After working in PR and marketing for seven years in Dubai, Karen Osman decided to start her own business. Her company, Travel Ink, provides copywriting for the tourism and hospitality industries.
What is your background?
I came to Dubai in 2004 and started working for a large hospitality group. I worked for Jumeirah for almost seven years. It was absolutely fantastic but I'd always felt the entrepreneurial spirit of the UAE. It was always in my mind that setting up my own business was something I was heading towards. I really wanted to focus on writing and language.
I felt it was an area I could really contribute. I have a degree from the University of Durham in English and linguistics.
That was very interesting and provided a good foundation. I also work as a freelance travel journalist so that helps me be immersed in the industry. I experience different airlines and hotels outside the GCC and can bring that expertise back to the UAE.
When did you start Travel Ink?
I started at the beginning of 2011. I really started doing the work myself - the writing and meeting clients and it grew by word of mouth. With my background in hospitality I thought this was the ideal niche.
It just meant I understood the challenges the industry faces and the acronyms the industry uses. Now there is me as the managing director and a team of writers I use on a freelance basis.
I work with four writers on a regular basis. I am really enjoying the combination. I've always written and with my experience in marketing and PR, it all really came together. I've kind of created the ideal job for me. I love the switching between roles and when the testimonials come in it's very rewarding.
Specialising in the travel and hospitality sectors seems to have paid off for you.
Our recent nomination for the SME Advisor Stars of Business Awards in the travel and tourism category is a good reflection of that decision to specialise. There were more than 3,000 nominations for all categories so it was great to be nominated so soon after starting up. I am pleased we reached that level so soon.
But you are starting to branch out beyond hospitality, aren't you?
Yes. We are expanding into SMEs [small and medium enterprises] - the sister company is called SME Ink. We offer copy to recently established businesses and we have a series of packages to develop new companies and PR their business. It's a good platform for moving outside the tourism and travel industry.
Would you recommend Dubai as a place to start a business?
People are very willing to help and offer advice. Because there is quite a high percentage of small businesses, there exists good mentorship and networking.
We have big plans for 2013. Most of our clients are in the UAE. We are looking at other countries such as Qatar. I also have a client in Saudi Arabia. Because of the nature of the business, it's easily done online.