Krumbs & Bites is a unique gifting idea and service that allows the customer to enjoy a new customized breakfast experience which makes them feel that every single detail on their tray matches their personality/occasion. Company founder, Farah Al Doukhi, explains the company ethos below around helping to create memorable experiences for customers, especially during social distancing.
1. Describe yourself as founder of Krumbs & Bites in one sentence.
From my past experience as an employee, I realized that I didn’t want to wait until the weekend to start enjoying my life, so I decided to spend time doing what I love.
2. What is Krumbs & Bites?
Krumbs & Bites is a service and unique gifting idea that allows the customer to enjoy a new customized breakfast experience which makes them feel that every single detail on their tray matches their personality/occasion.
3. How did you find the need for this unique service in the region?
The main idea of Krumbs & Bites is to let people gift each other a unique gift that not often thought of in the region; which will make them feel special since the breakfast tray is customized based on the occasion and/or person.
4. Have you seen an uptick of orders during COVID-19 due to people being at home more often?
Yes of course, our sales increased drastically during the COVID-19 lockdown since people were focusing on gifting themselves and their loved ones through digital platforms/e-commerce.
5. Do you depend on influencers to support the business’s awareness and outreach? Why or why not?
Influencers were key in helping us boost our sales in the UAE, but our other marketing strategies helped us to continue competing and achieving our goals in terms of sales.
6. How can someone engage with Krumbs & Bites?
Hashtag #krumbsandbites for reposts
7. What’s the most important tip you have for other aspiring innovators looking to provide a new niche service in the region?
The most important tip that I would give to any new innovator is to trust themselves, believe in their idea, and work hard in making it succeed.
8. What is in the future of Krumbs & Bites?
The future of Krumbs & Bites is filled with mesmerizing surprises and unique concepts. Stay tuned for the launch of our new products soon!
Meet Shadi Megallaa, owner of the only independent record shop in Dubai, The Flip Side . Read about Shadi's vision in turning this space within Al Serkal avenue into a culture hub for Dubai’s music community; a powerful force in bringing people together over a shared love of classic tunes.
1. Describe yourself as Founder in one sentence.
I'm a music lover first and a business owner second.
2. Briefly tell us about The Flip Side, and why you chose this name in particular.
The Flip Side was born because I was tired of waiting for two weeks at a time to get records. I wanted a record shop in Dubai where I could get records on the spot. I had also come to the conclusion that working in a record shop was the only job that I would truly enjoy. I had previously worked at Halcyon Records in Brooklyn while I was living in New York and I missed the community aspect of a record shop environment.
3. Why focus on independent music records? Is it your particular passion?
I focus on independent labels mostly because I am part of that community. I also run a record label called Ark To Ashes as well as have lots of friends who also run small independent labels. We also do stock major label releases but we definitely try to be a voice for lesser known labels and artists. I love music regardless of whether it’s independent or not. That being said I definitely do have a soft spot for like-minded individuals who go out of their way to try to create a record label that reflects their identity and their creative process. It’s always harder for smaller labels to survive due to the lack of funds to promote and market their releases. In the end, my job as a curator of vinyl for The Flip Side is to stock great music regardless of what label it’s on.
4. How did you uncover the need for a music record outlet in Dubai? Do you plan to expand around GCC?
As I said earlier it came out of a personal need. That personal need to get my vinyl fix. Since it didn’t exist I had to create it myself. That being said, I did do plenty of research before taking the plunge in opening The Flip Side. There will always be only one Flip Side. There are no plans of expanding into the GCC but my priority is to begin shipping our records to all our neighboring GCC countries. That is currently in the works & very close to being realized.
5. You create cozy corners in the store to listen in and escape reality; due to COVID-19, do you plan to replicate a similar experience online in the future?
The record shop experience can never be replicated online. We do however have our webshop (E-commerce) platform where people can order records, merchandise and other DJ gear. It was our website that helped us survive during the COVID lockdown. I’m not really sure where we would be without it. We’re always trying to enhance the online experience as websites are never really finished. It’s an on-going task to improve & better the user experience.
6. How can someone engage with The Flip Side?
7. What advice do you have for aspiring innovators who want to either start or bring a niche service or product to the GCC?
