A Palestinian-American expat residing in the UAE starts an employee benefits platform at age 27: Here’s how
“Bet yourself if you want to financially take a risk. And risk financially if you had a chance when you were young and had a little of it,” said Brian Habibi, 35, the parents of this Palestinian-origin expat instilled these lessons in me from a young age.
He has been living in Dubai since 1992 from the age of 5, regardless of his time at university in the United States. “I grew up in a business-minded family. My father was an entrepreneur, and my mother was an economics professor.
“At a young age, I began to understand the importance of being prepared to bet on yourself and financial literacy. Since my father was an entrepreneur himself, and from a business perspective, entrepreneurship can be the hardest thing to do. However, I have learned that it can potentially be more beneficial on both levels. personal and financial.
“I was fortunate to have grown up in a safe city, and noticed that it was transforming into an important global player. I live here, I received an excellent education, had the opportunity to play many competitive school sports and built a strong network of friends all over the world.”
Habibie has been passionate about business since his high school days.
From an early age, he decided and wanted to study business. “In high school, I studied economics, accounting and business studies. These subjects helped me build a base to better understand the implementation of marketing, demand, supply and pricing strategies and identify business opportunities. It also gave me a solid foundation for the business courses I studied at university.”
He graduated from St. Mary’s College, California in 2008 with a degree in business administration and began working in 2009 in the marketing department of a food brand. “I became Head of Marketing and oversaw all online and offline marketing initiatives.
“Here, I led the development of a revised brand strategy to keep pace with the evolving landscape of Arab women in the GCC and to ensure brand relevance and convergence with consumers. I developed and managed the marketing budget, and used marketing, sales and technical knowledge – how to lead the development and launch of a fully customized ERP solution (software you use). Organizations to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, project management, risk management, etc.) and take advantage of the brand’s digital presence to launch various online initiatives.
“Experience has taught me that each endeavor must be linked to specific objectives and the financial costs and potential rewards identified to allow for appropriate subsequent analysis of outcomes.”
When Habibie was 27, he co-founded and launched Bayzat with Talal Bayaa, also 27 at the time. Bayzat started as a financial comparison site and has evolved into corporate software used to automate a company’s human resources, payroll and insurance operations.
The business essentially enables employers to give their teams unprecedented access to work, finance and medical benefits, while also giving employees access (via their smartphone app) to over 200 deals and offers across food, beverage, lifestyle, fitness and entertainment outlets in the UAE United.
The platform is hosted in data centers located in the UAE and delivered via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model to clients. (Allows users to connect to and use cloud-based applications over the Internet. Common examples are email, calendar, and office tools.)
How did you choose this business and expand your services?
Bayzat was launched when the founders noticed and understood the need for a platform that would provide better transparency and online visibility for consumers looking for banking and insurance products.
“When the UAE required companies to insure their employees, we decided to focus the work in 2015. The site was well optimized across banking and insurance lines; therefore, we started receiving many inquiries about group medical insurance, mostly within the SME sector.
“While engaging with an increasing number of companies based in the UAE, we have seen a clear opportunity to develop technology to improve how companies purchase and use medical insurance policies. There have also been fundamental issues with how companies manage HR or HR, insurance and payroll operations. More than 70 per cent of UAE companies rely on Excel and other outdated methods.”
So, how did you finance your business?
Habibie said that during the early days, the founders self-financed the company by continuing to work their full-time jobs while working on the job during nights and weekends.
“Once we were able to show a proof of concept, we raised our first few million dollars from family, friends and other individual investors. Today, the company has raised more than Dh132.2 million ($36 million) from a mix of individual investors, family offices and a diverse group of owners. Regional and international capitals, such as Beco Capital, Mubadala and B72 Ventures.”
Two Entrepreneurship Lessons Habibi shares from his experiences
Lesson #1: Challenges will come daily in a business course, but be flexible and ready to embrace change and readjustment.
Habibie said that although entrepreneurship is a humble profession, be prepared to tackle new challenges on your journey.
“When you start deluding yourself into thinking everything is going smoothly, a new curve ball is thrown your way, forcing you to readjust.
“Each phase of work and fundraising has brought different challenges, but we have moved to hyper-growth. COVID-19 has been an accelerator for remote working; hiring and retaining top-tier talent is more challenging than ever, which makes our offer even more important now than ever before. Before.
“There have been countless challenges and lessons learned across industries and sectors; one thing that stood out to me was the importance of remaining smart, flexible and ready to embrace change in order to survive and thrive in the new ‘normal’. These lessons are now embedded in our DNA as we have adopted Really an “experimental” mentality throughout the organization.”
Lesson 2: To manage cash flow well, be good at forecasting and making contingency plans.
He added that as his current business continues to raise funds and generate additional revenue, they have become more efficient at forecasting and creating contingency plans to ensure cash flow is managed effectively. “By focusing on ‘excessive growth’ (rapid expansion where companies experience an annual growth rate of 40 percent or higher), we have also learned that it is difficult to cut expenses versus identifying the right investment leverages to manage cash flow and achieve our budget (i.e. doubling marketing, sales, etc.) that). “
What financial rules or strategies do you personally follow in life?
Financial lesson: Don’t jump on investment opportunities that seem “too good to be true.”
“Baizat is the most important investment to me and I hope it will represent the bulk of my future savings. I guarantee that all my other investments are well diversified,” said Habibie.
He and his wife set aside a set amount of monthly income for investments and manage their budget on the basis of the remainder.
“We diversify our portfolio in equities, fixed income (bonds) and private investments, invest small amounts in high-risk, high-reward opportunities, and ensure that they are amounts we can afford to lose.
“The distribution of our current investment portfolio is cash – 20 percent, fixed income – 10 percent, stocks – 50 percent, private investments – 15 percent and cryptocurrencies – 5 percent.
“Given my general outlook and the current economic and political environment, I plan, very soon, to reallocate my portfolio cash – 10 percent, fixed income – 7.5 percent, equity – 55 percent, private investments – 20 percent and cryptocurrencies – 7.5 percent. “
For his children, he believes that the future will see more challenges; Hence their ability to learn and adapt quickly will be critical to their success.
“Education is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. My wife and I set aside monthly savings to educate our two-year-old son.
“Ultimately, I believe the best investment I can make for my son’s future is to be able to instill the importance of hard work, accountability, and honesty. I hope, with some luck, he will succeed in whatever he chooses to do.”