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Five minutes with… Aiman Kabli co-founder of LunchMatcher

Five minutes with… Aiman Kabli co-founder of LunchMatcher

The app is expecting to grow rapidly in 2016 as companies ramp up networking, says Kabli

What is your company focusing on this year and who are your target audience in the region?

LunchMatcher’s goal is to provide professionals a new and exciting method to network and meet people during their lunch break. At LunchMatcher we believe that the lunch break can be a valuable opportunity that should not be spent alone or with the predictable group of work colleagues.

LunchMatcher is proud to be born in the UAE and we are targeting professionals in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah for the first phase of our growth in 2016.

How is the app market in the region? Is there potential for an app like LunchMatcher?

A recent study suggests that UAE controls 60 per cent of mobile phone applications development in the Middle East and the UAE has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. Yet, there was no app in the market that is aimed at professional networking over lunch … until LunchMatcher.

What sort of growth do you foresee for LunchMatcher in an era of shrinking budgets?

First of all, LunchMatcher is a free to download. Secondly, based on our research, in the large professionally concentrated areas in Dubai, like the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City, most professionals tend to eat lunch at cafes or restaurants nearby their offices at least three times per week. LunchMatcher will help these professionals to utilize these regular lunch outings for the purpose of networking, which actually becomes more valuable in time of budget crunches as the pressure mounts for finding new potential clients, buisiness partners, or career connections.

How many users does LunchMatcher have currently? Is the number of users growing for the app?

LunchMatcher is now available in both the iOS App store and the Android Google Play store and at present boasts more than 500 users. User numbers are growing steadily and will start to increase rapidly starting in 2016.

Do you see businesses in the region adopting/embracing technology at a suitable pace? If no, then what are some of the barriers to quick adoption?

Dubai and the UAE are considered pioneers in the region for technology. Through initiatives like Dubai Smart City from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, this city is poised to be at the forefront in technology. Most businesses in the region also have recognized this trend and are adopting and embracing technology at a very good pace.

What are the growth areas currently for your industry?

We believe that everyone recognizes the value of professional relationships and networking for the advancement of their careers and for the success of their business.

LinkedIn statistics are a main indicator of the professional networking business. LinkedIn has 400 million users and has a goal of reaching 3 billion users, and they are growing at a rate of 2 new members per second. The LunchMatcher app aims to facilitate a professional’s network by providing an innovative way to meet new people.

What new features will your app have this year?

The main purpose of LunchMatcher is to match random professionals during lunch time at local venues. During 2016 we will introduce premium features for a customized matching experience as well as introducing new matching opportunities.

Will you be expanding into new territory?

Our aim is to grow to major metropolitan areas where there is a concentration of professionals in a typically small geographic area.

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

Rumors. When people start to believe the rumors about what the future of the economy might or might not bring for the region, they tend to make decisions based on emotions as opposed to being objective about the current situation.

Will you be hiring this year?

Absolutely! As we expand, we will grow our technology development team, as well as our marketing and business development staff. We look forward to bringing on board local talent to be able to support the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth living in the UAE.

What’s your leadership style?

I believe in leading by example. I don’t micromanage, but I ensure that my staff members have the required knowledge to accomplish their role effectively.

What makes the perfect employee?

LunchMatcher is a startup, and the base of a startup is made up of people that believe in what they are doing and are willing to think outside the box to develop and grow the idea. The perfect employee will be self-driven and will contribute to the success of the overall business.

Define success in five words…

Confident, Ambitious, Honest, Passionate, Networking

Three tips for becoming the boss…

1) Be an excellent role model

2) Trust your employees

3) Listen to your staff

When I’m not at work I like to…

Network. As an entrepreneur I know that success comes from a strong and diverse network and I am always working on growing my network and expanding my professional relationships. I also mentor fresh graduates, especially Emiratis, on the startup process, keys to success, and pitfalls to avoid.

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