Complex Made Simple

How do successful startups deal with pressure?

Building a successful startup is as much about a solid business plan and idea as it is about mental strength and perseverance.

Startups today are in the unique position of building ideas that larger corporates can’t. What startups lack in terms of scale and corporate structure is compensated by agility, flexibility, and above all, the passion and drive to succeed. It’s no surprise that in 2017, $560 million – up by 65% from 2016 – was invested into startups in the MENA region, according to online startup community platform MAGNiTT.

Within this ecosystem, which is usually dominated by fintech and adtech, luxury startups have recently been making quite a mark with 65 luxury tech startups raising $2.7 billion in total funding around the word, according to CB Insights. Recognizing the role of technology in transforming the retail industry and the value of startups in the luxury sector, arab luxury world, the conference on the business of luxury in the Middle East – organized by Mediaquest Corp – joined hands with the INSEAD Middle East Campus and [email protected] for its Global Start-up Bootcamp.

Related: Arab Luxury World 2018: Brands need to adapt to the changing face of luxury

The two-day event, which took place on May 6 and 7 in the UAE, sponsored by TAG Heuer and Chalhoub Group, was attended by a global community of game-changers who are successfully driving digital transformation in the industries related to exceptional customer experiences.

The biggest takeaways from the startups’ experiences were their ability to deal with pressure and the fearlessness with which they approached the business.

Indeed there is a lot of risk associated with leaving a company that you know works to do something that’s completely untested is daunting, as Andi Hadisutjipto, co-founder and CEO, Riviter admits. But, for Eliott Jabès, CEO, and Lucas Poelman, co-founder, business development, Actiff, it was all just excitement. “I was more excited about the possibilities of starting a business with my best friends,” says Poelman.

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Despite the initial excitement inevitably startups do hit a rough patch – or several rough patches in some cases. What then keeps them going?

“When under pressure, entrepreneurs should remember that you’re doing something that no one has done before so treat it as an experiment and don’t take any failure personally because you’re in uncharted territory,” cautions Hadisutjipto.

VIDEO: Is e-commerce the solution for luxury brands?

During such a time, it’s also important to be transparent – with employees, customers, clients and investors. In fact, that’s what keeps the team at Mercaux going says the company’s co-founder and CEO Olga Kutsur.

The journey of being an entrepreneur can be a lonely one and so certain people become your support system. For Pauline Guesné, co-founder, Induo, those people are her business partner and customers. “Making decisions together is like sharing the burden,” she says. And although it sounds clichéd, she says, a late night call from a satisfied customer is what put a smile on her face at the end of a long day.

While it can be overwhelming to want to do everything and give your clients, investors, and customers the best, it is also important to prioritize and strike the right balance. And, at the end of the day, as Kutsur says, seeing your idea turn into a product that customers use, makes it all worthwhile.