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A Decade In Review: Loulou Khazen Baz, Founder, Conversations with Loulou And Spade Ventures "I've learned -the hard way- that we have too many people who like to tell a good story, but no intention to follow through!"

By Aby Sam Thomas

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

Loulou Khazen Baz is the founder of the podcast, Conversations with Loulou, as well as of the investment syndicate, Spade Ventures.
Spade Ventures

With its February 2024 issue, Entrepreneur Middle East celebrates its 10th anniversary! To mark this milestone, we revisiting 10 entrepreneurs and entities that we featured in the publication a decade ago- we find out how far they have come, and what's next for each of their stories.

"A decade is a long time," says Loulou Khazen Baz, as she reflects on her career trajectory from when she was featured in Entrepreneur Middle East for the first time in its June 2014 issue, to her most recent appearance in its July 2023 edition.

Back then, she was the founder of the Arab world's first online employment marketplace, Nabbesh (which she exited in 2020); today, she remains an essential part of the region's startup ecosystem, be it in her role as the founder of the investment syndicate called Spade Ventures, or as the creator of the popular podcast titled Conversations with Loulou, or even as an advisor to just about anyone seeking to be a part of this particular arena of business.

And if all of what she does today hasn't made it clear already, Khazen Baz remains as enthralled and excited by entrepreneurship as she ever was. "One thing that hasn't changed is my passion towards entrepreneurship, and my access to amazing people building great companies," she says. "I will continue to use that access to connect opportunities with people who are aspiring to be part of the startup ecosystem, not necessarily as founders, but as supporters, enablers, investors. I can safely say that learning is a key driver for me, and there is no better place to learn than from working with or alongside entrepreneurs."

Of course, Khazen Baz has learnt a lot from her own undertakings too. "I've been through many ups and downs," she admits. "I learned a lot from building a startup whose time hasn't come, but I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that until today, I still meet people who have used Nabbesh.com, and either hired someone or found a job through it. I've also learned to deal with the dilemma of 'moving on,' and going through the process of exiting my business. I've learned to make hard decisions, and then learned to live with those decisions- the latter took a while though! I've also learned to enjoy the thrills of starting again, be it when building Conversations with Loulou, which continues to grow across the region, and reach the top 10 in the business and entrepreneurship segments, or when building Spade Ventures, which has made investments in stellar startups! I've learned to find the discipline to keep building, the strength to do things alone, and from scratch. And I've also learned that success isn't necessarily measured by my bank account- understanding that has been liberating!"

Related: A Decade In Review: Soukaina Rachidi Alaoui, Founder, RisalatComm

Source: Conversations with Loulou

On a personal level, Khazen Baz says she has chosen to become a lot more analytical -and somewhat cynical- about what people say. "I've learned -the hard way- that we have too many people who like to tell a good story, but no intention to follow through!" she explains. "So, I now put a lot more emphasis on myself, and much less on others. The expectation is thus always low, and this way, anything positive is a plus!"

It is thereby armed with this knowledge that Khazen Baz has set herself new goals to realize in the decade to come. "I am very excited and passionate about building an entrepreneurship knowledge hub through Conversations with Loulou to help entrepreneurs and people in other professions understand the value that entrepreneurs bring, and garner more appreciation to the role they play," Khazen Baz shares. "I am also very passionate about encouraging the middle/senior management of corporates to participate in the startup ecosystem by investing in promising startups. We must learn to support and enable local entrepreneurs, as they build their startups and scale regionally and internationally, and my goal is to be the conduit that channels funds and know-how into the startup ecosystem. In 10 years, I see Spade Ventures playing a prominent role in enabling entrepreneurs across multiple stages in the lifecycles of their startups by providing them with know-how via advisory and investment. And I'd hopefully be bringing top global and regional voices on Conversations with Loulou, in whichever format the technology allows- the goal would be to create knowledge, insights, and abundance for participants!"

Hindsight is 20/20: Then-Versus-Now With Loulou Khazen Baz

Looking back at the stage of your entrepreneurial/career/business trajectory you were in 10 years ago, is there anything you'd do differently knowing what you know now? Alternatively, what's the biggest lesson you wish you'd known 10 years ago?

"The biggest lesson I wish I'd known 10 years ago is to trust your gut, and to make decisions without overthinking- if they turn out to be the wrong decisions, then so be it! It is still surely a great way to learn. I will also add to always have a bias for action, as time is the only resource that is depleted daily."

Related: A Decade In Review: Iman Ben Chaibah, Founder, Sail Publishing

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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