, as well as focusing on building brand awareness by promoting new and unique flavors through Instagram to generate buzz. Ben & Jerry’s has also proven

Instagram ads’ effectiveness by strategically running them using images of its newest flavors or other enticing pictures. After just four ads, Ben & Jerry’s saw a 20% increase in followers. You’ll hear people talk about the need for authentic, real-world photos to drive engagement and they’re right. You can’t keep doing what some brands are really guilty of here in the Middle East, which is just slapping up any old marketing nonsense and hoping “it will do.” It won’t-

the Instagram community is discerning, and as the social network’s name suggests, they go to Instagram to be inspired, delighted and entertained- in an instant. Shoddy shortcuts will not hold up when brands are competing against the likes of National Geographic and some of the world’s best photographers, humorists, fashion brands, and the list goes on. Instagram users refuse to be bored to tears by dull promotional campaigns or posters– and they vote with likes and follows. >>>

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So what exactly is happening on Instagram, and how can you take part?

Well, we know all Instagram advertisers will be able to use a full slate of Facebook targeting tools (remember that Facebook now owns Instagram), including the popular Custom Audiences feature. This will be a key drawing card. Why? Because ads will be hypertargeted based on demographics: age, gender and interests pulled from Facebook. This gives advertisers a real advantage over organic posts because you can really deliver hyperbespoke, beautiful content to a precise target, which means that the effectiveness of your creative investment increases enormously. Further, you can retarget your contacts with custom audiences by uploading your customers email addresses. This allows for a deeper connection to the customer relationship. Why advertise on Instagram?

Apart from the reasons already mentioned, Instagram has become the de facto place to

ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO

reach younger people. Whilst I was on holiday this summer, I met a few people under 22 who wanted to keep in touch. I asked how, assuming they would ask to connect on Facebook? Instead, they said to follow them on Instagram. It is this both factual and anecdotal insight that is important for brands to understand. If you want to play where millennials are highly engaged, then Instagram is now a vital part of the digital ecosystem. Instagram is unique because the content allows for much deeper engagement off the platform as it ties deeply to the wider digital ecosystem of brands. The new functionality allows for a closer tie in to CRM and e-commerce and directly ties delight and participation with a brand to commercial actions. What can advertisers expect?

For the smart brands out there that base creative work on data insights, the advertising on Instagram will have several different types of carousel ads with “Shop Now,” “Learn More” and “Sign Up” but-

Starbucks MENA Instagram creative

tons that link outside the app, which will be incredibly insightful. These CTAs for direct response actions that open an in-app browser mean that brands can fully integrate their social CRM strategy so it moves Instagram from an awareness-only touch point to the end-of-the-purchasefunnel tool. The end-of-funnel formats have a really powerful API to track and measure what the value a brand’s investment. Robust measurement and tracking will allow advertisers total transparency of the value of the investment on the platform against their key metrics, whether that’s awareness uplift, purchase intent or even actual sales the platformwhich will allow for a really smart tracking system across the process, and ultimately, a powerful performance marketing matrix.

are, what business are you in and what you want to achieve. Both platforms provide a way for marketers to really bond with people in a meaningful way– by connecting with the right people. Facebook and Instagram both have very strong targeting capabilities, especially because of the huge prominence on peoples’ mobiles. What I would recommend to all brands looking to invest in Instagram and Facebook is to measure and ask questions. For example, and I’m quoting Sheryl Sandberg here, “track ROI, if you do a car ad with Instagram one month, how many vehicles were driven off the lot during the ad’s lifetime?” Ultimately, marketers need to do a bit of research and learn what products are best for them at the right time to drive their business results.

Does this mean I shouldn’t advertise on Facebook?

Only quality content need apply!

In terms of Instagram and Facebook, I think that both platforms can coexist together. Honestly, it really depends on what your marketing goals

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Now that Instagram is opening up its advertising suite, there is a lot of pent-up demand. The rollout of new features over the next several months means that by the end of 2015,

www.instagram.com

TREPONOMICS


Instagram will have a host of new ad products for advertisers, large and small. But this is not the time for marketers to rest on their respective laurels. Sorry, folks, but mediocre creative simply won’t work on Instagram. It needs to feel authentic, real, and beautiful. Think of your Instagram feed as the place to showcase beautifully crafted print advertising. You don’t have to invest in lots of really expensive equipment to produce beautiful photographs that look amazing on Instagram.

And innovation pays off- for example, check out what Old Spice is doing– leveraging that school boy “Create Your Own Adventure” books passion that clearly resonates with boys and men today, judging by the huge success of Old Spice’s beautiful campaign. Hats off to Wieden + Kennedy who hacked the tagging function on Instagram to gamify the platform through a “Choose Your Own Adventure” social game for Old Spice, filled with robots, retro monsters and meta jokes.

Making businesses #instafamous Instagram marks fifth birthday with Worldwide Instameets If you happened to pass by the Burj Al Arab in October, and wondered why the Instagram logo was projected onto the structure, it was part of the company’s global fifth anniversary celebrations. To commemorate the occasion, Amy Cole, Head of Brand Development in

EMEA and the seventh member of the original Instagram team, visited Dubai for the platform’s Worldwide Instameet- an event for the app’s users to meet and explore new venues together. According to its release, more than 40 billion photos have been posted since its inception and

Whatever you do, don’t publish stock photographyit’s a huge no-no on Instagram. It feels fake and worse than spam. What all Instasuccessful brands do on the platform is encourage truly authentic moment sharing. The challenge for Instagram now is maintaining that same high standard for quality, despite effectively shedding the training wheels- giving more advertisers more freedom, instead of just guiding a few big-budget brands to glossy campaigns.

Ema Linaker is a digital native who has been working integrated communications for leading brands and agencies for over 20 years. She has worked at Google, Nuance, Ogilvy & Mather, and now heads up Leo Burnett’s team of social, mobile and digital experts working on multinational brands like McDonalds, Samsung and P&G.

from the 400 million members base, over 75% are based out of the United States, particularly in the Middle East- and it’s banking on that. Cole’s visit coincides with Instagram’s announcement of facilitating business use of the platform with more advertising avenues. Product-wise, it showed the roll out of new features for businesses such as landscape photo and video capabilities, and video ads that are up to 30 seconds in length

(twice the typical video length). If you’re looking for proof that Instagram has the user base to drive business objectives, then check out the number of pictures posted for the Worldwide Instameet (hashtag #WWIM12), and here in Dubai (hashtag #WWIM12_Burj). The challenge now rests on businesses to generate content that won’t turn off users who are fond of what was previously a commercialfree space.

The Burj Al Arab in Dubai, UAE with a projection of the Instagram logo for the Worldwide Instameet in October

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TECH

SHINY | WEBSITE TO WATCH | GEEK | MOBILE TECH | ONLINE ‘TREP | THE FIX

#TAMTALKSTECH It’s time to take a look at new A/V! For the home there’s the IoT, and a slick new viewing experience- that allows you to incorporate your device. Fab find Lenovo PHAB Plus

Apple Watch Hermès DoubleTour Sony H.ear

Hear ye Sony h.ear

High-resolution audio is on deck at Sony and you can have it too with the new h.ear collection. The new range is available in three formats: h.ear on headphones, h.ear in NC noise canceling and h.ear in in-ear earphones. The headband style headphones are a welcome remix of an old favorite for audiophiles featuring an in-line remote and mic to take calls and control music, a tangle-free cable in cool coordinating shades, and a compact folding design that fits perfectly in its carrying

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Entrepreneur november 2015

pouch. Even better than the specs? h.ear accessories actually look good. Made with premium audio components and finishes, the gadgets are available in striking colors like viridian blue, cinnabar red, charcoal black, lime yellow, and bordeaux pink. Keeping with the cool factor, the Sony Walkman has also undergone a refreshing redesign too. It’s not just about music anymore. With expanded capabilities, the media player is more compact, contains 128GB memory with a micro SD card slot and Sony’s upscaling technology which enhances compressed MP3 files to near high res audio quality. The Walkman can hold all of your multimedia files and has built-in AM/FM radio. When paired, Sony h.ear headphones and Walkman combine premium audio with striking design for your listening comfort- superior sound never looked so good.

Lenovo gives new meaning to the phrase “Go big or go home,” with the release of PHAB Plus, the device is designed for… everyone. The 6.8 inch device is larger than the average smartphone but smaller than a tablet and includes features like full HD display, a 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera and a 3,500 mAh battery that gives you up to 24 hours of talk time. The phablet includes 32GB memory for heavy multimedia users, it’s powered with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core chip Lenovo PHAB Plus

with 2GB of memory for the gamers, and offers a Panorama Selfie function with dual LED flash for the image-obsessed. Still on the fence about how user-friendly the device is? PHAB Plus has been optimized for one-hand usability by enabling double taps, long press and shakes to launch functions. There’s even a one-hand keyboard that shrinks and snaps to your hand position. With a large rounded unibody design, and a host of great features, bigger really is better.


The Sony BRAVIA™ X9400C Series 4K LCD Android TV

A brave new world Sony Bravia meets Android TV

Sony unveiled the X9000C Series of BRAVIA 4K LCD televisions, its thinnest range of TVs to date with edge-to-edge viewing. The televisions were built with a new 4K Processor X1 which improves clarity, color accuracy and contrast of HD and 4K video. The virtually frameless televisions mount flush to the wall, featuring TRILUMINOS display for sharper, expanded color. To give you a seamlessly integrated experience with your mobile devices, the series supports Google’s latest Android TV operating system. With built-in Google

Cast, you can easily choose to watch your favorite content via your mobile device- cast it to the big screen! It doesn’t stop there; you can access Google Play for apps, movies and more using your Google ID. One-Flick Entertainment allows you to access content without disrupting what you’re currently watching. Perhaps the most coveted feature of BRAVIA Android TV is Voice Search, allowing users to search content across different services, and enabling you to command your TV… by simply talking to it. A TV that responds when spoken to? Epic.

Welcome home

Makook delivers IoT to the MENA region

www.makooksl.com

#TAMTALKSTECH

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

Makook, a Dubai-based technology firm, wants to simplify and enhance your life. As people and things continue to converge on the IoT, services to facilitate connectivity must keep up and that’s where Makook is useful. The company offers everything from entertainment to home security, automation, and energy management. Makook keeps

your world connected with its proprietary app that is available in both Google Play and the App Store. From the app, you can stream video, take an online course, and take a peek into your home or anywhere you have home monitoring devices installed. Makook aims to bring all facets of your life to a single, digital platform with a seamlessly connected experience.

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SHINY | WEBSITE TO WATCH | GEEK | MOBILE TECH | ONLINE ‘TREP | THE FIX

Apple music strikes a chord Could it be a music biz trendsetter?

A

By Kareem Chehayeb

fter Apple acquired Beats Electronics during the summer of 2014, it took just a few months for people to speculate about what Apple’s going to do with it. Rumors and leaks about a restructuring of iTunes swarmed the Internet throughout the spring of last year, mostly due to the fact that former Beats chief creative officer and Nine Inch Nails singer Trent Reznor was going to spearhead the project. There was also talk of Apple trying to give Spotify a knockout blow through a streaming service price war. That didn’t work though; music labels weren’t willing to go lower than US$9.99 for a streaming service according to leaks. Apple Music boasts around 30 million albums, similar to Spotify that claims it has “more than 30 million.” But… don’t let the few similarities fool you. There are more than enough features here that separate the two. While both are similarly priced, Apple Music doesn’t have a free version with

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ads, but they make up for it by offering users a free three month trial, as well as a family plan (for up to six people) for just US$14.99. This is a little different than Spotify’s freemium model; a free version is available, but you have to tolerate some annoying ads. Moreover, Apple Music integrates your existing iTunes playlist, whether you bought a digital album or transferred songs off a CD. Spotify has a section for your music, but it’s not integrated into your main playlist. It’s a separate tab on its own. Unlike Apple Music however, Spotify has a stronger social element to it, allowing you to see your friend’s playlists for inspiration. What might be the winning feature for Apple Music is its radio feature. Instead of being a series of playlists of hit songs, there is a human touch with DJs hosting several shows, as well as the playlists being comprised of songs by some lesser known bands, or songs by genre pioneers that have often been overlooked. At the end of the day, it’s going to be up to consumer taste. Apple’s tendency to be exclusive, especially when it comes to mobile, might not appeal to those who use Android or Blackberry operating systems. Speaking of Android, where’s Google Music in all this? We’re keeping our eyes peeled for what could be an upgraded version of their

YouTube Music Key feature. To get better insight on how this could impact the music industry, we spoke to Elie Habib, founder of Anghami. “For us, the pro in Apple Music is mostly a validation that streaming is the way forward,” says Habib, who says this also shows that Anghami made the right decision when setting up a little over two years ago. Will it be a hit in the MENA region? Habib believes that it might take some time before consumers can adopt the streaming service due to a number of factors. The first one is the most obvious: the MENA region’s relatively low credit card ownership and usage. The second reason Habib believes Apple Music could take some time before it becomes a huge MENA-wide hit also applies to international markets: streaming needs to become “mainstream,” but this requires a significant “habitual change” for the average consumer. He cites that “they have been always used to filling up an SD card or an MP3 CD” for a significantly cheaper cost, and used websites like YouTube to

