From Investor to Start-up Founder: Taking a Seat on the Other Side of the Table

2020. It’s going to be a year none of us will forget.

To me, it will always be the year I decided to say goodbye to 13 incredible years as an investor and take a seat on the other side of the table.

Over the last five years, I’ve had the opportunity to advise and engage with some of the most innovative startups in the region, while also investing in leading VCs and technology businesses globally. Along the way, I learnt from the very best in the industry. Particularly, Fadi Ghandour, who gave me the opportunity to be a part of that ecosystem and put me on the path to thinking like startup, even while I was an investor.

So, why did we decide to launch baraka now?

1. Investor mindsets are shifting. In particular, young investors in the Middle East, are becoming more conscious about the companies and causes they want to support. Whether it’s backing organisations that prioritise diversity and inclusion, seeking green stock options, or simply boosting the growth of brands they consume, millennials want a say in where their money is going. In fact, a recent study published by Barclays showed that Middle East HNWIs are increasingly looking to make positive contributions to the world through sustainable investing, thanks to the influence of their children.

2. There’s a problem that needs to be fixed. We’ve all heard stories of friends and family who want to invest but are too overwhelmed by the complexities of existing trading platforms, and instead hand a portion of their monthly salary to an investment advisor to manage. Not only do these investors have limited visibility of their portfolios but, they’re also not improving their financial literacy by opting for a model that keeps them reliant on external services with an obscure and expensive fee structure.

3. The right platform didn’t exist in the region. Ever heard the saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’? In our case, we realised that if people wanted to take direct control of their investments, they would need the right tools to help them do that, and those tools weren’t available to them today. So, we created them. Through the baraka platform, we’re not just giving people access to financial markets, but we’re preparing them to play an active role in their financial wellbeing.

4. We’ve assembled the team that can make it happen. Our CTO, Kunal Taneja, and I have spent the last six months bringing together the right group of content creators, financial analysts and developers to build a hub that gives our community members access to daily market news and insights, breaks down investment terminologies and encourages them to share their views through our social network. This is just the first step.

I’m proud of what we’ve built this year and am excited to share what we have planned for 2021. Watch this space…