THE GENTLEMAN’S TIMEPIECE Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid is right on time
PR TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS
SUNIL JOHN IS THE MASTER NARRATOR
STOP THE REVOLVING DOOR
BAYT.COM’S SUHAIL AL-MASRY ON RETAINING YOUR EXECS
MICROSOFT’S NAIM YAZBECK talks SMEs, shifting strategies, and
how they’re going to keep their edge
CASH IS INDEED KING TWO MIDDLE EAST VCS GIVE YOU SOME INDUSTRY INSIDER INFO
READY TO FRANCHISE YOUR BRAND?
MONETIZE ON YOUR PERSONA
NABBESH.COM’S LOULOU KHAZEN BAZ ON ONLINE BRANDING
CEO FADI MALAS ON TAKING THE PLUNGE
9 772312 595000 > JUNE 2014 | ENTREPRENEURMIDDLEEAST.COM | QAR15
20 Microsoft Qatar’s
Naim Yazbeck talks SMEs, shifting strategies, and how they’re going to keep their edge
58 ONLINE ‘TREP
INNOVATORS: LEVERAGING THE MARKET
ASK A GEEK
Microsoft Qatar’s Naim Yazbeck The tech giant’s General Manager talks SMEs, shifting strategies, and finally, how they’re going to keep their edge… even with all of the competition.
The things we want 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.
There’s a new method to teach budding ‘treps Juris Ulmanis discusses how simulations and computer integration into entrepreneurial studies can make all of the difference.
Making the internet work for you ‘Trep Loulou Khazen Baz, founder and CEO of Nabbesh.com, talks about your online identity, personal branding, and how you can actually monetize off of your digital footprint.
66 WEBSITE TO WATCH
Paying it forward PayFort’s CEO Omar Soudodi explains why there’s room for them, and how the MENA region’s challenges are very country-specific.
54 Five must-have gadgets that you might’ve missed out on but should get anyway
Tomorrow’s business community at the Bedaya Center Bahraini entrepreneur Suhail Algosaibi stages seminars for leadership and sales… and he gave us a few minutes of his time.
44 Head straight to Austria for a measly US$370,000 a week
CULTURE: BUSINESS UNUSUAL
Export & import Just Falafel CEO Fadi Malas on the brand’s latest milestone, and Clinton Street Baking Company’s got some new digs in the UAE.
The taste of victory Two Emirati ‘treps talk about getting their startup off of the ground, and what sort of help Tejar Dubai can give you.
Comings and goings Pack it up right with TUMI, and head straight to Austria… for a measly US$370,000 a week.
78 STARTUP FINANCE
Startups don’t take vacays Simon Hudson knows that you are tempted to take the summer off in the GCC. Don’t because you’ve got a lot to get done while everyone else is checked out.
80 START IT UP: WACKY IDEA
Cartography meets photography The co-founders of Mapture think a healthy dose of skepticism is necessary- especially when considering the photography content in conflict zones. 4
Art for your corporate space Picasso’s granddaughter is liquidating some of the famed estate of the Master.
47 Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid is right on time
‘Trep gear Here’s the executive collection for the corporate overachiever on your list or a little selfreward.
Business book rundown Amal Chaaban reviews a few business books for you, plus gives you the lowdown on Amazon’s online bad behaviour.
76 Read between the lines: Business books rundown
BeoVision Avant An Ultra HD, 4K Smart TV with iconic sound.
Bang & Olufsen Store Lagoona Mall, Level 1, West Bay Lagoon, +974 4433 5500, firstname.lastname@example.org
62 CEO Sunil John gives you PR tips for your business
62 ASK A PRO
Public relations expertise for your business The master narrator, ASDA’A BursonMarsteller CEO Sunil John, puts forward his top five PR pointers for entrepreneurs looking to do things better than anyone else.
72 MONEY: ASK THE MONEY GUY
By Fida Z. Chaaban
Intellectual property hullabaloo Online specialist and content creator Dana Khairallah discusses toeing the fine line between getting inspired, and out-and-out plagiarism. Set your brand apart online with her advice.
Boss beware Youmna Chagoury points out the good, the bad, and the ugly of managerial behaviors. Oh, and she’s got few thoughts on Satya Nadella, too.
28 ‘TREPONOMICS: ETHICS
Toeing a fine line Broadcast veteran journo Octavia Nasr gives you a media primer. It’s time to get a reminder about what is considered ethical in terms of your business and the media. ESQUIRE GUY
Time’s a wastin’ Ross McCammon says time is of the essence, but if you’re always late he’s got some strategic pointers for you.
Triple entente Middle East VCs give you three industry insider rules to note… and yes, cash is king.
48 Get going! James Clear says that instead of waiting for motivation, you’re going to school yourself to get effective.
Learning is earning This entrepreneur shares five lessons she’s picked up managing her own business. Among them? Getting paid is second to keeping the client on your roster. Entrepreneur
ASK A PRO
Raising capital? Business author, educator and VC Peter Cohan advises you on how to score an investor’s cheque.
82 Middle East
VCs give you three industry insider rules to note
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In addition to our print edition, we’re bringing you all sorts of industry news on our web mediums. Joining us online means getting relevant business and startup content in real-time, so you’re hearing about the latest developments as soon as we do. We’re looking forward to interacting with our readers on all of our social media and web platforms- like any thriving business, we’re looking to give and take. #TrepTalkME is already happening on all of our digi platforms, and all good conversations go both ways. See you on the web! EntMagazineME @EntMagazineME | @FidaChaaban Entrepreneur-me EntrepreneurMiddleEast EntMagazineME EntMagazineME EntMagazineME
Yes, your success stories are locally sourced by us, and reaching both a regional and global audience! Here’s our online reader map that demonstrates our great regional online penetration! Every country in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region is now accessing our editions online via our ISSUU account. In addition to our diverse MENA readership that includes Yemen, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco, we’re pleased to see a global readership as well. That means business-minded readers like yourselves from as far away as South America and Australia are reading about MENA success stories, and learning about Middle East businesses through Entrepreneur! If you haven’t yet visited our ISSUU account, check out issuu.com/entmagazineme On ISSUU you can access all of our current and past issues complimentary, including Entrepreneur Al Arabiya, our edition for those of you that prefer Arabic-language publications.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE This month, we supported a crowdfunding campaign to help a young Syrian finance his education. The debate got quite heated on our Facebook page- join us on that medium to voice your opinions. We’re an open forum for discourse! UPDATE As this issue was going to print, Saria’s crowdfunding campaign became a success! A generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous donated the entire US$45,000 that Saria needed for his tuition. A terrific end to the story.
I don’t know anything about that stuff...”
If you don’t know how things work, how can you be sure it’s being done correctly… or being done at all?
am constantly amazed by entrepreneurs who don’t know the smaller details of how their businesses operate. If you don’t understand the nitty-gritty of what your staff are doing on an operational level, how can you be sure that it’s being done correctly? This isn’t to say you should be micromanaging- not by any means. One example of this is SMEs and social media. Do you outsource your digi platforms or are they in-house? In both cases if you don’t have a minimal working knowledge of how Twitter works, how can you be sure that your account is actually being utilized to its full potential? And on the flipside, how can you know when to reward the community manager for exceptional results? Have you set KPIs? Do you know your SLAs? The amount of entrepreneurs I have met this month alone who don’t even visit their own digi mediums frustrates me. You’ve successfully secured more funding for your startup? That’s great! But are you blowing that money on ineffective in-house staff
or outsourcing the work to someone who isn’t actually doing it? I’ve seen a few examples that truly boggled my mind. Case in point: A major global media outlet wanted to cover a specific Dubai-based startup. They tweeted at the startup’s account but no one responded, so they reached out to us (at Entrepreneur Middle East) knowing that we’d covered this particular startup in one of our previous editions. I did facilitate the introduction to the co-founders, but not before giving the budding ‘treps a dressing down about outsourcing their social media platforms with little knowledge of how active (in this case inactive) their accounts were. Yes, they were paying a social media company a retainer to manager their platforms, and no, they weren’t monitoring the progress of said social media platforms. Not only are they spending precious funds on paying someone to not do the job, but there’s also the opportunity cost to considerthe coverage by this specific media outlet is invaluable in terms of global reach and ad-
vertising. That was a potential lost promotional vehicle that I can’t begin to calculate the value of; it’s lucky for the young company that the media outlet was interested enough to try another means of reaching out. This is a microcosm of what it costs you as a business owner when you do not know the details of your business. Do you know what the difference is between doing the job and doing the job right? If not, it’s time to educate yourself. It is, after all, costing you money. If you put a dollar value on everything that isn’t being executed correctly, you’ll probably find a scary figure staring you in the face. Am I just preaching? No, I recently started learning to code on CodeAcademy.com so that I could better understand the inner workings of websites. Do I expect to be able to build a website anytime soon? No, but at least I now have a basic working knowledge of how labor-intensive the process is, and what kind of time-commitment it takes to execute things like headers, sub-headers, and image posi-
tioning. The more you know about the cogs and wheels of your business, the better you are at judging deliverables and the lack thereof. You can reward excellence, address incompetence, and maximize your resources in the process.
Fida Z. Chaaban Editor in Chief @fidachaaban email@example.com
A PEARL ON THE ARABIAN SEA A NEW KIND OF LUXURY FOR PEOPLE WHO DEMAND COMFORT, AND LOVE GREAT DESIGN SY M P H O N YS T Y LE H OTE L .CO M +9 65 2 57 70 0 0 0
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IN THE LOOP FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Moscow
Atlas Capital Center in Podgorica, Montenegro
The Balkans beckon ABU DHABI CAPITAL MANAGEMENT CEO JASSIM ALSEDDIQI
odgorica, Montenegro will soon see more Gulf money with Abu Dhabi Capital Management’s (ADCM) newest project kicking off. The investment firm recently announced a hospitality venture slotted for completion in the latter part of 2015. In an interview, ADCM CEO Jassim Alseddiqi says that their existing “investments
ADCM CEO Jassim Alseddiqi
in different parts of Eastern Europe like Montenegro and Bulgaria” are only going to get stronger as they “have advanced plans in place to reinforce our on-the-ground presence in the Eastern European region, [leading] to a corresponding increase in related deal flow over time.” The six-story property, expected to be completed by the end of 2015, is located in Podgorica’s business district at the Atlas Capital Center- a “mixed-use” structure is that is a joint venture between Capital Investment and Atlas Group. At present, Alseddiqi says that ADCM has “short-listed three world-class operators and will soon announce our partner operator” for the hotel. The CEO declined to disclose the terms
of the deal, but confirmed “that typically ADCM pursues acquisitions in the region of $50 million to $300 million in value. Also, generally speaking, we prefer to have a controlling interest so we usually take a stake in excess of 50%.” Where does the bulk of ADCM’s attention sit globally? “The largest percentage of our interests is currently in the UK, followed by the UAE,” says Alseddiqi but says that doesn’t mean they’ll only work in these markets. “If you look at our investment history, you will see that we have transacted a lot in the UAE, GCC, Central London and Eastern Europe. We are very familiar with these markets and very comfortable doing deals there. But that does
not mean we will only invest in these markets. We will always be opportunistic, by which we mean we will consider any transaction in any market if we believe it represents real value to the company.” ADCM’s special purpose vehicle Spadille “acquired luxury residential London developer Northacre in 2013”- a move the CEO calls “highly beneficial. Northacre has designed, developed and marketed over £1.5bn of prime residential sites in London, and is the development manager of the 1 Palace Street project, a Grade II listed former hotel building, located close to Buckingham Gate in the heart of London and currently one of the largest development projects in Prime Central London.”
IN BRIEF ADCM IS ADCM CURRENTLY LOOKING AT ANY EMERGING MARKETS? ADCM is not an emerging markets-focused platform. Emerging markets are no longer high growth and they are suffering right now. You have seen the South Africa Rand almost collapse, and the same with the Turkish Lira and Indian Rupee. If you had invested in emerging markets a year ago you would have lost money. ADCM has actually shifted its focus from
emerging markets into established markets over the past three years. WHAT ARE SOME ADCM PORTFOLIO INVESTMENTS IN TERMS OF LARGE PERCENTAGES OF BUSINESS? We tend to focus on a number of comfort areas: the real estate sector, the financial services sector, the MENA region, the UK, and so forth. Our team has transacted a lot in the Gulf, Central London, and Eastern
Europe, so we are very familiar with these markets and very comfortable doing deals in them. But that does not mean we will only invest in these markets and sectors. WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAS BEEN ADCM’S BEST INVESTMENT TO DATE WITH THE QUICKEST RETURN? ADCM stands apart based on our performance track record, which is how all companies in this sector should be judged.
Over the last three years we have delivered an internal rate of return (IRR) in excess of 20% across all our platforms, and this is the minimum target we continue to set ourselves each year. We have made a number of significant exits in the past year. In the past three and a half years, we have generated an IRR of more than 33% across all our investments, most of them fully realized or partially realized.
Your insecurity is showing
Milipol Qatar 2014
It almost feels horribly stereotypical to say that the Middle East is a hotspot in the global security market, but we’ve got to call a spade a spade. A recent survey by En Toute Sécurité suggests that the Middle East security market has grown to the tune of 16 billion euros (US$21 billion). That’s a 12% increase in a year, as opposed to a global average of just 5.5%. Based on that alone, it makes sense that Milipol Qatar’s tenth edition is taking place at the Doha Exhibition Centre from October 20-22 this fall. The trade exhibition will bring industry leaders from the global security market that will present their latest products and technological advancements to representatives from the GCC, Africa and Asia. Attendee and participant numbers have been increasing over the years, with 242 official delegates from 28 countries at the last event in 2012, positioning it as one of the most important exhibitions specialized in state security in MENA. www.milipolqatar.com
First-timers, Vodafone is looking for you When was the last time you did something for the first time? In an initiative called “Firsts”, Vodafone is encouraging people worldwide (including Qatar), to conquer a dream or experience for the first time with the help of mobile technology. Hopefuls can pitch their hearts out, with 10 shortlisted finalists to be chosen for each country and an online public vote to determine the winner from each industry. Around the world, fulfilled Firsts include Booka Shade’s audience being part of the first orchestra of phones, Olympian Mary Kom establishing India’s first female fight club, and rapper Spoek Mathambo creating his own multi-tribal
song. Vodafone is also inviting people to capture “Lifies”- their personal moments of experiencing something new for the first time. After all, there’s a first time for everything. june 2014
IN THE LOOP Saudi Arabian castles in the sky King Abdullah Economic City By Kareem Chehayeb
audi Arabia keeps building in parallel with its economy. We’ve being seeing heavy investment in KSA’s aviation and tourism sectors, so it only seems natural for economic cities to spring up. But why economic cities? In a report published by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), they theorize that economic cities will benefit both public and private sectors. Known as Public Private Partnerships (PPP), private investors provide the capital and develop the projects while the public sector facilitates, regulates, and promotes the project. The report also claims that economic cities will create new jobs, improve skillsets of Saudi nationals (Saudization, anyone?), keep a competitive economy, and (obviously) develop more regions in Saudi Arabia. While King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Rabigh is the project getting the most attention, Saudi Arabia has already announced five other economic cities, located in different provinces across the Gulf nation.
King Abdullah Economic City rendering
The master developer behind KAEC is none other than Emaar, Dubai’s giant developers that continue to demonstrate powerful regional expansion. Emaar, The Economic City marks the conglomerate’s presence in Saudi Arabia, but this isn’t Emaar’s first stint abroad. In fact, Emaar International has subsidiaries in Lebanon, Egypt (Emaar Misr), India, Erbil, Jordan, Vancouver (Emaar Canada), and California (Emaar USA). Emaar, The Economic City established KAEC in 2006, and its vision of having a sustainable, luxurious city in Saudi Arabia was well received by the Saudi population. According to their website, when they revealed their 30% public equity offering, about 2.8 million applicants subscribed to the Initial Public Offering (IPO), a total of SR7.18 billion (US$1.9 billion). According to the official KAEC website, the economic city sizes at 168 million square miles, and has a number of components. The industrial zone will be a mas-
King Abdullah Economic City rendering
sive special economic zone that will hold about 2,500 manufacturers. There are already major deals taking place, according to a report by Al Jazira Capital, with Saudi Airlines relocating its data center to KAEC and SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) opening a steel factory being two of them. Then there’s the recently opened King Abdullah Port- a key component of the industrial zone. As KSA’s first privately owned and funded port, the developers hope to see it play a key role in strengthening trade relations
with India and China, and they’re optimistic that its geographic location will increase shipping speed and efficiency. KAEC isn’t only targeting businesses, but also families. An example of this is Al Talah Gardens, a suburban community of villas and a commercial center. Al Talah Gardens’ residences are already available to prospective buyers. If what Al Talah Gardens has to offer isn’t enough, you can go posh and buy a house by the Red Sea at Al Murooj… and tee off with other likeminded investors.
MICROSOFT QATAR’S GENERAL MANAGER NAIM YAZBECK TALKS SMES, SHIFTING STRATEGIES, AND THE COMPETITION By Erika Widen
icrosoft is crucial for Qatar since the country is going through a transformational journey over the past and next few years to come, as they are trying to diversify their hydrocarbon economy into a technology-based economy. Basically, diversifying the economy to depend more on SMEs, stressing on education and healthcare to name a few, and all those areas are strategic ones for us,” says Naim Yazbeck, General Manager of Microsoft Qatar. Microsoft Qatar first opened in Doha more than a decade ago in partnership with Qatar Foundation. In 2008, Microsoft was one of the first tenants to move to the Qatar Science and Technology Park, and it is the largest mul-
tinational technology company in the Arabian Peninsula. Yazbeck adds that the Qatari market is one of a kind, since the country has a clear 2030 National Vision highlighting a well-defined execution plan in order to accomplish the vision. “This makes it pretty interesting for us, because we can clearly focus on the vision, and be able to leverage our valuable position to try to intact the execution of this vision.”
| INNOVATORS |
On another note, last year, Microsoft unveiled Windows 8.1, an upgrade for Windows 8. It was released as a part of a shift by Microsoft towards regular, yearly major updates for its platforms and services. Among some of the visible enhancements include an improved start screen, additional snaps views, and more bundled applications. “Windows 8.1 definitely has been a success for us. It brings together a mobile and a desktop platform along with a lot of applications. Since it came one year after Windows 8, it just proves that we are pushing the boundary in new versions. When normally we use to put versions every three years. We have changed the modem that we are going to deliver a version every year now. We have definitely with 8.1, made a major step towards
mobility, and towards playing a bigger role into mobility and this is also a strategic transformation for us on the way– having products on the consumer and commercial markets as well.” According
to Yazbeck, Microsoft is also shifting into being a cloud and service company. “The big focus is on the cloud and innovations in that area. There are a lot of innovations coming [soon] on mobile devices, mobile operation systems and definitely for instance enterprise social – which is also taking a lot of focus in terms of innovation because it is becoming the trend especially in enterprise. Adding to this what we call big data and how we do leverage and all of this data that is around us. For instance, to be able to a make a decision that helps
our business. So, those are the areas where you are going to see a lot of innovations coming from Microsoft over the next months and years and we are pretty excited on the road map that its existing.” He further underlines how the SME market in Qatar is unquestionably leveraging all the innovations that are coming to the market, specifically around the cloud. “One of the big issues in SMEs was that it was fairly difficult for them to make initial investments into technology, which was expensive. With the cloud – it is giving them enterprise class >>>
services at very affordable prices. SMEs now can leverage those technologies in order to make them more compatible, allow them to grow faster beyond the geography of Qatar and go global. Therefore, there is a lot of value of the cloud, enterprise social, and mobility innovation that is coming to Qatar.” As a result, the cloud is going to be the key area of Microsoft’s strategy, in other words, Microsoft is going to build software and hardware, and provide consumers and commercial customers a variety of options. “The combination of devices and services is going to give our consumers
THERE IS A LOT OF VALUE OF THE CLOUD, ENTERPRISE SOCIAL, AND MOBILITY INNOVATION THAT IS COMING TO QATAR.” 20
and commercial customers the ability to enjoy the product technology in order to move forward and get things done in a much better way than it is getting done today. In Qatar specifically, there is a lot of focus around education in general.” Simultaneously, Microsoft has multiple programs, which are already launched in Qatar to support entrepreneurs. This year, Microsoft signed an agreement with Silatech called the Employability Portal, in order to assist the youth and entrepreneurs in their respective career paths. The portal provides available courses to develop professional skills, a job search function in addition to youth mentoring by professionals and social networking. Silatech is a dynamic social initiative that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for young people
throughout the Arab world, founded in 2008 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. “[The Employability Portal] has been launched in five, six countries now. It is going through all the Arab countries and its success has been tremendous around it. Other few programs include the YouthSpark, which allows young people to have access to
Imagine Cup 2014
software and expertise in order to build their businesses. We have around 20,000 people in Qatar enrolled in this program and 22 startups,” adds Yazbeck. Equally important is the Imagine Cup Pan Arab 2014, a global student technology program and competition, which provides opportunities for pupils across all disciplines to team up and use their knowledge of technology to create applications, games and integrated solutions that can change the way we live, work and play. The Imagine Cup Pan Arab Semi-Finals event will take place in June of this year with the participation of 24 teams representing 12 Arab countries, and the finals will be held in July in Seattle. “They will compete with each other but also to learn from each other, share information with each other and try to use technology to take out all of those boundaries we have today in the Arab world. There is a lot of excitement around it and the outcome that is going to achieve due to the support that Qatar as a country is giving to the youth and entrepreneurs in general,” says Yazbeck. He also believes that the region is undoubtedly lacking the innovation and entrepreneurship way of thinking- adding that the idea
“WE WILL CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON THE ECONOMIC PILLAR OF THE STRATEGY BY SUPPORTING SMES, AND PUTTING A LOT OF PROGRAM INITIATIVES TO DEVELOP AN SME INDUSTRY THAT CAN LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY.” of the Imagine Cup leverages technology in order to solve any problem. “Programs such as the Imagine Cup focuses on Arab students and motivates them to think more about innovation and entrepreneurship on top of promoting education, and developing technology into education.” Consequently, he highlights the importance of such initiatives for Qatar since the tiny Gulf state is trying to positively impact on education, support youth in the Arab world, and entrepreneurship. “SMEs is such an important topic in Qatar and in the Gulf region and we will continue to focus on education on programs such as Imagine Cup because we think successful entrepreneurship strategy starts from strong education, and today education without technology is honestly useless. We are going to continue to support education, continue to provide cloud services that allow SMEs to leverage technology at a very competitive price– at the same time allow them to grow and expand and be more competitive,” continues Yazbeck, “We are going to continue to provide free class services to students at university for them to think and leverage technology in a different perspective, and to think the entrepreneurship way– not only to get a job. Therefore, putting all this together and we will continue our focus on this area being such an important area for the government.” In conjunction with the Na-
tional Vision 2030, Microsoft Qatar’s strategy will also assist the government into gradually leaning towards e-learning to enhance the education outcome. “We will continue to focus on the economic pillar of the strategy by supporting SMEs, and putting a lot of program initiatives to develop
an SME industry that can leverage technology. And we are going to continue to help the social pillar by assisting the government use technology to deliver better services to Qataris and expatriates. Our strategy is going to be very much aligned with the National Vision over the next years, and we are pretty confident that we will play a role and technology will play a big role in impacting the execution of the strategy.” While Yazbeck admits that Microsoft was undeniably behind on the mobile platform in comparison to Apple and Android, he says that the
company is certainly advancing with the competition. “We are definitely now at a strong number three ahead of BlackBerry. In Italy, France, Brazil and Mexico, we have more than 10% of the market share and growing faster than Apple for example. We are catching up very quickly and I believe the success of Windows 8.1 is going to help us push forward. We respect Android and Apple and we believe they are strong competitors but we think that we are on the right track to also challenge the mobile platform industry and be definitely a strong third platform available.”
