UAE-based Palestinian-American Expat Starts Employee Benefits Platform At Age 27: Here’s How

“Bet on yourself if you want to take financial risks. And take financial risks if you are given a chance as a young man and you have less,” says Brian Habibi, 35, the parents of this Palestinian-American expat had instilled these lessons in him. from an early age.

He has lived in Dubai since 1992 from the age of 5, apart from his time at university in the United States. “I grew up in a business-oriented family. My father was an entrepreneur and my mother was a professor of economics.

“At a young age, I began to understand the importance of being willing to bet on yourself and financial literacy. Since my father was an entrepreneur himself, and from a business point of view, entrepreneurship could be the hardest thing to do.However, I’ve learned that it has the potential to be the most rewarding both personally and financially.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a safe city, watching it grow into a major global player. Living here, I received an excellent education, had the chance to play several competitive school sports, and built a solid network of friends throughout. the world”.

Habibi had been passionate about business since high school.

From an early age he decided and wanted to study economics. “In high school, I took economics, accounting and business studies. These subjects helped me form a foundation to better understand the implementation of marketing strategies, supply and demand, pricing, and identify business opportunities. In addition, they gave me a solid foundation for the economics courses I studied at university. “

He graduated in business administration from Saint Mary’s College, California in 2008 and started working in 2009 in the marketing department of an FMCG food brand. “I became the head of the marketing department and oversaw all online and offline marketing efforts.

“Here, I led the development of a revised branding strategy to keep pace with the evolving landscape of Arab women in the GCC and to ensure brand relevance and affinity with consumers. I developed and managed the marketing budget. , used marketing, sales and technology knowledge – how to guide the development and launch of a fully customized ERP solution (software that organizations use to manage daily business activities such as accounting, project management, risk management, etc.) and leverage the digital presence of the brand to launch many online initiatives.

Bayzat, headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, started out as a financial comparison site and evolved into business software used to automate the company’s human resources, payroll and insurance processes.

“Experience has taught me that every effort must be tied to specific goals and identify financial costs and potential rewards to allow for proper post results analysis.”

When Habibi was 27, along with Talal Bayaa, also 27 at the time, he co-founded and launched Bayzat in 2014. Bayzat started out as a financial comparison site and evolved into business software used to automate human resources. and company payslips and insurance processes.

The business essentially allows employers to give their teams unprecedented access to jobs, finances and medical benefits, while also giving employees access (via their smartphone app) to over 200 deals and offers across F&B, lifestyle, fitness and entertainment in the United Arab Emirates.

The platform is hosted in UAE-based data centers and is delivered to customers via the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. (It allows users to connect and use cloud-based apps over the internet. Common examples are email, calendar, and office tools.)

How did you choose this business and expand your services?

Bayzat was launched when the founders observed and understood the need for a platform that would offer better transparency and online visibility to consumers looking for banking and insurance products.

“And when the UAE made it mandatory for companies to insure their employees, we decided to transform the business in 2015. The website was well optimized for banking and insurance lines, so we started getting a lot of inquiries. of group medical insurance, mainly within the SME sector (small and medium-sized enterprises).

“As we engaged with a growing number of UAE-based companies, we saw a clear opportunity to develop technology to improve the way companies bought and used their medical insurance policies. There were also fundamental issues. with the way companies managed their human or human resources, insurance and wage processes, with over 70% of UAE companies relying on excel and other outdated methods. “

So how did you fund your business?

Habibi said that during the first few days, the founders self-financed the company by continuing to work full-time while working in the company during the nights and weekends.

“Once we were able to show the proof of concept, we raised our first million dollars from family, friends and other individual investors. Today, the company has raised over Dh 132.2 million ($ 36 million) from a mix of individual investors, family offices and a variety of regional and international venture capitalists, such as BECO Capital, Mubadala and P72 Ventures “.

Bayzat raised over Dh 132.2 million (US $ 36 million) from a mix of individual investors, family offices and a variety of regional and international venture capitalists. (Image used for illustrative purposes)

Two entrepreneurship lessons Habibi shares from her experiences

Lesson n. 1: Challenges will come every day in the business course, but be resilient and willing to embrace change and readjustment.

Habibi said that while entrepreneurship is a humbling profession, be prepared to take on new challenges on your journey.

“When you start to believe that everything is going smoothly, a new curveball is thrown at you, forcing you to readjust.

“Each phase of the business and fundraising has brought different challenges, but we have moved on to hyper growth. COVID-19 has been an accelerator of remote working; hiring and retaining high-level talent is becoming more difficult than ever. , making our offer more relevant now than before.

“There have been countless challenges faced and lessons learned across industries and industries; something that struck me in mind was the importance of remaining agile, resilient and willing to embrace change in order to survive and thrive in the new ‘normal’. These lessons are now ingrained in our DNA as we have truly adopted an “experimental” mindset across the organization. “

Lesson n. 2: to manage cash flow well, be proficient in forecasting and setting contingency plans.

He added that as his current business continued to raise funds and generate additional revenue, they have become more adept at forecasting and setting contingency plans to ensure effective cash flow management. “By focusing on” hypergrowth “(rapid expansion in which companies experience an annual growth rate of 40% or higher), we have also learned that it is more difficult to scale expenses than to identify the right investment levers to manage the cash flow and reach our budget (ie double the marketing, sales, etc.). “

What money rules or strategies do you personally follow in life?

Money lesson: don’t throw yourself into investment opportunities that sound “too good to be true”.

Habibi said: “Bayzat is my most significant investment and hopefully represents the largest part of my future savings. I make sure all my other investments are well diversified.”

He and his wife have set aside a specific amount from their monthly investment income and manage the budget based on the rest.

“We have diversity in our portfolio in equities, fixed income (bonds) and private investments, we invest small amounts in high-risk, high-yield opportunities and make sure they are amounts we can afford to lose.

Budget and money saving step by step

Habibi and his wife set aside a specific amount from their monthly investment income and manage their budget based on the rest.

“The breakdown of our current investment portfolio is cash – 20%, fixed income – 10%, stocks – 50%, private investments – 15% and cryptocurrencies – 5%.

“Given my general outlook and the current economic and political environment, I am planning, shortly, to reallocate my portfolio in cash – 10 percent, fixed income – 7.5 percent, equities – 55 percent, private investment – 20 percent and crypto -7.5 percent. “

For his children, he believes the future will hold more challenges; therefore their ability to learn and adapt quickly will be crucial to their success.

“Education is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children. My wife and I set aside monthly savings for our two-year-old son’s education.

“Ultimately, I believe the best investment I can make in my son’s future is to be able to instill the importance of hard work, responsibility and honesty. Hopefully, with a little luck, he will succeed. in whatever he chooses to do “.