What were the main highlights for 360 Nautica in 2019 and 2020?
In 2019, we progressed well despite the costs of building our own brands and adopting a formal startup-enhancing structure. In 2019, we also became Qatar's chapter lead for the global start-up program “Startup Grind." Our role within this partnership is to enhance the startup ecosystem through networking and knowldge sharing initiatives. We have extended our partnership in 2020 by joining forces with Microsoft for Startups, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Trescon, and Lankan Angel Network to create meaningful additions in building the ecosystem. Our role is to look for promising ideas, incubate, accelerate, fund, and/or coach them. Through our engagement with all stakeholders in the ecosystem we came to understand the gaps in the system, thanks to all these activities, so we decided to launch the 360Nautica Startup programe in October 2019 at QITCOM. We are currently one of the first venture builders in the country, and our main objective is to support the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. We have taken another step in doing so by embarking on a strategic investment in Qatar's healthcare tech start-up, At Home Doc. We look forward to further helping them grow through our partners and reaching their full potential. We have to remain innovative, diversify our target businesses and sectors, and learn how to survive and thrive during a crisis like everyone else. In light of this, we have also launched Qatar's first start-up portal, www.dohastartups.com. The Doha Startups portal is designed to be Qatar's largest online platform for start-ups, investors, incubators, accelerators, mentors, and other ecosystem enablers. The objective is to create possibilities for collaboration and partnerships between different entities.
What is a profile of company that 360 Nautica looks for when investing?
There are two focus areas that we are trying to explore and expand on. First, 360 Nautica has always aimed to be a diverse conglomerate of businesses since we established in Doha 15 years ago and always try to fill the gaps in the market. Now, the trend is digital services, which is where we are focusing our efforts. The constant has always been having to innovate in order to revolutionize the way of doing business. Second, we meet start-ups that have B2C business models with an innovative digital component, and we do it with an open mind. One of the other main aspects we look for when we make investments in startups is the founders' vision and the passion to learn. Flexibility to learn and coached is an important pre-requisite for a successful model.
What does Qatar offer start-ups that so many decide to establish in or relocate to the country?
Qatar is a great incubator and accelerator for any type of project. The country is geographically small; however, it is easy to control growth and scalability. Plus, marketing expenses tend to be under control due to the market size. Despite the size, the population mix is great, so there is a great diversity of demographic segments. When you launch a product in Qatar, you have made it global in a way, so it is much easier to export from inside the country than from anywhere else. The incentives the government is introducing through free zones and other methods definitely add value to the process and encouraging new businesses to start.
What benefits will you have from being a pioneer when the private start-up incubation market evolves?
We will definitely leverage our advantage. A person who has just entered with an idea and has established a start-up is most likely a new businessman who needs much more than a financial investor. 360 Nautica already understands this necessity, and that understanding will make us market leaders in time to come. We know the difference between a regular investment and a venture building program, so we can provide start-ups with the right mentorship, coaching, and training to operate and succeed in the Qatari market.