Qatar Science & Technology Park
H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Sobhi Batterjee President and CEO Saudi German Hospital Group
SHINY | WEBSITE TO WATCH | GEEK | MOBILE TECH | ONLINE ‘TREP | THE FIX
ENTREPRENEURS How technology is changing the SME game By Steve Strauss
ot long ago, I was speaking at a conference in Amman, and then one in Palestine. It was fantastic for several reasons, but mostly because there are few things I love more than speaking and meeting with entrepreneurs around the world: • No matter what country they hail from, entrepreneurs are all alike in one way: They are passionate change-makers willing to take a risk to make a difference. • Inevitably also, the entrepreneurs I speak to are incredibly creative, devising new and better ways to solve problems, and in the process, they create great companies and turn a good profit.
• And they are all excited about the many, many technological tools now available to them- tools that make their job easier and more affordable. I outline these factors, and many other global entrepreneurial changes, in my latest book (done in conjunction with the World Entrepreneurship Forum), Planet Entrepreneur. The bottom line is that it is the greatest time ever – ever – in the history of the planet, to be an entrepreneur. I do not say that lightly, and it is not hyperbole. The global entrepreneurial revolution is real, it’s here, and it is happening right now. The Cold War is over and the entrepreneur won.
Technology has made it so that anyone, anywhere, can start their own business, lead their own cause, and organize their own community.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC Philips has released a new line of audio products: the new SB2000B, SBT30, and SB5200 portable speakers designed for outdoor use. Bluetooth-enabled, the new editions are designed and built to withstand outdoor settings while still providing high quality sound. Their new home-use sound bar, the Philips HTL9100, was awarded “Home Theater Innovation of the 22
Year 2013-2014”, by the European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA). EISA is comprised of 50 special-interest magazines from 20 European countries. With wireless and surround sound, it is designed to give users that extra edge while enjoying their favorite flick. It looks like the new Philips gadgets are going to make some noise in the home entertainment market.
Indeed, there are two main things that have changed over the past generation that have combined to create this golden era of entrepreneurship, especially for small and medium enterprises. The first is the fall of the Soviet Union and China’s capitalist turn. The result of both is that free markets rule the day, and entrepreneurship is now very much in vogue. Entrepreneurship is the future. This is as true in America as it is in Asia as it is in the Middle East (see, for example, Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East, by Christopher Schroeder.) The other transformational change is that of technology. Digital. The Internet. Technology has leveled and flattened the playing field, as Thomas Friedman has famously noted. We are living through one of the greatest technological revolutions of any era, and entrepreneurs are both making it possible and taking advantage of the opportunities technology provides. Once upon a time, an entrepreneur in, say, Dubai was stuck selling his wares in and around Dubai. Global commerce was for the East India Trading Companies of the
world. But no longer. Today, because of the technological, digital, internet revolution, that businessperson in Dubai is free– free to create a business and sell his goods across the globe. Today, any SME can look every bit as big as a big business, and at a fraction of the cost. Indeed, technology has made it so that anyone, anywhere, can start their own business, lead their own cause, and organize their own community. It has radically brought down the cost of entry into the global marketplace, and has enabled millions of people to start businesses and to live better lives. A global entrepreneurial revolution is occurring because the global technological revolution is the engine that makes it go. We checked into this new century only a decade back. Although the 21st century has brought with it the many of the challenges of the old century. It is highly likely, even probable, that the solutions that we will see in this new century will be developed not by a political or religious or social leader, but instead will come from an entrepreneur powered by technology.
After all, already, it is the technologyempowered entrepreneurs who have created the social networks that are changing how people live, share, speak, shop, and organize. It is the technology entrepreneur who has made the mobile phone (and their apps) the most used tool in the world, connecting billions. And it is the technology entrepreneur who is harnessing the power of the waves and the sun and the atom to create cleaner, more sustainable energy. Technological advancements and digital communications will continue to transform economies and entrepreneurs. No,
we don’t know what the next Facebook or Twitter will be, and we don’t know who the next Steve Jobs or Richard Branson is, but we do know this: He or she is out there, probably in a little apartment or garage somewhere, maybe in the Middle East even, using technology to invent a solution to some problem. And it is that now anonymous entrepreneur’s invention that we will all be using in, say, five years or so. So, welcome to the age of the entrepreneur. Welcome to the global entrepreneurial revolution. And hang on to your hats because nothing is ever going to be the same.
The solutions that we will see in this new century will be developed not by a political or religious or social leader, but instead will come from an entrepreneur powered by technology. Steve Strauss is the senior business columnist for USA TODAY, an author, and an entrepreneur who speaks all over the world. You can contact him to speak to your group at sstrauss@MrAllBiz.com and visit him online at his tech startup TheSelfEmployed.com june 2014
‘ TREP TRAINING FOR
TOMORROW S BUSINESS COMMUNITY Bahraini entrepreneur Suhail Algosaibi stages seminars at the Bedaya Center
Suhail Algosaibi at the Bedaya Center
he Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development staged two seminars for budding entrepreneurs over two days in Qatar. The goal? To glean insights on success and efficacy from influential Bahraini entrepreneur Suhail Ghazi Algosaibi. The two seminars, respectively Radical Marketing and Sales Secrets, were packed with tips on what it takes be an entrepreneur, how to market a successful business, and how to master the art of sales. In addition to work-life balance advice, Algosaibi emphasized the importance of searching for market gaps. Once a gap or a need is determined, businesspeople should develop “a unique selling proposition (USP)”, adding that relative to the business model, a USP can be “a theme, a product or service or any aspect of it – positioning, ingredients, color, size, celebrity endorsement, hours of operation or location.” Alghosaibi reminded the 75 attendees that strength in profit largely stems from how well a business can distinguish itself in a competitive marketplace. A two-time author, Alghosaibi’s methodology for the hopeful entrepreneurs
included practical mentorship like “six steps to a sale” and being persuasive with potential clientele. Among his tips? Two basic, yet oft-forgotten pointers: making proper eye contact and exuding friendliness to establish rapport. In terms of selling technique, the entrepreneur passed on technique-based pitching and “tag questions”, suggesting conversational add-ons like rhetorical questions to elicit agreement from customers. Marketing, described by Alghosaibi as “everything a business does to attract and retain their desired target market,” includes high frequency and multi-medium exploitation. He encouraged the use of print advertising, both radio and TV, direct mail, emails, newsletters, joint ventures, free publicity, internet and social media, newsletters, blogposts, articles, and books all in the capacity of spreading a business’ aims and message, in addition to maintaining valuable customer relationships. “THERE ARE VERY MANY CHALLENGES TO BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR, I’D SAY HERE IN THE REGION THE BIGGEST IS BUREAUCRACY.”
‘TREP RUNDOWN 10 QUESTIONS IN 10 MINUTES SUHAIL ALGOSAIBI
The co-author of 101 Great Ways To Improve Your Life Volume 2, Suhail Algosaibi also publishes the Transformation Times newsletter. The founder of Ghazi Algosaibi Holding BSC (c), and its two divisions, Safeen Books and Safeen Properties, Algosaibi is also co-founder and chairman of Falak Consulting WLL. A member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and Young Arab Leaders (YAL), Algosaibi holds two degrees in business and is a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer, and holds a third degree Black Belt in ZenDo Kickboxing, presented to him by World Champion Master Rafael Nieto.
“WE NEED TOP-NOTCH SCHOOL EDUCATION, COUPLED WITH EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS FROM NGOS, GOVERNMENT ENTITIES, AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO HELP ADDRESS ANY SOCIETAL DISPARITIES.”
What would you say is the region’s biggest challenge for entrepreneurs?
There are very many challenges to being an entrepreneur, I’d say here in the region the biggest is bureaucracy. It take so long to get government approvals. It can often take weeks or months to get a commercial registration. In Western countries one can often get the company registered and running on the same day, we need this to happen here. Describe an entrepreneur in three words.
Audacious, creative, and determined. What is your source of personal motivation?
Great question… I am highly self-motivated and have a burning desire to achieve something. It’s hard to describe; it’s like an inner fire that can’t be put out. I think all successful entrepreneurs
are driven like that. The motivation is internal, they cannot fathom a world in which their product or service does not exist. I also am very passionate about helping people, and if I can do so profitably, I’m doubly happy. Who do you think is a great entrepreneur?
There are way too many people I admire to list them all by region. I guess a common one for most young entrepreneurs is Richard Branson. He’s a rebel, and I like that. He started thinking of buying an island long before he could afford it. He wasn’t -and isn’tafraid to think unconventionally, and to take risks. WHERE DO YOU THINK THAT THE MENA REGION’S GENDER DISPARITY IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP STEMS FROM?
Admittedly, I haven’t read many reports on the gender
disparity in the region. I guess it has to do with traditional views that women should have more conservative jobs or are even expected to stay home. Having said that, here in Bahrain there are a lot of young, ambitious female entrepreneurs that are making a name for themselves. The best way to address any societal issues in my opinion is through education. We need top-notch school education, coupled with educational programs from NGOs, government entities, and the private sector to help address any societal disparities. >>>
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ART FOR YOUR CORPORATE SPACE Etihad Airways presents Pablo Picasso limited edition lithographs by Marcel Salinas
What made you decide to become a public speaker?
It almost happened by accident some years ago, people started inviting me to speak at events, and I loved it! I enjoy educating and inspiring people. It gives me a rush! And it gives me a great joy to hear from someone that something I said or wrote has helped changed their life. The best way to reach an audience -any audience- is by relating and empathizing with the challenges they are facing. If you can empathize, then you can connect.
“IT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT THE PROBLEM, IT’S ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE YOU DECIDE TO GIVE IT.” What moment in your career was the most discouraging?
I don’t think there are enough pages in this magazine to describe all the massively discouraging moments I had in my career. For entrepreneurs it’s one crisis to the next. It’s not really about the problem, it’s about the importance you decide to give it. For the sake of answering your question, back in 2005 66% of my workforce left me. We were only three, but the other two left at the same time. It was very difficult, but somehow I persevered. I also went to Hajj to get divine inspiration and hope- that made a big difference. 26
“THE BEST WAY TO REACH AN AUDIENCE -ANY AUDIENCE- IS BY RELATING AND EMPATHIZING WITH THE CHALLENGES THEY ARE FACING. IF YOU CAN EMPATHIZE, THEN YOU CAN CONNECT.” When in your career did you feel that you’d finally “made it”?
I don’t think I’ve reached that point yet. I’m not sure any entrepreneur is ever satisfied, but what gave me satisfaction was being invited to speak at events and being recognized publicly for my entrepreneurial efforts. I particularly enjoy mentoring start up entrepreneurs. Which MENA country do you think has the most supportive startup space?
The MENA region is huge, so I couldn’t really say, but based on what I hear I’d say it’s Dubai. How much “risktaking” personality characteristic is involved in being an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurialism equals risk! Entrepreneurs are not only risk tolerant, they embrace risk! Anyone looking for stability and normality cannot be an entrepreneur- it would be too stressful. But the rewards are great too. There is nothing greater than the feeling of being in charge of your own destiny!
Le Repas des Enfants (1980), lithograph after an original oil by Pablo Picasso, 55.5 x 76 cm
La Femme à la Collerette (1980), lithograph after an original oil by Pablo Picasso, 55.5 x 76 cm
BEDAYA CENTER IMAGE COURTESY OF WWW.BEDAYA.QA
Looking to add an affordable hallmark piece of art to your corporate space? If so you’re in luck: Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter seems to be looking to liquidate a few of her valuable assets. If you’re flying through Paris’ Charles de Gaulle, visit the Etihad Airways premium lounge to get an up-close and personal view of six limited edition lithographs, including La Femme à la Collerette and Le Repas des Enfants. First and Business Class Etihad guests will be privy to the exhibition curated by Bertrand Epaud showcasing lithographs from The Marina Picasso Legacy Collection… and they’re for sale. Marina Picasso, who inherited the works from her late grandfather’s estate, has put all six of the lithographs executed by Master Chromist Marcel Salinas up for purchase for a range of €5,000 to 6,000. Alexandria-born Salinas collaborated with Picasso on several projects during his lifetime prior to the painter’s death in 1973 at the age of 91. Being in transit is now a culturally-enriching experience!
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TOEING THE THINNEST POSSIBLE LINE BETWEEN RIGHT & WRONG Media ethics primer By Octavia Nasr
n an advertising-driven world where media organizations increasingly identify themselves as businesses first, the ethics line has become blurry in favor of the bottom line. Ethics are eroding fast and risk disappearing or becoming a remote memory in the minds of older generations. There was a time in history when media professionals spoke of a complete separation between “sales and editorial” in the same tone as the separation of “church and state”. 28
In a perfect world, a respectful media organization claiming “objectivity” as its motto, will distance itself and its editorial judgment and decisions from its advertisers. For example, you cannot be reporting about a product and run an advertisement promoting the same product in the same news bulletin. Same with a magazine or newspaper, this practice is a clear conflict of interest. Media professionals as well as educated consumers will easily recognize such practice as unethical.
Yet, in the digital age, advertising for products pops up constantly as you are reading an article or watching a video. Websites now target their advertising directly at you based on your preferences gleaned from internet surfing history as well as your online interactions! If the media organization is engaging in these WHEN SALES, POLITICS, IDEOLOGY OR AGENDA SIGNS YOUR PAYCHECK, YOU ARE DOOMED AND YOUR CLAIM TO OBJECTIVITY, FAIRNESS, BALANCE AND TRANSPARENCY BECOMES A FALLACY
targeted campaigns –and we are seeing more evidence that it is the case- it is cause for concern. In news organizations, the business and sales sides have been creeping in for decades trying to make money where consumer trust has been established by hard-working editorial staff. Advertisers pay top dollars for a spot in a respectful newscast, imagine their glee if they receive positive coverage on that newscast. Now imagine for a second, if they could “buy” that coverage! As awful a proposition this might be to many media professionals, it is becoming a reality as the advertising world devises new ways to creep into programming and executives tell their staff to “look the other way” if they are interested in a paycheck at the end of the month. When Sales, Politics, Ideology or Agenda signs your paycheck, you are doomed and your claim to objectivity, fairness, balance and trans-
IN A PERFECT WORLD, A RESPECTFUL MEDIA ORGANIZATION CLAIMING “OBJECTIVITY” AS ITS MOTTO, WILL DISTANCE ITSELF AND ITS EDITORIAL JUDGMENT AND DECISIONS FROM ITS ADVERTISERS.
parency becomes a fallacy! You’ve undoubtedly heard of Sponsored Programming. You’ve also heard of Native Advertising and Branded Content. All these are different names and forms to sneak in paid advertising into regular editorial content. How each form is practiced can range from the acceptable in modern-day media to appalling and unethical. When full disclosure is provided and a media organization is transparent with its audience about such practices, you can imagine that it is acceptable. Additionally, one hopes that a neutral buffer is maintained between the advertiser and the editorial content. When you watch an Infomercial for a product or a travel show >>> june 2014
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sponsored by an airline or a nation’s tourism ministry, and the disclaimers are everywhere that this is “sponsored by such and such,” do not
expect any critical or negative content to be in the program. Understand that the advertiser paid for the production of such program as a form of advertising. It’s usually a decent amount of non-harmful features created to entertain you while promoting the advertiser. Even native advertising is becoming harder to discern because major respected
Octavia Nasr is the founder of the United States-based Bridges Media Consulting (BMC). Specializing in integrating traditional and digital media, media and newsroom management consulting, BMC also executes staff training, talent coaching, in addition to reputation building and management. BMC serves an elite clientele of brands, businesses, and individuals in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, the U.S. and Asia. Nasr moved to the entrepreneurial world in 2010 after a long career in journalism, 20 years of which were in various senior positions including Executive Producer, Anchor and Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs at CNN. Nasr’s first job was with LBC in Lebanon; she served as Assistant News Director, Executive Producer and later War Correspondent. To read Octavia Nasr’s opinion editorials, visit her blog octavianasr.com and follow her updates on Twitter @octavianasr.
organizations are adopting it- and without disclaimers or warnings to their respective audiences. This is slowly becoming an obvious trap that media consumers keep falling into especially with the popularity of social networks and the rush by everybody from businesses to politicians, artists, journalists, writers, budding musicians, young, old, unemployed, trolls, celebrities, and many others fighting for the eyeballs and trying to attract them and sell them something, a product, an ideology- even a lie. On the Internet there is everything and it’s not always obvious when we are being spammed or scammed, when we are told the truth or lied to. It is up to us to know what is genuine and what is not. Media ethics is a wide topic that covers a lot more than how the business side should not dictate or distort the editorial mission of an organization. It is also about how content is handled and how it
NATIVE ADVERTISING IS BECOMING HARDER TO DISCERN BECAUSE MAJOR RESPECTED ORGANIZATIONS ARE ADOPTING IT- AND WITHOUT DISCLAIMERS OR WARNINGS TO THEIR RESPECTIVE AUDIENCES. is shared with the audience. It is about what is acceptable and what is not and why. What to share with your audience, how to share it and in what amounts and what form to share it in is part of each organization’s code of conduct. They vary from one medium to the other depending on many factors, rules and regulations, cultural taboos, and the amount of freedoms afforded and protected under the law. In the U.S., media communications are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Other important players are the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable Television Association, and the Motion Picture Association of America. While media outlets operate freely and make decisions based on their own specific code of ethics, the FCC oversees that laws are upheld and upgraded as necessary; that is how all organizations operate, following the agreed-upon rating system and adhere to borders enforcing when sexual, violent or otherwise youth-inappropriate content will be part of the package. Organizations also use the disclaimer system to warn viewers or readers of the inappropriateness of some content or that the upcoming content could be considered unacceptable to some. All these are measures that are put in place to protect consumers especially those who are too young to protect themselves.
ETHICS | ESQUIRE GUY | SKILLSET | MARKETING | PRO
Anti-government protests in the center of Kiev
As a result of years of experience and consistently updated regulations, it is understood that gory images are not to be shown in a sensational way. Long shots of bloody scenes, decapitated bodies, graphic shots from war and conflict zones are usually an area of great ethics debates in newsrooms. Do you show how awful war is or do you “sanitize” the images and let the scenes look like a well-organized, short and clean incursion? In the best world, you report the news as is without a filter except that of good taste. You must show the extent of suffering and destruction and loss but everything needs to be relative. Watching some media organizations in the MENA region is a practice in ethical nonconformity. Depending on the channel, some massacres are exaggerated or downplayed. Agendas dictate whether images will be shown raw or edited. Victims are shown without much respect for their privacy or the sensitivity of their loved ones. Names of victims and casualties are often released before their next of kin are appropriately informed of their death or whereabouts. Graphic bloody scenes are a staple not the exception. They are shown without limit and sometimes in gory details through the abuse of the zoom-in button. Violence exists not only in newscasts, but in TV soap operas as well and there is no particular regard to what time of day they are shown or replayed. Journalists pride themselves on being friends with politicians and artists they cover on a daily basis totally disregarding how this is a flagrant conflict of
interest. Gifts are exchanged openly without remorse or even the need for disclosure. Transparency in media is a virtue. Look at all scandals or media mayhem, you’ll find that at the root of the problem was some kind of special interest that was not disclosed in time. My own disclaimer is that
some of what I said here is already considered obsolete and completely dismissed in some MENA joints. Still, I believe in the media ethics I practice and teach. I know that I’m not alone, and I hope that our numbers rise with time. I do believe that people will grow tired of the amount of fluff coming at them from
all directions. At that point, there will be a place for honest to goodness, advertisingfree, agenda-free media that serve relevant information to the masses even if those masses are only a select few who believe in the simple but crucial, uninterrupted, nonskewed, and not tapered with flow of information!
REVISITING THE RULEBOOK
DISCLOSURES, DISCLAIMERS AND TRANSPARENCY > DISCLOSE ANY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND A BUSINESS ENTITY OR POLITICAL PARTY OR RELIGIOUS LEADER THAT IS LIKELY TO AFFECT COVERAGE OF SAID ENTITIES. IF YOU DON’T, YOU WILL GIVE THE IMPRESSION OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST. > BE CLEAR IF YOUR REPORT INCLUDES ANY NATIVE ADVERTISING, BRANDED CONTENT OR FLATOUT PAID CONTENT. > USE A DISCLAIMER ANY TIME YOU THINK YOUR
IMAGES MIGHT CAUSE YOUR AUDIENCE DISTRESS OR HARM. GIVE PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO AVOID GRAPHIC IMAGES, IF SO THEY CHOOSE, EVERY CHANCE YOU CAN. > DON’T ACCEPT EXPENSIVE GIFTS FROM PEOPLE OR ENTITIES THAT MIGHT BE BUYING YOUR SUPPORT OR YOUR PRAISE. > REMAIN INDEPENDENT OF POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS AND MONETARY INFLUENCES TO KEEP YOUR REPORTING FREE. june 2014
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SWIPE YOUR WAY INTO THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS
Platforms Android, iOS Meeting business contacts and expanding your allimportant network is probably the main reason for attending conferences and social events. If the organizers of these events use Bizzabo and you load it onto your device, it helps you discover business contacts at the event and connects with them via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also discover great events happening, and set meetings with people straight from the app.
