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WALK ON THE WILD SIDE Is JBR the perfect location?

FRANCHISE FRENZY The US retailers looking for Middle East partners

SEED MONEY Raising finance for new business ideas


9 772305 466003

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An ITP Executive Publication

Ann ITP Executive Publication




In this issue


— Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 offers media and entertainment organisations a complete range of modern services. — Dubai SME and Shuaa plan valuation service.


We take a look at The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence.


The pros and cons of setting up an offshore company.



We present the most important networking events of the month.


— GoMadInc launches; eyes ten million users in first year. — Firms use Twitter to target customers in Saudi Arabia. — Crowd-funding website Eureeca expects to help 100 firms reach their goals.


Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky on his five steps to make a billion dollars.


The skill of using an analytics tool is not the simple reporting of numbers, it is the intelligence used to manipulate them.


In this issue VOL. 1 ISSUE 1 | OCTOBER 2012


Hedging is generally associated with big businesses. But small firms can gain the most by getting involved in the practice, says Iskandar Najjar, CEO of Alpari ME DMCC.



The investment of $20m into local retail website Namshi has turned the spotlight onto homegrown e-commerce — an industry that is worth about $11bn a year in the Middle East alone.




When it comes to franchise opportunities, there is no bigger growth market than the Middle East — Dubai in particular.


The lack of a secondary market in the Gulf region has limited the opportunities available to both investors and smaller companies wishing to go public. But, as StartUp reports, there is evidence to suggest that change is on the way.


Leith Matthews spent a year drawing up business plans before he quit his full-time job and invested his life savings to establish Make Business Hub, a co-working space in Dubai. He tells StartUp how he did it.



Rony El Nashar talks about how Seedstartup, currently the only accelerator programme in Dubai, gives applicants access to seed money and mentors to help turn an idea into a moneymaking business.



SMEs represent 95 percent of Dubai’s economy, and are the secret behind the emirate’s success. Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, explains how the government is working to help develop the sector further.


Without sufficient financial planning, a nightmare could become reality.


The challenge for CEOs and their HR executives is to redefine HR’s true role and purpose.


Work-life balance is the ability to manage the growth and success of the business while leading a fulfilling lifestyle that includes healthy relationships with family and friends.


Ihsan Jawad, founder and CEO of Zawya, reveals the secrets of his success.

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Editor’s letter Registered at Dubai Media City ITP Executive Publishing PO Box 500024, Dubai, United Arab Emirates tel +971 4 444 3000 fax +971 4 444 3030 ITP EXECUTIVE PUBLISHING CEO Walid Akawi MD, ITP PUBLISHING GROUP Neil Davies MANAGING DIRECTOR, ITP EXECUTIVE Karam Awad GENERAL MANAGER Peter Conmy EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Anil Bhoyrul EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Rob Corder, email EDITOR Ed Attwood tel +971 4 444 3577 email EXECUTIVE EDITOR Massoud Derhally tel +971 4 444 3223 email CHIEF REPORTER Shane McGinley tel +971 4 444 3631 email SENIOR CORRESPONDENT Claire Valdini tel +971 4 444 3667 email SUB EDITOR Edward Liamzon tel +971 4 444 3474 email CONTRIBUTORS Sara Hamdan, Iskandar Najjar ARABIANBUSINESS.COM GROUP EDITOR Will Milner tel +971 4 444 3184 email DEPUTY EDITOR Daniel Shane tel +971 4 444 3316 email STUDIO GROUP ART EDITOR Daniel Prescott SENIOR DESIGNER Adrian Luca DESIGNER Reynaldo Delante CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER Jovana Obradovic SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHERS Isidora Bojovic, Efraim Evidor STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Lester Ali, George Dipin, Juliet Dunne, Murrindie Frew, Lyubov Galushko, Verko Ignjatovic, Shruti Jagdesh, Stanislav Kuzmin, Mosh Lafuente, Ruel Pableo, Rajesh Raghav PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION GROUP PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION DIRECTOR Kyle Smith DEPUTY PRODUCTION MANAGER Basel Al Kassem PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Imad Aad MANAGING PICTURE EDITOR Patrick Littlejohn IMAGE EDITOR Emmalyn Robles DISTRIBUTION EXECUTIVE Nada Al Alami CIRCULATION RETAIL DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Osama Baraka tel +971 4 444 3629 email HEAD OF CIRCULATION & DATABASE Gaurav Gulati ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Wissam Younane tel +971 4 444 3592, email GROUP SALES MANAGER Paul Williams, tel +971 4 444 3348, email GENERAL MANAGER — SALES (KSA) Rabih Naderi tel Direct/Fax +966 1 206 8697 email MARKETING HEAD OF MARKETING Daniel Fewtrell tel +971 4 444 3684, email EVENTS MANAGER Michelle Meyrick tel +971 4 444 3328, email ITP DIGITAL DIGITAL PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Ahmad Bashour, tel +971 4 444 3549, email GROUP SALES MANAGER, ARABIANBUSINESS.COM Gemma Dickson, tel +971 4 444 3835 email INTERNET APPS MANAGER Mohammed Affan OPERATIONS MANAGER Asad Azizi ITP GROUP CHAIRMAN Andrew Neil MANAGING DIRECTOR Robert Serafin FINANCE DIRECTOR Toby Jay Spencer-Davies BOARD OF DIRECTORS KM Jamieson, Mike Bayman, Walid Akawi, Neil Davies, Rob Corder, Mary Serafin CORPORATE WEBSITE CIRCULATION CUSTOMER SERVICE tel: +971 4 4443000 WEB NOTICE The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. PRINTED by Emirates Printing Press L.L.C - Dubai CONTROLLED DISTRIBUTION by Blue Truck All photos used in this magazine are by Gallo Images/Getty Images/Shutterstock/Bloomberg Images unless otherwise credited.


LET’S BE SERIOUS... HAVING A GOOD IDEA ISN’T ENOUGH TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS. S. THIS MAG AIMS TO TEACH CH YOU THE REST. I WILL START THE FIRST EVER ISSUE OF STARTUP WITH A CONFESSSION. Back in 1996, I decided to start rt y my own business. I persuaded a very rich man to lend me $300,000 to launch nch a business magazine. I quickly spentt $120,000 buying the title I wanted from a major publisher. I spent about $50,000 on a really cool office for myself, not to mention extremely y fancy PCs, and a little bit of art work k to ork impress clients. To make sure the work environment was fun, I hired a load of d mates, including one guy who would act as my “spiritual advisor” in between ween managing the P&L sheet. ix So how did it go? Well, for about six months I had the time of my life, before fore the magazine closed down. This magazine is about and for alll the budding entrepreneurs out there, and nd those trying to grow a business, who o I sincerely hope never do what I did.. g Unfortunately, many still do. Having a good idea is, sadly, not enough to succeed. Starting and growing a business involves olves multiple skills and knowledge. Whether it is h having i th the right i ht media strategy or choosing the right lawyer, finding the right staff and understanding how, when and where to raise finance, I hope that every month we can provide you with some of the tools needed on the path to success. We will also each month showcase some of the newest and best business talent out there, as well as hearing from established business legends on how they got to the very top. I welcome your feedback over the coming months, and good luck with your new business!



HSBC activates small business fund  Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 offers media and entertainment organisations a complete range of modern services.

UAE EYES FILMMAKERS The incentive scheme is backed up by state-of-the-art facilities.


wofour54, the media and creative industries hub, and its Abu Dhabi Film Commission unit is set to launch the region’s first incentive scheme to lure international filmmakers to the UAE capital. The scheme comes as it looks to accelerate Abu Dhabi as the first choice for movie producers needing

location, production and post-production services. The initiative, which was announced at the Cannes Film Festival, will be operational from 1 September, the company said. The incentive, in the form of a rebate of up to 30 percent of spend in Abu Dhabi, will be available for feature films, TV, documentary, advertising and music video production, it added. The qualifying spend

relates to goods and services sourced from Abu Dhabi and for relevant expenditure on location or studio filming and post-production. It will also cover costs relating to the contracting of any UAE registered crew and services for activities in Abu Dhabi. Temporary accommodation costs in Abu Dhabi, as well as airline tickets and freight booked on Etihad, will also qualify for the rebate.

HSBC has launched an AED1bn ($272m) International Trade SME Fund, 30 percent of which will be allocated to Emirati-owned businesses. The fund, the third tranche in the bank’s SME fund programme, focuses on SMEs with international trading requirements, the bank said. About 76 percent of mid-sized companies carry out cross border business, and over 90 percent of UAE-based businesses are currently involved in international trade. About 67 percent of the bank’s initial fund was awarded to customers that required international trade facilities, while 87 percent of HSBC’s second fund was allocated to internationally-oriented SMEs.

Dubai SME and Shuaa plan valuation service Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, and SHUAA Capital, a corporate finance advisory services in the UAE, are planning a new Valuation Advisory Services to a select number of Dubai SME 100 companies. HH Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum (pictured), executive chairman of SHUAA Capital, said: “Access to capital remains a perennial challenge for many SMEs, including successful and well managed companies. In the current corporate environment, in which small and medium-sized enterprises are facing enourmous challenges but also big disadvantages, our aim is to provide


entrepreneurs with competent and applicable knowledge that will help them achieve future business success.” The Valuation Advisory Service will help Dubai SME100 companies understand the underlying value of their businesses.

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Budding entrepreneurs set for TV DUBAI ONE TO AIR SHOW

Some of Dubai’s most aspiring entrepreneurs will get their shot at fame and fortune, as du finally launches its long awaited reality TV show, The Entrepreneur, on October 3. Out of several hundred applicants, the show will see ten finalists battle it out in front of four judges for a AED1m ($ 272,257) cash prize. Each finalist will be pitching their own business idea, with the show filmed over eight episodes. Dubai One will be airing the series, with du CEO Osman Sultan telling us recently: “Apart from being a lot of fun to watch, this programme will showcase some of the best new business talent out there. I hope we can find a real business star out of it.”

DUBAI CHAMBER LAUNCHES ARABIC LANGUAGE COURSES DCCI joins hands with the Liwan Culture and Arts Centre to offer free Arabic course for its non-Arabic speaking staff members.


s part of its Arabic Month initiative launched on 1 July, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has joined hands with the Liwan Culture and Arts Centre to offer a month-long free Arabic course for its non-Arabic speaking staff members who are interested in learning the language. The Liwan Culture and Arts Centre, under the chairmanship of Sheikha Salama Bint Tahnoun Bin Mohammed Al-Nahyan, along with their strategic partner, the Arabic College, is providing a free online Arabic course for Dubai Chamber’s multicultural work force. The language course is in line with Dubai Chamber’s Arabic month initiative, which came under the recent recommendations of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai a centre of excellence in the Arabic language.

Rami Halawani, director, marketing and corporate communications, Dubai Chamber, stated that this partnership with the Liwan Culture and Arts Centre caters to the common objective of spreading the mass usage of the language amongst the non-Arabic speakers. “In a way, this initiative also leads to familiarising the staff members with the rich Arab culture which is an important part of the modern lifestyle of the people of the region who take pride in the ancient language of the Holy Quran,” Halawani said. He further stressed that this latest cooperation between Dubai Chamber and the Liwan Culture and Arts Centre is also the beginning of a long-term relationship which will lead to many joint initiatives in the future whereby both the sides will work rigorously in promoting the understanding of the Arabic language amongst the multi-ethnic society that Dubai is made up of. “Dubai Chamber has an interesting diversity in its work environment as 200 staff members belonging to 30 nationalities are good enough numbers to inspire us to launch such initiatives promoting the Arab identity and its deep-rooted culture to the non-speakers,” added Halawani.


Number of Dubai Chamber’s staff members.  The language course is in line with Dubai Chamber’s Arabic month initiative.

NBAD rolls out SME centres The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) is rolling out plans to launch eight new business banking centres in 2012 to further serve small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the UAE. Since the beginning of 2011 NBAD Business Banking has opened ten business banking centres all over the UAE. In just over a year, NBAD increased SME customers by about 8,000, an increase of 54 percent between the end of 2010 and 31 March 2012, the bank said in a statement NBAD added that it was committed to investing in SMEs. “NBAD realised the potentials for growth in SMEs, which for long had been treated as part of consumer banking, however, what distinguished NBAD strategy in serving this segment is that we positioned NBAD stronger financial standing during crisis to invest in serving SMEs,” said Haitham AlRefaie, head of the business banking group at NBAD.


