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Turning private assets into a P2P business model An analysis of the evolving (and stagnating) discussion on leadership

Strategic messaging for your enterprise Five communication methods for positively PRing your business in the GCC

Money matters [The how-to] Financial know-how for all stages of your startup

Bringing value to the Qatari

market for over four decades

Vice Chairman Rashid Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi

Al Sraiya Holding Group’s synergistic diversity

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JULY 2015 | www.entrepreneur.com/me | QAR15


JULY 2015

CONTENTS

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The President and CEO of Hill International innovates like an entrepreneur

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David L. Richter thinks things through

Chairman of Zain KSA Farhan Al Jarba talks enterprise agility

INNOVATOR: Archetypes and actualities

The President and CEO of Hill International innovates like an entrepreneur

Mastering your KSA market entry

Advice from a business veteran

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Bringing value to the Qatari market for over four decades Vice Chairman Rashid Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi Al Sraiya Holding Group’s synergistic diversity

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Financial know-how for all stages of your startup

Money matters The how-to

Financial know-how for all stages of your startup STARTING UP: RAISING SEED CAPITAL Eight Best Practices to Seek Funding From Friends, Family and Fools GROWTH CURVE: BUILDING VALUE Five questions to ask about your financial model to add real value to your startup

SCALING UP: GOING PUBLIC Six reasons why smart entrepreneurs think twice before seeking an IPO CROWDFUNDING CHANGE IN THE MENA REGION Narwi mobilizes Islamic charitable giving to support micro-entrepreneurs

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EDITOR’S NOTE By Fida Z. Chaaban

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TECH: 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.

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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CONTENTS

JULY 2015

27 Henri Asseily, Manager Partner, Leap Ventures

36 Dr. Karim El Solh,

52 #TamTalksTech:

CEO, Gulf Capital

LG G4 in leather

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SKILLSET

The myth of multitasking Olympian and entrepreneur, James Clear, outlines the reasons why doing more things does not drive faster (or better) results.

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ESQUIRE GUY

Keep your enemies close Ross McCammon talks about fraternizing with the competition- business mixing with pleasure means walking a fine line.

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Growing your F&B business

Getting connected

Strategic messaging for your enterprise

Bayt.com’s Lama Ataya discusses attracting (and retaining) talent for your enterprise in 2015- the GCC is gradually shifting toward an online HR schema.

Loretta Ahmed, the CEO of Grayling Middle East, Turkey and Africa, suggests five communication methods for positively PRing your business in the GCC.

‘TREPONOMICS: SKILLSET

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Bringing value to the Qatari market for over four decades

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Entrepreneur july 2015

MARKETING

FRANCHISE Kunal Lahori gives you food for thought: five questions to ask before you expand your hospitality brand. And this applies to you F&B ‘treps in case you’re considering franchising your concepts.

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START IT UP Q+A

Classified information Co-founder Adham Saleh’s EZHeights aims to outshine competitors and it’s based on analysis of where and how similar business models fall short.


CONTENTS

juLY 2015

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YoTable co-founder Rashed Islam

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CULTURE: TRAPPINGS

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

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TRAVEL

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STARTUP FINANCE

Table for two? YoTable wants to be Saudi Arabia’s F&B dining booking platform of choice, founded by Reda Islam, Rashed Islam, and Mahmoud Elsaid.

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ECOSYSTEM

Talent search

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The executive selection: Tom Ford

Upwork can help with your startup’s staffing needs, and they’ve got the client referrals to prove it.

Crafting memorable experiences Managing Director of the Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Luigi Romaniello makes an impression on the business guest.

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BUSINESS UNUSUAL

Bringing repeat clients to the table Coya Dubai masters the guest list, and their global CEO Adam Bel Hadj gives F&B ‘treps some tips that they can apply to their enterprise.

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image courtesy Rosewood Abu Dhabi

Crafting memorable experiences: Rosewood Abu Dhabi

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Entrepreneur july 2015


SUBSCRIBE 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 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Loretta Ahmed Lama Ataya Dr. Jamal Boukouray Amal Chaaban Tamara Clarke James Clear Haneen Dabain

Laura Hamade Simon Hudson Suhail Al-Masri Ross McCammon Shoug Al Nafisi May Rostom 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!

www.entrepreneur.com/me

Contact subscriptions@bncpublishing.net to receive Entrepreneur Middle East every issue

PO Box 502511 Dubai, United Arab Emirates P +971 4 4200 506 | F +971 4 4200 196 For all commercial enquiries related to Entrepreneur Middle East contact sales@bncpublishing.net All rights reserved © 2014. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors. Entrepreneur Middle East and all subsidiary publications in the MENA region are officially licensed exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region by Entrepreneur Media Inc. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Printed by Raidy Emirates Printing Group LLC www.raidy.com

In addition to our print edition, we’re bringing you all sorts of industry news on our web mediums. Joining us online means getting relevant business and startup content in real-time, so you’re hearing about the latest developments as soon as we do. We’re looking forward to interacting with our readers on all of our social media and web platforms- like any thriving business, we’re looking to give and take. #TrepTalkME is already happening on all of our digi platforms, and all good conversations go both ways. See you on the web! EntMagazineME @EntMagazineME | @Fida Entrepreneur-me EntrepreneurMiddleEast EntMagazineME EntMagazineME EntMagazineME

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Entrepreneur MARCH 2015


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EDITOR’S NOTE

Spectacular failure

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Mismanagement and your bottom line

f you haven’t already figured out that staff retention methods pay for themselves, then please keep reading. For those of you out there who reward loyal team members by investing in their training and paying attention to all of the different strengths, weaknesses and needs that your enterprise’s human capital may demonstrate, you probably don’t need to go any further into my note this issue. The first thing that needs to be outlined is that leading and managing are not one and the same. The two do intersect, but one is logistics-based and the other is not. If you are great at making sure your staff is being compensated on time, and filling out their paperwork in a timely fashion, then you are an effective manager. Being a leader is a whole other ballgame; it means that you nurture a good staff environ, you maximize people’s strengths and you work on improving individual weaknesses. Leaders keep a consistent and even approach to everything- not just when the mood strikes you. It means you notice which of your staff members are happy to put in the overtime, which of your staff are developing better ways of doing things, and you reward these acts of diligence and innovation in kind. It also means that you listen to their concerns, and rectify valid complaints swiftly whenever necessary.

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One of the most important qualities I look for in potential team members is a willingness to dedicate effort. That is more important to me than a candidate’s existing skillset, and whatever background experience he or she may have in their repertoire. The effort to learn and adapt is, I find, one of the key strengths in members of Entrepreneur’s core team. If I sense that someone’s got a great portfolio but an intractable personality, then they don’t make the cut. I need flexibility, and I need people who want to be an active and engaged part of something greater than themselves. Like many companies, I have precious few resources, so I really need to make certain that I’m allocating those resources properly- by choosing the right people, and then hanging onto them. This responsibility falls on me and me alone- I need to ensure that I retain our most loyal and dedicated team players, and that I foster growth in the most senior members, and that I am grooming the junior members for more challenging roles going forward. I have seen dedicated people, people with potential and drive, turned off completely by poor management. I have had it happen to me in previous positions. You must remember that your staff cannot only count on a salary; they need to count on stability, encouragement, potential to grow, and skillset en-

hancement. If you are falling short on delivering any of these things, then you are a manager, not a leader. That’s what I consider a spectacular sort of failure- the failure to secure your enterprise’s human capital. You can learn from these unfortunate situations by analyzing all the things that went wrong, and then making the necessary adjustments in your corporate structure. Fix it, move forward, and prevent it from ever happening again. If you are the managerial sort, then you should have no problem applying this logic, and then you can become the leader that your business needs to succeed.

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


IN THE LOOP Saudi Arabia hones in on increasing investments

Italian neurosurgeon talks of “head transplant”

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idney transplants have become routine, and heart transplants are increasing in prevalence with huge success rates. But, there’s a whole new school of thought coming our way, and some of it sounds incredible, if not impossible. Valery Spiridonov, a 30 year-old Russian man who suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman Disease, has been in touch with Italian neurosurgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero, who hopes to perform the first head transplant by 2017. Spiridonov believes that this transplant, albeit a risky one, is his only hope to escape the rare neuromuscular disease. According to various news reports, it looks like the surgical operation will require a team of 100 and cost an estimated US$15 million. The risks appear endless, and many other medical workers believe that it will also take a while before Dr. Canavero, who is also Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, can perform the surgery he claims has a 90% chance of success.

I

t’s been a busy month for Saudi Arabia, which has been focusing heavily on investment. In mid-June, the Kingdom opened up its massive stock market for foreign investors, making it the last of the G-20 countries to do so. That said, foreign companies probably will not be flocking towards the Kingdom just yet, given the many restrictions and conditions the country has in place for their operations. For example, the only institutions that are given a thumbs-up must sort out at least US$5 billion in assets with a five-year investment record. In addition to that, individual investors can only own up to 5% of a company, and total foreign ownership can’t exceed 49%. But given that Saudi Arabia is such an attractive market, it wouldn’t be surprising to see investors knock on the country’s doors in the not too distant future. Saudi Arabia has also continued to invest heavily in its holy cities of Mecca and Medinah. What’s been making

headlines around the world is the Abraj Kudai hotel in Mecca, scheduled for opening in 2017. The hotel will consist of 12 towers, and also includes a bus station, four helipads, and a mall. Five of the 45 floors will be reserved exclusively for the Saudi royal family. With the Abraj Kudai hotel expected to have 10,000 rooms, it is also set to become the world’s largest hotel by room count. (To put this into perspective, the current hotel with the largest room count is the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, which boasts of 6,198 rooms.) However, there have been a few reservations with all the development going on in Mecca and Medina- for instance, Irfan Al-Alwai, the director of the U.K.’s Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, is concerned about the few remaining heritage sites in the cities, as well as the cities’ accessibility for pilgrims who cannot afford the luxury properties. Outside of Saudi Arabia’s borders, top Saudi officials visited Russia to seal a memorandum of understanding between the two countries. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have agreed to jointly invest up to $10 billion together. At this point, there is no information on where the joint investments will take place, but the Deputy Governor of the PIF, HRH Prince Saud bin Khalid Al Saud, has stated that they are looking for more than monetary gain, explaining that the PIF’s primary investment goal is to obtain technology to benefit the Kingdom’s economy.

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his story takes sports scandals to a whole new level. The New York Times broke the news on June 16 that Justice Department prosecutors and the FBI have been investigating the St. Louis Cardinals staff on accusations that they have hacked the player database of their rival Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the Houston Astros. Why would one of baseball’s biggest teams do something so reckless and absurd? Law enforcement figures say this was done by Cardinals personnel to “wreak havoc”

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on the work of Houston Astros’ general manager Jeff Lehnow, who was previously the Cardinals scout between 2003 and 2011. According to the report, the hack was made possible by Cardinals personnel making use a master list of passwords used by Luhnow and other officials during their time at Cardinals to breach the Astros database. So what’s the lesson in this for the rest of us? As security experts have often told us: we simply shouldn’t use the same passwords across different sites and services.

image © www.stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com

Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals accused of hacking Houston Astros player database


innovator

KSA Enterprise Agility Awards: Mr. Farhan Al Jarba receiving the Lifetime Achievement award with Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vice Chairman of the board of directors, Mr. Khalid Abdulaziz S. Al-Mukairan

Mastering your KSA market entry

Chairman of Zain KSA Farhan Al Jarba talks enterprise agility

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Advice from a business veteran

he Kingdom may have unique aspects, but building a trusted business reputation rests on things that are universal. First is quality: focus relentlessly on the quality of your product or service, every hour of every day. Second is reliability: fulfil every promise on time and every time. The third is customer focus: be one step ahead, give your customers or clients solutions before they even know they have a problem.” On the agenda of most companies at some point is entering the market of the GCC’s biggest GDP, and the Chairman of Zain KSA, Saudi national and veteran of the region’s largest market, has invaluable first-hand experience doing decades of business in the Kingdom. Recently awarded the distinction of Lifetime Achievement at the KSA Enterprise Agility Awards staged in Riyadh, Farhan Al Jarba has some advice for those of you looking to enter (and succeed) in what is arguably the hardest and most lucrative market in the Middle East.

Entrepreneur july 2015

Your reputation as a young executive rests on your character and your competence. A good character is exhibited over time; on the other hand, you can show your competence from day one.” Businesses often rush to expand into the Kingdom and find that they can’t gain a sure foothold and market share. Some launch tactics you can use to better secure business development include choosing your base carefully: “Headquarter your business in the capital Riyadh, and expand the retail section starting from Jeddah. Generally, this is a valid tactic for gaining foothold and obtaining market share; however, every business has its own unique situation, market forces should be analyzed thoroughly for a successful expansion.”


“Much of our business culture in Saudi rests on relationships. Do not wait until you are older or in a senior position to start establishing those relationships. Don’t just build relationships with a certain kind of people or be limited to one area; try to develop a rich mix across sectors. After all, you never know when a friendship or relationship will be useful to both sides.” Al Jarba also cautions against biting off more than you can chew by trying to grow at a hyperactive rate. “Although the Kingdom has high business potential, it is still important to launch or expand your business strategically and carefully.” Slow and steady wins the race in Saudi, and before you attempt to take on a fresh province or city in the Kingdom, make sure you have

established your reputation so that your new associates have credible references to turn to. Al Jarba’s best practices include relationshipbuilding, and he stresses that this is a long-term effort and doesn’t just manifest itself overnight. “Personal relationships remain extremely important in the Kingdom, and understanding the culture of business relationships is

essential. Often, the older the relationship, the better. Young entrepreneurs should start building relationships early, and they should never stop looking for new ones.” There are also practical angles that sometimes escape an entrepreneur trying to penetrate the Kingdom. Simple things like strategizing how to best capture and cater to your customer are often taken for granted. Localizing your offering to the local market doesn’t just mean developing a new marketing campaign in the local slang. It means knowing your customer demographics and how you fit into that demographic: “The KSA market, with 60% of the population under 25 years old, [means that] any consumerfacing business must think hard about how to shape its offers for young Saudis.”

Advice for the young executive GET NOTICED BY THE BOSS

If you’re a young executive trying to climb the corporate ladder, getting noticed by the CEO (and possibly even the Chairman) isn’t as tough as you might think. Here are Farhan Al Jarba’s six points of advice for up-and-coming execs to demonstrate their potential to their higher-ups: 1. Develop a solid reputation over time “Your reputation as a young executive rests on your character and your competence. A good character is exhibited over time; on the other hand, you can show your competence from day one.” 2. Strive to educate yourself about the business “Whatever your job description includes, be hungry to learn about the wider business, and seek out new experiences. Successful future leaders look beyond their own specific role.”

3. Exhibit a willingness to take control of a stagnating situation “Be proactive and continuously strive to make things happen.”

Al Jarba also stresses that it is essential for people in business to continue to build their corporate reputation by continuously refreshing your initial exchanges with associates. “Business relationships are just like friendships, they need to be in good repair. Keeping good records can stop them from fading away. For instance, try to make a reminder list for meeting, speaking, or emailing at least one business contact every day. Time spent in keeping these relationships strong is never wasted.”

“Headquarter your business in the capital Riyadh, and expand the retail section starting from Jeddah. Generally, this is a valid tactic for gaining foothold and obtaining market share.”

6. Look at everything as a twoway street “Do not just think about what you can take from a relationship, but focus on the valuable things that you possess and can offer to others.”

4. Search for ways to innovate, then communicate your ideas “Constantly look for improvements and opportunities for the business. Regardless if they are big or small ideas, always have the confidence to suggest them.” 5. Put an emphasis on strengthening your network from the get-go “Much of our business culture in Saudi rests on relationships. Do not wait until you are older or in a senior position to start establishing those relationships. Don’t just build relationships with a certain kind of people or be limited to one area; try to develop a rich mix across sectors. After all, you never know when a friendship or relationship will be useful to both sides.”

Chairman of Zain KSA, Farhan Al Jarba, on the cover of the June 2015 edition of Entrepreneur Al Arabiya. Al Jarba discussed the telco’s achievements under his tenure, and best practices.

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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innovator

Archetypes and actualities

David L. Richter thinks things through

The President and CEO of Hill International innovates like an entrepreneur By Fida Chaaban

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Images by Xtremepics

y life is an open book. You ask the question, you’ll get an answer,” says David L. Richter, promising that anything and everything is up for discussion. The CEO and President of Hill International is in the UAE visiting his Dubai head office, and I have managed to wrangle an hour of his time for this interview. Richter’s extreme comfort with the press isn’t without good reason: he’s one of those people who has an annoyingly-flawless track record (both personal and professional), the on-paper validations proving a nose-to-the-grindstone type work ethic (not exactly necessary for a CEO, but highly desirable), and the right mix of wit, charisma and refinement (not to mention being camera-and-quote-ready) to make him cover story material for even the least-inspired of writers. All of these factors converge to make the archetypal Super CEO; the kind that simultaneously impresses and irritates you- why the irritation? Because the Super CEO is beyond reproach. Because the Super CEO reminds you why he’s the CEO and you’re not. And finally because the Super CEO is that unicornrare combo of humble overachiever and innovator. So when I sat down to talk leadership with Hill’s Super CEO, I did try to get under his skin. I did try, several times over, to find some shortcoming

or some area that I found questionable. Spoiler: I didn’t succeed, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Hill International went from an American SME of 200 people to a multinational operating in 50 countries with more than 5,000 employees. It is sometimes the case in the world of business that you find someone who seems to have been plotting their life course as an adult since early childhood. Looking back through their personal and professional lives, you sort of marvel >>>

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innovator “I don’t think me taking over from my dad was a surprise to the market or anybody inside or outside the company. I’d been with the company for 20 years. The last 10 years I was the COO, and my dad turned 70 last December, and it was an ideal time for us to work on a transition.”

business is widely held -second, third and even fourth generation- you may have a lot of cousins all with the same last name and think that because of that, they can do whatever they want. Fortunately, for Hill, I do say that we were a family business because it was my dad and I, but it really was a very closely-held company until we went public in 2006. My dad, my brother and myself were the only shareholders in the company, and my brother never worked in the company.” While Hill isn’t exactly a family business by the MENA definition, the company was founded by Irvin E. Richter in 1976, who is today its Chairman, and Richter Senior was succeeded by Richter Junior. Appointed to the position of President and CEO on December 31, 2014, Richter Junior had also served as a member of Hill’s Board of Directors since 1998. “I don’t think me taking over from my dad was a surprise to the market or anybody inside or outside the company. I’d been with the company for 20 years. The last 10 years I was the COO, and my dad turned 70 last December, and it was an ideal time for us to work on a transition.” The father of four began with the company as General Counsel, and says

hill international website

at what seems to be almost a prescient type of foresight and intuition- the decisions they made, the avenues they pursued, and even the opportunities they eschewed knit together seamlessly. It all seems to converge in an uncanny, and yes, a fortuitous map leading to success on a grand scale. This is the case with Richter; he’s got a degree in civil engineering, another degree in law that he put to work as a corporate lawyer with a focus on M&A, and he’s what one would refer to as a life-long learner. “I’m still in school- I’m doing a part-time executive Master’s program at Oxford. This would be my second business degree. Education is incredibly important; I definitely believe it’s not

something you do until you’re 25 and then stop; it’s something you do your entire life. My wife is definitely afraid that I’ll pursue a Ph.D. once the master’s is done,” he says jokingly. But I don’t think he’s joking- at 49 years of age, Richter is that rare sort of business magnate who is constantly embarking on some type of enhancement experience, be it theoretical or practical. He’s admittedly Type-A, and says that when he’s in his 70’s he may just go for that Ph.D. rather than play golf all day. “The brain is a muscle; the more you use it, the better you get,” says Richter by way of agreement that if you don’t use it, you lose it. His one weakness? He’s unilingual: “I wish I spoke more languages; we do business in so many countries.” A good deal of that business is in Middle East nations, and as any successful enterprise knows, the earlier you’re established in a market, the stronger your foothold once that market emerges. The family business angle of Hill is well received in these parts, being such a prevalent model in the MENA region, and Richter acknowledges that those structures aren’t without their own set of challenges. “If a family

