Oman Entrepreneur's Network held their second Entrepreneurs Jam this past Monday at Mood café in Muscat. The event, designed to create open dialogue, attracted around 35 entrepreneurs, who turned up to “jam” about entrepreneurship and doing business in Oman.
If you’ve had the chance to visit Muscat, you’d agree that it is a quiet sanctuary with a laid-back atmosphere compared to its neighboring capital, Gulf business hub Dubai. But don’t be fooled by Oman’s apparent slow environment, where business meetings take place quietly in beachside coffee shops; the atmosphere at the second “Entrepreneur’s Jam” was charged with passion, excitement and a shared vision. You would have thought you’d stepped into a completely different market.
The event, spearheaded by the Oman Entrepreneur’s Network, which is organized by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, kicked off with an open dialogue on Oman’s entrepreneurial ecosystem from a grassroots point of view. A “Vent-Off” portion of the session highlighted entrepreneurs’ common concerns, challenges and solutions.
The “Vent-off” session is one of the most important aspects of the jam. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely place for some start-ups, yet an opportunity to discuss challenges can be what keeps them going. This is a key element that entrepreneurs in Oman currently lack, in addition to effective, efficient and easily located sources of information. (In fact, facilitating access to information is in fact a market need that could be a possible business opportunity for an entrepreneur reading this post right now).
One member of the community that came to share his insights was Anwar Al-Asmi, the founder and Art Director at RealityCG, a broadcasting, branding, and communication company that strives to provide an environment for creative works in an 'emerging marketplace.' Asmi, who was United Kingdom’s International Design Entrepreneur of the year (IYDEY UK) 2006, and won an Emmy Nomination for graphics delivered on National Geographic’s Maximum Snake, is an active and hardworking member of the network, and never fails to sprinkle the magic dust of his creative thinkinginto the conversation, introducing the rest of the network to the effectiveness of utilizing Google Apps for intra-member communication and value sharing.
The session wasn’t all venting; within 45 minutes of the Entrepreneur’s Jam, the coffee shop was buzzing with optimism, inspiration and great tales of personal business experiences. A significant portion of the session was focused on ways micro and small businesses survive in relatively rigid markets, such as Oman’s. Most entrepreneurs present agreed that the secret lies in delivering a personalized and high quality service or product, made with passionate attention to detail for both the service or product and customer.
The Entrepreneur’s Jam may be a new and building community, but entrepreneurship in Oman is hardly new. Indeed, since as far back as the first century AD, Oman has been an international trading hub, a source of frankincense and home to the world’s ancient seafarers. Today, the sleeping beauty that is Oman’s entrepreneurial spirit is waking up, and take my word for it, she is one to watch out for.