Money&Me: Saving helped launch MoneySouq without backers
Jack Arazi, who has been in the UAE for just over four years and grew up in Naples, Italy, is the managing director of MoneySouq.ae, a Dubai-based company that hosts personal finance exhibitions in malls around the country. Mr Arazi, who credits his grandfather for his entreprenuerial spirit, says the aim of his firm is to provide a relaxed platform for consumers to connect with banks and financial services firms.
How would you describe your financial journey so far?
I arrived in London with one suitcase, determined to make it on my own. I slept in youth hostels and on friends' sofas until I got my first pay cheque. The satisfaction was immense and made me hungry for more. I haven't looked back ever since. But I believe my maternal grandfather's business acumen and his eye for moneymaking ideas has always been at the back of my mind - he was a businessman and only answered to himself during times of success and failure. Although failure scares me, I am willing to take the risk to be successful.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I'm a saver. If I hadn't saved, I wouldn't have been able to fund MoneySouq alone. Although saying that, who's able to save with a family and when living in a city with so many extra-curricular activities that it has to offer?
What's your philosophy regarding money?
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." - Charles Dickens. There's nothing more dangerous then spending more than you have.
What's the aim of MoneySouq?
MoneySouq is a circuit of mini exhibitions throughout the UAE for personal finance, bringing the financial world on to a unified platform to the doorstep of the consumer. With MoneySouq, we are taking personal finance to the shopper for them to browse at their own convenience and in their own free time; where better than in the malls? And, of course, mobile applications: In-Stat research is said to expect mobile app downloads to reach nearly 48 billion by 2015. We're simply picking up on consumer habits and with MoneySouq, we are unifying an entire sector on a virtual platform for the convenience of both the financial institutions and the consumer. It's a win-win situation. On a personal level, the aim of MoneySouq is to provide for myself and my family by combining what I know - finance - and what I love - entreprenurial ideas coming to life.
What are the challenges of starting a business here?
I think starting a business wherever you are in the world is challenging. The UAE, however, has barriers and obstacles that you may not encounter if you were back home: language - on a daily basis you are dealing with people whose first language is not the same as yours - and culturally, people handle business in different ways. Such diversity is tough when you're trying to get through your to-do list.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
One that painfully sticks in my mind is contracting a company that turned out to be cowboys. They received part payment to build the MoneySouq mobile app and they didn't have a clue what they were doing. It turned out that my contact was using a reputable company name as his own. The app was a mess and I was out of pocket when he disappeared.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
I'm not much of a planner. I enjoy taking each day as it comes - a Neapolitan philosophy that I grew up with. I'm a bit of a free sprit and I like to live that way.
Is money important to you?
Money is important, especially when you have a family in these turbulent economic times. But for me, the satisfaction of having a successful business of my own is more important at this point in my life than money.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
My idea of freedom is driving my motorbike in Dubai's winter months. My idea of financial freedom is doing this without thinking about how I'm going to start my own business.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
On my family. We love to travel; you can learn so much and never get bored. I enjoy spending on pursuing a good lifestyle in Dubai. It's a city that allows you to do that without a huge struggle.