Want To Spearhead A Startup? These Entrepreneurs In Dubai Startup Hub’s Co-Founder Dubai Program Are Looking For Someone Like You
Once a startup brand becomes well known enough, a company’s name becomes synonymous with the identities of its co-founders. But little is said about how those co-founders actually came together and the true test of those relationships as they weather the trials and tribulations of starting a new business. Ask any entrepreneur, and most will insist that the process of finding a co-founder is sometimes longer and no less challenging than finding your life partner. And much like a marriage, your relationship with your co-founder is arguably the most pivotal ingredient for success.
A social media poll conducted by Dubai Startup Hub, the entrepreneurship arm of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, found that two out every three entrepreneurs surveyed in Dubai have a potential need for a co-founder. Yet advocacy round tables held by Dubai Startup Hub have significantly highlighted that many startups are struggling to find the right talent.
Addressing this crucial need, the Dubai Startup Hub launched Co-Founder Dubai, a new program that will help match UAE entrepreneurs with the right co-founder to support their growth plans. The program is geared to support the development of strategic sectors in Dubai by providing startups with industry specific expertise as well as comprehensive training and guidance to improve the success rate of startups.
Here’s what five of the first Co-Founder Dubai cohort of entrepreneurs in search of a co-founder have to say about their search for the right talent.
Maryam Qayed, Founder, alBeqsha Gifts Trading
alBeqsha is a young Emirati social enterprise, that is established to share with the world details of the Arab, Emirati culture via locally made souvenirs. We collaborate with artists and artisans from UAE to produce products that we sell both B2B and B2C.
The challenge of finding the right co-founder: “I would say, as an Emirati lady there are limited opportunities for networking events that would be an ideal situation of bumping to a likeminded or like-hearted person that you would want to partner with. I had other business ideas and I was not comfortable doing it alone, so I sought business partners. But there was mismatch or maybe we were not equally passionate about the sector or simply were not [on the same page], so the businesses didn’t come to life.”
Why having a co-founder matters: “There is an Emirati quote that can be translated to [say that] ‘one hand cannot clap’. It is a fact. Once I started attracting my exceptional team things progressed rapidly which reconfirmed the power of a team. Now, I’m attracting a co-founder to take alBeqsha to the next level and I expect the next level to be within six months time, which is the speed we are used to in Dubai under the best leadership any country can have.”
My ideal co-founder: “[A person who shares] a passion for UAE as a country and its unique culture comes first on the list, being intelligent in marketing and sales as well as being skilled with managing finance and business development. It will be really helpful if my co-founder was from the tourism or retail sector as well.”
On being part of Co-Founder Dubai: “[So far] there has been no existence of programs that would facilitate this process for you. Therefore I consider myself super fortunate for being part of first version of Co-founder Dubai by Dubai Startup hub and am looking forward. I believe this program will expand my professional network, introduce me and my company to interesting [people], and offer education about managing such a partnership, which is something you don’t get every day.”
Samer Al-Nimr, Founder, Deliver 2 Mum
Deliver 2 Mum is a one stop e-commerce shop that delivers over 600 baby consumable products directly to the doorsteps of mums with babies between the ages of 0-to-3 years directly to their doorstep.
The challenge of finding the right co-founder: “First is capacity and time to find the suitable candidate. Secondly, as the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Middle East is fairly nascent, finding a co-founder at the later stage (we have been in operation for over two years) is difficult mainly because the correct entrepreneurial candidate would prefer to start their own venture rather than come onboard to an already existing startup.”
Why having a co-founder matters: “The business has grown to such an extent with many opportunities presenting themselves. However, there are only 24 hours in a day and I need to move from day-to-day operations to more strategic priorities. We have many assets that are currently underutilized due to capacity constraints. Moreover, with our next stage of growth, we will need to fundraise, thus requiring us to expand our capacity while having a strong team in place. Finally, targeting mums in our efforts and being close to their needs and pains is a thing that requires one to have that personal user experience.”
My ideal co-founder: “The ideal co-founder is someone who treats Deliver 2 Mum’s customers (the babies) as if they are their own and ensures each order is fulfilled as if their own life depended upon it. It is that mindset, which will make the company grow further and succeed. That passion and empathy is the core of our service and sustainability. Specifically, in terms of skill set, a digital marketeer or technology geek who will take ownership with limited instructions and get the ball rolling on our initiatives.”
On being part of Co-Founder Dubai: “[I’m looking for Co-Founder Dubai] to be able to match me with the best candidates who will make an instrumental step change in Deliver 2 Mum’s offering and grow it tremendously. Also, to help us in negotiating a compensation package for the correct candidates that is fair to both myself and them so that we can move it forward and help mums in taking care of their little angels.”
