Rashit Makhat, is the director and co-founder, Scalo Technologies, the tech venture company based in Dubai
In the world of startups, the ultimate mission is to go from a small idea to a global leader. It is a journey packed with creativity, littered with obstacles, and, for a lucky few, becomes enormously rewarding.
While the path to success is not straightforward, one thing is constant: the art of scaling is the key to turning dreams into reality.
Scaling is about making your company earn more money faster than it spends, allowing it to get bigger quickly. A small investment can bring in a lot of profit, which can be reinvested to allow the business to grow even more.
Many startups fail because they are unable to grasp, or navigate, the scaling process, and growth comes only by increasing both revenue and resources at the same rate. It is an expensive exercise which can slow down the business and limit its ability to make more profit.
Founders who understand this, and embark on their journey with a reliable strategy, must still be ready to face any number of barriers, and these begin with the daunting task of keeping up with tech trends and tools. Embracing the ever-evolving tech landscape is not merely a necessity; it is the pathway to success and competitiveness in the global arena.
In the Mena region, where startups raised $1.6 billion in funding in the first half of 2023, the tech monitoring issue is as acute as it is anywhere else in the world. As the market continues to grow and innovate, startups must rise to the challenge and seize the dynamic opportunities presented.
Standing out in the wake of constant technological progress is difficult. Startups must continuously adjust to swift changes. New tech, tools, and systems appear rapidly, and existing ones continuously develop.
Market competitiveness requires startups to stay ahead. Recognising current tech trends early can secure a big advantage, winning investors and consumers, and boosting efficiency and innovation potential.
Airbnb harnessed emerging online and mobile technologies to revolutionise the hospitality industry. By letting people rent out their homes to travelers, the company attracted investors, customers, and achieved rapid global growth, highlighting the advantages of embracing tech trends.
Efficiency and innovation are the lifeblood of any thriving startup. Tech-savvy consumers are demanding. They expect startups to leverage the latest advancements to provide seamless and innovative solutions. Falling behind in technology adoption can deter users and reduce market share. Staying on top of changing tech is tough for startups, often hindered by limited resources that restrict their ability to invest in the latest technology, or attract and retain skilled professionals.
For tech startups in particular, a scarcity of talent creates intense competition for the limited available experts. Meanwhile, navigating complex regulatory environments across different countries can add more complications. Differences in cultural beliefs and views on technology can also be a problem, as startups may face opposition from those who prefer old-fashioned ways, and are not eager to accept all new tech solutions.
Strategic planning is vital to assist startups in negotiating the continually changing environment, and in dealing with resource constraints, talent shortages, and regulatory complexities
Working together with industry networks, accelerators, and tech communities can provide access to valuable industry knowledge, and experts able to provide key insights. Encouraging continuous learning and development among employees through online courses and workshops can bridge the skills gap, and foster a culture of adaptability.
Creating a tech plan that matches the startup's goals can help decide where to invest in technology for growth and innovation. Having leaders who are open to change and experimentation is essential to build an innovative culture within the company.
The market changes quickly due to politics, economics, and society, affecting how customers behave, and what they want. This makes it challenging to grow. To handle this uncertainty, startups must stay informed, be flexible, and monitor industry developments. They should also develop contingency plans to be ready for any ‘black swan’ events and shifts in the business landscape.
Netflix, initially a DVD rental service, adapted to changing consumer preferences by shifting to digital streaming and investing in original content. This flexibility, and proactive approach, made Netflix a global streaming leader.
As entrepreneurial activity in the Mena region booms, startups are in a fierce race for market share and investor interest. To succeed, they need to stand out by specialising and excelling in particular niches. By catering to specific customer needs and delivering unique experiences, they can distinguish themselves and cultivate a loyal customer following.
In the early stages, resources are often limited, and founders are advised that it is crucial to allocate them wisely. Start by identifying the areas of your business where investments will have the most significant impact on growth and sustainability.
Focus on developing your product, gaining customers, and using marketing strategies that match your business goals. Keep a close eye on your spending to make sure it fits your priorities, and be ready to change how you allocate resources as your startup grows.
To stay ahead, it is equally vital to keep a close eye on your competition. Regularly monitor what other companies in your sector are doing, both locally and globally. This includes tracking their product updates, market strategies, and customer feedback.
Staying informed allows you to adjust your strategies and products to stay competitive and grab new opportunities when they come. Capitalising on networking opportunities, and joining industry events, keeps you connected to the latest trends and potential partnerships.