It has been 12 years since the UAE-based Syrian expat Dr. Elias Abboud, 42, moved to Dubai to pursue entrepreneurship in the pharmaceutical industry. But long before his career, Abboud worked as a medical representative in Syria, the country where he spent his growing years.
My first job as a medical representative in 2003 brought me a monthly wage of $250. [Dh918]. Later, I joined a pharmaceutical company as a supervisor for $800 [Dh2,938]. Soon after, I was promoted to Marketing Director with a salary of $1,200 [Dh4,407]he said, when talking about his career.
Three years later, I accepted a salary offer of $3,000 [Dh11,017] From another drug company. Later, I moved to Dubai, earning 8,000 dirhams in 2011 as a marketing manager and then about 22,000 dirhams in 2014, before taking a risk on my own to launch a company ‘FemTech’ specializing in nanotechnology-based health products for women.”
What is “Vimtec”?
Femtech is a term applied to a class of programs, 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 Tin. In just a few short years, it has grown to include a range of technology-based and consumer-focused products and solutions.
Building a foundation for entrepreneurship
Academically and professionally qualified as a pharmacist and with practical experience as a medical representative, gain insight into the workings of the pharmaceutical industry. This knowledge, in addition to the MBA in Marketing, became the basis for his start-up.
Abboud revealed how all his savings up to that point had gone into the startup, after which his brother made the investment. Abboud has accumulated savings of 400,000 dirhams since 2011 when he launched his company in 2020. “I kept things the same when it came to money – which is still reflected in the company’s financial statements.”
How do you finance startup costs?
When starting the business from scratch, Abboud reinvested all of the company’s sales for growth and expansion. However, he plans to conduct the company’s first investment round in 2023.
He said, “We are currently in talks with a few venture capitalists [Venture Capital investors] for the same thing. At the same time, as the company grows and orders increase on a monthly basis, I’m looking to improve our upstream and downstream operations, particularly logistics, by striking new deals and renegotiating for better price points. “
What are Venture Capitalists (VC) or Venture Capitalists (VCs) in Startup Finance?
Venture capital (VC) is generally used to support startups and other companies with the potential for significant and rapid growth. Venture capital firms pool money from limited partners (LPs) to invest in promising startups or even large venture funds.
Early-stage startups usually don’t have access to loans or the capital markets directly, so they rely on venture capital funding instead. In exchange for venture capital funding, the founders offer the investors a percentage of ownership and possibly a seat on the board of directors. Venture capital can be an important source of financing.
What prompted you to do business in feminine hygiene products?
“In 2012, when I was scouting and brainstorming entrepreneurial opportunities, I came across an article that said that 70 percent of women worldwide are experiencing period-related challenges due to the use of regular sanitary pads available in the market. For someone with a medical background and awareness of the pharma scene, it was That’s my ‘eureka’ moment for the entrepreneur in me.”
“I began to further my understanding of the challenges of menstruation, reached out to a few feminine hygiene industry professionals around the world, and began product development. I was well aware of the challenges ahead but was equally confident in the viability of my products. Although these products Partially found in patents, I can give them a willingness to go to market with my work.”
However, despite Abboud’s success in working on a B2B (B2B) model, which is a transaction or business that takes place between one company and another, such as a wholesaler and a retailer), he soon realized that the effect was not. Enough, and his products were lying on the shelves of distributors without reaching the end users.
Having to change to a hybrid e-commerce model
“I realized that direct selling was not financially feasible at the time. To add insult to injury, the pandemic had turned operations on its head, issuing a clear call to either adapt or quit. Since the latter was not an absolute option, I decided to switch to a hybrid model.” to e-commerce by entering fully and getting some financial support from my brother.”
“We launched the site in August 2020, and processed three orders in the first month, followed by 15 in the second, and after two years, more than a thousand orders were processed per month. There were many trial and error cycles until 2020, but I managed to sell more than 2 million packages in 14 countries,” adding that within a year of launching the company, the company had achieved 760,000 dirhams, and in 2022, the startup had achieved 1.7 million dirhams.
Here are some other key lessons learned when starting out as an entrepreneur
Lesson 1: Allocate the majority of business volume to marketing
Among Abboud’s notable cash strategies, a crucial thing he learned early on was allocating about 70 percent of sales volume to marketing. And keep in mind that even if you have a great product, customers won’t be drawn to it unless they are familiar with it in the first place.
Therefore, for Abboud, bridging the product awareness gap in the market is vital. “I adopt a long-term investment approach, which is why I have allocated a large portion of my investment capital into marketing my company, upskilling, and team building,” he said.
We launched the site in August 2020, and processed three requests in the first month, followed by 15 requests in the second, and after two years, more than a thousand requests were processed per month.
Lesson two: Watch for customer requirements, and adjust accordingly
He highlighted one of his recent challenges after launching the e-commerce model. “The first batch of products had three sizes. However, after receiving early customer feedback, we realized that our products did not have sizes that were particularly in demand in the GCC markets.”
“We wasted no time and increased the total number of products to eight. The process was difficult and financially challenging, but we ended up meeting customer expectations and being goal-driven.”
Lesson 3: Reduce spending by buying raw materials in bulk
“I am constantly looking for competitive price points and market conditions that allow me to negotiate better prices with suppliers and logistics partners, but I have realized that it is necessary to reduce spending by purchasing raw materials in bulk.”
When asked if he uses any other savings strategies when it comes to his company and personal finances, Abboud revealed how he divides his and the company’s earnings across multiple categories.
“As a general rule, I set aside about 10 percent of my monthly earnings as personal savings. When it comes to money made in business, about 60 percent goes to marketing, 30 percent to salaries, and the remaining 10 percent to miscellaneous.”