Reigning digitally!

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Elusive vacuum of dependable tools to cultivate digital presence in the UAE’s corporate ecosystem actually led to the birth of Taking giant strides in the competitive business domain of this region, has carved its own niche in less than a year, since its inception in 2015. It is offering customised as well as economical solutions to companies for all their online needs., which is the cutting-edge platform targeting burgeoning SME sector and B2B market, was launched with an aim to provide an effective search platform primarily focussed on catering to the needs of the underserved business-to-business market in the region. It is now looking forward to introduce several innovative features and also a mobile application to cater to the market more
Emirates Business talks to Janardan Dalmia, President and Board Member of, to get an idea about the industry, his target market and expectations from this region.

Every business has an idea behind it that drives its growth. What is the main idea behind
The idea is really very simple. is a technology platform that enables businesses to become highly visible to their customers. There are several thousand companies in UAE and most of them do not have any way to develop a credible, significant digital presence. In the world of information overload on the internet, we want to provide curated information which is verified and exhaustive, along with a smooth user experience. With the increasing importance of digital and social media marketing driven by a paradigm shift towards online and away from print, we take care of each company’s online needs in a very cost-effective way while they continue to focus on their core business and not worry about their digital marketing.

Who are your target group – which strata of businessmen/entrepreneurs are you targetting?
For us, every business or establishment selling any product or service or catering to any consumer is a target group. We are focussed initially on serving the B2B market in phase one of our growth because SMEs represent more than 90 percent of companies in the UAE, and they do not have any credible platform to assist them in becoming more visible. Ultimately, any person or business can be anywhere in the world, and if they want to look for a particular company, product, brand, sector or industry in UAE, will be their trusted ally in finding that information.

You have been quoted as saying that aiwa looks at the underserved business-to-business market in the region – which areas do you feel are underserved and how could we address this problem?
I think SMEs are largely the underserved market in the region. They do not have either the know-how or the budget or time to focus on their online presence. Today consumers tend not to trust a business that does not have an online presence, which is a major factor behind SME failures. And for a consumer, there is too much outdated and inaccurate information available online which does not help them with their decisions. is endeavouring to address these issues.

Who would you say are your main competitors?
It is not about competition since we are offering a product with features which have not been provided before in the region. We are a platform acting as an aggregator but we are also an enabler helping businesses grow.

How exactly does the website work – are there any requirements for being able to use it?
There are no requirements for someone to be able to use the website. Search services are free and anyone with an internet connection can access and use it. A mobile application will be introduced shortly as well. A feet-on-the-street model along with our direct and personal relationships with businesses means that people have access to curated information on Aiwa’s platform. With an easy log-in procedure the user also has the opportunity to use several unique features which will provide them with a superior search experience. For example, the ergonomic design blended with innovative technology not only gives accurate search results but also helps to send group enquiries in one click, saving time and effort. Aiwa’s unique profile page can be created in minutes for business owners and can be used as their own alternate company website, thus bringing more impact to their digital presence. Similarly, we have a lot of exciting features lined up that will be rolled out on a regular basis.

As an entrepreneur, how do you look at the overall business environment in UAE?

Liquidity crunch and declining market sentiment led by lower oil prices, volatility in the equity markets and geopolitical risks have created a bearish outlook for 2016. Larger firms are reworking their regional growth strategies and actively taking cost-cutting measures.
Specifically in UAE, where the overall contribution to the GDP is sizeable from SMEs, monitoring their performance closely is a good indicator of the economic situation.
Clearly, the lending cutbacks by banks to businesses will lead to turbulence this year. But as an entrepreneur, I still believe in UAE in the long term. I am optimistic about the opportunities that it provides. UAE is no longer just attracting people who want to work here locally, but because of its geographic location, infrastructure and leadership vision coupled with the lifestyle that it offers, UAE has become a hub for anyone who wants to do business across the Middle East and major part of Africa. Over a third of the world’s population lives within a four-hour flight from UAE, and two-thirds are within an eight-hour flight. One cannot change this fact and it is independent of any economic conditions.

Can you please share more about your previous work stints?

I had started my career in investment banking at Bank of America in New York covering consumer and retail companies. After a couple of years, I had the opportunity to join the telecoms and media investment banking team at Barclays in New York. I happened to come to Dubai around 2009 with the idea to spend only a year here, as we were advising a very high-profile telecoms transaction from Dubai involving India and Africa. But post that, both my wife and I really started enjoying living in Dubai. We see UAE as a young country which provides a lot of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. After a decade in investment banking, I decided to leave Barclays in 2015 to pursue my entrepreneurial passions and take advantage of the exciting opportunities for professional growth that UAE provides.

Revenue wise, how well is aiwa doing? How do you look back at your journey so far?
We’re a relatively new company but now are fully operational, with our offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi catering to all the emirates in UAE. The response has been tremendous so far. We have a fantastic team in place which is working on challenging the status quo on a daily basis with one aim in mind, which is to improve the customer’s experience and provide a great digital platform to businesses and establishments. Since we are a private company we cannot disclose the numbers, but what I can say is that we are rapidly growing and revenues are on track as we had anticipated. For us the journey has just begun.

Are there any expansion plans in the pipeline? What is your business agenda for 2016?
Currently our focus is on delivering a product that is distinctly superior or unique to the market and building Aiwa as a trusted brand in UAE. We are working on several unique features that will be rolled out on our platform throughout the year. For example, in the near term we are launching our mobile application for both android and iOS platforms. Ultimately, our objective is enhancing our footprint in the segment and category in which we operate. But for now we do not want to take our eyes off the immediate goal of establishing ourselves as a market leader in UAE.

Do you think big events like EXPO 2020 will make any difference to your business?
Absolutely. With events like EXPO 2020 approaching there are several new businesses which are and will be getting established in the region. Apart from the local businesses, there are international companies as well who are equally interested in providing and selling their services and products to UAE consumers. All these businesses need a credible platform such as Aiwa which can promote their local presence and help them grow. Aiwa’s business principles are in line with the theme of Expo 2020 of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.

Where do you see your company ten years down the line?
With technology it is always hard to predict even a few years down the line, so ten years is a very long stretch. We view ourselves as a dynamic organisation with an entrepreneurial spirit and flexible approach who will evolve over time, reinventing ourselves and improvising when required to. Innovation has to be a part of our DNA. We will continue to strengthen our market standing and continue to explore new areas of innovation and development. I am confident that this is going to be an ongoing journey.

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