NYUAD gives start ups a helping hand

Sarah Jones of Mini Exchange, an online marketplace for childcare products says, “Nothing is an easy sell in the start-up world.”

“I didn’t even know what a conversion rate was when I started. I thought if 100 people came to my site, 50 per cent would buy. Actually a good conversion rate is out of every 100 coming to the site, only one will buy. Getting my head around that was a huge challenge.”

At the New York University Abu Dhabi’s startAD program, Ms. Jones spoke about the range of workshops, talks and boot camps that the program provides, so aspiring entrepreneurs can turn their business ideas into reality.

From left: David Llorente, the chief executive of Narrativa; Sarah Jones, the founder of Mini Exchange; and Alborz Toofani, the founder of Snappcard, spead at New York University Abu Dhabi’s StartAD programme. Reem Mohammed / The National

Image Source: The National From left: David Llorente, the chief executive of Narrativa; Sarah Jones, the founder of Mini Exchange; and Alborz Toofani, the founder of Snappcard, spead at New York University Abu Dhabi’s StartAD programme. Reem Mohammed / The National

This program is conducted by UAE-based entrepreneurs and global experts. The program offers topics like Tech Tuesdays, which includes on scientific research on health, social robotics, fintech, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

At the launch of the event, Ms. Jones and David Llorente- founder of Artificial intelligence company Narrativa spoke about their struggles and how they overcame business failures.

“The adoption of these technologies is very slow in the ­media industry because there is a lot of resistance, especially in Europe. We need to explain that we are not destroying jobs, but increasing revenues and profit capabilities of companies.” says Mr. Llorente.

Narrativa is the fourth start-up Mr. Llorente has launched and admits that most didn’t work. But when it does, it works well and gives rise to a new problem of generating customers and delivering. This increases your burn rate, which means how quickly you burn through your capital. However, you have to control your burn rate, and create capital to take your company to the next level.

Ms. Jones left a lucrative banking job to launch Mini Exchange, has just closed a US $3 million round of investment. She says although the cost of starting up a business in the UAE is high, once established, the running costs are much lower than elsewhere, owing to tax free systems and relatively cheap labour.

This program aims at lending a helping hand to all the young and aspiring entrepreneurs in the region.

NYUAD’s next session on October 4th will look at the legal challenges of starting up a business in the region.

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