November 12, 2017
“Quality is not about how expensive a product is but how consistent it is”
The Grid: You have focused on a specific area with in the food service industry, why?
Rehan Samee: You mean deserts? There was such a glaring deficiency (in terms of quality) and still is. When you go to a Starbucks, for example, you have a variety of food items to choose from; lollipops and packaged nuts near the check out counter to croissants, muffins, cookies and cakes in their display chillers. These are supplied by different vendors. What we found – and what we still find – is that the quality of these products, particularly bakery and pastry items, is very average. There is sweetness but nothing else.
Now take a step back and just visualize what “food” is to us today … it’s not just a means of survival … it is an experience! Switch on any TV network in any language. There are channels just dedicated to food. Look at the trends reflected there and on social media. There is a growing consciousness of the quality of ingredients, flavor subtleties and texture combinations and clearly a demand for more.
November 12, 2017
“We wanted something more scalable than [a restaurant] at a small incremental cost”
The Grid: From banker to B2B desert maker. What was that moment of change?
Rehan Samee: I always had the entrepreneurial curiosity. Since I first came to Dubai twenty years ago I have been itching with ideas. Whether it was to create nutritious preservative free TV dinners, inspired by the most amazing Thai red curry cooked by my ex-wife; or looking to establish different types of entertainment centers when all my boys would have to play with in malls when they were growing up were ball pits! Why not carting, archery or even miniature golf… with some kind of F&B? So I have been down a lot of paths that never materialized.
The Grid: Why do you think that was?
Rehan Samee: In hindsight, it was not as much about the feasibility of the product as it was the type of co-operation – particularly with the TV dinner idea. The person you think of as the co owner of the company interprets roles differently to what you do sometimes. Pieces therefore don’t fall into place.
September 29, 2017
“F.A.I.L. means “First Attempt In Learning” and allows us to view failure in a new way”
The Grid: Tell us about your successes so far with the Women’s Angel Investor Network (WAIN)?
WAIN: Let’s go through some of our statistics. We have invested almost $500K since we formed 3 years ago. We have invested in 6 companies and with one firm, Little Thinking Minds, we invested a second round. We have 30 investors currently and will grow our investor base by another 20 by year end. Our members make an average number of 3 investments. A little over 7% of our current members are a Board Member and/or an Advisory Member with our investee firms.
May 10, 2017
“Our beliefs came about because they supported us in one point in our lives”
The Grid: Caroline, you talk about how our feelings towards money or our ‘money mindset’ may hinder us or set us free.
Caroline Domanska: Your ‘money mindset’ or your ‘money why’ is the reason you get up for work every day. It’s the reason that you strive to make a living. It is also perhaps the reason that you’re not getting that promotion that you so desperately want. It may well be the reason that, despite the fact that you’ve got a great business idea, it’s still staying in your head and you’re just plodding along and getting paid to work on somebody else’s dream.