Technology-driven startups and innovative businesses in Qatar, including the investors i this sector, are optimistic they will emerge stronger after the COVID-19 pandemic. While the coronavirus crisis has been impacting businesses across all sectors, tech innovators have been seeing new opportunities in the market. “The world trend is adoption of more and more innovative technology which is what startups are all about. There is a good future for startups.
Normally, in such scenarios when economies are blocked, there is major disruption of methods, habits, and workforce, only innovation can bring new change. So new business models and new technologies need to take over. In general, we are very optimistic in that regard,” said Marwan Marouf Mahmoud, Partner at Doha Tech Angels (DTA), in an interview with The Peninsula yesterday.
The DTA, a Qatar Financial Centre-registered Angel Fund, is Qatar’s first private Angel Fund that is focused on providing seed funding for early stage technology startups in Qatar, the Middle East, and beyond. It comprises of a private network of seasoned investors and senior executives who invest in partnerships with talented entrepreneurs to establish successful technology ventures.
Mahmoud added: “I would say some of our businesses have suffered, even the ones we have invested in, due to coronavirus in general.
But some businesses, in the process of remote education, remote learning, telemedicine, and others are doing good. One of our companies also participated in the making of a COVID-19 app in nine languages to help the community. So we all have to work together. But generally speaking, the startup community is on the optimistic side”.Mahmoud went on to reiterate that startups, as well as innovative businesses, which play a major role in any knowledge-based economy, need more support, which goes beyond financial support. “Startups need access to business.
They need to be assisted in this regard because they have to compete with big companies. In general, the investment that we are making now are around things that will change the way we work, all because of COVID-19. And startups need more than financial support. They need regulatory support and market access,” he added. Mahmoud said that government support through the Qatar Development Bank’s (QDB) salary and rents support for entrepreneurs was particularly helpful.
He added that more investments is needed for tech startups and innovative businesses. Mohammed Abuateek, CoFounder of iBusiness International Solutions, one of the leading technology solutions provider in Qatar, is one of the entrepreneurs whose company benefited from government initiatives to ease the economic impact of the pandemic to the private sector. He said that the company is also looking forward to investing in Qatar’s Free Zones in the future.
“The opportunities in the Free Zones enable a more open market and attract more investors which will help the private sector to grow more. We live in an open world therefore an open market is a very strategic move and shall absolutely push the market forward.
I myself started to look into these opportunities and started to build new investment ideas in the Free Zones,” Abuateek said. Speaking about ways how his company is adjusting from the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, he added: “The government initiative was a pillar to our business continuity, as it provided us with a mechanism to ensure our business is on the right path to survive and go through this hard economic hit which affected every country globally. ”
“The initiative like the Amiri guarantee through the QDB was easy to get and helped us and our employees to continue our work. We built a six-month strategy plan that ensures we reach to business safety and to maintain employees safety and spending. Without such initiatives we believe we will not be able to put and execute such strategies.