The Big Start competition offers students in their final year of study the chance to launch a business with full funding and support from Al Tamimi Investments. Here, Rachael Wunsch, the company's chief executive, discusses what Al Tamimi looks for in business plans and presentations ahead of the deadline - February 16 - for the submission of ideas.
q: What do you look for in business plans?
a: What we are wanting is confidence [and evidence] that they have thought of the eventualities before they become eventualities. Obviously, the key thing is, this is going to be a good idea. The second thought is that I have given this idea enough thought that I have thought of some of the eventualities. I know who my market is going to be; I have [considered] how I'm going to talk to my market; I have given some thought to how long it's going to take to ramp it up; I have worked out how I am going to adequately resource this and what the key challenges are going to be.
q: What do you look for when people are presenting their ideas?
a: What usually stands out is the passion of the person who is presenting it. If somebody believes in what they're talking about, that generally comes across. What you are looking for is someone who is flexible, so if you are asking a question and it's something they haven't considered, they can integrate that comment into their idea, but still has enough passion behind what they saying that the actual idea remains integral.
q: So the person is just as important as the idea?
a: It's a balance of the two, but you can have the best idea in the world and if the person behind it isn't strong, isn't driven to make it work, it's never going to work. Whereas you can occasionally have just an OK idea, but if you have got someone behind it who's really strong you can actually see it make an effect. Obviously the magic is when you have a fantastic idea and a fantastic person and that's what you are looking for, but so often in businesses it's people-based.
q: The competition is in its third season now. Has it changed over time?
a: We have widened the net slightly. Previously it was only open to undergraduates. We have opened it up to postgraduates up to the age of 30. This was at the request of a lot of the postgraduate schools here in the UAE. They need to be studying, but they need to be in their final year of what they are studying. We don't want them to choose our concept to the detriment of their education, because we are very supportive of that. This year it's bigger, we are getting a lot more notice from the community and we have had interest from other business leaders who want to participate.