Apps for ‘treps on the go By Rani Nasr
At our fingertips, we’ve got what is arguably the most powerful device ever created by man: The smartphone. The way we utilize it, as business people, can turn its power into a destructive (or a constructive) force. It’s easy to get lost between all these swipes and taps; however, it’s also easy to run your entire business from this tiny powerhouse provided you’re using the right apps. Here’s a list that will simplify life, and more importantly, they’ll open up new horizons in conducting business.
Platforms Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows It’s simply your travel organizer: As complicated or exhausting as your business trip might be, just forward confirmation emails for flights, airport pickups, hotels, meetings, and moreto TripIt, and it’ll get it sorted for you, presenting you with a clean travel agenda. A bonus is that you’re able share your trip plans with coworkers, add notes, and discover. 32
Platforms Android, iOS Jump Desktop allows you to control your desktop computer from your phone. Prepare your downloads before you get home, send that file that you forgot to place on a USB, and install a program on your desktop while taking a walk in the park. Super simple and super useful.
THE PICK OF THE PACK Square Register Platforms Android, iOS
An app made by the co-creators of Twitter, Square Register can turn your phone or tablet into a cash register that handles credit cards so that you run business on the move. No monthly fees, commitments or surprises, only a 2.75% transaction fee per swipe and youâ€™re able to access your funds within one to two working days. The best thing about it is that you can request your free Square Reader device that reads cards by simply swiping them across it.
SPECTACULAR... BRAND PROMO App developers animate your products
Spectapp, a mobile app newly released in the Middle East, instantly overlays a video, a game or any creative digital experience right on top of a newspaper, a magazine page, and even on actual product packaging, turning a static viewing experience into an interactive one. Developed by two entrepreneurs, Ayman Chalhoub and Nijad Khunaysir, Spectapp has already partnered with several regional and international household names for a few immersive digi-products. Some of their collabs include the likes of Audi, Playstation, Ford, and Grey Goose. Want to make your next corporate event really pop? Get Spectapp to create an integrated digi-map station and watch your guests actually want to learn about your brand. The possibilities are endless. www.spectapp.com
CardMunch Platforms iOS
LinkedIn and technology are abolishing the usage of the old fashioned business cards, right? Wrong. This LinkedIn-owned app is a business card reader that converts business cards to address book contacts and LinkedIn connections by simply snapping a picture. A pretty neat invention, no? Timesaving and ergonomic. june 2014
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The Esquire Guy on
what to do if you are always late By Ross McCammon
n business, time management is never about managing time. Time is a known and stable factor. It can’t be managed; it can only be acknowledged or ignored, according to how much you appreciate its importance. If you’re late for a meeting, it’s probably not because some unavoidable obstacle put itself in your way. It’s because you didn’t allow for the obstacle. You didn’t spend time thinking about the obstacle. And if you didn’t spend time thinking about the obstacle, you’re not showing respect for the people you’re doing business with. In other words, you are the obstacle. Because being on time is easy. Respecting time is the tricky part. There are many opportunities to be late or on time, but for the purposes of this column, let’s stick with the most useful example: the meeting. HOW TO BE ON TIME For the first time ever, we are about to reveal how to be on time for a meeting. Countless studies by scientists, the military, various government agencies and the guy who invented Clocky, “the alarm clock that runs away,” have all come together to
WHEN WE DECIDE NOT TO BE ON TIME (AND IT IS ALWAYS A DECISION) THE MESSAGE ISN’T, I’M TOO BUSY. THE MESSAGE IS, I DON’T RESPECT THIS MEETING ENOUGH
prove that the way to be on time for a meeting is as follows: Be on time for the meeting. There is no skill. There is nothing to learn. If you want to be on time, you’ll be on time. People who are consistently late make lots of excuses: traffic, children, illness, subway trouble (No. 1 most common excuse in the Esquire offices), inclement weather, “they took a long time with my Caffe Misto,” etc. But those excuses are representative of one thing: an ambivalence about what you’re supposed to be on time for. Whatever the meeting is about, it’s just not important enough. “It cracks me up when people say it’s a time-management issue when people don’t show up on time,” says Steve McClatchy, time-management expert and founder of Pennsylvaniabased Alleer Training & Consulting. “If I told you that I have a million dollars for you if you can make an 8 o’clock meeting tomorrow morning, but if you’re a minute late you don’t get the million dollars, there’s not a person in the world who would turn it down.” It’s easy money because being on time is not hard. After all, we’re on time all the time. We tend to eat on
time. We press the gas when the light is green. We say hello immediately after someone else says hi. So when we decide not to be on time (and it is always a decision) the message isn’t, I’m too busy. The message is, I don’t respect this meeting enough -I don’t respect the people waiting for me in the meeting room enough- to do the easiest thing in the world: just show up.
KEY TECHNICAL MATTERS > The gap between on time and late is very narrow. > T plus five minutes is not yet late. T plus six minutes is extremely late. > T plus 10 minutes is a total disaster. > Tea plus honey is good for a sore throat. > When walking in late to a meeting: Do not offer an excuse. Seem sheepish for exactly two seconds,
then abandon all shame. > If the meeting room is full, stand with your back against the wall just inside the doorway. No slithering. > If there are beverages available, do not avail yourself. > If there are flogging instruments available, do not avail yourself. > Do not speak for the first 10 minutes of the meeting. Late
people have a way of covering ground that has already been covered. > At the end of the meeting, seek out the most important person in the room and apologize. > Unless you are the most important person in the room. > In which case, why have you been standing at the back of the room all this time?
Is it a lifestyle thing? “One of the things people love about being an entrepreneur is: ‘Hey, I don’t have to punch a clock,’” says Angela Benton, founder and CEO of NewMe Accelerator, a San Francisco incubator for underrepresented minorities in the tech
industry. “But the fact is that most people do business from 9 to 5. So you have to put some kind of schedule in place for yourself and put some level of structure in so that you’re not late for things.” Being late is about little decisions you make on the way to being late. It’s never about the moment in time when you’re scheduled to meet. It’s about days of preparation. Months, even. In some ways, years. Because an inability to keep an appointment is about something much larger than the hour at hand. If you’re struggling with being on time, imagine that your meeting is a lot more important than it actually is. Imagine that your being late would scuttle the whole thing. Imagine the meeting is -oh, I don’t know- a rocket launch. Here’s what Tim Dunn, launch director for the Launch Services Program at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida says about all those little decisions: “The general public tends to think in terms of launch countdown, which is all the excitement on launch day. But the launch campaign is the greater effort of everything that goes into leading up to launch day. When people are late for those meetings it detracts from the overall progress toward our launch date/countdown.” You are NASA. The meeting is your rocket. Launch the rocket on time. WHAT LATENESS TELLS YOU One way of looking at lateness is to consider the price you’re paying for being late. And there’s always a price to pay. Says McClatchy: “If you are just
a little late, a sincere apology typically remedies the issue. If being late is a chronic problem, then it communicates that you don’t care. This can show up in many different ways in business.” People might smile and say, “Oh, that’s OK.” But the price has been paid. Morale is lower. You’re trusted less. They’re frustrated. And they’re going to take out that frustration in ways you can’t quantify. The whole basis of business is trust. A meeting time is a commitment, and when that commitment isn’t honored, bad things happen. Let’s turn the tables and look at timeliness from the perspective of those who show up early and end up waiting on the not-so-timely. Think about what they’ve learned. They’ve learned the score. They’ve learned where they stand with the person who is not on time. They now know that the tardy person respects the situation less than they do. They know that they are more on top of the schedule than the tardy person is. Which is extremely useful. Especially if they’re considering going into business with that person. When you’re not on time, you have said one thing and done another. Your words do not jibe with your actions. It’s a cardinal sin, especially for a manager. Each time you do what you say, each time you’re on time, trust is maintained and bonds are strengthened. You are a hero. You have launched the rocket. Now, while we’re waiting, care for some coffee? See this article in its entirety at Entrepreneur.com
THE TARDINESS REACTION METER MINUTES
Phase 1 SYMPATHY
“Must be held up. No big deal.”
Phase 2 RESTRAINED SYMPATHY
“Must be held up. Kind of a big deal.”
Phase 3 APPREHENSION
“How long until we call this thing?”
Phase 4 INCREDULITY
“Son of a ...”
Phase 5 AIMLESSNESS
“Question: Should we be doing Pinterest?”
Phase 6 OBLIVION
“What are we even meeting about?”
Phase 7 PASTRIES
“The éclair is overrated.”
Phase 8 DISILLUSIONMENT
“Coudn’t even send a text?”
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IF IT AIN’T YOURS, IT AIN’T YOURS
THE ETHICAL QUAGMIRE OF ONLINE CONTENT CREATION & YOUR BRAND By Dana Khairallah
hat makes one social media account stronger than the next? Yes, numbers are indicative of reach, but most experts can attest to one underlying golden rule that can make or break even the most thought-out of strategies: Content. Good, original content. Being social online entails operating in an open-source environment, a space where we’re constantly creating and sharing content, usually free of charge… which makes plagiarism all the more easier. Plagiarism is more straightforward and subject to copyright laws when compared to intellectual property theft, which in addition to plagiarism also includes borrowing ideas and topics. Although both include copying someone else’s work, one is more easily pinpointed than the other.
Here’s the deal, a good social media manager or strategist does not always translate into a good content creator or developer. And that’s fine, most social media agencies have realized this trend and have quickly adapted by commissioning content creators and freelance writers on many different topics to embody the brand’s persona online. Over time, this model has enabled brands to position themselves as authorities in their field and has given their followers a reason to visit their social media platforms regularly, in some cases daily. Other brands have been lucky enough to hire passionate marketers who understand their target audiences and product enough to create
unique engaging content around it. And finally there are those who base their entire presence on drawing inspiration and content from a variety of sources or directly from competition. This is where the discussion gets complex- does drawing constant inspiration through recycling ideas and recreating visuals make your idea original or does it constitute intellectual property theft? The lines can be blurry, but more often than not I would choose the latter. In my opinion, a well-rounded content creator is constantly aware of popular posts from competitors while also ensuring that their client’s work isn’t being echoed verbatim across the board. While you can’t always
prevent people from copying your work, you can help your brand stay ahead of the curve by continuing to innovate rather than imitate. Having said that, here are four points to watch out for when creating content for your brand: 1. CREDIT Always give credit where credit is due, even if you’re simply building on a similar topic, reference your inspiration. Giving the proper attribution can say a lot about your values and ethics; most notably that you’re transparent. Accusations of plagiarism can be tainting and may at times lead to legal action brought against you and your company. 2. RESEARCH Even if your idea is original, do the proper research to ensure that it hasn’t been done before. Multiplicity gets suspicious and social media is awash with intellectual property theft accusations. Most content is searchable on Google, even images. You have no excuse not to do your homework.
THE APP THAT GIVE STORIES TO YOUR SELFIES
ave that itching urge to take a selfie and kinda wish others can see what you can see? No need for two pics, Frontback’s got your back (get it?). Released last month on Android after previously launching successfully last summer on iOS, Frontback is the ultimate app for snapping a selfie– you take a picture from the front camera, then do the same with your back camera. The final image, which can be shared to other social networks, is split into two perspectives. This simple concept is proving to be really well-liked; the app was made popular by investor Ashton Kutcher who hasthtagged his uploads #frontback. It’s now cleared one million downloads and boasts over 17 million photos as of March. Is Frontback another fad? Will people finally get bored of taking selfies or is this a sign that they’re becoming integral to modern online culture? Check out the #emojichallenge hashtag on Twitter to see what Frontback users are generating.
DON’T DO WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING JUST BECAUSE IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING FOR THEM. STICK TO THE ONLINE IDENTITY AS PER YOUR STRATEGY. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A STRATEGY, INVEST IN ONE 3. DIFFERENTIATE Don’t do what everyone else is doing just because it seems to be working for them. Stick to the online identity as per your strategy. If you don’t have a strategy, invest in one- it will really help you figure out who you are online and more importantly who you aren’t. 4. SOURCE Never dismiss an ethical concern or allegation regarding intellectual property theft just because there is no law to hold you accountable. Face it headon. If your idea is original then defend it, if not, admit where your inspiration came from and compensate the original owner for the work that you’ve appropriated.
Dana Khairallah is the sole writer and content creation specialist at ivysays.com, a lifestyle blog featured in several regional print and web publications. Through her work as a freelance content copywriter and on SEO with several corporate entities, Khairallah has built her expertise as a knowledgeable and experienced social media specialist working with both brands and personalities on social media. She has devised online strategies for several renowned Middle East brands, and most notably currently develops and manages the social media strategy and presence, as well as online and offline copywriting of a leading beauty brand and tier one personalities in the Middle East. A graduate of the University of Toronto with a BA in Professional Writing and Communications, she is also regularly commissioned as the social media trainer for several brands, most notably in the technology retail sector. Khairallah served as a Program Officer on an extensive portfolio for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for a period of four years, a multinational organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide. Khairallah’s first passion in the field of communications is brand and personality reputation management consulting. june 2014
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Six things to strive for in your work environment By Pamella De Leon
s consistently being dubbed one of the best companies to work for, Google evidently capitalizes on employee happiness to maintain productivity. They are on to something. A study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness increases productivity by 1012% at work. Needless to say, work environment influences happiness with their job. Brad Feld, a well-known investor said, “You can’t motivate
Workplace Flexibility 2010
people, you can only create a context in which people are motivated.” When an environment is set with the right elements to satisfy and help your staff innovate, work is more likely to get done well. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or head honcho at a multinational, here are proven factors to consider for your corporate environs. 1. LEARNING IS EARNING
With industries evolving at such a rapid pace, it’s beneficial
for both employees and companies to keep up by developing skills. I like companies that invest in people, challenging employees to think beyond the usual solutions, and that encourage growth of my capabilities in the process- whether professionally or personally. Buffer is a great example of a startup that cares for their employee development; they make self-improvement a priority by distributing Jawbone UP wristbands –it tracks sleep, steps, nutrition, and more- for health, a team activity of logging daily accomplishments and progress to iDoneThis, and free Kindle books for all of their staff. Loving to learn is a useful trait to have as well- as an employee, it will distinguish you. In an interview with The New York Times, Google’s People Operations admits that it’s one of the attributes they look for in prospective hires. 2. FOSTER THE COMMUNE MENTALITY
Communication is important as it fosters trust, and trust results in good teamwork and a collaborative spirit. How are you supposed to do your job well if there isn’t an open dialogue, and opportunities for frank and honest critique or feedback between the higher-ups, your associates and yourself? You know you’re in a trusted and 38
WITH INDUSTRIES EVOLVING AT SUCH A RAPID PACE, IT’S BENEFICIAL FOR BOTH EMPLOYEES AND COMPANIES TO KEEP UP BY DEVELOPING SKILLS. welcoming environment when you know you’re not going to have to deal with work politics, and you’re sure disgruntlement can be resolved fairly. In a study of federal agencies from management consultancy firm, Deloitte Consulting, barely half of 212,000 employees surveyed said they were satisfied with information from management. Compared to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which had the happiest employees in the survey, they accredited their success to promoting a “continuous” open communication. 4. BELIEVING IN WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Maintaining a work-life balance may be difficult, but it’s essential to draw the line between your professional and personal lives. If you are constantly tied to your job, stress and burnout from your career will catch up with you. I like companies that let you have time to relax and de-stress, that way I always return to work refreshed and ready to tackle on tasks. Telecom-
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muting and flexible work timings are becoming popular and demonstrate efficacy too. When Georgetown Law School and the Alfred Sloan Foundation led the Workplace Flexibility 2010 –an initiative to develop a national policy on workplace flexibility in the U.S.- Best Buy Corporation shifted to a ‘result-only work plan’ (ROWE) to let employees make their own schedules while finishing tasks on time. CNN Money reported that the test was successful as departments using ROWE had a 35% boost in productivity.
5. RECOGNIZE YOUR ALL-STARS
6. ELABORATE ON THE GAME PLAN
Constructive feedback and appreciation for hard work can boost an employee’s self-esteem and act as motivation to aim for excellence. A workplace that acknowledges achievements and efforts is definitely a bonus. A study from the Journal of Management found that when management acknowledge good work, there’s positive change in team performance, trust in management, ‘organizational commitment’, and satisfaction in leading or being led by a group.
Knowing the big picture and why we do what we do influences work ethic. Being in a workplace where you understand the company’s vision and how your work is contributing to that larger goal is a motivation booster, and at the same time, cultivates loyalty and dedication. Find out what your company values are, and be an advocate. Allyson Downey, founder of weeSpring, reinforces company values in a session of ‘family therapy’ where everyone sits together and writes down the company values.
FOUR WAYS TO PULL THE PLUG ON THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF WORKSPACE STRESS By Shoug Al Nafisi
he pile-up doesn’t go unnoticed, but it only really strikes you when you realize that your performance is slipping and you’re off your game. Stress can be detrimental to your health and subsequently your performance- some projections put the cost of stress leading to poor health at millions of dollars each year. If you nip the stress attacks in the bud, you’ll be coasting in the clear. CONTROL COMFORT FOOD CRAVINGS A change in workplace routine or responsibilities is usually associated with stress. How soon we adapt to that change is most likely one of the most important factors in triggering stress. When that adaptation takes too long to kick in, that change serves as one of the bases for the buildup of stress. Then come those hefty feelings of being powerless and losing control. Not only can stress kill your productivity, but it also has its toll on emotional and physical health. Things to take note of include a loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, grinding teeth, and impaired digestion. Studies have shown that stress also influences food choices– tending more towards “comfort food” that is characterized by its high fat and sugar content. Stick with your healthier options and prevent adding ill diet to the list of problems you need to address.
BE PROACTIVE ABOUT BEING ACTIVE Physical activity has proven to be one of the best ways to handle stress. Numerous studies have indicated that physical activity is integral in its capacity to tame the body’s stress response and in developing psychological resilience. You can also use your determination towards better physical performance as a means to tame the urge for unhealthy food choices. You work out and you eat well, then you are in a better mental and physical state to cope with your onslaught of work-related pressures that come your way. OWN A CHALLENGE ON TIME On a positive note, stress has its advantages as well. Setting short-term,
attainable, personal goals, and working towards them can give you back that lost sense of control. That, and a “mission accomplished” never fails to make the day. Organize your week with productivity in mind. Allocate time slots to tackle tasks at work, but don’t restrict your time-off afterwards. Whether it’s a cup of coffee at sunset or an iced tea by the beach, give yourself enough quality time to re-energize and start anew the next day. GET ENGAGED AND FEED OFF OF THE ENERGY If your social life has made you happy at some point in the past, it’ll probably work again. Fall back on your social network for an emotional upper, and engage in activities outside of work that have proven to enhance your mood. Caring for and helping others is also scientifically proven to boost morale and that will help you regain control. It also helps to surround yourself with positive people, as they are the ones to get you back on track. All this will kick you back into action, strong and with fresh perspective.
| THE EXPORT |
IT’S NOT JUST FALAFEL,
IT’S A VIABLE AND LUCRATIVE BUSINESS MODEL CEO Fadi Malas on one of the Middle East’s biggest franchise success stories By Kareem Chehayeb
iddle Eastern nibbles have taken the world by storm, so it’s no surprise that one of the most successful franchises out of the MENA region happens to be in the F&B arena. Just Falafel have grown tremendously since opening their first outlet back in 2007 in Abu Dhabi: they’ve opened 52 chains in 18 different countries less than a decade after inception, and they’ve recently signed a deal to open 57 more in the Benelux region in Europe (Belgium, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands). We talked with CEO Fadi Malas to learn more about the inner workings of the UAE franchise’s admirable growth phenomenon.
“Originally the food was seen only as a modest dish to be eaten in the back streets,” said Malas, “but he [founder Mohamad Bitar] felt its time had come to be eaten by a wider audience who could appreciate its taste, deep history, and nutritional benefits.” CEO Fadi Malas, a “great friend” of Bitar’s, earned his MBA at Imperial College in London, eventually moving to Dubai where he became involved with Just Falafel. Setting aside Just Falafel’s branches in the West, how does a falafel restaurant in the Middle East thrive as a franchise on a regional level? Street food vendors that serve falafel are still very popular among locals
Just Falafel CEO Fadi Malas
and tourists alike, and it’s quite rare to see a food franchise that effectively takes on traditional competitors. Malas says that Just Falafel focuses on maintaining the “integrity” of the falafel, emphasizing that the original falafel wrap is their bestseller, but that they also try to find new ways to add variety and
ultimately improve on an already good product. While investing in high quality ingredients is one factor, it’s more than just that: “We also try to source locally where possible with a high proportion of our ingredients being organic. I think that it is this, combined with our constant attention to innovation, through our
“AMONG THE IMPORTANT COMPONENTS THAT SHOULD BE SCRUTINIZED ARE “SITE LOCATION ECONOMICS” AND “FRANCHISEES’ EXPERIENCE. THIS IS WHY WE ARE STEPPING UP OUR RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGN TO ENSURE OUR JUST FALAFEL OPERATIONS TEAM IS THERE TO SUPPORT OUR GROWING FRANCHISEE NETWORK.” culinary panel, that allows us to compete in both the traditional markets and further afield.” With this plan evidently working quite well nationally, regionally, and internationally, Malas says that the Benelux region is an interesting one for Just Falafel: “The Netherlands is already a country that is very familiar with vegetarian cuisine with the falafel proving particularly famous in the city of Amsterdam.” The brand’s only European franchises are in Turkey and in England, with the former not truly considered a European country in the business world. Malas says that it wasn’t just a matter of interest in falafel or even vegetarian cuisine in general, it also had to do with the franchisee’s experience in the region and the F&B market as a whole. The franchisee is Wadi Degla, an Egyptian conglomerate that is involved in the Benelux region, and “their passion is also backed up by significant operational experience in the food and beverage industry.” It wasn’t just the
Egypt-falafel connectionWadi Degla already has 27 Just Falafel outlets in Egypt, and the group already has interests in the region, “being an owner of the Belgium football team Lierse SK.” How difficult is it to open branches internationally in comparison to the Middle East? Just Falafel’s CEO didn’t point fingers at any particular countries, though he did hint that international franchising is not an easy process in general. Malas says that among the important components that should be scrutinized are “site location economics” and “franchisees’ experience. This is why we are stepping up our recruitment campaign to ensure our Just Falafel operations team is there to support our growing franchisee network.” What inspired Bitar and Malas to turn Just Falafel into a franchise in the first place? “Clearly we really believed in what we were doing and I think this passion coupled with our social media strategy that really caused a conversation to start about our brand,
quickly bringing it to the attention of entrepreneurs and franchisees at an early stage.” Social media was -and still is- a critical component in Just Falafel’s international franchising strategy- they currently boast over two million Facebook fans, and CEO Malas credits their early and successful involvement with social media to their
rapid growth and expansion. Just Falafel is even “one of the only companies that have had two case studies conducted on its use of social media by Facebook!” The Vegetarian Society Approved brand is also very active with corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects. Malas takes it very seriously remarking that “so often CSR initia-
FRANCHISES tives >>> are just a box-ticking exercise with no real commitment behind certain pledges,” he says, citing a recent CSR project where the brand sponsored a university student for post secondary education. “Aqil Rashid, originally from Pakistan, won the award and it makes me very proud that Just Falafel is now sending someone to [an] Ivy League university, Brown in the USA.” Malas recently spoke at Dubai’s Impact Hub, kicking off the “Disruptive CEO” series, and he sees Dubai as a great place for startups. “I think you only have to look around when you are here to see new concepts and businesses popping up all over the place.” Noting that about 80% of the UAE’s economy consists of SMEs, Malas adds that the small amount of GCC-based franchises isn’t due to the lack of viable franchise
concepts, instead that pursuing the franchising route isn’t an easy one by any means. “There are plenty of local concepts that would be perfect for franchising, but it’s about being mentally ready to take the leap!” With this CEO’s active involvement in the GCC both as part of a successful franchise, and as a supporter of local entrepreneurial talent, he wants young ‘treps in the Middle East to ignore the naysayers. “There will always be people out there that tell you it’s not possible, and it’s hard,” Malas warned, “but believe in yourself, do your research, work hard and smart, and then follow your dream.”
