Like all young startup founders, Jordanian-German fintech entrepreneur Walid Daniel Dib and his brother, Karim, knew there would be risks involved in their new enterprise.
Eighteen months ago, and shortly after moving to the UAE to continue his career as a loss adjuster, Walid decided to start his own business and quit his job — much to the dismay of his parents, he says.
Today, he is the CEO of Addenda, a tech company that uses a blockchain platform to allow insurance companies to reconcile payments between one another by seamlessly, transparently and safely transmitting data. It mostly deals with auto insurance, though the company is beginning to explore the field of identifying insurance fraud.
“We never had the expectation to sign more than three clients,” says Walid. “Then a few months ago the first client signed up. This was followed by six more in the same month. That’s the life of a startup.”
In between, the two also experienced the rollercoaster ride common to most startups, living salary-free for several months while they repeatedly pivoted to find a viable business model.
However, they discovered that choosing to base Addenda in Abu Dhabi gave them a distinct advantage. After winning a competition with nine other businesses for a place at Abu Dhabi’s prestigious tech incubator, Hub71, Addenda relocated its entire team of nine — hailing from Nigeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and India — to Abu Dhabi, and hasn’t looked back.
“One reason we picked Abu Dhabi is that you’ll find the biggest decisions here are not made in boardrooms, they’re not made by suits — they’re made by real people,” says Walid.
“We were able to meet with CEOs from insurance companies by contacting them on LinkedIn. I would say, ‘listen, I’m just some guy. I have an idea. Can I show it to you?’ And they were more than welcoming. For a start-up the thing that matters most is investment and clients hungry for innovation. And we found both of these things in Abu Dhabi.”
Another major reason Addenda was been drawn here, along with many other startups, is the incentive programme and governmental support provided by the Abu Dhabi Global Marketplace (ADGM), he says, which includes housing, insurance and workspace for the whole team.
“I live right next door,” says Walid. “We work at WeWork in Hub71, which is an amazing co-working space. This is a community that’s surrounded by other startups. When I go on my lunch breaks, I sit down with other startup developers and we talk about ideas, challenges, problems. It’s a whole ecosystem. So I don’t think of this as a workplace, I think of it as a place to come up with ideas.”
Hub71 is a community of founders, investors and business enablers that help transformative tech companies based in Abu Dhabi to launch and scale globally.
Abu Dhabi Global Market is Abu Dhabi's award-winning financial centre, which offers a Tech Startup Licence via its digital application process to tech entrepreneurs working in any field.