Dubai teenagers launch a platform to help fellow entrepreneurs - GulfToday

Dubai teenagers launch a platform to help fellow entrepreneurs

young entrepreneurs

ThinkSmall-ThinkSmart will help young entrepreneurs to showcase their skills and incentivise innovation.

Manjula Ramakrishnan

Armed with clarity of mind and honed focus there is no challenge that cannot be circumvented. This is what two teenagers proved when they started their company ThinkSmall-ThinkSmart. The young entrepreneurs Rayan Malik, aged 16, and Yousuf Zia, aged 17, took a challenge as an opportunity and turned it on its head.

“I attended a programme in Duke University and learnt a variety of entrepreneurial skills that resulted in an app,” says Rayan. “When I was eager to enter this app in local competitions, I found there was limited opportunity for young entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas. I turned this challenge into a business idea to provide students in the UAE with more learning opportunities, teamed up with Yousuf and thus came about ThinkSmall-ThinkSmart.’’

The friends turned business partners share their thoughts with Panorama.

What is ThinkSmall-ThinkSmart?

It is a start-up that aims to provide a voice for the youth through a variety of high-quality competitions that allow students to express their creativity and innovation in a multitude of ways. As a first major step, we will be holding a Global Entrepreneurship Challenge in Dubai on April 18 at Dubai College, and as the name suggests, the central theme of the competition is entrepreneurship.

Rayan Malik and Yousuf Zia

Rayan Malik and Yousuf Zia, proprietors of ThinkSmall-ThinkSmart.

Can you elaborate on the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge?

It invites students aged 11-18 who have a passion for entrepreneurship, to create their own business idea and pitch it to a panel of judges. Submissions for the first round are already underway, and the deadline to enter is Dec.31. This is a perfect opportunity to showcase skills and incentivise innovation among the youth of UAE. Besides, partnering with Krypto Labs will add further value to the participating students.

What will Krypto Labs bring to the competition?

Krypto Labs is an innovation hub that fosters and invests in entrepreneurs; they are offering three free entrepreneurship workshops for all the participants, to provide them with all the resources and knowledge they need to create outstanding, innovative pitches. The workshops will cover multiple aspects of entrepreneurship that are commonly neglected in a classroom environment, such as Financial Evaluation, Brand Development and How to Pitch Effectively. Moreover, we have developed our own entrepreneurship curriculum which we are offering to students across Dubai.

Who are the judges and mentors who will assist in the competition?

We will have some of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the Middle East, people of considerable repute, to evaluate the participants’ pitches. Due to this stellar line-up of judges, participants will have access to their sagacious advice, which will help them further develop as entrepreneurs. In addition to this, all participants will also have mentors. The mentors for the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge are Tariq Sheikh (Founder & CEO at PostPay), Arjun Vir Singh (Executive Vice President at Al Futtaim) and Omar Rafii (Co-Founder & CEO at Krowd). Each mentor has had great experience in the region and would, therefore, be able to steer the participants in the right direction. 

What will be the winning team’s take-home?

Three winning teams will be awarded the opportunity to attend an entrepreneurship bootcamp that is worth Dhs5,000 per person for free. The bootcamp will be run by experienced entrepreneurs and will ensure the winning teams have access to all resources they need to actually create their product. In the bootcamp, teams will be taught other focal areas to do with entrepreneurship, including pitching, ideation, financial planning and more. Additionally, the teams will have access to all of Krypto Labs’ state of the art facilities, such as their dream room and working spaces. The bootcamp will be a 1-month training programme, with the winning teams being allowed to have 8-12 sessions at Krypto Labs. This is all in addition to the Dhs12,500 prize money, which includes Dhs5,000 in vouchers, provided by our partners Lock & Stock.

Where is ThinkSmall-ThinkSmart headed in year 2020?

Although we have set up the largest ever student-run entrepreneurship competition in the Middle East, we have already also begun work on the next competition, which will be based around creative writing. We also plan to host mathematical challenges in London by the end of 2020 and wish to expand into Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, UK and China. We are grateful to Peter Davos, Founder and CEO of Hale Education, whose mentorship has made our idea a reality. Our conversations with Peter have been greatly insightful and thought provoking.


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