x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Online entrepreneur knows the value of saving

Money and me: Chris Thomas is the chief executive and founder of Eureeca, the Middle East's first online marketplace for businesses to secure investment in exchange for equity.

The entrepreneur Chris Thomas at Eureeca's offices in Downtown Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
The entrepreneur Chris Thomas at Eureeca's offices in Downtown Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Chris Thomas is the chief executive and founder of Eureeca, the Middle East's first online marketplace for businesses to secure investment in exchange for equity. Born and educated in Britain, Mr Thomas has worked in the Middle East for several years, setting up One Financial, a financial markets brokerage, in 2005, which he sold five years later. After relocating to Brazil, he established two other businesses before returning to the UAE to focus on a crowd-investing platform that he hopes will prove a solution to the funding gap facing small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

As an entrepreneur and business owner, a regular, stable salary has not been available most of my life. I have created three businesses, and in each it took approximately 18 months before enough value was created for me to be earning a salary. The rest of the time I spent savings built up through the sale of previous businesses. I am lucky enough to have always been the right side of my overdraft.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I am a saver by heart; as a business owner, a lack of a regular income means you need to build up a safety net to ensure sustainability. The hardest part of any new business is access to capital - very few businesses can survive the first few years without external capital support. Therefore saving is very good practice for any entrepreneur - although a lack of regular income certainly makes you work faster, leaner and with more determination.

What is your philosophy towards money?

I used to have an insatiable need to earn large sums and spent most of my 20s earning a large six-figure sum. I realised soon after though that money doesn't make you happy - it gives you choices, but life is much more about balance, the people around you, the food you eat and being aware of the present, not always reaching out for the next big win. Make money, enjoy it, but don't let it control your life.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

Loads. I have made good business decisions and bad ones. Life is a journey full of mistakes. Just make sure you keep the mistakes small enough to not to outweigh the successes. Don't worry about making mistakes. Don't worry about failing. Just keep going, respect those around you, work fast, spend little, think big and act small - and you will succeed.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Of course. You must plan. Have a road map. Every turn of the year I set myself goals for the next year in a number of categories - business, financial, personal, fitness etc. I figure if I have managed to meet 50 per cent of them by the next time I plan, it's been a productive year.

Is money important to you?

I think anyone who tells you that money wasn't important would not be being true to themselves. Money provides choices and it provides opportunities and freedom. It is therefore very important. But I have realised that you don't need excessive amounts to give you that choice and opportunity.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

No mortgage on the house - being able to take care of my family and having the freedom to invest in every SME that lists on Eureeca.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

I like to invest my money in new and existing businesses. On a day-to-day basis I enjoy travelling and food so I would say I spend a disproportionate amount of my income on those two things.