Location, location,




WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT IT? The Walk on Jumeirah Beach Residence is Dubai’s very own version of Miami Beach. This spot probably has the best buzz of any part of the emirate, especially during the winter months when it is heaving.

WHERE EXACTLY IS IT? You can’t miss it — a full mile of beach walk, with the sea and sand on one side and lots of shops, hotels and retailing units on the other.

 Come the winter in Dubai, everyone is flocking to JBR. This has made it one of the most sought after locations. [06]

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WHAT’S AVAILABLE? The 1.7km Walk currently has around 300 occupants on the ground and plaza levels, including restaurants, cafes, gyms and several boutique stores. Given the recent recession, many units change hands regularly.

WHO SHOULD I CONTACT? Better Homes has an office right in the middle of development, which is useful to get an idea of what’s available — though you might be better off going direct.


Rents can vary quite considerably but expect to pay a premium for well-located property where you could be looking at 30 percent above average rates, plus a lengthy commitment.

Top TIP:


Different places sell pizza... so don’t become 29.

WHAT’S THE DOWNSIDE? The W Walk can be very quiet during the hotter summ summer months so you need to weigh this up agains against the increased footfall during the winter. There are also many spots that, despite the vibe surrou surrounding them, seem to do very little busine business.

CHANCES OF SUCCESS? With 36 residential tow towers and four hotels a acr o the road, there across iis s no shortage of c ust customers. The c ha challenge is getting a d ec decent spot. If you do, itt would wo be harder to ffail ail than t succeed. But w at carefully for the watch

small print on your lease, preferably try and lock down a price for the next few years. Also be wary of the competition from big developers setting up next door to you with more competitive operations.


Should I...




How do I do it?

You need to get the professionals to handle this for you (see below). The first step is to choose a name for your company; they will check if it is available and where. To begin with, you need to have passport copies with visa page, two utility bills, a bank reference letter and CV.

How much will it cost?

Typically you are looking at around $2,600 for the first year and close to $1,800 in annual fees thereafter.

Do I still keep my personal UAE bank account?

Yes, but all the serious money would be kept offshore, and you simply bring back what you need.

Can I use this offshore company to buy property in the UAE? Ah, now here’s where it gets tricky. When it comes to buying a freehold property in Dubai, it can only be


owned by a Jebel Ali offshore company company. But in order to avoid forced heirship under Sharia laws, it is recommended to own your Jebel Ali (JAFZA) offshore by, for example, a BVI offshore company.

Will this cost even more?

Yes. First you have to incorporate a BVI company ($1,895) and then get all the BVI company documents notarised and legalised in the UAE ($1,600). Then this BVI company sets up a JAFZA subsidiary ($5,100). Following the incorporation of JAFZA company, you will need a no objection certificate from the Jebel Ali offshore authority ($500) and from the property developer ($136) [Nakheel, Emaar] to $1,360 [Dubai Properties Group] — prices will vary depending on the developer. Once you have all these documents ready, you will be able to get the title under this JAFZA company from the Land Department in Dubai.

Who can help me sort this all out?

Take your pick from the web. Our recommendation is the Sovereign Group who seemed to be the most switched on of the ones we tried. Check out www.

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Networking 2> Gitex Te Technology hn l y Week WHEN? 14 - 18 October 2012 WHERE? Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? It’s the place to be with 3,500 companies exhibiting and 138,000 visitors. Ideal opportunity to find partners or showcase ideas if you are in the technology business.

1> Cityscape Exhibition & Conference WHEN? 2 - 4 October 2012 WHERE? Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? It’s the annual meeting point for key real estate investors, developers, regional and city investment promotion authorities, architects, designers and other real estate professionals… a good place to collect business cards and ideas.

4> International Coffee and Tea Festival WHEN? 30 October 2012 WHERE? Meydan Grand Stand, Dubai WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? Anyone in the catering business should pop in and check out the trade exhibitors from around the world. You might just find the idea that changes your business.

3 IIndian 3> d P Power List Gala Dinner WHEN? 16 October 2012 (from 7.30pm) WHERE? Joharah Ballroom, Madinat Jumeirah WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? Well if you want to raise money — and can get a ticket somehow — then Arabian Business’ first ever gala dinner for the Gulf’s 100 most powerful Indians is a good starting point.


The socialite >

GOMADINC LAUNCHES Website eyes 10 million users by year-end acebook’s float might have flopped, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the rise of social media is stalling. Last month saw the UAE launch of, with a brave forecast of finding ten million users within its first year. GoMadInc, which stands for Go Make A Difference, offers a revolutionary approach to social networking. The website provides both social and business interaction on one platform allowing users one single access point to network with their social and professional connections. In addition to offering a multifunctional portal, it has a unique financial model where its members are recognised and rewarded for their activity as well as an e-commerce section, ideas sharing platform and a group philanthropy initiative. Functions such as MyStore and the Ideas Platform allow members to buy and sell products and intellectual properties using their own networks. Website members will also earn rewards in the form of GoMad Number of Credits proportionate GoMadinc. com users to their interaction within its within the site, which first year, can be donated to according to forecasts. charity or exchanged





 provides both social and business interaction on one platform allowing users one single access point to network with their social and professional connections.

Forget complicated paperwork, invitation letters and visas. It seems the best way to reach out to potential customers in Saudi Arabia is through Twitter. The number of Twitter users in Saudi Arabia increased by 3,000 percent in June, making the Gulf state the biggest growth market for the social network. Half of the kingdom’s active users log in daily

while more than 50 percent access the micro blogging site via their smartphone, according to the company. The number of people using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter has soared in the wake of last year’s Arab Spring protests, becoming popular

platforms for coordinating rallies and disseminating news and information quickly. Arabic accounts for 1.2 percent of all public tweets, while the number of tweets in the language over the last year has increased 2,146 percent, according to Paris-based analytics firm Semiocast.

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Making the web work for you




Founded in 2007, Dropbox allows you to store all of your vital documents and files in the ‘cloud’

 Christopher Thomas (left), CEO and Sam Quawasmi (right), managing director,

EUREECA PULLS IN THE CROWD Site expects to help 100 firms reach their funding medium sized companies. Would-be-investors AE-based crowd funding website can quiz companies about their growth strategy Eureeca expects 100 local businesses to online using social networking platforms such as successfully raise capital via its website Facebook and Twitter. during the first year of operation, its Eureeca said it will charge companies a flat rate co-founder has said. of $250 to cover third party compliance The website, which plans to launch in fees and five percent of the total funds September with ten companies, has raised if a company reaches its received enquiries from 65 firms target. No funds are released unless looking to raise capital in the last a company successfully reaches month. its target amount. “We are looking to launch the Several firms have recently set site with around ten businesses Number of businesses up regional crowd funding and we would expect that once that Eureeca aims to help websites. Dubai-based Aflamnah, we hit critical mass over the reach their funding, in the a crowd funding initiative aimed at first year we hope to get around website’s first year of helping independent filmmakers fifteen businesses per month,” operations. and artists raise capital for future Sam Quawasmi told StartUp. “Of projects, launched in June. that we are expecting around half Eureeca said it expects a range of start-ups (40-50 percent) to get funded so in terms and well-established companies to apply for of the opportunities we would hope in our first funding amid a shortage of liquidity in the region. year to help 100 businesses reach their funding,” “We’re expecting funding pitches all the way he added. from ideas to very established businesses but the Crowd funding, a capital-raising strategy in vast majority that come online will be going which investors buy small stakes in ventures concerns, between one and five years [old] who through various websites, has become an increashave proved themselves,” said Quawasmi. ingly popular way of raising money for small to



The Skyscanner app, for platforms including iPhone and Android, allows business users to quickly find the quickest and cheapest air routes between cities.


With the XE Currency conversion app for iPhone and iPad, users have access to hundreds of live currency rates and charts at the touch of the button, as well as an easy-to-user currency calculator.



Available in both English and Arabic, the Qatar Airways iPhone app allows passengers travelling on the Gulf state’s flag carrier to easily check in online.


Abu Dhabi-based Etihad’s free-todownload iPhone app is the first to offer real-time miles redemption for its users. Other features include exclusive promotions for those flying on the carrier.


How to...




 The skill of using an analytics tool is not the simple reporting of numbers, it is the intelligence used to manipulate them.

ith a good web go analytics ana pack package you can know k exactly how your w website is used. Basic details su such as the number of visitors an and the time of day that visits are made are a great starting place for any start-up business. Extra information such as visitor loyalty, location and engagement details as well as the hardware capabilities of your visitors can all help you make informed choices about your business. Put simply, if you have hundreds of iPhone users visiting your site from Mexico at midnight every Thursday then an analytics package will let you know about it. What you do with the information where data analytics becomes an art rather than a science. Author of Web Analytics 2.0 and digital entrepreneur Avinash Kaushik defines

the process of using web analytics as “the analysis of qualitative and quantative data from your website and competition to drive a continual improvement of your customer’s online experience”. As important as it is for every business, regardless of industry, to have a web presence, it is equally important to measure the success of that site. Here, StartUp looks at five key steps to consider when first using web analytics.


CHOOSE YOUR PACKAGE Choosing the best analytics package for your business is much like selecting a word processor, spreadsheet or design software. Dozens of options are available, each with their own specialty and feature set. Woopra can be expensive yet is highly customisable for different businesses; Clicky tracks social media referrals to your site well but the interface takes some getting used to; and a package called Mint has excellent data visualisation but lacks the depth of analysis of

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How to USE WEB ANALYTICS rival tools. It is the free Google Analytics, however, that is widely regarded as the industry standard. The simple interface, excellent customer tutorials and live data tracking make it the ideal starting point to discover the world of web analytics.


UNDERSTAND YOUR METRICS After choosing and installing your analytics tool you can learn how to make data-driven decisions for your business. To do this you must understand the terminology. There are hundreds of metrics to be measured on a website. Here are the five everybody must understand: • Unique visitors: The total number of unduplicated people to access a page on your site • Pages per visitor: Sometimes referred to as depth of visit, this is the average number of pages accessed on a single visit to your site • Page views: The total number of times pages on your site have been accessed • Bounce rate: Expressed as a percentage, this is the proportion of people leaving your site after viewing just a single page • Time on site: The average duration of a visit to your site.

200 new contacts. Breathlessly pursuing more page views to establish a higher number may not be the most useful strategy for you. If the job of your site is just to advertise the contact details of a salesperson then a simple design which encourages fewer page views is advisable. Establishing the goal of your site is the key to successful manipulation of analytics.

DEFINE YOUR GOALS Analytics can report the data of your site but it is up to you to define success. 100,000 unique visitors per month that result in just 100 sales leads is clearly not as effective as 10,000 visits generating

CREATE YOUR CAMPAIGNS Only after you have defined a clear goal can you dig deeper with an analytics tool. Advanced functionality allows you to filter the users whose data you


 Google Analytics generate detailed statistics about the visitors to a website.


 It is important for every business, regardless of industry, to have a web presence.

track. You may wish to monitor the usefulness of a marketing campaign (are visitors who come into your site from a paid-for advert more likely to complete the desired action you have defined?), discover the habits of your most loyal visitors (what pages do people who visit your site more than three times per week look at first) or even identify the pages that most often cause a visitor to exit your site (and then discover where visitors go after leaving your site).


GROW YOUR BUSINESS Crunch the numbers and if you don’t understand them, pay somebody to do it for you. Recording the numbers is irrelevant unless you intend to act on them. Measuring visit growth over time is merely the base level of analytical research. Instead you should identify opportunities and adapt your business accordingly. Look for statistical anomalies and exploit them intelligently. So if you do, for example, have that influx of Mexican visitors once per week you should consider adding a Spanish-speaking support staff on a temporary basis. The skill of using an analytics tool is not the simple reporting of numbers, it is the intelligence used to manipulate them.


