Entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs

Strive for excellence to stand out from the crowd, says businessman


Saudi Gazette

“AS an entrepreneur, you always have to strive for excellence to stand out from the crowd. It is not an easy job to achieve. It requires an awful lot of commitment, determination and perseverance. Especially in the dynamic market of digital, you always have to be on top of your game to stay alive,” says Rakan Asaad, founder and managing director of Vantage Solutions, a premier digital agency based in the Kingdom.

Asaad, who holds a Master of Science in Information System Technology from George Washington University, mentioned that Vantage Solutions was the result of his love for design, passion for technology, hard work for excellence and a couple years of experience and knowledge.

He said, “Since my college life in the USA, I always have immersed in technologies and business studies due to the nature of my college majors. I enjoyed learning about programming, system analysis and design, websites and organizational behavior. And my love for design was explicit in a number of free elective courses that I took during my bachelor and master’s programs.”

The company was founded in 2007 and it gained a great deal of experience from over 240 client projects, including e-commerce, content management systems, sales systems, POS, financial systems, workflow systems and framework applications. It is specialized in technology consulting and digital product development.

“Thanks to our team’s passion for open source technologies, we offer first-class web development, online systems, digital campaigns, mobile apps and SEO/SEM,” Asaad added.

This year, the company’s new service is Mobile Apps development. Asaad mentioned that mobile Apps are important new revenue stream for many businesses.

He said, “They give customers user-friendly experience and improved accessibility. In this service, we develop native apps for both iOS and Android platforms.”

Although he believes that the digital market in Saudi Arabia will continue to flourish and digital agencies will continue to grow not only locally but also globally, Asaad is facing several challenges.

He said, “One evident challenge is the reliability of companies on their multinational advertising agency when it comes to working with a digital agency. A number of potential customers end up contracting with digital agencies overseas. Not because overseas agencies do a better job than local agencies, but simply because of the long relationship between the customer and their advertising agency.”

Asaad added that the second challenge has to do with the continued commitment of companies digitally.

“The digital demand for companies in the Kingdom is still developing when comparing it globally. A large number of companies globally view the digital market as a strong revenue stream and as a market to grow their brand equities. Therefore, many of the renowned digital agencies globally find nurtured grounds for substantial growth,” he said.

When he was asked about his past experience in the entrepreneurship world, he answered that a couple years ago he ventured into the food and tourism industries.

Asaad said, “For the food industry, I have established the brand FrozyMix with a partner. The brand had a unique concept of a mall cup kiosk that serves different flavors of Frozen Carbonated Beverages (FCB) imported from the US. The brand did well, and we had excellent customer acquisition and loyalty simply because we were the first to serve FCB in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Several logistic and operational issues appeared and FrozyMix success story did not continue.

Asaad ventured into DoMore National Tourism, which was focused on local tourism specializing in sea and land excursions. It was established six years ago with five partners and he was the chairman of the company.

“As chairman, my partners and I were strong advocates for eco-friendly tourism or sustainable tourism with the motto: Leave no trace behind. The company was awarded the International Quality Crown Award for 2013 in London and was published in a number of magazines and articles,” he added.

Asaad explained that one of the major struggles that they faced while operating DoMore was involved with the preparation of camps on sites.

“Initially, when we started the business we relied on conventional tents to prepare our camps. Conventional tents tend to be labor intensive and time consuming to prepare and install. However, we were able to overcome this struggle by reinventing our tents and redesigning them to give us the advantage of fast assembly and eco-friendliness. This initiative aided us with higher rate of trips and revenue,” he said.

“What I have learned from my past experience in entrepreneurship is it is not easy to succeed. I learned that nine out of ten projects fail. I believe that there are more of wantrepreneurs than entrepreneurs. Only those who believe in themselves, don’t complain, never give up, do their best, adapt to changes, bring innovations and take risks are the ones who I truly call entrepreneurs. They will have a greater chance to succeed in their business ventures,” Asaad added.