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Digital Disruptors

Author: Ubrik Media and Dropkick Copy

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The Digital Disruptors Podcast brings you the latest in disruptive trends, tech, tools, and hacks in the digital marketing space.
All packaged in easy-to-digest episodes featuring unfiltered, no-holds-barred banter between old friends.
We'll also be featuring some of the growth-hackiest fresh-take-havers from the hottest businesses in Dubai.
We live and breathe digital marketing. And we've over 100 businesses in the U.A.E. along the way.
We are going to change the way Dubai does business. One episode at a time.
19 Episodes
Imagine a salesman who doesn't need to sleep, doesn't need to eat, and will work for you 24-7-365. This isn't a mythical creature, mind you. And it's entirely possible for you to employ this salesman. Want to know how? I'm joined by Nabeel Azeez, direct response copywriter and marketing consultant. He co-owns a boutique content marketing agency, Dropkick Copy, with his brother. And he's the author of a soon-to-be-published book on personal branding called, Dragon Energy: The Tao Of Personal Branding. (Links are at the bottom of this post.) Nabeel and I haven't known each other that long. My business partner - co-owner of Ubrik, Sheyaf Hashim - and him go way back. Here are a few interesting facts about Nabeel. He's been consulting full-time for just 2 years. And he's completely self-taught! Guess what he was doing before that? Procurement at a shipping company! The crazy thing is he doesn't just know how to write copy, even though that's his specialty. He has a working understanding of every branch of digital marketing! And he learned it all himself. I know several career marketers who've been doing this full-time for much longer than Nabeel but are nowhere near his level. Enjoy the show! For complete show notes and links to resources, visit our blog:
Dr. Corrie Block has an impressive resume. He's been a consultant and coach to business owners for nearly 20 years. MBA. PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies. Business School Professor. Published in media and academic journals. International speaker. But to me, here's the most impressive thing about him: He's joined the best of both Western and Middle Eastern business culture, to help his customers in a truly unique way. I honestly can't think of any other local consultant with his skillset, academic credentials, and vast experience. Dr. Corrie and I had a wide-ranging conversation at the Ubrik Media office recently. I had a bit of trouble coming up with a title for this episode. We covered so much ground. The best, and most important, insight I got was the importance of thinking of business in terms of human relationships. Employer and employee. Client and vendor. Board members. Tribes. When you start to think and behave this way, according to Corrie, you activate the brain chemicals of happiness, trust, and fulfillment. It turns out to be very profitable for you in the long-run. Enjoy the episode! For full show notes, visit our blog:
If you live in the UAE and you spend any time on Instagram at all, Briar Prestidge has shown up in your feed at some point. She's a PR strategist who's been successful in joining both old-school (traditional media) and new-school (digital media) techniques for her clients and for herself. What impressed me most is that she walks the talk. All marketers should, this is a given. But some of us tend to neglect our own marketing because we're so busy serving our clients. I sat down with Briar to discover what's new in PR, and to find out whether or not traditional PR is dead. Click here to read the full show notes:
A lot of people in the U.A.E. love to talk about entrepreneurship and innovation. Very few have actually done it. Of the few who have done it, fewer still are in a position to speak about it with authority. Some "entrepreneurs" are just in the right place at the right time. Nassim Taleb talks about "Skin in the Game." That's how you figure out who's "Legit" (legitimate) and who's a fraud. Naaz Noor is LEGIT. U.A.E. born-and-raised. Lawyer by training. Private-banker for 10 years before starting her own business, a legal consultancy. From there, Aseel Consultancy grew into F&B consulting, a co-working space, business incorporation, startup incubation, business services, and more. For complete show notes, visit our website:
When I asked Karl Feilder what tips he can give me to run my business in a more sustainable, energy-conscious way, he didn't pull any punches. As it turns out, we're being incredibly wasteful and we didn't even know it! From the lights we had on unnecessarily, to the room being too cold, to not carpooling to work, Karl wasted no time rattling off what we could be doing better. And the funny thing is, these are such easy fixes to implement. That's the problem with the status quo. Nobody cares. It gets to a point where it doesn't even cross your mind there's a better way to do things. Karl is the founder and CEO of the Neutral Group. To put what they do in layman's terms, Karl and his team work with companies to make their entire supply chain eco-friendly and energy efficient. Since founding his first start-up in 1990, which was sold to Microsoft in 1995, Karl has overseen the growth of technology companies resulting in three personal trade sale exits, two trade sale exits on behalf of external investors, and the leadership and preparation of two companies for IPO. Karl has 20 years international experience of managing technology businesses and was recognized by the World Economic Forum in 2004, as a Technology Pioneer.” He was voted “Innovator of the Year 2011” by the Middle East LOG magazine. Karl holds an MBA from Henley Management College, a B.Eng.