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Hit the Big time

David Light / 17 November 2009

Want to run your own business? Are you young, willing and able but just need that initial investment to get you started? Well Al Tamimi Investment Groupís Big Start scheme is here to help

Calling all budding Sir Alan Sugars and Donald Trumps out there, The Big Start, an initiative created by Al Tamimi Investments to foster entrepreneurship among final year undergraduate students in the UAE, has arrived and is all set to launch you along the road to fame and fortune.

The Big Start is a student entrepreneur competition where the winning student(s) will set up and run their own business after they graduate, with full funding and support from Al Tamimi Investments. The winning student(s) will be assigned the title of Chief Executive Officer and have a structured shareholding in their business.

Open to all final year undergraduate university and college students currently studying in the UAE, The Big Start represents the beginning of a journey for aspiring students, which, if successful, will end in the establishment of their own business. On each step of the journey entrants will benefit from Al Tamimi Investment’s support, from guidance on how to prepare and present a business plan to full funding and mentoring for the winner(s).

We spoke to General Manager of Al Tamimi Investments Rachael Wunsch who is responsible for managing the firm and its investments, which include a number of subsidiaries across various industry sectors. Rachael will play a pivotal role in The Big Start with an influential vote in determining who fits the bill to become CEO of their own company. Students will need to impress her with their ambition, drive and passion for business in order to succeed in the competition.

As General Manager for Al Tamimi Investments Rachael has an excellent track record of spotting talented entrepreneurs and helping them develop their potential and ideas into successful businesses.

Rachael helped establish Al Tamimi Investments in 2006, having previously worked at Al Tamimi and Company.

Rachel, how would you describe the Big Start initiative and what made you get involved?

The Big Start was created by Al Tamimi Investments as a way to give back to the community, create further growth and establish a successful long-term business. The initiative focuses on creating an opportunity for students and for the UAE - encouraging students with amazing ideas for a business start-up to take the next step.

What does the scheme hope to achieve?

The Big Start aims to cultivate, inspire and reward young people’s interest in entrepreneurship within the UAE. It provides an opportunity for final year undergraduate students from UAE universities to turn their ideas into real businesses after they graduate. The venture will literally provide a ‘big start’ for the winning students as the competition is not just about an entrepreneurial experience, but about the actual funding of the winning business plan(s).

The Big Start aims to unearth at least one viable business opportunity.

Who does the scheme benefit? Can people still enter or have you already started mentoring students?

Al Tamimi Investments believe that any student who participates in The Big Start will gain insight and experience into the real life business environment of the UAE and the excitement and challenges that face entrepreneurs.

The benefits to the winning student(s) are potentially life changing. The successful student(s) will become engaged with Al Tamimi Investments and will be nurtured and mentored throughout the business start up phase by an experienced team from ATI. When the business goes live, the successful student(s) will hold a CEO position and an agreed structured shareholding in the company.

Al Tamimi Investments will support winning students with all aspects of their business from: marketing, and finance, to the actual practical implementation of trade licenses, finding suitable office space etc.

However, Al Tamimi Investments believes that students will benefit even if they do not win because the initiative helps them focus on entrepreneurship through the three round process and provides practical support in the form of mentoring and education around how to write and present a business plan for those that progress beyond the first phase.

The good news is we have not started our selection process yet. The Big Start is still open to final year undergraduate students of all nationalities, from all universities in the UAE. Students take part in a three round process which is conducted in English and administered on line via The Big Start website (www.thebigstart.ae).

What does Al Tamimi hope to get out of the scheme? How much support do the students receive?

The Big Start is also about the business of success, of course ATI is looking for viable business ideas and driven students.  At the end of the day, there are no restrictions on the potential of the new businesses and there will be challenges for each winner to face – the Big Start allows students to take the next step in the real world but with the support of the ATI organisation.

Will Essam Al Tamimi (Chairman of Al Tamimi Group who will make the final decision) go all Donald Trump and have a catchphrase in the final round?

No, but if anyone has a great suggestion we would consider it.  But in all seriousness, although The Big Start has been compared to high profile TV shows like The Apprentice, we feel it is a unique initiative, and one we hope will enjoy great success in years to come.


Qualifying students are encouraged to visit the website, www.thebigstart.ae, to find out more about the once in a lifetime opportunity

Enter now and do not miss out

Round 1

September 24 to December 17 2009: Submission of a business idea

·         Students will be able to put their idea into a business concept and context by using a simple tool and guideline that has been specifically created

·         Concepts will be graded by ATI and the students with the highest scores will move on to the next round


Round 2

January 14 to March 31 2010: Development and submission of a business plan

·         Qualifying students will attend a business plan workshop to assist and equip them for translating their concept into a formal business plan.

·         ATI will grade the business plans and the students with the highest scores will move on to the next round.


Round 3

April 15 to June 17 2010: Final business presentation (or pitch) to Al Tamimi Investments senior management for the funding of the start up of their business and to become the CEO.

·         Qualifying students will attend a presentation preparation meeting to prepare them for a round of presentations to be given to the Al Tamimi Investments management team.

·         Qualifying students will present to the Al Tamimi Investments management team and the finalists will be selected to deliver a final presentation

·         Al Tamimi Investments will select the most commercially viable business plans to invest in.


Send in your submissions now to www.thebigstart.ae


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