Five minutes with...Gaurav Aidasani​, CEO of Cosmos Group - Gulf Business
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Five minutes with…Gaurav Aidasani​, CEO of Cosmos Group

Five minutes with…Gaurav Aidasani​, CEO of Cosmos Group

The chief executive of Cosmos Group says there are numerous opportunities for angel investors in the region

What is your company focusing on this year?

We are focusing on digital media & online advertising. One of our firms Yazle Media has partnered with industry leading products worldwide to bring them to the Middle East region for digital/online marketing.

How much have you invested in start-ups/businesses over the last year?

We keep investing in a lot of businesses. Over the years we’ve invested over $2m across varied firms.

How many start-ups have you helped this year?

We are just a financial source to boost the startups. The actual theory and knowledge belongs to each of them. In this year we have been fortunate to help 3 startups and have some more coming up.

Do you have an investment target for the following year?

We look at groundbreaking ideas to invest in and hence there is no target. Although we generally look at 2-4 angel investments per year.

Are you closely looking to invest in any new start-up or are you nearing a deal to do so?

A couple of spaces excite us – digital media / marketing & profitable online/ecommerce businesses. We might invest into one of these booming sectors soon.

How promising is entrepreneurship in the GCC? Do you get a good return on investment when investing in the region’s start-ups?

Entrepreneurship in this region has been growing over the years. Previously trading was the key driver for entrepreneurs however we are seeing services and manufacturing flourishing in recent times. Yes, we have achieved a high return on investment with our dealings however this cannot be aligned as a trend rather individual investments. Our exit from Nailthedeal for instance was fruitful however we have had negative returns on some of our other investments as well. Overall, however we are pleased with the way things have taken shape for us.

What are the growth areas currently for your industry in the region?

E-commerce is growing at a stupendous pace. Digital marketing is at the forefront of the industry and is changing the rules of the game.

What are the biggest challenges for businesses in your sector (in the UAE)?

Apart from a high cost of entry, finding the right talent has been challenging.

GCC banks are typically reluctant to lend to SMEs and start-ups. Do you feel angel investors and PE investors are filling this gap or is there room for more financiers in the market?

I strongly believe there is still a further gap that needs to be resolved. There are several deals which sit right between angel and VC investments that get looked upon. There is no syndicate yet of angel investors in the region and finding the right investor is yet a challenge. In my opinion, smart money is more valuable as it brings in experience, value-add and time from an investor which is priceless for a startup.

Will you be hiring this year?

Yes. All our companies are currently in a growth trajectory.

What’s your leadership style?

I believe the best ideas come from the team within and you always need to listen. Nailthedeal’s business idea was originally pitched to us by one of our interns. Also, I believe in being the coach and let the captain steer their team. Too much involvement from top can sometimes make it difficult for the team.

What makes the perfect employee?

Responsibility – an employee who takes over the responsibility and is not reminded about his tasks. Delegate – you cannot do everything on your own and an employee that learns to delegate and take responsibility from his peers and subordinates. Prioritise – the most important thing in a startup is to prioritise your tasks as there will always be more to achieve than the time available.

Define success in five words…

Success is creating value for our stakeholders.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

Listen. Learn. Persevere.

When I’m not at work I like to…

Head out to the beach.

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