Tamara Hachem, Founder, Shala Online DMCC
ShalaOnline is the first fitness and mindfulness platform catering local content to the MENA region. The platform offers on-the-go access to online yoga and meditation classes in Arabic and English and features instructors from the region.
The challenge of finding the right co-founder: “I have been looking for a co-founder for almost four months now. To find the right co-founder, you need to meet three criteria: having the right fit with the rest of the team, bringing complementary skills, and being excited by our mission and the startup environment. It has been challenging to find someone who meet [all] the three criteria. I have met people who had the right skills and experience but who are more comfortable being in an established company and on the other hand I have met people attracted to the entrepreneurial world but who lack the skills and experience and still need a lot of guidance. In a startup, the team is so small that every person needs to bring a real added value.”
Why having a co-founder matters: “I believe that one of the keys to building a successful business is to have the right team with each member bringing their unique and complementary skill set and experience. It makes fundraising easier as investors value a team of co-founders more than a solo entrepreneur.”
My ideal co-founder: “I have a background in finance. I advised companies and shareholders in M&A transactions, and I helped entrepreneurs and business owners raise funds to start and grow businesses. I am looking for a co-founder with marketing and growth hacking skills that can help attract and retain users. It has to be someone who believes in ShalaOnline’s mission of helping people live a healthier and happier life and who is committed to working hard to make this happen.”
On being part of Co-Founder Dubai: “I hope this program will raise awareness on what ShalaOnline is trying to achieve and will attract quality talent that share the same values than I do. I am hoping to find the right co-founder who can help me take ShalaOnline to the next stage.”
Sultan Al Mansoori, Founder, whspot
whspot is an on-demand warehouse platform for warehouse leasing or renting for short-term to long -term from the size of a small carton to multiple containers.
The challenge of finding the right co-founder: “The main challenges I feel is the frequency in thinking. Currently there is a very good communication and understanding between us [the team], which is vital in such a startup. So finding someone with expertise, similar thinking and dedication to face the struggles of a startup.”
Why having a co-founder matters: “I am a person who believes only team work can achieve anything better. This concept is evolved by me and my friend and working partner Mahesh Kumar. We together with Babloo, who is the technical lead, [developed] our business model from scratch. So I define us a team and we were looking for someone who can join us and support the areas where we do not have expertise.”
My ideal co-founder: “Our plan is to reach the whole UAE by this year and expand to Saudi Arabia by 2019 [as well]. So [we are looking for] a person who [has] extensive knowledge in the Middle East logistics market and has the potential to lead the business development. He or she has to work independently and shall be a team player. We are capable of handling the operations, system development and PR. But unfortunately sales and marketing skills are [areas] which we are not confident of and it is indeed a vital part of any service business like ours. Since we are a startup and we have not [sought] any funding, its hard for us to afford a salaried employee at this stage. So we prefer someone who can put his or her full dedication as the investment and get his part as stakes.”
On being part of Co-Founder Dubai: “We have attended Dubai Startup Hub’s previous bootcamps and without any doubt I can say the effort they are putting in our market to promote startups needs a big applause. We are excited to meet and understand the shortlisted persons suitable for us. Even though the final decision making is provided to us we are looking forward for the management and legal advice from the Startup hub.”
Musthafa Hameed Nashir, Founder, Darb Technologies and Tracking Systems LLC
Darb Technologies a Dubai-based company that specializes in the development of asset tracking, optimization and decision support solutions.
The challenge of finding the right co-founder: “We have been looking out for a co-founder for the last two Months. The main challenges [have been] getting the right person who can fit with your company goals, ideas, culture, growth and strategy. Secondly, the co-founder should be able to believe in your business model and solutions, which you are taking to the market and industry… [someone] who can actively engage with you in taking the growth and development of the business [forward]with you.”
Why having a co-founder matters: “We strongly believe that we are in the next phases of growth and development. We are also lined up with new solutions and development that will cater to the new channels of growth and revenue generations. We are confident these new set of developments will position us one of the key players in the region. One of the primary reasons for [wanting a] co-founder is [to have someone] who can help us to connect with key institutional investors and also connect with the large corporate organizations and enterprise clients. The other main factor is to have the right support, guidance and mentorship in line with the expected growth and development of our company.”
My ideal co-founder: “Our ideal co-founder will be in a category of a Chief Financial Officer [CFO] role, who has well-established connections with institutional investors and connections with large entities and corporations preferably. We are expecting he or she to influence the funding, valuation of the company, business growth, industry connects, legal aspects, partnerships, and IP Rights.”
On being part of Co-Founder Dubai: “Dubai Startup Hub is really doing a phenomenal work in organizing this Co-Founder program. We are expecting Dubai Startup Hub to connect us and matchmake us with the right set of co-founders by doing their own due diligence and recommending to us the best co-founders who can match our expectations.”
Applications for co-founders will close on April 15th. Click here to apply.