“WE ALSO TRY TO SOURCE LOCALLY WHERE POSSIBLE WITH A HIGH PROPORTION OF OUR INGREDIENTS BEING ORGANIC.”
| THE IMPORT |
Clinton Street Baking Company comes to Dubai Dubai’s first Clinton Street Baking Company (CSBC) franchise outlet has officially opened at Burj View. Only the third city to have the original New York City concept, Hisham Samawi says that they wanted the outlet to “have a neighborhood feel,” hence their choice to opt for opening outside of a mall space. Launched in 2001 by husband and wife team Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, Samawi warmed to the brand as a member of their frequent clientele. “I used to live in New York and lived right around the corner from the original CSBC. It was my neighborhood restaurant so I saw it go from undiscovered gem to a New York institution. When I moved to Dubai I always missed it and made sure to go there every time I was back in New York.” WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BRING CSBC TO UAE? “Over the years living in Dubai I always felt a restaurant like Clinton Street was missing here. While you have so many great restaurant options for lunch and dinner I always felt a big void for great quality breakfast and brunches here so decided to approach them and open it with my brother.
We thought we were bringing a relatively unknown brand to Dubai but were pleasantly surprised to see how many people living in Dubai were already fans of the restaurant. It just goes to show how international and well-versed the residents of Dubai are. I think Dubai has gotten to the point where there are enough people who care about food made from organic and quality ingredients made fresh daily to support a restaurant like CSBC. We make everything from our ice cream to our hot sauces to our smoked salmon fresh in-house. That kind of attention to quality food used to only be seen at the most expensive restaurants in Dubai, but we felt like it was time for casual dining to have those standards as well.” WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE F&B INDUSTRY IN DUBAI? “The people of Dubai definitely know their food and are quite passionate about it. If you deliver good quality and service they will support and come back again and again. There are way too many options now in Dubai to tolerate poor quality food. This is why we are striving to have the best quality food and service always.”
WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER BUSINESS ENDEAVORS? “In addition to CSBC, I also own Ayyam Gallery which has two spaces in Dubai. Both businesses allow me to pursue the two things I am most passionate about: art and food! Clinton Street in Burj Views is currently our only restaurant, but we would definitely have aspirations to open more of them as we only have so many seats here in our current space and feel that once more and more people try our food, we will need to open another restaurant.”
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The corporate menu
MASTER PROFESSIONAL DINING PROTOCOL Executive chef-approved business entertainment Chef Daniel Lewis
ew to the corporate dining scene? A bit confused on what is deemed appropriate when inviting your clients out for a fine meal? Not sure how to navigate a set menu to celebrate that newly-inked deal? It’s a tricky playing field, and mastering the social side of business is an important part of networking success. Executive Corporate Chef Daniel Lewis of Rmal Hospitality and Wheeler’s of St. James’s at DIFC, is going to help you out. Follow his guide on what to order and when, and run the corporate dining scene like a pro.
SCENARIO COMPANY EXECS HOSTING CLIENTS FOR AN “INFORMAL” LUNCH CELEBRATION
“Always remember that people eat with their eyes, so great presentation can make a good solid dish seem really special. Take into account who the clients are and the occasion. Also take into consideration the style of cuisine that you want to offer, such as healthy, fashionable or perhaps food from a certain region. As with our business lunch
at Wheeler’s of St James’s, think about the time frame that you might have, a lot of executives have limited time. Try to avoid a succession of heavy or light dishes, as well as too much repetition in the type of ingredients you select running through each course. Finally, don’t forget to plan what you’ll be drinking to complement the dishes you’ve chosen and consider the ambience that you want to create.” SCENARIO Company execs hosting clients for a “dignified” lunch celebration
“Perhaps you can begin with canapés to pass around at the start- remember they are small, so bear in mind intensity of flavor and texture. Everyone enjoys the aroma of fresh bread, and pair with great condiments that match your chosen menu ideas, placed on the table as everybody has just been seated. Then offer a pre-plated starter; in the Middle East, we’d look at adding some individual cold mezze after the starter is cleared and then silver serve some hot mezze to create a little more theatre and interaction. Move on to your pre-plated main course, and then why not offer a light cheese course? Go for a big finish with a dessert that has a ‘wow’ factor; use great flavors, and tried and tested recipes, steering away from culinary ‘gimmicks’ like foams. Dry ice is a simple way to give a great feature but you’ll need to take care and handle it correctly. Finish with a great coffee and infusions and some petit fours.”
SCENARIO CEO entertaining top company execs over dinner
“In general I would suggest that a dinner of this type should be presented in a formal way. However, if the dinner takes place after a fun event like a golf tournament or teambuilding exercise, then this could continue informally to really ensure that everyone feels special. The basic rules of thumb are to work with the guests or clients, listen and understand their requirements and suggestions, and always ensure that they are delivered. Try to keep away from game dishes unless they are European- then it could be taken into account. Always keep in mind that pork should never to be suggested to an Islamic client, while beef should not be served to patrons who follow Hinduism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism, and so on.”
“USE GREAT FLAVORS AND TRIED AND TESTED RECIPES, STEERING AWAY FROM CULINARY ‘GIMMICKS’ LIKE FOAMS”
SCENARIO Exec staging a dining event that involves statesPEOPLE or political dignitaries
“Having worked at many events where head of states have been present over the years, the rules of thumb that I would say are to work closely with the personal assistant of the dignitaries as they will let you know all of their likes, dislikes, and any other matters you will need to take into account. Check the protocol with regards to any issues that might compromise security. There will always be an organizer or events company working on the event, so follow up all issues and matters with their representatives. I have noticed over the years that the food trends of statespeople and political dignitaries has become healthier and focused on the trends of the moment. Additionally they also seem to take comfort from the food they are used to in their own countries and are rarely over-adventurous.” See more of Chef Daniel Lewis’ recommendations for business entertainment on our website.
Wheeler’s of St. James’s at DIFC
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It’s getting hot in here, so take off... to the mountains! Chalet N in Oberlech, Austria
f the thought of last summer’s soaring 50˚C is creeping up on you, then we have something in mind. The six-star property Chalet N in Oberlech, Austria can be your hideaway for US$370,000 a week. With 11 suites, a cinema, unique spa facilities, ski resort with facilities for mountain activities, gourmet dining, the chalet’s interior designer, Sebastian Zenker, explained that subtlety was the key to exude “opulence”. If subtlety can scream, Chalet N certainly does- the chalet boasts 26 on-duty staff to cater to guest needs–be it monogrammed pillow shams or a favorite
Sharjah gives eco-tourism a go
ot something you expected to hear, did you? Sharjah plans to partially develop an area of the Sir Bu Nair Island, one of the Emirate’s two islands. Though the island was declared a protected zone in 2000, Sharjah’s ecotourism plans means that approximately two to three percent of the 13 square kilometer island will be developed. The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) plans on building a hotel, a campsite, an amphitheater, a museum, and a marina. In addition, they’re going to set up an education and research center. According to the World Wildlife Fund and Hana Al Suwaidi, Head of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah, Sir Bu Nair Island is home to gazelles, Shaheen falcons, three rare breeds of turtles, and other rare species. The island is also home to some severely endangered species, notably the mountain goat and the poison goby fish. That said, there is some concern that Sir Bu Nair Island’s development plans might go overboard, using Sir Bani Yas Island as an example, as it was once designated to be a natural reserve for its indigenous species in 1971, only for a five star resort to open there in 2008.
Main Square - 3D Render
Concept Design Report
QATARI HOSPITALITY GROUP STAKES EUROPEAN CLAIM
Sir Bu Nuair Island
2.3 Urban Design Approach 2.3.1
snack. Butlers, a fondue room, salt gallery steam bath, in-house stylist, Swarovski crystal laden-curtains, helicopter transportation, Hermès bathroom products, and yes for your safety, bulletproof windows. While some will find this a bit steep, you can cross this off your bucket list– the property, part of SIGNA luxury collection, is one of the priciest holiday destinations in the world. If celeb spotting is your thing, Tina Turner and Rihanna were both guests at Chalet N. ‘Trep life isn’t easy, so why not treat yourself and splurge on this unparalleled getaway.
Qatar’s Katara Hospitality recently announced that the Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan is opening this November. The property, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc’s Luxury Collection, is Italy’s seventh Luxury Collection property, and one of 21 Starwood hotels in Italy. The Excelsior Hotel Gallia will reportedly undergo extensive renovation prior to its opening by Studio Marco Piva, which has already won an award for its work with the Excelsior Hotel Gallia, despite the hotel still being under renovation. That said, it hasn’t exactly gone unnoticed in Milan since its opening in 1932. Why should you watch this space? It will be interesting to see the amalgamation of the contemporary and the historic after this deal is enacted. Start booking!
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You’ve got baggage!
TRAVEL SOLUTIONS FOR ‘TREPS FROM THE CARRY-ON TO THE OVERNIGHT DUFFEL, TUMI’S GOT SOME GREAT OPTIONS FOR ‘TREPS ON THE GO. FREQUENT FLIER The TUMI TEGRA-LITE travel collection is made of some pretty tough stuff! Made from the patented composite material Tegris, it’s a polypropylene thermoplastic developed by Milliken for use in things like NASCAR racecars and NFL gear! Since Tegris provides up to 15X the impact resistance of typical thermoplastics (and even maintains this level of performance at low temperatures up to-40°C), you can pretty much guarantee that these lightweight beauties are good for the long haul… over and over again. The highly maneuverable TEGRA-LITE is now available in Viridian, Cerulean, and Iridium, or you can opt for the existing staple shades of Graphite, White, and Black.
OVERNIGHTER For the overnight work trip, we like the TUMI Bashford Duffel in black, part of their Santa Monica collection of better leathers. It’s roomy with sides that give, so you can stuff as much as you need to for the one-day trip. Optional handheld carrying or removable, adjustable shoulder strap and rubber bumpers to prevent wear and tear.
BASHFORD DUFFEL > Inspired by TUMI’s bestselling Alpha Soft Duffel style > Stylish option to pack in weekend essentials featuring “X” design detail > Snap-close hand wrap > Detachable and adjustable shoulder strap
DOUBLE DAILY For the double-daily, we like TUMI’s Whitfield Helmet Bag with the option of going handheld or using the removable, adjustable cross-body strap. The zip-top tote has two exterior flap pockets with magnetic closure, and an interior dedicated tablet pocket (take care of your iPad), cord pockets, and a large zippered compartment that gives you enough storage room for other essentials.
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THE EXECUTIVE SELECTION
FOR THE ENTREPRENEUR ON YOUR LIST THAT HAS A DISCERNING EYE, CARTIER HAS A FINE RANGE OF EXECUTIVE-APPROPRIATE BETTER GOODS. THE LEATHERS
For him, opt for the Louis Cartier briefcase in black calfskin, lined in burgundy fabric with fine metal embellishments in palladium. For her, the elegant Jeanne Toussaint carry-all bag in quality black calfskin with black lacquered clasp and metal embellishments in palladium.
Cartier’s wood cigar box boasts a walnut exterior and cedar interior, and is enhanced with palladium-plated details. The cigar box makes for a beautiful keepsake, suitable for celebrating a new partnership. For the exec promotion, gift the corporate achiever with the Louis Cartier Transatlantique fountain pen in carved Kotibé wood. This writing instrument has a palladium-coated finish, citrine cabochon, and rhodium-plated nib in solid 18-carat gold.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Cartier Trinity cufflinks
For your black tie evening engagements, suitable cufflinks are a necessity. A hallmark pair of cufflinks are essential for the executive wardrobe. CLASSIC Cartier Trinity cufflinks in 18-carat yellow, pink, and white gold. EDGY Cartier Double Ring Decor cufflinks in solid 18-carat yellow gold with cabochon sodalities.
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RECOMMENDED BY THE CEO WHAT IS CONSIDERED A GOOD, RESPECTABLE “STARTER” WATCH FOR A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR?
From our range, a Saxonia Automatic, an 1815 and even a Lange 1 would be a good way to enter the world of fine watchmaking. WHEN CHOOSING A TIMEPIECE FOR DAYTIME BUSINESS DRESS, WHAT SHOULD MEN LOOK FOR?
To match a man’s business attire, a watch should underline his personal style. Under no circumstances should the watch outshine its owner. WHAT TIMEPIECE PROPERLY PAIRS WITH BLACK TIE?
A. Lange & Söhne CEO Wilhelm Schmid
THE GENTLEMAN’S TIMEPIECE HAUTE HORLOGERIE INSIDER
Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid is right on time
hich watch and when? We asked A. Lange & Söhne CEO Wilhelm Schmid to give us a lesson on better timepieces. Based in Glashütte, Germany, Schimd says that while he wouldn’t necessarily call himself a collector, for “as long as I can remember, I have been attracted to mechanical timepieces.” IN YOUR OPINION WHAT ARE THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF A FINE WATCH?
An in-house developed movement, the practical benefit of its functions, and best design quality. WHAT ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF HORLOGERIE SHOULD PEOPLE LOOK FOR WHEN LOOKING TO BUY A GOOD TIMEPIECE?
The watch you buy should always please yourself because it is an expression of your personality. When it comes to questions of quality and value retention, one should pay attention to timeless design and a first class manufacture caliber. There is only a small number of manufacturers who, like A. Lange & Söhne, build their own
movements, regularly launch interesting technical innovations, use precious materials, and guarantee the highest level of quality craftsmanship. WHY IS A TIMEPIECE’S MOVEMENT IMPORTANT? WHAT DISTINGUISHES A. LANGE & SÖHNE MOVEMENTS?
A straight-lined thin watch in white gold or platinum would make a perfect match. From our product portfolio, the Saxonia Thin in a white-gold case would be a good example. WHICH TIMEPIECE DO YOU PERSONALLY WEAR ON A DAILY BASIS?
I have more than one watch. However, my wearing habits are determined by continuity. The Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar I am wearing right now is a dream come true. By featuring the iconic Lange 1 design it is a most sophisticated timepiece that reveals its technological potential only at a second glance.
Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar
Like the engine of a car, the movement represents the heart of the watch. This is the reason why we pay so much attention to its design and production. Our movements feature the arguably highest degree of decoration in the watch industry. Furthermore, we adhere to the principle of double assembly: To make sure that the movement presents itself in flawless beauty, some parts are endowed with their ultimate surface finish only right before the final assembly. All movements are adjusted in five positions to achieve the highest possible rate accuracy and ultimate precision. At the end of the production line, every watch undergoes a final test program to assure its functional integrity under real-life wearing conditions. june 2014
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DON’T WAIT FOR MOTIVATION By James Clear
ranz Kafka is considered one of the most creative and influential writers of the 20th century, but he actually spent most of his time working as a lawyer for the Workers Accident Insurance Institute. How did Kafka produce such fantastic creative works while holding down his day job? By sticking to a strict schedule. He would go to his job from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., eat lunch and then take a long nap until 7:30 p.m., exercise and eat dinner with his family in the evening, and then begin writing at 11 p.m. for a few hours each night before going to bed and doing it all over again. Kafka is hardly unique in his commitment to a schedule. As Mason Currey notes in his popular book, Daily Rituals: How ArtHE WOULD GO TO HIS JOB FROM 8:30 A.M. TO 2:30 P.M., EAT LUNCH AND THEN TAKE A LONG NAP UNTIL 7:30 P.M., EXERCISE AND EAT DINNER WITH HIS FAMILY IN THE EVENING, AND THEN BEGIN WRITING AT 11 P.M. FOR A FEW HOURS EACH NIGHT BEFORE GOING TO BED AND DOING IT ALL OVER AGAIN.
ists Work, many of the world’s great artists follow a consistent schedule. • The late Maya Angelou would rent a local hotel room and go there to write. She would arrive at 6:30 a.m., write until 2 p.m., and then go home to do some editing. She’d never sleep at the hotel. • Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon writes five nights per week from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.. • Haruki Murakami wakes up at 4 a.m., writes for five hours, and then goes for a run. The work of top creatives isn’t dependent upon motivation or inspiration, but rather it follows a consistent pattern and routine. It’s the mastering of daily habits that leads to creative success, not some mythical spark of genius. Here’s why… William James, the famous psychologist, is noted for saying that habits and schedules are important because they “free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action.” An article in The Guardian agreed by saying, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.” And there are plenty of research studies on willpower and
FRANZ KAFKA METAMORPHOSIS BOOK COVER © PENGUIN
DO THIS INSTEAD
motivation to back up that statement. In other words, if you’re serious about creating something compelling, you need to stop waiting for motivation and inspiration to strike you and simply set a schedule for doing work on a consistent basis. Of course, that’s easy to say, but much harder to do in practice. Here’s one way of thinking about schedules that may help. PERMISSION TO CREATE JUNK Weightlifting offers a good metaphor for scheduling creative work. I can’t predict whether or not I’ll set a PR (personal record) before I go to the gym. In fact, there will be many days when I’ll have a below average workout. Eventually, I figured out that those below average days were just part of the process. The only way to actually lift bigger weights was to continually show up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday- regardless of whether any individual workout was good or bad. Creative work is no different than training in the gym. You can’t selectively choose your best moments and only work on the days when you have great ideas. The only way to unveil the great ideas inside of you is to go through a volume of work, put in your repetitions, and show up over and over again. Obviously, doing something below average is never the goal. But you have to give yourself permission to grind through the occasional days of below average work because it’s the price you have to pay to get to excellent work.
THE ONLY WAY TO UNVEIL THE GREAT IDEAS INSIDE OF YOU IS TO GO THROUGH A VOLUME OF WORK, PUT IN YOUR REPETITIONS, AND SHOW UP OVER AND OVER AGAIN. If you’re anything like me, you hate creating something that isn’t excellent. It’s easy to start judging your work and convince yourself to not share something, not publish something, and not ship something because “this isn’t good enough yet.” But the alternative is even worse: if you don’t have a schedule forcing you to deliver, then it’s really easy to avoid doing the work at all. The only way to be consistent enough to make a masterpiece is to give yourself permission to create junk along the way.
THE SCHEDULE IS THE SYSTEM During a conversation about writing, my friend Sarah Peck looked at me and said, “A lot of people never get around to writing because they are always wondering when they are going to write next.” You could say the same thing about working out, starting a business, creating art, and building most habits. The schedule is the system that makes your goals a reality. If you don’t set a schedule for yourself, then your only option is to rely on motivation. •If your workout doesn’t have a time when it usually occurs, then each day you’ll wake up thinking, “I hope I feel motivated to exercise today.” •If your business doesn’t have a system for marketing, then you’ll show up at work crossing your fingers that you’ll find a way to get the word out (in addition to everything else you have to do). •If you don’t have a time block to write every week, then you’ll find yourself saying things like, “I just need to
find the willpower to do it.” Stop waiting for motivation or inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits. This is the difference between professionals and amateurs. Professionals set a schedule and stick to it. Amateurs wait until they feel inspired or motivated. A version of this article was first published on JamesClear.com
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 june 2014
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Five hard lessons I’ve picked up managing my own business By Marianna Boguslavsky
s an entrepreneur and a business owner you have to learn fast if you want to succeed- you make mistakes, you learn from them, and then you use them as lessons for improving your business tactics. I launched my own business this year –a digital marketing consultancy based in the UAE- and it’s been an experience that taught me a lot. It’s a small, strategic, digital agency focused on helping small and mediumsized businesses and startups with their digital strategy, content, and social media needs, and in the course of running my own show, I’ve learned quite a bit that applies to any industry. Five things in particular have stood out for me this year:
1. WHEN IT COMES TO BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, RELATIONSHIPS MATTER
No matter how impressive you might think your resume is (your experience, your knowledge, your skills), it all comes down to the relationships you have built up when you go solo
and launch your own business. This is especially true in the Middle East. I’ve noticed that cold calling emails just don’t work for the lead generationregardless of how formidable my LinkedIn profile might be. Instead, I’ve learnt to build relationships with brands that
Marianna Boguslavsky was born in Latvia, studied in South Africa and the U.S., and kicked off her marketing career in London, U.K. She has worked in the digital marketing industry in Cape Town, South Africa and Dubai, UAE and is currently running her own digital consultancy based in the UAE. Boguslavsky has had the opportunity to work in a variety of industries in London, Cape Town & Dubai, ranging from publishing, property, search, e-commerce, retail, automotive, and fundraising. She has worked for corporations, startups, and NGOs, with her work experience spanning over eight years and three continents.