My biggest piece of advice would be to find yourself a business partner and do as much research as possible into the field that you’re entering. Another piece of advice would be to be prepared to work non-stop, but more importantly to also take breaks. You can’t do great work when you’re burnt-out. Always remember to work smart, not hard (although sometimes both).
“I advise new designers to concentrate on innovation and follow their clients’ needs. I guide them to achieve their dreams," says Lama Kutait Taba, Managing Partner of Dubai based Interior Design firm, Creations Interior Design. Read below about how The Creations team performs with an intimate understanding of their clients' needs, especially during COVID-19.
1. Describe yourself as Managing Partner & Senior Interior Designer in one sentence.
I have a huge passion for creativity and innovation that meets my clients needs and expectations.
2. Briefly tell us more about the boutique interior design business, Creations Interior Design.
As an interior decoration boutique in Dubai, our services include soft furnishing, accessories, art, carpets and lighting whether the project is residential, commercial or hospitality.
3. What makes your interior design service unique from others in the region?
We provide luxurious products and customized designs to personalize our clients lifestyle.
4. In your business overview, you mention: “Understanding our client’s needs has propelled us to achieve many successful projects throughout the UAE, the USA and other regions.”…. which methods do you use to uncover these needs exactly?
We provide luxurious products and customized designs to personalize our clients' lifestyles.
We start by analyzing our clients needs. We study their personalities & lifestyle and how they want to interact and move in the space.
5. How have your services adapted during COVID-19? What are consumers asking for now versus before COVID-19?
Since the start of COVID-19, we've been continuing our activities via Video conferencing whereby our team has been scheduling daily meetings with our clients and suppliers. Lately, our main concern has been prioritizing physical comfort; we noticed the need for our clients to have private spaces with physical distance measures.
6. How can someone engage with the business?
Phone: +971 4 338 9363
7. What advice do you have for aspiring innovators who want start their own boutique service in the GCC?
I advise new designers to concentrate on innovation and follow their clients needs and guide them to achieve their dreams.
“My main aim is to introduce sustainable fashion to the region as I strongly believe we all need to shift our consuming practices to greener ones," expresses Sandra Abi Chahine, strategy and communications consultant based between Kuwait, Dubai and Beirut. Below Sandra demonstrates what sets strong PR mavens apart amidst a 'new normal.'
1) Describe yourself as a retail-focused, boutique PR Consultant in one sentence.
Bringing people and brands’ stories to life in the most “soulful” way.
2) How did your experience in PR and Comms for so many years at renown companies like Al Tayer Group and Dior in Dubai, shape the way you understand consumer behavior in the region today?
The corporate world shaped my strategic thinking. Working in depth with big International brands and being exposed to their knowhow and strategies has given me the right tools and confidence to be launching today on my own.
Moreover, when you are working in house for a brand like Dior, Chanel or a big retailer such as Al Tayer who have so much history , you learn the power of good storytelling. These brands unfold their heritage beautifully through amazing content and features.
A costumer can visit a store to discover new products, but he can only understand the story of this product, why it costs this much and the Savoir Faire and inspiration behind it through a good PR story.
Lastly, throughout my corporate experience I’ve learnt the importance of working hand in hand with other departments mainly the retail team in order to understand what is working and selling on the ground. Sales people know the consumers best and it’s always crucial to ask them their feedback even though it’s very hard to measure the correlation between a PR launch and sales . However, with e-commerce nowadays we have more tangibility.
3) Do you define yourself as a PR agency? Why or why not? What makes your services different than others?
I don’t define myself as an agency, at least not yet. To be honest with you, I don’t aim to becoming one anytime soon. I want to keep my consultancy very niche, focused on very few clients and projects with ethical stories and products.
My main aim is to introduce Sustainable Fashion to the region as I strongly believe we all need to shift our consuming practices to greener ones.
Moreover, I don’t want to overwhelm myself with so many accounts as my main aim is to keep a close relationship with each brand/project I work on. I want my clients to feel that they have an in house PR person and not an outsider agency handling their account amongst many others.
4) In your opinion, how has the PR landscape shifted since COVID-19? Are brands expecting new or different types comms support these days?
The pandemic gave a deeper meaning to the PR and the Fashion industry. I felt there was a beautiful universal awakening that happened on all levels. Brands realized that they need to shift their practices and communications strategies from ones that were merely pushing product sales to ones that had greater impact on the collective wellbeing. Moreover, with the strong power of PR and social media, a lot of malpractices were highlighted which pushed brands to change their behaviors.
