I recently spoke with a founder of a startup based in the UAE.


It’s an e-commerce business established in 2017 and its presence covers 24 countries…


Here’s what we talked about:



#FounderSpotlight 🛋️


Hasan: You are a direct-to-consumer startup providing meal accessories and your footprint in the regional ecosystem is strong and growing. Where do you want to take the company over the next 9 months?


Founder: Our brand has three main strategic objectives. First, we aim to continue our growth journey in the key markets we have expanded to in the last 2 years. Second, we want to continue to create and release new products every year and thus maintain our policy of applying and acquiring patents. The third objective is to enter and succeed as a direct-to-consumer brand in the above-mentioned key markets, especially in the US.


As part of our annual product release culture, this year we’re introducing a whole new range targeting teens and young adults. And although pre-school kids remain our main target, our new line of 50 products catered exclusively to our older audience is this year’s pledge to gain more momentum as we expand to bigger markets. Also, we’re already working on next year’s products and we’ll be again introducing a new audience – pets – and essentials made and designed specifically for them.


Hasan: Which market has surprised you most so far?


Founder: Australia. Maybe because we didn’t have expectations for the market, and so we’ve been surprised to see our products becoming extremely popular there. But, to be honest, I’m very curious to see what happens in new markets we just signed in, such as Japan, Malaysia or Canada.


Hasan: Why did you open a brick-and-mortar store and what kind of experience does it offer to its visitors?


Founder: We wanted to give our products a home. Deep down, I think it’s a common dream for business owners like me to want to see their products in a brick-and-mortar store. For one, I feel like having a physical store after a digital one means that something went right; that somehow and in some way we’re making it. But also, the shopping journey is so much different from the online one that, if we play our cards right, we can deliver a richer and more personalized customer experience. As a matter of fact, it’s a space we like to be in because we get to benefit from the strength of both online and physical presence.


In the store, our customers can touch and feel our entire line of products. And unlike retailers, who make their own decisions about what range and colors get displayed, in a branded store customers can fully experience the brand journey like it was intended.



Another factor that contributed to the opening of our store was its newly-found capacity to show our distributors how they can build window displays for their retailers. It also provides the right environment to answer questions or doubts and to exchange or repair a product.


Hasan: Let’s talk funding. What are you up to in terms of fundraising?


Founder: We are currently fundraising for our Series A. This will allow us to invest in R&D, develop more products and launch and implement our direct-to-consumer plans in the US.


Hasan: There are many similar products in the market, so what makes your company special?


Founder: We got three key competitive advantages. First, we always bring something new to the market before everyone else. Second, we take our time to launch our products, meaning we discuss, try and test our products until every product is perfect and ready to be launched. Third, we are a consistent brand when it comes to our designs, as we don’t suddenly change everything overnight. Every year, with each new collection we launch, our style progresses a little bit but still remains immediately recognizable by our customers.


Hasan: What was your biggest lesson learned so far during the 4-year journey?


Founder: Whatever you do in life, resilience is key. Having something go wrong at first doesn’t mean it’s wrong per se. It’s also important to fail. Failing has taught me that if you need to fail, fail quickly, stand up fast and carry on promptly.


I live by the motto that nobody gives you opportunities; you need your own.


And I would also like to stress on the lessons learned from my customers. You need to become your customers in order to attend to their needs. Customer knowledge coupled with solid data can open a lot of doors and boost up your results.


Hasan: Your best advice to entrepreneurs out there?


Founder: If you have an idea, make it a reality.


Don’t listen to anyone who has tried and failed because that will only push you down. Instead, listen to people who have succeeded. They will probably be more inclined to encourage risks.


Also, don’t replicate or copy other people’s or businesses’ ideas. It’s usually a short-term gain because investors rarely invest in copycats.


We’re very proud to have this company in our portfolio.
We invested in it because we believed in the founder, brand potential and market size.


I interviewed Sara Chemmaa, the founder of Citron, on the occasion of the Women’s Day (and the upcoming Mother’s Day).


Dear reader, has your perception of the founder changed now that you know it’s a female founder?

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
I spoke to a founder of a successful direct-to-consumer startup with presence in 24 countries, which offers meal products like lunchboxes and tableware for specific age groups. And they’ll be soon introducing products for pets. Also, the company is currently raising its Series A. Look 2 paragraphs upwards to see who I’m talking about.


Family Postcard


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So, after reading the #FounderSpotlight, has your perception of the founder changed once you knew it was a female founder? (I don’t take Yes as an answer!)


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