What is Anghami? Anghami, the MENA region’s legal alternative to pirated music, was launched publically on December 30, 2012 after a beta period that began nearly two months earlier on November 5. The mobile app’s co-founders, Elie Habib and Eddy Maroun, who were inducted into Endeavor in October 2013 making them the 12th and 13th Endeavor Lebanon entrepreneurs, have a division of labor that sees them play to their strengths. “I am the techie guy… I handle the actual product and operations and I wrote the first version of Anghami,” says Habib. Co-founder Maroun “handles the musical part -which by far is a more complicated task dealing with music from artists- and business development. I focus on the product, team and growth strategies.” Like many success-

listen to their favorite songs without paying a dime. All in all, Habib believes that a “hybrid paid/free model” will be most successful. “Apple will grow the pie as a whole,” Habib adds, pleased about Apple Music’s impact thus far, adding that this will help make the streaming industry blossom. Going forward, he can imagine streaming services becoming more niche-based. For example, if you’re into jazz, you can subscribe to a service that gives you access to a narrower library that focuses on jazz and excludes hip hop… for a cheaper price than paying for an entire package. And you can tell he’s being genuine based on some of Anghami’s moves that he’s shared with us: “We have recently released a redesign of our app, a new web player, [and] support for Chromecast as well as Apple and Android watches.” The founder also lists a few other Anghami plans such as a Pandora radio-esque easy listening feature, videos, and a social platform that keeps listeners connected to their favorite artists.

ful enterprises, the co-founders credit strong human capital for their success. Onboarding the massive 15 million user base of Anghami was “a team sport,” says Habib. “We’re just drivers.” www.anghami.com

www.apple.com

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‘Trep trimmings

The executive selection DRESS THE PART ELIAS EL-INDARI ON FASHION, FUNCTION, AND THE THREE-PIECE SUIT

main focus of fashion. Given his aforementioned track record, when it comes to matters of style, let’s just say that it’d be wise to follow in El-indari’s footsteps. “Other than a beautiful handmade Italian shoe, a timepiece is my favorite accessory,” he says. “Every gentleman should invest in a timepiece that suits his lifestyle. Whether it be a sporty,

www.smf-blog.com |

Smfblog

Images by Moez Achour for SMF Blog

Elias El-indari, the styleconscious founder of SMF Blog, trains his expert eye on better menswear. The 23-year-old digital influencer and fashion writer has teamed up with notable

companies in the MENA region –a range that spans gentlemen’s timepieces to fine clothiersand most recently with Google Arabia for an interesting digital exploration trip in Europe. With impressive engagement across his digital platforms, the young professional shares a mixture of content that includes travel and lifestyle in addition to his

classic or a vintage watch, it brings out your true characteristics.” Other fashion forward pointers? El-indari says when you make an investment in an executive wardrobe, you need to make an effort to maintain it as well. “My top tips when it comes to taking great care of a suit are to rotate your suits during the working week,” he says. “Get the right size, and tailor to measure whenever possible. Do not dry clean unless absolutely necessary, hang with care, and use a steam iron.”

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‘Treps choice

land rover images © land rover mena

“Maintaining your image is key in this day and age. Similar to how people invest in their education, future and stability, a gentleman should always invest in an extensive wardrobe ranging from smart casual to formal. You can always tell a gentleman by his shoes. Ensure that your dress shoes are always polished, tucked away in dust bags for protection when not in use, and get them resoled once in a while when needed.”

WHAT HE’S WEARING “This Italian-made Dior Homme three-piece suit is part of the House’s Winter 2015 menswear collection. The two-button jacket with a tailored lapel in grey and a striking Prince of Wales check guarantees a formal, elegant look. The suit’s material of wool and cashmere ensure flexibility and ultimate comfort as you constantly move around during the day. The concealed button waistcoat -a favorite- helps create a clean and charismatic look. A good briefcase is an essential accessory, as it helps keep everything intact, safe and in the one place for when you’re on the move. The Dior sunglasses are perfect for everyday wear with cutting-edge design for an on-trend look. When focusing on a suit, you do not want to draw away any attention from it with another statement piece, so a pair of black, simple, clean tassel loafers is prefect for the three-piece suit. It’s a little different as it leans more to an Italian-inspired look, but different is always good.”

Land Rover’s all new Range Rover Sport SVR It’s been called “the fastest, most powerful and most dynamically focused Land Rover ever produced,” and that declaration alone was enough to make us sit up and take note of the Range Rover Sport SVR. However, that’s not to say that this vehicle requires a marketing plug for it to be noticed- from a visual perspective, this SUV boasts of a distinctively muscular exterior offered in seven different color palettes, including the exclusive Estoril Blue shade. Performance-wise, the SVR packs quite a punch: its 550PS/680Nm 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine allows the driver to rev up the Land Rover from 0-100km/h in a matter of just 4.7 seconds, while also enjoying its superior levels of interior comfort and handling. Designed, engineered and built in Britain, the Range Rover Sport SVR is guaranteed to make your driving experience an exhilarating one- while also giving your profile on the roads an impeccable boost. www.landrover-me.com

THE ACCESSORY “A pocket square is a gentleman’s wardrobe staple in my opinion. They help add character to a suit or smart casual ensemble, differentiating you from the rest. Your tie and pocket square do not always have to match. Bend the rules a little and play with contrasting colors.” THE THREE-PIECE SUIT “Personally, I think men constantly associate a threepiece suit with a special occasion such as a wedding or gala dinner- that prevents men from taking advantage of the bold outfit. I highly encourage gentlemen to wear a three-piece suit to the office. Its boldness and professionalism will help you to look damn good when walking through those doors in the morning.”

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Conrad Dubai exterior

Lobby

The Executive Lounge interior

Meeting the needs of smart travellers

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Conrad Dubai’s Andreas Jersabeck invests time in the business guest

n order to conduct business and do it successfully, you need to first invest your time in understanding the culture and customs of those you do business with,” maintains Andreas Jersabeck, General Manager of the Conrad Dubai. Jersabeck gives the example of Japan, where sharing your business card with a new associate is a minute ceremony in itself: “It’s presented in a particular way, with both

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hands and never in a rush; you must spend time in reading and acknowledging what you have been given.” Prior to his current appointment at the Conrad Dubai, the flagship property of the Conrad Hotels & Resorts portfolio in the Middle East, Jersabeck has, in this region, held positions in Qatar and Egypt as well. The Austrian national has also worked across his native Europe and in the U.S., giving him ample opportunity

that “connectivity is the most to impress corporate clients, essential; without it, busiand he’s seen some of the ness travellers would need to properties under his tenure work double as hard to catch garner awards and accolades, up– everything from transincluding the title of Best portation to WiFi and open Business Hotel in Europe- no mean feat for a continent that channels with the hotel staff, news and tools would fall boasts some of the world’s under this element.” Besides finest hotels. being switched-on, the GM The GM’s impressive 38 says that prestige properties years in the hospitality need to have an “intuitive” industry -he joined Hilton service operation that goes Worldwide in 1975- positions the extra mile, and finally, him high amongst his peers options for those that need to in terms of anticipating the needs of a business guest. The de-stress- like superior spa and recreational facilities. Conrad Dubai’s visitor roster is “approximately 65% business-travel related,” General Manager and with that comes Andreas a slew of individual Jersabeck requests. Jersabeck says that understanding tailored one-to-one service levels is an absolute priority for business clientele, and that the property strives to “find innovative ways of meeting the needs and demands of the new generation of smart travellers.” And what facets does he believe are of the utmost importance for the business guest? Jersabeck points out (rightfully)


RECOMMENDED BY THE GM EXEC STAY “Conrad Dubai is a 555-room property featuring locally inspired, internationally designed rooms that start on the 24th floor with breathtaking views on both sides. Our rooms and suites range from 46 square meters to 138 including Deluxe and Executive rooms, King Bed and Double Bed Deluxe Suites, Executive Suites and Conrad Suites. Guests can appreciate views of the Arabian Gulf or the magical city of Dubai and the vibrant Sheikh Zayed Road, while enjoying amenities such as in-room wireless and wired Internet, mini bar, LED screen television, docking station for iPad/iPod/iPhone and 3+1 Bose Surround Home Theatre System. Each room offers a space to refresh the senses in a spacious marble bathroom, offering a luxury rain shower, luxurious toiletries, and an HDTV in the defogging mirror.”

images courtesy conrad dubai

CONFERENCE CAPABILITIES “Conrad Dubai also offers 4,400 square meters of flexible spaces, including two impressive ballrooms and several spacious

Al Yasat U-Shape

private rooms, all with natural light and modern design. The property also features the only indoor vehicle elevator in the UAE, perfect for exclusive weddings and car launches. All of the meeting spaces come equipped with WiFi and state-of-the-art audio-visual technology. The wide variety of rooms can also be tailored to accommodate the specific needs of our corporate business travelers. [We’ve had many large scale conferences], including the International Prosecutors Conference which brought hundreds of high-level prosecutors from around the world to Conrad Dubai. Louis Vuitton’s annual meeting was also held at our property. The most impressive was the Nu Skin press conference and product launch, which brought with it over 18,000 room nights to the city. It was the biggest conference in terms of room nights to be held in Dubai, and the headquarters was based in our hotel.” CONNECTIVITY “The Conrad Concierge app offers greater convenience at the touch of a button-

from ordering in-room dining to a stress-free check out. Our guests have the ability to choose from bespoke bath amenities, preselect the types of pillows they would like The Cave private dining and ensure their favorite mushroom risotto is his speciality, newspaper will be delivered the and more importantly my favourite morning of their stay. It really dish. You can find it at our market transforms the guest experience inspired restaurant Ballarò.” giving more personalized freedom and flexibility.” DOWNTIME “[To unwind], guests can relax by the pool, surrounded MUNCH “If I had to choose one by the lush gardens of Purobeach [outlet] at the Conrad, it would Urban Oasis located on our sixth be Cave, our Parisian bistro and floor terrace. Dubai is full of energy bar. In addition to its beautiful and people rushing to get from aesthetic, it houses more than one place to another, I always find 550 [beverages] from around the it amazing how with Purobeach, world. Being a native Austrian, I you virtually escape the city have great appreciation for havwithout ever leaving. The suring cheese perfectly paired with roundings are absolutely stunning not one, but two bottles of local and it’s a perfect way to spend an Austrian [beverages]! Executive afternoon.” Sous Chef Francesco Dimonte’s

The Club Lounge

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Team building time?

Then opt for clues, cryptology, and crime scenes By Pamella de Leon

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e tried out two different (but similar) team building activities, and we also talked to the founders behind the concepts to hear about the business side of things. Skip the same old retreat, and book your team in for a mentally stimulating and exciting hour!

ESCAPE QUEST www.escapequest.ae

The concept of the real-life escape game has been around for quite some time, popping up in Japan, Europe, New York and San Francisco. Escape Quest founder, Dubai-based Zoe Masey, is a former accountant who launched her business about a year ago.

She explains that the team building activities at her business are logic-based and nonlinear, as opposed to linear and narrativebased games (think murder mysteries). So it was with curiosity, a bit of anxiety and excitement that the Entrepreneur Middle East editorial staff entered The Explorers Library room (one of the three Escape Quest challenges). What went down With an ominous click of a lock on the door, our team took in our surroundings, and gathered as much clues as we could. We were given 60 minutes to solve our way out- our task was to search, find keys, solve puzzles, open all of the locks, and try not to give

in and ring the bell to ask for clues from the game-master via a suspended screen in The Explorers Library room. After lots of laughter, passive aggression, and patience-testing moments, our teamwork allowed us to unlock the last barrier with two minutes to spare. What makes Escape Quest appealing is the camaraderie and triumphant feelings of solving a puzzle. Masey regards it as one of the best parts of the experience. The founder says that from what she observes going on during the challenges, communication and strong listening skills are important to finding your way out of the different rooms. So if you want to get your adrenaline jacked up with mind-bending challenges,

take a crack at solving the clues and puzzles to freedom! Our team was four people, and the room was spacious enough that we could all work on different challenges comfortably. The business Though Escape Quest only opened this year, the startup claims to be sustaining itself and is operating profitably now, with 50% bookings over the summer. The company welcomes everyone from families to group of friends, and corporations divided into groups. For those of you who want to amp up the challenge, teams of two to five players can also compete with each other on getting out first with two identical Explorers Library rooms. >>>

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actually solving a mystery, and finding our way out of it.

