After working at a business software company for more than a decade, Zia Hassan quit his job last April to try his hand at matchmaking online.
But he is not that kind of matchmaker.
"We focus on fixing investors with entrepreneurs," says Mr Hassan, a co-founder of EntrepreneursofArabia.com, an online portal that is to be launched formally next month.
The site works with a variety of innovators, among them a group of students in Qatar needing funding after developing a so-called sandcraft, "which works like a water-based hovercraft but on sand".
So far, Entrepreneurs of Arabia has been linking aspiring business operators to about 400 mainly government-backed sources of funding in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena). But Mr Hassan, who was in Belgium last week, is travelling around the world seeking private investments to expand his network.
The portal is part of a growing group of sites, including Kickstarter.com, Teamup2gether.com and InvestInMyIdea.com, that have popped up in countries such as the US, UK and Japan. Each works slightly differently from the others but generally aims to connect creative individuals with funders who can help to turn ideas into start-ups.
Mr Hassan's team, which includes Tariq Al Najjar as the business development director, takes the raw idea of a young entrepreneur from the UAE or elsewhere in Mena and packages it online as a "commercial proposition". Investors can then search among pitches, or publish their own profiles and wait for solicitations from entrepreneurs, and strike deals.
For facilitating a transaction, Entrepreneurs of Arabia charges an investor a fee of US$1,000 (Dh3,673) to $5,000 and takes an equity stake in the business receiving the investment. The stake can range from 2 to 10 per cent, depending on the nature of the venture and how much involvement the matchmaking company had in the process.
"We do need some revenue coming in," says Mr Hassan, "and a scalable model."
Other sites use slight variations on the same theme.
Kickstarter, which was launched a little less than three years ago, focuses on finding funders for creative ventures such as independent films, art projects or music albums. Project creators must submit proposals. Acceptance of proposals means access to potential backers.
But Justin Kazmark, the communications director for Kickstarter, notes that the backers on its platform are neither investing nor donating their money.
"Maybe there's a film or music project, and the backers pledge financial support," says Mr Kazmark. "In return, you're getting a copy of the thing, whether it's a digital download of the film, or maybe a walk-on role and bit part in the movie.
"It's up to the creator [of] the project, and they determine how to reward backers."
In short, Mr Kazmark says, Kickstarter aims to bring a creator and an audience closer together.
More than 1.3 million people have had projects backed on Kickstarter so far. But while investors can commit financial support from anywhere in the world, project initiators must at least be permanent residents of the US - as Kickstarter relies on Amazon Payments to process charges, and that requires a certain residency status.
Many entrepreneurial projects will not make it on to these kinds of sites, and those that do make it on face stiff competition in getting noticed beyond niche audiences. Yet some ultimately garner attention.
About 10 per cent of the films that premiered at Sundance Film Festival this year in the US were projects funded at least in part through Kickstarter, says Mr Kazmark.
"Both established and emerging artists of all stripes are using the platform," he says. "It's a platform a lot of people are using."