we are pleased to interview Dubai based entrepreneur Anass Boumediene co-founder eyewa today.
Anass is the co-founder and co-CEO at eyewa, a recently launched eyewear e-commerce specialist in the Middle East and North Africa region. Prior to co-founding eyewa, Anass was the MENA Managing Director at foodpanda, a global food delivery startup. During his three years there, Anass led the business operations and growth across the Middle East, building market leading brands such as HungerStation in Saudi Arabia and Otlob in Egypt. Anass co-led foodpanda with Mehdi Oudghiri, co-founder of eyewa, until the acquisition by Delivery Hero in December 2016. With more than six years of startup, strategic and managerial experience, Anass has an in-depth understanding of the e-commerce and startup scene in the Middle East. Previously, Anass worked in strategy consulting with Bain and Company in Dubai, in investment Banking with Deutsche Bank in London and in private equity with ACG Capital in Paris. Anass holds a Master’s degree in Management from ESCP Europe, a Bachelor of Finance from Concordia University, and is a CFA and FRM charter holder.
What were the main challenges you faced early on in your online ventures? And do you still encounter them to this day?
There are always challenges in entrepreneurship, and the challenges themselves evolve over time. The key is to keep a problem solving approach and to persist in moving forward.
At the beginning of eyewa, the challenges were around people, technology and funding. Today, the challenges remain the same 🙂 There should not be a phase in our evolution as a company where we will stop caring about our people, our tech, or our finances. The scope, the intensity, the level of the challenges change, but not the key topics.
As you are based in Dubai, what is your favourite restaurant there?
The two restaurants I ate the most at are Eggspectation in JBR and Subway fast food 🙂 I love my weekend breakfasts at Eggspectation, which I first discovered 10 years ago while a student in Montreal, and I enjoy the quickness and freshness of a subway sandwich when I want a fast meal.
What activities/hobbies do you enjoy doing to “wind down” or relax?
I enjoy playing going out and socializing, playing video games, watching UFC, and reading mangas.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started,what would you do differently?
We learn so many new things in any given day in a startup, we always do things differently one week from the other, learning from past experiences and testing new things.
What advice would you have given to yourself if you could only relay one piece of advice to your former self?
Disciple and hard work are the keys to success. It took me some time to get the discipline part.
What motivates you?
Making ideas take life, making people happy, being happy myself 🙂
Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?
Both. I do believe some people are born to be entrepreneurs, and I also believe that it is a set of skills that can be learned.
How do you generate new ideas? Could you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Creativity is hard work. Whatever the topic, if you want to come up with new ideas, you have to do your homework and research on it. Be it reading books, watching youtube tutorials, or exchanging with industry experts. It takes time and effort.
Business ideas do not need to be new ideas for them to work. More often than not, it’s about finding an OK idea but executing it very very well.
How far are you willing to go to succeed? Are there any specific ethics you stick by no matter what?
We built eyewa around 3 core principles: fairness, trust and open-mindedness. It’s fundamental for us that everything that we do follows these principles. For us, there is no way we’d do things any differently.
How do you define success?
Our vision is to become the largest vertically integrated, technology enabled eyewear specialist in the MENA region. From a practical point of view, we want to build a sustainable business that brings joy to people, employees and customers altogether.
If all of your money, websites, contacts and products were wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow, what would you do if you had to start from scratch? What model would you use? What techniques etc.?
I would find someone that has a problem and will try to help him solve it. The basis of business is that simple.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success as opposed to a few thousand short term?
What you measure is what you’ll work on. Identify long term objectives and targets, and short terms one. One without the other don’t work. You need a BHAG and you SMART goals.
What is your opinion on the future of the E-commerce industry in the UAE? Where are we heading with it?
We are very optimistic about the industry and believe that we will continue to see high growth across all online retail operators. The value proposition is attractive for customers.
You recently raised $1.1 Million From UAE And KSA Investors, can you tell us a bit more about why and where it all started?
We started eyewa a bit more than 7 months ago. We believe that there is a huge opportunity in the market in the region and we want to seize it fast. For that, we need the resources (team and funds) to fully deploy our operations across all the GCC. It made sense to us to onboard investors with lots of experience in the region, which will be of huge help to grow fast.
How do you go about finding investors and capital for your ventures? Any tips for newbies?
- Share your idea with as many people as you can, especially people from different background than yours and people form the industry you are targeting if you are not from that industry. This will help you refine your business model and get you ready for your pitch.
- Invest time in building your pitch. We spent weeks building our deck, interviewing people, doing market research, reshuffling the presentation and then doing the pitch to any friend that was willing to hear it to get additional feedback. Your story has to be concise yet convincing.
- Start early. Raising funds takes time and it’s never too early to start. Investors are busy and the legal paperwork is lengthy.