HINTHUNT www.hinthunt.ae

Fresh from our experience at Escape Quest, we decided to try our luck at HintHunt as a team of two. As a brand originally from London, HintHunt also has branches in Cape Town, Paris, Moscow, Vienna, and now Dubai. Managing Partner Lina El Sahab explains that HintHunt’s rooms are narrative-based, meaning that the hunts involve a storyline that requires logical thinking. With encouragement from our Game Master and anxiety levels rising, we entered JM’s Office (one of the two sets of rooms) to take a crack at

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What went down With 60 minutes on the clock, we searched for clues and solved puzzles in hard-to-find secret spots. Should you need help, the Game Master watching via video camera will lend a helping hand through the screen placed on the wall inside the room. Despite our best efforts, though we were two clues away from solving the mystery (which is a feat for a team of two), we couldn’t make it out on time. If you ever want to test your detective skills, try your hand at solving HintHunt’s mysteries. El Saheb says that curiosity and being able to work well together is important in solving the puzzles. Whether you’re a great detective or a mediocre one, your team will surely love the adrenaline rush.

The business Located at Times Square Centre in Dubai, HintHunt opened to the public in June 2014 and quickly gained popularity with corporates, families, and even as a destination for birthday parties and schoolchildren. UAE’s HintHunt is actually a family business- the founders were encouraged by their father who set up his own auditing firm in Dubai in the 70s. Brought

to Dubai by the five El Sahab siblings, based on researching, they concluded that brand franchising was the way to go as developing their own concept wouldn’t have been as successful. The benefits of a franchise? Relying on a professional team with a tried and tested brand and business methodology. Bookings can be made online and are designed for groups of three to five people.


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Relaxation tips for ‘treps

Entrepreneur Danielle Abisaab helps you wind down at the office

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ew York City-based architect turned Beirutbased yoga instructor and entrepreneur, Danielle Abisaab, launched her first studio in her flat. After 11 successful years of establishing her yoga venture, she launched a new studio designed by her personally, putting both past

and present career expertise to work. “Design and execution [took] two months. I was fortunate to work with an amazing and highly professional contractor who literally gave me the illusion of working in New York.” The space maximizes a basement flat in Beirut’s Achrafieh district where

students can buy membership cards or pay a per class rate. Abisaab uses a North American business model and it has paid off- her ROI happened just “nine months into operation.” The approach has garnered her hundreds of loyal students who also attend regular workshops staged by guest instructors, hosted by Abisaab. Were there any setbacks? “This studio came together very easily as the result of past reflections and observations.” UnionSquareYoga

Yoga_Holic

TIPS FOR STRESSED OUT ‘TREPS “When we recognize that the stress reaction is a choice, and we have the power to make a different choice, stress starts to dissolve. Stress is a product of the mind and we can either empower or kill it completely; one way to get there is through meditation.” 1. Take a stretch Just because you’re in a suit at the office doesn’t mean you can’t do a few simple stretches. “Sitting long hours in a day can take a big toll on our health. The first thing to do is to become aware of your

Daniel Abi Saab Danielle Abissab

Success strategies from a globally recognized athlete Egyptian Raneem El Welily dominates the court Business, like sports, requires perseverance. Squash champion Raneem El Welily says it’s not just the hours that you put in toward your goal, but “what you work on, how well you manage your weak points, and how you work on improving them.” Her strategy seems to be paying off- El Welily recently topped reigning nine-year champion Nicol David. The young Egyptian athlete landed her title as World No. 1 during the September 2015 PSA (Professional Squash Association) Women’s Rankings, officially making her the first Arab to win the accolade. El Welily, who was the World No. 62

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2 for eight months, continued a winning streak at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Guggenheim Partners Windy City Open, and the Alexandria Open. The champion asserts that it’s just about having the talent, paired with hard work, discipline, and hunger to achieve. “Staying motivated the entire time is really important,” says El Welily, “so yes, I always have a practice plan to follow that I try and be very organized and disciplined [about].” She adds, “But getting bored from the routine is inevitable and it kills your motivation. So always know when you need a break,

when you can afford one, and if not, know what to do to refresh and energize yourself.” RANEEM EL WELILY’S TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE “The key for my success was four things. First, the help and support I got from those around me- thinking you can succeed on your own is a huge mistake. Raneem El Welily

posture: every time you catch yourself slouching, crunching the shoulders to your ears, hunching over your keyboard, sticking your head forward toward your screen, or holding your phone between your ear and your shoulder, stop, sit up, extend the spine, reach the arms over head and give yourself a long nice stretch upward. Take side leans alternating between the right and left side of your torso. Go back to whatever you were doing while maintaining consciousness in your spine. Repeat this every time you catch yourself slipping into poor posture. Yoga is about expansion and extension, and your spine is the antenna by which you receive, assimilate and redistribute life’s energies. Make sure to always keep it upright and spacious.” 2. Take a mental respite A quick meditation can do wonders for a racing mind. “Three minutes of stillness performed intermittently throughout the day will yield great results and allow you to achieve greater focus. Giving time to meditation in a day, helps you manage your time and schedules in a much more efficient way.”

Second is listening and learning when to listen, and when to keep your ears shut from the crazy world around you is really difficult for me. Learn to filter; know for myself what’s good for me and what’s not. Third is that everyone has their own tests and paths to walk, crawl or even run. Focus on your test, and think how you can get to the end of your path. No matter what you do, never ever compare [yourself] to someone else. Finally, never let arrogance get inside you. I have to admit it does get to me from time to time, but I’ve learned the hard way that the moment you think you know it or have it all, is the moment you lose it all.”


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based on the fear of rejection it can become habitual and unhealthy. You can combat this destructive habit by appreciating your inner strengths. Whatever thoughts or feelings arise within you, respond to them with a kinder outlook and a positive selfappraisal. Life is not about pleasing others.

Stop sputtering at the finish line

Five energy-wasters that you need to get in check

A

By Mark Sephton

re you a workaholic trying to find a way to keep your energy up and also find time to relax? Are you tired of struggling to keep it all together, while trying to squeeze in enough time to truly enjoy life? Entrepreneurs at startup businesses are working longer hours than ever before. You rise early and work late into the night. It consumes your mind and drains your energy. Time is finite, the number of hours in a day is fixed, but your energy is renewable. If you don’t manage your energy, your relationships will suffer, your work performance will suffer and your general love for life will suffer. Being the best requires us to take a close look at how we manage our energy because it is necessary for everything we do. Even Formula One has pit stops to refuel and check the safety and performance levels of the vehicle. Just like a race car, people need pit stops; scheduling breaks is essential to staying at your peak potential. If you

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don’t manage your energy you will be unable to function to your maximum potential, very much like racing around with a flat tire. Just because you’re moving forward does not mean you’re getting ahead. Ridding yourself of energy-wasters We all have people and circumstances that are taking up our energy and leaving us with little left for the people and things that really matter. Your energy is being diluted by people and things that are trying to distract you from your passion and vision. This is costing you big time. 1. Stop caring what other people think. It is important not to measure yourself by the standards of other people. This preoccupation with trying to please others can quickly lead to depression, and it is often an act of futility. The opinion of strangers shouldn’t matter. Wanting to please and take care of others is natural, but when pleasing others is

2. Stop worrying about the competition. Drive your business forward by following your purpose. While it is healthy and even good business to be aware of your competitors, that’s not where your main attention should be focused. Doing this eventually will work against your own ability and potential. 3. Ditch people who are constantly bringing you down. Surround yourself with people who are positive and fashion an environment that helps you grow, be inspired and have the courage to tap into your own creative genius. Who you allow to speak into your life will affect the way you think, and subsequently, your behavior and rate of success. Rid yourself of people that criticize (not the constructive feedback types, the other ones) and speak ill of you. Pay no attention to these dream-killers. 4. Stop expending valuable emotional energy on old, unresolved pain. We judge our pain and believe we are not entitled to it, because the event occurred such a longtime ago. It’s important to acknowledge the past pain, open the wound so the healing can begin and clear the emotional space for lighter, healthier feelings. You might need counselling or just a heart-to-heart with a trusted friend or mentor. Make an appointment and let the healing begin.

5. Stop doubting and second-guessing yourself. Take a look at the root cause of your dissatisfaction and address why you invalidate your own choices. Learn to trust yourself to make good decisions. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from gaining new experiences. Keep a proof journal, where you record all the instances from your past when you have made good choices that have brought positive outcomes and happiness. This is your irrefutable proof that you have the ability to make forwardpropelling decisions. What energy wasters do you need to get rid of? I’d love to hear about them. Remember that breaks lead to breakthroughs.

Mark Sephton is an international personal mentor to entrepreneurs, basing his program on a GPS system with eight key fundamentals. This system reveals blind spots, efficiencies and deficiencies, and is used to find your “inner sniper” to improve your instinct, producing devastating results in your own revolution of discovery. It is hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame. Changing the way you think through culture and mindset shifts and introduced to game-changing habits helps increase your productivity and skyrocket your personal brand. www.marksephton.com


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Trailblazers begin as outliers

10 tips for taking on any naming assignment By Christian Turner

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ay upstream -near the original inspiration for any company, product, or project- founders quickly realize that they need a name. Otherwise, how do you tell your friends what you’re working on? How do you label a file or folder? How do you settle on a subject line for an email to your scheming partner? Sometimes the name we talk about years later -like Facebook- is there from the beginning, a part of the original idea itself. But often enough, R&D begins and a business plan is agreed upon under a placeholder. Maybe it’s generic, like “Travel App,” or overtly beta,

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like “Project Atlas,” or casually personal, like “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web” (which eventually changed to Yahoo!). Regardless of what it is, the placeholder is meant to go away. But as anyone who has been through the naming wringer knows, that’s easier said than done. There are a great many reasons not to choose a name. Everyone turns out to be an expert and a critic, and they are often at odds with each other. Each name you propose is met with rival riffs and counter suggestions. The possibilities pile up, heads swim, the wheels begin to spin, and before you know it -as progress is made on all other fronts- you’re bogged

down picking through loads of rubbish. It can be exasperating. Naming takes more than a creative mind, a fluent voice, and a critical eye. Success requires the right perspective from the outset and proper procedures throughout. Here are some simple steps to help:

ahead and review the assignment with stakeholders, but review name candidates only with decision makers. You don’t really need consensus anyway. You either need a) the top dog to pick a bone or b) a quorum of senior leadership. 3. WORK OUTSIDE IN

While a proper deadline can be your best friend, good naming takes time- time to explore and discover, time to ride a dark horse, time to support a big idea. Remember: your name is a key strategic asset, not a tactical project task. The right name will outlast every business correction and marketing campaign.

Don’t trouble yourself too much over the brief. Don’t exhaust yourself before you get started. It’s hard to describe what you can’t yet imagine. Keep it simple and aim your team in the right general direction. Instead commit to looking at many, many names. If a name is intriguing, see if you can retrofit the rationale. Chances are the gears have been turning all along.

2. RESTRICT ACCESS

4. MIX IT UP

1. GIVE IT TIME

Nothing is gained by polling a crowd. It feels like the right thing to do, but it’s not. No two opinions are the same and inevitably the result is over-caution and paralysis. Go

You may think you know your type, but life is full of surprises. Try to break the conventions you see in the names of your competitors. Look at your opportunity in new >>>


yourself in. Everyone worries about first exposure to a name. The real test is whether your name remains pliant and purposeful to employees and customers alike when used for the millionth time. Great names add wind to the sails. Weak names eventually act as a drag that requires extra work from everyone to overcome. 9. COUNT ON CONTEXT

and varied ways. Having a name that clearly cues a category or suggests a benefit can be the right or wrong approach. It really depends. You’ll feel better about your just dessert if you first sample every flavor. 5. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS

Great names don’t grow from grids. Avoid checking boxes to pick the winner. Your nose will lead you, your eyes will return to any standouts, and your ears will vibrate to silent frequencies. Your name sets the tone. So open yourself up and do it with feeling. Find your way in the dark. It can be illuminating. 6. SEND A SIGNAL

This essentially means: send a strong signal rather than a weak message. Whatever the name –and I repeat, whatever the name- a great many things will need to be explained: products, prices, services, suites, bundles, specials, teams, tiers, partnerships, initiatives, investments, markets, territories, terms, conditions, and all the rest. No name can tell the whole story. The best you can hope for is a name that makes an impression, lingers in the mind, and creates the right kind of expectations in your audience.

7. EXPECT LOSSES

You have to be willing to let a good name go. Even your favorite. Establishing the viability of each name candidate on your short list is the least understood part of the process- as well as the part that often has the greatest impact on the outcome. Trademark availability alone can ruin your best-laid plans, especially if your ambitions run global in popular sectors like technology and FMCG. Add in language checks (so you don’t put your foot in your mouth in Turkish, Thai or Tagalog) and any top-level domain (TLD) considerations and the name you grow to love over the coming years may well be the name your lawyers allow you to use today. The key here is to identify obstacles that cannot be overcome and, once you’ve done so, move along to the next name, all the wiser, with only a modicum of fuss. 8. LOOK TO THE FUTURE

There’s not much sense in calling your company JustShirts if, tomorrow, you’re going to add pants to your repertoire. Again, you’ve got to get this right. The last thing you want to change is your name. Anticipate alterations. Suspect surprises. Don’t box

The name will be more plausible, not less, in action in the wild. When you come right down to it, people are receptive to new ideas that enter the world we know. We understand our surroundings. The new name fits in simply because it showed up. Sure, big launches from top brands are subject to increased scrutiny and criticized for a week, but even those furors fade quickly. Truthfully, when your name becomes your brand -supported visually, explained verbally, introduced with a handshake and a business card, underpinned by product packaging and mobile interface- we will all accept it as we should, as you intended.