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that he went to law school with the intention of using it as a stepping stone of sorts to a business career. “Back then, we were a fairly small company. I joined in 1995, and Hill had about 200 employees and it had found a really nice niche in the construction sector, but it just seemed like it could be so much more; the potential there with Hill was huge scale-wise, and really the potential of the company. We had a great reputation in the two services we provided, project management and construction claims,” he explains, adding that where he saw real window of opportunity was on the project management side of the business. Currently, a majorly lucrative revenue stream for Hill is wading into the

“ I joined in 1995, and Hill had about 200 employees and it had found a really nice niche in the construction sector, but it just seemed like it could be so much more; the potential there with Hill was huge scalewise, and really the potential of the company. We had a great reputation in the two services we provided, project management and construction claims” construction litigation arena. It’s a sizeable chuck of the company’s work: 25% of Hill’s business today is in construction claims where they are involved in disputes on mega-scale projects. “We come in and we act as the expert witness for one side or the other. These claims can be a couple of millions of dollars or a couple of billions of dollars.” I lob a comment at Richter suggesting that as a Canadian, I view the U.S.-system as lawsuit-happy, so business must be good. And business is good- the company’s shareholders are pleased, the numbers are there, and Hill is a trusted name on the stand. Our legal talk turns political, and Richter says that he’s extremely interested in how the American government runs. A staunch Republican and positively a patriot, I am prompted to ask Richter point blank: does he have political ambitions? Indeed he does, and what follows is an enlightened discussion on how a flourishing economy and a pro-

entrepreneurial environ can do so much for any society in general and American society in particular; unemployment would drop, opportunity would climb, and even civil unrest can potentially be assuaged- an industrious (and cashhealthy) country is a good foundation for a contented one. Perhaps this is why so many of the presidential candidates are focusing on bringing back the American dream of yore. At the time of writing, reality TV persona and businessman Donald Trump had just announced his

run for presidency, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t asked Richter which candidate he was backing in the everincreasing line-up. He didn’t tell me who he was supporting, but he did tell me who he wasn’t rooting for: “I think what you are seeing in the very large number of Republican presidential candidates and the very small field of Democratic ones is the realization within both parties that 2016 is shaping up to be a very good election year for the GOP. I also think there are a very good number >>>

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innovator of highly credible and capable Republican candidates for the presidency. Donald Trump is not one of them.” Unlike many CEOs, Richter doesn’t view his staff as rank and file, he sees them as integral components of the total value add, and what better way to motivate everyone to keep their eyes on the prize than to give out shares of the pie? “Having well-incentivized employees was very important to us; it was one of the reasons we went public. We were able to give our employees something that was more than just a raise- hey, we’ll give them equity in the business and make them feel like owners. I don’t think we created 5,000 entrepreneurs, but we certainly created

a lot of people that were very vested in the success of the company overall and not just the success of their job.” And as for the notion that being part of a mammoth corporation is a steady soulkiller, Richter’s got ideas about that too. You might not be a ‘trep by the strictest definition, but that shouldn’t stop you from thinking like one. “There’s room for entrepreneurship within companies that are already established, which is

how I sort of view my role. I think of myself as an entrepreneur within an organization. I’m not an entrepreneur because I didn’t found Hill,” says Richter “But it’s my job to make sure that Hill continues to act entrepreneurial by developing new markets, new services, and new opportunities.” I think therefore I am? Maybe that’s how a CEO who isn’t an entrepreneur, landed on the cover of Entrepreneur.

Fida Chaaban, Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East interviewing David L. Richter

“I think what you are seeing in the very large number of Republican presidential candidates and the very small field of Democratic ones is the realization within both parties that 2016 is shaping up to be a very good election year for the GOP. I also think there are a very good number of highly credible and capable Republican candidates for the presidency. Donald Trump is not one of them.”

THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Leadership training with David L. Richter 1. LEADERS ACTIVELY SEEK INFO “I got

asked recently about being an engineer and a lawyer. I was asked which was better in terms of being a CEO. The presumption was that engineering must be better than law, and I said it was exactly the opposite in my experience. In engineering school, they teach you to find the correct answer; in law school, they teach you to find the correct questionand that’s much more what being a leader is about: asking the correct questions of your people. We have lots of people that are very smart, they can find the right answer in a heartbeat. My job is to ask the right questions to make sure we’re heading in the right direction.” 2. LEADERS SOURCE GREATNESS “I look

for people that don’t have to be led. One of my mantras at the company is finding the right people, giving them the resources they need to succeed, and basically just getting out of their way. We’re looking for people

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who are self-starters, people that can sell, do, manage all at the same time. People who don’t require active oversight by me, because I don’t want to be a manager, I do really want to be a leader.”

the same time, when we become bigger and bigger, we have to have some bureaucracy in place just to make sure that things are happening correctly- it’s walking a fine line. If you can create a balance, the results are fantastic for the organization.”

3. LEADERS ARE ACCESSIBLE “We have

about 5,000 people in our company. Any one of those people can pick up the phone and call me, and if they need my help with something I’m there to provide it. Most of those people think that time to call the CEO is never.” 4. LEADERS DON’T ALLOW PROCEDURES TO INTERFERE WITH INNOVATION “We try

very hard not to create hierarchies, not to create chains of command, because those are ways to stop problems from getting solved. One of my biggest goals in being a leader within Hill, is that as we grow, we maintain that small business family-feel to the company with very little bureaucracy. At

5. LOCALIZATION DOESN’T IMPACT LEADERSHIP “I don’t think management

style really changes whether it’s the U.S., the Middle East, Australia or Brazil. Business is really the same: it’s about doing high quality work for your clients, adding value to the supply chain, building relationships is important everywhere. People are people; different places in the world operate according to different customs, different practices, sometimes even different morals. I don’t think leadership changes. The tone that we set at the top and that the rules that govern how we do business -not just as a public company but long before thatintegrity is one of our core values.”


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Drake & Scull is an industry leader, with a proven history of delivering more than 700 projects through its General Contracting, Engineering, Rail, Oil & Gas, Water and Wastewater Treatment and Infrastructure development business streamlines across the region.

www.drakescull.com


innovator

Bringing value to the Qatari market FOR over four decades

Vice Chairman Rashid Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi Al Sraiya Holding Group’s synergistic diversity By Erika Widén

O

perating in other countries besides Qatar can be a goal for the future. However, our priority is to fuel our energy, ideas and resources into the growth of the State,” says Rashid Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi, the Vice Chairman of the Al Sraiya Holding Group. Owned by Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi, and run and overseen by Rashid, the 100% Qatari company was established in 1975 as a family-owned business that strived to help develop the country through its engineering and industrial sector. Today, Al Sraiya Holding Group has built its core on the idea of innovation, thereby earning its rank as one of the top in Qatar’s construction field. There are currently a total of 43 organizations working under the Al Sraiya umbrella, with Al-Kaabi noting that by offering a range of integrated services that cater to the infrastructural development of Qatar, the Group has diversified itself through individual groups of companies. Each of these operate independently and specializes in a particular field of expertise, including engineering, trading, industrial, hospitality and general services.

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Entrepreneur july 2015


AL SRAIYA HOLDING GROUP OF COMPANIES

The Group’s main focus at present is to expand further within Qatar by becoming further involved in the projects being designed for the country’s National Vision 2030. The company’s overall mission is to provide Qatar and the Middle East with a diverse and complete range of resources for developing its infrastructure, along with a myriad of related needs and services in a professional and timely manner. “We strive for continuous improvement in quality standards and customer service, and we continuously work to remain a role model in all the fields we are currently involved

“Maintaining companies in a diversification of fields is an accomplishment on its own, allowing us to be the all-in-one marketplace for customers we originally strived to become.”

in,” Al-Kaabi explains. “The Group works to form and maintain long-term relationships of value with clients and partners, and we also look for joint ventures and partnerships that can benefit the National Vision 2030.” AlKaabi explains that developing Qatar’s infrastructure and preparing for a prosperous future will contribute toward the nation’s goal of becoming a Middle East commercial hub. “Using our wide range of resources and with our companies supporting each other, the Group will continue to expand in its fields of expertise, dominating the market with its acquisition of Qatar’s largest projects,” he says. “Al Sraiya is continuously becoming involved in distinguished projects. It would be difficult to name only a few. The success we have achieved particularly in recent years is

company list source: The Pioneer - al sraiya holding group internal magazine

Rashid Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi, Vice Chairman, Al Sraiya Holding Group

ENGINEERING GROUP

TRADING GROUP

GENERAL SERVICES GROUP

AL SRAIYA TRADING & CONTRACTING

SIMSIMA ELECTRICAL SHOP & CONTRACTING

NRK TRANSPORT & GARAGE

BADR CONTRACTING & TRADING

MEAC WATER SYSTEMS

PREMIUM CLEANING

CIRCLE QATAR

GULF & WORLD TRADERS

PREMIUM RENT-A -CAR

ZUBLIN INTERNATIONAL

TAWRID QATAR

NAYCOM QATAR

AL SRAIYA STRABAG

SIMSIMA REAL ESTATE & INVESTMENT

ALEPH QATAR

RASHID ENGINEERING

SIMSIMA TRADING AND CONTRACTING

IFP QATAR

AL SRAIYA ENG. CONSULTANTS

NASSER RASHID TRADING AND CONTRACTING

HASOOB TECHNOLOGIES

AL MOSANADA FOR PROJECTS DEVELOPMENT

MACRO QATAR

NRK CONTRACTING

QUALITY RESOURCE HOUSE

STRABAG QATAR

FIRST INSURANCE SERVICES AL SRAIYA CARPENTRY

INDUSTRIAL GROUP

HOSPITALITY GROUP

BIN SRAIYA READYMIX & CRUSHERS

MILLENNIUM HOTEL

INTERNATIONAL SPECIALIZED DENTAL

DOHA BETON READY MIX

COPTHORNE HOTEL

CENTER

SIMSIMA TILES BLOCKS & INTERLOCK

KINGSGATE HOTEL

INNOVATION RENEWABLE ENERGY

CLIC QATAR

EDARAT HOSPITALITY LEISURE SERVICE

PINNACLE EVENTS AMERICAN SERVICE CENTER

QATAR WIRE COMPANY

Al Sraiya Holding Group company listwww.alsraiyagroup.com

focused on working with large clients in mainly the construction field.” “One example is the For more info, please contact usof on:Al proud announcement T: +974 44411800 Sraiya STRABAG Road & F: +974 44442264 P.O.Box 3082 - Doha Qatar Infrastructure W.L.L. being E: info@alsraiyagroup.com chosen to lead a mega-sewer project worth QR1.2 billion,” Al-Kaabi says. “Aimed at converting the foul-sewer drainage in the Doha South Catchment from a pumped network to a gravity sewer network, Al Sraiya STRABAG will be handling the design and building of the second and central segment of the Main Trunk Sewer.” Another notable example is the Zueblin project, which is announcing its commencement of one of Qatar Energy City’s prominent developments, the construction of Parcel H-01 Package 2. The project is worth QR508 million and is expected to be completed in 29 months, in adherence with the highest standards that comply with the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certification requirements for energy efficiency. Green building and sustainability are thus going to be an increasing priority for Al Sraiya in the construc-

tion and engineering fields, as the structures of the Zueblin project are to be built with sustainable criteria in mind. Al-Kaabi stresses that the Group has built its reputation over time and with a consistent approach to strong standards across their vast portfolio. “Maintaining companies in a diversification of fields is an accomplishment on its own, allowing us to be the all-in-one marketplace for customers we originally strived to become,” he explains. Besides providing building equipment, tools and machinery, companies under the Group such as Al Sraiya >>>

“We strive for continuous improvement in quality standards and customer service, and we continuously work to remain a role model in all the fields we are currently involved in. The Group works to form and maintain long-term relationships of value with clients and partners and we also look for joint ventures and partnerships that can benefit the National Vision 2030.”

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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innovator

SETTING NEW STANDARDS OF QUALITY.

Simsima Completed Interview Project

INTERVIEW

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Bin Sraiya Readymix is your trusted source for diversified services and unique quality products delivered on time.

Qatar’s growth into a dynamic modern economy has enabled Bin Sraiya Readymix to excel in the highly competitive market. Operating 5 concrete batching plants supported by a fleet of 70 transit mixers and 12 concrete pumps, Bin Sraiya concrete uses the highest Quality Assurance standards to provide clients with only the finest products.

Services include: • Manufacturing and transport of readymix concrete • Pumping of readymix concrete • Manufacturing and supplying kerbstones • Manufacturing and supplying quary products

Member of:

Trading & Contracting, Badr Contracting & Trading, Simsima Cement Tiles and Block Factory, Al Sraiya Consulting & Engineering, Bin Sraiya Ready Mix, Doha Beton and Clic Qatar have acted as main contractors for clients such as Ashghal, undertaking the construction of towers in Dafna and Lusail City, New Doha International Airport (NDIA), Doha’s New Port, in addition to buildings for the government and other local authorities. Other completed projects include major landmarks like the Barwa Commercial Avenue, Hamad Medical City, The American School of Doha, Al Jassim Tower and G45 building. The company’s work in

the hospitality domain has also been seeing a spurt in growth, and it is also garnering favorable attention. For example, the Millennium Hotel Doha earned two awards at the International Hotel Awards 2015, (a five star award for the hotel category for Qatar, and a highly commended award for the hotel website category for Qatar). 20 In addition, Edarat, which supplies waiters, housekeeping and stewarding to the world’s most recognized international hotels, restaurants, airlines, leisure and retail companies, recently hired 75 new employees for enhanced services. Additionally, the Group’s Aleph Printing Press recently

Bin Sraiya Readymix • P.O.Box.7533 • Doha - Qatar • Tel : +974 4460 5755 • Fax : +974 4460 3200 • Email : info@binsraiyareadymix.com

invested QR5 million in its own machinery and equipment, and Al-Kaabi says that the sizeable cash injection will be used to purchase new large-size printing machines, automatic finishing machines, a line of book bindery tools with gold edging, as well as a line die cut to enhance printing press services. When asked about what he considers as the reasons behind its market success, AlKaabi says that the Group’s “strength makes us unique, as it originates from our businesses heavily supporting and supplying each other. In fact, many of our business can overlap in terms of management and staff as cooperation amongst them is key to the Group’s success. The five fields we have expanded into cover almost everything from hospitality to construction, consultation, etc., and we believe this is what also makes

Latest News

NEWS THE GROUPS LATEST

Al Sraiya Strabag awarded QR 1.2 billion sewer drainage project

Zueblin starts new project in Mountazah Final stages of 2 Health Centers

Zueblin awarded QR 508 Million Project for QEC Al Sraiya Trading & Contracting to build 3 Governmental schools

QR 5 Million investment with QBIC as part of CSR Residential Development Project at Lusail City

AL SRAIYA HOLDING INTERNAL MAGAZINE

Entrepreneur july 2015

Al Sraiya a desired partner in projects and new business plans.” Besides this, Al-Kaabi thinks that the company’s ethic of completing its own in-house projects adds to its strength, and eliminates the burdens and complications of outsourcing. “This alone uplifts the extra effort needed to form networks when outsourcing suppliers and contractors, and allows us to invest that energy, money and effort into other affecting

THE PIONEER / ISSUE 1 / MAY 2015

“many of our business can overlap in terms of management and staff as cooperation amongst them is key to the Group’s success. The five fields we have expanded into cover almost everything from hospitality to construction, consultation, etc., and we believe this is what also makes Al Sraiya a desired partner in projects and new business plans.”

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“With a diverse range of resources and connections at hand, Al Sraiya Holding provides clients with extensive research, market knowledge, services tailored to needs and budgets, competitive rates in the market, resources, machinery, consultation, building equipment and materials as well as anything else needed to complete a project from beginning to end, as we provide total construction solutions.”


Simsima

www.alsraiyagroup.com | The Pioneer - al sraiya holding group internal magazine

Clic

“You need to be organized and be able to manage and monitor all through the organizational structure, implementing different systems to suit each company,” he explains. “To overcome these challenges, it is important to delegate power to professional managers, each responsible for a company, and dividing the employees under them for better management.”

factors in the Group, which other companies may not be able to do.” With reference to the trials that Al Sraiya Holding Group has faced along the years, Al-Kaabi says that difficulties and challenges usually arise owing to the number of employees being managed, especially when there are a

number of companies to be considered simultaneously. “You need to be organized and be able to manage and monitor all through the organizational structure, implementing different systems to suit each company,” he explains. “To overcome these challenges, it is important to delegate power to profession-

al managers, each responsible for a company, and dividing the employees under them for better management.” He underlines how this creates its own challenges, as these managers then need to continuously update each other and work together to ensure proper flow of work, particularly since their staff >>>

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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innovator CSR

CSR

AL SRAIYA HOLDING CSR

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As part of its CSR investment plans for the year, Al Sraiya Holding Group has signed a QR 5,000,000 agreement with Qatar Incubation Center that is due to last until 2022.

As the biggest incubator in MENA, QBIC aims to provide programs and activities that empower entrepreneurs, to start and scale companies by developing entrepreneurs incubating companies, investing in companies as well as connecting people. Al Sraiya Holding Group is fully committed to the economic and social progress in the region by contributing to the development of sectors that are fundamental for the economy. Therefore, the Group is pleased to cooperate with QBIC as it believes in its mission.

