Unplugged #2 - Learning from the OGs: Abdullah Mutawi
In the second episode of 'Unplugged,' we get up close and personal with Abdullah Mutawi of Taylor Wessing. Abdullah is English-qualified lawyer with a knack for seed and early-stage investments.
Dubbed as 'one of the MENA region's top corporate lawyers with deep ties in technology, media, and communications,' he also wears the hat of cofounder and chairman at Dubai Angels Investors.
Ever wondered why someone with such a corporate flair was once drawn to criminal law? Abdullah spills the beans on that and more. He takes us on a journey through the evolution of deal-making, highlighting the ebb and flow of regulations, market dynamics, and investment strategies.
Unplugged #1 - Building the Koita brand, with Mustafa Koita
Welcome to Unplugged, our fireside chat series, where we host casual conversations with some of the region's boldest and brightest game changers.
In our first recorded episode, Nuwa Capital's Stephanie Nour Prince chats with Mustafa Koita, founder of Koita Milk. In 2016, Mustafa turned frustration into inspiration when he launched Koita Milk. He wanted to offer his children, Serena, Danyal, and Sophia, a better option when it came to organic and fresh foods, especially Milk. And so started a journey of research, travel, strategizing a cross-country operation - and of course, building the brand we've all come to know.
In our chat with him, Mustafa takes us through everything Koita, from impetus, to making the choice to bootstrap, and legacy.
Episode 21 - Navigating the MENA food frontier
In Episode 21 of our podcast, I sat with Nadine Benchaffai of Fab Food co, Tortilla Mexican Grills (UK), Taqado Mexican Kitchen - and many other much-loved homegrown brands. Nadine explains the intricacies of (and the required mindset for) building successful food brands in markets with fast-changing consumer behaviors. We also discuss where the region stands in terms of future-proofing food and building sustainable food systems, as well as why our markets could stand to innovate on a global scale.
Episode 20 - When it all goes wrong: lessons from Jeeran, Part 1
Before moving over to the investing side, Arzan.vc's Laith Zraikat was the cofounder of Jeeran.com along along with Omar Koudsi. Jeeran, founded in 2000, was one of MENA's earliest and at some stage most trafficked and valuable digital businesses in the region. The company started out as a free hosting platform and eventually evolved into a regional blogging platform and then after an additional pivot, into a reviews site which ultimately proved to be unsuccessful.
I met Laith Zraikat early in my career in 2008. At the time, I was an Associate at Accelerator Technology Holdings - the pre-cursor to Silicon Badia a regional VC. Jeeran was one of the earliest companies I got exposed to as a VC and I had, for a brief period, the privilege of working with one of the leading businesses in the region and learning from both founders on scaling a business.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Laith on the history of Jeeran, its development from an idea into a regional powerhouse and then its ultimate unraveling. Laith and I go over the many lessons learned from the Jeeran journey that serve as a cautionary tale to both founders and VCs.
- Khaled Talhouni
Episode 19 - Business and openness
There is a clear mismatch between the demands of the modern day traveler and the available supply of apartments. As a corporate traveler, Aahan Bhojani sought the comfort of a homely apartment with the conveniences of a hotel, something that proved difficult to find. A year later, Aahan and his team had brought to market the first set of Silkhaus branded units.
In this episode, Aahan takes us through how his vision evolved throughout Silkhaus’ first year in operations and how understanding the needs of all his stakeholders created new potential for the business, enabled by instilling agility in his team and creating a company culture built for growth.
Episode 18 - Art, NFTs and the evolving meaning of ownership
Art and Web 3.0 are two spaces where community is a key driver for growth. And through both, we have also seen the meaning of 'ownership' evolve. While further digging into the Web 3.0 space earlier this year, we felt the need to explore the unfolding of NFTs from a creator's perspective, so we reached out to Kristel Bechara, an award-winning contemporary artist whose work has been displayed globally. Kristel was one of the first artists to create NFT art in the Middle East, and has developed Arts DAO's debut NFT drop, dubbed "The Ethernal Gates".
In this episode, we take a bit of a different angle and dig into how NFTs as a medium for art could offer more legitimacy online for artists. Kristel discusses her path to building her business as an artist, how she shaped her view on NFTs, as well as how the latter have helped evolve the meaning of ownership.