Enterprise isn’t easy these days, but one group is gearing up for better times in the business world. Team Y meets the team behind Startup Grind.
The economy may be on the volatile side as the nation grapples with a slump set in motion by the oil crisis of 2015 –but the entrepreneurial hopes and dreams of Oman’s young people have not waned.
As the saying goes, “Fortune favours the bold”. And that’s the message a group of young and free-thinking minds are trying to put forward with Startup Grind Muscat.
Essentially a platform for budding entrepreneurs to network, this group aimed at educating, inspiring and connecting young actual and aspiring businesspeople is now entering its second year.
Its members are back for a new season of events starting from February 3 – and the brains behind them is the partner of Startup Grind Muscat, Sharifa al Barami. She is the founder of MarkeetEx – an online shopping portal looking after household products and groceries, and a representative for Al Jazeera Consulting Services.
Emboldened by the sheer volume of events happening this time around, Sharifa runs us through the many weeks of events planned for young people to participate in. They will be able to gain first-hand experience dealing with established entrepreneurs, investors and business development experts.
Here’s an excerpt from our interview:
Q) Can you tell us the idea behind initiating Startup Grind Muscat?
A) Simply put, Startup Grind Muscat has become an advocate for the young minds of Oman who are looking to kick start their entrepreneurial goals. It all began when I was approached by the founder (who prefers to remain anonymous) who told me about this idea. It all sat very well with my beliefs. And as a networker myself, I thought it would be a perfect grounding for the youth to come and begin laying the groundwork by networking and interacting with established individuals in the business. In short, it’s a community that comes together to connect and enlighten each other about what’s currently on the market right now. It’s all about fostering new relationships.
Q) Has Startup Grind Muscat been able to add value to its visiting speakers, and if so, how?
A) The way we operate is that we host a series of events over the course of a few weeks – in this case, from February 3, 2019 – and we bring in established people from all professional spheres. Last year we organised eight events and featured very high-profile speakers from organisations such as Talabat, Fetchr, Bayt.com, Mumzworld and many more. The same goes for this year so we’ll have speakers such as Fares Ghandhour – a partner at Wamda Capital who leads investments in companies – to lead the way this year. We have a line-up of activities planned and will be revealing them over the next few weeks.
Q) How has your association with Startup Grind helped you achieve your goals?
A) Startup Grind is a global platform that is in partnership with several entities including Google for startups, and has in its bank more than 400,000 entrepreneurs in 200 cities and 85 countries. The events in Oman offer these young entrepreneurs, students and young professionals a chance to network with some of the best in the business. This time around, we’ll also have investors coming over and we’ll offer the visitors quick-fire rounds for their questions. And given the nature of our platform, you’ll also get an opportunity to interact in person with these investors.
Q) Do you think these visitors can pitch for their business ideas with the investors?
A) It gives you an opportunity to connect with them on a casual level. But, my advice to you would be not to seek money but tips and advice. Not only will that give you an opportunity to connect with them by forging bonds, you’ll also be able to have a more professional connection with them in the time to come. And who knows, maybe you can have someone invest in your idea.
Q) How challenging is it for a young entrepreneur currently?
A) To be very honest, it’s not very easy to start up something in Oman currently but that only makes it a challenging market. It’s now or never – and that opens up a wide variety of opportunities. But yes, perseverance is very necessary and it gives you a better fighting chance in becoming more successful. Over the last five years we’ve been seeing huge leaps with different types of startups in Oman.
Q) How has the response been from the public and sponsors so far?
A) It has been great. So, more than 50 entrepreneurs, students and young professionals are expected to join the event at Innovation Factory in Knowledge Oasis Muscat this coming week – and that’s a great start to this year’s events. Moreover, we’ve been receiving immense support from our sponsors. This year, we’re supported by Spur100 – a powerful cloud-based ERP solutions provider, Al Jazeera Global Services & Investments, and Innovation Factory.
What’s next for Startup Grind Muscat?
Startup Grind Muscat is now entering its second season and we’re focusing on making that a valuable offering to those in Oman. But, if we continue providing opportunities such as these over the years and keep our network growing, then it will continue as the largest platform of its kind in the whole country.
*Follow Startup Grind on social media @startupgrindom for more information and updates.