THE PIONEER / ISSUE 1 / MAY 2015

AL SRAIYA HOLDING INTERNAL MAGAZINE

can overlap each other to support sister companies. “Therefore, we have arranged for regular weekly meetings for monitoring purposes,” he explains. “This whole cycle [of success] relies heavily on organization.” As a result of the Al Sraiya Holding Group’s hard work, it has become a familiar and well-known name in the market, which the management believes is necessary to achieve, and above all, preserve, as the Qatari market is already extremely competitive. “However, this does not mean we do not outsource occasionally,” Al-Kaabi says. “We bring value to the market through 40 years of management expertise, accumulated operational competence, and added resources such as capital, corporate staff services, local market intelligence, and knowledge.” Thanks to its years in the industry, Al Sraiya has been able to

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Entrepreneur july 2015

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ing and water management build a reputation as one of further consolidates The the sturdiest and synergistic holding groups in Qatar. Group as a major player in the “With a diverse range of Qatari economy. “Our future resources and connections at perspective is focused on continuing progress in fields we hand, Al Sraiya Holding provides clients with extensive are already involved in, and research, market knowledge, we are always on the lookout services tailored to needs and for new opportunities and budgets, competitive rates in partnerships that could guide the market, resources, maus into new fields, further chinery, consultation, buildexpanding the Group.” ing equipment and materials as Road development in Al Wakrah well as anything else needed to complete a project from beginning to end, as we provide total construction solutions,” Al-Kaabi says. Al Sraiya’s joint ventures with multinational companies in the fields of consultancy; engineering, landscap-

“One example is the proud announcement of Al Sraiya STRABAG Road & Infrastructure W.L.L. being chosen to lead a mega-sewer project worth QR1.2 billion. Aimed at converting the foul-sewer drainage in the Doha South Catchment from a pumped network to a gravity sewer network, Al Sraiya STRABAG will be handling the design and building of the second and central segment of the Main Trunk Sewer.”

qatar business incubation ceneter source: The Pioneer - al sraiya holding group internal magazine

Qatar Business Incubation Center: Al Sraiya to invest QR 5 million in QBIC by 2022 as part of its CSR


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Serenia offers you more than just an address. It offers you a lifestyle suited to the world's most discerning. A collection of beachfront penthouses and garden apartments filled with elegant luxury. Nestled in the iconic crescent of The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. Come, discover Serenity. It waits for you at www.sereniathepalm.com

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innovator

Money matters [The how-to]

Financial know-how for all stages of your startup

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By Martin Zwilling

hen you’re starting up a business, there’s no question that one needs to be financially literate in order to run the enterprise. However, it is important to note that the different stages of a startup require different sets of financial expertise to help it navigate through the journey of the business. This guide will provide you with the requisite know-how that should help you all through the startup cycle, starting from the moment you ask for money from your family and friends, to the point where you decide if you want your company to go public.

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Money matters [The how-to]

PART 1 STARTING UP RAISING SEED CAPITAL Eight Best Practices to Seek Funding From Friends, Family and Fools Many first-time entrepreneurs find themselves unable to bootstrap their startups, and also unable to find early funding at the venture capital level or even with angel investors. Their only recourse is that first tier of investors, fondly called ‘Friends, Family and Fools’. These are the only people likely to believe in newbies, with only minimal product evidence or business experience. Yet surprisingly, according to statistics on the Fundable crowdfunding site, friends and family are the major funding source for all entrepreneurs, investing over US$60 billion in new ventures last year, almost triple the amount coming from venture capital sources. The average amount per startup was $23,000, usually in the form of a convertible loan, rather than an equity investment. Of course, most startups ultimately need much more than this amount to scale the business, but some prior contribution from friends and family (as well as your own sweat equity) is normally expected as a qualification

before professional investors will consider entering the game. Their logic is that if your family won’t invest in you, then why should they? This is confirmation that the right people are always more important than the right product. Here are some key ways that you can be viewed as the right people, whether seeking an investment from friends and family, fools or even later from professional investors: 1. Ask for a specific amount to meet a specific milestone. Shy introverts may be great technologists, but they won’t be entrepreneurs until they learn to nurture relationships with friends and family, practice their elevator pitch and respectfully ask for funding. Waiting for someone to give you a gift with no specific objective is likely to be a long wait. 2. Offer a formal agreement as well as a handshake. The vehicle of choice is most often a convertible note, which is really a loan with a specified duration and

interest, with an option to convert it to equity when professional investors come in later. Hire an attorney to make sure the terms are fair. This shows respect and professionalism. 3. Let people see your own investment and commitment. Friends and family are quick to differentiate between a passionate hobby and a sincere effort to change the world. Show them that you have done your homework with industry experts and potential customers, and convince them you are not asking for charity or a donation. 4. Build a prototype first on your own time and money. We all know people who are good at talking, but never seem to risk anything or find time to get started on the implementation. Every good entrepreneur needs to invest skin in the game, to show credibility and leadership to others. Investors want to be followers, not the leaders. 5. Don’t ask for more than your friends or family can afford to lose. In other words, don’t be greedy, and remember that you have to live with these people even if your startup fails. Ask for the minimum amount you need to reach a significant milestone, with some buffer for the unknown, rather than the maximum amount you can possibly foresee. 6. Communicate the plan and the risks up front. Remember that no investment is a gift, and everyone who buys in deserves to hear what you plan to do with their investment, and expects regular updates from

We all know people who are good at talking, but never seem to risk anything or find time to get started on the implementation. Every good entrepreneur needs to invest skin in the game, to show credibility and leadership to others. Investors want to be followers, not the leaders. you along the way. Be honest with naïve friends and trusting family members, since more than 70 percent of startups fail in the first five years. 7. Focus on well-connected friends with relevant business experience. A wealthy uncle may seem like an easy mark, but a less wealthy friend who has connections and experience with startups in your domain can likely help you more than any amount of money. Remember that you are looking for success, not just money to spend. 8. Tie re-payments to revenue growth in the startup. Rather than set a fixed repayment schedule, tie investment payoffs to a percentage of new product revenue, or a plan to convert the debt to equity. Use the minimum viable product concept to get revenue early, and allow market and product pivots at minimal cost.

In any case, avoid the urge to think of friends and family as a last funding resort, when they should always be your first focus, and maybe the only one you will ever need. If you succeed, there is no joy like sharing the feeling and the money with people close to you. But make sure you do it right, per the above recommendations, or you may be the biggest fool. >>>

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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Money matters [The how-to]

PART 2 GROWTH CURVE BUILDING VALUE Five questions to ask about your financial model to add real value to your startup If you think that financial modeling for a new business is arcane magic, limited in value to financial wizards and professional investors, then you have been listening to the wrong advisors. In reality, a simple Excel spreadsheet model customized around your assumptions can save you hours and avoid a wasted expense in validating alternative vendor and marketing decisions. The way to start is with a sample financial model, freely available from many sources on the Internet. Another alternative is to build one yourself, starting with a few formulas to extrapolate early revenues and expenses into the five-year projections normally requested by banks and investors. Don’t try to build the “ultimate” business model, for all possible alternatives, in multiple business domains.

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Entrepreneur july 2015

For maximum value with the least effort, focus on only the “what ifs” that are the highest priority in your mind for your own startup. In my experience, the top candidates will include the following: 1. What if you have to cut your targeted price? Pricing is always a tricky issue. Vendor costs are subject to change, customers are fickle, competitors come out of the woodwork and the economy can take a downturn. You need to quickly calculate the long-term impact on profitability of pricing and business model changes. 2. What if you need to change your market size and volume projections? The manual calculations to translate market assumptions into costs, volumes, expenses and net return are massive. Yet, they can be

done by a simple financial model in a few milliseconds. Investors will test your savvy by asking where your business breaks. 3. What if your growth and scaling projections are too aggressive? Most entrepreneurs realize that doubling their revenue each year puts them in a premium category with investors, so that may be your first target. But targets need to be adjusted as the reality of early returns sets in. Projections you know to be wrong won’t help you. 4. What if investors offer you only half, or double, what you ask for? With a financial model, it’s relatively easy to apply these amounts to your marketing, manufacturing and administrative costs, as well as business volumes, to predict the impact. Your credibility with investors, and your confidence in any request, depends on these answers.

5. What if your customer acquisition cost assumptions have to change? The cost to acquire a customer, or traffic to conversion ratios, are critical to the success of most startups. This can be projected top down from market share assumptions, or bottom up from actual costs and sales results.

The time to start building your model is even before you incorporate the business and spend real money on building products. Just like planning a long trip with your car, you need to know where you are going before your start, or you probably won’t get there. If you are not computer literate, it’s never too early to find a partner or learn tackle this critical element of every business. The financial model obviously has to be built in concert that the overall business and pricing model that you are implementing. The most common business models these days include the subscription model, freemium model and ecommerce. Each has a different set of variables for sales, revenue flow, marketing costs and personnel. Creating a financial model is perhaps the only way for you to see key areas of strength and weakness in your business, before the money is spent and it’s too late to recover. It’s a great learning experience and is not rocket science, so you can do it yourself. But don’t hesitate to ask for help from a professional if you need it. You may be surprised how clear the relationship appears between product pricing, cost and customer count. You will quickly understand the old adage that if you lose money on every customer, it’s hard to make it up in volume.


Money matters [The how-to]

PART 3 SCALING UP GOING PUBLIC Six reasons why smart entrepreneurs think twice before seeking an IPO The visibility of Google, Facebook and a few others continues to propagate the myth that the ultimate objective of every entrepreneur should be to take their startups public via an initial public offering (IPO) at the earliest opportunity. Everyone thinks this is the route to become the next billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg. In reality, this option is a nightmare that can bump you out of the driver seat, dilute your equity and create a business entity you can’t control. For financial reasons alone, an IPO is a statistically rare phenomenon, happening just 275 times in 2014, out of almost 500,000 startups. Many of these may still fail spectacularly, such as Webvan and Pets.com.

See this article in its entirety at Entrepreneur.com

Every public company has to answer to thousands of public stockholders now, rather than just a few private investors. This is a huge communication requirement, as well as a tremendous disadvantage in flexibility and dealing with competitors. The public is not an easy master to satisfy.

As an advisor and mentor to startups, I try to make sure entrepreneurs understand both the pros and cons of an IPO as an exit strategy. Facebook, for example, ended up raising almost $16 billion through its IPO. It’s hard to imagine any other investor mechanism that could have raised that much money. On the other hand, Zuckerberg signed up for a lifetime of challenges: 1. Large personal and corporate liability exposures. As a public company executive, your management style, and even your personal life, is subject to extensive scrutiny by stock analysts and

stockholders. Violations of integrity and accepted business practices is malfeasance and can result in corporate and personal fines, and even prison terms. 2. Extensive government reporting and compliance rules. To prevent another Enron scandal, public companies and their officers are measured against strict and growing government rules for reporting and compliance, popularly known as Sarbanes-Oxley, or SOX. Private companies are largely exempt from these reporting requirements. 3. Doubling or more of overhead expenses. These new reporting and compliance rules require expensive new processes, systems and consultants. When including lawyers and a chief compliance officer, many experts argue that the costs can quadruple those of a private company. That extra money raised better kick-start your opportunity. 4. All strategy and operational moves become public. Every public company has to answer to thousands of public stockholders now, rather than just a few private investors. This is a huge communication requirement, as well as a tremendous disadvantage in flexibility and dealing with competitors. The public is not an easy master to satisfy. 5. Public expectation of growth every quarter. The pressures to maintain a profitable and steep growth curve, versus reinvesting

returns in new markets, are very frustrating to entrepreneurs who get their satisfaction from the flexibility of a startup in addressing new opportunities. Even perceived weaknesses can dramatically impact company valuations. 6. Control moves to external directors and the public. Private companies typically have an internal board of friendly owners, unlikely to be pressured by the media to consider an unfriendly tender offer from another major player in the market. Even with private equity and private acquisition transactions, control stays internal to the principals.

Of course, there are cases where a new technology or medical startup needs that huge financial infusion to build the infrastructure needed for real growth,

so the rewards are worth the risks and costs. In the long run, building a global company with the relatively unlimited public resources is still only possible by starting with an initial public offering and giving up your startup. For every entrepreneur, I recommend first a personal assessment of your goals and strengths. If you enjoy the challenges of a startup and being in charge of your own destiny, you probably won’t survive the move to a public company, and you certainly won’t enjoy it, even if it makes you and all your friends rich. Greed is not an easy master to satisfy either.

your management style, and even your personal life, is subject to extensive scrutiny by stock analysts and stockholders. Violations of integrity and accepted business practices is malfeasance and can result in corporate and personal fines, and even prison terms.

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Money matters [The how-to]

Crowdfunding change in the MENA region Narwi mobilizes Islamic charitable giving to support micro-entrepreneurs By Aby Sam Thomas

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narwi website

ith the MENA region now becoming notoriously known for having the world’s highest rate of youth unemployment, there has been an increasing drive towards encouraging micro-entrepreneurship as a means by which this statistic could be overturned. However, this is easier said than done: while starting (and growing) new businesses has been deemed to be absolutely necessary for the creation of jobs in the region, micro-entrepreneurs who do start their own ventures often find it extremely difficult to access the requisite finance they need for their respective enterprises. But Narwi, a new platform launched by the Qatar-based Silatech initiative focused on youth employment and enterprise development, is hoping to turn this scenario around by combining the power of crowdfunding with the virtue of Islamic charitable giving.

Narwi –which, in Arabic, means “to tell a story,” as well as “to nourish”- is a non-profit Islamic crowdfunding platform that allows donors to support micro-entrepreneurs of their choice by establishing a NarwiWaqf (Waqf, in Arabic, translates to “endowment”) with as little as US$25. Founded in June 2015, the program builds on Silatech’s experience with Kiva, the world’s largest online micro-lending platform, through its Kiva Arab Youth program, which has been able to raise financing for over 5,000 youth-owned businesses in a span of just three years. “Narwi builds on the success and impact of Kiva Arab Youth, while expanding on it in several ways,” says Mohammad Raafi Hossain, the Narwi Program Manager at Silatech, as he explains how the platform works. “Narwi features projects which are financed through Shariahcompliant loan products provided by Kiva Field Partners

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Money matters [The how-to]

“Narwi is featuring projects currently from seven MENA countries, and each of these countries has its own distinguishing characteristics economically. There isn’t one model that can be applied across the board. For instance, fishing is an industry that is quite widespread in Somalia, but it would be almost completely absent in Jordan.

throughout the region. Mainly microfinance institutions, Field Partners disburse loans to borrowers as they are needed. Predisbursing loans means that borrowers, when they need support immediately, don’t have to wait for their loans to get funded on the Narwi platform. The Field Partner then posts the stories and photos of the borrowers on Narwi, which then aggregates the donations for each beneficiary posted on the site, and backfills the loans pre-dispersed by Field Partners.” So who are these borrowers that benefit from the Narwi platform? According to Hossain, the Narwi network (launch.narwi.org) currently operates in Yemen, Palestine, “Once individuals create a Narwi-Waqf, they select a micro-entrepreneur of their choice, and help to finance their business through their Narwi-Waqf. Over time, the Narwi-Waqf is replenished as the borrower repays the loan. Donors can either add more money to their NarwiWaqf, or wait until the initial endowment is fully repaid before supporting another micro-entrepreneur.”

Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Somalia, and the microentrepreneurs it supports operate a variety of businessesa showcase of Narwi’s impact in the region that Silatech shared with Entrepreneur included names like Marwah, who used a loan of $2,250 to buy cosmetics and renovate her shop in Jordan; Suheel, who used a loan of $1,300 to start his own falafel and humus restaurant in Yemen; and Ghassan, who used a loan of $1,000 to buy an electrical saw for his carpentry workshop in Somalia. Of course, while the sheer diversity of businesses that Narwi supports is laudable by itself, this also represents a significant challenge for the enterprise. “Our primary concern is that the micro-entrepreneur succeed in sustaining their business and, hopefully, create jobs for others,” says Hossain. “Narwi is featuring projects currently from seven MENA countries, and each of these countries has its own distinguishing characteristics economically. There isn’t one model that can be applied across the board. For instance, fishing is an industry that is quite wide-

spread in Somalia, but it would be almost completely absent in Jordan. The same type of variety applies to the kinds of micro-entrepreneurs Narwi supports, and the criteria they are judged by when applying for a loan.” With this being the scenario, Hossain notes that Narwi depends heavily on its Field Partners to help with achieving its mission and goals. “As I mentioned before, Narwi operates through Kiva Field Partners, and the projects listed on Narwi are all financed through Shariah-compliant loan products,” he explains. “These Field Partners know their area of operations, the economic climate and prospects for microenterprises, as well as the types of entrepreneurs more likely to succeed in their country.” Narwi’s use of Shariahcompliant loan products is particularly noteworthy, especially when a survey of MENA countries by the International

Finance Corporation found that most entrepreneurs in the region indicated a preference for Shariah-compliant financial services. However, such products are hard to find. “There are many microfinance institutions in the MENA region, but very few who offer Shariahcompliant loans,” Hossain says. “This has held us back from covering a wider area so far. Depending on how successful Narwi is in raising capital from the crowd, it will be interesting to see whether this catalyzes financial institutions who see a benefit in developing more Islamic microfinance loan products.” From a donor’s perspective, the Narwi platform is a relatively simple one to navigate, and allows users to create endowments that are permanent >>> Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Narwi Program Manager at Silatech

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A Bold Solution

Sustainable

The Micro-Waqf mechanism allows users to sustainably use a single donation pool repeatedly.

Innovative

and sustainable over the longterm. “Narwi is a revolving donations platform, rather than a lending-based system,” Hossain notes. “Once individuals create a Narwi-Waqf, they select a micro-entrepreneur of their choice, and help to finance their business through their Narwi-Waqf. Over time, the Narwi-Waqf is replenished as the borrower repays the loan. Donors can either add more money to their NarwiWaqf, or wait until the initial endowment is fully repaid before supporting another micro-entrepreneur.” He also notes that since Narwi funding is at below market rates (0% interest), its Field Partners are also able to expand their lending programs to more marginalized, higher risk and higher social impact borrowers, such as startup projects,

rural beneficiaries, farmers, female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs operating in conflict-affected states. Narwi has also managed to secure a number of strategic partnerships with several leading entities from the region and globally. Besides Kiva, these strategic partners include Qatar National Bank (QNB), PayPal, AFIF, Qatar Charity and the International Office of Migration. Narwi’s partnership with QNB is particularly noteworthy for it has allowed the platform to accept donations through credit cards, besides PayPal. “This is a significant advantage over Kiva Arab Youth, as PayPal is not accepted in a number of these countries [that we have a presence in],” Hossain says. “Those donating through credit cards can also

Proof positive Narwi can effect change Young Bashir Al-Haj of Sana’a, Yemen, worked in a nut shop but wanted to open a small business of his own. As Bashir questioned how to finance his dream, a customer advised him to approach a youth fund for small business ventures at a local microfinance institution. Al-Haj approached the Youth Fund at Al Amal Microfinance Bank, which extended him a loan of 200,000 Yemeni riyals (around US$930). Bashir

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Ethical

Aligned with Islamic Giving principles

Narwi is the world’s first Micro-Waqf platform.

rest assured that Narwi uses QNB’s industry-strength payment gateway.” Hossain also notes that as Narwi features only projects that have been financed through Shariahcomplaint loan packages, the platform is an excellent option for Muslims who may be frustrated with traditional forms of Islamic charitable giving, but may not be comfortable with non-Shariah-compliant financial models. But that doesn’t mean the platform is exclusive to Muslims either. “While Narwi is an Islamic crowdfunding platform, we gladly accept donations from anyone, regardless of religion,” he says. “And while we operate in predominantly Muslim countries, there is no requirement for our beneficiaries to be Muslims.” With Islamic charitable giving being the driving principle

purchased goods that were in demand in the market, opened a small spice shop, and began to grow his business. Having gained the bank’s confidence after paying back his loan on time, he qualified for another loan of 70,000 riyals, which he invested in the shop, improving further his business and income before paying the loan back on time. Eventually, the young entrepreneur went on to obtain a third and fourth loan of 100,000 and 150,000 riyals, respectively, repaying these on time as well. “Within seven years I achieved what I wanted, thanks to

Al Amal Microfinance Bank, which enables people with limited income to overcome difficulties and gives them the opportunity to become business leaders,” says Bashir.

al-amal bank website

Partnerships

Narwi partners with local, regional, public and private organizations to ensure effective engagement.

behind Narwi, the platform is seeking donors primarily from the Arab and Muslim diaspora, GCC nationals and expatriates as well as nationals in middle income MENA markets. It also plans to grow its reach soonHossain reveals that plans are underway for Narwi to expand to Morocco and Tunisia, and possibly to other countries outside of the MENA region as well. “The total amount of Islamic charitable giving worldwide has been estimated at over $200 billion annually, which is huge,” Hossain says. “However, there are a sizeable number of young professional Muslims who are frustrated with the lack of transparency, accountability and impact of traditional forms of giving. We’re trying to address this frustration and tap into this particular market through Narwi. Our objective is to help micro-entrepreneurs gain access to the finance they need to start or grow sustainable, jobcreating businesses. Crowdfunding can be a transparent and effective way to give donors the power to select whom their donations will benefit, and the revolving donations Narwi-Waqf model provides a foundation of sustainability. We’re looking to redirect some of the charitable potential of the Islamic world toward sustainable impact that addresses a pressing socioeconomic need- the need for jobs.”


