In a series of interviews with members of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) UAE Chapter, InBusiness.ae caught up with Mazen Omair, Founder and CEO Momair Trading LLC and member of EO UAE chapter who talked about his journey as an entrepreneur and emphasized the importance of sharing career problems with those who have been in similar situations.
Give us a brief background on your company and your engagement in EO.
Momair Trading LLC is the parent company for the international F&B franchises we represent in the UAE and GCC. These include the well-known global sandwich brand, Subway, of which we operate nine outlets in the UAE, and Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory which is the most recent addition to our portfolio. This is a distinctive confectionery retail concept that we have launched in Dubai, and plan on expanding across the GCC. We currently have two stores already open – one at The Beach opposite JBR and the other in Riverland, part of the recently opened attractions in Dubai Parks & Resorts.
Fuzziwig’s is an old-fashioned neighbourhood candy store, stocking the widest selection of premium candies from around the world, as well as a range of homemade and handmade treats crafted from the finest ingredients. It’s a nostalgic candy haven that recreates happy memories for all to enjoy.
In terms of EO, I have been a member since 2014, and joined the organisation on the recommendation of a friend who is a fellow entrepreneur. I am so glad this friend introduced me to the organisation as it has added so much value to my life both socially and in business.
What are the main challenges that you faced as an entrepreneur when launching your business?
Challenges in launching our business have been primarily in securing the right locations for our outlets, at the right time and rent. Visibility and footfall, of the target demographic, is key in retail. But timing is, too – so we’ve had to bite the bullet in a few cases where we needed to secure a location that wasn’t quite complete, but will generate returns in the long-term.
Who helped you overcome these obstacles and how?
We are a family operation – my wife Rana and I – and together we work through obstacles as thoroughly as we can. We are a great sounding board for each other, we share the same value system, but bring different perspectives to situations. My peers at EO have also been supportive when we’ve faced certain challenges – sharing a problem with someone who has faced a similar one has many benefits.
What motivates you in this competitive industry?
We love what we do. In the case of Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory, it’s a love of everything it stands for – a nostalgic return to our childhoods and the ability for us to do the same for our customers. There is nothing more heartwarming than watching our customers enter our stores and be instantly transported back to their childhoods through a candy from their home country. It’s almost impossible for customers not to smile when they visit Fuzziwig’s – from the colorful interiors and more than 700 varieties of candy, to the delicious aromas of freshly made caramel, fudge and other homemade Fuzzitreats, to the toe-tapping music that gets many of our customers literally dancing through the store. Who doesn’t want to bring a little sweetness into people’s lives! Solving the day-to-day and long-term challenges of delivering such an enjoyable experience is a key driver for us.
What is the mission of EO in the Middle East?
EO aims to help better the members and those around them. Bringing together like-minded entrepreneurs who can learn from each other and build on each other’s experiences. EO hosts regular learning events where key international and regional speakers are invited to motivate us, teach us and expand our minds. What we learn from each other can then be applied to our own businesses and the knowledge can be passed on to others. For example at the EO accelerator program sessions.
As a member of EO – UAE chapter, how do you receive support and also support young talents in the country?
As a peer-to-peer organisation, EO offers me the opportunity to share experiences and gain different perspectives from my fellow members. I learn about other businesses, broaden my network locally and internationally, and develop new management skills and business knowledge through the offered learning programs. EO also gives back by supporting young entrepreneurs through several programs specifically designed to help them grow.
What are the 5 tips you would give to young entrepreneurs trying to establish their business in the UAE?
- Never compromise your integrity, regardless of the challenges you are facing.
- Create value first and the money will follow.
- Prioritize cash flow over growth. Slow and steady is better than fast and flashy.
- Focus on your customer – make sure your customer experience is the best it can possibly be – all the time, every time – no matter what your business is.
- Listen directly and closely to your customers and staff, and acknowledge both positive and negative feedback. We need both to improve.