Our latest Entrepreneur of the Week, Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital content hub about cultural and community matters written in English by Emirati columnists, aims to foster love of written word among the youth.
Sail, which started as a monthly online magazine for the young but became relevant to all age groups, now provides a regularly updated content with an online traffic of about 50,000 readers a month. Most of their readers live in the UAE, while 15 percent are from the US and 10 percent from the UK.
In an effort to offer more space to anyone with an opinion or a story to share, Ben Chaibah later developed another online magazine called By The Masses, open for all nationalities and all genres of writing.
Ben Chaibah then ventured into digital publishing to allow aspiring writers to reach international audiences by publishing their books on digital platforms such as iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and similar.
Talking about how she navigates the difficult waters of publishing, Ben Chaibah shares some of her many learnings from what she describes as ‘endless talks’ with potential investors, advertisers, and funders. “Time after time I came to realise that although what we offer is fantastic and is actually aligned with the client we are pitching to, sometimes it is just a lost cause,” she says.
“It is that either due to a missed timing of ad budget allocations, or due to not being able to sell the brand correctly to the client.”
Having revised her business development plans, she started focusing on cultural hubs and small businesses. “It is because cultural hubs instantly understand the value of what we offer and our core business,” she explains. “Also, small businesses find the perfect exposure with us to their audience with prices that work for them.”
“So my advice is always persist, persist, and persist. If it doesn't work out, try to step back, look at it from a fresh perspective, and maybe you will be able to come up with a new approach that solves your obstacle.”
For her entrepreneurial efforts, Ben Chaibah has earned a number of industry accolades, including the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at the second Arabian Business StartUp awards, and the Digital Publishing Award by the British Council UAE.
“I think the first think people need to identify is what their passion is,” Ben Chaibah concludes. “Don’t confuse something you are temporarily interested in with something you are truly passionate about that you literally breathe in and out with all your being, something that makes you tick, something that no matter how exhausted you are, you still feel joy when you work on it.
“Once you figure that out, sticking to it and striving for its success is very easy.”
Ben Chaibah is also a lecturer at Canadian University in Dubai.
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