TREP TALK ME THE BUSINESS The Hundred Wellness Center THE ‘TREP Founder Asma Hilal Lootah Q What were the biggest lessons from your endeavors? A “The biggest lesson was to be patient as everything takes time. As I am a very organized person, my biggest challenge was dealing with

10. BE BRAVE

Consider breaking the mold. The names we celebrate after the fact are the groundbreakers, trailblazers, and trendsetters. Fine enough. That’s easy to do, to back certified success. But trailblazers begin as outliers. Supporting an outlier among colleagues long before launch is much harder to do. Yet that’s what has to happen. The next big idea needs a champion. That champion needs to be passionate and persuasive. That champion needs to be you.

Christian Turner is the Naming Director EMEA at Siegel+Gale, a global brand consultancy.

others who are not as organized, which used to make me really frustrated. Being your own boss means that you need to take care of everything, such as dealing with contractors, suppliers etc., and everyone has their own agenda, so dealing with that was very tricky. We stress over things, but what we need to remember is that at the end it gets done. I learned to be just calm, and everything eventually worked out. Sometimes things are slow– but we need to accept it, work with it and stress less. I really learned to have the patience and not to stress in the process, but instead I learned to enjoy it.”

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Buffett speaking to students from the University of Kansas School of Business, May 6, 2005

THE STORY OF MIKE FLINT Mike Flint was Buffett’s personal airplane pilot for 10 years. (Flint has also flown four U.S. Presidents, so I think we can safely say he is good at his job.) According to Flint, he was talking about his career priorities with Buffett when his boss asked the pilot to go through a three-step exercise. Here’s how it works: STEP 1 Buffett started by asking Flint to write down his top 25 career goals. So, Flint took some time and wrote them down. (Note: You could also complete this exercise with goals for a shorter timeline. For example, write down the top 25 things you want to accomplish this week.) STEP 2 Then, Buffett asked Flint to review his list and circle his top five goals. Again, Flint took some time, made his way through the list, and eventually decided on his five most important goals. (Note: If you’re following along at home, pause right now and do these first two steps before moving on to Step 3.)

Warren Buffet’s two-list strategy

How to maximize your focus and master your priorities

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By James Clear

ith well over US$50 billion to his name, Warren Buffett is consistently ranked among the wealthiest people in the world. Out of all the investors in the 20th century, Buffett was the most successful. Given his success, it stands to reason that Buffett has an excellent understanding of how to spend his time each day. From a monetary perspective, you could say that he manages his time better than anyone else. And that’s why the story below, which was shared directly from Buffett’s employee to my good friend Scott Dinsmore, caught my attention. Let’s talk about the simple three-step productivity strategy that Warren Buffett uses to help his employees determine their priorities and actions.

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Flint confirmed that he would start working on his top five goals right away. And that’s when Buffett asked him about the second list, “And what about the ones you didn’t circle?” Flint replied, “Well, the top five are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in a close second. They are still important, so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit. They are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.” To which Buffett replied, “No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top five.” Every behavior has a cost. Even neutral behaviors aren’t really neutral. They take up time, energy, and space that could be put toward better behaviors or more important tasks. We are often spinning in motion instead of taking action. This is why Buffett’s strategy is particularly brilliant. Items six through 25 on your list are things you care about. They are important to you. It is very easy to justify spending your time on them. But when you compare them to your top five goals, these items are distractions.

“Warren Buffett KU Visit” by Mark Hirschey Buffett © the commons

STEP 3 At this point, Flint had two lists. The five items he had circled were List A and the 20 items he had not circled were List B.


THE POWER OF ELIMINATION I believe in minimalism and simplicity. I like getting rid of waste. I think that eliminating the inessential is one of the best ways to make life easier, make good habits more automatic, and make you grateful for what you do have. That said, getting rid of wasteful items and decisions is relatively easy. It’s eliminating things you care about that is difficult. It is hard to prevent using your time on things that are easy to rationalize, but that have little payoff. The tasks that have the greatest likelihood of derailing your progress are the ones you care about, but aren’t truly important.

Every behavior has a cost. Even neutral behaviors aren’t really neutral. They take up time, energy, and space that could be put toward better behaviors or more important tasks. We are often spinning in motion instead of taking action. This is why Buffett’s strategy is particularly brilliant. Items six through 25 on your list are things you care about. They are important to you. It is very easy to justify spending your time on them. But when you compare them to your top five goals, these items are distractions. Spending time on secondary priorities is the reason you have 20 half-finished projects instead of five completed ones.

Three Warren Buffett quotes your business should live by By Jason Richelson

Warren Buffett helped me build my business- even before I decided to try my hand in entrepreneurship. Several years before I founded my own company, a colleague gifted me Warren Buffett’s biography. His ideology and approach to communication and management continue to influence me to this day. While it’s universally recognized that Buffett has exceptional investment acumen, his fearlessness and willingness to go against traditional business norms have inspired me

to build an organization that does the same. Here are three Buffett quotes your business should live by: 1. “There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.” Warren Buffett’s laser focus on his areas of competence has been essential to his success. As he says: “I’m no genius, but I’m smart in spots, and I stay around those spots.” It’s very common, especially amongst accomplished executives, to achieve a level of success then branch out into other areas in an effort to expand their businesses. Though Buffett has made his fortune in investing in several industries, he’s remained focused on the areas he knows best. Put simply, he’s

Eliminate ruthlessly. Force yourself to focus. Complete a task or kill it. The most dangerous distractions are the ones you love, but that don’t love you back. 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.

an expert in identifying the most basic opportunities that show long-term potential and executing on them flawlessly. The best business owners are great at determining their area of competence and focusing on how they can capitalize on that competitive advantage, rather than trying to do everything and solve unnecessarily complex problems. 2. “What’s nice about investing is you don’t have to swing at every pitch.” Despite many misconceptions, Buffett rarely invests, but and when he does, he is in it for the long haul. He’s always invested in companies that have a strong brand and a personality with the right leaders driving them forward. If you want your business to succeed, think like Buffett: big and long-term. Invest in your brand, hone in on what you’d like to accomplish and stick with it. 3. “Be greedy when others are fearful, and be fearful when others are greedy.” This quote describes Buffett’s strategy to a tee- an aggressive market player when others deem an investment unworthy. Think back to the salad oil scandal of 1963 when Anthony “Tino” De Angelis, a savvy conman from New Jersey, discovered a way to exploit an American Express

program that gave business loans based on collateralized inventory. Through an elaborate system of deception, De Angelis was able to obtain loans on an oil inventory greater that the total national holdings combined. While everyone stood clear of AMEX stock, Buffett did the opposite. He visited local businesses and observed that business owners were continuing to accept American Express Travelers Cheques and consumers were still using them. Contrary to virtually every investment expert at the time, Buffett purchased more stock and established a 5% stake in the company. It reportedly cost him $20 million at the time but now 50 years later, it was obviously incredible foresight. Whether you aspire to run a multinational company or your local mom-and-pop store, this is an important lesson to apply. Innovate and solve a problem rather than following suit with the rest of the industry. Apply these ideas to your company’s operations and you’re bound to see a substantial improvement. More importantly, you’ll feel liberated by your ability to confidently make sound choices- especially when you’re going against the grain and doing what’s best for your business. See this article in its entirety at Entrepreneur.com

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The AstroLabs Dubai workspace

For entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs

“Our alums have raised over US$50 million in capital over the last two years” A look into what the new Google for Entrepreneurs-partnered AstroLabs Tech Hub in Dubai means for the MENA startup ecosystem By Aby Sam Thomas

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hile AstroLabs has been in existence for more than two years now, the October opening of its first coworking space in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lakes Towers neighborhood marks a significant point in its growth and evolution. After all, as an organization that was set up by founding partners Louis Lebbos and Muhammed Mekki (perhaps best known for being the co-founders of e-commerce portal Namshi.com) with a mission “to create a thriving technology ecosystem in the MENA region,” AstroLabs’ new hub is aimed at becoming, as Mekki put it, “a physical home for tech entrepreneurship, starting in Dubai.”

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“We focus on two core areas: practical education and community building,” Mekki explains. “We have started to make an impact on both fronts, but there is still so much more to be done. We have trained over 150 tech startups across MENA in the last two years in our Scaling Online Startups program alone, with many more attending our other programs. Some of our earliest participants have gone on to become the biggest success stories in the region; for example, Careem, Souqalmal, etc. In aggregate, our alums have raised over US$50 million in capital over the last two years, and have generated hundreds of jobs. We have just started community building with our coworking space AstroLabs Dubai, and


are already seeing the results emerge. With one acquisition already (Beneple) and many companies raising rounds of financing to grow, the members of AstroLabs are on an amazing trajectory.” Aiding AstroLabs in its drive to help scale new online ventures in the MENA region is another company that once was (before it became an Internet giant whose name became a de facto verb) a startup founded in a garage: Google. Thanks to a partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs, a Google-run program aimed at helping startup communities around the world, AstroLabs has been able to offer entrepreneurs in its program the opportunity to leverage the global Google network, and of course, its

www.astrolabs.com

“If anything, the region could benefit from denser startup clusters, with more entrepreneur-focused community spaces. We also feel that startups should adopt a more ‘international first’ outlook, where they think from day one about scaling their products across borders and accessing foreign markets, whether elsewhere in the Middle East or beyond. For both those reasons, we’re particularly excited to be partnering with AstroLabs in Dubai.”

many advantages and deep expertise. “We feel we can add the most value to aspiring entrepreneurs by acting as a support network and giving them access to the rest of the world,” says David Grunwald, Senior Partnerships Manager EMEA, Google for Entrepreneurs. “For example, by being a member of AstroLabs in Dubai, the entrepreneurs will be able to leverage all the advantages of the Google for Entrepreneurs community, which includes access to all Google-run or our partners’ physical spaces all over the world including Seoul, Silicon Valley, London, New York, Paris

AstroLabs at Jumeirah Lakes Towers in Dubai

and Kenya. This will provide the entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to explore new markets, spark new connections, and even experience the serendipity of being at the right place in the right time. In the sense of easing the challenges typically faced by startups, we aim to provide a regional opportunity out of Dubai and act as a connection to the rest of the world, while giving them access to local and global Googlers, classes, hangouts, etc.” It’s important to note here that Google for Entrepreneurs has been especially influential in supporting and encouraging the cause of entrepreneurship globally- the entity has been privy to some amazingly successful startup communities in locations around the world, with Grunwald name checking places like NUMA in Paris, France, Dogpatch Labs in Dublin, Ireland and Factory in Berlin, Germany. Given that history and heritage, Google for Entrepreneurs’ new partnership with AstroLabs is especially exciting for Dubai and the Middle East- but why Dubai

“We curate a group of the highest potential founders, and provide them with the jet fuel they need to scale up. We have an engaged mentor pool with some of the top practitioners, investors, and technologists in the region, who regularly visit the space to meet with our members.”

in the first place? Besides noting the readiness of the entrepreneurial ecosystem here, the substantial presence Google already has in the region, and the fact that they found a great partner in AstroLabs, Grunwald also points toward HSBC’s Expat Explorer 2015 survey for the answer to that: according to that particular poll, the Emirate has been ranked the second best city in the world for an expat to start a business. “Dubai’s startup scene is growing very fast in the region, and is attracting a lot of international talent to be based here,” Grunwald says. “Unlike other parts of the globe where Google for Entrepreneurs operates, the issues we identify in MENA are not related to the absence of business or tech talent- this exists in abundance. If anything, >>>

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“We have an engaged mentor pool with some of the top practitioners, investors, and technologists in the region, who regularly visit the space to meet with our members. We host AstroLabs Academy workshops on a regular basis at the space, in addition to a range of meetups and events open to the public.”

