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Innovative Solutions for Start-ups and Established Firms » World Business Outlook

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Hisham Al Gurg, CEO of Seed Group and The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum

Dubai’s lucrative business ecosystem owes much of its success to its visionary leaders and proactive government officials, who have fostered an environment suitable for entrepreneurial goals. They also cultivate a profitable locale that enables private entities to grow on a global scale. Among these enterprises, Seed Group, a company of The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, is prominent for its strategic collaborations, driving innovation, and shaping the future of business in Dubai and the region.

In this exclusive discussion, we step into Seed Group’s capacity to build strategic partnerships within and outside of Dubai. We also talked with Hisham Al Gurg, CEO of Seed Group and The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum about how it tackled previous challenges, insights into the next big disruption in 2024, and more.

1. Going by your popularity in the Dubai landscape, what are the different types of enterprise solutions you suggest for a technology start-up?

In this technology-driven economy, companies aim to pioneer disruptive innovations to stand out and outpace their competition. Undoubtedly, adopting enterprise solutions is an effective method to seamlessly manage organisational operations.

In our more than 20 years of experience, we have witnessed remarkable breakthroughs in companies that strategically employ enterprise solutions. These solutions encompass the integration of cloud computing platforms for scalable infrastructure, CRM services for efficient customer relationship management, AI and machine learning technologies to augment product offerings, and cybersecurity solutions to fortify data protection.

2. What are the criteria you consider while onboarding or consolidating a new business partner that is already well-established in its sector? What are the factors that excite Seed Group towards any start-up from across the globe? Kindly share one such instance.

Seed Group strategically collaborates with local and international companies of all sizes that possess transformative potential and an excellent consumer base. However, we follow a rigorous selection process to ensure we team up with the right partners.

When evaluating potential business partners with well-established entities—including medium-sized and start-ups—we specifically assess factors such as market reputation, track record, and alignment with our core values. Furthermore, we are particularly drawn to start-up companies with disruptive technologies, scalable business models, and a clear vision for addressing market needs. We eagerly engage with organisations, regardless of size, that share Dubai’s dedication to cutting-edge innovation.

3. What are the challenges and opportunities that you have come across from your contemporaries in your business?

In our extensive years of expertise, one significantly impactful lesson Seed Group learned was recognising that exhaustive preparation is critical before meeting with decision-makers. We initially focused on facilitating meetings between start-ups and foreign companies with local industry leaders and key decision-makers. However, it became evident that arming our strategic partners with comprehensive information (e.g., coaching them prior to meetings, conducting workshops, providing pointers on the unique business landscape) was critical to success.

Recognising the importance of completely grasping our partners’ needs and anticipating potential challenges and limitations, we ensured that meticulous preparation became a cornerstone of our approach. By addressing this roadblock, we effectively turned it into an opportunity to design specialised preparation courses for our team. It consequently improves our closing ratio with partners.

The Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, Dubai Headquarters.
Image received from SEED Group

4. Give us a brief about enterprises and entrepreneurs under your 2023 portfolio that have the potential to become the next big unicorns of 2024.

Every strategic partner that we onboard holds significant potential to achieve unicorn status. However, in our 2023 portfolio, we see promising opportunities for technology-agnostic sectors. The field holds immense prospects to be the catalyst for all-encompassing digitalisation across other industries, including—but not limited to—logistics and transportation, travel, and finance sectors. We anticipate these partners emerging as prominent unicorns in the months to come. It’s worth noting that they are among the profitable industries shaping Dubai’s economic success.

5. What is your perspective on the next big disruption in the travel, banking, real estate, and finance sectors?

Multiple disruptive forces are reshaping the foundational architecture of the travel, banking, real estate, and finance industries. The immense desire to break away from traditional rules and limitations, the exponential pace of technological advancements, and the introduction of multiple trends influence how travel, banks, and real estate operate and tailor customer needs.

In travel, the integration of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies offers immersive experiences and personalised travel solutions. In banking and finance, blockchain technology is capitalising on the decentralisation and interoperability of digital assets. In real estate, the adoption of proptech solutions such as AI-driven analytics and blockchain-based property transactions will streamline processes and enhance customer experiences. These disruptions mark a new age of innovation and possibility in 2024.

Pioneering Strategic Partnerships

With over 20 years of experience, Seed Group efficiently facilitates a sustainable market presence in Dubai and the broader MENA region. Its visionary leadership, esteemed regional connections, and relentless pursuit of excellence make it most qualified to pioneer change. All these efforts subsequently empower local or international companies of all sizes across various sectors.

Interview with Kevin Thomas and B Sathya Narayana.

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