Advice for would-be entrepreneurs to make the right impression and get their ideas in front of the right people.
Tips for entrepreneurs just starting out
Attitude Rachael Wunsch, the chief executive of Al Tamimi Investments, says the correct attitude is one of the most important factors in turning your business idea into a reality. "There are two key things. It is hard work [and] enthusiasm," she says. "If you are really genuinely enthusiastic about your idea, you're half way there. You're looking for somebody who has actually has got the passion because more often than not, that separates the chaff from the chalk."
Funding There are a number of venture-capital firms operating in the UAE, so entrepreneurs should ask these as well as private investors, family and friends. "My advice would be that there are always avenues," Ms Wunsch says. However, she says obtaining funding is not as easy as it was before the recession. "So if you've got a great idea at the moment, it's not perhaps as easy to launch it as what it was a couple of years ago."
Business plan If you do get a meeting with a venture-capital firm, a business plan is a must. Jaimish Damani learnt this while taking part in the Big Start. Although he did not win the competition, he says the experience of writing a plan of more than 100 pages was invaluable. "Building a plan like that gives you a holistic picture of how an entire business runs. And tomorrow, if I need to build another plan ... it would take me less than a month to construct," he says.
Regulation Get to know the local business laws. "The UAE does have some unique challenges. There's obviously the regulatory structure here, which is slightly different from elsewhere in the world," Ms Wunsch says.
Market The UAE population is relatively small, but very diverse. This poses a challenge to entrepreneurs looking to target a product or service towards a particular market, Ms Wunsch says. "Your target market is relatively small, but stretched over a wide variety of nationalities," she says.
Networking Knowing the right people can get you places, says Yahya Stapic, the winner of last year's Big Start competition. The 22 year old from Bosnia developed a "fashion incubato" for UAE-based designers, which he hopes to launch later this year. "Associate yourself with the right people and like-minded individuals because if you do that, it can get you to a lot of places," he advises. "Just dedicate yourself to an idea. And doing your homework and research goes a long way."