Franchise frenzy



WHEN IT COMES TO franchise opportunities, there is no bigger growth marke market ke et than the Middle East — Dubai in particular. According to this year’s ‘How Global is the Business of Retail’ report eport by CB Richard Ellis, brands from Asia, and more specifically India, have e a huge potential for franchising opportunities in the UAE due to their large demographic emographic mix and bright economic future. But to date, the majority of the franchise market in the Middle East has been held by American and European brands in the fast food and retail categories. For example, Subway entered the Middle East in 1998 and plans to have more than 125 stores opened there by the end of 2012. The franchise concept is new to many Middle Eastern brands, so until now the US and Europe have been able to dominate the market. There is a big push for the region, and the UAE in particular, to have home businesses expand into franchise avenues. Now is the time to jump on any US-based franchise opportunities in the Middle East before the region’s entrepreneurs and existing businesses take back their market. Here are a few of the newly announced US-based franchising expansions:

Edible Arrangements entts

Six stores are slated to be opened in Jordan, the first of which will open this year in west Amman.

T.G.I. Friday’s

They are building on their Middle East success with an additional 30 restaurants over the next five years.


They plan on doubling their current number of 104 restaurants in the UAE to more than 200 by 2015, defining the brand as the largest restaurant chain in the UAE.


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Dixie Cream Donut Company


The development of fifteen Quiznos locations is planned for Kuwait as part of their international development initiative.

Pizza Fusion

This Florida-based company opened their first international store in 2009 in Saudi Arabia and is looking for continued expansion into the area.

Elevation Burger

This restaurant chain n known for their organic, grass-fed fed burgers plans to open six restaurants taurants throughout the region. on. The first location, slated to open pen in 2012, will be located in Bahrain. hrain.


The frozen yogurt concept business will open twelve new w stores in the Middle East region.

Anytime Fitness

The neighbourhood fitness club has plans to open its first three fitness clubs in Qatar (the first in the Middle Eastern region) by the end of July.

* Data from • Photos are for presentation only.

At least 40 stores will open in Saudi Arabia, the first of which is slated to open this September.

Five steps >

TO A BILLION NAME: Eugene Kaspersky JOB: Founder, Kaspersky Lab Step 1: Follow your hobbies… Kaspersky spent his school nights solving problems he found in mathematical journals. It led to him being chosen for a specialised programme affiliated with Moscow University. Step 2: Get a decent education… rather than jump into straight into business, Kaspersky attended the Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications and Computer Science, where he studied mathematics, cryptography and computer technology, majoring in mathematical engineering. Step 3: Come up with something original… after being an expert on the growth of computer viruses, Kaspersky avoided following the crowd, who were busy researching how viruses grow. Instead, he developed the first ever disinfection unit for viruses. Step 4: Have a second income to pay the rent… Kaspersky Lab was set up on 1997 but had virtually no income. Instead, he relied on writing magazine articles and working as an offshore security consultant to pay the rent. Step 5: Sell a minority stake to cash in… after growing the company for fifteen years, Kaspersky sold a 20 percent to General Atlantic for $200m, putting a $1bn valuation on the company.


Kaspersky’s advice to budding entrepreneurs If you become independent it’s a very big risk. My family didn’t want me to do that. There were some big decisions I had to make along the way, and it’s not possible to explain them, but usually I am right.


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nal touch Picture the scene: you’ve just lost your brand new $9,000 watch, which you’ve only just bought and can’t remember where you put it. Too busy to retrace your steps, you wish there was someone trustworthy you could call on to go search for the valuable timepiece. While such a request may sound outlandish, it is the kind of task many time-conscious executives would

happily pay a dedicated personal assistant to carry out for them. Thinking a bit more about what small tasks other executives might be willing to pay to free up their time, four young twentysomething Emiratis decided to put their idea to the test and set up a company catering to the day-to-day needs of busy executives like themselves. The resultant company was



named d Alli Allinque P Personall A Assisi tance and the four local founders — Ahmed Al Ashram, Faisal Lutfi, Khaled Ghubash and Mohammed Kazim — began evolving the idea as far back as 2008. At first, members were recruited through word-ofmouth but the service quickly became popular and by 2011 they had hundreds of regular members. “We target executive levels from junior to director level… just before the CEO, who has his own PA,” says Lutfi. “People who don’t have enough time to do the dayto-day things.” “That is how we came up with the idea. We are all full-time boys and we leave the office after sunset and on a Saturday it is hard to go running around. We set it up because we knew there was a need for it as all our circle of friends have the same problem,” he adds. In fact, Allinque was conceived while the partners were holidaying in India and were thinking of ways to make the trip run smoother. Out of their comfort zone and away from Dubai, that’s when they hit upon the idea of how great it would be to have a personal assistant who


2008 Year when Allinque Personal Assistance started evolving.


could ld arrange and d handle h dl everything they needed for the holiday and, at the same time, take care of their personal needs back home. When the company was formed, the concept of home concierge services in Dubai was a new phenomenon, mainly due to the fact that concierge services were mainly focused on special groups of people in hotels or malls. While companies such as Quintessentially book tables at top-class

We target executive levels from junior to director level just before the CEO restaurants and can arrange tickets for exclusive clubs, the founders decided to focus more on the dayto-day time-consuming tasks and offer them for a reasonable monthly fee. “What we do is get your work done… Anything you don’t have time to do we will do,” says Al Ashram. Following their Indian adventure, the team decided to put a plan together and looked at the various different target markets to focus on. “It is not just for mid-management executives, it is for single mothers and busy entrepreneurs who do not have time. Basically it is busy people,” says Ghubash. The service is based around a dedicated phone and IT system

| vol. 1 /october 2012



 Allinque founders saw the need for a personalised service in Dubai that covers all aspects of daily living.

set up to match the personal assistants who research and carry the tasks with the clients who need servicing. “We have an IT system that recognises peoples’ phone number so they are greeted directly by name,” says Al Ashram of the personalised service. “Our model is expandable and our rollout is in phases. As we see there is a need for market capacity we can expand easily… The IT system is easily expandable and so is the office expandable, but it about getting the right PAs. In terms of having a maximum capacity, it all depends on the market’s appetite for the service,” he adds. At present the team has four fulltime personal assistants, a management team, a business development team, IT support, a messenger, a


Don’t start with friends… It’s hard to push friends for deadlines

human resource manager and an overall general manager. The company was given support in setting up by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development (MBRE) and while they were self-funded at the start,

they do have some tips of advice for those thinking of jumping into the world of entrepreneurship. “Don’t start with friends,” Al Ashram says straight out. “We had problem with our first IT system provider as she was one of our

| vol. 1 /october 2012


We have a level of confidentiality that is comprehensive… We have a record of everything

friends… It’s hard to push friends for deadlines,” he concedes. “We had to start from scratch with another IT provider.” Lutfi also believes testing of the system before going live is very important. “We had 90 people test the service and we gave them free membership and at that phase it helped us create our new IT system and what was important,” he says. “Test your market before you launch the product as the initial product we had in radio… We think they are mind was different from the best mediums for the result, in terms of the now,” Al Ashram says. flexibility of the system Number of and what you can do.” Allinque’s member- “We had it by invitation only for a while but we In terms of breakship options. are flexible… Now is the ing into the market, the time to increase.” fast-growing firm has In a bid to attract multiple found a combination of old clients, the marketing team is and new marketing strategies also looking at company-targeted is often the best way forward to approaches. “We are looking to engage with your target market. target corporate where we know “We started off basically by people feedback and word of mouth… We p p are busy,” y, says y Ghubash. are spending on social media and “People who are busy and they can


afford the service, so we are going to target corporations directly and it is part of our marketing campaign.” One of the fundamental traits of the company is also confidentiality, adds Lutfi, who adds that the details kept on record can also be used by its clients in an emergency. “We have a level of confidentiality that is comprehensive… We have a record of everything, so if you forgot your passport at the bank we can fax it to them.” Lutfi says the mix of tasks the company’s personal assistants carry out varies considerably. “The usual is for bookings for massages or restaurants… There are daily requests, such as doctor’s appointments or flowers delivered to their lovers or friends.” And what ever happened to the lost watch? Lutfi points out that a personal assistant took a list of the places the client had visited over the last four days and the watch was eventually found in a p prayer y room. Sounds like a job well done.

ers found The was founded by four UAE nationals hailing from various business Allinque and professional backgrounds.

Mohammed Kazim

Khalid Ghubash

Ahmed Al Ashram

Faisal Lutfi

Mohammed Kazim Mohammed Kazim completed a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University and an ME in Clinical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In addition, he received formal technology management training from Queen Mary University of London. During his time in the USA, he spent three years as a clinical project manager at a well reputed hospital. Currently working in one of the country’s topmost development institutions, where he is responsible in evaluating and implementing major medical projects in UAE. Khalid Ghubash A holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the American University in London and Master’s Degree in International Relations and Contemporary Political Theory from University of Westminster London, UK. Working with one of the leading government owned investment companies in Dubai, he has analysed and reviewed investments across various industries worldwide; from there he has worked with a global holding company owned by Dubai government. Ahmed Al Ashram Coming from a commercial and financial background, Al Ashram completed his Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a focus on Finance and Marketing from the American University of Sharjah. He joined one of Dubai’s leading banking corporations where he has successfully introduced and run many international financial programmes. Faisal Lutfi With a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Business Studies and Marketing from Middlesex University, he has been able to successfully set up and run a marketing company, roping in major clients within UAE. He has also been part of a leading real-estate master developer of the region and has contributed greatly towards the business, marketing and sales strategies of the organisation.



FEAR OF FLOATING THE LACK OF A SECONDARY MARKET IN THE GULF HAS LIMITED THE OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE TO BOTH INVESTORS AND SMALLER COMPANIES WANTING TO GO PUBLIC. BUT, AS STARTUP REPORTS, THERE IS EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT CHANGE IS ON THE WAY. By Sara Hamdan ver the last year, NASDAQ Dubai has undergone a major makeover. Amid management shuffles and a merger with the Dubai Financial Market, the two new, prominent listings this summer were bright spots in a long period of cloudy uncertainty for the revamped exchange. Emaar listed a $500m sukuk, or Islamic bond, in June, followed by a $650m sukuk by JAFZA in July. As more and more companies issue sukuk and bonds to raise debt or list on public exchanges to raise equity instead of turning to banks for financing, it helps develop the region’s capital markets scene. The key to deepening this market,

however, lies not just in having more companies issue bonds or go public. It is also about the development of a solid secondary market, where investors are actively buying and selling securities from each other — as opposed to dealing directly with the issuer. While this is commonplace in mature markets in the US and


Europe, few listings and issuances and low trading volumes mean that the Middle East still lacks a real secondary market. “To have a liquid secondary market, you need two things: more companies to issue bonds and you need investors who are aware of good opportunities,” Henry Azzam, chairman of Deutsche Bank for the Middle East and North Africa

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 About $1.37bn was raised in regional IPO markets in the first six months of this year.

region, said in a recent report by consultancy The Prospect Group. “Without a secondary market, as there is in the West, a bond market will not become viable.”

“To have a liquid secondary market, you need two things: more companies to issue bonds and you need investors who are aware of good opportunities”


 Henry Azzam, chairman of Deutsche Bank for the MENA region.