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Money matters [The how-to]

considered an extremely desirable partner to have in the enterprise space. With investment streams across PE, real estate, credit and mezzanine, the firm is reportedly managing US$3 billion in assets. “Bringing a reputed private equity firm on board can help the entrepreneur to improve his or her operations, fund future growth, scale business and maximize profitability. A partnership between PE firms and management can be very beneficial to both parties if structured properly. By injecting capital and providing operational support, PE firms can make a big difference to a company and help it scale and achieve its profitability and growth targets. If both parties can generate an attractive return in the end by delivering a successful exit, then the partnership is even more powerful and worthwhile– that’s what proper alignment is all about.”

Dr. Karim El Solh, CEO, Gulf Capital

“By clarifying the long-term goals and linking financial rewards to them, PE firms ensure that the management team is properly aligned and everyone is working towards the same goals. Most long-term incentive plans include a cash (bonus) component and a stock component, which vests over time.”

Here are six reasons why bringing a PE firm on board can catalyze the growth and profitability of your business:

The Private Equity Pro Dr. Karim El Solh Co-founder and CEO, Gulf Capital

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ntrepreneurs in the Middle East face numerous challenges when launching and growing a business in the region. One of the biggest ones is access to adequate financing to fund growth of SMEs. For example, in the UAE, SMEs represent 90% of total businesses, yet they secured only 4% of total outstanding loans in 2014. This points directly to

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the main financing challenge facing SME sector growth. Private equity firms, with a greater risk for appetite and strong returns, could provide an alternative to bank financing and step in to help plug the financing gap.” As the co-founder and CEO of Gulf Capital, Dr. Karim El Solh can easily give you support for the argument that your SME needs a good private equity firm to scale up. Gulf Capital, one the largest and most agile private equity (PE) firms in the Middle East, has been recognized several times via awards and acknowledgements, and they’re

1. Partnering with the right management team “PE firms back management teams before they back companies. It is very important that the right management team is in place to execute on the ambitious growth plans. If a management team has a gap or uneven capabilities, the PE firms can step in and help strengthen the management team by sourcing experienced professionals from their wide network of contacts. Putting the best and most experienced team in place will ensure the company grows at an attractive rate and achieves its profitability targets. In addition to the management team, PE firms will focus closely on the composition of the board and strive to attract the right mix of industry, strategy and finance experts at the board to help guide management on both strategy and execution. PE firms prefer to operate at the board level and empower the management team to execute their business plan. While they can help from time to time on a micro level or on a specific task, such as securing adequate bank financing, they prefer to remain involved at the board level and give the CEO and the


Money matters [The how-to]

team the free reigns and accountability to operate and achieve the business plan. However, they will step in and intervene if management is facing difficulties or not executing according to plans. PE firms are active owners and focused on execution, growth and ultimately on delivering a profitable exit, for themselves and for the management team. This brings us to the next reason: proper alignment.” 2. Aligning interests “PE firms will spend considerable time upfront to draft a proper business plan and a clear longterm incentive plan (LTIP) to ensure that management have clear goals to strive for and if they achieve them, the long-term incentive plan will ensure that they are properly rewarded accordingly. By clarifying the long-term goals and linking financial rewards to them, PE firms ensure that the management team is properly aligned and everyone is working towards the same goals. Most long-term incentive plans include a cash (bonus) component and a stock component, which vests over time. Naturally, management is not allowed to sell its shares in the company until a proper exit is secured and both the PE firm and management are able to sell to the next buyer at the same time. By focusing together on the end financial result, the PE firm and management are completely aligned and share the same financial interests.” 3. Why PE firms focus on strategic or majority stakes “One can enumerate numerous ways to boost profitability, margins and returns. All of these can be meaningless if the PE firm has no control or influence on the decision making process in its portfolio company. The ability to take the right decisions that lead to revenue expansion, cost rationalization and operational efficiencies is decisive to the success of any PE investment. Many PE firms either prefer to acquire a majority stake in their target company to secure control of the board or will structure their investment in such a manner that they are able to effectively influence the company and guide it in the right direction. Without a strategic or influential stake, PE firms are not able to step in and make a difference in their portfolio companies when required. The debate is not whether PE firms should acquire minority or majority stakes but on how to secure the requisite amount of influence to be able

to effectively guide management teams, and intervene if necessary. If structured properly, a minority strategic investment can give a PE firm the same governance and rights as a controlling majority stake.” 4. Capital injections and financial support “The growth of companies is often limited by severed financial constraints. In order to further their growth potential, a capital injection is often needed to continue expansion plans. PE firms are in a position to provide such financial support through a capital increase, whether straight equity purchase or a convertible loan structure. The size of the capital increase will depend on the business plan of the company and its long-term financing needs. PE firms can also be instrumental in leveraging their banking relationships to ensure portfolio companies secure adequate loan financing at a reasonable rate. PE firms, especially the larger, more reputed ones, can give portfolio companies instant credibility when approaching banks for financing.” 5. Revenue expansion- product and geographic diversification “Many businesses find themselves highly concentrated within a restricted number of products, clients and geographies, which increases their exposure to market swings and risks. In order to diversify and strengthen operations, PE firms help their portfolio companies expand into new attractive product lines and fast-growing new geographies, thus diversifying and widening the revenue base. The ultimate objective is to transform a portfolio company from a small local player into a regional market leader with a broad portfolio of products and services. Not only does this increase overall profitability, but it also increases the appeal of the portfolio company to strategic or financial buyers. At the end of the day, PE firms not only need to support and grow their portfolio companies but they also need to secure a liquidity event, be it a trade sale, financial sale or an IPO. A larger, more regional company is much more likely to get sold or go public than a small local player.” 6. Operational improvements and the focus on profitability “PE firms are active owners and are very focused on maximizing both the efficiency and profitability of portfolio

companies. Cost control and margin enhancements are recurrent themes and PE firms are very focused on achieving operational and profitability KPIs (that they track on a monthly or quarterly basis). PE firms often bring in outside experts to assist management in restructuring and optimizing their operations. Benchmarking of global players and bringing in best in class practices are part of this operational improvement process. Many founders of businesses welcome this assistance as they need help to improve their companies and take them to the next level. Growing both the top line and the bottom line of portfolio companies are key for PE firms to achieve their investment target returns and they use all of the arsenal at their disposal to bring about change and maximize profitability for themselves and other shareholders, including management. For example, Gulf Capital, an active hands-on private equity firm with a wide portfolio of companies across the GCC, has more than doubled its portfolio companies’ revenues and more than tripled their EBITDA profitability. At the end of the day, portfolio companies are sold at a multiple of their profitability and PE firms are very focused on these profitability figures and on their own, and the management’s, ultimate returns.”

Get to know the CEO Dr. Karim El Solh Dr. El Solh’s direction for Gulf Capital has seen the private equity firm execute some of the region’s most relevant PE deals. The firm has won numerous awards including “Best Private Equity Firm in the Middle East” for four years running (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), and was named “Firm of the Year” at this year’s international Private Equity Awards. Prior to co-founding Gulf Capital, Dr. El Solh served as the CEO of The National Investor, an Abu Dhabi-based institution that transacted numerous successful PE transactions and was ranked the number one IPO underwriter in the Gulf. Dr. El Solh received a degree in civil engineering from Cornell University, followed by an MBA from Georgetown University, and a Doctorate in Economics from the Institut d’études politiques de Paris.

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO

Attract (and retain) talent for your enterprise IN 2015

With a young, educated population entering the labor force in large numbers each year, creating a sufficient number of well-paying jobs is a critical challenge to support sustained and inclusive growth in the GCC. But as national talent are still primarily attracted to jobs in the public sector -mainly due to higher wages and other benefits-

policymakers and private companies will need to devise new strategies to attract and retain the new labor market entrants. 55% of professionals in the region feel they’re more likely to be hired if they are active online, as revealed in the Bayt.com Social Recruiting in the Middle East and North Africa poll, October 2014.

The GCC is gradually shifting toward an online HR schema By Lama Ataya

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infographics © bayt.com

U

nemployment is one of the biggest challenges in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Despite efforts undertaken by GCC governments to increase employment among nationals, analysis reveals that unemployment among local talent remains high. According to the Bayt.com Nationalization in the GCC poll, April 2015, 42.3% of GCC residents believe that local talent remains unemployed; another 24.6% think that finding and hiring local talent is difficult when compared to hiring expatriate talent. Although this problem has been somewhat curtailed due to the GCC’s provision of welfare that rely heavily on oil revenues, oil-dependent welfare is a source of income that will likely prove unsustainable in the long run. GCC policymakers need to shift more of their national talent away from welfare and government jobs and into fast-growing new industries outside of oil.


What you need to know about local talent in the GCC The governments of many countries in the GCC have introduced localization policies for the private sector. According to a poll conducted by Bayt.com on How Successful Are Nationalization Efforts in the GCC?, May 2013, 52% of respondents say that their company has a firm policy for hiring nationals; half of them believe these policies are effective. Localization policies stipulate what percentage of a company’s workforce should be local talent. Nitaqat, in particular, is a program designed by the Saudi Ministry of Labor to boost the employment of nationals and fight unemployment. Under the program, private firms are classified into Premium, Green, Yellow and Red categories, based on their percentage of Saudization. The program sets penalties and incentives for companies, based on the category they fall under. Companies with high Saudization rates will fall under the Premium or Green categories, while those who fail to achieve the required rates will be included in the Yellow and Red categories. Nitaqat ensures that Saudization rates are based on the actual performance of private businesses, and takes into consideration the sector as well as the size of workforce for each company. Apart from the Saudization of labor, the Nitaqat program also aims to fulfill other short-term and long-term objectives, such as facilitating the employment of women, specifying minimum wage, the protection of employee rights, etc. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind during the hiring process of local talent in the GCC:

1. Understand the Labor Law and track it. It’s important

that you have your ear close to the ground when it comes to governmental labor policies. Keep track of them through government websites as often as possible. 2. Define your company and set a clear talent development plan. Before

hiring, there are several things that are essential to ensuring that your hires are strategic. Start by defining your company mission, vision and goals, set a business development strategy, and put in place a talent development plan. These will help potential candidates understand the company background and assess whether they will be the right person for the job. There cannot be enough stressing on the importance of drafting clear job descriptions and requirements for candidates. This will help your recruiters get started on finding you the right candidates. Traditionally, professionals in the GCC were recruited through headhunting agencies, newspaper ads or referrals. These methods have proved to be expensive and not very effective. Fortunately, the recruitment landscape is changing for the better. And where once online recruitment was used primarily to recruit entry-level and mid-level professionals, it is now a major platform to source and hire senior talent as well.

3. Use the right resource to find local talent. Online

recruitment has revolutionized the recruitment landscape. According to the Bayt.com Recruitment Practices in Middle East and North Africa poll, May 2015, 89.3% of employers believe that their company’s recruitment would benefit from having a career site on their corporate website; 20.3% prefer posting vacancies on a website accessible to millions of people; and 12.5% say that >>>

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engaging with specialists on professional networks is the preferred method. Only 4.8% say that using traditional recruitment companies is the easiest way to hire top talent in the region.

Today, there are more than 135 million individuals using the internet in the Arab world (The Arab World Online, May 2014). Similarly, 51% of employers who took part in the Hiring Management in the MENA poll by Bayt.com, August 2012, say they hire senior executive talent online.

4. Retention of top talent.

hire senior talent as well. In reality, GCC professionals and jobseekers these days are web-savvy and active Internet users, and as an employer, you must realize that if you want to win in the recruitment arena and hire the best talents, you will have to move where those talents are and embrace online recruitment. Leading job sites, such as Bayt.com, serve as a highly effective online medium for posting jobs and finding the best recruits. Bayt.com has over 20.5 million job seekers registered on its website, ranging from interns and entry-level professionals to team leaders, middle managers and C-suites.

Finally, once you have screened and hired the best local talent, you need to focus on staff retention. In order to emphasize on retention, company leaders need to work hard on communicating that their company is a good one to work with. Regular training programs, opportunities for employee recognition, and company activities can help keep morale high. GCC employers should also be aware of the salary scales in their industry, as well as the salaries offered in the public sector, to ensure that their compensation programs remain competitive. Localization policies stipulate what percentage of a company’s workforce should be local talent. Nitaqat, in particular, is a program designed by the Saudi Ministry of Labor to boost the employment of nationals and fight unemployment. Under the program, private firms are classified into Premium, Green, Yellow and Red categories, based on their percentage of Saudization. The program sets penalties and incentives for companies, based on the category they fall under.

Where local talent is, and where you need to be Traditionally, professionals in the GCC were recruited through headhunting agencies, newspaper ads or referrals. These methods have proved to be expensive and not very effective. Fortunately, the recruitment landscape is changing for the better. And where once online recruitment was used primarily to recruit entry-level and mid-level professionals, it is now a major platform to source and

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Why you need to recruit GCC talent online 1. High opportunity cost.

Today, there are more than 135 million individuals using the internet in the Arab world (The Arab World Online, May 2014). Similarly, 51% of employers who took part in the Hiring Management in the MENA poll by Bayt.com, August 2012, say they hire senior executive talent online. With more than 20 million registered professionals, Bayt.com serves as a highly effective online intermediary for employers in the GCC and across the region. The sheer size of the Bayt.com database means that the opportunity cost of not being online is huge, specifically given the volume and momentum of recruitment activity that takes place on the website every day, at every end of the career spectrum and across all industries.

infographics Š bayt.com

TREPONOMICS


2. Senior talents believe in the power of the web.

55% of professionals in the region feel they’re more likely to be hired if they are active online, as revealed in the Bayt.com Social Recruiting in the Middle East and North Africa poll, October 2014. Being online means the recruiter has a better idea of a candidate’s personality, achievements, knowledge and hands-on experience. In many cases, highly established executives have their own blogs and many of them are on social media. These online activities can assist companies in gauging potential candidates while simultaneously avoiding the costs of hiring the wrong person. Evaluating their actual work will also prove to be an accurate assessment approach. Sourcing becomes easier as almost everyone becomes ‘findable’ on the internet. Bayt.com Public Profiles, for example, are a great way for employers to know more about a candidate, well beyond the limits of a traditional CV. Being online means the recruiter has a better idea of a candidate’s personality, achievements, knowledge and hands-on experience. In many cases, highly established executives have their own blogs and many of them are on social media. These online activities can assist companies in gauging potential candidates while simultaneously avoiding the costs of hiring the wrong person.

3. HR departments are budget-driven by nature.

Time is money, and today’s budget conscious HR departments are anxious to save both. The Bayt.com Skills and Hiring Trends in the MENA poll, January 2015, reveals that 48% of companies in the MENA region take quite a long time to fill an open vacancy in their company– between one and three months. The Internet has emerged not only as a faster, easier and more

professional networking forums are the new frontier in online recruitment and a top choice for identifying leaders in their area of expertise, especially at the senior end of the spectrum. This could be attributed to the fact that 81% of professionals feel that online platforms are a good way for employers and candidates to engage together through industry-related comments, discussions and questions.

effective way to source and screen top talent, but also as an efficient tool to manage the entire hiring process. With amazing technologies available in the market today, companies can search through millions of CVs and promptly narrow them down to the exact candidates required. The Bayt.com CV Search and Job Postings are only examples of the wellspring of services that help employers find the perfect match for their job vacancies. With the possibility to filter CVs using very specific criteria, such as years of experience, nationality, location and industry, the chances of finding the right candidate becomes much higher. 4. Top executives engage in daily online conversations.

Professional networking forums are the new frontier in online recruitment and a top choice for identifying leaders in their area of expertise, especially at the senior end of the spectrum. This could be attributed to the fact that 81% of professionals feel that online platforms, such as Bayt.com Specialties, are a good way for employers and candidates to engage together through industry-related comments, discussions and questions, according to the Bayt.com Social Recruiting in the Middle East and North Africa poll. Bayt.com Specialties invites specialists from all over the world to come together and engage in industry-related discussions. Specialists with the best

content are endorsed by their peers and get badges and ranks on their CV. The platform has proven to be a great tool for companies to pick the best among top executives in their industry. This indirect approach to hiring, which relies on networking and relationship building, is necessary to get to know a candidate before hiring them.

Lama Ataya heads the Marketing department at Bayt.com and within that role is also responsible for communications, content, community experience, and corporate social responsibility.

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Turning private assets into a P2P business model An analysis of the evolving (and stagnating) discussion on leadership By Dr. Jamal Boukouray

T

his story is about one of the oldest and longest joint ventures ever known in management history, one of the strangest unions between a human-centered concept and a virtual chameleon. Leader and leadership: two iconic notions that became over the years, if not centuries, synonymous to everything and nothing around the world. Not only there is no unanimous consensus among scholars, professors, personal development trainers, management gurus, and leadership party-planners on what leadership assets stand for, we now have to deal with a whole new challenge, agreeing on the blood type of another heir apparent called LIDA (Leadership in the Digital Age). While the divorce has not been announced yet, it’s only a matter of time before the breakup and split-up become officially public. If spending countless hours of hermeneutics explaining the different roles each clan (leaders vs. managers) has to play in the day-to-day management is already a mind-consuming ritual, wait till you run into chapters dedicated to the newly coined and elected board members of this heterogeneous and artificial union called LIDA (Leadership 2.0,

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3.0, 4.0, dLeader, eLeader, vLeader). Despite the novel factor in the above listed replicas, it doesn’t really take many years of R&D to realize that this merger between two decayed concepts is bound to fail. Recycling vintage leadership styles, concepts and obsolete frameworks is completely inadequate for our digitized culture, and is not compatible with open

source ideology, which is disruptive and contagious by its very nature. While the first theories of leadership were concerned with the divine status of leadership, its innate vs. acquired nature, modern corporations are nowadays mostly concerned with competitiveness, mass-production, crowd-consumption, global reach and continuous

community presence: similar ideals, but different business models and customs. To compensate the shortage of “leading managers” or “management leaders” that could curb social, economic, digital literacy and human rights around the world, many digital tycoons, entrepreneurs and sharewareconscious advocates are taking the information and communication technology (ICT) revolution to new territories, where the leader is neither the heliocentric point of gravity, nor the highest ranked officer on the corporate pinnacle. There are at least three main demerging factors driving the neo-leadership wave. The first driving force is the emergence of community dynamics as an essential constituent of conducting business. It is no longer a matter of autonomous and separated corporations serving a whole range of products or services to disconnected or dislocated prospects, consumer-citizens or audiences. The second factor driving this new wave is related to the dilution of individual attributes from the leader notion into a more societal model. Open source ideology and the tech knowledge culture of sharing is built on chain-value creation and common production of content. In opposite to mainstream leadership theories, the new leader is no longer the majority shareholder of leadership assets. The emerging trends in community-oriented revolve around cooperative thinking whereas trait-based models are focused on the character. In other words, what used to be private assets or qualities attributed to role models are becoming publicly traded assets, and to a certain extent, socially responsible business models.


