Thinking about launching a startup in Dubai? One of the most important decisions you will make is picking the right partner or choosing the right way to start up your business.
Today, I had a very interesting meeting at In5 Media, an enabling platform launched by the TECOM Group, a member of Dubai Holding that builds sector-focused communities and innovative business solutions for entrepreneurs and startups to enable business success. In5 Media is one of two other specialised innovation centers by the TECOM Group that gives startup founders, students and entrepreneurs opportunities to turn their ideas into a reality. The other two are In5 Design and In5 Tech.
As a startup founder or someone making the transition from a passion to a business in Dubai picking the right partner can help you grow faster, ensure you setup your business properly to avoid legal issues, give you access to the right kind of network, provide business advisory and training, facilitate conversations with Investors and a lot of other things that you may not even know you need.
Picking the right partner and finding the right way to legitimise the NigeriansInDubai platform has been very important to me, so when I was invited to In5 Tech to meet up with Bayo Hassan Bello, the modern Ajala connecting African creatives with Investors,who we featured on the NigeriansInDubai podcast last week, I left the meetup excited on different levels.
First level was the content of the podcast, Bayo and I had a great conversation and the feedback from the podcast which we launched last week has been very encouraging. He was really clear about the vision of his company and he testified about how much the In5 community and process had help him on his journey. The second reason was because of the In5 Tech experience, the space itself, all the good things Bayo told me about it and the things I had quickly read on my mobile device.
Picking the Right Partner For Your Startup In Dubai requires you to think about the following;
1. What level is your business? This is the first question to ask yourself. Is it still just an idea? Have you done anything to test the market viability of the product?
2. What is required to launch your business in the country/city you find yourself in? In this case the city is Dubai and depending on the kind of business there are different regulatory requirements before you can start your business or if you want to be taken seriously. Are there licenses you need to get? For example, Influencer marketing in Dubai involves getting a certain type of license that makes you a “UAE licensed Influencer”. New rules for Influencer marketing means you can be penalised or UAE based brands that work with you can be penalised without this license.
You also have to decide whether it’s a business that is about Dubai but doesn’t necessarily need you to make money in Dubai. There are travel and tour companies that offer tour packages to Dubai but are not necessarily registered in Dubai because they work with third party partners and are really just marketing fronts.
3. Are there available options in the city that can make business setup and registration cheaper and also offer you access to other benefits?
This is very important and before you go borrowing money from friends and family to setup a business in a new city or country, you should do your research about available options that can help you setup your business and also give you access to other benefits. Benefits like access to mentorship, networking, training, facilitating meet ups with Investors and other things that can help your business grow.
There are a few more but for the purpose of this article I am going to stop at this three.
I started NigeriansInDubai.com in June 2019 and right from the beginning I have known that I want to do things properly and give it the required opportunity to grow because I believe it’s a platform with so much potential. Especially looking at the larger vision.
During my meetup with Bayo, he took me round the In5 Tech space and told me a bit about the benefits of being accepted into the In5 programme. The main benefits which he talked about and which I confirmed from reading information and case studies on their website are; a robust business set-up framework, training and mentor-ship, networking, investment opportunities, and cutting-edge prototyping labs, studios and creative workspaces.
After meeting up with Bayo, I went back to do some research about other platforms that provide a similar enabling environment and I found 2 more that I was interested in.
About 3-4am on Monday 21st July, I was restless and finally decided to start looking for more platforms and applying to the ones I had found. I applied to the first one and then moved on to the In5 application.
What is the In5 Application Like?
First step is to visit https://infive.ae/. The website gives you a bit of an idea of their design and process thinking. The value of the platform is clear the moment you visit it and the tabs you need to take the next step are clearly highlighted.
I have visited it a few times so I don’t need to go through the different pages but if its your first time then you can take your time to go through each tab. You will find something valuable that will help you make up your mind.
Next step is to click the “Apply Now” tab. As soon as you click on it, a drop down menu comes which will lead you to the right programme to apply for. Is your business Tech, Media or Design? Picking the right category will lead you to the right category.
For the purpose of this article, I clicked on all three tabs and it took me to a similar page which is a registration page. The next steps once you register are explained in a diagram beside the registration box.
I followed the process, verified my email and logged in.
After logging in, I arrived at the first level of registration.
I clicked on the button that said “Start Application”. Next step was to fill a set of forms that asked 22 questions. Questions focused on business description, questions about current funding level, marketing strategies, competitive landscape, marketing strategies, revenue opportunities, etc.
If you hadn’t quite thought about these things before or written anything down, the form gives you an opportunity to think about it a little. My one issue with the form which you should probably know beforehand is that it doesn’t give an option to save your application as draft at this level and if you fill some content and return after a while, you will have to start filling the form from the beginning because it would have refreshed probably a session expiry setting for security purposes. I didn’t know this and filled certain things directly into the form without a backup.
The final stage which took me about 30-45 minutes to complete what the “Upload a business plan” stage. If you are a startup founder that belongs to the “Make everything up as you go” school of thought then you probably don’t have a business plan. I didn’t have one so I had to create one at that time(about 5:30am in the morning). Thankfully there is a business plan guide you can follow which gives you an idea of what they require so I was able to effectively follow this guide and come up with a 15 page business plan.
After filling all the details, it allows you to review and then you can finally submit it.
The next steps after submission are unique for everyone. I will share my experience in the next article titled Picking the Right Partner For Your Startup In Dubai- Our In5 Media Experience Part 2. It will be published later this week.
Ifeanyi Abraham is a creative storyteller, life hacker and Digital Influencer.
He is a Public relations & Digital Marketing executive that helps companies, government agencies & NGOs leverage the power of marketing & communications.
He is the Founder of NigeriansinDubai.com, a knowledge sharing and transfer platform focused on harnessing the lessons, spirit and power of Dubai to the benefit of Nigerians. We tell the stories of Nigerians living, working and visiting Dubai.
He is also the Co-founder of The Beverage Room, a digital community for Beverage Lovers.