Dubai: Webpreneur Amir Anzur's first attempts to make money during the dot.com era of the '90s were a spectacular failure, he admits.
Early in his career, after graduating with a computer science degree, he headed to California to set up an online venture. "I ended up losing $100,000 and completely messed it up," he said.
Through trial and error and several attempts at making money online, he has succeeded in setting up businesses over the years with support from venture capitalists.
Anzur shared his personal experiences of setting up online ventures at the Webpreneur Boot Camp over the weekend at SAE Institute in Dubai Knowledge Village.
He spoke to individuals who were interested in setting up their own online businesses. People who attended ranged from a businesswoman who wanted to set up an online collagen company to another who wanted to market her luxury holiday apartments in Germany to a lawyer and mother who was involved in e-education.
Now based in the UAE, Anzur has set up a non-profit Webpreneur University, offers webpreneur boot camps and runs his online businesses.
During his career, Anzur has advised large companies including Google, Intel, Samsung, Xbox and Accenture on innovation, strategy and marketing their brands. He also worked in the UAE education sector advising the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and Abu Dhabi Education Council before going solo to focus on his businesses.
"The internet is so big and the scope is so vast that webpreneurs can do a number of things. One of the main things is to use it as a marketing tool just like the telephone, a brochure or television, so is the internet."
Anzur advises young people who want to set up online businesses to think of a product or service that would sell in the real world and consider ways to market it online.
"I use the internet to sell my knowledge because I'm saving people time and effort and I've done the research. And instead of people spending hours of research on how to make money online, they go to someone who's done it in the region and can help them get there faster."
With the Webpreneur University, Anzur aims to spread internet and entrepreneur knowledge. He is currently trying out a few models, which include running webpreneur camps at established brick and mortar institutions.
He is also considering offering a one-year course that will teach people to become internet entrepreneurs.
He said people who are going into college can still use the internet to build their personal brand and networks over time.