Individual actors of change are increasingly scarce or visible within the new open source culture, as the new breed of social innovators are kicking out classic models of leadership from lateral organizations and structures. Peer-to-peer (P2P) collaborators, innovators and entrepreneurs are leveraging their expertise in crowd-sourcing, crowdfunding and community management skills into a new form of complex adaptive business models where the community’s value creation is the cornerstone of collaborative thinking. By flattening vertical management scaffoldings and breaking the last pyramids, we are finally starting to see different horizons. It is now possible for complex adaptive organizations to be leaderless, orchestras without conductors, bees without a dancing queen. Social networks and digital media are rich with P2P applications, products, services and community-oriented business models (mutual hardware, shared software, shared sources of knowledge). From bike sharing to Uber cars, there are so many thriving business models to choose from. If the web was the tipping point, stepping up from the Information Age to the Knowledge-Sharing Era is our first entry ticket into communitism id est, a new participative era that is neither socialist or communist, but simply communityoriented. Complex adaptive systems are prone to thrive where Marxist-Leninist revolutions failed to succeed. In the rising new world order of voice, video and big data, social innovation leaders are more likely to keep on affecting our growing ease with the virtually real. Internet penetration around the world is already substantial

in many parts of the world, let alone social network sites. Whether you are at home, at the office or on the way home on the train, staying connected is a top priority among all the hierarchical needs identified by Maslow. Leading from inside or outside, from the smartphone or from the desktop, from the boardroom or from the sewing desk, in person or via WikiLeaks, we have never been this close or accessible to all voices as we are nowadays. It’s time to break away from the linear thinking and determinist frameworks, which are being increasingly commoditized through imitation games by motivational speakers and coaching franchises. The redundant and overused dichotomy between leadership and management is neither conducive nor relevant. Here are some tips and tipping points on how to separate the wheat from the chaff: Rule 1 Think of corporations as a network provider that must stay tuned to its evolving and adaptive ecosystem. Rule 2 The leader as a majority shareholder of leadership is no longer a viable or suitable concept for collaborative economies and P2P-oriented organizations. Stop thinking of leadership as this big bash, a boot camp with brain-catering toys. There is already enough confusion over what leadership is all about, let alone the troubling bond between business leadership, party-planners and the leadership business in the numeric era.

Rule 3 Leadership in the digital age is a not about being a tweetmaster or a great blogsmith; it’s about corporate responsibility and sustainable development. Mission statements must be not be geared towards us at the HQ but toward the oth-

ers: inbound-outbound glocal communities, shareholders, stakeholders, personnel, collaborators and potential markets. Rule 4 Stop thinking of leadership as this big bash, a boot camp with braincatering toys. There is already enough confusion over what leadership is all about, let alone the troubling bond between business leadership, party-planners and the leadership business in the numeric era. Rule 5 Leadership is not an imitation game or a cloning contest. It is no longer a set of ethical, semantic or semiotic attributes attached to a human canvass or a solo performer; it is a public asset highly valued in what becomes part of the corporate culture. The lexical semantic traits that use to define ‘Great Men’ are increasingly embedded in value-added propositions or virtuous circles that are fundamental features and constituents of mission statements. Brandbuilders and big players alike have become the biggest storytellers and recyclers of the mythological traits. Rule 6 There is no need to buy augmented reality glasses from Magic Leap to see leadership in 3D, as leadership has been fragmented into smaller neutrons that cannot be assembled manually or downloaded through new upgrades. In other words, let us not waste time on 2.0 and 3.0 acting studios. Rule 7 Next generation applications and robotic breakthroughs might possibly accomplish mind-blowing tasks faster than any smart human, such as answering questions in hundreds of languages around the clock

to so many enquiring minds on remote-placed handsets. Furthermore, by leveraging leader-sharing power and know-how into some kind of open source leader-ware, neo-self-help communityoriented generation are poised to play a decisive role in turning P2P relations, brain-to-brain-computer assisted communications and other new discoveries into expandable living-learningecosystems. Rule 8 Let us remember that current trends in social innovation leadership are unlikely to soften or stop the ongoing disenfranchisement of leadership processes, applications and metamorphosis, as huge number of care-and-share initiatives, corporations and kickstarters are already swayed by the new way of combining social with the fortune.

Leadership in the digital age is like wireless clouds. While we don’t care about the location of the base stations, or the closest leadership antenna, we care about the spectrum bandwidth. As long as we are within reach, very few mobile citizens of cyberia will ever look at the skies above Manhattan to see where the microwaves are hanging. Wherever G4 or LTE goes, interconnected users must be within reach. Modern LTE standards should apply to modern corporations if they wish to stay connected to their online and offline communities. Jamal Boukouray, Ph.D is the Senior Professor, Management of Innovation, Complexity & Organizational Change at ESCA Ecole de Management in Morocco. july 2015 Entrepreneur

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TREPONOMICS

ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO

Strategic messaging for your enterprise Five communication methods for positively PRing your business in the GCC By Loretta Ahmed

T

o come up with five communication methods to PR your business in the GCC is an interesting proposition. What does PR mean anyway these days? I don’t think any agency is delivering conventional PR campaigns anymore– and those that are will soon be wondering what on earth they were doing when life passed them by. Whether we look at PR, advertising, CRM, CSR, brand development or government relations, today’s reality is that none of the marketing disciplines of old exist in the siloed way that they did in the past.

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Every client we work with today is thinking differently. It might start out as PR, but the end result is an integrated campaign that starts and ends with the customer at its heart. For the sake of simplicity (and to answer the question set) let’s call it PR. 1. Determine who you want to reach, and get to know them well. To decide how best to PR your business in this region, the golden rule is to know your audience– and I mean really know them. Read what they read, follow who they follow, and listen. Listen hard. Only when you know how, when and where to engage with them, you can plan out a campaign that will reach them and interest them. They may not care less about your product or your story. People are time-precious now. They know what they need and when they need it. For you to cut through the marketing noise around them you better make sure your message is relevant to them.


2. Determine the message you want to send, and structure it with relevance in mind. What is it you need to reach them with exactly? Well, that really depends on what they want to hear. Remember this bit. It’s not what you want to tell them. They may not care less about your product or your story. People are time-conscious now. They know what they need and when they need it. For you to cut through the marketing noise around them, you better make sure your message is relevant to them. you know your audience, they like you and they are engaging with you and they’re just really starting to buy into your brand. Now you have to retain them. Tell them original stories, make content really useful for their needs. Say sorry when you make a mistake. Say thank you when they become a regular customer or refer you to their friends. (Never forget to say thank you. It means a lot.)

vevo youtube page

3. Fine-tune your delivery so it isn’t perceived as a generalized broadcast. So you know your audience, you’ve got a message they want to hear and now you need to have a conversation. This is the tricky bit. It’s where you can no longer treat your audience like a homogenous mass. That’s a real no-no, and it will have them unfriending you before you can say ‘listen up’ and get personal. You’ve got to make them feel like this is real one-to-one stuff –an authentic ‘Hey, I’m talking to you’ conversation– the kind of chat that makes your audience actually like you and want to hang out with you. 4. Keep the engaged users on board by injecting fresh elements. Now it gets really interesting; you know your audience, they like you and they are engaging with you and they’re just really starting to buy into your brand. Now you have to retain them. Tell them original stories, make content really useful for their needs. Say sorry when you make a mistake. Say thank you when they become a regular customer or refer you to their friends. (Never forget to say thank you. It means a lot.) It means you’re listening. Oh wait, that’s where we started out- it’s the bit

that should never stop. So to recap: know your audience inside out, make sure your message is relevant to them, don’t just shout marketing-speak at them- have a conversation and make it as personal as you can, say sorry when you get it wrong, and reward your loyal advocates. If you follow these four rules and keep them at the heart of your campaigns. you will build brand resilience and this is the real gold dust. Brand resilience is when customers or fans really trust you. They want you in their lives, they forgive you, and they tell their friends about you. This is what turns consumers into advocates and then they tell your story to the world. Well, their world anyway. Today’s reality is that every citizen is a global citizen. Every post, tweet and conversation happening in Dubai or Shanghai now can be shared in Sydney, Sheffield and Seattle in seconds. It’s what makes marketeers tremble at the knees. It makes us all content planners– the marketing discipline, the platform, the messenger all have to be agnostic. Start with a clean sheet of paper and put your customer at the center. The rest is easy and the marketing dollars can be spent far more creatively (and economically) than ever before. There has never been a better time to be a communicator. know your audience inside out, make sure your message is relevant to them, don’t just shout marketing-speak at them- have a conversation and make it as personal as you can, say sorry when you get it wrong, and reward your loyal advocates. If you follow these four rules and keep them at the heart of your campaigns. you will build brand resilience and this is the real gold dust.

Loretta Ahmed is the CEO of Grayling Middle East, Turkey and Africa. She has been at the forefront of Grayling’s expansion in the Middle East and Africa regions. With over 20 years of experience of guiding clients through transformational times, she leads a team of over 70 staff with offices in Dubai, Doha, Muscat and Istanbul. She sits on the global board of Grayling, an international PR network, and represents clients in virtually every market sector.

Watch me go! Erik Huggers joins Vevo Former Verizon executive, Erik Huggers, has been appointed as president and CEO of online music video distributor Vevo. Huggers, who has 20 years of digital media experience under his belt was previously a senior VP at Verizon, and led an unfortunate attempt at launching an Internet TV service saved only through Verizon’s acquisition of OnCue. Prior to his stint at Verizon, Huggers was heading BBC’s Future & Technology division for the BBC iPlayer online video service (Variety). In his new role, the 20-year digital media veteran will be focusing on the Vevo’s growth and innovation. Considered YouTube’s biggest content partner, Vevo is majority owned by Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, with minority stakes from Google and Abu Dhabi Media. While Vevo can demonstrate its own viewership (Re/code reporting 11 billion views per month), they also point out that the service’s traffic is dependent on Google’s YouTube for the majority of visitors.

july 2015 Entrepreneur

47


TECH

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

Growth hacking is a technique that uses non-traditional marketing channels and methods to gain exposure for your startup. Paid online/ offline marketing, social media presence and even search engine optimization (SEO), are nowadays considered traditional. Beyond these, think how you can gain access to your target audience. This can be through designing partnerships with other companies that your product can complement their offering.

Build a better business

Seven guidelines for choosing, launching and growing your online startup

[ The How-To ]

I

By Haneen Dabain

t has been almost two years since I started working on my startup pricena.com, a price comparison site in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt that allows consumers to compare prices of anything sold online, from phones and tablets to furniture and baby products. Throughout these two years, I had to make some tough decisions and faced several challenges in building the product, finding resources, marketing and growing the business. I must say it has been, more than anything, a rich learning experience. I wanted to share with you a few valuable lessons (and examples) that can be a somewhat practical guide for other entrepreneurs in the idea, launch or growth stage of their respective ventures.

1. Research and plan well before your launch.

I see many instances where entrepreneurs start their idea by building a website, and then soon realizing that the business needs much more work than estimated, or that it is not commercially viable. You need to become an expert 50

Entrepreneur july 2015

in the field of your business by researching the market, the competitors and the requirements to build a sustainable business. Develop your business case to estimate the size of the business you are launching, and the amount of money you need. Talk to target customers to understand if

your idea would be something useful for them, even before you start building it. 2. Build the right founding team. It is very

hard to employ motivated people to work for you without them having an equity stake in the company, especially at

the founding stage. If you are a tech company, find your CTO and give him/her equity in the business. The same rule applies if you are in fashion, food and beverage, or any type of business- you will need to have industry experts as cofounders. At pricena.com, the founders have a mix of technical and business/e-commerce backgrounds, which made it much easier for us to build, launch and grow the product. 3. Launch something different and communicate it clearly on your website. Your idea has

to have a unique differentiator, something that will attract your target audience and make them use your product. To stand out, your solution needs to be either unique or much better than the competition. Make sure that your minimum viable product (the launch or beta version of your full solution) has that unique factor in it. If you choose not to have that in your first iteration, then your launch doesn’t fully test your idea. Take some time to decide what you must have in your launch, and what you can postpone for later. That unique proposition should also be highlighted clearly on your website. When we launched pricena.com, we made sure there are enough stores to compare prices from on the site, and also clearly highlighted its price comparison and price history features.


4. Prioritize to efficiently use your resources. In your

startup, you’ll typically have hundreds of ideas, features, or enhancements that you would like to implement. Setting priorities in terms of which of these projects you need to start is very important, as there are limited resources to execute them. The prioritization should always relate to the impact or benefit of that project, in addition to how easy it is to implement. At pricena.com, we prioritize projects that directly boost our value proposition, by enhancing the customer experience for example, or adding more stores to compare prices from. 5. Focus on one main offering. Don’t spread your-

self thin. Many entrepreneurs start thinking of expanding their idea to new services or lines of business, before proving their main business model. Such a lack of focus can reduce the effort you put in your main idea, and can thus kill a startup. At pricena.com, we had many options of expanding the reach of our website, whether to new services or to To enable you to do your job properly, you need to be familiar with the various online tools available out there. Use Asana.com for project and task management. For hiring freelancers, you can use Upwork. com. For team communication, try Slack.com, a new and efficient way to handle team communication without email.

infographic by haneen dabain

Pricena app

new countries. However, for a long time we remained focused on our main business model of local online shopping price comparison in the UAE. Once the model was proven to be successful with consumers and online stores, we started expanding the site to other countries, and add many new features such as the ability to compare prices with international websites. 6. Explore “growth hacking” methods. Growth

hacking is a technique that uses non-traditional marketing channels and methods to gain exposure for your startup. Paid online/offline marketing, social media presence and even search engine optimization (SEO), are nowadays considered traditional. Beyond

these, think how you can gain access to your target audience. This can be through designing partnerships with other companies that your product can complement their offering. At pricena.com, we offer price information/reviews to other news websites, which exposes our solution to their audience. Other growth hacking methods can include designing viral videos, or offering users some freebies if they invite a friend to try the product. 7. Use productivity solutions to help you do your work. The first thing

you will notice as a founder is that you will need to wear multiple hats at the same time. On pricena.com, I have worked on multiple areas in my business, from technical tasks like web development and product management to business development and managing client relationships. To enable you to do your job properly, you need to be familiar with the various online tools available out there. Use Asana.com for project and task management. For hiring freelancers, you can use Upwork.com. For team . communication, try Slackicom, a new and efficient way to handle team communication without email.

I hope that you find these guidelines practical enough to help you in your new venture. Remember that opportunities in our part of the world are within reach, provided you build a great product that solves a problem. This region is still nascent, and like all emerging markets, there is room for entrepreneurs to adopt and tailor ideas from outside, or start something totally new. Find an idea that resonates with your interests and relates to your experience. Whether it succeeds or fails, it definitely makes your journey much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Haneen Dabain is the founder of pricena.com, a price comparison site in the Middle East that features thousands of products from dozens of online shops, all in one place. july 2015 Entrepreneur

51


TECH

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

#TAMTALKSTECH

From smartphones to storage to sound, this edition’s tech picks have upped the ante in specs and design-savvy. It may be time for an upgrade! Samsung Galaxy Tab A

Interstellar Samsung Galaxy Tab A

Samsung shoots for the stars with the release of the new Galaxy Tab A. Packed with stellar features that the whole family can enjoy, it’s available in two screen sizes (8 inch and 9.7 inch), and runs the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop software featuring a 5 MP auto-focus rear camera with a 2 MP front facing camera. The 9.7 inch version is equipped with an optional S-Pen that has been

Samsung Galaxy S6 in Topaz

LG G4 in leather

Living the good life LG G4 in leather

LG’s handsome G4 is packed with a professional-grade camera, 32 GB internal memory and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor all properly packaged… in leather. Yes, you read that right: vegetable dyed, 100% pure grain leather is just one of the finishes you can choose for this device. G4 is the first smartphone to use LG Display’s new 5.5 inch IPS Quantum Display technology which offers 20% greater color reproduction. The 16 MP rear camera features a wide F1.8 aperture lens allowing 80% more light to reach the sensor to improve the

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quality of photographs taken in low light situations. Manual Mode allows experienced photographers greater creativity to control focus, shutter speed, ISO exposure and the ability to save photos in RAW mode. LG rounds out the enhancements with an 8 MP front-facing camera and Gesture Interval Shot which takes four shots two seconds apart, increasing the chance to capture the perfect moment. With all of the photographic enhancements and luxe finishing, the LG G4 is a smart (and good-looking) choice.

upgraded with enhanced pressure sensitivity for a better handwriting experience. S-Pen functionality is just as ideal for use during playtime as it is in the boardroom: children can enjoy a highly interactive experience with animated characters that respond to touch. Kid Mode, one of three built-in Parental Controls, includes activity monitoring and playtime restrictions.


Bose SoundLink Color

Turn it up Bose SoundLink Color

SoundLink Color, a Bluetooth speaker that allows you to play your music everywhere you go by Bose, pairs easily with your smartphone or tablet and has a wireless range of about 30 feet. Known for high-quality audio, they’ve upped the volume up on style with this sleek, new, portable device that’s available in five fun colors- blue, mint, red,

black and white. SoundLink Color features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and gives you up to eight hours of playing time. The speaker remembers eight of the most recently paired devices which makes reconnecting simple, and when it comes to pairing, the device features voice prompts to guide you through the process.

Shifting perspectives ASUS Transformer Book Series

ASUS has expanded its Transformer Book Series to include two new computers: Transformer Book Flip TP200 and Transformer Book T100HA. TP200 features an 11.6 inch form factor, eight-hour battery life, and 360-degree hinge functionality for the touchscreen. It’s ideal for use in keyboard mode but easily transforms into a tablet. T100HA has a thinner, lighter aluminumclad design and weighs just

#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

580 grams. Under the hood, it features quad-core Intel Atom ‘Cherry Trail’ processors, up to 4 GB RAM and the latest reversible USB 3.1 Type-C port. It also doubles the battery life of TP200 by giving you up to 14 hours of use. Both devices come preinstalled with Windows 10 which includes Cortana.

improves day-to-day life to how to coordinate your smartphone accessories. Visit www.theglobalgazette.com and talk to her on Twitter @GlobalGazette.

ASUS Transformer Book Series

Save it SanDisk improves flash storage

As the need for external storage grows, SanDisk Corporation, a global leader in flash storage solutions, understands that the products must keep up too. The company has released two new USB 3.0 flash drives; the 128GB SanDisk Ultra Fit which is the world’s smallest USB 3.0 and the 256GB SanDisk Ultra, the company’s highest capacity USB flash drive to-date. Both deliver speeds up to ten times faster than a standard USB 2.0, which lets you save your favorite photos, videos and music in a flash.