Nothing can be hidden anymore, transparency is key and therefore everyone needs to be ethical in the way they operate or else they will be thrown off the train…
5) What do you think the role of influencers should be in the industry moving forward?
Their role is to be ethical in what they promote and bring awareness to. The audience is not dumb and is no longer “influenced” by anyone blindly.
Influencers need to stay real to themselves and understand that they have a social responsibility towards their followers.
Before jumping on a collaboration, influencers need to search the brand/product and make sure they are being very transparent and ethical with what they communicate on.
6) How can someone engage with you for consulting?
7) What’s the most important tip you have for other Communications Strategists who are looking for ways to support fashion brands during times like COVID and #BLM?
My advice would be not to stay quiet during these times and say “oh it’s not the right time to be talking about fashion." It might not be the right time to communicate about a product launch but it will be the right time to take a stand and actions against any kind of racism or unfairness that is happening.
You need to push the brand to be socially responsible through concrete actions and practices and not just an Instagram post to show support (raising money to a specific cause, giving work opportunity to minorities etc..).
Thinking long-term community & wellbeing and not short-term product & sales is key today.
Vikram Malkani of The Albex Group, founded an agency that supports retail businesses of all sizes in sustainable & innovative, retail projects in the UAE. Read more below on how Albex helps 'bring retail space ideas to life.'
1) If someone had to describe you as CEO & Founder of Albex in one sentence, what would that be?
Someone who is always looking after others and wants to help people, rather than just helping myself.
2) Albex is not your standard visual merchandising supplier company. Can you elaborate on this?
We like to think about ourselves as the company that brings your ideas to reality. We supply all the elements that you need for your retail space but we also collaborate with leaders in technology and sustainability to transform any area into an innovative and sustainable experience. We cover all the retail spectrum by offering concept creation and the execution of it through the use of the best materials in terms of quality and sustainability.
3) Albex mentions sustainability in its website and social media platforms – how does Albex follow a sustainable operations model?
It’s been a few years since we started our commitment with the planet. We understand sustainability from its different perspectives and that’s why we offer different solutions. We have eco-friendly versions of our products, from mannequins to hangers and bags, and we offer a mannequin rental service as well. Our partners also have a strong commitment with the environment and we are happy to be the distributors of amazing products such as Bonaveri’s Bplast mannequin and Flatbag, the smart paper bag. Also, when we’re executing visual merchandising ideas we make sure to propose the most sustainable materials because we believe our customers need an easy way to make the transition into a more sustainable way of living.
4) How did you uncover the need in the UAE market for Albex?
The UAE market is a very special one, it understands the need of staying updated on the latest trends, likes luxury, fashion and has a very different appreciation of quality, reason why we only offer the best products and services.
Our story here started by offering just hangers and mannequins, but now we offer all types of solutions: holograms, interactive marketing tools, sustainable products and of course a wide variety of mannequins and hangers.
5) Can Albex support e-commerce brands too?
Yes, and from different perspectives. We can supply their packaging which plays a key role on the buying cycle of an e-commerce platform, but we also help with business consultancy, brand concept and design. We have been integrating different services and products that allow us to adapt to an online market that relies on technology.
6) How can someone register/use Albex?
Visiting our website is the best way to check our catalog and get in touch with us by signing up to receive our newsletter and blog updates. You can also find us on different social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Visiting our showroom is a nice option as well because it’s the place where we exhibit our variety of mannequins. Give us a call +9714 5149070 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get in touch in no time.
7) How can someone engage with Albex?
8) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in the region?
Always stay updated on the needs of the market, go for the crazy idea and keep your integrity at all times.
1) If someone had to describe you as Founder of Aces of Spaces in one sentence, what would that be?
I approach everything from a design-first perspective. I am in constant pursuit of ingenious solutions; that mindset defines every aspect of our business operations.
2) Describe a day in the life at work for you.
It’s fast-paced, a constant balancing act between time, output and value. Agency life can be demanding and challenging – but very fulfilling when things come together.
3) Tell us about Aces of Space and your transitional experience bringing the agency from home in the Netherlands over to Dubai. What was that like?
