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27 July 2021, by ADGM's Staff Editor
Abu Dhabi Global Market offers entrepreneurs the ideal location to launch a startup from, supported by robust legal infrastructure combined with a diverse ecosystem
Startup founders face countless legal, technical, and logistical hurdles ahead of launching a business. However, experienced entrepreneurs realize the importance of cutting corners to achieve the fastest growth rate for the lowest cost and risk.
After finding that ‘million dollar idea’ and putting together a team to turn that idea into a reality, startup founders meticulously study their options of where to set up their business. The issue is not whether to start up from your parent’s kitchen or garage, especially in a global economy where remote work is growing in popularity. In fact, startup founders will look for a location that will act as a launchpad to their business on the long term.
Destination and proximity to the startup community are key determining factors to the success of your startup, particularly in the early stages where connections create opportunities.
The location of your startup matters just as much as your idea or business model, and it’s not strictly from a geographical standpoint -- where you set up your business has the potential to determine your operations, shape your marketing strategy, and even unlock investment opportunities.
In this day and age, establishing your startup within a holistic ecosystem gives you a tremendous lead ahead of the competition, especially as global markets become more open and digital than ever.
Commenting on the importance of being at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s startup ecosystem is Fodhil Benturquia, the founder and CEO of Okadoc, one of the region’s leading telehealth startups: ‘The Abu Dhabi startup ecosystem is thriving and is a highly supportive global business hub for startups like Okadoc. There’s a real hunger for knowledge sharing and innovation that you can’t find in many other parts of the world. In Abu Dhabi, we’ve been lucky to be a part of Hub71.’
Abu Dhabi: Simplifying business creation
Abu Dhabi enables startup founders through various initiatives and legal frameworks that streamline processes, especially for first-time business owners. More importantly, the speed and ease by which entrepreneurs can license their startups enable them to swiftly get their business off the ground.
Startup founders are busy people. Therefore, they do not always find enough time to review, process and follow up on all legal paperwork. By digitizing and simplifying the legal process, ADGM has made it exceedingly feasible for entrepreneurs to set up an office easily without the need for a law degree.
‘Not only are we a part of an interconnected network of transformative tech companies and startups, but we’re also supported by a forward-thinking government with clear long-term policies on future technologies and innovation,’ added Benturquia.
Futhermore, the cofounder and CEO of Provenmed Souheil Guessoum said ‘Abu Dhabi is the right place for a startup to grow. We, as Provenmed, could find in Abu Dhabi the right place to fulfill the growth of our startup. We found amazing support from organizations like Hub71, WeWork, ADIO, and Mubadala. We are working in a very professional and friendly environment backed by experts who are bringing strong support, giving guidelines and orientations for real growth.’
The efficient legal processes go beyond registering a business to manage labor law issues, cross-border compliance, employee contracts, visas, IP risks, and much more. Having a modern legal framework underpinning the entire startup ecosystem provides everyone with the safety and peace of mind needed for increasingly complex operations.
On another note, Abu Dhabi’s central location on the map makes it strategic for startups aiming to serve a global market without having to set up subsidiary offices anywhere else. Even more attractive for startup founders is not having to hire external contractors to serve a particular market simply because their headquarters are set on the other side of the world, which decreases costs. Also, Abu Dhabi lies at the crossroad between three continents, which means 80% of the world’s population is reachable within an eight-hour flight.
Plus, setting your business up in a global city like Abu Dhabi gives your startup unmatched exposure to investors, partners, or media, who could open the gate towards expanding into other markets.
The community at the heart of the ecosystem
The emirate’s commitment towards developing a diverse and sustainable business environment comes to the fore when examining the vibrant ecosystem comprising accelerators, incubators, VCs, government entities, the private sector, and leading industry partners. The synergy between all these stakeholders is evident, especially during events such as Fintech Abu Dhabi, where attendees from all over the world discuss groundbreaking ideas and celebrate achievements.
Under the umbrella of the government-led Ghadan21 accelerator program, over 16 initiatives were implemented to ‘improve the ease of doing business.’
The startup community in Abu Dhabi has elevated the standards in the sense that founders are more than willing to offer help to other founders; considering them as future partners rather than competitors. This camaraderie among founders could be visibly seen in Hub71’s bustling hallways and coffee break rooms.
Hub71 is a thriving ecosystem for trailblazing entrepreneurs looking to launch and grow their startups. With over 102 startups and 500 entrepreneurs, Hub71’s multinational community of founders continues to grow mainly because of the exceptional benefits like equity-free funding, mentorship, free working and living space, and more.
Furthermore, Hub71 hosts the world-renowned Techstars Accelerator which provides a collaborative platform for entrepreneurs to advance their ideas and create positive socio-economic change.
Whether it’s startup accelerators like Plug and Play Abu Dhabi or startAD, access to financing through the AED 535 million ‘Ventures Fund’ launched by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), or countless events and support programs: In Abu Dhabi, startup founders have all that they need to Start Up.
In addition to Abu Dhabi’s cosmopolitan lifestyle, several unique factors strengthen the city’s value proposition to founders. The UAE hosts more than 200 nationalities, which means the founders don’t have to drastically localize their business model to match the market’s needs. Besides, the charm of Abu Dhabi makes it the choice of several high-skilled professionals to live in, giving startup founders an abundant talent pool to find the right skill set to take their business to the next level.
Guessoum added to say that ‘our employees are living in a very beautiful city, while enjoying the nice facilities available for them and their families. We strongly believe, today, that choosing Abu Dhabi, was the right choice for us, believing that this is the best place to make ProvenMed the next unicorn coming out of this beautiful city.’
Other key members of the Abu Dhabi startup ecosystem are venture capital firms and financial institutions. As of June 2021, Abu Dhabi has over 20 VC funds that are industry agnostic and also investing in startups of various growth stages.
Cultivating an innovation-first mindset
Abu Dhabi Global Market, one of the world-leading international financial centres, has fostered a culture where innovation and risk-taking are not only encouraged, but also expected. By embracing this mindset, all members of the ADGM startup community have the drive to continuously be on the cutting edge of world-changing technology, whether in fintech, healthtech, or e-commerce.
For instance, ADGM has developed one of the world’s most active regulatory sandboxes, the ‘RegLab’. The idea behind RegLab is simple: give fintech startup founders a specially tailored regulatory environment that allows them to test and iterate on their products within a safe space. All the fun and excitement in creating something cool, without any of the regulatory risks.
Abu Dhabi Global Market invites entrepreneurs from wherever they may be to join a community of changemakers who are on the verge of transforming the world we live in.
Request a call back from the ADGM team to learn more about this tremendous opportunity. >
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