(Hons) Industrial Engineering from the University of Hertfordshire, and is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi. As far as "big business" experience goes, Karl is as credible and authoritative as they come. Which is why, when he talks about the impact businesses have on the environment and what we can do about it, people listen. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with him. And, in preparing for our chat, I was shocked at some of the facts and figures I came across. You'll have to watch the full interview to find out what they are. Read the full show notes:
Danish Farhan and I share very similar journeys. We’ve lived all our lives in the U.A.E. and have seen its transformation before our eyes. There’s a certain kind of understanding we share when I talk about this country to someone like Danish. One that doesn’t exist when I talk to an expat. Danish is a serial entrepreneur. Started his first business at 19. Had an exit that made him a millionaire overnight. Went bankrupt over the next year. Then built back up gradually to one of the most prominent businessmen in the U.A.E. His flagship business, Xische, started off as a marketing consultancy. Today, the Xische brand is an umbrella for a number of initiatives - marketing, strategy, innovation, education, entrepreneurship, and more - working together for a singular purpose. I sat down with Danish to find out what that purpose is. Here is our conversation. For complete show notes and links to any resources discussed during the episode, visit our blog:
Welcome to season 2 of the Digital Disruptors podcast! In this episode, I’m joined by food blogger, influencer, public speaker, and media personality Naomi D’Souza. (@naomidsouza) Naomi is a full-time digital strategy consultant at IBM while juggling her “side gig” as one of UAE’s top influencers. As you listen to the interview, though, you’ll realize it’s not a “side gig” - she’s got 2 full-time jobs pretty much. Naomi and I have one thing in common (other than being Indian and loving to eat.) We both studied engineering (she has a MSc in Mechanical Engineering) but our professions have nothing to do with our academic degrees. She’s spoken on a TEDx stage. She’s one of Ahlan!’s ‘Hot 100’ most influential Asians and influencers in UAE. She’s been featured in so many print and digital publications it’d take me several minutes to list them all. She has a black belt in Karate. Oh, and she’s only 25 years old. I sat down with Naomi to interrogate her on how she managed to accomplish so much and how she continues to do all the things she’s doing. To read the full show notes, and get links to the resources mentioned during the episode, visit our blog:
With so many startup’s emerging from the UAE, it’s no easy affair to pick something that stands out. has done just that, and we were here to interview the digital disruptor behind it. In case you’re interested to make best of the local startup scene, Tenaz Disadji has a few takeaways to benefit from. Click through to read more. Insydo is a platform that helps Dubai residents make decisions easier. The website recently won for Best Design & User Experience at the Seamless Awards 2017. The project launched with a campaign aimed to differentiate itself. This was entitled ‘Save Steve’s Job’. Instead of focusing on what Insydo can do for the people, they decided to focus more on the team & the character behind the brand identity. The campaign was effective in terms of leaving online users curious to know more. The challenge after brand awareness was ‘how to get people to understand the brand’ + sell the benefits. Being in the UAE, one of the biggest challenges that startups face is recruitment. In case you’re looking for the best talent, shifting a person’s dream (to work in cities such as New York & London) all the way to Dubai… can be a challenge. “It is imperative to form a team that goes in line with the company's vision.” Although it might be a bit risky, the key is to bring in talent from anywhere across the globe. Never the less, Dubai has gained a name for itself so the city does attract. The website generates curated content that entices users to spend an ample amount of time in simple exploration. Although the team does have alternative content-based performance metrics (events, page views etc.), fortunately, their mission is not to make users buy anything. The goals: Make decision simpler Get to the right place Create the ‘best experience’ Unlike other listing websites, Insydo stands out by focusing on saving people’s time through curation. They consider different criteria (locations, price points etc.) to ensure their content is note-worthy. Their USP: Every business (listed) on Insydo is vetted physically & independently, way before businesses know who they are. Startup life is a learning curve. You cannot get to the fruit without making a few mistakes. One must be able to see the direction in which the company is heading. Although it’s only a while later that one realizes decisions that could have been better taken, what’s more important is how quickly one must react to mistakes. These are general issues in startup life anyway. Companies