The main challenge was to adapt ourselves to the market we were entering. From organization, pricing and business processes, we had to rethink these to suit the local market needs. Our core offering, which is creativity backed up by highly skilled talent was an easy sell – but we had to master local execution over the years. This experience we can use for our next destination!
4) Aces of Space is not your standard Production agency. Can you elaborate on this?
We are multi-disciplined organization that exists out of creative talent and innovators. Each of us is able to channel the power of a unique talent, aligning our powers for the greatest possible, efficiency and effect, always custom fit to each and every project. This keeps us agile and flexible
in a market that requires a dynamic approach.
5) What have you noticed has been the greatest shift in your clients’ service needs since COVID- 19?
In a time of uncertainty people look to strategic thinkers for confirmation to navigate their brands or businesses through the storm. Understanding market conditions and consumer mindsets is key to steer our clients in the most efficient direction.
6) How can someone engage/reach out to with Aces of Space?
7) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in the region who want to build something different?
Make a positive impact, be patient and persistent!
Accomplished designer Jessica Khouzami, Founder of Dubai-based Interior Design Boutique Company, Jessica Khouzami Interior, inspires us with her story of how she took her design dreams and made them her reality.
1) If someone had to describe you as Founder in one sentence, what would that be?
A passionate architect and a perfectionist that is willing to push the envelope myself to take my work one step further by combining creativity and imagination with practicality.
2) Describe a day in the life of Jessica Khouzami at work.
After having my morning coffee, I start my day by researching daily innovative designs that are being
developed worldwide in order to be up to date with the new trends and to widen my knowledge.
Then I write down on a blank A4 paper the main tasks for the day in order to organize myself and
manage my time to meet strict deadlines without compromising the quality and creativity of my work.
Throughout the day, I work closely with my team which consists of draftsmen and 3D artists to complete moodboards, shop drawings, 3D perspectives and material selection.
Depending on the day, I plan frequent site visits to the ongoing projects, conduct meetings with suppliers and visit showrooms.
Finally I finish my day by sitting down with the team to review the designs and updated drawings in order to prepare for the next day .
3) Tell us about Jessica Khouzami Interior and why you launched the business.
I have always been passionate about design and interior architecture. The vision and goal I have
for myself is to be a unique and reputable interior architect in the Middle East. While I started off my career as a consultant interior architect at “RODA Hotels” in the UAE, I’ve had the privilege to meet some of the best designers and interior companies from around the world and to take part of their journey from conceptual to fully-developed projects.
A year and a half later, I decided that I was going to take my own path as a interior architect and
establish an interior’s company under the umbrella of the family business “Al Thuriah Group." While I believe everything happens at the right time, it was at that moment that I felt was right
for me to start my career the way I had always dreamt it to be.
I was confident and committed enough to know that I was capable of taking on more responsibilities and making important decisions, despite the long hours and pressure that comes with my own venture.
Today, I am proud to say that I am running my own team of designers to watch my designs and
creativity turn into reality.
4) Jessica Khouzami Interior is not your standard interior design service. Can you elaborate on this?
Design reflects a person’s personality, lifestyle and experiences. Every project I have designed is
unique and has a story to tell. With our knowledge and professionalism, my team and I tailor quality designs that fit our clients’ needs, style and taste.
From the smallest to my largest projects , my energy and dedication remain unwaived. The relationship between a client and designer is very important to me. I ensure that the clients I work with feel safe and comfortable in order to create something magical that makes them feel happy and satisfied.
5) How can someone engage/reach out to with Jessica Khouzami Interior?
A website will be available very soon.
6) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in the region?
To always trust your gut and the first idea that comes to mind.
The sky is the limit: Research! Try! Succeed! Fail! But always GRO
With the current Pandemic and political crisis in Lebanon, a platform called Mitchkoland was born to promote small artisans and sustainable, ethical businesses to the KSA and UAE markets. Below, the Cofounding couple elaborates on their honorable passion project.
1) Describe your unique relationship being both a couple and Cofounders of Mitchkoland.
It's rare to find something that two people just both immediately fall in love with. Being a couple and sharing the same passion for the business helps us excel as we are both 100% committed to it and the great thing is that our skillsets compliment each other so we're always separately busy yet working together.
2) Briefly tell us about Mitchkoland.
