Coming from a solid background within his family business – one of Kuwait’s most highly renowned – he moved to Aiwa Gulf and made it the number one value added service in the Middle East. He had contracts with most of the mobile operators in the Middle East and would create content based on subscription. A model of success, it did well and he sold part of the company for a healthy price.
How do you view the regional economy today for potential start-ups? Fertile ground, or a tough road ahead?
It’s a great time. It’s like any emerging marketing. For example, there is potential for growth of two- to three-hundred percent in ecommerce and digital projects. That’s huge growth by anyone’s standards. Now, obviously there are some people who will make it and some that won’t – that’s the same as in any industry. You’ll have good people that focus and do things well, and others that won’t. We all remember the dot.com boom and the casualties it brought. Some stopped, but some became huge. We’ve seen in Kuwait what can happen – look at Talabat, Carriage, and For Sale – all were sold on for over $120 million when each was a company only four or five years old. We’ve seen it happen here before, it will happen again – to the lucky few. But there are many people trying – success won’t come to everyone.
Which areas of business do you feel are ripe for a well-planned new venture? Which markets are under-tapped?
The financial and media sectors are ready for big growth. They need an injection of creativity, and to be served by regionally-tailored products. Crowdfunding is an area which needs further investigation in the Middle East. A regional ‘Kickstarter’ could be the next big thing here. The whole of the region is ready for greater activity including new ventures. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and of course Kuwait – they’re all huge markets being massively underserved.
Who, to you, epitomizes the archetypal entrepreneur? And what are the key characteristics for success?
I think to be an entrepreneur means more than just thinking about an idea and doing it, you have to be passionate about it too. You have to love it. Really love it. You can’t just start a business with a plan to sell it on in a couple of years and make millions of dollars. It doesn’t work that way. This is everyone’s dream, but to be successful effectively you have to be working at something that feels like a hobby. If you don’t enjoy doing it, you won’t have the power or the passion to move it forward.
Looking back, what do you regard as the project that’s most fulfilled your drive and vision? And what do you feel you were able, uniquely, to offer to secure its success?
I love media – anything to do with media. This is my natural home. Of course, the most fulfilling project is any project I’m currently working on – right now that’s styleee.com.
I feel I’m passionate about my projects. I invest myself fully. If you’re passionate, you’ll find a way out of any situation – this is more important than a bottomless pit of money because – eventually – this will run out.
No matter how excited you are about something, you must do a proper business plan, you need to study your sector and your business. You need this to know where you’re going. Even having done this, no one can guarantee success, but if you have good human resources around you, people who are willing to upgrade themselves on a daily basis, you’ll learn more. Be sure to value working as a team – then you’re best placed to get what you want.
Further reading: Styleee me up! Times have changed – and the business of fashion has changed more quickly than most. As we continue to lead ever more time-crunched lives, the pressure on us to keep up with the latest has intensified hand-in-hand with an exponential growth in the amount of information we need to absorb. New fashion brands arrive on the market like shooting stars – if you’re not looking at the right area of the sky, they’re pretty easy to miss. We’re all for finding an easier way to stay on-trend, and we’re big fans of letting someone else do the fashion leg-work for us. But who’s going to do this for the Middle Eastern market AND make it fun at the same time? Styleee.com – that’s who.