Decision makers are aware of this and have taken steps to stimulate a secondary market for trading stocks and bonds. In July 2011, the Qatari stock exchange announced plans to launch a secondary market to allow small and medium sized

companies a chance to go public. Listing criteria would be more lenient than those for the main market for more established companies. This followed a similar announcement by Dubai’s stock market in April 2011. The idea was

| vol. 1 /october 2012

to give a chance for more companies to list — not just the Emaars of the region — which in turn would give investors a wider universe of securities to trade. Similarly, major companies like Emirates Airline, which has government affiliations, have been encouraged to issue bonds in the local market to raise money. Strong demand exists for bonds like these by investors in secondary markets. There were even initiatives specifically targeting the fragmented realm of Islamic finance — either helping Shariacompliant companies list or encouraging the issuance of sukuk. All of these plans were timely: many were announced last year right when lending to companies by banks had become more stringent than ever. But were these plans fully executed and did they work? Were more companies issuing sukuk and bonds to raise debt or listing on exchanges to raise equity, rather than turning to banks for financing? Is there a promising outlook for a local secondary

market scene for trading securities of any kind? In equities, there has been slow progress. About $1.37bn was raised in regional IPO markets in the first six months of this year, compared to $396.47 in the first half of 2011 — nearly tripling growth, according to a report by Ernst and Young. A large chunk of the new listings came from Saudi Arabia, including the $364.65m listing of Al Tayyar Travel Group on the Tadawul exchange. Still, the IPO market — particularly in the United Arab Emirates — remains disturbingly quiet compared to the heyday of 2005. New listings, particularly of smaller companies, are few and far between, with highly anticipated listings like Daman this year postponed until 2015 in hopes of improved market conditions. As for bonds, flashy new issuances like those of Emaar and JAFZA have a positive impact on the sophistication of the market. Still, there are not

enough of them coming to the market, particularly of highly rated companies. This is especially true of sukuk, where demand is great. “There are still simply too few sukuk in the market

“Without a secondary market, as there is in the West, a bond market will not become viable”

 Emirates Airline has been encouraged to issue bonds in the local market to raise money.

and those that have been issued have traditionally seen their investor class comprised of a majority of conventional and not Islamic investors,” says Dominic Harvey, a partner at law firm Vinson and Elkins in Abu Dhabi, who has also authored a report on the topic. “The logical outcome of this must surely be that Islamic investors are unable to purchase enough sukuk.” With this imbalance in supply and demand, Harvey says that holders of sukuk feel unable to sell or trade out of their positions for fear of not being able to find another sukuk in which to invest. As a result, the prevailing culture among sukuk holders in the Middle East is to buy sukuk and hold all the way until maturity, rather than selling to a secondary buyer in the interim. “The problems this causes with liquidity are obvious,” he says. “And the sort of vibrant secondary market for sukuk that exists for conventional bonds is



 A secondary market is essential to providing liquidity and diversity of investments.

sorely lacking.” Secondary market trading is possible, he says, but the chief culprits preventing this are lack of supply and incorrect valuations. For shorter-term financial securities like stocks and bonds, a secondary market is essential to providing liquidity and diversity of investments. But the issues are just as urgent for the development of a secondary market for longer-term investments, such as private equity. Investors in private equity deals, typically held for an average of ten years, usually look to secondary investors or a public listing as a means of exiting the investment. During dry spells like the one experienced in the last few years — with a mix of distressed assets, a stalling IPO market, and cautious investors — the case for a stronger secondary market becomes increasingly important. In the Middle East, however, this is a relatively young industry, with 70 percent of private equity firms in the region established in the last five years. There aren’t enough


companies and investors in the market yet, nor funds nearing the end of their term and seeking an exit, to speed up the evolution of a secondary market any time soon. “In the MENA region, many funds are not yet near the end of their life,

 Emaar listed a $500m Islamic bond in June.

“The sort of vibrant secondary market for sukuk that exists for conventional bonds is sorely lacking”

so they continue to hold their positions in hope of a market improvement,” says Yahya Jalil, director of private equity at The National Investor, an investment firm in Abu Dhabi. “This means there isn’t as much pressure to buy and sell, which limits the secondary market.” There is, analysts say, an increasing focus for global investors to allocate capital to emerging market private equity, and the Middle East can continue interacting with potential investors around the world and educating them about lucrative private equity opportunities in the region to develop a fuller investor base. Still, there have been patches of secondary private equity deals across the region recently. In Egypt, as the political landscape changes and Egyptians in need of cash sell off assets at discounts, investors have been quick to jump on the occasional good deal. Many of these transactions have taken place in the secondary marketplace. “Most of the deals, if not all, involve Egyptians selling and foreigners buying,” says Omar Bassiouny, head of mergers and acquisitions at law firm DLA Matouk Bassiouny in Cairo. Most of these foreigners, he says, come from the Gulf. From January until August 2012, Bassiouny’s team has closed nine deals — seven of which were secondary transactions. Pockets of activity like the Emaar bond issuance and Bassiouny’s private equity deals this year hold promise for the development of a stronger secondary marketplace for short and long term investments in the region. There is a long way to go, but at least there is evidence of a modest start.

| vol. 1 /october 2012


INDEPTH NEWS Rooms for improvement Jumeirah Group president and CEO Gerald Lawless says the group is well on track to have 30 hotels by 2015

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END OF AN ERA Gulf telcos are having to adapt to a world without easy profits VOL. 13 ISSUE 33 | SEPTEMBER 16 - SEPTEMBER 22, 2012


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An ITP Executive Publication

VOL. 13 ISSUE 35 | SEPTEMBER 30 - OCTOBER 6, 2012


UAE: AED10 Egypt: EGP10 Bahrain: BD1 Kuwait: KD1 Saudi Arabia: SR1 Oman: OR1 Qatar: QR10





Medicine man Sobhi Batterjee, president and CEO of Saudi German Hospitals Group, discusses his vision for low-cost healthcare in the Arab world


Special Report: Page 20

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UAE: AED10 Egypt: EGP10 Bahrain: BD1 Kuwait: KD1 Saudi Arabia: SR1 Oman: OR1 Qatar: QR10

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VOL. 13 ISSUE 34 | SEPTEMBER 23 - SEPTEMBER 29, 2012 An ITP Executive Publication

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23,0 1 6 July - De c 2011

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| vol. 1 /october 2012


MAKING IT HAPPEN LEITH MATTHEWS SPENT A YEAR DRAWING UP BUSINESS PLANS BEFORE HE QUIT HIS FULLTIME JOB AND INVESTED HIS LIFE SAVINGS TO ESTABLISH MAKE BUSINESS HUB, A CO-WORKING SPACE IN DUBAI. HE TELLS STARTUP HOW HE DID IT. By Claire Valdini Leith Matthews wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do when he started devising business plans but he did know he wanted to be his own boss. It wasn’t until the Australian expat had spent almost a year coming up with various different ideas that he stumbled across the concept for Make Business Hub. “My passion has always been food and beverage so most of the things I was working towards were restaurant and bar concepts but at the same time I was also really interested in [reading] magazines like Wired to see if there were any smart ideas that had been thought of already that I could transfer to the region,” he tells StartUp. “Outside of my proper working hours I would be working on my plans; sitting in cafés and restaurants or anywhere outside of the house. It was at that point

I started to feel like I was not the only one and that the coffee shop I was sitting in looked more like an office. There was even a time when I was sitting in a café and Nokia had sponsored it… it was at this point that I started to feel like the [business] opportunity could be me or a person sitting at a computer in a café,” he adds. Today, Matthews’ concept is one of the busiest cafés along Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence. The modern co-working space in Al Fattan Towers is inhabited by designers, freelancers, writers and web developers, all tapping away on their laptops, holding meetings or tucking into food and drink. Matthews wanted Make to be a combination of what he liked



most about the cafés he used to work in and what it was he actually needed while he was working. So in addition to Make’s food and drink menu, it is also home to defined work areas, individual power points, four and two-seater desks designed to spur collaboration and breakout areas that enable small groups to hold meetings. “Our business model is built around making money through food and beverage; we don’t charge an hourly rate for using the space or the internet. Doing it that way we have to make sure that our food and beverage is of a good standard and our service levels are always high,” says Matthews. “There are other ways of making money but it was important for me to do it this way as I didn’t want any barrier to entry. I wanted Make to be a space where you can come in, survey the scene, see who is here [because] those meetings and connections are the real value proposition of a place like this,” he adds. Matthews’ decision to

 Make Business Hub along Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence provides an environment which nurtures entrepreneurship and promotes connections between like-minded creatives in the UAE.

“Entrepreneurship is really exciting and there are more and more people that have talent and want to do things for themselves” quit his full time job in 2010 and open the following year proved to be ideal timing. With the onset of the global financial downturn and later the Arab Spring, regional governments, investors and


financiers have started to pay more attention to local startups and small and medium enterprises (SME) owners, all of which are exactly the type of clientele that Make appeals to. SMEs contributed towards 60 percent of the UAE’s GDP last year, up 100 percent compared to 2011, according to recent figures from the Ministry of Economy. Matthews describes three groups of people that typically work at Make; those interested in setting up a small business or who have just started; freelancers; and a growing number of people who work for large corporations such as Cisco and

Google who have the flexibility to be able to work out of a traditional office environment. “All three [groups] are growing. Entrepreneurship is really exciting and there are more and more people that have talent and want to do things for themselves,” says Matthews. “A lot more people are also working for themselves in a freelance capacity whether it’s because of the economy or downsizing of larger corporations or they are from forward-thinking companies where teams can be remote. I have come across people working in Media City as part of large companies but they don’t have a desk and if they

| vol. 1 /october 2012

need to use one, they have to book it but otherwise they hot-desk within their own office.” Matthews spent nearly a year finding investors, searching for an ideal space and fitting-out Make before opening at the start of this year. But it wasn’t always easy. He admits that he knew little about sourcing funding, which is ironic given that a growing number of investors now approach him to help introduce them to local entrepreneurs. “At the time I didn’t have any sort of clarity or visibility on funding companies or understanding of the venture capital scene in the region,” he says. “I found it really quite strange that finally after a struggle to launch Make I had people coming to me saying ‘I come from this company or organisation and we have money that we want to invest and we are looking for people that have ideas’. So if other people feel like I did, then Make would be a good place to find out what the options are on the table.” Funding for the project

eventually came in the form of three separate sources; Matthews’ savings, an executive of a local holding company and an Emirati partner. Together Matthews describes the three as a “triangle of parties” that each play their own vital role in Make’s operations. Although Matthews’ financial contribution towards the project was less than his other two partners, he felt it was important to be involved financially. “I had some money, which I put in and I think is important as I wanted my investors to see it was more than just an idea. I put effectively my life savings in, which was a smaller portion of the investment, but I wanted them to see that I had some real skin in the game,” he explains. All of Make’s marketing has centered on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and local blogs, which is not only the most cost-effective way of promoting the café but it also the best way to market to the type of clientele Make appeals to most. “Essentially social media

 Make Business Hub takes the best of both café and office environments.

“Essentially social media is the most cost-effective and instantaneous way to get people through the door” is the most cost-effective and instantaneous way to get people through the door. Customers in this region respond well to that type of market, especially for concepts like Make, who it markets to and who its clients are; these people are online — that’s where they spend most of their time. For me it’s just as exciting to get something online as it is getting something in print or television,” says Matthews. Six months after its launch, Make is already breaking even on a day-to-day basis and is expected to post its first profit towards the end of the year/the first quarter of 2013. Given the majority of the café’s revenues come from its food and beverage offering, Matthews says he will focus his future growth plans on encouraging clientele to spend longer in the café and therefore spend more money. Events such as the regular Thursday film nights, Seedstartup demo days and other evening events all help boost footfall. “The events are part of my business model and they work because they bring footfall back into the venue,” he explains. “We don’t charge for the events but if people are coming back then they could be buying coffee so that works for me as a business and it also works to grow the Make community. All of the events are designed



to inspire people into entrepreneurship or build capabilities so whether it’s a workshop or a speaker, they are all designed to help people and add credibility,” he adds. Make’s attraction isn’t simply that it provides food and beverages in an affordable space for the emirate’s freelance and SME community; it is also the provision of a working environment that allows its customers to share ideas, exchange skills and benefit from impromptu meetings at the espresso bar. Matthews says he is currently working on plans to introduce a membership system, which would not only make the process of introduction in Make easier but would also boost revenues looking ahead. The digital platform system would enable Make members to see a virtual CV of other members working from Make at the same time. “At the moment meetings at Make are all organic; the tables are communal and quite often the person you sit next to will spark up a conversation or people meet through me because I know someone and I can connect them. But there are ways this can become smoother and people can make more efficient connections,” he says. He does, however, rule out a de facto Make membership on the grounds that “anything like would result in a closed group and that is only exciting until you get everyone in the group”, he explains. “I think it’s much more interesting to have a change of scene on an almost daily basis.”


 Six months after its launch, Make is already breaking even on a day-to-day basis and is expected to post its first profit towards the end of the year/the first quarter of 2013.