I genuinely believe in, to attend quality networking events and conferences, and to put myself out of my comfort zone by speaking on topic of digital strategy as a freelance lecturer. 2. OVER-DELIVER, AND THEN OVER-DELIVER SOME MORE
I’ve seen this the hard way: Doing only what you’ve quoted/ agreed upon/promised is just not enough to keep clients happy. You need to go the extra mile if you want to convert those clients into return clients, and if you want to build your business by positive word of mouth. Once I started exceeding client expectations, I noticed immediate results- from being asked to quote on extra services to being recommended to their connections. In the first year of running your own business,
make sure your focus is on putting in the extra time and effort to deliver phenomenal work and offering terrific service to your clients. 3. WHILE A HEALTHY CASH FLOW IS VITAL, RETAINING CLIENTS IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT
As a small business owner, you’re continuously focused on making sure there is a healthy cash flow and that invoices are being paid in a timely manner. While this is vital for both the survival and for the growth of your business, I’ve become much more lenient when it YOU NEED TO GO THE EXTRA MILE IF YOU WANT TO CONVERT THOSE CLIENTS INTO RETURN CLIENTS, AND IF YOU WANT TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS BY POSITIVE WORD OF MOUTH.
comes to clients paying late. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that if a client was three days late with a payment, I would be sending a follow-up email demanding to know when I could expect compensation from them. Not only does this promote a negative impression of your business, but you also risk alienating and damaging the relationship with your clients.
4. BE GRACEFUL WHEN LOSING A PITCH
You win some, you lose some. Make sure to be graceful about not landing a client. Not only does it make you look more professional, but it also helps to leave a positive impression. When I ran MB Consultancy in Cape Town, two of my long-term retainer clients chose a different agency after our first initial pitch
meeting. Six months later, they got in touch asking for my help. Make every single meeting and interaction count. 5. SHOW PASSION FOR YOUR WORK
While specialized knowledge and skills are essential, never discount the power of showing your passion for the work that you do and the services that you
offer. My clients have told me over and over again how much they value the passion, energy and enthusiasm I bring to the work that I do for them. This has paid for itself in spades, and I expect it to continue to do so.
NEVER DISCOUNT THE POWER OF SHOWING YOUR PASSION FOR THE WORK THAT YOU DO
Pretty as a picture
The story behind one of the most famous images in the world By Pamella de Leon
ho knew that the iconic Windows XP background was taken by a man on his way to visit his girlfriend? It was a Friday afternoon in 1996 when photographer Charles O’Rear stopped by on the side of a highway to take a snap of a picturesque landscape. Little did he know that it would end up as the PC wallpaper of millions of people. In the same week when the world Windows XP users would be left on their own (seeing as Microsoft has discontinued support for the operating system), the company posted a tribute video about XP’s well known default
wallpaper Bliss, as told by O’Rear. Even though most people assume the image has been edited and enhanced, O’Rear maintains that he submitted it unedited to photo licensing company Corbis. Microsoft then purchased the rights to Bliss for an undisclosed amount. Although the company cropped the image to facilitate desktop resolution and also increased the green of the hill, Chuck said that the image is “the real deal. It wasn’t Photoshopped. What you see is what you get.” This tribute video proved that hearing the story of the best-recognized wallpaper in the world
Photographer Charles O’Rear
helped to remind people of the company’s legacy… despite it being during a time when they’ve retired Windows XP support. A little emotion goes a long way.
Microsoft Bliss wallpaper
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Ever feel like your colleague is a robot?
Hong Kong company appoints A.I. as full-fledged board member
e’re not new to artificial intelligence- there’s Siri, Romba the vacuum cleaning robot, and even Google’s self-driving cars. But have you ever seen one in an executive capacity? Hong Kong-based Deep Knowledge Ventures has appointed the world’s first artificial intelligence as an official and equal board member. The program, Vital (Validating Investment Tool for Advancing Life Sciences) is a machine learning program that examines financial data and predicts successful investments. Developed by UK-based Aging Analytics, Vital analyzes life science data-
Plastic makes perfect? Engineers develop self-healing plastic inspired by the human body By Pamella de Leon
ver thought about how convenient it would be if your broken iPhone screen could just regenerate its broken cracks Doctor Who style? Well, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a plastic that “heals itself”. It works by releasing liquid that contains chemicals that solidify to fill damaged parts through capillaries (like the blood vessels that carry blood in the human body), mimicking how the human blood clot system repairs wounds. You read
that right. Think of what it can fix–pipelines, devices… the list is endless. A brainwave by the same engineer who developed materials that could heal microscopic cracks back in 2001, Scott White and his team have designed a vascular system to heal larger areas. The Science journal described the process: “By loading a polymer with pockets of monomer, it is possible to heal small cracks in a sample through the polymerization of the monomer following the formation of a crack.” In layperson’s terms, the plastic contains an artificial human vascular-like system that has two separate fluids, which comes into contact when the surface of the plastic is fractured. When the gels mix, they bind together to create a “scaffold”, turning to a thick gel, hardening in a few hours. Gizmodo noted how in the test, it was able to infuse a “4mm hole with 35mm of surrounding cracks” in 20 minutes and it solidified in approximately three hours. Subsequent tests showed that
bases to track trends that go unnoticed by humans, and then gives recommendations to the VC firm that specializes in age-related diseases. Though it’s the ‘new guy’ in the firm, it’s already made decisions for two companies. What’s next? Aging Analytics is aiming to develop a software able to make independent financial decisions- imagine someone void of emotion deciding whether it’s worth funding. Whether the Board appointment was meant to capture the world’s attention as a clever marketing stunt or to test out the reasoning capacity of A.I., either way it’s a bit scary… and exciting.
the “healed” area was roughly 62% as sturdy as the original plastic– still a feat as it can prevent cracks from increasing to critical proportions. One drawback? Implanting the network diminishes the original material slightly. One of the researchers, Jeff Moore, explained to New Scientist, “You pay the price for being able to repair this damage, but it’s certainly one that nature has figured out how to tolerate. If you just look at things like bone or trees, they are all vascularized.” Self-healing plastic research at the University of Illinois lab
New Scientist added that the team plans for future polymers with “multiple crisscrossing channels” and to switch to foam instead of gels to cover more areas and solidify faster, opening up possibilities of being able to recover from bigger impacts. The U.S. Air Force, who funded the project, is reportedly already looking forward to its application on a wider scope in the hopes that the technology will enable selfhealing spacecraft or deep-sea drilling– instances where it’s difficult to send personnel.
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POOF! YOU’VE DISAPPEARED EUROPEAN COURT RULES THAT YOU CAN MAKE GOOGLE FORGET YOU
he right to delete has been debated widely this year with the discussion finally coming to a climax last month. The highest court in the European Union decided that Google must agree to cooperate with some, not all, of the people requesting old links be removed from the search engine’s inexhaustible logs. Some cases will qualify for deletion, although it’s still unclear as to who exactly will fit into the court’s ruling. Will an image of you flashing your guests at your 19th birthday party qualify? Will your DUI conviction from 2001 qualify? No one seems to know how all things forgetful will be judged, and who in fact does the judging. The case against Google, which officially started in 2009, was brought forward by Spanish lawyer Mario Costeja. Costeja, the internet’s newest irony poster boy, objected to what he considered irrelevant and out-of-date legal notices from 1998 that would come up during Google searches of his name. More than one media outlet noted -with no shortage of schadenfreude- that Costeja’s past legal difficulties will probably never be forgotten now since the case against Google is a historic one, and almost every report specifies the root cause of the entire row- Costeja’s legal issues. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that Google should allow people to be “forgotten” unless there are “particular reasons” to keep the links live, and that people’s privacy should be
Google Headquarters in California
held tantamount to the public’s access to information. The debate on both sides is valid- potentially life-damaging past indiscretions don’t have to haunt you online forever, but on the flipside, what if that information is necessary for greater good? The Financial Times published a strong anti-ruling opinion editorial, and suggested that the European Court of Justice now “wants to equal the U.S. Supreme Court in a display of poor judgment.” Google called the ruling “disappointing” since the initial verdict last year was pretty
A.I. wrote this magazine (just kidding)
Following a minor earthquake in California, Los Angeles Times was the first media outlet to report it- and the piece was written by an algorithm called Quakebot. Developed by Ken Schwencke, the journalist whose byline appears on the story, Quakebot obtains the relevant information and “pens” the report following a pre-written template later to be edited. Quakebot is triggered if there’s an alert about an earthquake of a certain magnitude from the U.S. Geological Survey. According to BBC, other media outlets that have used “mechanized journalism”
much in the internet giant’s favor. It also presents another conundrum- can the great deletion be done? Who will field the onslaught of removal requests sure to follow the new ruling? Further, will the information that does qualify for deletion be removed only in certain countries or in just the E.U., or will it be a global exorcism? Thus far the answers to all of those questions are conjecture-based, and while the ruling is a potential game-changer, it remains to be seen how it will be put to work on a larger scale… if at all.
include Narrative Science which specializes in business news, and Automated Insights which reports on sports. Aisha Gani of The Guardian noted how the act of shifting through copy to look for newsworthy items could be passed on to computers, so that people can be free to explore more analytical pieces. Rest assured, our stories won’t be written by bots just yet.
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FIVE MUST-HAVE GADGETS that you might’ve missed out on but should get anyway By Rani Nasr
HE FUTURE IS NOW. NEW TECH GIZMOS ARE ROLLING OUT EVERY MONTH, CHANGING BOTH OUR LIVES AND OUR PERCEPTION OF THE WORLD. HERE’S A LIST OF FIVE GADGETS THAT WILL DEFINITELY TAKE YOU ONE LEVEL HIGHER IN THIS EVER ACCELERATING STREAM OF THE INTERNET OF THINGSBETTER TO START NOW THAN HAVE TO PLAY CATCH-UP LATER. AND THE BEST PART? THEY’RE ALL PRETTY DAMN USEFUL.
Plug this tiny gadget into the HDMI port of your TV and stream Netflix, YouTube and Google play videos. More services are coming in the future to the Chromecast, however, for its great price you wouldn’t want to miss out on this deal so become an early-adopter. See more of this little gem at (yes, you guessed it) www.google.com
Nest learning thermostat
Home automation is reaching a zenith with rumors and announcements about the Internet of Things. While we may have to wait until the end of the year for more on that, for now this smart thermostat is where you can start. With slick design, simplicity of use, and artificial intelligence -yes, it learns about your comings and goings to keep the heat (and the bill) just the way you want- this is one gadget you can spend on without feeling any buyer’s remorse. www.nest.com
The competition is still raging in the world of wearable tech, however the Pebble Smartwatch is still winning by a nose, as far as we can tell. With a simple, yet smooth design, it’s compatible with both Android and iOS, and it serves its purpose of staying in touch with the world through your wrist when your phone is away... and it also helps you tell the time, obviously. www.getpebble.com
iRobot Braava 320
You live alone and work 12 to 14 hours a day? It’s hard to keep your apartment tidy and clean. Now with minimal mop and broom, clean up light-duty-to-average messes by simply… doing nothing. You can also block it from going places you don’t want it to go- so no worries about knocking over Aunt Vicky’s heirloom vase. www.irobot.com
A build-it-yourself computer and coding kit. With Lego’s simplicity you can use it to learn code, make games, and create the future. It blends basic computer science concepts with beautiful design, shaping almost anyone into an innovator of future trends. www.kano.me
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A NEW MODEL TO TEACH ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Incorporating e-learning technology & gaming into business education By Juris Ulmanis
ou can’t teach someone how to be an entrepreneur from a textbook or a lecture. I know, I’ve tried. As a business school professor, I know that learning-by-doing is the only way to allow lessons to sink in deeply. How else can you teach creativity, risk-taking, and problem-solving, but with firsthand learning? For the past 10 years, I’ve used simulations in the classroom coupled with the Harvard casemethod approach to get as close to the feeling of being an entrepreneur as possible. But even these approaches are limited. Students will write business
plans that are totally unrealistic, with no fact-based analysis, so they are never sound. The first time they visit a client, they’ll quickly see that their whole plan isn’t viable. Schools with business incubators where students make products and labs or where students talk to customers are a little closer to reality, but these take time (even years), to develop. It’s a much longer learning process than a semester course. Guest speakers can serve as cheerleaders as they share their successes and failures, but in my opinion there’s no real benefit to students other than to serve as inspiration. Intern-
ships with businesses are great in theory, but the reality is that often students are relegated to menial tasks with no real window to the inner workings and decision-making processes. Businesses are chaotic with too many moving variables to adequately anticipate in any static student-written business plan, this is why the innovation of using computer games is so groundbreaking. Learning by gaming is a game-changer in business education! Computer simulation games have long been popular with young adult learners who, as a generation with extended
exposure to modern video games, are particularly receptive to a computer-enhanced learning platforms. Employing the powerful complement of gamification to traditional business school teaching results in lessons that are productive, meaningful, engaging, and fun.
BY INCORPORATING E-LEARNING TECHNOLOGY AND GAME PLAY IN BUSINESS EDUCATION MODELING, LESSONS BECOME MORE RELEVANT AND OUTCOMES ARE MEASURABLE.
Unlike in real life where there are real world consequences to decisions, computer simulation games allow students to create and run a business, be tested by challenges and setbacks, take leaps and reap rewards, all in a dynamic, rapidly changing environment that is completely risk-free. By incorporating e-learning technology and game play in business education modeling, lessons become more relevant and outcomes are measurable. When students think of the risk-taking required in entrepreneurship, they look to models like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. Although Branson’s “Screw it, let’s do it” mantra may sound catchy, his real focus is imagining worst case scenarios to assess true risk. What most students don’t understand is that successful entrepreneurs try to minimize risk. They think of all the things that can go wrong and then they try to compensate for these possibilities.
In my own experience, whether climbing the world’s highest mountains or crossing Greenland on skis, extreme adventures are at face-value extremely risky, but require the same risk-assessment that successful entrepreneurs employ. I practice and train for all the things that can go wrong. I anticipate failure and create a Plan-B and Plan-C. Every campsite I prepare, I think of the risks that can happen through the night with changing conditions and shifting weather patterns. I think of what can go wrong the next morning when we continue up the mountain or across the ice, what has changed in our stamina and strength levels, how has the snow surface changed with sunshine or wind? It’s a juggling act of risk-assessment and rapid response with life-ordeath consequences to wrong decisions. It’s exhilarating and terrifying and exactly the same visceral response that entrepreneurs face.
Entrepreneurs thrive in chaos. They relish meeting the challenges of an ever-changing environment with rapidly moving parts. Their leadership is tested and honed by the mistakes they make and the lessons they learn from failure. Practicing those lessons and making those decisions in game-play simulations make those inevitable failures risk-free. Old school ways of teaching this through models couldn’t possibly account for all the variable new technology can offer. Learning through old school printed textbooks and sitting in lecture halls can never be as flexible and engaging as virtual games and distance learning with competitors from around the world in testing their skills in tournaments. By employing simulation games to test students through increasingly challenging levels coupled with the guidance of professors to help students reflect and analyze what went well and what didn’t, business schools and
motivated independent learners alike have an opportunity to get closer to the reality of entrepreneurship in a low-cost, no-risk way. Gamification of learning creates the mindset of what it means to be an entrepreneur: how to anticipate the variables, adapt to an ever-shifting landscape, and how to brilliantly thrive in chaos.
GAME-PLAY SIMULATIONS MAKE THOSE INEVITABLE FAILURES RISK-FREE.
Experiential learning advocate Juris Ulmanis has spent the past decade teaching entrepreneurship, marketing, and international business courses as a professor in universities across Europe. A former Motorola executive for 18 years in Europe and the U.S., Ulmanis left the company to explore his own entrepreneurial ideas as a co-founder, including his latest experimental learning and simulation company: Experiential Simulations www.experientialsimulations.com. In demand as a speaker and media commentator, Ulmanis trains, consults, and mentors business leaders in entrepreneurship. The Vice-Chairman of the European Scout Foundation, he’s a champion of the organization’s ability to create creative leaders and embraces every risk-taking opportunity to reap the rich rewards of success.
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Five ways to monetize your potential online By Loulou Khazen Baz
ith the increasingly active online marketplace at work for entrepreneurs across the Middle East, it’s important to play up your key strengths and added-value. You can significantly market your skills online, but you need to make sure that you’re doing things right. The basics just aren’t enough to make the best impression anymore, and I’ve got some tips for you that will help you stand out… and yes, even make more of that well-deserved income! 1 FIND YOUR SENTENCE
The story goes that Clare Booth Luce, a former American journalist and one of the first women to serve in America’s Congress, visited President John F. Kennedy and told him she had concerns he was trying to do too much. In the end, she told him, “A great man is a sentence.” She meant that the story of a successful person should be summed up into one sentence. If you can focus on what you can bring to the world and convey this message concisely in a sentence, others will be able to buy into your slogan too. The money will soon follow.
2 YOU ARE YOUR OWN BRAND
Market yourself as though you are marketing a unique, wildly successful company, because you are: Brand you! If you’re not telling your story (or at least directing it), someone else may… or may not. In today’s world, where everyone is just a Google click away -good or bad- you cannot afford not to get the story out there that provides the narrative, imagery, and branding that makes you special. This is especially true if you’re looking to make money either by setting up your own business, searching for a new job or looking to establish your freelance presence. 3 SOLVE A PROBLEM, DON’T JUST SELL YOURSELF
Ultimately, real success is about making your mark on this world by doing something you are passionate about and hopefully helping people in the process. Focus on solving a problem, whether you’re solving an entrepreneur’s need for marketing or social media, solving world hunger (okay, maybe that’s a stretch), helping combat unemployment, creating beauty in
the world around you, or doing web development for a startup. Whatever you bring to the table should solve a problem. When it does, there are almost no limits to monetizing on your potential!
4 THROW AWAY YOUR RESUME AND GET VISUAL
The average recruiter spends six seconds looking at a candidate’s resume before they decide the person’s fit for a job, while over 1.1 billion people spend at least 17 minutes on Facebook every day. That should tell us something: The power of connecting and the power of images matters today perhaps more than ever before. You don’t have much time to make a great first impression with a CV, but a visual portfolio
ONE PR VETERAN WOULD HAVE IT SO By Amal Chaaban
Loulou Khazen Baz is a proud entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Nabbesh.com, the Middle East’s first online marketplace which specializes in connecting businesses with freelancers online. Baz started Nabbesh to help combat the Middle East’s unemployment crisis, and Nabbesh successfully helped freelancers in the Middle East land over 3000 freelance jobs in its very first year. Nabbesh allows people to monetize their potential by showcasing their skills and visual portfolios online, connecting them with freelance job opportunities, facilitating secure online payments, and receiving merit-based ratings. To date, Nabbesh has nearly 40,000 members and boasts job postings in over 100 cities throughout MENA.
with images, pictures, and samples of your work is much more attractive and inviting for today’s viewers. Put your best face forward, whether that means hiring a freelance photographer to take professional pictures or hiring a graphic designer to make your brand, logo, or presentations standout. Let your visual profile, website and samples of your work, presentations, and material speak for you.
YOU CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO GET THE STORY OUT THERE THAT PROVIDES THE NARRATIVE, IMAGERY, AND BRANDING THAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL.
As a 20-year PR veteran, UAE-based Georgios Kotsolios is well-placed to put his spin on where he feels the future of marketing is headed, and by putting out this short but intense read, he’s sharing it with others in the market. In Back to the Future of Marketing: PRovolve or Perish, Kotsolios envisions a future where PR people are all but extinct and “Pranding” -a fusion of PR and branding- is king of reaching consumers. The future he envisions includes products that speak to consumers and highly digitized press conferences where no one is actually in physical attendance, but everyone is definitely switched-on. Some of these things (such as interviews and conferences via Skype) already happen, but one comes to the understanding that Kotsolios deems this as the new normal. A caveat to potential readers: This book is written more for the PR professional than the layperson, and those outside the relevant industries might find it difficult to follow.
5 FOCUS ON YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS AND THE MONEY WILL FOLLOW
Only you can determine what success means for you. I’ve met plenty of people with great jobs that make a lot of money, but aren’t happy. I’ve also seen successful corporate professionals leave their wellpaying jobs to follow their passions (making a bit less money), but go on to make better and happier lives. Some even make much more money following their passions, but had to stop and take that initial risk first. For each person, success will not look the same, so ultimately to monetize your potential, you should focus on your potential, and from there you can monetize the best life for you! june 2014
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A series of unfortunate events Lead by example or you risk the loyalty (and productivity) of your staff By Youmna Chagoury
he world of bosses is divided into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The “good”? True leaders that will push and motivate you. The “bad” are those that transform their inferiority complex into an intolerably dominant attitude, and the “ugly” are the meh ones- the bosses that are just there, and as a staff we could all do without them. If you’re an employee, you might recognize your upper management here, meaning that it might be about time to pack it in and look for greener pastures. As a business-owner, if you recognize yourself here, make the change in behavior because it’s costing you the loyalty of your employees, and ultimately dollars in staff retention and productivity. BOSS BEWARE NUMBER one
GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
One of my employers was so unfair she used to drive me crazy. She was the credit-stealing type when it came to successful ventures. When a presentation was well-received, she’d stick her name on it. When a project was well-executed, she would throw herself in the spotlight. She’s giving a speech? She’d never mention her team, not once, even the underdogs who worked 19 hours a day for two weeks for the success of the company they believed in. It was all about her, her, and only her. You cannot ignore the human capital of your company and think taking credit for every single project will make you look important. It will make you look cheap 60
and petty, and if your own employees don’t respect you, it is highly unlikely that anyone else will. BOSS BEWARE NUMBER Two
DO AS YOU WANT YOUR STAFF TO DO
My former employer used to want everything without lifting a finger. He wanted us on social media but barely made use of his own Twitter account. He wanted us always on time to the office and to events, but would always be at least half an hour late, making us look irresponsible and all around disrespectful to the entity staging the event. He wanted us to put in more working hours but come five o’clock, he’d already be calling his friends for after-work cocktails. He wanted us to
always look presentable but would show up to formal events in his shorts and worn sneakers. You cannot lead a team without leading by example. Commit to what you’re asking your staff for and naturally, everyone will follow. BOSS BEWARE NUMBER THREE
LEAVE YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AT THE DOOR
I wish my former employer would bring his work home. Instead, he’d do just the opposite. Everyone in the office –no matter how junior the staff member- knew about his family/friends/dog/financial issues and he’d encourage us to stop working for a few
minutes (hours) to discuss his problems with him. It was a constant distraction; his never-ending whining and entitlement issues, and poorme scenarios. Afterwards, he’d of course reprimand us for not finishing on time. Your personal problems are not part and parcel of your staff’s job description. You cannot expect them to respect and trust you if all you do is babble about how your son is not potty-trained yet, and how your wife is depressed. Keep your dirty laundry where it belongs… at home.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO
I VERSUS WE
SATYA NADELLA EMAIL © MICROSOFT.COM
#LikeABaws Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO
“Let’s build on this foundation together.” That’s how Satya Nadella ended his email to all of Microsoft’s employees on his first day as the new CEO of the company. His first words? “Today is a very humbling day for me.” You see, Satya Nadella understands the foundation of a successful company, not just by numbers, but also by how eager staff are to go to work. He places Microsoft as a priority, but never at the expense of his employees’ wellbeing. He uses “us” and “we” more than the singular pronoun; he tells them that each and every one of them is important. He positions himself as their leader without hiding his humanity, giving just enough personal information so that they can relate to him. Because at the end of the day, he’s Microsoft’s CEO… and he’s also one of them.
