Complex Made Simple

Key to success? ‘Fail fast. Never give up. Network, network, network’

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, along with the latest technology, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the internet of things, are fast fueling startups’ growth and success in the region.

Besides injecting new life in various stagnant segments of business, they are giving startups wings, allowing their out-of-the-box, bold initiatives to take flight.

Understanding the immense wealth of digital available today, young entrepreneurs are quick to realize the full potential of online; the ability to monetize their ideas with the latest technologies.

They are also investing heavily in order to retain the best viable digital talents available.

“Digital is at the very core of our business. Ten of our 12 team members are tech specialists and this is what enables us to not only shape our own future, but also generate revenue today,” says Charlie Regis, co-founder of start-up Actiff.

Video: Here’s how an ex-pro athlete used emotions to build a winning startup

“One could argue that for the first time in history, because of the digital age, startups can be hugely successful in a very short space of time.”

Actiff is a fashion lifestyle app that converts discounts into rewards for being physically active. Founded six months ago by Grega Trobec, Charlie Regis and Lucas Poelman, Actiff’s mantra is simple: to inspire a generation to become more physically active – while looking good at the same time.

“The more physically active you are, the more discounts you can unlock, meaning the more brand giveaways you can enter,” Regis adds.

It’s fun, engaging and its use of cutting-edge technology means it’s proven a hit with university students, with Actiff currently looking to launch at campuses across the UK.

Video: How a 12-year-old’s dream became business reality

Source of motivation
While talking about the inspiration behind Actiff, Regis says, “While technology has improved so many aspects of our lives, it has almost had the opposite effect on our levels of physical activity. I wanted to harness the power of cutting-edge technology with the glamour of fashion to make being active fun and engaging. Actiff enables people to enjoy their active lifestyle to the fullest and get rewarded for doing so.

“The trajectory of the development of the team has been quite extraordinary. Seeing each member evolve makes me believe our future can be bright.”

Navigating choppy waters
Most successful startups tell of a challenging start – and indeed middle – to their journey; a journey that comprises many twists and turns. Learning to correctly navigate is what ultimately leads to success.

Talking about the challenges faced by Actiff, Regis says, “The phrase cash is king has never been more relevant than in the startup world. Almost every start up is against the ticking clock that is their runway. The need to start generating enough revenue to sustain/grow the business before this runs out is essential.

“The way we overcame the challenge of our runway was by collaborating with a limited number of companies each year to create premium web and mobile apps for their business. We have worked with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups.”

Read: How do successful startups deal with pressure?

Going a long way
Common problems that face startups today is sustainability and long-term financial security. This is especially noteworthy at a time when the startup market has witnessed many sell-offs and acquisitions.

One obvious gain, as Regis concurs, to setting up a startup is the financial reward for selling it. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the startup game.

“I would not want to lose the buzz of growing a successful startup. Because of that it is likely I would start another venture. And ten years down the line, I see myself working with incredibly talented people on projects that can make a difference.”

Power of networking
Not surprisingly, networking and maintaining the right contacts have proven key for Actiff. Something that Regis is keen to stress to up-and-coming entrepreneurs and the next generation of startup companies.

“Network, network and network some more. The more you put yourself out there, the more doors that will open for you,” he adds.

“Never give up, even in the darkest moments – and there will be some. Listen to the response of the market. And fail fast. That way, you have time to make game-changing adjustments.”

Read: Here’s why 8 out of 10 UAE start-ups fail in their first 2 years

Rendezvous in the Middle East

Showcasing its cutting-edge solutions, Actiff recently participated in the Global Start-up Bootcamp – part of the arab luxury world conference that took place in Dubai on May 8 and 9 –at INSEAD Business School campus in Abu Dhabi.

 The bootcamp, 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.

Actiff rubbed shoulders with dozens of other startups from Paris, London and New York and presented their company in a ‘pitch session’ in front of 600-plus industry professionals.