Successful entrepreneurs say "passion is the key to success
International and regional entrepreneurs shared their experiences and their "passion at the second Tamakkan Entrepreneurship Seminar organized by the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) on the topic "How to start a Business and How to Find Investors.
Hans Schwab, CEO of Terrace-Apps, an international company that develops lifestyle applications, said the best way to start a business was to identify a need or unique opportunity. Next is to find out what the customer wants; make a plan; commit to excellence; and accept accountability. "If its your fault, Schwab said, "admit it.
Moses Faleafaga, CEO of Popular Popcorn, a company in Al Ain that produces gourmet popcorn, talked about the ups and downs as he tried to do for popcorn what Starbucks did for coffee: Make a commodity into a premium brand. The company, funded by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, now produces more than 30 packaged popcorn varieties. His advice to entrepreneurs: have patience, cultivate perseverance, be flexible, have a good team, and "enjoy the ride.
David Moleshead, Co-Chairman of Envestors MENA, a company that helps raise finance and works with angel investors to place their money in new or young companies, provided tips on how to approach investors, and cautioned that 60 per cent of entrepreneurs get rejected for finance in the first round. However, that shouldnt discourage entrepreneurs who have to be strong enough to survive rejection.
Ron Ribeiro, CEO of Aryan Consulting who has worked with many businesses over 30 years in the UAE, said the entrepreneurs should be "ideas people wanting to change the world. They should be risk takers, disruptive innovators, control freaks, and intuitive leaders.
Noor Al Jallaf, Senior Business Counsellor, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, revealed that the Fund had now expanded its operations to cover all emirates, and recently opened offices in Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah, in keeping with its goal of boosting the growth of competitive SMEs. She said the Khalifa Fund meets about 80 entrepreneurs each month and approves 18 of those projects.
Shem Shaikh, UAE Chair of The Kairos Society, a global network that started at the Wharton School and encourages university students to become entrepreneurs, revealed the organisations plans to enter the Middle East in December 2011, with branches in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and the UAE. With 75 million jobs to be created in the Middle East, Shaikh said, startups have a great future.
Habib Al Assad, Vice Chair of The Hub, an organization that supports entrepreneurs by supplying space and ideas, said his companys goal is to help entrepreneurs turn ideas into action. The international non-profit is due to launch its UAE chapter soon.
The event was part of UOWDs ongoing attempts to link academics and industry. Originating in Abu Dhabi, Tamakkan is an entrepreneurship and innovation organisation that fuels the growth of the entrepreneurial spirit by nurturing new ideas and best practices through free monthly seminars and networking sessions. It was founded two years ago and is managed by Sana Bagersh, CEO of BrandMoxie marketing company. The Dubai seminars have been organized and moderated by Dr. Alma Kadragic, Program Director for New Programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences at UOWD.