Start-ups prove business is booming in the UAE
Seven newly set-up businesses qualify as finalists in the RSA Start-up Business of the Year in the Gulf Capital SMEInfo Awards
With an average lifespan of 14 months and a combined turnover of close to AED13 million, seven of the most dynamic start-up businesses in the UAE are proving business is booming in the Emirates.
Having strongly demonstrated that they have established the right foundations for future growth, seven start-up companies – Automation Ready, dreambox, I-Expatriate, mumzworld.com, pixelbug, Platinum Heritage Tourism and Transformers – have qualified as finalists in the RSA Start-up Business of the Year category of the Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards, a recognition programme honouring the best and brightest SMEs, entrepreneurs and business leaders in the UAE.
On average, business development experts say it takes 3 to 5 years for a start-up to be fully profitable; but these start-ups are showing that the business environment in the UAE is supportive of SMEs, given the right concept, business leadership and entrepreneurial drive.
“In a very short period of time, the finalists of the RSA Start-up Business of the Year category have demonstrated their strong entrepreneurial spirit while continuing to deliver on their company vision and mission. Challenging as it is to set up a business, these finalists have clearly shown that their business concepts work; and, more importantly, that they can be profitable,” said David Harris, Sales & marketing Director, RSA UAE .
One of the finalists, Automation Ready, is the provider of School Cloud Me, a solution that helps K12 schools operate more efficiently – from parental engagement and enrolment, to finances and HR. Developed locally, Schoolcloudme.com has the potential to be rolled out globally. “Since our beta launch in March, we have signed one school per week, and registered triple digit growth in its first two months,” said Sarah Sikandar Shahid, founder of Automation Ready.
Dreambox is the UAE’s first full featured and hosted contact centre. Mims Talsi, CEO, says the company’s advanced cloud based contact centre is empowering local SMEs with the right tools to deliver great customer experiences. “We take care of the complexities of technology freeing up our clients to do what they do best – run their business. We have broken down the barriers to entry and enabled our clients to truly compete with larger companies for client loyalty on a pay-per-use model – something not available until now in the UAE,” added Talsi, who projects his operations will become a multi-million dollar business by end of 2014.
I-Expatriate delivers a unique, time saving, and cost effective recruitment service. Within its first year of operations, company founder Craig Stuart says they have signed 52 clients, for whom they saved tens of thousands of Dirhams in time and placement fees. “The company is going from strength to strength. The retention level of clients is very high and we are getting lots of testimonials. The beauty of our product is after people use it once, they see how much money and time it saves them, and then we just fit into their process.” he added.
In a span of 18 months, mumzworld.com, another finalist, claims it has become the largest bilingual e-commerce site in MENA dedicated to everything mother, baby and child, enabling shoppers to search, compare and buy from the convenience of their home. Citing the company’s achievements to date, Mona Ataya, CEO, said, “mumzworld.com offers mothers the most extensive online catalogue of 90,000 products from a wide range of local and international merchants. We have fulfilled orders of 60,000+ products, across 20 countries and satisfied thousands of customers. Mumzworld enjoys very high customer loyalty in regional e-commerce at 40%. Lastly, we have scaled our team from five to 45, spread across three territories – UAE, KSA and Jordan.”
Another technology start-up made it to the final round. pixelbug is a company that specialises in helping brands and events adapt new technologies to drive memorable engagements with their stakeholders. In describing the company’s services, Dany El Eid, Managing Director, said, “We work in tandem with our clients to conceptualise their campaigns and deliver customised market-ready solutions in the realms of augmented reality, projection technology, gesture based technology and mobile & web services.”
Dubai being a tourism hotspot, it is no surprise that a travel and hospitality-related business will thrive in this environment. And Platinum Heritage Tourism’s success has been phenomenal. “In our first season, our company has become the #1 activity on Tripadvisor by offering exceptional service and innovative experiences. We have raised the bar in an ultra-competitive industry in several ways. We have already become a successful case study for tourism sustainability with the use of renewable energies, preservation of culture and heritage and sourcing services locally,” said Adam McEwan, Managing Director, Platinum Heritage Tourism.
Finally, completing the set of finalists for the RSA Start-up Business of the Year category is “events ingredients” specialist Transformers FZE. Founder Danielle Nay describes the company’s offering as “wow factor event and activation ingredients”. This design-led ‘transformers’, which introduced Digital Graffiti Wall to the Middle East region, supply glamorous, exciting, high-end rentals (theatrical, decorative, interactive) plus bespoke costumes and props. She attributes her company’s success to date to, “creativity, tenacity and a clear vision…we believe we identified a genuinely useful market niche. Reputation and credibility are cultivated via smart partnerships, modern communications (especially online) and adding value for our clients through meaningful contributions to the creative marketing or party mix.”
Fifty-nine other SMEs qualified for 10 different categories in the 2013 edition of the Gulf Capital SMEinfo Awards. Winners will then be announced on November 6, 2013 with noted broadcast journalist Richard Dean as presenter. For information and updates on the awards, please visit www.smeinfoawards.com.