The Mitchkoland dream has been in the works for years now. It's a bigger dream part of an Eco-friendly planet. When we saw the opportunity with everything going on, we took the jump and started gathering as many unique and handmade products as we can find. Mitchkoland is always seeking to support small businesses by adding their listings and is committed to allocate a share of proceeds to charity.
3) How did you uncover the need in the market for Mitchkoland?
The trend of handmade products has been here for ages. When you look at how flea markets have been operating for decades before the e-commerce storm, we know that people love handmade products. All we needed to do is to connect people to these products through e-commerce and bring forth the best quality.
4) How can someone (B2B or B2C) register/use Mitchkoland?
We're always welcome to hear any ideas that can help support our vision. For B2B inquiries, we're cross-channel and can be reached across e-mail, phone, website or social channels. As for B2C, we're increasing our exposure on social media and are always enhancing our website experience so they can find exactly what they want in a seamless way.
5) How can someone engage with Mitchkoland?
Phone / Whatsapp: +971509240431
6) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in the region?
Our project was a dream and all we needed to do was to take the first step. Once that happens for you, you find yourself more committed, passionate and in love with what you're doing. It gives you purpose. So take that first step, and everything else will just fall in place. For us, it's been a tough year and we know that the road is still long, but it's all about the journey. Don't be afraid of failure, that's just how you learn. Believe in your idea and make it happen.
Meet Founder of Dubai-based social media production agency, Sunday, Ashley Cadzow, who has used his business to fill a void in the industry when it comes tailored, affordable and high quality service.
1) If someone had to describe you as Founder, what would that be?
I'm a founder of a social media production agency that brings extensive social marketing experience to the table, working more like part of a team with our clients, as opposed to working simply as an agency.
2) Describe a day in the life at work for you.
There's never a day where there isn't work. Whether we're meeting clients, working on concepts, in the midst of producing a campaign, or maintaining our retainers. My day involves playing tennis with emails, frequent phone-calls, and a lot of coffee.
3) Tell us about Sunday and what your goals were when launching. What gap in the market were you aiming to fill?
Initially, I was working at a large digital agency, leading on building out the social media arm which was in its infancy at the time (our primary focus was Facebook and Twitter, Instagram had yet to take off). Working with multiple teams and several dozen clients, I quickly found the traps of traditional media agencies.
Seeing an endless feed of stock-photography content being used for clients who were paying significantly more than what was needed; overall engagement was not high, and I saw that this was directly related to the content which was lacking relevancy and resonance.
I chose to exit large agencies, believing that the opportunity to produce real, high quality, tailored, engaging content at a lower price than what the market was set at was both possible and profitable.
Since then we've successfully filled the gap that had been identified, and we're seeing a greater trend of large companies and multi-nationals opt to use more boutique agencies for that very reason: Higher quality, lower cost - as well as our incredible flexibility.
4) What types of clients do you work with?
Our clients are broad, but hand-picked, It's important for our team-members to be constantly passionate about and engaged with our clients.
We work with some of the leading international luxury watch and fine jewellery brands, as well as top international beauty, skincare, and perfume brands.
Further, we work with international hotel chains, and conceptual restaurants and bars for both retainers and curated projects.
5) Sunday is not your standard Social Media agency. Can you elaborate on this?
We work to be incredibly flexible for our clients. Many marketing departments find themselves short on creative resources, so working in partnership with our clients is essential. We understand client-side hierarchy and internal mechanics and offer creative support to ensure that we deliver the best possible work to our clients who, in-turn, showcase the best possible work to their colleagues, bosses, and wider markets.
6) What have you noticed has been the greatest shift in your clients’ needs since COVID-19?
Clients are still in need of marketing services, but the traditional ways that we produce those services have been cut from under us during this time. We've found creative solutions for our clients to ensure that they can still deliver against their annual calendars. An exciting way we've done this is through remote production services - sending equipment and guides to people to produce content for our brands while we direct remotely via zoom - a workaround for the traditional photoshoot.
7) How can someone engage/reach out to Sunday?
8) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in the region who want to build something different?
If you think you have it, absolutely go for it. After leaving my job, I spent every cent I had on meeting people and telling anyone who would listen about my plans. Long-term it paid off, and it only ever takes one person, one job or one opportunity to get the snowball rolling.