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Public Relations expertise for your business
The master narrator CEO Sunil John exclusively for Entrepreneur
In our commitment to continue to bring you the best industry-insider information, we asked opinion leader Sunil John, CEO of ASDA’A BursonMarsteller, to share his top five PR pointers for entrepreneurs. Mr. John is the first person in the Middle East to be honored as a SABRE award-winner. He recently attended the award ceremony staged by The Holmes Group in London, England, officially putting the UAE on the map of global PR hubs.
JOHN SUNIL SOUNDS OFF
ublic Relations can be a powerful and effective marketing tool for your business, but it’s more than just sending out a press release. It is about crafting your story, creating the right master narrative, and being able to effectively share that story across multi-channels. 1. UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL OF PUBLIC RELATIONS TO MANAGE PERCEPTIONS
Bill Gates once famously said: “If I had one dollar left, I’d spend it on PR”. While it’s unlikely that Bill Gates will ever be down to his last dollar, it speaks volumes that someone as successful as him would choose to spend whatever
money he had left on PR. PR isn’t just about sending a press release to a journalist. Though the media plays a critical role in the industry, is it just as important to recognize its ability to manage perceptions. At its best, it is a powerful tool that enables you to reach out to each one of your stakeholders to tell your story.
Panel at the Wharton Alumni Global Forum in Milan
The Wharton School MBA program offers a great case study that demonstrates how successful PR can be in managing perception. Keen to gain a much coveted position in Business Week’s top five MBA programs, the school established a committee in the late 1980s to recommend changes to its curriculum. After a great deal of research, the committee discovered four areas that were not only important to stakeholders, but where other MBA programs were falling behind in teaching: globalization, leadership, cross functional integration, and leveraging technology. The launch of Wharton’s new innovative curriculum was covered by every major business title in the U.S. and 18 months later, it was rated number one in Business Week. Behind the scenes, however, several elements of the new curriculum were unsuccessful and the school was forced to amend the program.
Despite this, Wharton retained its ranking until the early 1990s. How did it do this? It had successfully changed the perception of the school for the better. 2. CREATE YOUR MASTER NARRATIVE
No one will be better at telling your story than you. In our overly messaged society, is it important to ensure that your master narrative is carefully crafted to not only appeal to all stakeholders but is also memorable, to the point and interesting. A successful master narrative should answer a few fundamental questions: What is your back story? What challenges do you face? What are the stakes? What is the pay off? And finally, what is the future promise? Adding the human element to the story will help set your sto-
PR ISN’T JUST ABOUT SENDING A PRESS RELEASE TO A JOURNALIST. THOUGH THE MEDIA PLAYS A CRITICAL ROLE IN THE INDUSTRY, IS IT JUST AS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNIZE ITS ABILITY TO MANAGE PERCEPTIONS.
ry apart from your competitors. Don’t be afraid to talk about your failures and the lessons you have learned. The most successful entrepreneurs have made mistakes and learnt from them– that is what makes you different. 3. FOCUS ON OWNED MEDIA
One of the biggest challenges in today’s digital world is deciding where to tell your story. The four distinct areas of media: traditional (print and broadcast), hybrid (the online versions of traditional media and media that is born digital), social (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and owned (a company website and apps). While each of these areas is vitally important, if there is one area I would recommend entrepreneurs to focus on, it is in owned media. In today’s digital world, your website is the first port of call for all stakeholders when they search for you or your company online. Owned media will help you build long-term relationships with existing and potential customers and is an effective and cost efficient way of speaking to your target audience. IN TODAY’S DIGITAL WORLD, YOUR WEBSITE IS THE FIRST PORT OF CALL FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS WHEN THEY SEARCH FOR YOU OR YOUR COMPANY ONLINE.
4. USE SOCIAL MEDIA– BUT USE IT WISELY
Social media offers a great platform for entrepreneurs and business leaders to get their message into the public domain and engage with their target audience. Successful users of social media always ensure their posts are relevant to their audience so rather than simply posting a press release to your social network, take the time to tailor your message for each of your audiences. Secondly, make sure what you are posting is newsworthy. No one is really interested in whether or not you made it to the gym today. Instead try offering your take on the news or make direct contact with a journalist you think might be interested in your story. Lastly, and most importantly, think before you type. 5. BE PREPARED FOR A CRISIS “Trust is something that you earn in drops but lose by the bucket load” – anon
It doesn’t matter how successful your business is, it is vitally important that you create a culture of preparedness before a crisis hits. Set aside time to prepare for a crisis– don’t wait until it hits. Develop an effective crisis communications plan for action that includes crisis training that is based on research. Use scenario-plays, ongo-
ing issue management and training to create well-constructed processes and communication strategies for dealing with critical themes and crises. In other words, prepare for all possible eventualities before they happen. Sunil John has been at the heart of the public relations business in the Middle East for two decades. During this time he has shaped ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller (www.asdaabm.com) to be the benchmark of public relations consultancy in the Arab world, advising regional governments, international brands and global & local companies. The consultancy has over a 150 professionals working in 11 whollyowned offices across the Middle East & North Africa region. Additionally the company has 10 affiliates covering a total of 19 countries in the region. Since 2008, Sunil has been driving the annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, and in April 2014 launched its sixth edition. The survey is one of the most quoted independent public opinion research papers by media across the world. Sunil is the first PR professional in the Middle East to receive the Outstanding Individual Achievement SABRE Award 2014 from The Holmes Report.
CEO Sunil John at the SABRE Awards 2014
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GOING FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH THREE EXECUTIVE RETENTION METHODS BACKED BY THE STATS By Suhail Al-Masri
etaining happy and motivated executives is vital to an organization’s success. High employee turnover increases expenses and has a negative impact on employee morale. Implementing an employee retention strategy is an effective way of making sure key employees remain employed while maintaining job performance
and productivity. The bad news is that today’s employees are harder to retain. In fact, 60.2% of those who took part in the Bayt.com Employee Retention in the MENA Workplace poll (February 2013) said that, compared to previous generations, employee retention now is lower. Similarly, 76% of respondents stated that employee turnover in their company is ‘high’; with 44.7% saying that it is ‘very high’. But there’s good news too, especially when it comes to senior talent. The Bayt.com Hiring Management in the MENA poll (August 2012) showed that senior executives and management in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are easier to retain than junior employees. This could be because 45% of professionals in those roles see it harder to change jobs as you rise up the career ranks. The aforementioned figures should worry any business owner looking to motivate and retain his top talent. As an employer, a resignation is a hard pill to swallow, especially when it comes from your best employees. So how can compa-
nies retain the best and most talented professionals? A good work-life balance is repeatedly identified as the top motivating factor for professionals in the MENA. Achieving a good work-life balance for your employees could be as simple as altering your work arrangements by including flexible hours, part-time and telecommuting, as well as sabbaticals for long-serving personnel and extended leave periods for new parents. 22.7% of respondents in the Bayt.com
Work-Life Balance in the MENA Region poll (September 2012), said a flexitime arrangement with same total hours would be most appealing to them at work, while 10.4% opted for a work-from-home arrangement. Another way to retain top talent would be to pay top
A GOOD WORK-LIFE BALANCE IS REPEATEDLY IDENTIFIED AS THE TOP MOTIVATING FACTOR FOR PROFESSIONALS IN THE MENA.
salaries. 26.6% of professionals in the MENA region see a competitive salary and benefits package as the most important factor for employee retention. If you have star employees that you don’t want to lose, then you should start thinking of a better compensation strategy. You could give your best employees ‘golden handcuffs’ by paying above market rates and providing incentives for them to be the highest paid employees in their field. It goes without saying, but we’ll repeat it anyway: Good communication is absolutely vital for smooth sailing in a business. While a third of professionals in the Middle East say that they do not feel communication channels in their company are open, one way for you to create open communication between employees and management would be by holding regular meetings with employees and adopting an open door policy that encourages them to speak frankly without fear of repercussion. There’s no communication better than face-to-face communication. The importance of giving regular and constructive feedback to encourage, motivate and guide, cannot be overem-
phasized. Adopt a comprehensive firm-wide performance appraisal system for formal appraisals and complement that with regular informal face-toface meetings. The purpose of these meetings should not be to criticize, but to guide, assist, mentor, and coach employees to better performance levels. Regular positive feedback for key accomplishments and contributions is a key criterion for raising employee morale. Finally, companies should know that employees tend to put more effort into their jobs when they feel valuable to their company. If you invest in your employees and cater to their professional needs, they’re most likely to invest right back in their jobs. According to the Bayt.com Employer Branding in the MENA poll (February
2014), seven in 10 professionals in the Middle East want to work for a company that offers career growth prospects, encourages new ideas, and provides training opportunities. In conclusion, far from being a luxury, retaining talent is an essential commodity in today’s corporation and a measure of organizational welfare that cannot be ignored. Companies that are attuned to this important measure of corporate wellbeing are able to benefit not only from increased productivity, but also from reduced turnover, and higher staff loyalty and commitment.
Suhail Al-Masri is the VP of Sales at Bayt.com. Al-Masri has more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership, consultative sales, account management, marketing management, and operations management. His mission at Bayt.com goes in line with the company’s mission to empower people with the tools and knowledge to build their lifestyles of choice.
REGULAR POSITIVE FEEDBACK FOR KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS IS A KEY CRITERION FOR RAISING EMPLOYEE MORALE.
LOYALTY IS... EVERYTHING PARIS GALLERY’S CUSTOMER RETENTION STRATEGY EXPANDS TO LOYALTY PROGRAMS
f you’re going to splurge at your favorite boutique, you might as well get rewarded. It’s a good business plan too- a study from COLLOQUY stated that the value of loyalty program memberships was as high as a gross of 2.65 billion dollars in the U.S., and according to Lynn Thorn’s Word-of-Mouth Advertising, On and Off, just a one percent rise of loyalty is equivalent to a 10% cost reduction, leading to a five percent
rise in customer retention which can increase profits anywhere from 25-100%. In short, loyalty cards mean more devoted customers leading to more profit. A strategic move that Paris Gallery has recently taken as CEO of the Paris Gallery Group of Companies, Mohammed Abdul Rahim Al Fahim, declared the launch of the Luxury Club, a loyalty program for customers of Paris Gallery and Watch Gallery to shop until they drop– and get rewarded with an advantageous slew of points. Although there are surveys that indicate polygamous loyalty occurs –meaning people are loyal to different brands of the same market- the same challenge most likely won’t be faced by Paris Gallery since they present over 500 international brands, giving luxury clientele more than enough to choose from. Polyamory, in this industry anyway, is encouraged… and it’ll lead to more fruitful relationships. june 2014
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OMAR SOUDODI’S PAYFORT
STRONGER E-COMMERCE IN MENA MEANS BETTER BUSINESS FOR ALL By Kareem Chehayeb
aying is a challenge in the Arab world, and we felt that as merchants,” said Omar Soudodi, explaining the inspiration to start PayFort, after experiences in previous e-commerce jobs with Accelerabia and Souq. Soudodi, Managing Director of PayFort, isn’t new to entrepreneurship; he’s been one ever since he was a kid, running a candy stand at his parents’ restaurant. After earning a degree in finance from California State University in Fullerton, and gaining work experience at several financial institutions including Bank of America as Assistant Vice President at 24 years-old, Soudodi relocated to the UAE. The type of service that PayFort provides is not common in the Middle East, where most people associate e-
commerce services to PayPal. Soudodi contrasts PayFort and PayPal: “PayFort is a payment service provider; we enter a contractual agreement with the merchant, and offer the technology and processing in order for the merchant to enable different payment methods,” mentioning VISA, MasterCard, PAYatSTORE, and PAYatHOME. Unlike PayFort, both consumers and merchants alike can set up a PayPal digital wallet and use it to transact payments where possible. Compared to Souq and Accelarabia, setting up PayFort was a different experience, notably because it was much easier financially- and they haven’t got any angel investors. “E-commerce is very capital-intensive,” explains Soudodi, “you have to spend a lot of money on online marketing, user acquisition,
you have to buy products, you have to buy warehouses.” PayFort is different because they aren’t selling something to a consumer, but they’re “taking a percentage of a transaction.” As a result, he opted to have a big team with PayFort in order to achieve profitability in the shortest amount of time possible, making it a much more labor-intensive project. When asked about ROI, Soudodi says that he doesn’t disclose that information due to PayFort being private, but he does mention that “current transaction values are around US$35 million a month.” PayFort is growing 10-20% month-over-month, with exception of some holiday seasons where many consumers are abroad, so I guess you can safely assume that their ROI is looking good. There’s one e-commerce stone left unturned: Cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is still a hot debate topic, and unlike others I’ve interviewed, Soudodi isn’t hostile about the online currency. In fact, he sees it growing and evolving over time into something that can be prominent and successful. “I think that if you look at the financial instrument that is dominant online, which is credit cards– they were not designed for online, they were designed for offline,” adding that Bitcoin’s unregulated nature is what continues to spark uproar from authorities and institutions. “Bitcoin is a baby that’s been born that needs to learn how to crawl, walk,” adding sooner or later he thinks it will “gain traction.” No two (or in PayFort’s case, three) market climates are alike, and the challenges PayFort face operating in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE respectively are varied. Soudodi
ACCORDING TO PAYFORT’S WEBSITE, ITS SERVICES WILL BENEFIT BUSINESSES OF ANY TYPE AND ANY SCALE, FROM STARTUPS AND SMES TO LARGER BUSINESSES, AND EVEN GOVERNMENTS.
elaborates on the differing situations: “Purchasing power is higher in UAE and Saudi Arabia than Egypt, but Egypt has more transactions,” explaining that Egypt has 39 million people online, a number significantly higher than Saudi Arabia and UAE. That being said, only 9% of Egypt’s online subscribed population has the ability and comfort to transact online, as opposed to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are at 30% and 70% respectively. Also, an issue that PayFort faced in Egypt and Saudi Arabia was not alienating smaller merchants. Popular payment service providers like Fawry in Egypt and SADAD in Saudi Arabia are necessary for the immediate efficacy of PayFort’s services, a supporting example is Fawry having “over one million transactions a day.” Unfortunately, for small merchants “they cannot go in to create a Fawry [account] because they’re too small. Fawry
would require a big merchant to integrate for them, so we solve that problem for all the merchants with PAYatStore.” Soudodi told us that PayFort faced a similar challenge in Saudi Arabia with SADAD. PayFort’s payment services are numerous, but the two that stand out are PAYatHOME and PAYatSTORE. “PAYatHOME and PAYatSTORE are designed for services,” like concert and airline tickets. Accessing either service is similar to paying with your credit card or PayPal account; expect a button that says “PayAt” on the e-merchant’s checkout page. The two services aren’t available in all of PayFort’s markets just yet, but are being tested in particular ones. The goal? Integration. Soudodi sees the two services as having the “same mechanism” but “different channels.” What’s the difference between PAYatStore and PAYatHOME? With
PAYatHOME, they “dispatch a courier –bullet service– to collect the payment in less than five hours.” That doesn’t apply to all merchants, but most of the merchants that cater to these services such as airlines prefer to have their payment completed as early as possible. At the moment, PAYatHOME is available in the UAE, where credit card ownership (and use) is relatively high in the region. PAYatSTORE on the other hand is a little different- it’s exclusive to Egypt for the time being, and is done alongside Fawry. Fawry is an online payment service that many Egyptians have utilized to pay their bills, and it has also been made available in retail stores. Consumers receive a voucher via email or SMS and “you walk into the Fawry store and give them the voucher’s number, and they put it in the [online] system– gives them the name, number, amount,” explains Soudodi,
“the merchant is notified immediately that you’ve made your payment.” PayFort opted to test PAYatSTORE in Egypt after doing some intensive research and “found that with offline transactions, 20% of retailers is credit card acceptance, 80% is cash.” Speaking of low credit card ownership and usage, what about Cash On Delivery (COD)? The inefficient method that has been prominent in the Middle East is still popular, but does PayFort have an alternative that can replace it? Soudodi admits that “it’s actually one of our biggest flops that we’re trying to solve.” According to PayFort’s website, its services will benefit businesses of any type and any scale, from startups and SMEs to larger businesses, and even governments. “I think when you build a company, you should build it from the bottom-up,” stressing the importance of working with startups, and discussing PayFort’s extensive knowledge of the startup community in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The biggest business interest in PayFort has come from startups, and Soudodi confirms that they do what they can to make sure their services go live, regardless of risk factor. It makes sense that the entrepreneur is very well-versed with the startup scene, as he’s involved with Injaz and Flat6Labs. Injaz is a nonprofit organization june 2014
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that empowers and educates young entrepreneurs, and Flat6Labs is a self-defined “startup accelerator program” in the region. “Every time I visit Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or Saudi Arabia, and you meet young entrepreneurs, it’s amazing [to see] the type of ambition they have,” says Soudodi, enumerating the benefits as a more seasoned entrepreneur in keeping up-to-date with the startup scene. One really good reason? The potential business relationships that can exist between young ‘treps (and their businesses) with Soudodi or with PayFort. Which GCC country affords the best opportunities for up-and-coming ‘treps in his opinion? “Saudi Arabia, mark my words, they have a generation of entrepreneurs that is definitely going to sweep this region,” citing KSA’s access to capital, high GDP growth, relatively large population, and issues that potential ‘treps can tackle by innovation in products and services. His advice to those wanting to venture into entrepreneurship? “There are a lot of problems in the Arab world,
but it’s the best time to be an entrepreneur. All these issues, you can really address them with technology,” mentioning successful startups that provide products or services targeting various issues that a particular country might face. That said, he in-
sists on staying levelheaded“Don’t fall in love with the idea because you have an idea, fall in love with the idea when other people fall in love with it.” What are PayFort’s future plans? For the rest of the year, “the goal is to go live in new markets in the region,
and eliminate some of the barriers for startups.” MENA’s e-commerce sphere just keeps getting more interesting, perhaps it’s all the paying-it-forward that the tech community has done. It looks like things are finally paying off.
| SHINY |
“Look ma, no hands!” Canon LEGRIA mini X
By Tamara Clarke
Canon Middle East’s LEGRIA mini X is looking to change the way people will capture video. You’re no longer restricted to being behind the camera or in front of it, and it eliminates the need for a tripod which can be bulky and restrictive. The LEGRIA mini X is compact and light enough to take anywhere for spontaneous shooting, and has features that make it easy to capture footage from a range of angles. Specs? An f/2.8 170° ultra-wide angle lens, built-in stand and vari-angle 6.8cm (2.7”) LCD touchscreen. Thanks to its Linear PCM recording functionality, the LEGRIA mini X also delivers uncompressed, high-density audio and ensures sound sources are captured clearly. What’s missing? There’s no built-in storage so you’ll need a mini SD card to store your work, but the flexibility to record completely hands-free allowing you to participate in your own work makes up for it. Freedom! 68
start it up
Wacky idea | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE
sponsored by dubai chamber in the spirit of facilitating emirati achievement via entrepreneurship
The very taste of victory
Emirati ‘treps draw on culture to generate capital AL RAMSA INSTITUTE CO-FOUNDERS HANAN AL FARDAN & ABDULLAH AL KAABI
ne of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice by successful entrepreneurs? Find a whole in the market and cater to that need, and that’s exactly what Hanan Al Fardan and Abdullah Al Kaabi did with their startup Al Ramsa Institute. Al Ramsa is
an educational association that teaches colloquial spoken Emirati, and immerses students in Emirati culture. Students of Al Ramsa have authentic, home-cooked Emirati meals with Gulf families, along with relevant cultural workshops like Yollah dance. The language courses are taught by native Emirati speakers using materials developed for this purpose specifically. Graduates of Tejar Dubai’s program for budding Emirati entrepreneurs, the duo met after Al Fardan began her journey to launch Al Ramsa, and they found common ground in that they shared a passion to help others while giving back to their country. “I was teaching Emirati dialect for three years and my students always urged me to set
up an institute. After two years, I met my mentor Ammar Shams, who advised me to follow my dreams and set up an institute,” explains Al Fardan. How does Emiratization play a role in this startup? “There are almost none or very few Emiratis teaching Arabic for nonArabic speakers in language centers. We wanted to Emiratize this sector especially when many people would like to learn Arabic -and specifically the Emirati dialect- from native speakers. We offer jobs to anyone who is interested to teach Emirati dialect from two hours per week up to 20 hours. It’s flexible and the institute timing suits Emirati employees, students, and mothers.” One of the biggest challenges they faced? “The time commitment in the first year.”
‘TREP TALK Q+A What was the hardest part of your execution of Al Ramsa Institute?
How did you feel when Al Ramsa Institute finally took off?
We think the hardest part is time and effort required at beginning. Usually, entrepreneurs are pioneers in the things that they do, and most of the time they have no idea what’s next. There is a lot of ambiguity in the entrepreneurship journey, and they need to tolerate it. Most of the time, we work more than 16 hours per day and we spend our weekend working as well. No holidays in entrepreneurship!
We were happy to receive our first revenues in the last two months. We had a lot of press coverage about Al Ramsa Institute on Sharjah TV, Dubai TV and local Arabic and English newspapers. Our families are feeling proud of us. The taste of victory is very, very nice! We thought we needed about a million AED to start Al Ramsa, but with Tejar Dubai we got guidance to start with a minimum investment so that we didn’t put ourselves at high risk. We are testing our business model, and we’ll see what happens next.
How do you stay motivated?