“At the moment meetings at Make are all organic; the tables are communal and quite often the person you sit next to will spark up a conversation or people meet through me because I know someone and I can connect them”

| vol. 1 /october 2012

Monday 19th November, 2012 Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai

Arabian Business Achievement Awards. Rewarding Excellence • Technology Company of the Year • Aviation Company of the Year • Retail Company of the Year • Property Company of the Year • Hospitality Company of the Year • Media Company of the Year • Telecoms Company of the Year • Investment Bank of the Year • Retail Bank of the Year • Healthcare Company of the Year • Education Institute of the Year • Small Business of the Year • Businesswoman of the Year • Businessman of the Year • Lifetime Achievement Award



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SHOW ME THE MONEY RONY EL NASHAR TALKS ABOUT HOW SEEDSTARTUP, CURRENTLY THE ONLY ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME IN DUBAI, GIVES APPLICANTS ACCESS TO SEED MONEY AND MENTORS TO HELP TURN AN IDEA INTO A MONEY-MAKING BUSINESS. By Sara Hamdan arly on a Tuesday in August, entrepreneurs Jack Conner, Ryan Houck and Brandon Collins rehearsed pitches so they would be ready when the time came to secure funding from investors for their start-up idea. Instead of a room full of investors to listen, however, there was a video camera. And instead of a finalised product, the trio’s business is still a work in progress. They, along with three other teams, are part of an accelerator programme in Dubai that gives funding and mentorship to turn an idea into a commercially viable business. While working on their start-up, they will film themselves giving pitches once a week and then work with mentors to improve. They are practicing for “Demo Day” in midSeptember, when they will showcase a solid business that has traction and try to impress investors. The trio, who have been friends for decades, flew in from the US to


focus on developing, a website that lets travellers lock in their airfare price months in advance without worrying about price upswings. Houck, 27, who used to work in corporate finance pricing exotic securities in San Francisco, came up with the idea and decided to spend this summer developing it into a structured business with two other founders. “We were messing around with this idea for a while and then we figured that getting into an accelerator is one of the easiest ways to focus on going from idea to launch,” said Conner, 28, over a coffee at Make Business Hub, a café for mobile workers that will

| vol. 1 /october 2012



 Seedstartup is a member of Techstars, which include top executives of major internet companies across the world such as Yahoo!.

“There are great ideas coming out of the region, but not enough people to fund them at the right stages. If we want to see more start-ups succeed, we have to provide the right support”


serve as their office for three months. “Most have similar offerings of seed money and mentorship, but we picked this one because it’s in Dubai and we’d never been and our business is rooted in the travel industry.” Following months of research, the founders of began the Seedstartup programme in June 2012. Seedstartup is one of a handful of new accelerators for startups in the region — such as Seeqnce in Beirut and Flat6labs in Cairo. The programme in Dubai provides up to $25,000 in seed capital for a busi-

ness idea in exchange for a ten percent equity stake in the young companies. Top performers have the chance to pitch for a $250,000 investment after three months of developing the business. “There are very few players in this part of the world that focus on early stage funding, which means that if you’re an entrepreneur trying to raise money, no one will touch you until you can prove your idea will generate revenue,” says Rony El Nashar, founder of Seedstartup. El Nashar worked as an engineer at a VC-funded startup in Sili-

| vol. 1 /october 2012

ENTREPRENEURSHIP con Valley before breaking into the field in the Middle East. In Abu Dhabi, he then served as the director of investments at the Khalifa Fund, which provides funding exclusively for new Emirati ventures, before launching global-focused Seedstartup. “There are great ideas coming out of the region, but not enough people to fund them at the right stages,” he says. “If we want to see more start-ups succeed, we have to provide the right support.” During the three months in training, entrepreneurs are exposed to three categories of mentors, including successful internet and mobile entrepreneurs, financiers and angel investors, and product experts who specialise in marketing or social media. Seedstartup is also a member of Techstars, a network of around 50 mentors, which include top executives of major internet companies across the world such as Zynga and Yahoo!. This is only Seedstartup’s second year. The first batch started last September, when three teams were selected and two of them successfully received significant investor interest to grow their companies. The businesses are very diverse. The first was a mobile application called Metwit, developed by two founders from Italy, that allows for social, user-generated weather reports. When weather updates are tagged on Instagram or Twitter, the user gets notified of a weather change happening just a few hours before it reaches the user. The second two businesses received significant funding last year. One of them is a Tanzanian company called Rasello that capitalised on high mobile penetration rates in Africa by providing an SMS broadcasting service that connects 300 small

 Seedstartup is one of a handful of new accelerators for start-ups in the region.

“There are very few players in this part of the world that focus on early stage funding”

business with over 100,000 interested subscribers. The young company eventually caught the interest of Esther Dyson, a prominent American angel investor, among others. The third company, Exa Technologies, is homegrown. After filming a TV show or an animated series, the material must go through a “rendering” process before it is screened. This can take months and wastes time



 SeedStartup is a start-up accelerator and seed-stage venture capital fund that invests in web and mobile start-ups.

time and computer resources. This is where a Bahraini team saw opportunity: they decided to use a “Graphics Processing Unit” — which has traditionally been used to speed up processing for video games cheaply — to make rendering video content 112 faster than conventional methods. “An animator will upload the file and it’s rendered in minutes instead of hours or days,” says El Nashar. “By the time these guys were halfway through the programme last year, they had already secured funds from a regional venture capital firm and quadrupled their company’s valuation.” This year, word spread and


Seedstartup had three times the number of applications as last year. In order to be selected, interested parties must apply as a team — no individuals are accepted. The company must show a

“Ideas are easy, execution is the hard part. People must come in with something real to build on”

successful prototype or ability to execute an idea. “So just some dude with a great idea probably won’t get in,” he says. “Ideas are easy, execution is the hard part. People must come in with something real to build on.” There have been a number of hurdles along the way. In order to accept investors, new companies must be incorporated as legal entities. In the UAE, one of the most affordable places to incorporate an internet company is Virtuzone (www., which comes with a UAE visa. The downside is that incorporation can cost up to $10,000 — which is half of the seed money that Seedstartup provides in the

| vol. 1 /october 2012


first place — and can take months to complete. Incorporation in Delaware or the Cayman Islands, by contrast, costs around $200 and takes a few days for approval. “Many of our applicants aren’t from here and most are internet-based companies anyway, so we learned the hard way that there are more flexible options for incorporation out there,” says El Nashar. “We want to be able to give our guys their funding right away so they can get to work.” Opening company bank accounts proved another challenge, which often takes months for approval. Other issues include double costs for shipping and customs in Dubai, as well as expensive set-ups for payment gateways — like PayPal, which is not available in the Middle East — to allow e-commerce websites to charge customers online. “It’s so expensive to set up a payment gateway here — thousands of dollars as an initial deposit compared to a maximum of $20 in the US,” says El Nashar. “For start-ups that are usually bootstrapped, these costs and structural problems are prohibitive to starting a business.” As the regional entrepreneur-investor ecosystem slowly matures in the region, however, these issues are coming to the fore and being addressed. A powerful law is in the works to make it easier to set up and finance new businesses in Dubai. A cultural shift has also taken place in the last three years that has brought encouragement and prestige to those trying to start new businesses instead of accepting traditional career or education tracks. “If this takes off, I will avoid going back to school,” says Houck, who has enough confidence in his business

 Rony El Nashar’s SeedStartup helps entrepreneurs build and scale high impact start-ups.

“We want to be able to give our guys their funding right away so they can get to work”

idea to leave Wharton’s prestigious MBA programme after completing one year. “It’s a lot of work and even when we came here, we completely scrapped our initial idea and had a heart attack and then redesigned it, but it’s a million times better now. I’ve got faith.” He’s saving his best speech and confident smile for Demo Day, just a month away.



SHOULD SMALL BUSINESSES GET INTO HEDGING? ALPARI’S CEO ON HOW SMALL COMPANIES CAN GAIN THE MOST BY GETTING INVOLVED IN HEDGING. By Iskandar Najjar any months of continued economic and political turmoil in the global economy has led to highly volatile currency markets. This has impacted everybody in various diverse lines of business but particularly badly hit have been some organisations conducting business across borders. Where big conglomerates are dealing in volumes that are able to bear this burden, such shifts in currency may make the difference between profitability and bankruptcy for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) such as importexport companies, farmers, jewellery retailers and other small businesses. The first thing to do is delve into the process of hedging, the benefits and how to put a hedging strategy in place, all the while giving a broad overview of hedging, before delving into the specifics and potential forex and commodities trading tactics that can be employed to positive effect by small businesses.


Firstly, let’s put the current situation into context. Events in the global economy over the past few years have led to significant volatility in the currency markets, which has subsequently affected the profitability of many companies doing cross-border business. Currency volatility has become a particularly critical issue, not only

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in the struggling euro zone, to businesses such as import companies that are purchasing goods or services from overseas in one currency and selling at a later date in their local currency. Business leaders that do not address the issue of currency fluctuation are putting their business at risk. The continued uncertainty that remains around the outlook for the rest of 2012 means that volatility is likely to prevail in global currency markets. Businesses, particularly SMEs, should be taking this opportunity to put strategies in place to proactively manage this issue and counter this risk. At Alpari, a global forex and commodities broker, we are keen to use our expertise in our field to provide businesses, such as import agents, with the understanding and tools to navigate their businesses through this challenging time, by providing insight into how hedging currencies against regular commercial transactions can help mitigate risk and maintain operational profitability.


 Currency shifts may make the difference between profitability and bankruptcy for SMEs.

WHAT IS HEDGING? Put simply, hedging involves making an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. Normally, a hedge consists of taking an offsetting position

“Business leaders that do not address the issue of currency fluctuation are putting their business at risk”



Percentage of all registered firms in Dubai which are classified as SMEs.

in a related security, through something like a futures contract. For instance, a good example of hedging is when you own stock in a certain company; you can then enter into a futures contract stating that you will sell that stock at a set price, thereby avoiding or moderating any market fluctuations. Investors use this strategy when they are unsure of what the market will do. A perfect hedge reduces your risk to nothing (except for the cost of the transaction fees). In this case, for traders such as import agents,

hedging is a tool that allows companies involved in cross border, international trade to protect their regular business transactions against currency and commodity price changes. The employment of a hedging strategy allows companies negotiating deals in foreign currencies to plan for potential future mid-transaction shifts in exchange rate, by locking in the price of a product which will be delivered in the future and thus locking in margins in advance. In essence, it is like having an insurance policy against rising prices. Hedging can be executed through several different tools, including forwards, futures, swaps, options and collars, but primarily forwards and futures.


HEDGING LIMITS RISK So what are the benefits of forex trading to SMEs and importers? Why can it be so important? Well, firstly hedging limits risk rather than creates risk. It is important to point out

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that although hedging is not 100 percent failsafe, with the correct guidance, it is a way of reducing risk significantly. Importers can derive tremendous value by seeking hedging opportunities through the use of forex forwards and futures. As we enter 2012 from a particularly tumultuous year in 2011, companies trading with the woe-stricken euro zone, who trade in Euros, should certainly consider hedging as a strategy to reduce their exposure to currency fluctuations and reduce risk at a difficult time. Similarly, companies trading out of India suffering from a struggling Indian Rupee (‘INR’)

 Companies trading out of India should also consider hedging as a viable option.

“Although hedging is not 100 percent failsafe, with the correct guidance, it is a way of reducing risk significantly” should also consider hedging as a viable option — especially if their trades involve US Dollars. The Indian Rupee continues to fall to all-time low levels and given the tradition and volume of trading between the UAE and wider GCC and India, businesses reliant on a strong Rupee might look at hedging as a way of softening the blow of a poorly performing currency. Aside from the Indian Rupee, the performance of the Iranian Riyal, which has plummeted in value largely due to the trade sanctions, has also put traders under severe strain. There is a rich history of trade links between the Gulf countries and Iran; arguably if traders had hedged they may have been able to absorb some of the damaging effects on people’s livelihoods caused by the freefalling currency value. Aside from currency pressures, extremely high levels of some commodity prices mean that companies can no longer ignore the currency issue in their procurement systems and processes. Hedging can help manage costs relating



 Hedging is a tool that allows companies involved in cross border, international trade to protect their regular business transactions against currency and commodity price changes.

to things such as fuel and raw materials and ultimately, hedging drives a fuller bottom line, increasing profitability.


HEDGING ON LIMITED RESOURCES Hedging strategies can be put in place by investing a smaller percentage of the total amount to be covered through leveraging; this is known as ‘trading on margin’. This means the total investment required to cover $500,000 may only be $5,000 based on a leverage ratio of 1:100. However, it should be

“Owners of SMEs need to identify and evaluate the risks the company is exposed to, which will differ depending on the industry” [46]

noted that there are risks involved in leveraging. For example, if the market moves against you, there must be enough in your reserve funds to cover the margin payment if you need to close out of your position. If you do not have funds that exceed this, the broker or platform may automatically close your position, leaving you with a loss. Hedging mitigates risk brought about by volatile prices and last year, we have seen global commodity prices move drastically through uncontrollable market risk which can drive currencies and commodities in rapidly changing different directions; hedging can help soften the blow brought about by exposure to such extreme external factors. Up to this point, a lack of knowledge and understanding and a degree of fear of what is

perceived to be a complex subject has contributed to hedging not being embraced by smaller companies and SMEs in particular. In conclusion, the most crucial aspect of a forex hedging strategy is to understand the risks that could affect your business. Initially, owners of SMEs need to identify and evaluate the risks the company is exposed to, which will differ depending on the industry. The next step a business owner should make is to define their risk tolerance, which will in turn inform the company’s forex hedging strategy, which at such a turbulent time, could mean the difference between profit and loss. Never have we witnessed such a time as in recent years, where hedging can simply make or break a company. *Iskandar Najjar is the CEO of Alpari ME DMCC.

