Ramie Murray, the founder of Dibba Bay, talks about how he made his oyster business a reality in Fujairah
How the world has become his oyster
Can you describe the first steps to making this business a reality?
Once we had the data from the pilot study and realised that an oyster farm could technically work on the coast of Fujairah/Oman, I set about drawing up the business plan and working out exactly what it would take technically, financially and time-wise to make the farm a reality. There would also be a political/bureaucratic element to the setup, which proved to be a major component. I had to convince the local municipal authorities and then the federal environment ministry to allow an oyster farm, something that had never been done before and for which they had no reference point either.
How long did the process take?
It ended up taking around 18 months before finally getting the go-ahead from the authorities after the final submission and evaluation of our environmental impact study. Once we had the permissions, it was then about raising the funds and establishing the business – then waiting for the oysters to grow!
What kind of things did people say to you in the course of making this a reality?
Overwhelmingly positive things actually, it really helped that people generally felt excited and inspired by what we were trying to do.
What challenges did you face in the beginning?
As mentioned already, the 18 months it took to gain the correct liscences and permissions was a major challenge, then we had normal startup challenges of raising funds, hiring the right people etc.
What challenges do you face moving ahead?
Our biggest challenge right now is trying to meet the market appetite for Dibba Bay oysters! Cash flow is of course, as with any start-up, a constant concern, but we are managing. Now that the product is in the market, chefs are saying such good things and orders are already way beyond what we currently produce; we can confidently start to ramp up production. One big factor with this business has been the lead time from “planting” the baby oysters then having to wait patiently for them to grow for the better part of a year before we can even think about any sales revenue. But we are four months into regular harvesting now and are beginning to find our stride.
What elements do you think a new business needs to be successful?
Well, I guess it’s the same for any startup: a great idea, meticulous planning, the right people involved, probably way more funding than you could ever imagine you might need - and idiotic levels of persistence!
Any advice for someone trying to launch a business in a country where it's never been done before?
I'm certainly not in any position to be dishing out advice but what I would say is that in my opinion to have any chance you have to have a deep belief and confidence in what you're doing and why, then it’s just a case of being politely relentless!