David Grunwald, Senior Partnerships Manager EMEA, Google For Entrepreneurs

“We have trained over 150 tech startups across MENA in the last two years in our Scaling Online Startups program alone, with many more attending our other programs. Some of our earliest participants have gone on to become the biggest success stories in the region.”

the region could benefit from denser startup clusters, with more entrepreneur-focused community spaces. We also feel that startups should adopt a more ‘international first’ outlook, where they think from day one about

scaling their products across borders and accessing foreign markets, whether elsewhere in the Middle East or beyond. For both those reasons, we’re particularly excited to be partnering with AstroLabs in Dubai.” “Google began as a startup in a garage, and it remains a startup at heart,” Grunwald adds. “Entrepreneurship is in our DNA, and we’re committed to enabling the next generation of entrepreneurs to be successful. Through Google for Entrepreneurs, we focus on building entrepreneurship communities

HE Mohammed Al Gergawi with Muhammed Mekki touring AstroLabs Dubai

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around the world through partnerships with leading tech hubs, accelerators and startup community organizations, and Google-led Campus spaces. We believe that entrepreneurship in the technology sector can play an increasingly important role in opening new economic opportunities across MENA. That is why we partnered with AstroLabs, so we can help to provide a classroom for entrepreneurs, a support network, access to local/global mentors, and a chance to aid entrepreneurs in creating a community among themselves.” The space that AstroLabs now provides its startups is, by itself, pretty impressive: besides the coworking space, the hub -which already has 41 member startups- also

features a mobile device development lab designed and supported by Google for Entrepreneurs, alongside dedicated rooms set aside specifically for training, coding, meetings, etc., as well as a café, which is open to the general public too. Perhaps it’s a testament to the nature of the environment (or maybe even the sense of community that AstroLabs seems so intent in instilling with its startups) that during a visit to the AstroLabs prior to its official launch, it was easy to spot the sense of camaraderie that linked all of the entrepreneurially minded people in that space. “We curate a group of the highest potential founders, and provide them with the jet fuel they need to scale up,” Mekki says. “We have an engaged mentor pool with some of the top practitioners, investors, and technologists in the region, who regularly visit the space to meet with our members. We host AstroLabs Academy workshops on a regular basis at the space, in addition to a range of meetups and events open to the public.” Mekki also draws attention to AstroLabs’ partnership with the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre as being one of the space’s signature benefits for its members. “We wanted to be able to address the biggest challenges facing startups here in Dubai, and so we worked on a unique partnership with the DMCC

“the entrepreneurs will be able to leverage all the advantages of the Google for Entrepreneurs community, which includes access to all Google-run or our partners’ physical spaces all over the world including Seoul, Silicon Valley, London, New York, Paris and Kenya.”

www.astrolabs.com

start it up


Free Zone to make it very easy for companies to get registered,” he says. “Our startups can come from anywhere around the world, and get set up with a company, bank account, and residency immediately. This is a big draw for our international entrepreneurs.” As for the entrepreneurs who were already part of the AstroLabs program, the ones I met were quick to sing praises of the community they were a part of. Tarig ElSheikh, founder of Beneple, an HR software management platform that was acquired just eight months after its launch, was one such startup founder. “As soon as I heard Muhammed and Louis were launching AstroLabs, I wanted to know how we could sign up,” El-Sheikh says. “The timing was opportune, as we were still in the customer discovery and revenue testing phase at that stage, and we wanted to avoid high set up fees one typically

“We believe that entrepreneurship in the technology sector can play an increasingly important role in opening new economic opportunities across MENA.” expects when setting up in Dubai. Above and beyond all the bells and whistles one would expect from one of the leading regional accelerators in the MENA region –i.e. access to venture funding, mentors, good connectivity, lower set-up costs etc.we’ve been really surprised by -and incredibly excited to be a part of- the AstroLabs community. It’s a real community!” Richard Fitzgerald, founder of Lovin Dubai, an online publication aimed at being “a fresh voice” for the city, agrees with El-Sheikh,

adding that AstroLabs’ partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs is also an indication of how well Dubai is doing in terms of being an entrepreneurial ecosystem. “It just goes to show how advanced the region and the city is becoming, there isn’t much that you can’t get here compared to London, New York or

Hong Kong,” he says. “That’s also what Lovin Dubai is all about, to showcase the great opportunities we have here. For us, as a business, we want to collaborate with AstroLabs as much as possible in our first few years- to contribute to its growth, as well as benefiting from its ecosystem.” AstroLabs currently offers four different kinds of membership packages (one of them, the Moonlighter Package, seems to have been designed especially for the wannabe entrepreneurs among you), and startups need to apply to be a member- Lebbos and >>> The coworking space at AstroLabs Dubai

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“Unlike other parts of the globe where Google for Entrepreneurs operates, the issues we identify in MENA are not related to the absence of business or tech talentthis exists in abundance.” Mekki reveal that the space has received more than 200 applications already, and it currently has a less than 20% acceptance rate. The appeal of the space is pretty

obvious, given the aforementioned offerings- but one other detail that makes AstroLabs particularly interesting for startups is the fact that it is run by Lebbos and Mekki, who are two entrepreneurs that have gone through the experience of setting up an enterprise in the MENA region, and perhaps Muhammed Mekki and Louis Lebbos, Founding Partners, AstroLabs more importantly, making a big gaps [in the ecosystem] tually dedicating their lives success out of it. When asked that a lot of people complain and times to solving them.” how much of contribution about or talk about- but With AstroLabs, Lebbos and did their experience with then nobody does anything Mekki are thus trying to Namshi.com bleed into the about it. There are specific better the environment for formation of AstroLabs, the issues in the entrepreneurial startups in the region- and reply is almost instant: “Baecosystem of the region that building a sustainable comsically, a hundred percent,” everyone is suffering from, munity that does just that is Lebbos replies. “We saw the but not a lot of people are ac- at the top of their agenda.

59 Degrees, the café at AstroLabs Dubai

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Expat Explorer Overall league table Expat Overall league table see them displayed across The Expat Explorer league multiple screens in real table ranks each country or territory based on a score that time expats’ overall views • Link tosummarises Dubai ofGoogle’s that destination. The Expat Explorer score is the average office with mentorship, of the Economics, Experience office hours and and Family scores, covering 27 key questions from the educational programming survey. Further details of the • Network of Google methodology for this league table can be found in ‘The research’ for Entrepreneurs section at the end of the report. partners to learn from and collaborate with, amongst the best startup-facing organizations in the world. • Silicon Valley Blackbox Connect offers a chance to link to resources, mentors and a network in the U.S. via a residential program in Silicon Valley for international startups • Invitation to GFE’s Women’s Demo Day wherein femaleled startups in the Astrolabs community will be eligible to pitch Silicon Valley investors in December at the Googleplex • Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange Astrolabs members will be eligible to apply to the Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange, a global immersion

AstroLabs in Dubai www.astrolabs.com “In taking the astrolabe as inspiration, AstroLabs aspires to foster a culture of big thinking and innovative exploration among startups across the Arab world.” WHAT AstroLabs is aimed at enabling technology entrepreneurship in the MENA region. Besides its coworking space, AstroLabs also runs a number of digital training programs through AstroLabs Academy. WHO The co-founders of Namshi. com, Louis Lebbos and Muhammed Mekki, are the Founding Partners of AstroLabs. WHY “We are the only GoogleWho’s who Balancing life abroad partnered Tech hub in MENA, and A sampling8of Expat the Explorer startups that are The Expat Explorer league Country Expat Economics Experience Family are entrepreneur-run. We have currently a part of AstroLabs table ranks each country or territory based on a score that a strategic partnership with the Explorer overall • Beneple A simple HR platform summarises expats’ overall views DMCC Free Zone, which enables to manage admin and benefits, of that destination. The Expat Explorer our scorestartups is the average to get up and running thereby providing a digital solution of the Economics, Experience quickly for business owners to streamline and Family scores, without covering the usual expenses 27 key questions from the Rank Score Rank Score Rank Score associated with setting up a new Rank Score the entire HR workflow. survey. Further details of the www.beneple.com methodology for this league table Our space company in Dubai. can be found in ‘The research’ Singapore 0.56 0.59 0.61 0.48 2 3An online 3 is focused only on scalable tech 1 • Lovin Dubai section at the end of the report. New startups, and we are looking for the publication that features everything 0.56 0.49 0.67 0.52 2 16 1 2 Zealand best companies from all over the from restaurant reviews to recipes, Sweden 0.52 0.53 0.50 0.54 3 6 15 1 world.” to launches and events, and other Bahrain 0.51 0.52content. 0.57 0.46 4 8 7 6 WHERE Cluster R, Parkside, fun lifestyle www.lovindubai.com Jumeirah Lakes Towers,Germany Dubai 0.51 0.56 0.50 0.46 5 3 12 5 • Exclusive Tables is a mobile app Canada 0.50 0.51 0.58 0.44 6 11 6 8 Plus points that allows you to easily make table A few of the Google forAustralia reservations high-end 0.49 0.49 at 4 0.59 nightclubs, 0.40 7 15 12 Entrepreneurs initiatives startups lounges and restaurants in Dubai, Taiwan 0.48 0.46 0.58 0.39 8 18 5 15 at AstroLabs Dubai can take Barcelona and Ibiza. United Arab 0.47 0.55 0.48 0.39 9 4 18 16 www.exclusivetablesapp.com advantage of: Emirates • ClassDive A mobile app that • Passport Program allows Switzerland 0.47 0.60 0.46 0.36 10 1 26 25 allows you to access all of your members to access space over 20 Hong Kong 0.51 0.51 10 11 20 fitness workouts in Dubai, by 0.38 Google for Entrepreneurs partner 11 0.47 allowing to search, tech hubs and campuses globally 12 0.46 Netherlands 0.49you29 0.45 0.45 14 for 7book and locate fitness workouts in the • Mobile Device Development Spain 0.46 0.29 0.62 0.47 13 36 2 4 city on the go. Lab in-house to experiment with Oman 0.46 0.52 0.5 0.33 14 9 10 27 www.classdive.com changes to your mobile app and ‘expat overall league’ table © HSBC’s Expat Explorer 2015 report

Expat Explorer Overall league table

Russia

15

0.45

23

0.43

16

0.50

11

0.42

United States

16

0.45

13

0.49

23

0.46

19

0.38

Country

Expat Explorer overall

Economics

Experience

Family

Rank Score

Rank Score

Rank Score

Rank Score

Singapore

1

0.56

2

0.59

3

0.61

3

0.48

New Zealand

2

0.56

16

0.49

1

0.67

2

0.52

Sweden

3

0.52

6

0.53

15

0.50

1

0.54

Bahrain

4

0.51

8

0.52

7

0.57

6

0.46

Germany

5

0.51

3

0.56

12

0.50

5

0.46

Canada

6

0.50

11

0.51

6

0.58

8

0.44

Australia

7

0.49

15

0.49

4

0.59

12

0.40

Taiwan

8

0.48

18

0.46

5

0.58

15

0.39

United Arab Emirates

9

0.47

4

0.55

18

0.48

16

0.39

Switzerland

10

0.47

1

0.60

26

0.46

25

0.36

Hong Kong

11

0.47

10

0.51

11

0.51

20

0.38

Netherlands

12

0.46

14

0.49

29

0.45

7

0.45

Spain

13

0.46

36

0.29

2

0.62

4

0.47

Oman

14

0.46

9

0.52

10

0.5

27

0.33

Russia

15

0.45

23

0.43

16

0.50

11

0.42

United States

16

0.45

13

0.49

23

0.46

19

0.38

India

17

0.44

17

0.46

30

0.43

10

0.43

Czech Republic

18

0.44

20

0.45

20

0.48

17

0.38

Mexico

19

0.43

26

0.40

9

0.52

18

0.38

Malaysia

20

0.43

25

0.41

17

0.50

23

0.37

Thailand

21

0.42

30

0.34

8

0.53

14

0.40

Qatar

22

0.42

5

0.54

34

0.41

34

0.30

United Kingdom

23

0.42

19

0.45

24

0.46

28

0.30

Japan

24

0.41

27

0.39

13

0.50

24

0.36

Vietnam

25

0.41

21

0.45

22

0.47

31

0.32

Saudi Arabia

26

0.41

7

0.53

35

0.41

36

0.29

China

27

0.41

12

0.50

36

0.41

30

0.33

Philippines

28

0.41

31

0.33

27

0.45

9

0.43

France

29

0.41

32

0.32

14

0.50

13

0.40

Belgium

30

0.40

24

0.42

33

0.42

22

0.38

Ireland

31

0.38

29

0.36

28

0.45

26

0.34

South Africa

32

0.38

34

0.29

25

0.46

21

0.38

Indonesia

33

0.37

28

0.38

32

0.42

33

0.31

Kuwait

34

0.35

22

0.44

39

0.36

39

0.24

Argentina

35

0.34

38

0.28

31

0.42

29

0.33

Turkey

36

0.34

35

0.29

21

0.47

38

0.25

Egypt

37

0.33

33

0.31

38

0.39

35

0.29

Italy

38

0.33

39

0.20

19

0.48

32

0.31

Brazil

39

0.32

37

0.28

37

0.39

37

0.29

Sc

Scores are rounded to two decimal places in the league table 8

Expat Explorer Balancing life abroad

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Shipping made easy Fetchr circumvents logistical challenges with GPS-equipped app By Pamella de Leon

D

ealing with delivery packages is a headache. From sending off your parcel, to waiting for a courier to actually arrive on time, to directing the driver to your location- we’ve all had these types of frustrating moments. First world problem or not, there has to be an easier way to do this. In a region where directions are a major hassle since addresses are often too difficult to locate (or in some cases, may not exist at all), Fetchr has found its window of opportunity. In fact, the startup has gained such impressive traction that in June of this year, the endeavor raised US$11 million in Series A funding. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA)- it was the first time the U.S.-based global venture capital firm invested in a Middle East-based startup. NEA was also joined by Mobily Ventures, Ben Narasin, Delta Partners Capital Limited, Dhabi Holdings, and TriplePoint Capital in this venture.

start it up

So what exactly does the Fetchr app do? Founder and CEO Idriss Al Rifai explains that the app aims to offer a better alternative to the delivery process with a tech solution. By downloading the app, the user can take a picture of what needs to be sent, integrate the GPS to pinpoint location, and then set a time for driver pick-upall tracked in real-time via the iOS or Android app. Once it’s delivered, the sender gets a notification. >>> in terms of online marketing, video content has been working well for the business. With a subject such as logistics –not always the most marketable sector- Fetchr’s concept is simplified through the startup’s videos.