looking to hire talent from abroad must ensure that the UAE (or any other place) is not simply a transit place for the candidate. One of the biggest wins for Insydo was ‘finding its two founders’. These are individuals willing to share the possibilities, the excitement and the risk. i.e. People to share the experience with. “I would never recommend starting up a company by yourself.” In case you’re planning to launch a startup business, here are 3 tips: Create & focus on a business plan – You may have an awesome idea. And although your starting with assumptions, you have to start with something. This plan is used to build out something solid. For Insydo, ‘The business plan’ helped save a lot of time. Try not to build a tech team (or tech specs) while you havent yet focused on creating a minimum viable product - Once you’re ready, never understand what you need to achieve without testing it. Get it into the market, see people’s reactions and start tweaking. Simply Google to buy website template samples for cheap, test them and find out which works best. Get a feel and then begin investing. Find the right people to match your skill-sets - Think about how much knowledge and experience you have set about for that career. Tenaz had to spend her first six months trying to learn the basics, whereas this could have been better utilized through a resource is critical. In Dubai, licenses are easy to set up and there’s so much flexibility. Rent may be an issue, but then, there’s plenty of schemes and incubators around. Astrolabs in one such example. That would ready help in setting things up. Insydo had a solid business plan and therefore, had it’s own independent formation setup. However, in case you have a risky business model, an unknown market or a shortage of necessary funding needed, you’re better off avoiding the stand-alone route. Thanks for listening Please leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Never left a review before? Here’s how.
Branding 101

Branding 101


Our topic for this podcast is Branding. In the Middle East, people tend to think of 'logo design' when they hear the word branding. In a nutshell, Branding is strategy made visible through design. It is an enabler of 'your strategy' and 'how you must position your company'.   Branding has shifted over the decades. It's more 'inside-out' than the reverse. It comprises both sides of an entity. People often confuse branding with advertising. Advertising is tactical whereas branding is more strategic. Due to digital trends, in this day and time, a mere logo has changed into a living identity instead of being a static 'single form' restricted by rules. Thus, traditional marketing has come to terms with digital. [Vipul & Sheyaf exchange a few ideas & examples indicating this evolution] Next comes the Colors aspect. Vipul mentions how Careem & Meeras Holding set their identity apart in the UAE. Eventually, design keeps returning back to basics, ie. flat design. This is more or so because flat designs are easy to live across multiple mediums. Branding helps convey what a company gives priority to. And right after a great experience with any brand, it is the 'human feel' that ends up creating affinity & an ever-lasting connection. Sheyaf mentions how Apple inc. positioned itself as one of the world's biggest brands. He mentions how using a powerful brand leaves a higher level of satisfaction within a user. To add to this, Vipul mentions how Tesla has never needed to advertise due to it's strong branding foundations. Tesla is a fine example of how people believe in the mission and the vision of a brand that is ready to break the boundaries. Vipul mentions a tip for both business owners and startups: Bring 5 people in, don't let them talk to each other. Give them a piece of paper and let them write a single word mentioning what the word represents. The next task is to derive results from these. Additionally, Vipul mentions the success mantra for All employees are made to learn & embibe customer service processes. Although their logos do not connect anymore, they have created a culture which people identify themselves with, and this is mainly via their staff. Behind the scenes, there's has a deep connection with behavioral sciences. When recruiting, Zappos even pays attention to how their candidate behaves with a taxi driver. Thus, branding is not just something for the consumers but also for a company's internal employees... to guide them and let them know what they must aim for. A tip for well-established companies: The brand identity of your company is not engraved on stone. If a person can reconsider buying a new smartphone, companies should be open to re-branding if necessary. Unlike thinking where to position your name on a business card, true branding is an open way of conveying strategy. When it comes to design, remember the rule: Less is more. Instead of adding things to something, find out how you can take things out. A few authors who inspire branding ideas: - Armin Vit - Simon Sinek Vipul mentions how we must also take lessons from two of the richest personalities in the world: Warren buffet & Charlie Munger. They picked up stocks and businesses not only based on figurative values but based on the brand, and it's potential to influence a global populous. Lastly, Branding is the broadest field one can be in. If you can understand it well, you could be a very good value investor. Did you enjoy the episode? Please leave us a rating and review on iTunes.