As entrepreneurs we face many challenges but the belief of our idea keeps motived. If we believe in victory, then victory will believe in us. The good feedback from our customers keeps us motivated as well. We feel very happy when we see our students speaking Emirati and telling us about their experiences learning Arabic; our mission is to facilitate the communication and interaction between learners with the Emirati community.
family is another challenge. There is always a fear: What would happen if I lost the business? And what people would say? Hamdellah we are in a country that supports entrepreneurship and business, however there are still many things to be done in terms of laws and guidelines on how to start a business from an early age. We hope to see more entrepreneurship education at schools and at the university level with more practical skills, rather than just theories. What process did you go through with Tejar Dubai?
We heard about Tejar Dubai from the newspaper- we were attracted to the name
which means Dubai merchants or Dubai businesspeople in Arabic. We liked the speed of the process and follow up. We had a couple of meetings, and they gave me guidance on how to turn the idea into reality. Because we had limited knowledge in entrepreneurship and establishing a startup, we received good guidance and consultation in how to find a business model for our idea. We advise any Emirati who has an idea to go through Tejar Dubai, and they will help you shape the concept and turn it into a business model. To the entrepreneurs: Don’t worry about the cost and time-needed, all you need is a commitment from your end to this idea, and you will achieve your goal!
What do you think IS the biggest challenge facing Emirati entrepreneurs? What can be done to encourage more youth to enter entrepreneurship?
For a female Emirati, it is the social challenges. For a girl to be outside the home for long hours, it could cause many problems for her. The time management between our jobs, company, and
Tejar Dubai is a development program committed to nurturing potential UAE nationals into becoming entrepreneurs. Launched last year under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the program identifies, develops, and mentors promising UAE nationals to expedite the growth of an embryonic business idea and advance it to the point of being ready for immediate implementation. www.tejardubai.ae @TejarDubai TejarDubai
ask the money guy | vc viewpoint | startup financE | your money
RAISING CAPITAL? ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TO SCORE AN INVESTOR’S CHEQUE By Peter S. Cohan
etween listening to students pitch their startup ideas and reviewing business plans from more established companies, I encounter many attempts to separate me from my cash. I’m in the midst of weighing one such pitch from a business software company (I’ll call it BSC) whose owners have already won some customers, and who are hoping it will grow much larger. The types of things I’m asking and trying to figure out are akin to the type of questions that have gone through my mind many times before in reviewing a pitch for money. In an effort to save time for the entrepreneurs and capital providers who are reading this, here are five questions that should be answered about a startup’s business model before anyone makes a pitch for investors. TO RAISE CAPITAL, START WITH A STORY OF HOW A CUSTOMER IS SUFFERING AND WHY YOUR PRODUCT WILL RELIEVE THAT SUFFERING BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
1. WHAT IS THE CUSTOMER’S PAIN?
BSC was founded by a set of technical geniuses who have demonstrated their ability to get ahead of others in the industry. BSC’s product improves on the state of the art, but its business plan does not make it clear whether that improvement removes the pain for any person of particular note. To raise capital, start with a story of how a customer is suffering and why your product will relieve that suffering better than anything else. So be sure to start your pitch with a story from a real person who is grateful that your product made her pain go away- unlike any other product on the market. 2. IS THE CUSTOMER WILLING TO PAY MORE?
BSC’s business plan does not clarify how much it charges the typical customer or whether that price is higher or lower than the going rate for existing products of competitors. To raise capital, be clear whether you’re offering customers a much lower price for a solution similar to others on the market or a higher price than what competitors charge. If you’re charging a higher price, potential investors need to know how your product’s
features translate into measurable economic benefits -such as lower costs or higher revenue- to justify that higher price. If you’re charging a lower price than the competition, be clear why you can make a profit at that price and how quickly you think your company will grow as a result of the better deal you’re providing customers. 3. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CLOSE A SALE?
To estimate a startup’s future revenue and sales costs, an investor needs to know how much time will elapse between when the company gets a sales lead, and when this results in a customer paying for a product. BSC developed a map of its sales pipeline but it was missing some key details. To answer this question, figure out where the best leads come from and who within a potential client’s organization is involved in deciding whether to purchase your product. From there, interview each person and find out their roles in the process and the factors that influence their decision. With that map of the sales process, estimate how much time it takes to close the typical sale and figure out if you have the right strategy.
4. HOW WILL YOUR COMPANY GROW?
These days it takes US$100 million in revenue for a company to sell its shares to the public. Needless to say, some companies have been acquired for significant amounts with very little if any revenue. But if you are trying to raise money, make it clear that your company is going to get big in the next several years and explain how that will happen with convincing detail. BSC portrayed significant growth- but not at big enough a scale to go public and not with sufficient detail to be persuasive. One way to do this is to target a huge market -bigger than $5 billion- and show how other successful startups that have targeted similar markets have scaled significantly. My favorite thing to see is 50 to 100 interviews with potential customers that convince me that you know how customers buy, why they will buy from your company, and how those customer counts will grow over time.
IF YOU ARE TRYING TO RAISE MONEY, MAKE IT CLEAR THAT YOUR COMPANY IS GOING TO GET BIG IN THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS AND EXPLAIN HOW THAT WILL HAPPEN WITH CONVINCING DETAIL.
5. HOW WILL INVESTORS PROFIT?
Investing in startups is complicated. If a company is successful, it will attract big money as it approaches within a year or two when it will be of such size that it can go public or be acquired. But that very success means that people who bet on your company before this happens will suffer because their share of your company will be diluted by later investors. BSC estimated that early investors would end up with much more money if it achieved its modest sales targets, but it did not explain how much a better-than-expected revenue outcome might dilute the shares of those original investors. To be fair, the odds of success for a startup investor are very long and there are plenty of things that can go wrong. But when you are seeking a cheque from an investor, present a model -stating clearly a set of realistic assumptions from credible sources- giving an estimate of how much money an investor will make under optimistic, pessimistic and middle-of-the-road scenarios. Though I still need to be convinced that you are a great startup CEO, providing well thought-out answers to these questions will increase your odds of raising capital. See this article in its entirety at Entrepreneur.com
Peter Cohan is president of Peter S. Cohan & Associates, a management consulting and venture capital firm. He is the author of Hungry Start-up Strategy: Creating New Ventures with Limited Resources and Unlimited Vision and an instructor of business strategy and entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
NEXT STOP: MENA
SOUTH AFRICA’S GALITO’S EXPANDS South African F&B franchise, Galito’s has already expanded quite a bit since its inception in 1996 with branches across Africa as well as Canada, and now they’re heading over to our end of the world. Galito’s recently signed a franchise deal with Tablez Food Company (TFC), the F&B wing of LuLu Group International. In addition to the Middle East, TFC will also handle Galito’s upcoming branches in India and Sri Lanka. The franchise’s first stop in MENA is the UAE; they’re hoping to open 15 outlets in the UAE over the next four years, investing over AED55 million. june 2014
in the loop
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY W
STAYING CONNECTED NATIONAL BROADBAND PLANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST By Kareem Chehayeb
hat was once considered a luxury is now a right- it’s also a critical component of government policy for social and economic development. The World Bank has been covering the region’s progress on broadband strategies and market development: National broadband plans in the Middle East have been announced, many already past their primary stages. While countries with less capital (namely Lebanon and Egypt) have already made efforts to strengthen their markets, the UAE still hasn’t released a broadband plan, with the report stating that it’s still in its planning stages. The UAE should probably hurry up since regional competitors Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the overlooked island-state of Bahrain are already implementing their broadband plans.
EGYPT IT’S ALL ABOUT EMISR
When it comes to any form of economic growth, Egypt tends to face the challenge of dealing with a massive population (>86 million). Despite having relatively limited capital, Egypt’s National Broadband Plan appears to be well-organized and ambitious. The eMisr National Broadband Plan was designed by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology’s regulatory branch, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA). The two-phased plan was first announced in November 2011. Phase 1 announced the objectives of eMisr and was preparation period for Phase 2 less than year later in July 2012, where plans were put into action. Egypt has set goals for 2015 and 2021 for their broadband plan, with specific objectives for households and government agencies. When it comes to consumers, they’re hoping that by 2015, 75% of Egyptian households have fixed internet services at 2 megabits per second (Mbps), 4.5 million households (22% of the population) subscribe to high speed internet, in addition to 8 million mobile internet subscribers. By 2021, their aim is to have 90% of households with fixed internet services at 25 Mbps, 9 million households subscribed to high speed internet, and 14 million individuals subscribed to mobile internet. eMisr has a different set of objectives for government agencies. By 2015, they’re hoping to see 50% of all government agencies connected to the internet at 25 Mbps, as well as having at least one public access point at 25 Mpbs for 50% of the localities. In 2021, they’re upping the ante, aiming for all government agencies to have internet access at 25 Mbps, with one public access point for all major localities. Ambitious? Perhaps, given the current circumstances.
DESPITE HAVING RELATIVELY LIMITED CAPITAL, EGYPT’S NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN APPEARS TO BE WELLORGANIZED AND AMBITIOUS.
LEBANON L IS FOR LIBERALIZATION… AND FOR LAG
Lebanon is infamous for not having the most organized and efficient institutions for various services, but they do actually have a national broadband plan in the works. Handled by the Ministry of Telecom’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), they don’t try to sugarcoat Lebanon’s current situation, which is clearly subpar. At the moment, the market offers average citizens less than 1 Mbps, which the TRA says is much lower than what is currently trending globally. In August 2008, the TRA drafted the National Broadband Policy for the Ministry of Telecom with a very economically liberal approach. The plan was to auction off two of Lebanon’s three national broadband licenses with the idea that market competition will inevitably improve services. The TRA believes that cheaper internet should be offered with bandwidth services up to 100 Mbps for individuals and businesses, with businesses having the option to increase to 1 Gbps. An effective broadband policy is mostly driven by economic growth. Expensive internet in Lebanon is a massive cost on big businesses’ balance sheets, and can severely impact the well-being of small enterprise. On a consumer level, the current bandwidth and speed caps by providers mean that the more people that are online, the slower the internet will be. (It’s probably best to surf the internet in Beirut at 3:30 a.m. when everyone else is asleep.) In late May, Minister of Telecom Boutros Harb announced a broadband plan that looks quite promising. It’s Lebanon’s first unlimited broadband plan that has reduced internet costs after a revision process. According to the plan, the entry level internet service plan will be at 2 Mbps with a 40 gigabyte data cap, previous at 1 Mbps with a 4 gigabyte data cap. Many data consumption caps have increased (some have doubled), with parallel cost-reductions.
BAHRAIN BIG PLANS FOR BROADBAND
The tiny Gulf island state has big plans. Their national broadband policy plan came to be in 2012, known as the National Broadband Network. The project is handled by the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (TRA), a regulatory body, with the key goal positioned as social and economic development. Bahrain realized that a better broadband policy means better access to government services online as well. Bahrain wants what they call ultrafast broadband (UFBB) at an affordable rate, and they’ve also discussed the need for a fiber optic cable system that can provide at least 1 Gbps for businesses and 100 Mbps for most households. In order to ensure that this is done in the best possible way, the government will consult TRA to make sure all decisions are optimal, with the TRA having the final word. At the moment, it appears that Bahrain’s government is prioritizing the National Broadband Network, but it’s evident that it doesn’t want to overinvestindicated by their focus on fixed broadband, rather than mobile broadband. That said, there’s also an interest in what they describe as mixing and matching fixed and mobile broadband to stimulate market-demand. QATAR HEADING TOWARDS 2030
The economically-booming GCC state announced its national broadband plan in 2011 through the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT). The MICT put their national broadband plan as part of Qatar’s 2030 national vision, which strives for human, social, economic, and environmental development. As a result, the broadband market is one of the many arenas that Qatar aims to strengthen, making it ideal to pursue a national broadband plan. Qatar’s national broadband plan outlined four key objectives that they believe are pivotal to the long-term success of their broadband plan. First things
first: by 2016, all residents should have the option of choosing between two broadband providers. Secondly, 95% of households by 2016 should be able to access high quality and inexpensive broadband services, with a download speed of at least 100 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 50 Mbps. Thirdly, any and all businesses, schools, hospitals, and government institutions and agencies must have high speed internet at 1 Gbps as of 2016. Lastly, “digital literacy” must expand and be promoted to what the plan calls the “mainstream population” by 2016. Qatar claims that the success of the plan is quite reliant on the amount of financial and technical support from public and private institutions and individuals. Knowing Qatar’s current economic situation though, there is little doubt that generating the needed funds is a non-issue. KSA STARTING FROM THE GOVERNMENT
Saudi Arabia’s e-Government program is already in its second stage, which focuses on the years between 2012 and 2016. The first phase, which took place between 2006 and 2010, focused on setting up the online infrastructure for all Saudi government agencies and services, as well as the new services that need setting up as a result of an increasingly digital relationship between individuals and government services. As Saudi Arabia’s markets and industries expand over the long-term, its broadband market is making sure it doesn’t get ahead of itself- at the moment, it’s focusing on government agencies and services’ online presence and efficacy. Saudi Arabia is still at a stage where it is providing the necessary skills and tools for an effective broadband market. Once KSA’s government agencies strengthen the online presence of services, develop the right infrastructure, and provide the right skills to maintain it, then they’ll turn to other tasks. june 2014
business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN
READ BETWEEN THE LINES BUSINESS BOOK RUNDOWN By Amal Chaaban
ust because an author demonstrates great sales doesn’t mean their business advice is applicable in the boardroom or even good for practical application otherwise. Our reviewer takes a look at some of the titles getting hype recently and gives you the executive summary. Before you hit the business bestseller aisle, read these reviews to see which of these known books are actually worth your while.
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants Malcolm Gladwell Journalist, speaker, author. Malcolm Gladwell wears many hats and has taken his ability to see micro-connections between events in life as a tool to help people build a better awareness of what is around them. Interestingly, in this latest book, Gladwell doesn’t do this, instead embarking on an examination of what we perceive as advantages and disadvantages and then turns the definitions on their heads. Using anecdote after anec-
dote from all walks of life, Gladwell proves time and again that some of the most disadvantaged people were actually advantaged, because they had to work far harder and in some cases take far bigger risks to succeed. In his view, the necessity of doing this helped these people move forward. Unfortunately, to this reader, his anecdotal evidence makes excellent reading but he over-simplified what it takes to truly overcome adversity.
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandberg tries very hard to convey that she is one of millions of women who struggle to “have it all”, and simultaneously balance her commitments to both her personal and professional life. She fails. No matter how folksy she tries to come off in this book by adding anecdotes from her past and present, the reality is that she can afford what millions of women can’t- hired help. It is all well and good for her to write this book about how she feels that women 76
should do more and work harder to get ahead faster, but she completely glosses over the reality that scores of women globally simply don’t have the luxury of even basic childcare. She also glosses over the fact that no matter how hard some women work, they’ll simply not be able to achieve what their male counterparts have because gender bias has proven to be alive and well in the corporate world. Sandberg is an extremely successful woman, but by skimming over some of the very real issues that stop women from achieving, she takes this book from potentially being a great guide to a so-so biography.
Flash Boys Michael Lewis takes on a whole new meaning here as microseconds can mean thousands of dollars, banks trade with impunity, and where the Securities and Exchange Commission appears to have very little understanding of the very markets it is supposed to be policing. Lewis provides information that both enlightens and enrages, and the reader is left to wonder why and how Western government is clearly complicit in making sure that only some of the people get ahead all of the time.
Every time you think you have heard all there is to hear about how Wall Street actively works to play a dirty game with their own customers, another book comes out advising that no, we haven’t heard it all. In fact, we probably haven’t even scraped the top of the heap. Michael Lewis takes us inside the world of High Frequency Trading houses and dark pools created by some of the big banks so they can doublebill on each buy/sell transaction. Time
Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty Generally speaking, when people release books on economics, they really don’t make that much of a splash in the mainstream market- this is absolutely not the case here. In releasing this incredibly complex book about wealth distribution and re-distribution, Piketty has not only made a splash, he has created tsunamis around the financial world and made himself many enemies. In fact, since this book’s release, there have been several conveniently placed stories that cast doubt on his ethics, his methodology, and even his personal life. The May 23rd
Financial Times blog post Data Problems with Capital in the 21st Century is one example, with the author firing back in an interview with Agence France-Presse, “The FT is being ridiculous because all of its contemporaries recognize that the biggest fortunes have grown faster.” It is precisely those attacks that show he has hit a nerve, and when commenting on the Financial Times article, The Guardian’s Paul Mason noted that “for Sweden and France, the FT’s conclusions barely diverge from Piketty’s. For Britain and the U.S. they do…” A complex read, but well worth the time.
ARE PUBLISHERS BEING HELD HOSTAGE BY AMAZON?
Author James Patterson
The online fray heats up... and the gloves are coming off
JAMES PATTERSON IMAGE FACEBOOK.COM
he long simmering dispute between Amazon.com and publishers has exploded into the mainstream news after readers were unable to purchase hard copies (paperback and hardcover) of books by publisher Hachette’s authors, and also unable to preorder upcoming books by global bestselling authors like Harry Potter phenom J.K. Rowling. This is not the first time Amazon has used bullying tactics to get what it wants; in 2010 the company removed the “buy” button for MacMillan authors as an attempt to pressure them into doing what the internet behemoth
wanted. This time, writers are weighing in publically, with no less than superstar author James Patterson publically posting on his Facebook page: “What I don’t understand about this particular battle tactic is how it is in the best interest of Amazon customers, it certainly doesn’t appear to be in the best interest of authors.” Amazon is taking a hit to their corporate image as having these somewhat underhanded tactics go public acts as a reminder to consumers why it’s not good to have all of your internet shopping eggs in one basket. june 2014
start it up
Wacky idea | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE
VACAYS TIME IS MONEY
SUMMER SHOULDN’T MEAN A DECLINE IN YOUR PRODUCTIVITY By Simon Hudson
to start generating sales. If you have followed all of this advice- you should have a nicely laid out foundation with a solid, talented team in place. Now we will look at what to do as the temperatures start to climb and the GCC holiday season kicks in.
USING THE HEAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE Over the next few months, meetings will start to slow down and in turn sales will drop. As an entrepreneur, and especially a new one, these quieter, hotter months are an ideal time to tie up loose ends and prepare. A kind of calm before the storm. For myself and Brndstr, I actually used last summer to raise my investment and establish the company, so anything is possible. If you focused on implementing all of the operational software tools and processes at the beginning, then now is a good time to revisit these and make sure they are being used effectively. These tools are very powerful- if used correctly, they can really help improve efficiency and work flow. Didn’t set these up? Yikes! Make sure you spend time researching and implementing the ones that best fit your business. As already mentioned services like Asana, Pivotal Tracker, HipChat and Google Docs are all fantastic.
IF YOU FOCUSED ON IMPLEMENTING ALL OF THE OPERATIONAL SOFTWARE TOOLS AND PROCESSES AT THE BEGINNING, THEN NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO REVISIT THESE AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE BEING USED EFFECTIVELY. 78
ASANA IMAGE © ASANA.COM
y now you should be settling in nicely to your new office, enjoying your new routine and watching the revenues start to climb. Our startup journey to date has seen us raise our initial seed capital, learn how and where to spend the investment in addition to what simple steps to make in order
If you haven’t yet then set yourself a road map and detail when future releases will take place and what features they will include. It won’t always be possible, but try and stay as close to this map as possible. You will see as things develop you will most defiantly need to recruit and build on your team. TURN THE AC UP AND GET MOVING Right then, before we all melt and people start jetting off on holiday, give yourself time and plan your moves over the summer. As always I can only comment from firsthand experience, however an entrepreneur steering their own ship will know time is the most valuable part of the business.
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, AND ESPECIALLY A NEW ONE, THESE QUIETER, HOTTER MONTHS ARE AN IDEAL TIME TO TIE UP LOOSE ENDS AND PREPARE. A KIND OF CALM BEFORE THE STORM. So, tools, team and operations are all in place- are you on track with your finances? Oh no! One area that ‘treps tend to overlook are the finances and balance sheet of the business. At the early stages of the startup a Finance Director is probably not someone you had considered- fair enough. To employ a person who only looks after three or four people may not make sense. However, these can’t be overlooked and as the Big Cheese of the company you will need to make sure it’s done. My advice would be at the end of each week take a look back at the finances and neatly bring everything back into line. If you find yourself spending more than a day or two on your filing it might be time to get your recruiting gloves out again. LICENSES AND PERMITS Depending on when and where you’ve established your empire, you need to make sure that all of your licenses and permits are up to date. Some zones require an annual renewal, others can be up to three years- either way make sure you have a solid grip on this.
While the business and office seem quieter, now is a good time to get on top of the “boring” part of being an entrepreneur. No one likes paperwork, however it needs to be done and you’re the person for the job. One of the tools I personally use is the aforementioned Asana. It’s a brilliant to-do list tool and works very well: From project managing your team to setting your own personal lists, it helps keep everything in one place and puts you on top of your game. GROWING THE TEAM How big is your team? Is it big enough? Are they working quick enough? These are all questions that I am sure you will ask yourself frequently. Trying to understand what features to roll out and when to get them to market is always a tough decision. A few articles I read recently say it’s better to get it to market sooner than later, as it will never be ready. This is very true. At Brndstr we released our first Beta two months after launching. Six months later came the second major release and even then we left some features out. One question I always ask the guys at Brndstr HQ is do you think we need anyone else? When they tell me that we would benefit from an extra body I then start my talent search. The summer months are always a good time for this.
Now you have a little extra time, make good use of it and chip away at that never ending to-do list. Best of luck fellow ‘treps and stay cool. See you next month! Simon Hudson is the CEO and Founder of Brndstr.com. Having recently closed a large funding round, Hudson is well versed with the challenges ahead of any startup. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Hudson worked as Marketing Director for Trump Towers in Miami and more recently as a senior figure at Groupon Middle East. Over the past two years he has been busy helping to grow, build and develop the Dubai startup circuit. As the Founder of ThinkTank.ae, ex-Chapter Director for Startupgrind.com, moderator of the previous Young Arab Leader event, and a coach at this year’s Dubai Startup Weekend, in addition to contributing the monthly entrepreneur column for newspaper 7days UAE, Hudson is well positioned to offer help and advice to any budding entrepreneur.
start it up
Wacky idea | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE
CARTOGRAPHY MEETS PHOTOGRAPHY The co-founders of Mapture were inspired by skepticism By Kareem Chehayeb
apture is not your typical map mobile app. It allows you to add your own photos (anonymously), giving each city multiple dimensions and perspectives. We know what you’re thinking, but Mapture’s inception didn’t stem from an interest in tourism.