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“Now that we are validated by some of the most prestigious investors in Silicon Valley and in the region, the goal is to scale and reach more people in different countries with our technology.”

Al Rifai adds that the startup is broadening its reach- letting customers receive packages via the Fetchr app, regardless of where it’s coming from: “The packages would all come to [the] Fetchr warehouse, and then be delivered via our app with the same level of transparency and predictability.” With its business model offering logistics services for B2C, B2B and P2P deliveries, they’ve had a great launch so far, and according to Al Rifai, they are demonstrating “double digit growth week on week” as of September. Al Rifai and co-founder Joy Ajlouny got the idea for Fetchr through an interesting meeting when Al Rifai was pas-

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sionately speaking at an event in Silicon Valley about solving the logistics problem of no fixed addresses in MENA and other emerging markets. The two entrepreneurs connected at that event, and they knew from their similar backgrounds that they could build and improve logistical solutions for retailers in emerging markets through technology. Currently, the app operates in UAE, KSA, and Bahrain, and the enterprise is preparing to launch in other countries with customized services for international shipping, small businesses, social commerce, startups, bricks and clicks, and environment-controlled deliveries for businesses in the F&B and pharmaceutical sectors.

“[We] come from significant e-commerce backgrounds, so we understand what keeps retailers up at night. From a top-level point of view, the development process started with solving problems that retailers face everyday.” During the development process, making the service better, fast and more transparent were what Al Rifai called the “three key dimensions in this business.” Currently, the app operates in UAE, KSA, and Bahrain, and the enterprise is preparing to launch in other countries with customized services for international shipping, small businesses, social commerce, startups, bricks and clicks, and environmentcontrolled deliveries for businesses in the F&B and pharmaceutical sectors. With white-label operations in other cities, “it allows us to leverage our technology for clients who are eager to keep their direct exposure to their customer.” What about its marketing strategy- how is Fetchr getting the word out? I noticed that in terms of online marketing, video content

has been working well for the business. With a subject such as logistics –not always the most marketable sectorFetchr’s concept is simplified through the startup’s videos. The brand concept messaging is clear and easy enough for an interested layperson to understand, and potentially see it as an attractive alternative to established shipping methods.

What’s next for the cofounders? With the funding received, they have what Al Rifai calls “an aggressive expansion plan” to implement, with KSA at the top of their list. They also plan on outsourcing more drivers for faster delivery. Developing international logistics partnerships for global deliveries via the app is also in the process, as they already have existing relationships with inbound freight and cargo companies. “We want to change habits, make delivery and shipping as easy as shopping, one tap away from sending or receiving anything,” explains Al Rifai. “Now that we are validated by some of the most prestigious investors in Silicon Valley and in the region, the goal is to scale and reach more people in different countries with our technology.”


IDRISS AL RIFAI Silicon Valley vs. MENA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem “Silicon Valley is an advanced system that economies around the world are trying to replicate. Nobody has managed to replicate it as the Valley has a unique blend of attributes: talent, infrastructure, funding, and access to a large market and plenty of exits [through] which money has been reinjected in the whole ecosystem. The MENA region is at its infancy stage. However, we see very encouraging signs of development of the ecosystem; new VCs and incubators are growing, exits such as the one from Talabat. Talent is also scarce especially in technology, with Amman and Dubai being the only hubs for tech. The biggest issues I find is still the lack of an appetite from investors for VC type of mentality that implies both risk-taking and agreeing on not taking control over the company you are backing. It will need some time to be fully accepted by the mainstream investors.”

FETCHR’S TOP TIPS FOR PERFECTING YOUR INVESTMENT PITCH “Early stage challenges were plentiful; it’s difficult to raise money and attract people when all you have is a PowerPoint deck and your faith that you can make it happen. You need to be surrounded by investors that can help you, and a team that is moved by your vision to change things. There are two lessons that I found critical. First, always raise more money than what you think you need. Money goes fast, and even if you sleep on couches and do not get a salary for a year, you will always end up spending more than you thought. Second, surround yourself with people that are here for the long run. Working with Omar Yaghmour [Fetchr’s General Manager] has been a blessing, and his dedication and hard work is one of the key reasons of why we are here today.”

1. Start your venture outreach eight months before you need investment. 2. Under promise and over deliver.

MEET THE FETCHR TEAM IDRISS AL RIFAI Founder and CEO Al Rifai’s passion lies in improving the MENA retail market with tech and customer-centric services. In 2012, he founded MENA360- the now rebranded Fetchr. He previously worked for MarkaVIP and the Boston Consulting Group.

3. Seek funds locally and seek Series A globally. 4. Be ready to have all of your answers backed by documentation.

JOY AJLOUNY Co-founder and Director of Business Development & Partnerships, Joy Ajlouny’s background is in e-commerce. She founded Bonfaire, a VC-backed discovery platform for luxury footwear and accessories that was acquired in 2013 by Mode Operandi. She has also acted as a strategic advisor to fashion startups, VC firms, and fashion publications.

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start it up

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

Things have changed since the launch of the website. Despite costing less than US$5000 to start the business, costs have increased; they have received some help through an angel investor since the launch of compareit4me.com. They first received a round of investment in March 2014 from Mulverhill Associates, run by former Abraaj Capital director Jonathan Hall.

Soushiant Zanganehpour

Jon Richards, CEO, compareit4me.com

Take care of your cash compareit4me.com CEO Jon Richards has all the info you need

I

By Kareem Chehayeb

n a cosmopolitan city like Dubai, it only makes sense that expats from across the globe could use a hand in sorting out a few things in the finance department after moving to their new home, starting with opening a bank account in an institution they feel is the best fit for them. That’s what Jon Richards went through after moving to Dubai in 2011, and inspired him to eventually start compareit4me.com. After about eight years working in the digital domain in the U.K., Richards made his way to Dubai to spearhead propertyfinder.ae’s digital team. When he got here, he found it hard to make a decision on choosing a bank that was right for him. “I didn’t know which products were right for me, and there was no way of comparing finance here back then,” he remembers, noting that back home in the U.K., people would not make big decisions like that without comparing them to all of the options they had. Because “there wasn’t a great deal of product information available online,” compareit4me’s CEO realized that there’s a gap in the market that he could fill- and a site was thus born.

It seems like a straightforward concept, but I asked Richards to elaborate some more about compareit4me’s services and platform. The

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founder says that the platform’s concept is a “win-win for both consumers and banks.” For consumers, it’s a free and useful platform,

and for banks, it gives them access to what he describes as “educated users”: these are the people who have been doing their homework

and are ready to start talking and make a decision soon regarding their finances. compareit4me.com offers a wide array of services, and given that it has been expanding across the region, I had to ask if there were any kind of users that were the most active. Richards didn’t specify a type, claiming that the user base is “extremely diverse.” And the most popular service of the platform? “Personal loans is definitely the greatest percentage of users,” claiming that they account for about 40% of the 45,000 applications per month. Things are a tad bit different during the Ramadan season though, where he notices a “spike” in car finance searches. He also mentions that credit card-related inquiries tend to increase during “key” holiday seasons. With compareit4me’s presence now almost MENA-wide, it’s safe to say that the platform has been well received. The platform’s available in most GCC states, notably Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE. Saudi Arabia isn’t out of the picture, as it’s part of an Arabic version of the platform alongside Lebanon, Egypt, and (soon) Jordan called amwalak, which means “your money.”

One feature that stood out to me was the SME database. “We understand all of the challenges with SME finance,” says the CEO; after all, compareit4me is an SME as well. He says that there are “lots of SME banking products” out there, and that it’s important that they can help as many different


“commercial users” as possible. Sounds like a standout feature, and speaking of that, I then asked Jon Richards about what he thinks makes the platform better than its competition (I even had the audacity to mention a competitor). Despite not making direct comparisons, Richards focuses on the specifics of compareit4me, saying that it is the only MENA-based website that is “dedicated solely to finance and insurance.” He concludes that keeping their platform narrowed and specific would give them more credibility and of course helps them maximize the platform’s efficacy.

www.compareit4me.com

With marketing taking the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to costs, it’s certain that compareit4me has an interesting strategy for the same. Richards claims that it has been “performance led” to date, meaning that they’ve been targeting consumers who are actively looking for a comparison platform.

Developing the online platform wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t capital-intensive either. Richards, alongside co-founder and COO Samer Chehab, bootstrapped the site, and used their individual skills and career backgrounds to minimize costs. The tasks were divided

among the two: Richards focused on the website and marketing, while Chehab “managed the bank and media agencies.” According to the CEO, Chehab’s 10+ years of media sales experience in the MENA region was incredibly helpful in this regard. It’s quite impressive how the two managed to sort all this out on their own- the only mention of a third party was an unnamed U.K.-based design agency that “originally developed and designed” the platform. Things have changed since the launch of the website. Despite costing less than US$5000 to start the business, costs have increased; they have received some help through an angel investor since the launch of compareit4me.com. They first received a round of investment in March 2014 from Mulverhill Associates, run by former Abraaj Capital Director Jonathan Hall. Richards calls this investment “smart money,” as this relationship allowed for them to make use of networking opportunities with VCs, as well as accounting and legal experts. The company now has a staff of 18, and Richards expects the

team to hit 24 people by the end of the year. The development team is now in-house as well. Marketing still remains to be the company’s biggest costs, which is a fair indicator of Richards and Chehab’s ambition. With compareit4me’s presence now almost MENAwide, it’s safe to say that the platform has been well received. The platform’s available in most GCC states, notably Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE. Saudi Arabia isn’t out of the picture, as it’s part of an Arabic After about eight years working in the digital domain in the U.K., Richards made his way to Dubai to spearhead propertyfinder.ae’s digital team. When he got here, he found it hard to make a decision on choosing a bank that was right for him. “I didn’t know which products were right for me, and there was no way of comparing finance here back then.”

version of the platform alongside Lebanon, Egypt, and (soon) Jordan called Amwalak, which means “your money.” After asking Richards about the reason behind the decision, he simply said that it was based on language preference of the majority of the audience, and reassured me that “the services are >>>

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despite compareit4me’s success, the “comparison industry” in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East is still small, so it’s important to “educate” people about the benefits of referring to comparison platforms like his. Therefore, it’s expected that social media plays an important role in their marketing strategy.

exactly the same.” Despite the encouraging reception to compareit4me.com, the CEO is more determined than ever to keep improving its service both for banks and consumers. For the former, he wants to keep trust levels at a high, saying, “If a bank doesn’t get a positive ROI, they won’t continue to spend with us, so we’re committed to that partnership.” Regarding the latter, Richards has been welcoming and hearing all kinds of feedback, which appears to have been mostly positive.

With marketing taking the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to costs, it’s certain that compareit4me has an interesting strategy for the same. Richards claims that it has been “performance led” to date, meaning that they’ve been targeting consumers who are actively looking for a comparison platform. However, they want to move past that to take on consumers who may not be aware of comparison platforms, let alone one catered to their respective country of residence. Richards says that despite compareit4me’s success, the “comparison industry” in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East is still small, so it’s important to “educate” people about the benefits of referring to comparison platforms like his. Therefore, it’s expected

Samer Chehab, COO and Jon Richards, CEO, compareit4me.com

that social media plays an important role in their marketing strategy. While also using LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook has been the startup’s primary social media focus. The CEO describes the social networking tool as “amazing,” citing that his company’s page is almost at 100,000 likes as of October, and that the team has appreciated all of the feedback and comments they’ve received through their page. There’s also a blog section on their website that has advice on effective debt management, as well as a news section that keeps people updated with what’s going on within the banking industry. With almost eight countries already on board, expansion continues to be a part of compareit4me’s future plans. While Richards and co. want to make their After about eight years working in the digital domain in the U.K., Richards made his way to Dubai to spearhead propertyfinder.ae’s digital team. When he got here, he found it hard to make a decision on choosing a bank that was right for him. “I didn’t know which products were right for me, and there was no way of comparing finance here back then.”

