It has been 12 years since Dr Elias Abboud, 42, a Syrian expatriate, moved to the United Arab Emirates to pursue a business venture in the pharmaceutical industry. But long before he did, Abboud worked as a medical representative in Syria, the country where he spent his formative years.
“My first job as a nurse practitioner in 2003 paid $250 a month [Dh918]. Later I joined a pharma company as a supervisor for $800 [Dh2,938]. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to sales manager at a salary of $1,200 [Dh4,407]”, he said, while talking about his work.
“Three years later, I accepted a salary of $3,000 [Dh11,017] from another pharma company. Later, I moved to Dubai, earning Dh8,000 in 2011 as a sales manager and later on a salary of Dh22,000 in 2014, before I went on my own to start my own product company ‘FemTech’ health based on nanotechnology. woman.”
What is ‘FemTech’?
Femtech is a term applied to the category of software, diagnostics, products and services that use technology to focus on women’s health.
The term ‘FemTech’ was first coined in 2016 by Danish internet entrepreneur Ida Tin. In just a few years, it has grown to include a variety of technology-enabled, customer-focused products and solutions.
Building a foundation for business
Academically and professionally qualified as a pharmacist and with work experience as a medical representative, he has acquired knowledge of the workings of the pharma industry. This knowledge, in addition to his MBA in marketing, became the basis for starting his business.
Abboud revealed how all his savings up until that point had gone into the startup, and then he got his brother to invest. Abboud has accumulated Dh400,000 in savings since 2011 when he started his company in 2020. “I kept the money thing intact – which is still reflected in the company’s finances.”
How did you finance your start-up costs?
After rebuilding the company from the ground up, Abboud reinvested all of the company’s earnings into growth and expansion. However, it plans to make the first round of investment in 2023.
He said: “We are talking to a few VCs now [Venture Capital investors] but the same. Along with that, as the business grows and the orders increase every month, I plan to improve the upstream and downstream processes, especially the software, through new contracts and renegotiations for better prices. . “
What is Venture Capital (VC) or Venture Capitalists (VCs) in startup funding?
Venture Capital (VC) is often used to support startups and other businesses that have the potential to grow large and fast. VC firms raise funds from limited partners (LPs) to invest in promising startups or even larger venture capital funds.
Early stage startups cannot directly access loans or capital markets, so they rely on VC funding. In exchange for VC funding, the founder offers the investor a percentage of the property and perhaps a board seat. VC can be a very useful source of funding.
What made you want to start a business in feminine hygiene products?
“In 2012, when I was researching business opportunities and brainstorming, I came across an article that said 70 percent of women worldwide face menstrual-related challenges because the use of commercially available sanitary pads. For someone with a medical background. and awareness of the pharma world, which was a “Eureka” moment for the entrepreneur in me,” he said. added.
“I began to improve my understanding of menstrual challenges, contacted a few female hygiene industry professionals worldwide, and began product development. I was well aware of the challenges ahead, but confident in the viability of my product. I. had part of the patent, I can give them the willingness to go to the market through my company.”
However, even though Abboud was successful in the B2B model (Business-to-business (B2B), which is a transaction or transaction made between one company and another, such as wholesalers and distributors) , he soon realized that it had no effect. enough, and the product sat on the distributor’s shelves without reaching the end user.
Forced to change to a hybrid e-commerce model
“I realized that direct sales were not financially feasible at that time. Soon, to make matters worse, the pandemic brought the work up, issuing a call to adapt or leave. e-commerce model hybrid through all access and get financial support from my brother,” Abboud added.
“We launched the website in August 2020, we made three orders in the first month, followed by 15 in the second and, two years later, we were handling a thousand orders per month. There were many cycles of testing and mistakes until 2020, but I have succeeded in selling more than two million packages in 14 countries,” he said, adding that within a year of starting the company had earned Dh760,000, and by 2022 the startup raised Dh1.7 million.
Here are some other key lessons he learned while starting out as an entrepreneur
Lesson #1: Most sales in sales give credit
Among the famous financial strategies adopted by Abboud, the evaluation of 70 percent of sales in sales is an important thing that he learned early on. He believed that, even if you have a great product, customers will only be attracted to it if they know about it in the first place.
Therefore, for Abboud, bridging the product awareness gap in the market is essential. “I take a long-term investment approach, which is why I put a large part of the investment capital for marketing, improvement and team building,” he said.
We opened the website in August 2020, we made three orders in the first month, followed by 15 in the second and, two years later, we are processing more than a thousand orders per month
– Elias Abboud
Lesson #2: Follow customer requirements, adjust accordingly
He highlighted one of his recent challenges after launching his e-commerce model. “The first series of products had three sizes. However, after receiving the initial customer feedback, we realized that our products did not have the sizes that were really needed in the market. GCC.”
“We wasted no time and increased the number of products to eight. The process was difficult and financially difficult, but it resulted in the participation of the customer and the goal.”
Lesson #3: Reduce costs by buying bulk ingredients
“I am constantly looking for competitive prices and market conditions that allow me to negotiate better prices with suppliers and software partners, but I feel that it is important to reduce costs by purchasing bulk materials.”
When asked if he uses different savings strategies when it comes to business and his personal finances, Abboud revealed how he divides his income and business into several categories.
“As a rule of thumb, 10 percent of my monthly salary is set aside for personal savings. As for the income from the company, 60 percent is in sales, 30 percent for “the salary, and the remaining 10. per cent of the various.”