Brick And Mortar Startup Garden Worx Is All About Growth Emirati entrepreneur Ali Abdullah Sharafi talks Tejar Dubai and overcoming the challenges UAE based entrepreneurs mention.
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Back in 2011, Ali Abdullah Sharafi decided to register his brick and mortar startup Garden Worx, and since then, he has successfully overcome two key challenges that many UAE-based entrepreneurs mention: finding the right team and wading through the necessary commercial licensing quagmire. The 30-year-old entrepreneur holds a Master's in Professional Accounting paired with a Bachelor's in Applied Finance from the University of South Australia, and has a professional background that includes employment at one of the world's biggest auditing firms, all of which he has now put to work for his business.
"My career and education within the professional financial services sector has enhanced my experiences tremendously towards mastering the processes required to sustain a business, making plans, and building financial models. In addition, my advisory background enables planning and strategizing the positioning of a business effectively." Garden Worx will focus on both "buyers and sellers" by catering to home improvement enthusiasts. The startup aims to target residential communities that have a limited selection for their DIY project needs, and also seeks to address the needs of clients who need professional services in areas of household improvement but aren't sure whom to contact.
"Garden Worx will ensure that residents of the UAE have convenient access to home and garden improvement requirements through positioning outlets within the grounds of neighborhood community malls. In addition, it will allow many home improvement service providers to be affiliated with us to use our retail infrastructure platform to offer quality services to residential households from multiple channels as we develop other branches," explains Sharafi.
Garden Worx currently has in-house sales, accounts, procurement and logistics staff, and outsources areas like IT and marketing. And what role does it play in Emiratization? As his venture matures, Sharafi says that onboarding of Emirati talent will be a priority but points out that the wealth of local talent means that UAE nationals are able to strongly compete for positions- hence they don't necessarily need an initiative at an institutional level. That being said, the founder did add that it can also act as positive "mechanism that protects unprivileged individuals, [giving people] opportunities to prove biased thoughts wrong."
'TREP TALK Q+A
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING ENTREPRENEURS?
"Challenges exist in all aspects of the daily life of an entrepreneur. I don't see there being one major challenge, but do I think that entrepreneurs need to challenge their fear of failure. Motivation comes from within, and is triggered through the effects of external factors of my daily life. I stay motivated every day by being able to see my long-term vision up ahead, and contributing in any positive way that could create progress in the UAE ecosystem- that also keeps me going. My view is that entrepreneurs need to have an entry and an exit strategy; for Garden Worx, the long-term plan is to be able to sustain a chain of outlets within neighborhoods across the UAE."
WHAT ARE SOME TACTICS YOU HAVE USED TO ENSURE THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS?
"Planning is a key component towards sustaining a business and analyzing certain locations either through monitoring consumer behavior, or testing by leasing pop-up shops for a month or two that can provide an entrepreneur with minimal risk and a good indication towards the response of customers within that location. At Garden Worx, we operated a kiosk at a prominent community mall and got very positive feedback and customer response, hence we moved further to proceed with the plan of launching a second branch which is planned to operate within the first quarter of 2016."
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GO TO TEJAR DUBAI?
"Tejar Dubai provides a unique offering compared to other existing facilities, and they are serious about it. First, they are incorporated within the mechanism of Dubai Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the most active chambers globally, and the largest in the region. Second, the board of Tejar Dubai involves experienced business leaders from multiple industries and sectors which overlook, approve, and provide feedback on concepts. Third, the Tejar Dubai team micromanages the requirements of its members to ensure [that] they achieve targets. Fourth, they filter business startup concepts which ensures their standards attract quality candidates to be members of their portfolio. Fifth, Tejar Dubai members are always invited to various business events and forums that open up the scope for networking and exploring business opportunities."
WHAT PROCESS DID YOU GO THROUGH WITH TEJAR DUBAI TO SECURE ASSISTANCE?
"I was invited to attend an introductory meeting, then I was requested to set up a business plan and present it to the board. Tejar Dubai is affiliated with an advisory firm which provided me with feedback on my business plan and feasibility study. Although I do have a background in advisory [consulting] from my professional career, I think it's valuable to receive third party views on any business proposition. Tejar Dubai also assisted me to receive a bank facility through the Tomooh Fund managed by Emirates NBD to secure a three-year interest-free loan to support my business. Other support included opening up doors to secure retail locations, and helping to publicize my business through various media channels."
BECOMING AN EMERGING EMIRATI ENTREPRENEUR
Tejar Dubai is here to help you realize your enterprise potential
Tejar Dubai is a development program committed to nurturing potential UAE nationals into becoming entrepreneurs. Launched in 2013, the program identifies, develops, and mentors promising UAE nationals to expedite the growth of an embryonic business idea and advance it to the point of being ready for immediate implementation.