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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The “Emerald Palace Kempinski Hotel Palm Jumeirah” is developed by and the Hotel Units are sold by Sunrise Properties Limited, companies independent from the Kempinski group, and the “Kempinski” name is used by the developer under a license from Kempinski Hotels SA. The role of the Kempinski group is limited to the management of the hotel.


franchise EL Sur

Growing your F&B business Five questions to ask before you expand your hospitality brand By Kunal Lahori

W

hen deciding on expansion plans, there are numerous factors to consider. Among the most important factors to take into consideration when plotting your next outlet? Location, brand position in the market, projections on profit, and many others. One area that I would study before executing expansion plans is the relationship

To be able to create the footprint that we want in this region, our plans were to have five outlets within the first year of operations. Before we opened the first location in DIFC, we had identified the spaces, the locations, and how each area would be received and when we would open them. The team, infrastructure and resources were setup in a way to enable growth.

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between demographic and location. Your marketing also has a huge role to play, so the ability to provide exciting activations is a crucial factor. Our plans for Prêt To Go have had no diversion, and we are set to penetrate every business community in Dubai. We have a very profitable investment, and we can now focus on the phase two of the expansion plans which will be announced towards the end of this year. From an entrepreneurial point of view, if you make that first business plan, you have to follow it. Don’t react to the market once you’ve completed one element; follow the entire plan to complete your vision. Here are the five questions I would ask before

opening a second outlet, a third, or even franchising my F&B concepts. 1. Is the location advantageous in more ways than one? For Prêt To

Go, the idea has always been to cater to professionals who are on the move and face

time constraints, therefore all expansions are in office clusters and free zones with large working communities. Specifically for our second branch, I chose JAFZA since I have been working there for over 14 years, and this was more a natural realization. The fact that JAFZA has 200 of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies, but no F&B outlets providing healthy meals certainly gave us an edge. Our location in JAFZA is the perfect balance between wholesome natural

Prêt To Go


food in an accessible fastpaced environment. No other F&B offering was filling the void for healthy and natural food, so I did. The next location we plan to open is in Dubai Media City this month.

Prêt To Go

2. Is the brand’s direction in line with consumer needs? This is regarding

my suggestion of studying the correlation between the demographic and location. Consumers are looking for options; we have over 55 items on the menu and we change them regularly. In our menu, you can find options free of dairy and gluten, along with alternatives like raw, vegan and other nutrition-specific requirements. We’re not limited by cuisines- we have American, Italian, Thai, British, Arabic and Indian dishes on the menu which are constantly evolving; our menu couldn’t be more in line with discerning consumers! What’s more is that we provide a neatly packaged meal, which you can have at your desk or at our brilliantly designed stores. You can look to Prêt To Go for everyday lunch ideas and eating well. We aim to prompt a healthy standard of living and our entire menu reflects this. We are filling the gap for people looking for a healthy lifestyle without the luxury of time.

3. Is it the right time to expand? Gauging the right

time for outlet expansions is a very difficult element to consider. As much as you want to capitalize on the hype around the first outlet’s launch by tweaking your plan to accommodate consumer response, it’s always best to stick to your original strategy. We always planned to be five outlets

strong by end of summer 2015- we knew exactly what the market is like in Dubai, having been in the region for three decades. To be able to create the footprint that we want in this region, our plans were to have five outlets within the first year of operations. Before we opened the first location in DIFC, we had identified the spaces, the locations, and how each area would be received and when we would open them. The team, infrastructure and resources were setup in a way to enable growth. 4. Should you franchise your brand? Franchise is

something I am interested in, and I would definitely consider. Deciding to franchise is almost a personal decision- you need to determine what qualities you would look for in a partnership and how much brand regulations you’ll need those partners to adhere to. If the right sort of people approached us, likeminded people, we would give serious consideration to franchising and joint ventures. I am very involved in the business, the menu variety, the design, the consumers, the look and feel, its language and approach

to consumers, its focus on health; I live and breathe my F&B ventures. For me, I’m involved all the way and trust that anybody else who would take it on shares the same opinion. Prêt To Go has heart and soul, and I believe that it’s due to the team who have been there from the beginning. It’s very important for us to have like-minded partners on board and share our passions.

best find our target clients. Overall, I believe key factors to entrepreneurial skills are also a lot about achieving the perfect balance between passion and pragmatism, especially with regard to the vision you have for your brand. I love food and I love focusing on F&B ventures, but the reality is I also have to keep my business head on at all times; I can’t let my passion overwhelm the business mind. Don’t be overwhelmed with trying to complete too many projects, know your identity, know the brand you want to launch, the market you are launching in and know your vision. Business is about planning and committing to a concept you believe in.

5. Is your brand identity intact? Deciding on

expansions, finding a location, deciding to franchise and many other business questions can be simplified if your brand identity and vision is solid. Finding a locale, for example, is all about knowing your brand and your vision- there are too many brands in this region that don’t have identities and just want to be in a mall. Their business aim identities are often confused; entrepreneurs and businesspeople are trying to check too many boxes and offering too many services. I knew my concept from the beginning, and I haven’t steered away from that. As a result, deciding on new locations is easy since we know who we are, and what we offer, and where we can

Kunal Lahori, the founder of Prêt To Go, is a passionate leader, boasting a long track record of successful management across a variety of business industries. Lahori is continually searching for a variety of avenues to explore within the accelerating market. Apart from a notable interest in managing large scale industrial, commercial and retail real estate portfolios, his serious passion is food, hence having launched two well-received F&B concepts in Dubai: El Sur and Prêt To Go. Following the successful launch in the DIFC, Prêt To Go opened in JAFZA, with another three UAE outlets set to open by the end of summer.

july 2015 Entrepreneur

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CULTURE

business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN | TRAPPINGS

Rosewood Abu Dhabi Hotel

Lailaq

Executive Suite Living Room

Crafting memorable experiences Managing Director Luigi Romaniello makes an impression on the business guest

A “

Rosewood guest is educated, welltravelled, refined, yet looks for understated elegance. We want to give our guests the best there is; however, keeping it residential and timeless. We want our property to resemble their home with a curated art collection -currently 180 artworks- as well as a design that captures the senses.” That design, as detailed by the property’s Managing Director Luigi Romaniello, includes a lobby bordered with flowing water that at once calms and captures guests on arrival,

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the front desk background of a glass instillation by Lasvit -an award-winning Czech company founded by entre-

Rosewood Abu Dhabi

preneur Leon Jakimič- titled The Reed Wall (“It’s our most photographed location!”), and plush, contemporary fittings that incorporate Middle Eastern subtleties throughout the hotel interiors. Another notable design feature? “The ceiling features a Lasvit chandelier called E=mc2 which is a geometric structured design.” Romaniello, who first joined the hospitality group in 1999, prepared for the official opening of the Rosewood Abu Dhabi for a full two years before the property began welcoming guests in May 2013. “With Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, each property is unique and true to our ‘A Sense of Place’ tagline. We want to incorporate the local resources into each property, make them unique and memorable.” And it is memorable- not only for the interiors, but for the service level that is extended to every guest, regardless of room category. “Guests know it’s a Rosewood property by the service they

receive and the care and engagement of the associates,” explains the MD, who worked his way up the ranks having started as Resident Manager at the company’s U.S. Virgin Islands property. “I believe guests choose Rosewood Abu Dhabi because of the location, as the brand is still not that known in the GCC. Guests still don’t know exactly what to expect at a Rosewood property and that curiosity also becomes a reason to book. However, the main reason behind the fantastic word-ofmouth- feedback as well as the high recommendations is our associates. They are the reason guests come back; it’s their passion and personality that captivates the guests. I’m super proud of the team we have at Rosewood Abu Dhabi, and every day I receive a guest’s comment, email, or read a TripAdvisor review that mentions our associates and the little things they do for the guests and how they made a difference or created a memorable experience.”


RECOMMENDED BY THE MD MD Luigi Romaniello

EXEC STAY “The Royal Suite has the office and we have also added a private gym overlooking Al Maryah Island. It keeps the residential feel of the resort and it’s perfect for the guests who want to be discreet and more private. The suite can also be closed off so the guest can have a meeting or presentation in the suite without the guests having access to the bedroom area. All our guests, independent of the room category booked, have a butler at their disposal. Rosewood Abu Dhabi butlers are not your normal white glove butlers- they’re more lifestyle

in the approach given. The butler can be the personal assistant to the business traveller, receive a handover from the guests’ PA regarding their agenda in Abu Dhabi and the daily tasks that need to be handled. From unpacking at arrival to polishing the shoes at the end of each day, and arranging for transportation for each meeting, to making sure your gadgets are charged and ready for the next day, our butlers are really the best assets we can offer our guests.” CONFERENCE CAPABILITIES “We have eight meeting spaces including two ballrooms and four boardrooms all located on the first floor of the property and with a separate lobby. Our ballroom has natural light and overlooks the Abu Dhabi Global Market Square. Our most requested boardroom and also my favorite is Lailaq; it has keeps within the residential feel of the hotel and displays shelves with books and design items. It has a Majlis within the room where guests can enjoy their coffee breaks and network. Our four boardrooms are equipped with 80 inch TVs which are perfect for presentations as it showcases them

clearly, and the boardroom table is equipped with built-in cable port boxes so the speaker doesn’t have to be in just one specific location of the table, and laptops can easily be charged and connected to the main TV- this feature keeps the room clean of cables. Of course the lights in the spaces can be dimmed accordingly to guest’s preferences, and an events butler is always on call for anything the host might need.” TECH “We have guests that are more independent and prefer to handle everything themselves. For this reason and to ease the guests’ stay, we have an iPad Mini in each room. Each iPad has the Rosewood Abu Dhabi application as well as the room controls system. With the app, guests can browse the hotel information and dining collection as well as events and landmarks in Abu Dhabi. The app also allows the guests to request any item or service needed including valet to prepare the car at the entrance. It even has the option to send postcard to your friends, family or colleagues. The room controls allow our guests to sit in bed and control everything from

the iPad: lighting, AC, curtains, sheers and TV. Guests can also order in room dining directly without moving from the comfort of bed.” MUNCH “I’m really spoilt for choice so it’s hard to pick a favorite! At Rosewood Abu Dhabi we have an authentic dining collection of five restaurants: Catalan, the only Catalonian restaurant in the UAE headed by Chef Francisco Sanabria, Spice Mela, our Indian gem very popular within the expat community, Aqua, our all-day dining restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, Sambusek, the Lebanese restaurant offering a true Levantine experience, and our latest addition, Dai Pai Dong, the Chinese restaurant who has caused a swirl in town! I would say Spice Mela for a business dinner or to host guests due to its authentic Indian flavors and gorgeous views over the Abu Dhabi waterfront. As the restaurant only fits 40 people, it is intimate and the Chef Siddharth’s dishes are simply divine! My favorite being the Black Pepper Chicken Tikka- the aroma when it comes to the table is mouthwatering and you just want to dig right into it.”

images courtesy Rosewood Abu Dhabi

La Cava Cigar Room

The Club Lounge

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business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN | TRAPPINGS

‘Trep trimmings

The executive

selection

F

rom better goods to boardroom wardrobe bests, each issue we choose a few items that make the approved executive selection list. In this issue, we present the Tom Ford men’s range, and a quick study guide of fragrance for the man who likes to make the educated purchase.

Tom Ford

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Smooth operator

Tom Ford grooming gear

One undisputable fact? Global fashion designer Tom Ford is better groomed (and better dressed) than most entrepreneurs. Another undisputable fact? He’s got his own product lines making his grooming routine just that much easier. Let’s start with a clean canvas: a small amount of the Tom Ford Purifying Face Cleanser will do the trick. On a wet face, gently apply the gel product and cleanse for approximately 30 seconds, and rinse well. This can be done in or out of the shower, but hot water is not recommended in either case. Feeling like your skin is dull and/or tired looking? Once you’ve cleansed and dried your face and shave area, apply a thin, even layer of the Tom Ford Skin Revitalizing Concentrate and let it dry for about 15 seconds. Follow up with the Tom Ford Oil-Free Daily Moisturizer, also in a thin, even layer. Incorporating a daily cleanse and moisturize routine will make for a better shave- it will keep your skin hydrated and fresh, and it will also help to prevent ingrown hairs and shaving nicks. For those of you battling late office nights, we suggest the Tom Ford Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment. Apply sparingly around the orbital bone, morning and night, for best results in treating dark circles and fine lines.

product images credit tom ford | tom ford image © s_bukley / shutterstock

CULTURE


Incorporating a daily cleanse and moisturize routine will make for a better shave- it will keep your skin hydrated and fresh, and it will also help to prevent ingrown hairs and shaving nicks.

The dictionary Fragrance explained

What is the difference between a spray and a splash? If your fragrance is called a splash, it means it does not come with an atomizer. Basically, it’s packaged in a glass bottle with a screw-top, and you apply it by putting a few drops in your hands and “splashing” it on the shave area and throat. A spray is exactly what it sounds like: a bottle with an atomizer that you spray onto the skin. What does layering mean? The term “layering” is used by beauty industry pros to explain using ancillary

products in a particular scent range. In brief, it means using your fragrance’s matching body wash or bar of soap, for example. Why layer? To ensure a long-wearing scent and to prevent conflicting scent combinations. What is a lotion? Typically used in the context of “aftershave lotion,” it is the beauty industry term to describe the liquid format of an aftershave. It is not a creamy-textured product; it is the “juice” format of a fragrance used for post-shave purposes. Usually sold in splash format (as mentioned earlier), aftershave lotion is becoming increasingly hard to find with many brands opting instead to create milky-textured post-shave products.

What is the difference between Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum? Men’s fragrances can be found in both formats, and these terms refer to the concentration of essential oils in a fragrance. Eau de Toilette has a staying power of approximately six to eight hours, depending on the quality. Eau de Parfum lasts for roughly eight to 10 hours, again relative to production quality. Pro tip Timing is everything. Opt for several scents that appeal to you, and alternate for different occasions. Your scent for the club is perhaps not a fragrance appropriate for the boardroom.

Editor’s pick

Tom Ford Noir Extreme

The operative word for Tom Ford Noir Extreme seems to be “magnetic.” For a fragrance that has notes of saffron, cardamom and nutmeg, you’d expect spice all way- not so with Noir Extreme. Instead, citrus notes offset and compliment the trio, and an accord that includes sandalwood and vanilla makes it pleasantly… manly.

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business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN | TRAPPINGS

Bringing repeat clients to the table

Coya Dubai masters the guest list

C

ompanies need to find routes of innovation when competition is fierce. Enterprises looking to set apart their service and product offerings have to bring something to the table that isn’t readily available- if they’re going to gain market share. The F&B industry demands that, and sometimes it just isn’t enough to put forward innovative cuisine and interesting interiors. Coya Dubai, with

Coya Dubai Private Members’ Club

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a well-received Peruvianinspired menu and an eyecatching design schema, has both factors working in their favor, but they’ve upped the ante with their privé members-only dining room. CEO of Coya Worldwide, Adam Bel Hadj, says that the Dubai outlet’s Private Members’ Club is more about fostering a loyal, repeat clientele who appreciate service and personalization, and less about the glam factor that the word “private” suggests.

“The program was initiated in London as we felt that there was a gap in the market to offer a bespoke experience between the old-fashioned clubs and the commercial clubs. We were after the fun and classy crowd that seeks quality rather than quantity, and that simply wanted to belong to a place that could provide a truly personalized experience where they are completely at ease but still catered to with an elevated standard of service,” explains the CEO. That elevated standard of service at Coya Dubai, Private Members’ Club included, is also about creating a backbone for the business. Sustainability is a huge issue for hospitality ventures, and freshly-launched outlets need to ensure that they aren’t the new and hot venue that becomes a short-term

fad. “Repeat guest ratio is a core focus towards longevity for many restaurant businesses. Dubai residents appreciate the attention to detail and service we provide in the members lounge. The private bar, music, culture and art are all part of the intrigue that affords us the opportunity to welcome the guests back time and time again. We have much to offer at Coya with three totally different areas of which the member’s lounge is a part of, so guests can continue to return and have a completely different experience every The home away from home at Coya Dubai comes with a dedicated reservations number, priority seating and booking arrangements, and finally, access to the private dining lounge with up to three guests. The membership fee is yearly, and the initial guests that were invited to join included Coya’s U.K. members.


Coya Dubai Private Members’ Club

Antonio Seguí at Opera Gallery, March 2015-1

time and when they wish,” says Bel Hadj. He adds that they didn’t set out to create a niche environment, as inclusivity is another key for hospitality ventures that hope to stay the course. “We created and rolled out a concept that was both classy and fun, a social environment with great service, cuisine, music, culture and art. People thrive and appreciate this kind of atmosphere, which later

carries on word of mouth.” And as leaders across industries agree, one of the most basic rules of business is that positive word of mouth can send you droves of clients no matter your sector, while negative word of mouth can see you shuttering your doors in under six months. “Word of mouth also played a role [in onboarding members], and now we are approached for membership applications versus us selling the idea. It was also never our aim to ‘sell,’ but [instead] invite those we felt would appreciate and understand the Coya vision and simply treat us like a home away from home.” The home away from home at Coya Dubai comes with a dedicated reservations number, priority seating and booking arrangements, and finally, access to the private dining lounge with up to

Creating client experiences Hospitality brands now need to create experiences to really leave a lasting impression. Coya Dubai’s Private Members’ Club weaves cultural aspects into their business model by introducing conceptappropriate art and music to the venue. In tandem with an exhibit at Opera Gallery in Dubai, Argentinian artist Antonio Seguí’s works were showcased in the private dining lounge, allowing members a personal moment to admire the globally renowned paintings. “As part of our multi-dimensional concept, we also touch on all the senses, which is unique. The art, music and culture, and genuine hospitality are what shapes the Coya mission to cater to not only the prestige client, but introduce all clients to a truly new and different experience.”

three guests. The membership fee is yearly, and the initial guests that were invited to join included Coya’s U.K. members who were already familiar with the program. Clients of Coya’s London location may find things slightly different here, as the brand did localize for the market- another strategy that businesses, irrespective of sector, need to remember to put in place. “We have made some adaptations to

each of our local markets with the products that we offer and what is available for the client. For example, in Dubai we have tweaked the menu slightly to ensure that the ingredients we use are of the freshest quality and more fittingly suit the palate of the region. It is important to us that all aspects of the concept are present in all locations worldwide- at the best level we are able to offer them to our clients.”

Five tips for F&B ‘treps Adam Bel Hadj, CEO, Coya Worldwide 1. Be the brand, and study your market “Most importantly, make sure that you are always driven by passion. When you are driven by passion, you manage to overcome all odds to make things happen. We were lucky enough in Coya Dubai to be backed by so much genuine passion and continue to operate with this core driver. Believe in the concept, innovate, do your due diligence and test all scenarios. Get inspired and innovate. Whether it is for the concept or for your management style, always bring added value to everything that you do. Research, develop and find inspiration in everything that you do- to continue to bring fresh, noteworthy ideas that develop you as an individual.” 2. Determine the most advantageous location for your enterprise “It is important to focus on a location that will benefit the brand. Should you wish to venture into F&B, focus on making yours a destination restaurant.” 3. Make HR a priority, not an afterthought “Look after your staff and treat them with respect as

they are your biggest asset and represent your brand. Never forget that it is the team and the people behind each business that make it work. Make sure you find the right kind of passionate and committed people. Operate and treat them with respect and gain their trust. Trust them in return- as no successful business operates without complete trust.” 4. Know the system and know who to talk to for help “Be prepared to face many hurdles with bureaucracy, but make sure you have a network of people around you who you can go to for information and assistance when needed.” 5. Master communicating with your client base “Work with your time to evolve and adapt; the clientele today is different from 10 years ago and is continuing to evolve rapidly. They now have access to platforms like social media and other relevant technology. This makes communication easier. It is important to keep up with this progressive market and maintain your communication with the client in all forms- through technology and face-to-face.”

