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From Cradle To Exit


This article originally appeared in Gulf News.

Here is a question, as an entrepreneur, what do you need to do to make your start-up a success in an era where 98 per cent of tech launches fail?

What does it take to convince your stakeholder universe that you are the one who’s got what it takes?

You have a solution that solves a real problem — tick. You have the passion to change the world — tick. You have the team with the right experience to help you deliver — tick. And you have the funding to help you grow and scale — tick…

But to be able to do all these, you need a lot more than plain common sense and an ability to inspire. You need awareness. You need credibility. And you need a reputation that is incrementally higher than the one afforded to your closest competitors.

In short, you need a clear and comprehensive message and a strategic marketing communications plan that align with your business objectives and help discover your very own North Star to help navigate in an increasingly complex stakeholder universe, comprising suppliers, consumers, regulators, angel or private Investors and venture capitalists.

Once these elements are in place, a start-up has a compelling narrative to help it go to market and address its target audiences before it embarks on the engagement phase. Which is equally crucial.

From a communicator’s point of view, it may sound easy, but it’s not. Teaching a start-up to crawl and then walk is like giving birth to a child and nurturing it during the formative years. It’s painful at first, then it gets emotionally challenging as you create a physical bond.

But once you see it start walking and travel to other markets and finally exit your life, the emotions are as rewarding as seeing your own child reaching adulthood and then flying the nest to college.

I recently supported Okadoc come to the limelight. This is a health-tech start-up helping patients in the UAE discover their preferred doctor based on speciality, experience, language spoken, location and availability. It is an online marketplace for doctors, unique to the region and with only a handful of competitors in the world.

Okadoc helps improve the health care experience for patients as well as doctors, hospitals and clinics. Similar to booking an airline ticket to your favourite destination when you want it and from anywhere you are.

And Okadoc’s decision to start up in Dubai is already paying off. Not least thanks to its founder and CEO’s e-commerce credentials, who started his entrepreneurial journey in Dubai eight years ago. He comes from a finance background in France and was previously involved in the Middle East’s biggest e-commerce success stories.

But enough about Okadoc … for now. Tech start-ups are not like any other client — they are a unique breed. They reflect the character and personality of their founder. They have no legacy that restricts their horizons.

They know no boundaries or limitations to their ambition. And they are young, dynamic, fearless and ready to conquer and change the world.

Through a combination of major investments in innovation incubators, private sector incentives, global partnerships and specialised talent development, Dubai is ideally placed to help start-ups set up and grow their operations.

George Kotsolios

Managing Partner, MENA, based in Dubai

George is Leidar’s Managing Director in Dubai.

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