Meet the Snapchat marketing superstar in UAE’s higher education scene: Osaid Azeem. A pivotal figure at Canadian University Dubai’s marketing & communications team. Originally taken from our interview notes on , here’s how Osaid has turned an informal app such as Snapchat into a Generation Z (the demographic cohort after the Millennials) crowd puller.   How did the Snapchat ‘story’ begin for CUD? I have to be honest, when Snapchat began gaining popularity, it did not appeal to me at first sight. I immediately compared it to Instagram and found the poorer image quality and limited text off-putting. I first really experienced Snapchat through 'CUDSnaps'. It all started when I was covering our graduation event; I noticed all the students with their phones out snapchatting the event live! It became obvious to me this was a gold mine. If Snapchat is what our target demographic wanted, Snapchat is what they would get!   Did you run any activity to announce the launch? Although we did announce the launch of CUDSnaps on most of our mainstream communication platforms, I found we never had to market it aggressively. Our following grew quickly and soon doubled; making CUDSnaps the most popular communication channel among students within the university.   What was your first experience on Snapchat like? First time I ever used Snapchat, I didn’t know where exactly to go to be honest. Visually, it didn’t appeal to me. Once I started using it a little bit more I came to appreciate that while it was very different from Instagram, it had it’s own quirky appeal. CUDSnaps started with me literally walking around campus and posting about campus life. Since most students don’t know who handles the social media posts for the university, I could hide in plain sight! The hype caught on quickly, and soon all the students had their eyes peeled for the CUD snaps guy!   Tell us more about the creative genius behind the CUD Snapchat account As the buzz around CUD’s Snapchat grew, so did student curiosity! I remember tons of students replying to our snaps saying “Who are you?”. I think the fact that I never featured on any of the snaps added to the mystery. Snapchat always had me where the action was, so there were rumors it was being run by a student! Today Snapchat is by far our most effective means of communication, emails and SMSs in my experience are far less effective with the students. Most of them make sure they check snaps at least once a day because if you don’t- Poof! The story is gone.   How has Snapchat affected the management & business communications? I’m proud of the fact that we were the first university in UAE to have an official Snapchat account. I noticed other universities in Canada launch their Snapchat accounts roughly 10 months after CUD snaps was launched.    Is there a best way to manage an official Snapchat account? At first, I ran the Snapchat account all on my own. As it gained popularity and the variety of events featured on the platform grew, I knew I couldn’t be in two places at once so I developed a team of students that I could count on, and had them ‘take over’ CUD Snapchat for a day. Having students run the account intermittently helped me manage my workload, switched it up and kept things fresh as well.  Snapchat is probably one of the more challenging social media platforms in terms of management since it involves a lot of “winging it”. I come up with most of the Snapchat content on the spot. If there are multiple events at the same time, it can also get tricky for one person to juggle coverage since multiple people cannot log in to the account at the same time.   What do you say is the best feature of Snapchat? Geo filters. It took me 6 months to get a geo filter for CUD and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be! First, you create a geofence. This designates the area where you want the filter to be available. Next, Snapchat's map tool is used to create the fence and finally, a PNG file is uploaded. If you go to CUD right now, turn on the filters, you will be able to swipe and see the Canadian University Dubai geo filter.   How have other universities in the UAE reacted from this? There are only a few other universities that have started using Snapchat since we launched CUD snaps. Their snaps however are more information oriented and in my opinion, that is not what Snapchat works best for. Like I said, it is a time-consuming platform to manage well, I think that may be why most universities may shy away from using it too much.   Do you see any threat coming in from Instagram & Facebook stories? Not actually. As long as the youth get their privacy unlike other apps, Snapchat is here to stay   Is there any secret formula to Snapchat success? Right place, Right time. Snapchat was developed for a generation with a tiny attention span – that’s why it is so dynamic, visual and each snap only lasts 10 seconds. I would recommend keeping stories short and posting six snaps or less per story. Since you can skip snaps with the touch of a thumb, posts have to stay creative and stay relevant. The last thing you want is followers skipping through after 3 seconds because you couldn’t grab their attention in time.   Did you enjoy the episode? Please leave us a rating and review on iTunes.
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