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ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO

Keep your enemies close The Esquire Guy on fraternizing with the competition By Ross McCammon

H

ere’s a scenario: you run a coffee place. At the coffee place, you roast coffee beans and you sell coffee. One day your roaster breaks down. You call up the guy down the street at Most Roast -or Bean There Done That, Funky Brewsters, RÖST, take your pick- and ask if you can lease some time with his roaster. He says yes- a very generous move, on the face of it. You meet and hit it off. Pretty soon you’re golfing together, talking innocuously about drum roasters and Agtron readings (as coffee guys do), and everything is going well. You’re competitors, but you like each other well enough. You’re not close friends, but you are close peers. Might be a friendship, might not be; it’s hard to say, since competition-related politics are inherently involved. So one day you’re hanging out and he says, “I’ve been thinking that we’re at the dawn of a medium-roast era. Considering changing everything up. You?” Is this a friendly question to pass the time? Is he bouncing an idea off you to see how you’ll react? Is he planting a seed to make you think that it might be the dawn of a medium-roast era but he’s actually trying to sabotage your business by getting you to spend money on a bad idea? Is he out to get you? Is he just a sneaky bastard, and is this whole thing just a charade?

You meet and hit it off. Pretty soon you’re golfing together, talking innocuously about drum roasters and Agtron readings (as coffee guys do), and everything is going well. You’re competitors, but you like each other well enough. You’re not close friends, but you are close peers. Might be a friendship, might not be; it’s hard to say, since competition-related politics are inherently involved.

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(For the record, medium roast is underrated, and his is not an invalid notion.) You have three choices when it comes to socializing with competitors. You can avoid them socially (weak). You can socialize with them as if they aren’t your competitors (perilous). Or you can do The Dance of the Two Competitors. Sometimes it’s awkward. Sometimes it’s not. Occasionally, it’s really awkward; it involves giving up some information about yourself and your work but protecting proprietary information at the same time. The key to The Dance, like the key to actual dancing (although you should not take tips from us on actual dancing), is to relax and be generous and not look like you’re trying to take control. You should, from time to time, give up some information- things that expose you just slightly. You’re saying that you can afford to be open. You’re secure enough that you don’t need to keep everything close to the vest. This is power. And it’s potentially lucrative. “If you’re hanging out with another entrepreneur, there’s a chance they’re highly motivated [and] passionate,” notes Jim Taylor, a San Francisco-based psychologist who specializes in business and corporate performance. “They can be a source [for] bouncing ideas off one another. There can be mutual benefit.” The mutual benefit is information. It’s a barter.

A Garden of Vagueries

But what if you’re sensing some barely concealed competitiveness from the other side? A wee bit of espionage? What if the other person seems like a bit of a snake? In this case, you should not dance. You should engage in another metaphor entirely. What you need is the forceful elegance of the martial art of Wing Chun. (Wing Chun is not to be

(Or, possible answers to indiscreet questions about your business)

> “You never know.” > “Hard to say.” > “I was asking myself the same question the other day. You have an answer?” > “It depends on so many factors.” > “Always an option.” > “You gotta do what you gotta do.” > “What led to you wondering about that?” > “But don’t you think that’s only part of the story?” > “Have I shown you my cooling bin agitator?” > “We do what we can.”


confused with Wang Chung, the ‘80s new-wave band. In Wang Chung, all that’s required is for everybody to have fun tonight and also to Wang Chung tonight. Which is not a bad approach to life and business generally but not entirely relevant in this case.) Back to Wing Chun. Think of Bruce Lee when he’s fighting in a kung fu

movie. Think of how close he is to his counterpart, and how little his body moves. Every strike is efficient. A hit and a block look like the same thing. It’s almost as though he’s facilitating his counterpart’s moves while deflecting them. It’s an oddly mesmerizing technique; it conserves energy and time, and prevents the exhaustion that comes from flailing about and trying to knock down everything in your path. This is the kind of thing you’re doing when you’re socializing with a competitor who you have reason not to trust. You’re exposing a little, but you are protecting yourself, too. And occasionally you are getting in your own hit (highly concealed, of course). But in this, even when you feel somewhat under attack, it is still better to give too much than to protect too much. Because if you’re not giving anything, you’re saying more about your business than you think you are. You’re saying that you don’t think you are in a strong enough position to be candid, and you’re saying that you don’t trust your competitor. This is weakness. “When I have a client who’s an entrepreneur, and he’s got some very strong feelings about a competitor, that says more about my client than about the competitor,” Taylor says. “The client will often see that person as a threat, often at a very personal level. So I will explore: why are you so threatened by this person? Is it that their product might be better?” The competitor is a threat who shouldn’t be treated like a threat. We spoke with Ted Gonder, co-founder and CEO of Moneythink, a Chicago-based nonprofit that places college volunteers in high schools to provide financial mentoring. Moneythink was one of five

KEY TECHNICAL MATTERS

“You have to recognize that the competition is just a quick game, a couple months long, designed to help everyone. All those relationships you form during the competition, whether you win or lose, are going to continue, and it’s in your interest to not piss people off or ruin relationships while you’re in the competition, because you never know.”

companies to win a $100,000 prize at the 2013 MassChallenge accelerator and competition, which is an immersion course in socializing with the competition. Gonder learned that the key was balance- to make sure that neither the socializing nor the competing took the lead. “You have to be in the game but not of the game,” he explains. “You have to recognize that the competition is just a quick game, a couple months long, designed to help everyone. All those relationships you form during the competition, whether you win or lose, are going to continue, and it’s in your interest to not piss people off or ruin relationships while you’re in the competition, because you never know.” What he means is: You never know when you might need the person more than you do now. A competitor isn’t an enemy to keep close to you. A competitor is a peer to learn from- even if he or she views you as the enemy. By being slightly less discreet than what feels natural, by seeing a threat as an opportunity, by deftly deflecting an attack, you turn an awkward, potentially fraught situation into a social and professional advantage. See this article in its entirety at Entrepreneur.com

> Always accept an invitation to socialize with a competitor. > When speaking about your business with a competitor, you

> Don’t act offended if they cause offense. > Don’t act too friendly if they seem to come in peace. > When dealing with a friendly competitor, you should engage in

should give up 2% more information than you are naturally inclined to give up. > But platitudes are fine in a pinch. > Don’t approach a social occasion as an intelligence-gathering mission. > But do assume that the other party is approaching it that way. > Don’t hang out too long. > Don’t drink too much.

a kind of dance, a mutually beneficial partnership that symbolizes a strong relationship, even if both parties are wary of one another. > When dealing with a not-so-friendly competitor, you should engage in a social version of Wing Chun, a Chinese martial art that involves keeping your competitor close and expending as little energy as possible, even as you block and parry. > In both cases, you should always have fun. > In no case should you Wang Chung.

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ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO

The myth of multitasking Why having fewer priorities leads to better work

T

By James Clear

he word priority didn’t always mean what it does today. In his bestselling book, Essentialism, Greg McKeown explains the surprising history of the word and how its meaning has shifted over time.

“The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next 500 years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality.

Somehow we would now be able to have multiple ‘first’ things. People and companies routinely try to do just that. One leader told me of this experience in a company that talked of ‘Pri-1, Pri-2, Pri-3, Pri-4, and Pri-5.’ This gave the impression of many things being the priority but actually meant nothing was.” –Greg McKeown, Essentialism.

THE MYTH OF MULTITASKING Yes, we are capable of doing two things at the same time. It is possible, for example, to watch TV while cooking dinner or to answer an email while talking on the phone. What is impossible, however, is concentrating on two tasks at once. Multitasking forces your brain to switch back and forth very quickly from one task to another. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the human brain could transition seamlessly from one job to the next, but it can’t. Multitasking forces you to pay a mental price each time you interrupt one task While I firmly believe everyone has worth and value, I think we’re kidding ourselves if we believe being busy is what drives meaning in our lives. In my experience, meaning is derived from contributing something of value to your corner of the universe. And the more I study people who are able to do that, people who are masters of their craft, the more I notice that they have one thing in common.

and jump to another. In psychological terms, this mental price is called the switching cost. Switching cost is the disruption in performance that we experience when we switch our attention from one task to another. A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Information Management, Reducing the Effect of Email Interruption on Employees found that the typical person checks email once every five minutes and that, on average, it takes 64 seconds to resume the previous task after checking your email. In other words, because of email alone, we typically waste one out of every six minutes. While we’re on the subject, the word multitasking first appeared in 1965 IBM report talking about the capabilities of its latest computer. 1 The power of choosing one priority is that it naturally guides your behavior by forcing you to organize your life around that responsibility. Your priority becomes an anchor task, the mainstay that holds the rest of your day in place. If things get crazy, there is no debate about what to do or not to do. You have already decided what is urgent and what is important.

1 IBM Operating System/360 Concepts and Facilities by Witt and Ward. IBM Systems Reference Library. File Number: S360-36 68

Entrepreneur july 2015


The power of choosing one priority is that it naturally guides your behavior by forcing you to organize your life around that responsibility. Your priority becomes an anchor task, the mainstay that holds the rest of your day in place. If things get crazy, there is no debate about what to do or not to do. You have already decided what is urgent and what is important.

That’s right; it wasn’t until the 1960s that anyone could even claim to be good at multitasking. Today, people wear the word like a badge of honor as if it is better to be busy with all the things than to be great at one thing.

SAYING NO TO BEING BUSY As a society, we’ve fallen into a trap of busyness and overwork. In many ways, we have mistaken all this activity to be something meaningful. The underlying thought seems to be, “Look how busy I am? If I’m doing all this work, I must be doing something important.” And, by extension, “I must be important because I’m so busy.” While I firmly believe everyone has worth and value, I think we’re kidding ourselves if we believe being busy is what drives meaning in our lives. In my experience, meaning is derived from contributing something of value to your corner of the universe. And the more I study people who are able to do that, people who are masters of their craft, the more I notice that they have one thing in common. The people who do the most valuable work have

a remarkable willingness to say no to distractions and focus on their one thing. I think we need to say no to being busy and say yes to being committed to our craft. What do you want to master? What is the one priority that anchors your life or work each day? If you commit to nothing, you’ll be distracted by everything. A 2003 study published in the International Journal of Information Management, Reducing the Effect of Email Interruption on Employees found that the typical person checks email once every five minutes and that, on average, it takes 64 seconds to resume the previous task after checking your email. In other words, because of email alone, we typically waste one out of every six minutes. 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.

FINDING YOUR ANCHOR TASK Doing more things does not drive faster or better results. Doing better things drives better results. Even more accurately, doing one thing as best you can drives better results. MASTERY REQUIRES FOCUS AND CONSISTENCY I haven’t mastered the art of focus and concentration yet, but I’m working on it. One of the major improvements I’ve made recently is to assign one (and only one) priority to each workday. Although I plan to complete other tasks during the day, my priority task is the one nonnegotiable thing that must get done. Here’s what my current weekly schedule looks like: • Monday Write article. • Tuesday Send two emails: one for networking, one for partnerships. • Wednesday Write article. • Thursday Write article. • Friday Complete weekly review. • Saturday OFF • Sunday OFF

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start it up

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

Talent search

able to expand their existing organizations to a hybrid network of globally distributed experts, as quickly and efficiently as possible.” Upwork can help with your startup’s staffing needs And companies in the Middle East By Aby Sam Thomas are indeed sitting up and taking note of the advantages that Upwork’s f you thought setting up a compool of freelance talent provides for the most profound advantage is the pany was hard work, wait till their respective businesses- Khan boundary-less access it provides you try to find people to work reveals that organizations in the UAE to the very best talent across a for it after you’ve gotten it off have been particularly active on the plethora of in-demand skills,” says the ground. While convincing platform. “When it comes to Upwork, Muhammed Osman Khan, Upwork’s people to work at a startup has never the UAE ranks fifth globally in terms Country Manager for the UAE. been an easy proposition, finding the of its online talent hiring spend, “Companies can quickly find team right talent to work for your business members with a particular qualificawith companies spending AED89.9 tion, specialization or prior experican also be a rather tough endeavormillion in 2014 on our workplaces,” ence that are missing in the company he says. “We’ve seen an increase this is particularly true for the Middle East’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, or regionally unavailable, [or] too in both client registrations and job with 63% of the 254 MENA-based expensive, or not available in the posts by more than 15% in 2014, startups surveyed for an October desired time period. Companies are and I strategic believe this is only the start. Funders point to entrepreneurs needing better 2014 report by Wamda Research Lab1 planning and financial literacy skills. noting that they do face an uphill battle when staffing their respective Funders point to entrepreneurs needing better strategic Figure 16: enterprises. This can be attributed to planning financial literacy skills. WHAT SKILLS AREand ENTREPRENEURS LACKING? a variety of factors- these can range from the expensive nature of the Figure 16: costs involved in hiring full-time per56% WHAT SKILLS ARE ENTREPRENEURS LACKING? sonnel, to the sheer difficulty of finding people in the Middle East with 44% the requisite skills that one needs. It 56% is in such a scenario that the utility 33% of Upwork –which bills itself as “the 44% world’s largest freelance talent mar22% 33% ketplace”- makes its presence felt. 16% As an online platform that allows 22% 6% 6% for businesses and freelancers to 3% 2% 16% connect and collaborate, Upwork 6%Training Financial Business Dealing with General Soft General Other 6% Strategic provides startups (or businesses of 3% education2% literacy development investors management skills employees planning & decision any size, for that matter) with access making Base: Financial Business Dealing with General Soft Training General OtherN=64 Strategic to a virtual database listing indeliteracy development investors management skills employees education planning & decision pendent professionals from around making Base: N=64 the world, skilled in a variety of disciplines. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a web developer to quickly whip up a website for your FIFTY-SIX PERCENT OF FUNDERS POINTED TO STRATEGIC PLANNING AND DECISION business, or an illustrator to create MAKING WITH 44% CITING FINANCIAL LITERACY FOLLOWED BY ONE-THIRD FIFTY-SIX PERCENT OF FUNDERS AS POINTED STRATEGIC PLANNING AND DECISION an eye-catching logo for your brand, SELECTING BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SKILLSTO LACKING IN ENTREPRENEURS. MAKING WITH 44% CITING FINANCIAL LITERACY FOLLOWED BY ONE-THIRD Upwork can help you find the right SELECTING BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AS SKILLS LACKING IN ENTREPRENEURS. person to do the job on its global The demands for these skills could be partially offset by entrepreneurs platform. “There are many benefits hiring The employees with proficiency in these areas. However, when discussing demands for these skills could be partially offset by entrepreneurs of online work for businesses, but the challenges to building their teams, 70% of the equity-funded hiring employees with proficiency in these areas. However, when discussing the challenges to building teams, 70% was of theaequity-funded entrepreneurs said that findingtheir the right talent challenge to building “We’ve seen an increase in both client entrepreneurs said that finding the right talent wassample a challenge to building registrations and job posts by more their teams, slightly higher than the 63% of the entire (equity and than 15% in 2014, and I believe this their teams, slightly higher than the 63% of the entire sample (equity non-equity funded entrepreneurs) who indicated the same challenge. and is only the start. Cumulatively, we non-equity funded entrepreneurs) who indicated the same challenge. have over 35,000 clients registered, with 75% of their spend [being] on technology, which clearly highlights the talent gap they are facing.”

Enhancing Access, Assessing the Funding Landscape for MENA’s Startups, October 2014, Wamda Research Lab in association with Endeavor Insight

1 Enhancing Access: Assessing the Funding Landscape for MENA’s Startups, October 2014, Wamda Research Lab in association with Endeavor Insight. Wamda Research Lab – ENHANCING ACCESS: Assessing the funding landscape for MENA’s startups

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P.30

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october 2014 report by wamda research lab © wamda | www.upwork.com

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Cumulatively, we have over 35,000 clients registered, with 75% of their spend [being] on technology, which clearly highlights the talent gap they are facing.” For startups, SMEs and other companies in the region’s entrepreneurial space, the Upwork platform can be particularly alluring given how it is particularly advantageous on factors like speed and cost. Muhammad Osman Khan, UAE Country Manager, Upwork

“In the traditional labor market, it can take months to fill a job,” Khan explains. “Yet on Upwork, the average time to hire a skilled professional is three days, with 25% of all jobs filled within 24 hours. Starting a project within days, not weeks, gives your company a clear competitive advantage.” In addition, Khan notes that there are no barriers to entry to Upwork- this means that businesses can register and source talent on the marketplace for free. Emirati publishing house Sail Publishing is one such company that made use of Upwork’s platform for its staffing needs. “Being a publishing house for a couple of online magazines, a print magazine, and ebooks, we have many requirements for different design expertise and sometimes technical expertise [as well],” says Iman Ben Chaibah, CEO, Sail Publishing. “And as a small business, hiring resources can become difficult with a low cash flow. So Upwork came to the rescue with so many design and technical requirements we had along the way, from designing business cards and roll-ups, to technical issues with the website, to designing print layout for the print magazine. Upwork provided a number of qualified candidates, and I got to review their portfolio of work and talk with them before I contract any of them. The average cost of those jobs was amazingly low that it didn’t affect our budgets.” >>> july 2015 Entrepreneur

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But this is not to say that startups and SMEs should think of working with Upwork’s freelancers as a freewheeling joy ride either- on the contrary, the required due diligence needs to be done as with any hiring process. Iraklis Alexopoulos, CTO, Souqalmal.com, who used Upwork to find technology specialists to help with his company’s web development needs, says that one is assured of a good experience with Upwork provided one makes the effort to find the right freelancer for the job at hand. “The platform can’t guarantee it will be easy to work with someone,” Alexopoulos says. “But what it does succeed to deliver is to provide you with the right screening tools, to make sure you end up working with the right people. And also, it provides both parties –both employer and contractor- with tools to monitor the work progress efficiently and on time.

