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Big Goals, Bold Choices: Emon Shakoor, Founder And CEO, Blossom Accelerator "There are constantly new obstacles that no one can prepare you for, and it is 100% the responsibility of the CEO to constantly mitigate challenges, risks, and ensure sustainability and continuity."

By Tamara Pupic Edited by Aby Sam Thomas

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Blossom Accelerator
Emon Shakoor, founder and CEO, Blossom Accelerator

This article is from a special edition of Entrepreneur Middle East created for the 2024 edition of the Women's Empowerment Convention (WE Convention), staged by the WE Council. Check out the full publication here.

For Emon Shakoor, founder and CEO of Blossom Accelerator, Saudi Arabia's first tech-inclusion accelerator and ecosystem builder, the most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship is that one is no longer waiting for change to come. "You create that change every day," she says. "It is also about being able to actually execute on a vision you've been working on, and then seeing it serve thousands of people and positively changing their lives."

Taking matters into her own hands seems to be a personal feature of Shakoor. Having grown up suffering from epilepsy and daily seizures motivated her to study the brain, which then led to her becoming a neuroscience researcher who worked in clinical drug trials. She was in California, US, while undergoing this personal transformation, when it brought about a new opportunity that she was keen to seize. "The Bay Area was flooded with innovation, and everyone around me was coding together their next startup, and raising from venture capitalists," Shakoor recalls. "So, it wasn't long before I decided to also start a company out of California, and take advantage of my scientific background to test and either confirm or deny the thesis or problem statement behind the company itself. It is in that experience of starting my first company and navigating the startup ecosystem in California that I decided to move back to Saudi Arabia, and build a startup ecosystem back home that was later coined Blossom Accelerator."

Emon Shakoor, founder and CEO, Blossom Accelerator. Source: Blossom Accelerator

Blossom Accelerator specializes in executing and operating all kinds of entrepreneurship and innovation programs to enable companies to start, scale, and succeed; today, its alumni includes more than 3,000 startups across five countries. Plus, it was thanks to the work that Shakoor did in helping Blossom Accelerator founders raise funds that she was inspired to also join the ranks of startup investors. "As an angel investor, I invest in around five early stage companies per year, and I work with them closely as an advisor in sectors I believe I can add value to," she says, while adding that she also serves on the opportunity committee at Oqal, Saudi Arabia's largest angel investment group.

Related: Big Goals, Bold Choices: Dr. Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, Head, Metaverse Fashion Week

Shakoor is also a venture partner at Oryx Fund, a London-based US$50 million fund dedicated to investing in early stage companies across the MENA region. "We primarily invest in five verticals, edtech, healthtech, fintech, logistics, as well as B2B enterprise software solutions, and we are actively looking for companies in our target verticals at the pre-seed and seed stages, as we continue to build our portfolio," Shakoor says.

Now, for all the achievements Shakoor has had through the course of her entrepreneurial trajectory, she is also emphatic about telling those wanting to follow her lead to be prepared for what is almost certainly going to be a long, daunting, and lonely journey. "There are constantly new obstacles that no one can prepare you for, and it is 100% the responsibility of the CEO to constantly mitigate challenges, risks, and ensure sustainability and continuity," she concludes. "And that is no easy feat."

Emon Shakoor, founder and CEO, Blossom Accelerator. Source: Blossom Accelerator

Insider Insights: Emon Shakoor's tips on setting goals and achieving them

Be confident and dream big "Don't play small. Push yourself to accomplish and achieve the highest measures of success, and stay extremely focused on that mission until it is achieved. You can only do it if you believe in yourself."

Have a very clear goal "It should be an ambitious three- to five-year goal, and you should always be reflecting back on it, and amending it. The greatest project you'll ever work on is yourself. If you are constantly the best version of yourself, you'll bring thought leadership and creativity to everything that you do."

Stay authentic to yourself, always "Don't allow the world to tell you who you should be, or what you should do. You already know- you just need to follow your curiosity and gut. And in the process, only surround yourself with people and friends who genuinely care about your success and growth."

Related: Big Goals, Bold Choices: Mishaal Ashemimry, Founder, Mishaal Aerospace

Tamara Pupic

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.

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