Proactive Measures Sends Optimistic Message

by shariff mohammed | Nov 02, 2017

Ahmed Hassan M. Al-Masdar, Founding director of FutureTech shared his experience that  how he got what he is today with Saudi Commerce and Economic Review.
































Can you tell us your journey ?

I graduated from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals in Computer Science, later executive PG in Business Administration from Prince Mohammed University. I started working in 1999, soon after my graduation in the IT department of a company. While working I continued my thirst for knowledge and studied many specialized courses of Microsoft software. Especially while working for an American IT company, Lucent Technologies I learned a lot. The company was doing cabling work for Saudi based telecom companies. I would say this was my turning point in my life, which provoked me to think beyond comfort zone and provide something extra ordinary in the market. In 2004 I moved to Microsoft where I was dealing with corporate clients. This period was my transitional period. I don’t hesitate to say that, it was here where I learned how to sell technology. The knowledge accumulated and with the help of almighty I could venture into my dream project.

What was the project?

FutureTech, the name itself says designing the future technologies for Saudi based companies. While working in Microsoft I had realized that Saudi Customers are looking for best services. Though they were getting IT and software products from well-known companies, most of them are sold through local partners. When it comes to service, quality remain substandard. This is the area where I was focused. The gap which was there in the market was an opportunity for me. In addition to this my personal passion in this field and urge to go for big to mark your signature.

What were the initial challenges that you had to face ?

Understanding the value of SMEs is not a  rocket science.  Normal  businessman can  realize the  importance of  SMEs  in a developing economy.  The idea has far reaching consequences in terms of GDP growth  and  economic  development. This sector brings a paradigm shift in the economic activities of the Kingdom. The legal  and procedural  hurdles have been a major setback as far as the Kingdom is concerned.  We have enormous opportunities in the Kingdom, it’ s all about how we perceive it and utilize the opportunities. I always believe in commitment  to the cause,  if you are committed to your cause,  you  will  reach  where  you  want  to  reach. SMEs  can  generate  more  employment which is the burning issue for which ministry is trying all the plans on the table.  We should be able to create entrepreneurship mentality right from the elementary education. I  would expect  the  ministry  to take a  wise  decision  in this  regard,  the  new laws should not discourage business activities. We need to increase job opportunities for the locals, but  it  should not be at the cost of ongoing business, rather it  should correct  the  policies on  the ground.  We should build economy-oriented atmosphere right from the school stage.  There  are  lots of  cultural  and social  issues  to  be  considered. 

Unless  we don’ t ponder over those issues, we cannot address the issue of unemployment. I must  agree that  the present  education system and technical training system in place  are  not  in line  with  the  modern technology  and  business  needs. We need to have good study of the present market need and change the curriculum accordingly.  Future  lies in the  quality of education that we provide to today’s students.  Further to  this, we  have  to mentally  prepare  our younger generation  to  take  the  risk, which  would be challenging  while starting  a  business. When I  started  my  business, the  first project  was  a  very  bad experience for me and I lost money in that. However,  I decided to go ahead and face the challenge.  By the grace of Allah, I succeeded in the subsequent projects.

In 2011 when I seriously started working on this project I had seven experience of Microsoft. I build contact with Mohammed A. Al-Manthaaq, a leading and succefull Saudi businessman. I presented my idea and he agreed to fund my project based on two conditions. One was to conduct proper feasibility study and to resign the present job and work on project fulltime. Resigning was not an easy job for me, but my passion eased my stress and I started working for my project. I started with my feasibility study, which took me to various companies and variety of people. I collected several case studies and reports to make sure that the project works on ground.  It took six months to finally present feasibility study to table. With some minor modification the plan was approved. I was confident that I have partner who has long track record in the business. I utilized his experience at all level. He always stood with me and supported in all areas. His partnership helped me in concentrating on core of business and rest of administrative matters were handled by him. My frequent interaction with Small and Medium Enterprises Development Center of Asharqia Chamber helped me to update myself. Regular trainings and talks with successful businessmen were real education, which allowed me to nurture advance business practice. 

How did you develop entrepreneurship quality?

I think there is no single ingredient that sparks an idea of entrepreneurship. It could be various factors through which one become entrepreneur. When we talk about  concerns and obstacles, I  think  there  are  many  which have  been discussed  and  debated  at various platforms. The government institutions need to be proactive and send an  optimistic message  to  the  younger generation. In the race for modernizing the system,  we are introducing new obstacles at the government level.  The cry for hassle-f f procedure is yet to be heard and we do not see any sign of streamlining the process. The visa systems should be wiser,  so that industries can  tap  the  best  talents from  abroad. There should not be any restriction on the  country.  We  are  looking  for  talent who can build our business, so you have to attract talents from across the globe. This will  provide the better experience and  training  for  the  local  talents.  Not having  a  clear  picture  or  a  procedural manual  is  yet another obstacle for  entrepreneurs. These  hassles  sometimes irritate young men and they leave their dream half way. 

What is your advice to the upcoming  entrepreneurs?

I think the market wide open to do your best, and if you put your all effort in the job success is at your door step. This is despite of hurdles and challenges in the process. I always think that we should have platform, such as club or forums where all the entrepreneurs can meet occasionally and share business thoughts. I think government agencies should take this forward and create a platform to bring the ideas on single platform, which would help the business to grow. Knowledge sharing is very important in this sector, without which it would be difficult to think of SME growth. SME's need better package of ideas and business modules. Such forums and clubs can give much better ideas than any consultancies, where they have pay for every idea.  The idea of SME cannot get materialized unless it is built based on proper basics and actual market determinations.

 


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