An award-winning regional branding consultancy in the Middle East & Africa, one of Brand Lounge ME's strengths is to maximize and pivot brands' retail strategies in today's uncertain environment. Read about their points of difference from the Founder and CEO, Hasan Fadlallah (HF) below.
1) If someone had to describe you in one sentence, what would that be?
An energetic, ethical, continuously evolving, relationship building, performance-oriented and growth-driven entrepreneur.
2) Tell us about your experiences working in renowned communication agencies in the past—what learnings did you take along the way that helped you grow Brand Lounge?
Without a doubt, my professional career has shaped who I am today and what I have managed to bring to the table when founding and growing Brand Lounge. The people I’ve met and worked with during my tenure in leading communication agencies contributed the most - and each in its own specialty. The lessons are out there, but what is important is what we do with those lessons. I learned the importance of strategic thinking and planning, and that it is paramount to anything we do especially in an extremely visual-led market like the Middle East. I learned the importance of financial management and cash flow, in particular, as a recipe for success or failure for any business. I learned the value of building a performance-oriented culture, of hiring and working with like-minded team members. Finally, I learned the real meaning of working in a service industry; it is not merely about performing the service – it is about service excellence and quality performance during the lifecycle of the business, an area for personal branding and relationship building in the journey for differentiation.
3) Tell us about Brand Lounge and why you launched the business.
Brand Lounge is an Award-winning regional branding consultancy & the designated partner of ‘Trout & Partners’ in the Middle East & Africa.
Our purpose is to maximize value by uncovering brands' point of differentiation in today’s increasingly competitive environment.
Brand Lounge was launched to help individuals, companies,
destinations, products and services differentiate themselves within
a sea of competitors competing for the same audience, market share
and brand position.
4) Brand Lounge is not your standard Branding Agency; you call yourself a Consultancy. Can you explain the difference?
True. We believe in the power of differentiated positioning, being part of Trout & Partners; the global leaders in strategic positioning,
the consultancy that the late Jack Trout founded to differentiate brands and has since coined the term “differentiated positioning.”
This shaped us to find our desired position within our industry to act as a branding consultancy – a sweet spot between branding agencies and management consultancies. Our methodology, process, output and actions are very strategic and delivered in a form of ongoing senior level consultancy and advisory to help business owners and C-suite management stakeholders follow through the brand strategy articulated post our unique co-creation model. As such, our outcome is continuously impacting the culture, image and communication, growth and innovation of every business we lay our hands on.
5) Describe the types of retail clients who would benefit most from working with Brand Lounge.
Any business today requires the support of a branding consultancy like Brand Lounge. Retail, in particular, will need to rethink and rework their strategy moving forward in such times. We will help them answer the key questions related to why they exist as a business? Where do they play and who do they play against? And how to win? Our strategy-led proven methodology has been designed and tested to differentiate brands, maximize value, and deliver results time and again. We are able to discover and audit all areas of the business, develop differentiated brand strategies, design human-centric visual identities, and deploy inside-out traditional and digital branding experiences.
6) CME: How can someone engage with Brand Lounge ME?
Brand Lounge is socially active, through our social media channels, our continuous research, online workshops and webinars and speaking sessions. Our Brand Lounge website can be visited to have a better understanding of what drives us, our methodology, our clients, our work and to have a feel of our culture and point of view on branding:
Social Media pages:
7) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in the region looking to disrupt the industry?
There is no doubt that the current situation will impact businesses in general. Some industries may be reshaped completely, and others will need to adapt and jump on the new "normal" wagon. Brands are here to stay and will become even more vital and synonymous to the people behind them, as businesses continue to communicate and operate remotely, hence creating positive brand moments or rather brand experiences. At Brand Lounge we look at a multidimensional ecosystem of the brand experience through differentiation:
• Purpose: The Soul differentiator
• Image: The Shallow differentiator
• Innovation: The Radical differentiator
• Culture: The Core differentiator
These dimensions are impacted by major shifts in customer behavior and trends that will be further witnessed during and post COVID-19 pandemic, they were going to be disrupted anyway, without a pandemic, which has only accelerated the change and the rate of adoption. As such, the essence remains, but the focus and weight of each dimension should and will change. Have a solid purpose, build a culture around a team that buys into your vision and supports you through thick and thin, and reciprocate this on a daily basis. Your image and identity as well as your communication should be a true reflection of your purpose and positioning, and it should design your organization around innovation - it is not a “nice to have” function, it is the essence of existence in the near future.