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WHERE THE CROWD GOES, OTHERS FOLLOW A LACK OF LIQUIDITY COUPLED WITH THE BOOM IN SOCIAL NETWORKS IS FUELLING THE GROWTH OF CROWD-FUNDING PLATFORMS. BUT IT’S NOT JUST AN AMERICAN PHENOMENON; SEVERAL WEBSITES HAVE SET UP IN THE REGION IN RECENT MONTHS LOOKING TO TAP INTO THE MIDDLE EAST’S DEEP POCKETS. By Claire Valdini hen Dubai-based singer-songwriter Gayathri Krishnan was looking for investment for her first album she didn’t think twice about how she would raise the money. Having been forced to cancel a collaborative project with other UAE artists after a series of corporations and sponsors pulled out at the last minute, she logged onto the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo. “My goal was to reach $20,000 and I raised that in the first ten days. I had 30 days in which to raise the target and in that time I raised a total of $23,130 from 90 investors from all around the world including the UAE, Australia, Canada, India and even China,” she tells Startup. Krishnan is just one of a growing developing a smart wristwatch that number of individuals turning to connects to Apple’s iPhone and crowd-funding platforms, a capitalGoogle’s Android phones, raised raising strategy that allows inves$10.27m from 68,929 individuals in tors to buy small stakes in ventures May, making it the most crowdamid a shortage of liquidity followfunded start-up ever in dollar ing the global economic crisis. terms, according to website KickOnce the reserve of the creastarter and investors. tive arts industry, crowd-funding Pebble is unlikely to hold its is now mainstream. US-based crown for very long. Research firm Pebble Technology Corp, which is Massolution forecasts that $2bn



will be raised worldwide this year, up from just $530m in 2009. There are currently over 450 crowd-funding platforms, up from 100 in 2007. So how does it work? While the concept has been around for years — fans of the British rock group, Marillion, raised $60,000 in donations, underwriting its entire US tour in 1997 — the concept has been gaining steady momentum following the onset of the global economic downturn and the boom in social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Companies and individuals looking for capital have an allotted period of time to raise their target via crowd-funding platforms. Would-be investors are then able to quiz the companies using social media. “The crowd — the investors — are there to review and critique the business plan online; they can vote, share, ‘like’ with their friends,” explains Chris Thomas, of Dubai-based crowd-funding website, Eureeca. “If within three months you have hit 100 percent of your funding objective,

“The crowd — the investors — are there to review and critique the business plan online; they can vote, share, ‘like’ with their friends” the [money] is transferred to your company account. Crucially, it’s an opportunity for investors to invest as little as $100 — because that’s our minimum ticket rate — in a new business in exchange for equity.”


 Chris Thomas says Eureeca has received more than 65 inquires  from companies seeking funding.


INVESTORS ARE ALSO offered incentives for each price point. Krishnan, for example, offered her financial backers eleven different packages based on a range of donations from $10 to $5,000. Investors that donated $10 were promised a signed digital copy of the album and artwork two weeks prior to its launch while those that paid $5,000 were given executive producer credit. “The $300 package, which included sending me a sound-bite to include in a song, was the most popular,” she says. Crucial to the industry’s growth in recent months has been the US Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act — or

JOBS Act — which was signed into law in April and enables small businesses to sell securities through crowd-funding websites, subject to certain procedures. The provision, which the Securities & Exchange Commission will finalise before implementing the act early next year, means companies will be able to sell up to $1m of stock per year to an unlimited number of investors. Individuals who earn less than $100,000 a year can invest up to $2,000 per company per year; wealthier folks can invest ten percent of their income up to $100,000.

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2009-2 -2012 2

$530 $5 3

2009 20 0 09

20110 20 0

20 0111


$854 $8


(in (i n millio iio on US dol olla lars)


Growth in worldwide Crowd-funding volume

20 012 2 Source:Massolution

“What this will allow people to do is for those that have money and those that need money is democratise the access to capital so that they can launch businesses. What you are going to find is that people with money are going to be following the crowd to see where the people and ideas are that are getting thousands of followers are going and they are going to deploy more capital,” says Sherwood Neiss, one of the chief architects behind the JOBS Act. The introduction of legislation will not only

boost entrepreneurship but also increase political and economic stability, adds Jason Best, who worked with Neiss to co-author the framework. “Crowd-funding is going to increase political stability because to create new jobs and to employ more people who are investors emotionally and financially in existing power structures and existing organisations of companies makes for a much more stable political environment,” he explains. While the majority of the industry’s growth is coming from western markets — of

 US-based Pebble Technology Corporation raised $10.27m from 68,929 individuals in May.

the $1.5bn raised last year, $837m came from North American investors, according to Massolution — it is gaining popularity in the rest of the world. Massolution expects the number of crowd-funding platforms to increase to 530 by the end of the year, up from 452 in April.


IN THE LAST MONTH, two Dubai-based firms, Eureeca and Aflamnah, have launched operations. In the week since Eureeca launched, the website, which is founded by former investment bankers Chris Thomas and Sam Quawasmi, received more than 65 inquires from companies seeking funding and as many from investors looking to help kick-start local companies. “The market is very ripe for this; if you are a business owner looking to raise funds, it’s very difficult to find an outlet now; banks aren’t lending, venture capitalists have moved to much larger deals so there is a very large funding gap that Eureeca fills,” says Thomas.


INVESTMENT Eureeca expects to help 100 businesses reach their funding targets within the first year of operation, says Quawasmi. “We are looking to launch the site with around ten businesses and we would expect that once we hit critical mass over the first year we hope to get around fifteen businesses per month. “Of that we are expecting around half (40-50 percent) to get funded so in terms of the opportunities we would hope in our first year to help 100 businesses reach their funding,” he adds.

 Lack of legislation in the Arab world is likely to limit the number of Middle Eastern crowdfunding investors, says Aramex founder Fadi Ghandour.


WHILE EUREECA AIMS to appeal to a wide range of start-ups and companies that are already operating across a wide range of sectors, Aflamnah says it will concentrate on the region’s creative community. The website already has four confirmed projects, all seeking funding for a variety of film-based projects, which launched their campaign on 1 July. The firm, which charges a flat rate of $100 for registration and stipulates that the project must have some form of link to the region, says it is currently receiving two new enquiries daily. “There seems to be a movement at the moment that is very supportive of talent, at a grass roots level as well as other levels but it’s just finding them, people don’t know how to go. It is as much as a marketing tool for these ideas as it will be a funding tool. It will take a little bit of time to take off in a big way but we’re seeding it and the response so far has been great,” says Vida Rizq, a founding partner. In spite of its rapid growth, crowd-funding is not without its critics. US state regulators and several high-profile commentators have voiced concerns about the threat of potential con artists, claiming to be crowd-funding brokers or to represent online portals through which future deals must be


“Crowd-funding will have lots of challenges, mostly legal. It requires hybrid commercial laws to allow for such a democratic funding process and I do not see how it can be done”

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INVESTMENT conducted, while others claim it is a misleading way in which to raise capital. While the JOBS Act will provide regulation in the US, other regions are still lagging behind. The lack of legislation in the Arab world is likely to limit the number of regional investors, says Jordanian entrepreneur and founder of Aramex, Fadi Ghandour. “Crowd-funding will have lots of challenges, mostly legal. It requires hybrid commercial laws to allow for such a democratic funding process and I do not see how it can be done,” he explains. “I am certainly not sure how this could happen in the Arab world where current laws are barely keeping up with the changes happening in technology and the possibility virtual investors which is what crowd funding is.” Ghandour adds that it is only when the legal hurdles are ironed out will it enable  Indiegogo has hosted over 100,000 funding campaigns in areas such as music, start-ups to benefit. charity and film.

Full throttle Biggest crowd-funded projects on Kickstarter by 13 June 2012, in million US dollars 0 1 2 3 4 Peebble watch (Product)

10.3 69

Double Fine Adventure (Product) Wasteland 2 (Game) Shadowrun Returns (Game)


Elevation Dock (Product)


The order of the Stick (Comic) Amanda Palmer (Music) TikTak & LunaTik watch (Product) Source: Kickstarter

“The process of validation is actually the crowd themselves so the terms and conditions have been clearly highlighted on any business plan”

87 61

15 Number of 25 backers, '000 14

Quawasmi from Eureeca argues that it is difficult to mislead hundreds of investors. “The process of validation is actually the crowd themselves so the terms and conditions have been clearly highlighted on any business plan. We expect investors that are going to invest money, especially large amounts, to do their due diligence and to ask these entrepreneurs questions transpar-

ently online,” he says. “The all-or-nothing financing… forces entrepreneurs to think of milestones, otherwise called start-up methodology, so it’s going help entrepreneurs think more strategically about capital and make them smarter business people,” adds Sherwood. Legislation aside, it looks like crowd-funding is here to stay.


ď ž The men behind Namshi. From left to right: Faraz Khalid, Hosam Arab, Louis Lebbos, Muhammed Mekki.


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DIGITAL REVOLUTION THE INVESTMENT OF $20M INTO LOCAL RETAIL WEBSITE NAMSHI HAS TURNED THE SPOTLIGHT ONTO HOME-GROWN E-COMMERCE – AN INDUSTRY THAT IS WORTH ABOUT $11BN A YEAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST ALONE. By Massoud A. Derhally nternet ventures are no longer a mirage in the Arab world. Enthusiasts will remember the era of which is no longer around. The challenges for start ups remain, but the landscape has evolved and is continuing to grow. With the growth of broadband, one key area that illuminates how business is being conducted is e-commerce. Aramex, the largest online courier in the Middle East, started its shop-and-ship service to help its clients shop overseas what now seems like light years ago. In many ways, one could argue that move has served as a catalyst for other entities that came to the market later. Though the Middle East, compared to other regions, has been slow coming to the market when it comes to e-commerce – mainly due to logistics related to security of transactions, payment execution, technology speed and banks being risk-averse due to the high rate of fraud - the business environment

is changing. Things are becoming more accessible. Today, a growing number of people in the region buy their tickets and book their hotels online, they pay their bills the same way and they do it from local companies rather than from Amazon and eBay. The value of e-commerce-related transactions is about $11bn a year in the Middle East, according to Jawad Abbassi, founder and general manager Arab Advisors Group. Europe has the largest e-commerce market in the world, growing 19 percent last year, with the total value of the market estimated at 246bn euros, according to figures from the European Multi-channel



and Online Trade Association (EMOTA). The North American market is valued at 237bn euros. Online retail sales now account for around 5.1 percent of the total value of the retail market in Europe, with 240 million e-shoppers spending an average of 1,000 euros each, according to EMOTA. “People are investing because they’re waking up to the fact that this is almost a virgin market and as the broadband penetration rate is increasing, people are using the internet for valueadded services,” Abbassi says. By end of 2011, there were more than 77.7 million internet users in the Arab World with an internet user penetration of around 22 percent, Abassi says. Last month, Namshi, an e-commerce site founded less than a year ago, which sells shoes and clothing in the Middle East, said it secured $20m in financing from JP Morgan Chase and Blakeney Management. Namshi is now set for major regional expansion, says Muhammed Mekki, one


“This investment is a turning point - it shows the commitment of some of the biggest names in international finance to the potential of this region” of the company’s founders. “This investment is a turning point,” says Mekki, a former executive at consultancy McKinsey & Co, who founded Namshi with part-


 Jawad Abbassi, founder and general manager, Arab Advisors Group.

ners Louis Lebbos, Hosam Arab, and Faraz Khalid. “It shows the commitment of some of the biggest names in international finance to the potential of this region and positions Namshi as the engine driving that sector’s success,” the 29-year old Iraqi-American added. “All eyes are on Namshi now, the horse that has been backed. We have a responsibility to prove to other investors that this is an attractive growing and lucrative market.” Among the Gulf states, the UAE leads the way in e-commerce spending with sales reaching about $2bn in 2010, according to a study by Visa and Interactive Media in