“THE IDEA INITIALLY CAME FROM A HEATED POLITICAL DEBATE SOME TIME IN AUGUST, AFTER THE EVENTS OF JUNE 30, 2013” Co-founder Bahaa Hashem says the app was driven and inspired by politics and skepticism born from online information. “The idea initially came from a heated political debate some time in August, after the events of June 30, 2013 [mass protests took place demanding the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi],” explains Hashem. He and two others, who later became the three co-founders of Mapture, were uncertain about the authenticity of the images they were seeing online, and 80
how they were being interpreted and used by the media, public, and activists. “Most of us have essentially been brainwashed into believing content that is shown to us without questioning its authenticity,” he explainsleading them to design an app that allows users to tag location, date, and time on their images. The goal? To create an electronic map with a large database of content associated with each city, giving it a more genuine and realistic on-the-ground view. While one can use Mapture to see images of political and social occurences, they can also use it to see touristic sites, hotels, and other images of a city without artificial touches. Developing Mapture didn’t require a large team, and it was certainly a plus that each of the co-founders had unique skills that contributed to the app. Bahaa Hashem, a graduate from Rutgers University with a BA in Political Science is Head of Design. Zeyad Salloum is Mapture’s
“MOST OF US HAVE ESSENTIALLY BEEN BRAINWASHED INTO BELIEVING CONTENT THAT IS SHOWN TO US WITHOUT QUESTIONING ITS AUTHENTICITY”
Developer, and holds a BS in Computer Engineering from the American University of Cairo, and the startup’s CMO Belal Eid earned a BA in Business from Halwan University. Hashem told us that despite the small team, Mapture doesn’t have any angel investors, though they are “currently looking to raise a first round of funding.” So how did Mapture go live? “We applied to Flat6Labs and got accepted in their spring cycle which started in February 2014.” Flat6Labs, a startup accelerator program based in Egypt with other MENA offices including Jeddah, took care of the details for Mapture, completing their “legal paperwork and fees required to register.” That said, Hashem claimed that the most intensive element of the process wasn’t money, but time. Both he and Salloum are now working on Mapture full-time, with Eid being the only part-time team member. This, in addition to being a company under the umbrella of Flat6Labs, allowed the co-founders to focus on completing necessary deadlines to kick the app into full throttle. Monetizing an app like Mapture doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do, but the co-founders do have a plan. Hashem hopes to monetize Mapture using a freemium business model, something we’re seeing utilized more
and more in the MENA region. What are some of the special add-on features that will be available to paying users? They’re still in the planning stages, but there are some ideas on the table: “One of the features we’ve considered according to feedback is the ability to watermark an individual or organization’s signature on to the photo as well,” allowing photographers, in addition to businesses such as news sites, to receive credit for their images. Another angle they are considering is “a bidding system whereby users are allowed to sell their photos to individuals and third parties.” What’s next? While Mapture is currently only available on iOS, the team is “working on an Android version and hope to release a first version within a month,” with versions for other formats and tablets to be released later this year. They also have several new features to add to the existing app that they’re working on, including the ability to post videos. “Additionally we are working on partnering up with different entities in the news, travel, F&B, and fitness communities around the world to make Mapture the official photography app used to take verified photos.” Enough selfies; point that lens away from you and take some quality shots for Mapture.
ask the money guy | vc viewpoint | startup financE | your money
Triple entente MIDDLE EAST VCS GIVE YOU THREE INDUSTRY INSIDER RULES TO NOTE By Arya Bolurfrushan & Ali Hashemi
enture Capital. Two words that simultaneously strike hope and fear deep into the core of an entrepreneur. Hope– that these mysterious groups of deep-pocketed professionals can help take your business to the next level. Fear– that you haven’t the first clue how to engage them. The good news is that seeking out and engaging a VC firm for funding doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s like any other skill, and with good guidance and a bit of practice, you will develop a comfort and proficiency in your approach. To help you embark on this journey, here are the three most important things you need to know before seeking venture capital.
1. VALUATION IS AN ART, NOT A SCIENCE
The most difficult aspect of fundraising for an entrepreneur is the painful process of defining a valuation for your company. Numerous variables such as timing of the round, market size, founders’ experience and the chosen vehicle, convertible note or equity raise contribute to the valuation conversation, but addressing each variable properly is outside the scope of this article. Clear articulation of a vision, strategy and overall business plan is equally
important than hard analytics. It’s about demonstrating infectious leadership to draw even smarter people into the fold of your business. Eighty percent of successful businesses end up pivoting into a completely different business than the founders’ initial business plan. This dynamism is key for the founding team to tackle the vast number of unforeseen obstacles that will definitely arise. We’ve seen plenty of robust predictive financial models fall flat when couched in a mediocre presentation of the entrepreneur’s vision and dynamism. Conversely, we’ve seen great concepts with more esoteric future cash flows succeed because the entrepreneur was 1) clear and cogent in the articulation of the vision and business strategy, 2) mature and sober enough to understand their limitations and internalize feedback, 3) magnetically attracting other talented folks into the business, and 4) well prepared, often armed with a Plan B (and sometimes C and D) business plan in case of contingencies. 2. CASH IS INDEED KING
The fastest way to lose the attention of a VC is to give the impression that you don’t have
a realistic sense of cash flows. For investors who neither want to nor can be involved in your operations day-to-day, they have to have absolute confidence that you will not run out of money before the next funding round. An acronym the Harvard Business School professor often uses is CIMITYMCash Is More Important Than Your Mother. If your accounts dry up early and you haven’t hit important milestones, not only can you not make payroll but you’ve lost any negotiating position in future rounds of funding. A VC would much rather you seek out more funding up front than feel you’re bootstrapping too tightly. This is, of course, a delicate balance for the entrepreneur– the more cash raised, the more equity you relinquish.
tap into to help you grow your business: > Industry-specific capabilities and relationships Do they truly
understand your product? Can they help you evolve your product or service? Can they open doors to opportunities in your industry or domain? > Patience Do they have realistic expectations of the evolution of the business? Will they push for a liquidity event too early?
IF YOUR ACCOUNTS DRY UP EARLY AND YOU HAVEN’T HIT IMPORTANT MILESTONES, NOT ONLY CAN YOU NOT MAKE PAYROLL BUT YOU’VE LOST ANY NEGOTIATING POSITION IN FUTURE ROUNDS OF FUNDING.
Can they step into a role as “The Fixer” if needed when you hit speed bumps? Have they gone through a number of startup cycles? Finding a VC that is a good fit for the next phase of your company’s growth is critically important. The distillation of these few points can make navigating the VC landscape a little less onerous.
Entrepreneurs face an abundance of challenges, those in the Middle East in particular, given the developing ecosystem. With an increasing trend of talented entrepreneurs seeking funding and guidance, learning best practice processes can really draw out the distinction between a great idea and a successful business. Sell your dynamism and passion for your idea, find the right investor-partners who are just as driven to get your business off the ground as you are, and CIMITYM!
Arya H. Bolurfrushan is the youngest CFO of a public oil company in the Middle East, CEO of the Bolurfrushan International Group and cofounder of Emerge Ventures. Bolurfrushan was previously at Goldman Sachs’s internal think tank in New York, the Investment Strategy Group. He worked with the firm’s largest institutional and private clients, produced industry leading research on private equity, venture capital, hedge fund and commodity returns and helped create the patent pending Goldman Sachs Private Equity Index. Bolurfrushan received a Master’s degree and Bachelor of Science in Information Systems, Finance & Economics from Carnegie Mellon University and has attained an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Ali Hashemi is a healthcare-focused venture capitalist and strategist. Hashemi is a Managing Partner of Avicenna Partners, a Dubaibased venture capital firm that specializes in healthcare investment in emerging markets. Hashemi was previously the founding member and leader of the Middle East Healthcare Practice for Booz & Company, and began his career based in New York City as a member of Bain & Company’s Healthcare and Private Equity practices. Currently serving as a member of Duke University’s Regional Advisory Board for the Middle East, Hashemi studied Medicine and received his MBA concurrently from McGill University as part of a joint MD/MBA program, also receiving a B.S.E. with Distinction from Duke University with a dual major in Biomedical Engineering and Religion and a minor in Chemistry.
> Political capital and experience
3. NOT ALL CASH IS CREATED EQUAL… CAPABILITIES AND CONTENT MATTER
When approaching a VC for funding, it’s just as important that you vet them as they vet you. You will want to have financial backers that can bring more to the table than just their cash. Look for strengths that complement yours, and strategic benefits that you can
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MENA SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS CALLS FOR YOUTH INVOLVEMENT
ing the panel’s entrepreneurs. f there ever was a bustling time when youth felt encour- “Youth are the most important stakeholders that we need to aged to pursue businesses work with. We really need to with positive social impact, it’s now. The 11th CSR Sum- engage the youth and create an environment for social change. mit held at The Address Dubai Marina discussed issues incor- We need to travel their energy to the right direction through porating CSR initiatives, susthe right program and address tainability, and youth engagement in business. According to the unbelievable unemployment issue.” Stanford University’s Program And yes, youth unemployment on Arab Reform and Democracy, is an issue. The International after a survey by Bayt.com and Labour Organization’s Global YouGov Siraj involving 12,000 Employment Trends for Youth residents in 18 Arab countries, 2012 report states that “close one of the key findings stated to” 75 million youth were unthat “more than one in four” employed globally in 2012. That respondents is active in “some number is increasing, and the form” of volunteerism in the MENA region is leading with MENA region, indicating that the highest rate of youth unemthere is a foundation for social ployment at 27.9%. Synergos entrepreneurship. The panel Institute, a global non-profit session ‘Youth Engagement focused on solving social causes in Development: How Social Entrepreneurs are Making a Difference’, organized by PepsiCo Director of Corporate Affairs at PepsiCo MENA and Synergos InstiNoha Hefny and founder tute examined how of Donner Sang Compter social entrepreneurYorgui Teyrouz ship incorporates youth. “They don’t run businesses, they run organizations that have big social purposes,” explained Noha Hefny, Director of Corporate Affairs at PepsiCo MENA, discuss-
“THEY DON’T RUN BUSINESSES, THEY RUN ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE BIG SOCIAL PURPOSES”
by maintaining relationships between different entities, presented three programs that they use to turn social entrepreneurship into a vehicle to face social issues: Arab World Social Innovator (AWSI), The Pioneers of Egypt, and The Alliance of Social Entrepreneurship. Panel entrepreneurs, founder and CEO of ETIJAH Hisham El Rouby and founder of Donner Sang Compter (DSC) Yorgui Teyrouz, are both under the AWSI program sponsored by PepsiCo. El Rouby’s ETIJAH helps Egyptians develop skills, and provides them with volunteer and job opportunities that benefit society. ETIJAH is currently aiming to combine social entrepreneurship and volunteerism by helping entrepreneurs interact and connect
with volunteers for their projects. DSC, a Lebanese NGO connecting people in need of blood and donors through a free-of-charge database for any patient in need, captivated the interest of the younger generation by using social media, thereby building a “cool and young” cultural energy around the movement. A comment from the audience brought up the issue of how companies do have opportunities for young educated graduates, but the problem is that the applicants don’t have the skills. That said, being educated doesn’t guarantee a job. Statistics from the World Economic Forum reported 40% of Tunisian graduates are unemployed against 24% of non-graduates, with young women’s chances being even more difficult. Shahd Alsehehail, Senior Consultant at Synergos Institute suggested “listening” to the youth ambitions to develop programs, and to “work together” in generating more partnerships between social entrepreneurs, NGOs, the private sector, and the government.
Happiness, available at Lulu. We at Lulu have always been trying to widen our network, expand our range, innovate our promotions and improve our service so that more than 570,000 shoppers who come to our 106 stores across the region daily, get exactly what they want,
Ranked as No.1 Hypermarket Chain in the region by PlanetRetail UK.
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Companies that grow during tough times know the difference By Sherr DeMao
s a business owner, you’ve probably heard this from customers making cutbacks: “I can’t afford the expense at this time.” The domino effect has likely caused you to view everything as an expense as well. When times get tough, companies tend to curtail or cease spending. Everything that costs money is viewed as an expense. Some business owners don’t need an economic downturn to have an “expense only” mind-set. This mind-set is one of the biggest downfalls of businesses in general. If everything is viewed as an expense, then decisions are based not on a growth model but rather a survival model. Those who start a business wanting only to survive are sabotaging their ability to make sound, strategic decisions that will grow and sustain their businesses. The key is to know and understand the difference between what is an expense to your business and what is an investment in your business. Areas that are considered an investment by companies that understand a growth model vs. a survival model are: image and marketing, training and development, technology, physical location and hiring. IMAGE AND MARKETING If a business owner says she can’t afford to market her business, she truly can’t afford to be in business. This is where negative and stagnant companies went awry in the last economy. When times were good, they stopped marketing in spite of the fact that marketing got them busy in the first place. They became too comfortable with business flowing in, deeming marketing no longer necessary; or they had to shift to a servicing mode to see their commitments through, so marketing took a back seat. A stop-and-go or stop-and-wait
mentality toward marketing will cause more business failures than anything. For growth companies, marketing is an ongoing investment and an operational part of how the company conducts business. IMAGE AND MARKETING EXAMPLE A pediatric equipment company had been allocating a flatfee reimbursement for mileage and gas for its direct sales force’s personally owned vehicles. While the reimbursement was considerate to the sales force, the personal vehicles were not effectively able to contain all the equipment or parts necessary for optimal in-service calls. In addition, the vehicles were unmarked, hence not providing any marketing value while on the road. In late 2009, the company investigated leasing custom-adapted vans to test replacing personal vehicles with company-owned vehicles. Beginning in January 2010, the first van was placed on the road in an expansion market, custom-fitted to better house the demonstration equipment and parts while also reinforcing the company brand and image. The enhanced presence, sales and in-service ability realized from the first van has proved that the shift to company-owned vehicles is a wise investment.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT Growth companies understand that to grow the company, attention should also be paid to developing people within the company. Investing in technical or soft skills to enhance the people within the company makes a company a stronger competitor. From enhancing the ability to sell, negotiate, use software or equipment to implementing a quality initiative for coping with stress or with working together, training is deemed an ongoing operational investment by companies that see their people as critical to the company’s staying power and growing power. This also positively affects the staying power of people within the company.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT EXAMPLE A manufacturing company was enduring business costs such as pricing wars and supplier conditions affecting profitability. It became apparent that more efficiencies and less waste were paramount to operational sustainability. As a result, the company invested in an overall plant-recycling and waste-reduction program requiring training and new processes to be implemented. In addition, a lean manufacturing initiative was identified, and key plant personnel received training to execute. The resulting efficiencies enabled the company to allocate money for an ongoing and more aggressive marketing program.
TECHNOLOGY Even with its rapidly changing and evolving application platforms, when thought through strategically, technology can be an investment that pays your business back in a multitude of ways. A business owner should continuously be considering how technology can help the business perform better, be more efficient or allow its people to focus on more income-generating and incomeproducing aspects of the business. Too often the “expense” of technology clouds an owner’s perspective on what the technology can ultimately do for the business in the long-term. TECHNOLOGY EXAMPLE A custom cabinetry business owner saw his business begin to explode in inquiries and opportunities to bid on projects as a subcontractor to primary contractors serving government construction projects. Even working 16-hour days, he could not keep up with the demand for estimates of new projects along with oversight of projects already under way. Numerous bid deadlines were missed. After lamenting the expense of an estimating software program that would require a $2,000 investment, he deemed it an investment he needed to make. Not only did it enable him to estimate jobs at the click of a mouse, it also reduced his hours-per-day worked so he could invest the time in other ways. Jobs are streaming in vs. just inquiries.
PHYSICAL LOCATION Being home-based saves on overhead expenses and can be an excellent tax write-off. This can allow you to put your dollars in other areas of investment that make better sense. An office presence, however, can be a smart investment depending on your business’s growth model. If you need a space to present the appropriate image or to accommodate workers or meetings with clients, you may have to consider a location outside the home. Later, as your business grows and continues to expand in a rented space, a mortgage might become a better alternative than leasing because the property would be an investment and a tangible asset both for the business and for you as the business owner. PHYSICAL LOCATION EXAMPLE A custom home builder was in the midst of expanding with an impressive stand-alone commercial office and showroom. The new facility was still several months from completion when his current leased space came up for renewal. With no option to go month-to-month, the owner leased a temporary, low-rent warehouse unit to curtail expenses until his new space was ready to be occupied. Shortly thereafter, rumors began to spread that his business was in trouble. With the help of a consultant, the owner realized that his expense mentality was the culprit, so he made two critical changes that set the record straight. He invested in under-construction signage to make passers-by on the busy highway aware of his new facility. He then moved from the low-rent warehouse space into one of the spec homes he was building, temporarily outfit-
ting the garage into a complete office and showroom welcome center. These location moves immediately squelched the rumors and brought positive attention to his business’s expansion in the community.
HIRING One of the toughest hurdles for many business owners to clear is hiring the first couple of people. That’s because the positions are viewed as an overhead expense rather than an investment. You need to factor your time into the equation. Before the first hire, the business owner’s time is typically being monopolized by necessary but non-income-generating activities. The next hire typically is needed because enough time is being devoted to one particular business activity to warrant putting someone in charge of that activity. The bottom line in either case is to hire in order to grow to the next level. If no one is available to do what needs to be done, it won’t get done. Period. HIRING EXAMPLE Co-owners of a language services company were feeling the pinch of the economy in 2009 as contracts began to be delayed and put on indefinite hold. The company’s growth plan was set for hiring a key administrative position to support the owners in 2010. With the economy affecting sales coming in, it was all the more imperative for one of the owners to be able to target and market the business more aggressively while the other oversaw the work and kept it moving for clients. The owners determined that hiring an administrative assistant was critical to enable one co-owner to focus on income-generating activity and the other to focus on incomeproducing activity. Once you make up your mind to understand and know the difference between a true expense and an investment, you could be among the businesses that not only survive but thrive in this and future economies. See this article in its entirety at Entrepreneur.com
ASK YOURSELF Use these statements to assess if what you are considering is a justifiable investment. If you can answer yes to one or more of these, then what you are considering is an investment, not an expense.
MEASUREMENT • Can be directly measured for increased productivity in an area of the business • Can be directly measured for greater efficiencies in a process or the business overall • Can be directly measured for increased profitability of products or services • Can be directly measured for increased sales in business • Can recoup and realize a financial gain as a result of the monies spent
ENHANCEMENTS • Will allow time for more income-generating or income-producing activity • Will improve individual, team or customerservice performance • Will enhance, reinforce or protect the company image • Will add credibility or capability, which can be promoted • Will aid in distinguishing the company against competitors EXAMPLE An attorney was frustrated, believing she had reached capacity in the hours she could bill per week due to the time necessary to manage and run her practice. In addition, she and her husband were planning to have a family soon, so she did not want to get into a habit of working more hours to increase her billable hours. A consultant suggested she track and document all of her time, including the non-billable hours, without changing her work routine. After four weeks of tracking hours, tasks equaling 10 to 15 hours per week were identified as activities that could be given to a strong office assistant. The expense of hiring and paying someone else on a weekly basis had kept the attorney from considering adding any support position. However, when it was pointed out that the additional 10 to 15 hours could be converted to billable hours, she determined to bring someone on board for 10 hours per week as a test. Within one month, the assistant’s hours were increased to 25 hours per week. She had also proved valuable in research support, also a billable activity. The end result was an increase in the attorney’s billable hours per week by 25 percent to 35 percent without increasing her overall hours worked. The administrative assistant generated enough billable activity to pay her weekly salary, plus add more profit to the firm’s bottom line. june 2014
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Wacky idea | who’s got VC | Q&A | STARTUP FINANCE
IN PICTURES STARTUPS, IDEAS, AND SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP AT AUC
IT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) awarded winners in three categories: idea, startup, and social entrepreneurship, at the University of Cairo at the end of May. The winners, who were awarded a total of US$100,000 cash prizes, originated from across the MENA region: Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. Three winners were chosen from each of the categories, with first
place startup winners SudaMed of Sudan taking home $50,000 for their idea based around bringing Sudan’s healthcare system online. A total of 50 semi-finalists competed between the startup and ideas segments, after a three-day ‘trep workshop at the Cairo School of Business. Loue1voiture, the Moroccan ideas segment winners, were awarded $15,000 for their goal to be the first “independent car rental comparison website” in Morocco, followed by Lebanon’s Saily and Egypt’s Vound- a device enabling the user to “see sounds” around them.
business unusual | LIFE | TRAVEL | DESIGN
“Say hello to my little friend” MOVIE HISTORY’S SCARFACE HOME IS UP FOR GRABS By Shoug Al Nafisi
El Fureidis aerial image
California, (not Florida as the movie depicts), the 1983 hit Scarface was partly filmed on the famed 10,000 square foot estate. Housing the set of both the notorious fictitious gangster’s assassination and his wedding scene to Elvira Hancock (played memorably by Michelle Pfeiffer), the lavish mansion is known for Persian-influenced gardens and fountains, a Byzantine-
inspired conversation room, and expansive domed ceilings. Although many of the indoor scenes were not shot on the palatial property, the fountain scene was enough to cement Hollywood fame. Scarface was the 16th highest-grossing film in 1983 -released late that year- and nominated for six awards, maintaining a top 10 position for close to two months. In the three decades
since its release, the film has reaped $45,408,703 domestically in the U.S., and over $20 million abroad. The house formerly rented for a heartstopping $150,000, later dropping to a mere $30,000. The estate is currently owned by Russian businessman Sergey Grishin, who recently commissioned a multimilliondollar renovation. Well worth the cash, don’t you think?
AERIAL IMAGE COURTESY OF MONTECITOPARADISE.COM
f you’ve got a cool US$35 million to spare, then you can own one of the most famous properties in the history of film. The beginning of the end of Al Pacino’s Tony Montana took place in a remarkable work of art. Built in the early 1900s, architect Bertram Goodhue’s “El Fureidis” was reportedly inspired by trips to the Middle East and Europe. Located in Montecito,
Published on Jun 7, 2014
Microsoft’s Naim Yazbeck talks SMEs, shifting strategies, and how they’re going to keep their edge. Bahraini entrepreneur Suhail Algosaibi i...