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“We’ve just closed a $3 million round of investment from STC Ventures, the VC arm of Saudi Telecom, [and] Wamda Capital, which is headed up by Aramex founder Fadi Ghandour, and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority.”

services available MENAwide, they’re also looking at opportunities in Asia and Africa. They’re also gearing up for some more funding. “We’ve just closed a $3 million round of investment from STC Ventures, the VC arm of Saudi Telecom, [and] Wamda Capital, which is headed up by Aramex founder Fadi Ghandour, and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority.” Given the success he has seen with his enterprise, what tips would Richards give a young and aspiring ‘trep in the region? “Do not invest too much money until you have proof of concept,” he replies. “You can get a pretty good site built for very little money and prove there’s a market for your product or service.” That’s some solid startup finance management advice right there, and the rest of us would be wise to follow it.

www.compareit4me.com

start it up


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

Cash crunch

Three hurdles Arab entrepreneurs face when gaining access to capital (and how to get past them)

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f you ask an entrepreneur in the Arab world what their biggest challenge is, they’ll almost certainly say that it has to be with finding funds for their respective enterprises. This is curious, especially when you consider the 2013 Maintaining Momentum in a Complex World: Global Wealth report by Boston Consulting Group that said that 40 out of every 1000 households in the UAE held a private wealth of at least US$1 million. According to the same report, neighboring GCC countries, Bahrain and Kuwait, had a 11.5% and 4.9% density of millionaires respectively, while Qatar ranked the first in the world with a millionaire density of 14.3%. On the other hand, a report published by Forbes on the richest people in the world in 2015 revealed that the total wealth of the 40 Arab billionaires on the list, an estimated $146.1 billion, exceeded the budgets of Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Mauritania, Yemen, Comoros, Djibouti, Sudan, Palestine and Somalia combined. With figures like these, it’s hard to understand why Arab entrepreneurs feel that there is no money in the region. Why do we feel the need to look for money in the U.S.A, Europe or Asia, when we have plenty of it right here in MENA region? Our problem is thus not a problem of funding- the problem is gaining access to the funding that already exists in the MENA region. While I cannot speak to

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By Soukaina Rachidi

the experience of all Arab entrepreneurs, I can use my experience in the UAE startup ecosystem to illuminate three of the unfortunate realities that are interrupting the flow of capital to entrepreneurs in the region. 1. THE EVENT APPEARANCE PARADOX

If you’ve ever attended a startup conference or networking event in the UAE, you’ve probably noticed that the people who can invest in your business are usually the last to arrive and the first to leave the event. However, even if they do remain for a networking session, they are usually swarmed by acquaintances from their industry, to whom they are obliged to speak to out of social decorum. By the time these

people are finished with their social pleasantries, they are usually answering business calls and snatching one last hors d’oeuvre from the buffet before they dash to their next business meeting. That being said, even if you are able to catch someone who would be an ideal investor, partner or mentor, sometimes they’re just not interested in talking to you. So, while these events are supposed to unite people who need funds with people who have funds, it’s ironic that there is almost no opportunity for the former to network with the latter. As a result, it might have to fall to event planners in the region to give these networking events more structure to enable such interactions to take place. Perhaps entrepreneurs

and influencers with similar interests can be assigned to the same tables, or maybe their nametags can showcase the industries they belong to, so as to encourage conversations to begin. In addition to coming up with practical solutions to this problem, event organizers also need to emphasize the need for influencers to spend some portion of their time mingling with entrepreneurs, who often spend exorbitant amounts of money to register for these events. Whatever these event organizers decide to do, they have to make sure that their strategy is promoting more interaction between entrepreneurs and influencers. 2. THE CORPORATE-STARTUP DISCONNECT

One of the most difficult challenges for an Arab entrepreneur to overcome in this part of the world is the corporate-startup mentality disconnect. As it so happens, many of the angel investors or venture capitalists in the MENA region, unfortunately, have extensive experience in the corporate world or the “traditional” business arena.

charts © Maintaining Momentum in a Complex World: Global Wealth report by Boston Consulting Group

start it up


to unleash the true potential of Arab entrepreneurs, we have to promote and invest in startups that find creative solutions to local, national and regional problems. After all, what’s the point of creating an Arab Airbnb if there is no demand for it? We have to start investing and empowering entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to address pressing problems in the Arab world.

I say unfortunately, because there is nothing orthodox about startups and the way they function, especially in the Arab world. In a region where financial literacy is limited, innovation is not encouraged and social adoption is problematic, entrepreneurs have to develop creative business models and monetization strategies to survive in nascent startup ecosystems. So, when Arab entrepreneurs are sitting across from judges in a startup competition or a pitching event, who are assessing their potential success using corporate benchmarks, it feels like we are setting them up for failure. If Arab startup ecosystems are going to grow, we need to educate stakeholders in these ecosystems about the realities of Arab entrepreneurship. We need to educate angel investors, venture capitalists and people who manage wealth about the realities and needs of Arab entrepreneurs, so that we can establish a community of investors who make sound investment decisions based on accurate assessments of

Arab startups, their potential and their target markets. 3. THE INCREDULOUS INVESTOR

Arab entrepreneurs are almost always battling the pervasive culture of skepticism that exists in the Arab world. Whether they’re pitching for money, or trying to promote the social adoption of their concept, they are always faced with an incredulous audience. We complain about the lack of innovation or ingenuity in Arab ecosystems- however, the sad truth is that the entrepreneurs who tend to receive funding are also the ones who are executing proven concepts from the West. Why is that? Because they are a safe bet. For some reason, there seems to be this prevalent -and rather inaccurate- belief that concepts that have succeeded in the U.S.A and Europe are more likely to succeed in this region than new, untested, homegrown Arab solutions. If Arab startup ecosystems are to grow, local angel investors and venture capitalists are going to have more faith in the ecosystem and its innovators. If we don’t

help financial influencers in the region understand Arab startups and the needs of their target markets, we will perpetuate ecosystems that promote nothing more than a copy-paste mentality. In order

Soukaina Rachidi works as Melltoo Marketplace’s Media Relations Coordinator, where she is responsible for forging new partnerships with like-minded entrepreneurs in the Dubai startup scene and promoting Melltoo’s core values of trust, sustainability and privacy to the larger UAE community. With a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Delaware, Rachidi is passionate about global issues and frequently writes about trending cultural issues and entrepreneurship.

Pixelbug’s founders: Elie Youssef, Dany El-Eid and Denis Kruger

TREP TALK ME THE BUSINESS pixelbug THE ‘TREP Co-founder and CEO Dany El-Eid Q What would you say is the region’s biggest challenge for entrepreneurs? A “One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is most definitely the massive funding gap between the seed and Series A round. There is a dissonance between what investors claim and

the actual dollars being deployed in the ecosystem. This definitely stifles Dubai and the region as a global contender for innovation. The startup ecosystem in the region still has a long way to go in order to provide entrepreneurs with the right support systems and laws that foster risk-taking and the creativity associated with starting a business, especially in the tech industry.” www.pixelbug.com

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RAISE your GAME

Dubai Doha Muscat

21 November 23 November 25 November

Register Today:

TopMBA.com/EME

LEAD With AN MBA Meet the world’s top business schools including: Durham, George Washington, IE, IIM-Bangalore, Kellogg-WHU EMBA, London Business School, Manchester, Toronto Rotman and many more US$ 1.7M of exclusive scholarships Admissions seminars and CV clinics

TopMBA.com/EME For Masters aspirants, visit QS World Grad School Tour - Dubai 30th November: TopUniversities.com/EME


in pictures

From top left to bottom right: Innovation 360 President and CEO Kamal Hassan, 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield, Seedstars World Regional Manager for CEE/MENA John Chehaibar, Choueiri Group Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Thiriet, and Souqalmal.com founder Ambareen Musa.

Igor Ovcharenko, Regional Manager for CEE and MENA of Seedstars World hosting the event

Unnyhog founder Pavel Ignatov presenting at Seedstars Dubai Regional winner AlemHealth founder and CEO Sajjad Kamal

Seedstars Dubai

For the win! Seedstars Dubai 2015 picks finalists for global competition

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ver the last two years, more than 800 startups have pitched across 50 countries at the global seedstage startup competition Seedstars World, as it seeks out promising startups in emerging markets worldwide. With this year’s focus on the travel and the fintech sectors, the Switzerland-based startup contest held its Middle East regional event, Seedstars Dubai, at The Cribb in September. From a pool of 42 participating teams, 12 finalists were given six minutes to pitch their enterprises, and four minutes for a Q&A session with judges that included President and CEO of Innovation 360 Kamal Hassan, Seedstars World Regional Manager for CEE/MENA John

Chehaibar, Souqalmal.com founder Ambareen Musa, and Choueiri Group Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Thiriet. Taking the title of regional winner was AlemHealth, a cloudbased system connecting local hospitals in developing countries to doctors globally, followed by first runner-up Boxit, a platform connecting people who need extra storage space to store their items to logistic warehouses, and second runner-up Unnyhog, a fast-paced cross-platform game letting players compete in real-time from different devices. AlemHealth will now represent the UAE in February next year in the final pitching round to potentially win the US$500,000 equity prize.

Boxit CEO and founder Premlal Pullisserry at Seedstars Dubai

www.seedstarsworld.com november 2015 Entrepreneur

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money

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

Surviving the investor selection process A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well Bluntness, honesty and transparency are founder virtues By Jan Nigel Bladen

T

ake the normal approach, and your current chances of being funded by an investor, private equity or venture capitalist equates to roughly 1%. Understand the process and put yourself in the investor’s shoes, and you may substantially increase these odds so that you and your business may survive the investor’s selection process and secure that needed investment partner. Appreciating what an investor does and how he screens, filters and selects investment opportunities will allow you to understand what professional investors do, how they do it, what type of information they will seek from you, and that will make the difference between leaving with, or without, a check.

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There are four basic activities an investor undertakes to make a return on investment for his shareholders: 1. RAISE FUNDS An investor raises funds from sources like pension and retirement funds, endowments, insurance companies, and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). 2. SOURCE DEALS Investors identify and find deals, carry out due diligence (research and analysis on identified deals), and close transactions (negotiate and buy) to purchase shareholdings in companies the investor likes. 3. MANAGE PORTFOLIO Investors help improve operations, manage costs, drive performance and tighten management in their portfolio of acquired companies, with the sole objective of improving the value of these companies.

4. EXIT Investors now sell their shareholdings in an improved portfolio company (i.e. they exit the investment) at a profit. RAISE FUNDS The principal investor, or General Partner as they are known in the private equity industry, raise capital by approaching external third parties, or Limited Partners, for capital commitments. The General Partners may also contribute some of their own capital to the Investment Fund from which funding will be made available to invest in your business, if you are selected as one of the Investment Fund’s portfolio companies. Your investor (the General Partner or the Fund Manager) will tend to prefer a small number of external or Limited Partners, each contributing a significant amount to the Fund. This normally limits the amount

of time, and facilitates the task of the General Partner, when having to manage and report back to his pool of investors and Limited Partners. Ideally, the Fund would have a minority of Limited Partners, each contributing tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the size and strategy of the Investment Fund. While Limited Partners make a commitment to provide capital, that capital is not all provided at once. Rather, as the General Partner/Fund Manager identifies and acquires portfolio companies, the General Partner calls committed capital from the Limited Partners into the Investment Fund. In an investor’s terminology, Limited Partners’ committed funds are referred to as “Committed Capital” and paid out funds are referred to as “Contributed Capital.” To make things a little bit more complex, many Invest-

In an investor’s terminology, Limited Partners’ committed funds are referred to as “Committed Capital” and paid out funds are referred to as “Contributed Capital.”

ment Funds also refer to “first close” and “last close.” First close means when a certain amount of funding has been committed, the Investment Fund can begin to make investments in Portfolio Companies, while new Limited Partners may still join by committing capital for a limited time. Final close means when a second threshold has been reached for committed capital, new Limited Partners may no longer join the Investment Fund. Limited Partners who have expressed a willingness to commit to an investment fund prior to the first close will often enjoy more favorable terms such as reduced management fees and coinvestment rights. >>>

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To make things a little bit more complex, many Investment Funds also refer to “first close” and “last close”. First close means when a certain amount of funding has been committed, the Investment Fund can begin to make investments in Portfolio Companies, while new Limited Partners may still join by committing capital for a limited time.

