UAE success story: Syrian expat gives up Dh22,000 salary to start Dh1.7m business in Dubai, here’s his mantra

It has been 12 years since Dr Elias Abboud, 42, a Syrian immigrant living in the UAE, moved to Dubai to pursue entrepreneurship in the pharmaceutical industry. But long before that, Abboud worked as a medical representative in Syria, the country where he spent his formative years.

My first job as a medical representative in 2003 paid me $250 a month. [Dh918]. Later I joined a pharmaceutical company as a supervisor for $800 [Dh2,938]. Soon after, I was promoted to Marketing Manager at a salary of $1,200 [Dh4,407]he said while talking about his career.

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“Three years later, I accepted a salary offer of $3,000 [Dh11,017] From another pharmaceutical company, I later moved to Dubai and earned 8000 dirhams as a marketing manager in 2011 and later 22000 dirhams in 2014, just before I started my own company “FemTech” specializing in Health products based on nanotechnology. Women.”

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What is “FemTech”?

Femtech is a term that refers to a category of software, diagnostics, products and services that use technology to focus on women’s health.

The term “FemTech” was first coined in 2016 by Danish internet entrepreneur Ida Thein. In just a few years, it has grown to encompass a range of technology-based and consumer-centric products and solutions.

Creating a base for entrepreneurship

Scientifically and professionally as a pharmacist and with work experience as a medical representative, he gained insights into the workings of the pharmaceutical industry. This knowledge, apart from his MBA in marketing, became the basis for starting his business.

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Abboud revealed how all his savings up until then had gone into the startup, after which he got his brother to invest. Abboud has saved AED 400,000 since 2011 when he started his business in 2020.

Women's health

When Elias Abboud moved to Dubai, he earned $6,000 [Dh22,035] Rights in 2014. That’s when she decided to launch her own company, “FemTech”, specializing in nanotechnology-based health products for women.

How did you finance your startup?

When starting the business from the ground up, Abboud reinvested all of the company’s turnover into growth and expansion. However, he plans to raise the company’s first investment round in 2023.

He said: “We are currently negotiating with several VCs [Venture Capital investors] At the same time, as the company grows and orders increase month by month, I am looking to optimize upstream and downstream processes, especially logistics, by concluding new deals and renegotiating better prices.”

What is venture capital (VC) or venture capitalists (VCs) in startup financing?

Venture capital (VC) is generally used to support startups and other businesses with significant and rapid growth potential. VC firms raise money from limited partners (LPs) to invest in promising startups or even larger venture funds.

Early-stage startups typically cannot access loans or capital markets directly, so they rely on VC investment instead. In exchange for VC funding, founders offer investors a percentage of ownership and perhaps a board seat. VCs can be a vital source of funding.

What made you decide to start a feminine hygiene business?

“In 2012, when I was researching entrepreneurial opportunities and brainstorming, I came across an article that said 70 percent of women worldwide face menstrual-related challenges due to using conventional sanitary pads on the market. . For people with a medical background. And awareness of the pharmaceutical landscape, it was an ‘Eureka’ moment for the entrepreneur in me.”

“I started building my understanding of menstrual challenges, reached out to a few women’s health industry experts around the world, and began product development. I was well aware of the challenges ahead, but equally concerned about the durability of my products. “I was confident. Although there were such products. It was partly in the inventions. I could make them market-ready through my business.”

However, even if Abboud successfully operates on a B2B model (a business-to-business (B2B) model, which is a transaction or trade between one business and another, such as a wholesaler and retailer), He soon realized that it had no effect. Enough, and his products sat on the shelves of distributors without reaching the hands of end users.

Startups

When Elias Abboud started the business from the beginning, he reinvested all the turnover of the company for growth and development.

Being forced to change to a hybrid e-commerce model

“I realized that direct selling was not financially feasible at the time. Soon, to make matters worse, the pandemic halted operations, issuing a clarion call to conform or leave. Since the latter It was never an option, I decided to do a hybrid e-commerce model with all-in and get some financial support from my brother,” Abboud added.

We launched the website in August 2020, processed three orders in the first month, then 15 orders in the second month, and two years later, processed over a thousand orders per month. There were many cycles of trial and error until 2020, but Manway said that he managed to sell more than two million packages in 14 countries, saying: Within a year of starting this business, its income reached 760 thousand dirhams and In 2022, 1.7 million dirhams were achieved.

Here are some other key lessons he learned when starting out as an entrepreneur

Lesson #1: Dedicate most of your business turnover to marketing

Among the significant monetary strategies Abboud adopts is devoting about 70 percent of turnover to marketing, which he learned early on. He considered that even if you have a great product, customers will only gravitate towards it if they are aware of it in the first place.

Therefore, for Abboud, filling the product awareness gap in the market is crucial. “I take a long-term investment approach, which is why I’ve put a significant portion of my investment capital into marketing, upskilling and team building my company,” he said.

We launched the website in August 2020, processed three orders in the first month, followed by 15 orders in the second month, and two years later, processing over a thousand orders per month.

– Elias Abboud

Lesson #2: Monitor customer needs, change accordingly

He highlighted one of his recent challenges after launching an e-commerce model. “The first batch of products had three sizes. However, after receiving initial customer feedback, we realized that our products did not have sizes that were particularly in demand in the GCC market.”

We didn’t waste time and increased the total number of products to 8. It was a tough and financially challenging process, but in the end we met our customers’ expectations and were on target.”

Lesson #3: Minimize costs by buying raw materials in bulk

“I’m constantly looking for competitive pricing and market conditions that allow me to negotiate better rates with suppliers and logistics partners, but I’ve found that minimizing costs by buying raw materials in bulk is key. “

When asked if he uses other savings strategies for his business and personal finances, Abboud revealed how he divides his and the company’s income into several categories.

“As a rule of thumb, I set aside about 10 percent of my monthly income as personal savings. When it comes to business income, about 60 percent goes to marketing, 30 percent to salaries, and 10 percent to The remaining percentage is allocated to miscellaneous.”

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