WakeCap, Dubai Smartpreneur Competition Winner’s mantra: Focus On The Problem You’re Solving To Attract Your First Customers

WakeCap, an enterprise technology solution, was the first place winner of the third cycle of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition.

How easy is it for a startup to reach new businesses? For your start-up to succeed, that’s not the challenge to focus on, according to co-founder and COO of WakeCap Ishita Sood.

“Reaching out to customers depends on what kind of product you have,” Ishita, Dubai Smartpreneur Competition alumnus, explained during a Dubai Start-up Hub webinar.

Citing an example she added, “Construction productivity is a global challenge that everyone faces in this industry. We are catering to an industry where the problem that we’re solving is a global problem. So I would say rather than ease of reaching out to customers it’s about the problem that you’re solving.”

WakeCap was the first place winner of the 3rd cycle of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition. It is an enterprise technology solution that employs wearables that provide real-time and cloud-based visibility on construction sites in order to improve productivity,

In cooperation with Smart Dubai, the annual competition organised under Dubai Startup Hub, aims to support technology entrepreneurs to be part of Dubai’s strategic initiatives, in addition to amplifying the role of these entrepreneurs in the developing business ecosystem of the emirate and its position as global hub for innovation.

“We really benefited from the bootcamps and the session on how to prepare for the pitch,” Sood recalled.

“Follow the timing and make sure you leave time for questions,” she emphasized. “[You] need to make sure that you address their [judges’] questions more than just focusing on your pitch, because that’s when you’re clearing what they have in mind about your solution.”

Corporates are always looking to work with start-ups

WakeCap has largely grown to work with contracting giants like Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and Besix and expanded its existence from the UAE to Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

“CCC worked with us because we were here in the UAE and we were ready to make any iterations to the product unlike big companies that may be rigid and unwilling. I feel now more and more corporates are looking to work with start-ups,” Sood stated, reiterating the need to stay focused on problem solving.

Sood added that WakeCap shall continue to offer below cost-pricing on first project as a strategy to get a foot in the door with big companies.

“If they’re happy with the product [the companies] will take us to their other projects or their other units,” Sood added.

Additionally, WakeCap has also extended to other industries including oil and gas, and manufacturing, along with evolving a specific solution for COVID-19.

As part of the community, the start-up is now assisting its clients with an additional contact tracing dashboard that not only visualizes, tracks and records workforce activity in real time using patented-wearable but is also integrated into existing personal safety equipment including workers’ hard hats.

Supportive ecosystem

Sood stated that setting up in the UAE has facilitated the company to build a strong platform.

“In Dubai, the ecosystem for startups is very supportive,” Sood stated, adding that Dubai Chamber has also supported the company by facilitating meaningful introductions.

“We started [WakeCap] in the UAE because of the ease of setup and global exposure you get from the UAE. For us, reaching out to customers here was much easier than it would have been elsewhere. One of the main reasons we setup here was also because we could attract fresh talent and people are more willing to move to Dubai than elsewhere in the GCC.”

Over the last four years, more than 1,600 participants have gone through the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition, reflecting its efficiency and influence in attracting a growing number of international start-ups.

Amid Covid-19, Dubai Startup Hub launched the Smartpreneur 5.0 Online Pitch Bootcamp, a first-of-its-kind 10-week training program designed for the 50 finalists who managed to qualify for the second phase of the fifth Dubai Smartpreneur competition.

The specialized online training program will run from April 19 to June 30, 2020, replacing the traditional two-day training whilst ensuring that the promising ventures are strongly supported over other virtual channels. This program consists of a mix of activities, including working on pitches, participating in a series of online training workshops and webinars along with the winners and previous participants of the competition.

Entrepreneurs shall benefit from more than 100 individual and group online training workshops spread throughout the two-and-a-half-month long program. The training program also contains four weeks of one-to-one work with start-up business coaches in order to improve the business and financial models of the start-ups as well as run a simulation of the contest with the finalists as judges.

The top three winners of the competition shall be awarded a combined total of AED150,000 in cash prizes.

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