An online coffee-centric marketplace, COFE App launched in Kuwait, makes Coffee Ordering Fast & Efficient. CME speaks with Ali Al Ebrahim (AE), the Founder about his vision and success behind fueling every coffee-lover's wish in finding coffee, wherever and whenever possible.
1) If someone had to describe you in one sentence, what would that be?
Everything Ali does, is done with simplicity at its heart. He believes in using technology to positively impact people’s everyday life.
2) Briefly tell us about COFE.
Conceptualized by a group of coffee enthusiasts, COFE App was created for coffee communities around the world. An online coffee-centric marketplace, COFE App makes Coffee Ordering Fast & Efficient. The mobile application was officially launched in November 2018 in Kuwait, and has since expanded to KSA, and UAE with plans to launch in UK and Turkey later this year.
Since its inception, COFE App has been constantly working to revolutionize the coffee industry by giving all kinds of coffee shops access to a robust digital platform that will help them expand their customer base as well as service offerings, something that was only accessible to coffee-market giants so far.
The innovative mobile application offers multiple ordering solutions to COFE lovers looking for a smart way to grab their daily coffee. Users can access both specialty coffee roasters and international franchise brands through an easy to use and navigate interface.
COFE App provides an elevated coffee experience by enabling vendors to create online offerings in addition to brick and mortar stores with a highly customizable in-app coffee store-front and rewards program.
3) How did you uncover the need in the market for COFE?
While there are marketplace applications for almost all industries: Hospitality (Booking), Food Delivery (Deliveroo), Travel (Expedia) there is a lack of a coffee marketplace app; leaving space for a tech player to come in with services and rewards solution to propel the market to the next level.
COFE App is not disrupting one or two key players but the entire coffee industry. COFE App provides an elevated coffee experience enabling vendors to create online offerings in addition to brick and mortar stores with a highly customizable in-app store-front and rewards program. The app’s robust platform also helps vendors add more services to their portfolio (Premium Services) creating a whole new revenue stream.
The rise of new technologies and data revolution is having a significant and positive impact on coffee producers and consumers. Numbers show that the mobile app industry has a positive growth trajectory. The Starbucks app in 2018 had 23.4 Mns mobile payment users, ranking above Apple Pay (22 Mns) and Google Pay (11.1 Mns) indicating the preference for coffee drinkers to pay vendors directly through their digital platform instead of third party solution. COFE App is the only mobile application in the market that allows ordering, customization and payment from multiple coffee vendors on one platform.
While It makes business sense for global coffee market leaders to have their own application, players without that kind of reach, resources or market share are not having much success with the creation of their own platform. This is where COFE App levels the playing field for all kinds of coffee vendors. Coffee finds its humble beginnings at Mocha Port, Yemen, COFE App now is adding technology to the mix of this much-loved beverage that is intricately woven into the DNA of our culture. Launch of the London market will be history repeating itself where for the first time a middle eastern mobile application will foray into the international market.
4) How can someone register/use COFE?
COFE App is available on both iOS and Android, and it free to use. All you have to do is launch either App Store, or Google Play, depending on your handheld device, download the app, register and viola, COFE App is ready to serve you.
5) How can someone engage with COFE? Please list all email, URL and handle information.
COFE App is live and active on most widely-used online platforms.
6) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in GCC?
Right now technology is at the forefront of all new businesses, in fact even established businesses are now venturing into the Tech sector for growth and expansion. The market for mobile applications is only just booming, and there is a lot of promise in the industry. As such having a strong Tech team has become of paramount importance for businesses. Technology is the primary asset for any new company.
I would also recommend that anyone looking to launch their own start-up should focus on picking a niche instead of venturing into general businesses. Gather as much insider insights and information on your chosen market, as these will go a long way in helping you determine the industry and path you choose. Before you start, determine what your business USP is going to be and build everything around it. Use your USP to differentiate your products and services from others.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is that when getting investors on board, target strategic investors. E.g. companies or individuals who understand your business values and goals and are looking to grow with you and your business.
Grandeur Fitout (GF) is a reputed interior design company undertaking all kinds of design work specializing in commercial and residential fit outs in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Founder and MD, Saahil Bangera, tells CME about his passion of turning interior designers' visions into realities below.