Retail Group International. The UAE’s online spending equated to 55 percent to 60 percent of total GCC e-commerce sales. Saudi Arabia was the second largest market, with an estimated $520m, followed by Qatar ($375m), Kuwait ($280m), Bahrain ($175m) and Oman ($70m), according to the study. “I think it’s high time for e-commerce to take off in this region,” Mekki says, adding: “it’s a well-educated region that has a proven retail market”. Namshi, which went into full operation in January of this year, has over 100 employees. The capital injec-

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tion will help the company expand its operations particularly within Saudi Arabia, its fastest-growing market, and also increase its product selection, Mekki says. To help it gain visibility the company launched a TV campaign that aired on satellite channels across the region. “We started the business in the UAE, then we expanded to the GCC, after which we started to see growth especially in Saudi Arabia, but post our television campaign we’ve seen the Saudi orders overtake other geographies

and we expect that trend to continue,” Mekki says. The company has a dedicated version of its platform for Saudi Arabia, the largest market in the Arab world, and intends to invest in developing its interface with customers. Saudi Arabia’s economy grew 6.8 percent last year, the fourth-fastest growing market in the Middle East and North Africa after Qatar, Iraq and Kuwait, according to the International Monetary Fund. The kingdom’s economy is expected to grow by about 6 percent this year,


 Samih Toukan, the founder and chairman of Al Jabbar Internet Group.

the IMF estimates. “We expect to invest more to educate the market on e-commerce,” Mekki says. “The value is providing our customers with the broadest selection available with [the] highest level of convenience,” he adds. “You can shop simultaneously on our site and view 400 brands and 10,000 styles and compare these to one another instead of going from boutique to boutique in a mall. And we will deliver anything you choose, for free, to your home.” Mekki declined to say whether the business model of the company envisioned an initial public offering. “Right now, we are committed to building the biggest and best running e-commerce business in the region and what comes of that we are open to all options,” he says. “We are focused on building this business and are thrilled by the extra fuel this funding has given us.” The investment in Namshi is a vote of confidence in entrepreneurs and e-commerce businesses in the region, says Fadi Ghandour, CEO of Aramex. “It’s a substantial amount, there are very few companies in the region that have


INVESTMENT gotten $20m other than Maktoob,” says Ghandour who helped back Maktoob with seed funding. In 2009, Yahoo!, which runs the second-most popular internet search engine, agreed to buy Arabiclanguage internet venture, the largest portal in the Arab world, for about $165m. In June, Thomson Reuters bought, for about $40m, online finance and business portal Zawya, which aggregates content on the MENA region, provides proprietary research to its users and has a partnership with Dow Jones Newswires. The investment in Namshi “sends a very clear message that e-commerce is happening in the region, that there are investors who believe in it and serious people that are building that business in the region,” Ghandour points out. Al Jabbar Internet Group, which includes, the largest e-commerce company in the region, may sell partial stakes in some of the eight companies under its umbrella, says chairman and CEO Samih Toukan, who started the group after selling Maktoob to Yahoo!. “Jabbar has raised a capital of $60 million so definitely we’ll be talking millions of dollars,” Toukan says, declining to specify the potential size of investment. “We always raise capital in order to grow the companies. We are expanding in new markets and we are doing acquisitions so we always need capital. At the same we have interested investors that come and say we’re interested either to expand in you and invest, or to acquire one of your assets.” Though Toukan declines to specify details on the talks being conducted because of non-disclosure agreements,, which was founded in 2005 and operates across the Middle East, could sell for as much as $40 million, according to sources

 Fadi Ghandour, founder and CEO of Aramex.

A [58]

“[The investment in Namshi] sends a very clear message that e-commerce is happening in the region” who spoke on condition of anonymity. Buyers may include Naspers, a South Africabased multinational company with comprising electronic media and ecommerce businesses. Naspers did not respond to an email from StartUp seeking comment. competes with Namshi. If gets a capital

injection, the investment would enable the company to invest in its technology, overall operations and expansion, Toukan says. Mekki declined to provide revenue figures for Namshi, however Toukan says has recorded doubledigit growth in the last six months in terms of the number of transactions

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carried out and revenue generated. “Every month we’re growing at double digits from the month before,” Toukan says. “Dubai is big. Saudi is growing, things are moving in Egypt, Kuwait is interesting. is a huge growth story in the region and I think will be one of the biggest internet companies in the area. is big but it’s the beginning of e-commerce in the region,” he said. Jabbar’s other companies include, Cobone. com,, Cashu. com,, and An investment or acquisition in Jabbar or its subsidiaries would be a further boon for e-commerce and start-ups in the region after two ventures, LivingSocial and Mizado, closed down in the last two months. The investment in Namshi is “very good news to the industry - it shows that international players are willing to invest and it helps although Namshi is a competitor of ours,” Toukan says. “E-commerce is happening now in the Middle East, its being conquered, a lot of investment is being put into it. It’s happening, investors see the opportunity and it’s the beginning of it.” Ghandour who is stepping down as CEO of Aramex at the end of this year to focus on entrepreneurship agrees. “As an angel investor and as the CEO of Aramex, a company that does a lot of services for the e-commerce industry, I can tell you the industry is growing substantially, and is one of the last few unconquered markets,” Ghandour says. “This is our biggest-growing business in the express business today. The express business in the Arab world would be growing in single digits and because of e-commerce its growing double digits now,” he says. The investment in Namshi is, he adds, “a vote of confidence, big time.”


 Namshi, which sells shoes and clothing, has just secured $20m in financing.



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ENGINE SMEs REPRESENT 95 PERCENT OF DUBAI’S ECONOMY, AND ARE THE SECRET BEHIND THE EMIRATE’S SUCCESS. ABDUL BASET AL JANAHI, CEO OF THE MOHAMMED BIN RASHID ESTABLISHMENT FOR SME DEVELOPMENT, EXPLAINS HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS WORKING TO HELP DEVELOP THE SECTOR FURTHER. By Sara Anabtawi hey are the people that are in love with their project…they do not want to have an affair with it, but [they want to] really love it and [marry it],” says Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Development. A man that has done a great deal to support the SME

sector, and who passionately believes in the idea of entrepreneurship, he knows what he is talking about. In fact, he has recently been handpicked by du as one of the judges to oversee a new TV reality show, ‘The Entrepreneur’. The show offers AED1m in cash to winning entrepreneurs, in addition to more than half a million

dirhams in professional services, ranging from setting up an office to providing exceptional networking. “You see, the success of any business, 60 percent if not 70 percent, relies on the personality of the entrepreneur. He or she makes it or breaks it,” adds Al Janahi. He thinks that a strong relationship should bridge entrepreneurs to their projects, much like a marriage. “This entitles entrepreneurs to give a lot of time and commitment [to their projects], and they become like trains, they set their own railways and nothing can stop them,” he says.



“You see, the success of any business, 60 percent if not 70 percent, relies on the personality of the entrepreneur. He or she makes it or breaks it” the groundwork for the entrepreneurial development process from scratch, which enabled the unravelling and flowering of businesses in the region. This covered core pillars such as development advisory, incubation, funding, capability development and market access.



Under Al Janahi’s direction, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED), has assisted more than 10,000 entrepreneurs, of which around 800 are active members of the establishment. “As Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment


we have two different programmes,” says Al Janahi. “There is a programme called the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Programme, [which is] for UAE nationals specifically, then there is the agency itself, which is the Mohammed Bin Rashid agency for SME Development, [which is] quite open.” Years ago, Al Janahi laid

of SMEs’ access to market opportunities, the establishment secured its members exclusive privileges by locking up vital agreements with diverse leading private and public sector organisations. Among the recognised UAE companies proudly embraced, supported and created by the establishment include: Emirati 3D animated cartoon, Freej and evolutionary gourmet shawarma restaurant, Wild Peeta. “In the UAE, and specifically in Dubai, it is very easy for people to start SMEs,” says Al Janahi. He adds, “I think we are the easiest in the region, if not in this part of the world. This is the land of opportunity.” The interest in SMEs and specifically in entrepreneurship started around ten years ago, and since then, awareness in how important the sector is, has been growing. “The interest is very

| vol. 1 /october 2012



 Al Janahi confirms that the foundation is lobbying for new laws to help small and medium enterprises.

high, and I think, today, we are very well situated in comparison to the rest of the region,” says Al Janahi. Despite the cushion that the programme offers to SMEs in the UAE, obstacles, or as Al Janahi prefers to call them, challenges, are still obvious. “The biggest challenge is: if you open next to Burger King or McDonald’s, how do you make yourself different?” he says, referring to the food industry.


“In the UAE, and specifically in Dubai, it is very easy for people to start SMEs. I think we are the easiest in the region, if not in this part of the world. This is the land of opportunity”


home to many of the world’s most popular food chains. Big names ranging from Subway to PF Chang’s are liberally sprinkled throughout local food courts, and aspiring entrepreneurs need to think creatively to make projects happen. “How do you bring your brand out and stand out in this busy branding exercise and competition?” Al Janahi questions. Apart from trying to stand

out from the crowd, he also admits that funding is also often a source of difficulty. “[It is only a challenge] for start ups, but with SME, when you run your business, especially when you are in a non-tax environment, [most of your profit], you book it for yourself, and so you can go back and you [can] reinvest it,” he says. Yet another challenge facing businessmen and women in the region is the

speed to carry out required processes, says Al Janahi. “When you start a business… [whether] you want to open a restaurant or you want to set up your own office… usually, you have to go through all the approvals, then you can perform your business… that takes you from three to six months sometimes.” But fortunately for business hopefuls, there is constant lobbying



 Ninety five percent of Dubai’s economy is comprised of SMEs.

for new laws to help sustain SMEs. In March, for example, the DED said in a statement that it would bring in a 120 -day hassle-free licence in an effort to promote the emirate’s competitiveness, simplify procedures and facilitate business.



which should be in play by the end of this year, allows would-be executives to start a business immediately and complete the rest of the licensing requirements, such as approvals from other government authorities concerned, within the next 120 days. “With the [120-day gap], [the new licence] is giving you enough time to set up your business, be operational, [and] follow the guidelines,” says Al Janahi. “[After that period], they can come and check if things are in place. “I think these are great ideas and great initiatives,” he says.


Number of active members of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development. “It’s a shift on how we can help businesses [carry out their] work. Dubai has always been innovative when it comes to these things and I think the rest of the world will follow,” he adds. Al Janahi also confirmed that the foundation is lobbying for new laws to help SMEs, however, they cannot be disclosed at the moment. “While the laws and regulations are very friendly for SMEs…we are working with the rest of the government agencies… [to make the laws] friendlier,” he says. Ninety five percent of Dubai’s economy is comprised of SMEs, a large number that accounts for an extremely healthy environment. However, Al Janahi

believes that the market can do more to attract an even larger number. “I think the education system needs to encourage people by training them, by giving them the option of thinking, of starting their own business, [rather than] working for other people. That is very important,” he says. “I think that encourages more start ups, more entrepreneurs and more SMEs. We should have — all of us, me and you —been engineered while we were in school to think of entrepreneurship before working for someone,” he adds. Hope has been and still is on the horizon, as Al Janahi strongly believes that the shift is happening. “It is slow, but it is happening,” he says.

startup | vol. 1 /may 2012



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Financial planning



h here’s no doubt tthat here in the UAE, a lot of U expat families e ffall under a very similar v financial umbrella — u tthe husband is often the main breadwinner breadwinner, meaning the wife is highly dependent on the income stream he provides. As a wife and mother, take a moment to think about how life might look if for some unfortunate reason your husband was no longer here to support you and your family? Could you sustain the same level of lifestyle you currently enjoy? Could your children stay at their school and would you even be able to continue living in the UAE at all? This is not a subject many expats want to think about, but the sooner you have provisions in place, the easier you can sleep at night if indeed the worst-case scenario were to happen. Let’s take a look at a case-study to help understand the process: So you are at home, happily chatting away with friends, the kids are laughing and playing in the garden when the phone rings. You answer and in a heartbeat your world changes forever — your husband has passed away unexpectedly. Despite the best intentions of friends rallying round and reassuring you that ‘it will be alright’, you will quickly need to establish the reality of your new situation; and if your family is sufficiently protected in the UAE. It may well be that you need a little bit more help and support to navigate your way through the rules in the

