Dubai entrepreneurs Rachna and Pramod Dhalwani made the decision to set up their second IT consultancy company at the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (DTec) way back in 2015. Experts in technology, the couple today feel it has been worked out well for them. The Dhalwanis are now mentors in the community, supporting other start-ups in DSO.
Speaking of their positive experience with Dtec, Pramod says, “We are passionate about working with technology to create efficiencies in organisations. When Dtec expanded and opened its first building Technohub 1 in 2015, we were excited to be part of the journey. We wanted to be in an inspiring space where we would get to meet various thought leaders, investors and successful entrepreneurs who would be ready to share their knowledge and wisdom with us. We also wanted to be close to our clients and develop our own data analytics solutions. The first time we visited the building in Dtec, we loved the positive energy and design which was geared towards creating a great ecosystem for tech entrepreneurs. So, it was quite easy for us to set up our second office here in March 2015.”
The Dtec staff, Pramod says, have been amazing in supporting their members, “including us”. “It is a buzzing entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he observes.
As one of the initial licensees in Dtec, Rachna says support for start-ups begins early here, right at the beginning of the business life cycle. “License fees are reduced substantially for the first three years – Dh5,000 per annum instead of Dh12,000 per annum. The key differentiator between Dtec and other hubs is that Dtec takes proactive actions in supporting its licensees. For example, at the end of first three years of discounted license fees, Dtec supported many of its members by extending the discount for further two years. This type of cash saving is a great support for any business in its initial years,” she explains.
Dtec has a broad range of companies established - from software and app developers to aggregators, consultants and solution providers. There are many meeting rooms, informal areas, and shared facilities available to enhance collaboration within the community members.
Initially, Dtec had setup SOF (Silicon Oasis Founders), an incubator programme designed to accelerate the startup from ideation to revenue within a nine-month cycle and used to invest in pre-revenue start-ups, explains Pramod. “Once the business reached its revenue stage, entrepreneurs were first taught by Dtec how to pitch to investors, following which Dtec gave a unique opportunity to apply those skills by pitching to the great pool of investors within the community,” he says.
“Another initiative was the SOC (Silicon Oasis Capital) which invested in businesses as a Venture Capitalist. This was great as it enabled businesses at different stages of their business cycle to learn and grow together under the same roof,” he adds.
A couple of years ago, SOF and SOC were merged as a new entity, Dtec Ventures, which is a Venture Capital Unit based within Dtec which invests in growth stage start-ups. “Dtec is the only start-up hub with its own in-house investment team who also offer support and mentorship,” says Pramod.
According to Rachna, to start a company the initial business plan is required to be submitted as part of the application. “This is a great initiative and forces the entrepreneur to draw up a business plan and consider risks before spending money on setting up a company,” she says.
In order for any business to succeed, financial discipline is critical to maintain, explains Rachna. “Dtec takes this aspect seriously and hence, as part of compliance, it mandates all companies to submit audited financial statements along with the license renewal.
Again, the support and guidance from Dtec ensures that entrepreneurs experience financial discipline to succeed from the start of their journey. There are regular, engaging, collaborative events for Dtec members and the community is so large, you can end up working with your suppliers in the same building,” says Rachna.
There have been many success stories in Dtec, such as Shortpoint that have progressed on to raising funds in US or Clip the Deal that have successfully raised funding in UAE and many others who have benefitted from this ecosystem.