1) If someone had to describe you in one sentence, what would that be?
Definitely, a risk-taker, with a never-say-never attitude.
2) Briefly tell us about Grandeur Fitout (GF).
Grandeur Fitout, a home-grown business, was founded in 2015 and specializes in transforming design concepts into reality. We build and renovate spaces for our clients in the commercial, residential and retail sector. Being a Dubai Municipality approved company, allows us to take up turnkey projects including all necessary approvals. Recently we’ve had the opportunity to work with brilliant interior designers and it gives us immense satisfaction to turn their vision into a reality.
3) How did you uncover the need to develop GF?
Dubai is constantly growing, and over the years we have seen an influx of new businesses setting shop here. We understood that new companies moving in would require basic Fitout works to get their license set up and have a running office, and saw a gap in the market for affordable yet quality Fitout services. With this in mind, and a passion for design in our hearts, Grandeur Fitout initially ventured in to cater to the growing demand in the commercial office space. We eventually branched out into the residential market, where most houses have reached a saturation point and home owners/renters want an upgrade to make their house a home.
4) How can someone register/use GF?
Depending on scope of work, we would need to do a site survey to identify feasibility and probable design ideas. We are usually able to turn around an inquiry into a proposal in as few as 2 days. At the same time, as we have been doing during this pandemic situation, we also accept inquiries on Email / Website / Instagram / Facebook / WhatsApp with potential clients sharing pictures of their space and requirements and we then discuss the possible options along with pricing.
5) How can someone register/use GF?
We have an active online presence.
o Whatsapp - +971551047620
6) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in GCC?
We are lucky to be based in the GCC, Dubai in particular, where we have an abundance of opportunities to turn dreams into realities. My advice would be to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and a strong brand purpose. The how, will always work out as long as you have the passion in your heart and strive to contribute to the betterment of society.
These three co-founders of eco-sustainable goods company, Mint + Laurel (ML) in Los Angeles, CA, support Syrian, Lebanese and Tunisian artisans displaced by war. Read about what drove their passion in starting this collaborative initiative in an exclusive interview with Curated ME.
1) If someone had to describe you in one sentence, what would that be?
Three Syrian-American women with different backgrounds and common goals who are passionate about supporting middle eastern artisans in conflict areas to become economically independent and preserve their hand-made traditions.
2) Briefly tell us about M+L.
Mint + Laurel is a lifestyle brand focused on organic, luxury and handmade products from the Middle East and packaged in Los Anglos California, We connect highly skilled artisans to untapped global market. We honor and nurture the sustainability of these products by preserving a heritage, while redefining them in a contemporary voice. We connect you to the artisan and their work, by telling their story, so you know where your product is coming from and how it was crafted.
3) How did you uncover the need to develop M+L?
The company came together with a gentle nudge from the universe and the laws of attractions. Co-founder Rama Chakaki is an engineer with 25 years of technical and communication experience, she also runs the VIP.fund a venture philanthropy investing in youth.
Rama was working with a Palestinian nonprofits supporting youth in Dubai until 2013. During a visit to the US, she met Kinda Hibrawi, the second co-founder.
Rama had heard of Kinda and seen her beautiful calligraphy and powerful imagery portraying Syrian youth, beauty, and resilience. Years later, the two came together in a hotel lobby in Southern California. They talked about their desire to share the Syrian culture and heritage with the US market. Kinda mentioned having discussed this with Mai Barazi and wanted it to be a three-way partnership. Mai had spent years working with refugees in Middle East. Her passion was youth and women. She had reached out to Rama to join her nonprofit programs supporting Syrian youth.
Not long after that, the three of ladies met for the first time, on ZOOM to discuss the new business. The rest is history!
4) How can someone register/use M+L?
M+L is an a-mmerce (art + commerce) platform.
Artisans who'd like to feature their products with us can contact us by email Mint+Laurel.
We also can ship internationally.
5) What advice do you have for other aspiring innovators in GCC?
A) Do something that you are passionate about.
B) Have a purpose in social impact (supporting children, gender equality etc.) in addition to the business aspect, such as making profit. Partner with vulnerable people.
C) Partner with people who compliment your work and who know what you don't know; you don't have to know everything.
D) Enjoy the journey