Forget about work-life balance if you want to start a business: Elabelz CEO

Spot light: Fast growing e-commerce retailer Elabelz is adding over 350 products to its catalogue every day. CEO and founder Nooruldeen Agha says he is looking at the Middle East's two fastest growing markets to tap future growth.
Business insight Startups are a trial and error game, says Nooruldeen Agha
Tue 08 May 2018 03:32 AM

What excites you the most about your job?

I enjoy the essence of branding and the journey of product design. The excitement in this is where I get my biggest joy. I also find exciting seeing the business change on a daily basis. Most importantly I enjoy the part when I’m meeting someone that just joined the team and explaining to them our vision and what we want to do. Seeing that excitement in their expressions at that moment is priceless to me.

What is your background?

I started as an oil and gas engineer, then joined  a branding and digital marketing agency in Dubai called Elephant Nation. That’s where I was inspired to start a fashion brand, an idea that became Elabelz.

What is your management style?

Entrepreneurial and very hands-on. For a fast-growing startup it is important to be hands on with every little detail until you are confident about the foundation you’ve built. Startups are a trial and error game, so optimisating each process in the early stages has a big affect on the outcome of the business.

How do you encourage decision-making, particularly creative decision-making in your organisation?

We are a flat organization and will be for as long as we can. The biggest decision we take requires one level of approvals, so empowerment in the decision is extremely high within the organisation.

What is the culture at Elabelz like?

I believe we have a very cool culture, very unofficial. Most of our team is 30 or under, and I am always proudest of the youngest. I always say, we are group of young people that never experienced the conventional work environment. So without even trying, we have a very unique working culture.

What do you look for when hiring?

Having the best qualification with the wrong attitude has absolutely no value to a company that operates like we do. Its very hard to teach attitude.

What is some advice you would give to young entrepreneurs just starting out?

Its a fight for survival more than anything else. Nothing will go as you expect, almost everything will shock you.

Enjoy the fight, the reward is only fun as the fight is tough. One more thing, please don’t ever think of work life balance if you want to excel or reach great lengths in your startup business. At least for five years.

What about your own work life balance?

Anyone looking to achieve big things and achieve the dream that they have, would never even think about work life balance. At every stage in life, you will excel in what you prioritise in life. The balance comes in dreams, and the current dreams I have won’t allow for any balance outside work.

Any advice for earlier bosses?

Well, my last boss fired me, but in my case, he fired me to go focus on my business. I had good bosses in the short two and a half years of work I did before I start my own business. Either they were good bosses or I always knew how to get my way.

What is an important lesson you have learned at Elabelz?

Your team is everything. I know people say that a lot, but honestly no idea is worth anything without a powerful team. Secondly, the stakes get higher everyday, and the fight only gets bigger.

What is something most people wouldn’t know about you?

Everyone thinks I wear t-shirts as a statement, but I actually wear t-shirts because the fashion brand CREO, sold on Elabelz, that I founded before elabelz only produces t-shirts. Since our first collection thee years ago, it’s all I have worn.


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Last Updated: Tue 08 May 2018 04:06 PM GST

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