Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 October 2019

Money & Me: ‘I invest in a nice car, because you have to here'

Dining & Nightlife Abu Dhabi founder Michael Hine drives a Range Rover Sport to his many meetings in the UAE

Michael Hine became an entrepreneur after a sports injury brought aspirations to play professional cricket and rugby to a halt. Pawan Singh / The National
Michael Hine became an entrepreneur after a sports injury brought aspirations to play professional cricket and rugby to a halt. Pawan Singh / The National

Michael Hine is chief executive and co-founder of Dining & Nightlife Abu Dhabi, a print and digital publication, which recently launched a discounts app. Mr Hine, 35, started the business in 2014 with his wife, Leanne. They plan to introduce the discounts app in Dubai by the summer. Born and raised in the UK, Mr Hine says his first job cleaning windows earned him a coveted BMX. He has been an entrepreneur since the age of 18, first by starting up gyms and selling them at a profit.

What brought you to the UAE?

My father was in oil and gas, so from the age of 15 I used to visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai frequently and over the years I just fell in love with the place. I always had a vision to come out here and set up a business. I thought that — especially in Abu Dhabi — there were things lacking here, like for example, food and beverage focused magazines. There was nothing like that here, so I just thought that there was a niche in the market and I went for it.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I come from a middle class family. My father was always the breadwinner in the household, so I grew up watching him work hard to progress in his career. I’ve always looked to him as a role model. He travelled a lot with work and he always used to leave me pocket money before he left, sometimes it was months on end. He told me to save it for my future. I respected him for that and it set the foundations to value the meaning of money at an early age.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I really wanted this red BMX bike when I was 12 and my parents made me use the money from my chores to save a bit. One day I realised the window cleaners were being paid £20 (Dh94.44) an hour to clean windows. So I took my bucket and went door-to-door around the neighbourhood and undercut the guys basically. By the end of the week, I made enough money to buy the bike. If I had stuck to my chores, it would have taken me months to get that amount. So, even at 12, I had a bit of the entrepreneur in me. I was getting paid £12.50 an hour, which is pretty good for a 12-year-old. As a youngster, I was playing professional sport as well. From 13 to 18, I was playing professional cricket and rugby in the UK, so I was getting paid for the privilege.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I consider myself to be an investor. I invest in people, I invest in myself and of course I invest in the business.

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What is your most cherished purchase?

My dog, to be honest, although it technically wasn’t a purchase. I adopted him from an animal charity group and I gave an adoption donation so they can continue their great work. He’s my cherished possession, because I adore my dog. I’ve had him for two years now and he’s my adopted son.

What would you splurge on?

I don't splurge, if I'm honest, I don't have time to. I am a big believer in giving back. I do a lot of charity work, especially in the UK when I go back, and for Animal Action here in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

What is your biggest financial milestone?

I think for me the biggest financial milestone probably wasn’t about the money. When we sold the first advert for the magazine within the first official day of operation, from then I knew we were on to a good thing.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could not pay the bills?

Yes, when we first started the business, there were a few sleepless nights. I always believed in the product, but it’s always a very daunting feeling when you have bills rolling in. Especially starting up your own business, there’s always going to be pressure for the first six months to a year before you make any money.

Do you use a financial adviser?

My wife used to be a financial adviser in the UK, so she deals with the family finances.

Mr Hine says 'the worst thing I can think of is retirement at the moment'. Pawan Singh / The National 
Mr Hine says 'the worst thing I can think of is retirement at the moment'. Pawan Singh / The National 

Do you plan for retirement?

I don’t look too far ahead. The focus of 2019 is for the business expansion, for the app. I take each year as a goal. But, going forward, in terms of retirement, I don’t really look that far because I always take each day, each week, each month as it comes. The worst thing I can think of is retirement at the moment. I like to keep busy and I’m very passionate about what I do.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Invest in yourself. Take that business idea and go for it in life and you have time to find your path. I had a sports injury at 18, so it prevented me from playing sport professionally. I took that on the chin. I went to university and got a business degree. I wanted to always have my own business … so I basically set up a couple of gyms in the UK and the rest is history.

What car do you drive?

I invest in a nice car, because I have to. I do a lot of meetings around the UAE. So I drive a Range Rover Sport, because I believe you have to have a nice car here. I travel a lot, that’s my second home. I have to meet CEOs and VPs of companies and promote the product.

Do you fly economy or business?

Obviously I like the luxury things in life as well — I don’t think anyone would say no to that — but I don’t waste money. If I go on my summer holiday, I will go business class for sure, 100 per cent. But if I’m going just around the GCC, no I wouldn’t. I’d just go economy.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you spend it on?

I’d actually split the money. I’d donate to animal charities in the Middle East, because I’m a big believer in that. And then I’d probably invest in property and reinvest in the business and expand it even further.

Updated: January 17, 2019 02:50 PM

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