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Committed To Success: Farah Zafar, Co-Founder And CEO, Lyvely Lyvely co-founder and CEO Farah Zafar is all set to shake things up in the dynamic realm of tech and Web3.

By Tamara Pupic

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

Lyvely
Farah Zafar, co-founder and CEO, Lyvely.

Farah Zafar seems to be one of those people whose ceaseless energy always helps them traverse any maze- indeed, this has to be one of the key characteristics that has helped her build and maintaining a very demanding career of key legal and strategic roles over many years. Zafar is today the co-founder and CEO of the social networking and content monetization platform Lyvely, and she is also the Managing Director and Chief Legal Officer of Phoenix Group, an Abu Dhabi-based cryptocurrency mining and blockchain company.

Her career trajectory has seen her work at Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the UAE's Dubai Holding, where she was tasked on strategies laid out by HRH Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia as well as H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Plus, she notes that her track record also includes leading government transactions for the likes of Dubai, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Ajman, in which she represented investment entities across the GCC region.

So, how has she managed to do it all? "My days start at 6am, and they finish at midnight," Zafar replies. "At any given moment, I am working on multiple things, but I have thankfully found a method to consistently perform at a high level, maintaining my focus, improving my strategic and lateral thinking, and enhancing my ability to execute. It's a flow state that I've trained myself to activate. You need to be present in the moment, able to analyze any given situation, assess it from every angle (financial, legal, corporate, strategy, goal), and make intuitive yet strategic decisions quickly. You also need to have the ability to execute fast, and trust your actions."

It's clearly this philosophy that is governing Zafar as she leads Lyvely, a homegrown UAE-based platform designed to seamlessly merge e-commerce, content creation, multimedia, and communication, which she co-founded with Dave Catudal in 2021. In a nutshell, Lyvely integrates digital payments with social media and e-commerce- it paves the way towards a Web3 future as its digital currency, LVLY, can be used as a mode of payment, while providing creators with a method of gamifying and rewarding their followers and community within the platform. "Lyvely symbolizes a fundamental change in the way people interact and transact online," Zafar says. "We believe that everyone who posts online and adds value to the digital ecosystem should be rewarded for their contribution. This is why Lyvely puts the power to earn in the people's hands. We're a platform that pays."

And the potential that Lyvely presents can be deduced from the fact that late last year, Phoenix INV Holdings, a fully-owned subsidiary of Phoenix Group, acquired a 25% ownership stake in it. Meanwhile, at Phoenix Group, it's worth noting that Zafar was one of the key people who managed its initial public offering (IPO) on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) in December last year, which led it to become the first privately owned crypto and blockchain entity to be listed on a Middle East stock market.

Related: The UAE's Crypto Powerhouse: Munaf Ali, Co-Founder And Group Managing Director, Phoenix Group

Farah Zafar accepting the Social Platform of the Year award for Lyvely at the E-Business Awards 2024 by Entrepreneur Middle East. Source: BNC Publishing

Reflecting on the occasion, Zafar remembers having to foster collaboration, strategic planning, and resilience through very demanding timelines, while also chartering new territories. "Recognizing the multifaceted complexities of this endeavor, encompassing regulatory compliance, financial structuring, investor relations, and market positioning, I cultivated a culture of open communication and alignment within the team," Zafar says. "Through clear delegation and meticulous planning, we navigated the IPO process with precision, breaking down tasks into manageable steps, and establishing clear milestones to track progress effectively. This approach ensured that every aspect of the IPO was executed meticulously, within a very short timeline, leading to an extremely successful outcome."

All of this work yielded great rewards- indeed, the offering was oversubscribed by 180 times by retail investors, while professional investors contributed to a 22-fold oversubscrip- tion. Having these results in mind, it is no surprise that Zafar describes her leadership style as demanding, collaborative, visionary, and empowering. "I believe in being involved, fostering a culture of trust, transpar-ency, and innovation, where every team member feels valued and empowered to contribute, but I also require every one to deliver and contribute- if you don't, you are out," she says. "I also believe in loyalty, trust, and respect, above all else. Over the years, my leadership style has pretty much remained the same, but I have become more aware of political agendas and being more receptive to needs of stakeholders and shareholders."

Zafar's leadership is a product of her deep conviction in the following advice that she regularly shares with anyone looking to build a meaningful career: "be the hardest working person in the room, never stop learning, and teach yourself what is necessary to perform at the highest level." She continues, "I would also add, don't be scared to venture outside of your comfort zone, because it is only here where you can reach new heights in your career and self-development, and be in a position to truly be successful. I am still learning and working hard every minute of every day, regardless of where I am in my life. Keep pushing boundaries, never stop progressing, and support those around you to perform better as well."

Her work ethic has brought her a great number of industry accolades, but as we end our conversation, Zafar reveals that awards are not what motivates her. "My main motivation has always been to make my father proud of me, he sacrificed his whole life, so that me and my brothers could be educated and have a better life; so, all I want is to in a position to be financially independent, and to be able to support my parents and loved ones," she concludes. "I have an immense work ethic and drive, passed down to me from my father, which motivates me to always to reach higher and work hard to achieve success,I'm passionate about technol- ogy, this new digital age, and I'm obsessed with creating a meaningful platform [Lyvely] for the people that can transform and empower lives."

'TREP TALK: Lyvely co-founder and CEO Farah Zafar's tips for entrepreneurs

Embrace confidence "Believe in yourself and your abilities, and don't be afraid to assert yourself and take on leadership roles."

Build a strong support network "Surround yourself with mentors, allies, and peers who support your goals and aspirations, and seek guidance and encouragement when needed."

Continuously learn and grow "Stay curious, keep learning, and embrace opportunities for personal and professional development to stay ahead in your field, and overcome challenges with resilience and agility."

Related: Future Foresight: Phoenix Group Co-Founder Bijan Alizadeh On Why He Continues To Look At The Crypto Space With Realistic Optimism

Tamara Pupic

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.

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