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UAE, that are somewhat different to other countries. Your friend suggests that you contact a qualified and experienced professional who can walk you through the implications of Sharia law. You make the call and they explain: In the United Arab Emirates, Sharia law is used to disperse assets and deal with the custody of any children. This would be fine if you want to follow Muslim law, but the vast majority of expats don’t, which means you need to make sure you have a will in place to cover this eventuality. Not having a will in place will mean your late husband’s estate will be dealt with intestate according to Sharia law. The implications of which are as follows: • Under Sharia law, a woman Protect your only receives one eighth of her family and husband’s assets. assets by • Under Sharia law, any real contacting estate may go to the nearest male relative, not to you or any your financial adviser to other beneficiaries. ensure that • Within one hour of the police your will is being notified of a death, your written in line bank accounts and assets will with Sharia be frozen. law. • If both you and your spouse die leaving a child behind, the child could be placed in care while the authorities try to find a suitable guardian. If just your husband were to pass away, children do not automatically remain in the care of you, their mother. The creation of a locally recognised will allows you to appoint any guardian, or temporary guardians, to protect against this particular situation. ‘What a nightmare, I need to tell my friends’ is probably what you are thinking. Your profes-

sional adviser continues by stating: ‘According to figures issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, 75 British nationals alone died in the UAE between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011, and so this could happen to anyone.’ ‘So if my friends have a will from another country, is this OK?’ The response from your adviser: ‘Maybe, but without reviewing their will, it’s difficult to know. This is a simple process however.’ Your adviser goes on to explain the five-step process when reviewing a current will or creating a new one: 1. Request a will questionnaire by e-mailing 2. Complete and return the questionnaire with a copy, if applicable, of your existing will. 3. We will contact you to arrange a meeting with you to discuss any variations. 4. Our fully approved and licenced lawyer will produce an initial draft for approval. 5. Once approved, the will needs to be signed and executed which our lawyer will guide you through. Once you have a will in place it is important to check it regularly as your circumstances may change in the coming years. A common question I am asked is in relation to translation to Arabic. As your will may alter over the years, there is little point in paying for it to be legally translated until the will is required, as every time you make a change you will need to have it re-translated. Protect your family and assets by contacting your financial adviser to ensure that your will is written in line with Sharia law. If this is not the case, take action now and e-mail for a free will questionnaire, or to have any questions you may have answered. Stewart is the senior Neil Stew financial planner at Acuma Wealth Management in Dubai.

startup | vol. 1 /september | vol. 1 /october 2012 2012


Human resources

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startup | vol. 1 /september | vol. 1 /october 2012 2012



ow good is our HR function? H Can I measure C their contributh tion to our tio bottom line? bo Do they (HR) D understand un our operaou tional and ti financial i l realities? li i ? Do D I even know what they should be doing? These are questions that CEOs are asking themselves and their HR teams around the world. The reason is simple economics. Companies with strong core HR practices have revenue growth that is up to 3.5 times higher than that of their peers and profit margins that are 2.1 times better. (Boston Consulting Group study). Increasing employee engagement also correlates directly with a positive impact on key business metrics. A recent Gallup survey showed that companies with highly engaged workforces (which only happens with strong core HR practices) have 3.9 times the earnings per share (EPS) growth compared to organisations with lower engagement in the same industry sectors. CEOs want their HR executives to become much better at understanding what the real business challenges are and apply their expertise to managing and solving these problems proactively. As one CEO stated in a recent survey conducted by Canadian consulting company Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions, “HR need to map out HR organisation strategy to the business strategy — do we have the organisation design and people to get there? If not, what’s the plan?” To reinforce this, CEOs want senior HR execu-

organisation to achieve its goals. Unfortunately, many HR functions are neither commercially astute nor capable of designing and delivering strong core HR practices which underpin high levels of employee engagement. Many companies are not waiting for their HR people to get up to speed. Over the past five years, more than one third of the chief HR officers appointed in the top companies in the US had no prior HR experience. That should be a wake-up call to HR, one would think. As one CEO stated in the Knightsbridge survey, “If you don’t have a business-savvy HR team, it’s time to re-tool it!” So the challenge for CEOs and their HR executives is to redefine HR’s true role and purpose. The HR function should be full of people with business acumen — capable of seeing the big picture, acting quickly, decisively and with keenness of judgment or insight. If they aren’t there now, bring in people with business acumen, change management tools such as the Lean Productivity System, consulting skills and a relentless focus on the customer. HR must be tasked with delivering quantifiable commercial value. It must stop creating friction through outdated, irrelevant HR practices and start to create flow through delighting internal and external customers. Employee engagement starts at the top of the organisation. And it underpins sustained successful business performance as we saw earlier. A CEO must be able to rely on HR to deliver the processes, practices and culture which foster outstanding employee engagement, as they are best placed in the organisation to do so. Ultimately, HR should become the champions of continuous improvement for the organisation, using Lean Productivity processes on itself first. Then HR can become the truly indispensable business function it ought to be.

tives to focus on business priorities rather than on policies and programmes that are sometimes impractical or even irrelevant to the top or bottom line of the business. A CEO’s common complaint is that HR does not get out into the business enough, to understand the challenges of supervisors and employees and what it takes to develop a culture of employee engagement. Many HR practices are “closed loop”, where success is defined by compliance levels, rather than the value created. Many performance appraisal systems fall into this category. It’s often hard to see what bottom-line impact this annual ritual produces. CEOs know that if HR is not embedded in the organisaCEOs want their tion, it will not be successful. HR executives It needs to be visible. They to become much complain that HR is often too better at narrow, too specialised. They understandwant HR executives with busiing what the ness acumen who can forecast real business critical social, legislative and challenges are people trends, and lead the and apply their organisation in implementing expertise to programmes that have front-line managing and buy-in and really matter to the solving these business. They expect senior HR problems executives to have a toolbox of proactively. change management practices, a consulting mind-set, and a strong understanding of how recruitment, talent management, compensation and performance management can be used to support change. And they expect HR to provide the foundation for strong employee engagement. So, by deduction, at worst a weak HR function is acting like an anchor, frustrating Steve As Ashby is an internationyour efforts to be more producally experienced HR director who tive, efficient and profitable, and works with companies to transat best doing nothing to help the form their HR functions.


Work-life balance

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startup | vol. 1 /september | vol. 1 /october 2012 2012



s we come back to work b ffrom fr r the ssummer holidays, it h iiss becoming evident that e ssome business owners n ccan’t seem to mak to ma make ke th tthe he dec he decis decision i is to take a break from the office and find a work-life balance. Lots of companies find themselves in a loop of countless emails, memos, and meetings stacked on top of each other. This unnecessary overload of communication is a big waste of time, and usually holds you back from attending to other things outside of your work. People may argue that the two successes of work and home are mutually exclusive, but we find that achieving a balance is attainable. It requires an ability to put aside the burdens of work at the end of the day, and give full focus to other important relationships. For an entrepreneur, their passion is their work and vice versa, so separating work and personal time can become even more difficult, and it’s easy to find yourself on call 24/7. Being mobile and constantly connected adds a new dynamic to vacations, as it has now become part of the norm to stay connected even while on a break. There is no doubt that over-use of technology is growing into a global phenomenon, bordering on an addiction for many.

According to an external Manta Wellness survey conducted in June 2012, 71 percent of business owners find themselves glancing at their emails and accessing documents from mobile devices while sitting on a beach, partaking in a tourism outing, or trying to spend time with their families. It is then no surprise that business owners find themselves returning from vacations even more tired than when they embarked on them! Research studies have shown that small business owners who manage their own time tend to set goals, prioritise actions, keep their focus and identify what really needs to be done in each day. Being organised tends to help maintain a balanced lifestyle. New business owners find themselves easily pulled into the chaos of their jobs, which often results in wasting the little precious time they have. Getting things done by setting pre-determined deadlines ensures you have the time to enjoy yourself with friends and family. It’s very important to harness the motivating power of your other passions. After all, no matter how dedicated you are to your company, you may have other interests too. Simple steps like taking a technology break during lunch time where you don’t check your emails or take business calls, integrating the music you love into your daily routine by plugging in your earphones

Research studies have shown that small business owners who manage their own time tend to set goals, prioritise actions, keep their focus and identify what really needs to be done in each day.

to stream a new album, or finding ways to unwind in the evenings, with a good book or seeing friends you may have been neglecting, gives you the break you need to catch up with the world outside of your job and mentally re-energise. So what is work-life balance? To put it in simple terms, it is the ability to manage the growth and success of the business while leading a fulfilling lifestyle that includes healthy relationships with family and friends. So how can small business owners achieve this balance? Here are five easy steps to get you started: 1. Take a technology break for one hour everyday during lunch; you will enjoy your food much more, while clearing your head of the things that might be irritating you or causing you to be stressed. 2. Select one family member or friend, near or far, every day and make it a point to reach out to them for a five-minute chat, a quick Skype session or even an evening meal! 3. Exercise at least three times a week for a physical and mental release: the endorphins will make you feel good and help clear your mind, readying it for another productive day! 4. Learn to relax… pick an activity you love to do, whether it is cooking up a storm on the weekend, or taking up photography, and add it to your schedule. Make a rule to stay away from work by putting all work emails and calls on hold, and immersing yourself completely in something new! 5. Instead of wasting half your work day checking your twitter feed, Facebook notifications and Instagram, improve your efficiency by setting aside five minute breaks throughout the day to stay social and keep up with the latest social media happenings! pp Arora is the managing Prajit Ar director of Sentinel Business Centres. Sentinel provides a flexible office and trading solution for businesses in the Middle East.


How I started:

IHSAN JAWAD TWO MONTHS AGO IHSAN JAWAD COMPLETED THE SALE OF LEADING BUSINESS PORTAL ZAWYA TO THOMSON REUTERS IN A DEAL WORTH $40M. HE REVEALS THE SECRETS OF HIS SUCCESS. R RIGINALLY I WANTED TO be W a physicist as I had graduated h ffrom London, Im Imperial College w with a Masters in Ph Physics, but it was ver very tough for an Iraqi to get a job in the UK in physics at the time, so I ended up in Citibank on their derivatives desk. After a few years of investment banking, I realised the Middle East had virtually no business intelligence available and that’s where I got the idea for Zawya. Shortly after that, on January 4th, 2000, I walked in and resigned. It was also my 28th birthday and so my partner and I celebrated. It was our first step into a larger world. Having an investment banking background helped a lot and in the first week we actually raised $1m. This was as much a blessing at it was a curse, as it was so easy we stopped fundraising almost immediately. While our plan was to raise $3m, we figured the first $1m was so easy we could get the rest later when we needed it. So we made our first mistake out of the gates and under-capitalised the business. This really hurt us as after the first year, the dotcom crash happened, the market dried up and we were out of cash with no new investors in sight. We


almost went bankrupt as we had to finance the business ourselves. Very quickly we found ourselves $200,000 in debt with no immediate solution in sight. We believed in the idea so strongly that we were not going to give up no matter what. Eventually an investor from the Middle East called us and said they wanted to invest in Zawya and then the project took off. It was a little touch and go for a minute there, but we made it through the darkest hour because we were tenacious and believed in the project. After ten years, Zawya had a staff of 200 people, and at that point it needs institutionalised growth not entrepreneurial growth if you understand what I mean. So I decided to hand over the baton to a different management team with a different skill set. Myself and two other partners (Husain Makiya and Zaid Jawad) we went back to basics to do what we like most, start ups and new challenges. We love the start-up challenge so we started Honey Bee Tech Ventures which is a littleunder-$2m investment company, focused on the consumer internet space. is our first project, which is a new recruitment platform with a twist, designed to improve

 Zawya is a company that provides business intelligence and news focused on the MENA region.

on the traditional job boards in the online recruitment space. Laimoon’s USP is that it matches candidates to jobs better than anything else on the market. It provides a completely new experience to hunt for jobs online without using a CV. We are looking to disrupt the online recruitment space and have had some early success as we started generating revenue within four months of our launch. We are looking to build another multi-milliondollar business in a shorter period of time and are currently trending in the right direction.

| vol. 1 /october 2012

Startup Magazine - October 2012  

Startup Magazine is an ITP Executive Publication Released from Dubai, Vol 1 - Issue 01 - October 2012 (76 pages)