So, eventually the working experience can be very seamless.” Kunal Kapoor, CEO, The Luxury Closet, agrees with Alexopoulos on this point. According to Kapoor, who utilized Upwork to find expertise not available locally, as well as to fill part-time roles at his enterprise quickly, employers making use of the platform’s freelancers would be wise to brush up on their managerial skills before going down this road. “It really depends on your experience managing an outsourcing team, and the communication skills of the person you are working with,” Kapoor says. “It is possible to be so well coordinated that there is further benefit to having the resource in-house. However, in reality, the freelancers come in a spectrum from [those who are] amazingly communicative and efficient, to those that require a lot of supervision and

The client referral Should you use Upwork for your enterprise’s needs? Would you encourage fellow startups or entrepreneurs in the Middle East looking to grow and/or develop their businesses to use Upwork? What factors should enterprises take into consideration when making this decision? “Yes, if you know exactly what you are looking for and you have the expertise to spot and review the right people, Upwork could be the answer in mainly two cases: lack of local talent, or need for talent on demand, what I like to call cloud talent. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend companies to go out looking for people, just based on their advertised skills. Hiring is -and must be- always difficult and time consuming. It’s a complicated process, it involves people, thus can’t be completely systematically automated. What Upwork solves is not finding talent for you, but opening a gateway to a broader pool of talent, outside your local proximity. Like with any tool, if used well, it can be very efficient.” Iraklis Alexopoulos, CTO, Souqalmal.com

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“I will stress my point about the decision to hire and doing your due diligence. Though Upwork does provide a rating/feedback scale you can view, what may be an amazing experience for someone else, may not meet your standards. So interview multiple people, set up tests, milestone projects, and if you still don’t find someone, look elsewhere.” Kunal Kapoor, CEO, The Luxury Closet “Definitely; I always recommend it! It takes out much of the burden from operational cost. You just need to make sure you do your due diligence in reviewing different freelancers before you choose one.” Iman Ben Chaibah, CEO, Sail Publishing

explanation. At the end of the day, it’s like hiring a full-time team member- it really is your choice who to hire.” While the amount of freelance talent that Upwork has available for hire can seem daunting for prospective employers, it is also precisely this factor that makes the platform a valuable one for entrepreneurs looking to find the best professionals to do a job. “The growing appetite for hiring online freelancers boils down to a talent crunch,” Osman says. “We are looking at a future where companies from the region will be innovating for consumer demands globally; one of the reasons for this will be access to the right talent at the right time. Since Upwork is a free freelance talent marketplace, talent from all over the world can register and apply for jobs. If you have a skill, you can find a job for it; however, you are competing in a talent pool comprising of 180+ countries. Increasing competition means freelancers have to continuously upgrade their skills, and produce quality work to keep succeeding.”

what it does succeed to deliver is to provide you with the right screening tools, to make sure you end up working with the right people. And also, it provides both parties –both employer and contractor- with tools to monitor the work progress efficiently and on time. According to Osman, this is a model that makes for a win-win situation, not just for Upwork’s freelancers, but also for the businesses hiring them. This is especially true for entrepreneurial ventures in the Middle East, with Osman pointing to the UAE’s ecosystem as an example. “With 60% of the UAE economy made up of SMEs and with a rapidly expanding pool of entrepreneurs, tech and startup companies in the region, a growing number of businesses in the UAE have already started to benefit immensely from the access to global talent garnered by Upwork,” he says. “We are empowering these organizations to adopt a hybrid work model that enables them to access globally distributed freelance talent, being able to scale their companies much faster, and often, more cost-effectively [as well].”


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Burjeel’s


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“We are not currently including as many casual dining venues on YoTable, as the majority of these do not usually offer reservations.” Going forward, it looks like the co-founders will be talking to international hotel groups that have their own in-house restaurants, simply because “they totally understand the system, as they already offer online room reservation”

Table for two?

YoTable wants to be Saudi Arabia’s F&B booking platform of choice By Kareem Chehayeb

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s the MENA region’s F&B industry continues to soar, most entrepreneurs view this as an opportunity to open up their own F&B business. But Reda Islam, Rashed Islam, and Mahmoud Elsaid were inspired to partake in this growth a little differently. Having found the process of booking a table at a restaurant through the telephone frustrating (which can be due to everything from unanswered calls to voicemail responses), the three got

given their other entrepreneurial endeavors and their many years of experience, it’s safe to assume that they’d have the skills to bootstrap their enterprise off the ground. Regarding ROI, they simply aren’t focusing on it, explaining that they are still in YoTable’s “launch phase and are currently offering free trials” to bring in more users and restaurants on the platform.

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together to develop YoTable, an online restaurant-booking platform that they believe is a lot more efficient. Developing YoTable was based on what the cofounders call “technology product development,” relying heavily on user feedback and trial-and-error. Fortunately, the co-founders also had the “resources and network” of the businesses they were already a part offor instance, Rashed Islam owns restaurant review site JeddahFood.com, Reda Islam has 25 years of experience in IT, and Mahmoud Elsaid has managed three businesses in the tech sector in the Middle East and Europe. When asked about how expensive starting up YoTable was, the co-founders simply respond, “As [with] any business, setting up a company is capital intensive.” The trio

then in IT and development, platform enhancement, sales and marketing. So far, it looks like YoTable has been well received in its native Jeddah. Most of the restaurants that have approached YoTable are “popular fine dining” establishments, which the co-founders say is their main focus, as these outlets almost always require a booking. “We are not currently including as many casual dining venues on YoTable, as the majority of these do not usually offer reservations.” Going forward, it looks like the co-founders will be talking to international hotel groups that have their own in-house restaurants, simply because “they totally understand the system, as they already offer online room reservation,” and so, connecting their restaurants

claim to have not brought in any angel investors, choosing instead to self-fund their venture. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though- given their other entrepreneurial endeavors and their many years of experience, it’s safe to assume that they’d Co-founder have the skills to Rashed Islam bootstrap their enterprise off the ground. Regarding ROI, they simply aren’t focusing on it, explaining that they are still in YoTable’s “launch phase and are currently offering free trials” to bring in more users and restaurants on the platform. Once YoTable is more comfortably settled in the market, they’ll probably look more into it, given the costs they will have to bear


to a booking platform like YoTable would be easy and virtually problem-free. That said, it’s not going to be an easy ride for YoTable going forward, given that there’s been an increase in online booking platforms in the region. How are the co-founders going to handle their competition? Long story short, the folks from YoTable want to make it more than just an online booking platform. “We try to differentiate ourselves by focusing on more than just the booking, offering more

choices to the diner,” with users being given the opportunity to book restaurant offers and special events, such as buffets, with details like price per person included. The co-founders claim that “diners have been particu“Social media is essential in this day and age, more so as our audience is online,” also adding that it’s been a great platform to receive customer feedback. You can find YoTable on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but the co-founders admit that they’ve been focusing on the latter two.

larly interested in such offers,” giving them the green light to keep things in top gear in that department. They’ve also worked hard on marketing their platform. Social media plays a huge role in their marketing strategy. “Social media is essential in this day and age, more so as our audience is online,” also adding that it’s been a great platform to receive

Co-founder Mahmoud Elsaid

customer feedback. You can find YoTable on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but the co-founders admit that they’ve been focusing on the latter two; in terms of other platforms, they mention >>>

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start it up trying out Snapchat and Periscope, but not finding them to be suitable fits. They believe that Instagram is the most effective platform for them simply because of its “reach” factor. “If we post a photo, and our followers log on, they will see it in their feed, and this is in contrast to Facebook, where your followers don’t see what you post most of the time, even though they have ‘liked’ your page.” Having to pay for better reach despite having many followers is a concept that they claim makes no sense, but given that “this is likely to happen to all social media platforms eventually,” they admit that they have to prepare to splash cash on these channels all the same. Outside of social media, YoTable has a blog on their website, which could play a positive role in bringing in

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The trio gave a shout-out to Saudi ‘treps in the F&B industry, and boast about having many successful local F&B businesses on YoTable. “It is great to see so many local businesses start from scratch, without having to go down the franchise route.”

more users. The co-founders believe that having a blog is important for a business, since “not only does it deepen the relationship with our users, but if we want to write about exciting news on the food scene, the blog is the best place to do so.” It also helps them generate more content for social media accounts. We, as consumers, can expect to see some restaurant reviews, articles on F&B, and even recipes on the blog in the near future. While they currently only operate in Jeddah, there are

other cities in Saudi Arabia that you can see on the portal. The trio didn’t reveal too much information, but they’ve been focusing heavily on expanding in Saudi Arabia’s growing market. They are also almost ready to launch YoTable’s iOS and Android mobile apps (sorry, BlackBerry users). What about e-commerce and m-commerce? It hasn’t been top priority, but it is something they have taken into consideration. “At present, the most likely way we would see ourselves incorporating payments would be for diners to pay for a fixed price luxury dining events like a ‘Friday Brunch’ or fixed price set menu,” they say, adding that they wanted to avoid what they describe as “coupon territory.” The future does look bright for YoTable, who even feel

more optimistic about the Kingdom’s F&B industry. The trio gave a shout-out to Saudi ‘treps in the F&B industry, and boast about having many successful local F&B businesses on YoTable. “It is great to see so many local businesses start from scratch, without having to go down the franchise route.” Each co-founder gave a different answer when asked about their favorite restaurant. While Rashed’s favorite is a small Japanese restaurant called the Wakame Lounge, Reda’s favorite is the Leyalty Group’s Chinese fine dining establishment called Toki, and Mahmoud’s is a Lebanese restaurant called Shababik. One thing they all have in common, though, is that you can book a table at all three restaurants through YoTable the next time you’re visiting the Kingdom.


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

Classified information f a market or industry has room for improvement, and nobody seems to take notice, then sometimes it’s best for an entrepreneur to rise to the occasion and initiate change in that sector. That seems to have been the case behind the UAE-based Adham Saleh’s launch of his online classifieds platform, EZHeights. Born and raised in the UAE, Saleh holds two Masters degrees from the University of Manchester in business and pharmaceutical studies. While he did have a brief foray into corporate life as a marketing manager for GlaxoSmithKline, Saleh claims he always had a passion for entrepreneurship, especially e-commerce. Having already experienced starting up an enterprise during his university years, an “events management and promotions company” that he later sold, he thought it was time to take on a new endeavor once again after he’d identified what he considered a gap in the market.

This is where EZHeights comes in, a classifieds website that, according to Saleh, focuses on “quality over quantity.” Stressing on its user-friendly interface, EZHeights’ Managing Director “wanted to create a high quality, one stop shop for consumers residing in the UAE and consumers moving to the UAE, to Adham Saleh, Managing Director, EZHeights

help them find and sell their products quickly and efficiently.” Developing EZHeights was rather capitalintensive, according to Saleh, who said that it is a “big website” and therefore “required a lot of time to develop.” While Saleh said that there were many different costs that added up, he specifically noted that much

of the costs come from maintaining and improving EZHeights’ servers, in addition to staff costs. Despite being relatively new, EZHeights has a staff of 60 people. “We currently have a team 40 IT people, in addition to 20 more staff in various areas such as sales, marketing, legal, accountancy, HR and PR.” Despite all these costs, Saleh was precise and patient while developing EZHeights, focusing heavily on research and analysis on the website’s target audience in the UAE. The team specifically looked into the most popular topic searches in the country to arrange the platform’s categories, and also looked into consumer tastes and preferences to make sure EZHeights will be a platform that can almost guarantee an optimal user experience in the UAE. Now it’s just a matter of bringing usEZHeights’ Managing Director “wanted to create a high quality, one stop shop for consumers residing in the UAE and consumers moving to the UAE, to help them find and sell their products quickly and efficiently.” Developing EZHeights was rather capital-intensive, according to Saleh, who said that it is a “big website” and therefore “required a lot of time to develop.”

http://www.ezheights.com/

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Adham Saleh’s EZHeights aims to outshine competitors By Kareem Chehayeb


ers on board. The EZHeights marketing strategy is “mainly focusing on below the line marketing strategies complemented by a strong digital and social media plan,” adding that the only above the line effort being made is through radio advertising. What about social media? “Not having a social media plan is like going into battle without a helmet,” says Saleh, stressing on the importance of businesses today, especially ones “driven by the Internet,” to make the most out of social media.

feature. Saleh says that “buyers can fill in a quick form adding the day and time they want to view the property,” thereby saving time for both the potential buyer and the agent. And the portal’s two upcoming features? Job listings and auctions. Saleh says that EZHeights’ job listing section will have a simple but thorough filtering system to help employers find candidates “using a virtual CV to help with the filtering

process.” He didn’t say much about the latter, but a local eBay-like auctioning platform could be a big hit in the UAE.

The EZHeights marketing strategy is “mainly focusing on below the line marketing strategies complemented by a strong digital and social media plan,” adding that the only above the line effort being made is through radio advertising.

The first standout feature is the website’s manual approval process, which Saleh says will help them “control the quality of ads posted” by making sure that the ad includes a thorough description, a high-resolution picture, among other things. EZHeights’ second standout feature, according to Saleh, is its “emphasis directly on the owner,” which is especially useful in the properties and motors sections.

With all that said, things get interesting once we identify the hefty competition in the UAE’s classifieds market. After asking about how EZHeights will stand out from the crowd, Saleh mentioned two factors. He first reiterated the gap that he discovered in the market for what he describes as “a premium classifieds website that provides high quality and reliable ads to consumers.” He then reveals what he considers to be EZHeights’ three standout features, in addition to two new ones that will be available soon. The first feature is the website’s manual approval process, which Saleh says will help them “control the quality of ads posted” by making sure that the ad includes a thorough description, a high-resolution picture, among other things. EZHeights’ second standout feature, according to Saleh, is its “emphasis directly on the owner,” which is especially useful in the properties and motors sections. He claims that owners can sell from these categories “properties directly if they are not interested in working with a third party.” Finally, real estate agents will definitely enjoy EZHeights’ “schedule a viewing”

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IN THE LOOP

Jean machine

First baby born after restoration of frozen ovarian tissue ovary and tissue fragments were surgically removed at the age of 14. The patient had not yet began menstruating, so doctors decided to freeze (or ‘cryopreserve’) her ovarian tissue to hopefully revive her fertility later on- which it did, according to a study published in Human Reproduction. When she wanted to have a child, doctors grafted ovarian fragments onto her remaining ovary and later on, she became pregnant naturally at the age of 27. The procedure’s success could help other survivors who have undergone the process of tissue cryopreservation, thereby preserving their fertility.

F

rom Google Glass, to smartwatches and even “smart” workout clothes that could measure muscle activity in real-time, we’re now familiar with the array of wearable tech. Joining the ever-increasing list is Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP)’s Project Jacquard. The project’s goal is to turn products to interactive devices using touch-sensitive fabrics. Partnering with Levi Strauss & Co., ATAP is taking its first step of using the technology in a clothing application. Created with the purpose of being able to access a phone and maintain eye contact, the wearer would be able to control nearby devices with simple gestures such as tapping or swiping. According to Project Jacquard’s website, they use new conductive yarns consisting of metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns, making it strong to be

Teaming up

U

Uber covers more ground in Riyadh

ber’s popularity keeps on growing in the MENA region, with the company now expanding its sharing economy fleet in the capital of Saudi Arabia. The transportation network company announced in June its partnership with Riyadh’s London Cab, owned by Ujra Holding, which will give Uber users in the city a fourth transportation service option, in addition to its existing offerings of UberX, UberBlack, and UberLux. “As the global leader in urban transportation, it is part

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of our continuing mission to change the way people work, live and move around,” said Uber’s KSA General Manager Majed Abukhater. “The Kingdom has proven to be a big fan of our service, and the partnership represents yet another convenient and affordable option for residents to seamless move from point A to B.” Adding to Uber’s growth in the Kingdom is the launch of its services in Dammam, which makes it the third city after Riyadh and Jeddah that it operates in.

woven on any industrial loom. These yarns can be woven at specific parts on the fabric, or as large sensor grids in larger interactive areas. Jacquard considers this development a “blank canvas” for the fashion industry- designers can use this like any other fabric but with the advantage of better functionality and developers can connect apps to clothing using Jacquard, opening a whole new world with the platform. Another ATAP project is a smart contact lens with a microchip that diabetics can use to read blood sugar levels through their tears. Whether you like it or not, the future is here.

Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber

travis kalanick image the commons

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iving hope to young cancer victims and survivors, a woman has given birth to a baby boy after doctors restored her fertility using frozen ovary tissue preserved when she was still a child. How is this possible? The woman (who wishes to remain anonymous) was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia as a child, prompting a move from the Republic of Congo to Belgium to seek treatment. Doctors proposed a bone marrow transplant, and she then needed chemotherapy so that her body wouldn’t reject the foreign tissue (BBC). Since chemotherapy can impede ovarian function, her right

Google is leading the next stage of wearable tech


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CULTURE

business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN | TRAPPINGS

Break free from monotony Five places to search for fresh inspiration

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By Shoug Al Nafisi

hether at a conference or working late from home, how is that eureka moment very much the same? It’s the conditioning. Being in the moment when you’re completely immersed in your thoughts, and letting go of “if and then” clauses, is the key to directing your sensory potential. You’ll want to train your hunting eye if you want to find anything. Then, it’s all about where you choose to look. Here are five places that I have found can give you a burst of inspiration… especially when you’ve hit a dry spell.

1. Get connected The web is the easiest to access. Take the time to read up on all topics of interest, and pause at whatever grabs your attention, be it written, visual, or auditory. Then, make use of that by looking for a pattern across the items you choose to look at. Once you’re accustomed to spotting connections, you’ll inevitably discover a link which may be the thread to pull for a new your new idea.

3. Get uncomfortable Don’t just think “outside the box,” instead try scrapping the box all together and starting over. The niche of new ideas is where every one has already been, and where none have looked. Going to busy spots gives you the chance to listen in on conversations, engage with different people, and learn new info. Gaining perspective in that sense enriches your scope of thought.

2. Make a change If it isn’t something new that you’re looking for, your easiest alternative is to invent, improve or reintroduce solutions. Matters that stir up emotions of any kind are usually where you’ll find the opportunity for beneficial change.

4. Walk on the wild side Practicing creativity gives you the opportunity to think without limits. Since being realistic isn’t much help, cultivate the habit of “time off” and practice bending the rules when it comes to art, writing, music and other fields of creative practice.

It broadens your scope, and acts as a therapeutic release so that stress isn’t blocking creativity. 5. Retreat You know where good ideas come from? Partly from lost opportunities. Retrace your moves, reevaluate your thought train, and look at where you could’ve gone but had chosen not to. A Steven Johnson favorite of mine sums it all up: “Chance favors the connected mind.”

Power to the people Aramex teams up with The Happy Box Aramex announced in June a logistical partnership with The Happy Box, which is yet another CSR initiative taken up by the logistics and transportation giant. The Happy Box is a children’s educational brand that creates tailormade educational toys and activities based on a child’s gender and age, which are then The Happy Box

mailed to the family’s doorstep on a monthly basis. While their packages have so far been accessible across the UAE, this new partnership with Aramex has expanded their reach, making their services available internationally. Besides The Happy Box, Kuwaiti entrepreneur Raed Arrar’s Salatcard, a gadget that counts prayer sets or rakat, has also received support from Aramex. This interesting device aims to help children memorize different prayer routines, while also assisting the elderly affected by Alzheimer’s to keep track of theirs as well. With Aramex handling its logistic and shipping burdens, Arrar’s product outreach has now extended well beyond Kuwait’s borders. Aramex, which was established in Amman but later settled in Dubai in 1985, has made “giving back” to the entrepreneurial community one of their key concerns, citing their “entrepreneurial roots” as their reason for the same. With Aramex being an international leader in their industry, often acquiring smaller courier services abroad, and having partnered with PayPal in 2012, they’ve decided to focus on CSR, specifically with environmental sustainability and small businesses. www.thehappybox.ae

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Entrepreneur Qatar July 2015 | Synergistic Diversity  

Bringing value to the Qatari market for over four decades: Rashid Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi, Vice Chairman of Al Sraiya Holding Group talks abo...