SOURCE DEALS Question: would you, the reader, invest in a company that only sold one out of every 100 leads? Or, likewise, would you invest in an organization that requires three full-time investment team members to close one transaction in one year? These statistics are, unfortunately, a true reflection of the private equity industry (see data from Teten Advisors, Winter 2010 issue of The Journal of Private Equity), and they demonstrate that deal sourcing is highly inefficient and labor intensive, despite the fact that deal origination (finding deals) is fundamental to a successful investment fund. (Note: Private Equity funds that employ a proactive and creative origination strategy have consistently higher returns, driven by a greater volume and quality of incoming investment opportunities, but that’s for another article.) On the flip side, it does mean that your average successful investor is an expert at sifting through a large truckload of pebbles to find a couple of rough diamonds- find that

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needle in a haystack. When an investor carries out due diligence of companies for potential acquisition, they will consider elements such as the company’s product or service, the company’s strategic fit within the investor’s portfolio, the company’s strategy, business model, the senior

management team and their experience, the industry, the company’s financial performance, risk factors, a valuation and likely exit options and scenarios for the company. Due diligence typically intensifies in phases, with each phase sifting out unsuccessful investment opportunities and narrowing down on likely investment opportunities. If the deal looks promising and no obvious show stoppers or red flags are identified, then the due diligence team will typically present the opportunity to the investment committee of the investment fund for an initial funding approval (end of Phase 5). Final terms of

the deal with be negotiated with lawyers on both sides (Phase 6), and the deal will transact, with funds being released and equity being traded. MANAGE PORTFOLIO You’ll need to appreciate several elements to the relationship between your portfolio company and the investor, but be clear about one thing: your investor (General Partner or The Fund Manager) does not want to be the CEO of your company, nor does he want to run the company on a day to day. He will want to take board seats, he will encourage you to reshuffle senior management based on skills and performance, and he will provide active advice, support and introductions in respect of operations, strategy and financial management. He will want to aggressively drive revenue, sales, operational and financial efficiencies, optimizing working capital, push


expansion and any other key factors that will contribute towards generating a higher share value in the next three to five years. Your investor has purchased shares in your organization with the sole intention of selling them for a substantial profit at a later date, and some larger Private Equity funds have specialized teams whose sole objective is to improve the operational and financial efficiency of the portfolio companies so as to maximize resell value. These teams are commonly good at what they do but can also be quite ruthless. the only goal of your first submission (a Business Executive Summary) to any investor is to obtain a face-to-face meeting. As such, the content and layout of your Business Executive Summary needs to be well thought out and structured so as to optimize your chances of passing the first hurdle (Phase 1 in the Typical Investment Process and Deal Flow diagram) and meeting your potential investor.

And how involved your investor is really depends on how big their investment is in your portfolio company. If the investor only own a small minority stake, they probably won’t be very involved, leaving the lead investors (the one owning the larger stake) to be most involved. However, if they own either a sizeable percentage of the equity or a significant portion of the entire fund is invested in the company, then they will be much more engaged in improving the company for a profitable exit down the line. Your investor will produce regular reports on the performance of portfolio companies and will share these with his own investors (the pension and retirement funds, endowments, insurance companies, and wealthy

individuals who all invested in his Fund from which you got your investment). EXIT The end goal for the investor is to exit their portfolio companies at a substantial profit. Typically, the exit occurs between three and seven years after the original investment, but it could be shorter or take longer depending on the strategic circumstances, economic cycles, availability of suitable buyers and other factors. Most exits happen as the result of either a sale or merger of the portfolio company (most likely exit), an initial public offering (only a small fraction go this way), a redemption (redemption rights are almost never exercised) and eventually a management buy-out (normally not possible). While the investor may do a lot of the coordination to sell the firm’s portfolio companies, they may also retain investment banks to handle the execution, especially when the transactions are large or complex.

obtain a face-to-face meeting. As such, the content and layout of your Business Executive Summary needs to be well thought out and structured so as to optimize your chances of passing the first hurdle (Phase 1 in the Typical Investment Process and Deal Flow diagram) and meeting your potential investor. Keep your initial document as brief as possible and limit it to a maximum of two to four pages. It must be easy to read. Images and charts “speak a thousand words,” so optimize the use of visuals where possible. Resist the temptation to use complex, theoretical, technical or business jargon. Rather, keep it simple and comprehensible using unpretentious language. Remember that any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is probably the wrong word. Be blunt, be honest and be transparent (better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without).

Your investor will carry out substantial due diligence prior to providing funds, and so the more upfront you are, the better the chance you have in developing a strong positive relationship, based on trust. The end goal for the investor is to exit their portfolio companies at a substantial profit. Typically, the exit occurs between three and seven years after the original investment, but it could be shorter or take longer depending on the strategic circumstances, economic cycles, availability of suitable buyers and other factors.

It’s remarkably simple; investors review so many deals that they actually become experts at filtering investment and business project proposals, and a simple Business Executive Summary will substantially increase the chances of you obtaining that initial face-to-face meeting. Understand what an investor does and preempt what >>>

Your next steps Now that you have a high level overview of what an investor does, we’ll take a look at what your next steps are. The majority of experienced investors tend to overlook business plans and focus in on the entrepreneur or business leader and his story, including any presentation materials, financial forecasts and an executive summary. This is logical since the majority of investors actually invest in, and place their bets on, people and teams rather than business projects or business plans. Therefore, the only goal of your first submission (a Business Executive Summary) to any investor is to

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money

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

he wants, save both your time and their time, and utilize the saved time to build a trusted relationship with your potential future investors while obtaining free, experienced advice. At the end of the day, investors invest in people, not projects or business plans. As you start negotiations, keep in the back of your mind that 100% of nothing or a small organization is a lot less than 20% of a big company. The investor will want his slice of the pie and will expect some sort of control. Be a realist: no investor will provide the majority of your capital in return for no control and a minority shareholding. Once you’ve done all this and the odds are stacked in your favor, accept that you may still not succeed with the first investor you talk to for multiple reasons beyond your control, including chemistry, personality, geography, industry, size, and others. There may simply be a mismatch between your business venture and the approached investor. And then the investor may also make the ultimate blunder and mistake a rough diamond for a worthless pebble. However, now is your chance to learn from every professional investor you talk to for free, and make use of their investment knowledge and experience. Ask the questions: what went wrong? What could you do better? What are the typical risks Keep your initial document as brief as possible and limit it to a maximum of two to four pages. It must be easy to read. Images and charts “speak a thousand words,” so optimize the use of visuals where possible. Resist the temptation to use complex, theoretical, technical or business jargon. Rather, keep it simple and comprehensible using unpretentious language.

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and pitfalls that you need to avoid? Recall that the assessment is also two ways. Can you trust this investor? When all is said and done, an investor wants a viable investment with the highest chances of success (and so should you), and you need their investment. Remember that a diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well. Be a rough diamond and cash that investor’s check. how involved your investor is really depends on how big their investment is in your portfolio company. If the investor only own a small minority stake, they probably won’t be very involved, leaving the lead investors (the one owning the larger stake) to be most involved.

Consider including the following sections in your Business Executive Summary: a. A description of the proband competitors- why you are lems or challenges, and how better? your solutions or products h. Highlight any areas of risk resolve the issue. and how else you may seek b. A description of the market non-financial support from for your product or solution, your investors. including distribution and i. What size of funding are sales. you seeking and what will you c. A description of how your do with these funds? venture provides the solutions j. What other sources of funds or products. have you already secured? d. A description of how k. If a valuation has already you will make a return on been calculated, how was it investment for shareholders, calculated, and what is the yourself included. valuation. e. The Management Team and l. Include your projected their relevant experience. financials including revenue, f. List any patents and/or cost of goods sold, operating expenses and anticipated trademarks and any intellectual property linked to the earnings before interest, product or solution. taxes, depreciation, and g. Highlight the competition amortization.

Jan Nigel Bladen, the former Program Lead and Executive Advisor to the Board at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and founding Chief Operating Officer of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), carries a wealth of experience in corporate leadership in the Middle East. He has been a resident of the UAE for the last 15 years and has worked

extensively in Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar. Fluent in English, French and Spanish, he has now spent over 25 years living and working throughout the Middle East and obtained a Master of Business Administration (Summa Cum Laude) from Lausanne in 1993.


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Palestine on the agenda Why my startup has taken a turn at social entrepreneurship By Loulou Khazen Baz

I

n September, Nabbesh, in Nabbesh, as a business, isn’t collaboration with Qatar a social enterprise. There’s an based Silatech, launched obvious link, of course, since Fursati, a campaign that Nabbesh is about creating brings jobs directly to the jobs in the region which, at disenfranchised young Arabs a time of high youth Arab in Palestine- where youth un- unemployment figures couemployment sticks currently pled with unrest in certain at 40%. nations, carries a certain It’s a really simple concept; responsibility. The Fursati initiative is a perfect fit. utilizing our already established virtual jobs marketWhile there has been nothing place, we are encouraging to stop freelancers anywhere employers to do their bit by registering and bidding for posting their briefs fee-free jobs, and most jobs are available for freelancers from for jobs that can only be applied for by our pre-screened, anywhere due to the virtual qualified candidates from nature of the briefs, this is a Gaza and the West Bank. We targeted effort. In collaboraaren’t just playing matchmak- tion with Silatech, we’re able er. We are, consciously and to create a solid, measurable credibly, helping Palestinian project that makes a direct freelancers enter the world of difference to the careers, and virtual work via our Gaza and let’s not forget, pockets of About West Bank Fursati based workshops, talented young people in an facilitated by our local comarea that needs our help. It’s munity manager (you a project traditional CSR effort, Fursati, meaning “mycan opportunity”, isnot a pilot by Silatech, a regional that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities monitor social howinitiative the workshops instead, we’ve gone the route the Arab World, and Nabbesh.com, the Middle East’s largest online work are goingin on the Nabbesh of manage a social Why? marketplace, helping businesses locate, and venture. pay expert freelance YouTubetalent channel and via our Because social enterprise is a social media updates). We reaching commitment toin athecontinued With youth unemployment unprecedented rates Arab World, remote work is a solution for thosein with limited mobility caused by are also responsible to ourwell suitedeffort good: geopolitical and/or gender-based restrictions employers, and ensure all Fursati to create 300 remote jobs for educated and experienced youth in candidates areaims pre-screened, SUSTAINABILITY The whole Palestine in Q4 of 2015. The project will provide training and on-boarding of with appropriate portfolios ideain and ofget work top Palestinian talent onto Nabbesh.com order perception to help businesses done at affordable rates while at the corporate same time providing for Arab and more. CSRopportunity has become youth

founder

Why Palestine

of Palestinian youth are between ages 15 and 29 youth unemployment rate

Nabbesh Platform businesses

With

98

of freelancers are between ages 18 to 34. of them having a higher education

Entrepreneur november 2015

diluted, especially in the UAE. cause you’ve chosen to hone in on- can only lead to posiAs important as any effort is, theyAbout are veryFursati rarely more than tive things. Essentially, Nabbesh is one-off projects that benefit about creating jobs for people a corporate conscience far meaning “my opportunity”, is a pilot project by Silatech, a regional region, andopportunities by taking more thanFursati, they everthat will those social initiative works to createin jobsthis and expand economic in the Arabend. World,You and Nabbesh.com, Middleenterprise East’s largest online a the social turnwork with on the receiving marketplace, helping businesses locate, manage and pay expert freelance the Fursati project means may generate a PR buzz and talent that we can stay true to a sense of goodwill amongst With youth unemployment reaching unprecedented rates in the Arab World, Nabbesh mission statecolleaguesremote and work stakeholders, is a solution well suitedthe for those with limited mobility caused by and/or gender-based ment. We’re developing new but what’sgeopolitical next? Where is the restrictions business within the region, long-termFursati benefit? aims toImproving create 300 remote jobs for educated and experienced youth in in Q4 of 2015. The project will provide training and on-boarding of specifically in areas such the qualityPalestine of life for those top Palestinian talent onto Nabbesh.com in order to help businesses get work Palestine that are facing facing circumstantial done at affordablediffirates while at theas same time providing opportunity for Arab youth culties is worth significantly big challenges due to ongoing conflict. We’ve set out to more when you aren’t just create a sustainable business offering a one-time solution. that makes a difference, since Why Palestine by default, social enterprise GENERATE PROFIT Social is at our heart and core. As enterprise can generate a founder, it’s exciting and much-needed profits for your fulfilling for me to pursue new business in a way that CSR partnerships and projects that doesn’t– that coupled with Palestinian youth are between ages 15 and 29 ultimately make a true the sustainability can only be ofwill youth unemployment rate difference in people’s lives, an all-around win. There are and to act as the facilitator plentiful funds available for for local employers to do their social entrepreneurs, which part- on a sustained basis. can mitigate your risks, not Nabbesh Platform to mention heightening the businesses enthusiasm of your foundLoulou Khazen ing team- we all know that Baz is a proud of freelancers are between ages 18 to 34. fundraising woes can certainly With of them having a higher education entrepreneur curb positive energy! and the

freelancers

freelancers of which Palestine BUILD AWARENESS Despite andin CEO of Nabbesh. the fact that your startup com, the model may be newsworthy Middle East’s and adding value to society, first online marketplace which you just don’t get the at- Benefits specializes in connecting businesses tention that your business with freelancers online. Baz started deserves. Social enterprise Nabbesh to help combat the Middle East’s unemployment crisis, and makes for a feel-good success Nabbesh successfully helped story, both for people looking freelancers in the Middle East land to help out socially responsiover 3000 freelance jobs in its very ble businesses and for those first year. Nabbesh allows people participating in alleviating to monetize their potential by societal challenges. This leads showcasing their skills and visual portfolios online, connecting them to a successful campaign, with freelance job opportunities, which, when conceptualized intelligently, creates a positive facilitating secure online payments, and receiving merit-based ratings. effect on everyone concerned. To date, Nabbesh has nearly 40,000 Raising brand awareness -of members and boasts job postings in How it works both your company and the over 100 cities throughout MENA.

of which in Palestine

Only eligible Palestinian freelancers will be able to apply


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H.E. Sheikha Al-Zain Sabah Al-Naser Al-Sabah, the Under Secretary of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, won’t let Kuwait’s entrepreneu...

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