Startup Grind comes to Dubai

By on October 9, 2012
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First event launched with founders of

Dubai is fairly new to the startup and entrepreneur scene, but is quickly catching up with more and more companies taking root in the city to launch their ideas. Yesterday marked the very first Startup Grind in Dubai, a concept that has taken off in 20+ cities around the world. The idea is to inspire startups by presenting other companies and partnerships that have made a success of sorts in the startup world.

MAKE Business Hub hosted the first Startup Grind Dubai, and featured J.C. Butler and Sim Whatley, co-founders and Managing Partners of The duo addressed a packed audience and talked about their various challenges when starting up their website, citing various common difficulties such as obtaining a trade license, getting an online payment gateway, trying to secure funding, and getting the word out about the site. But the duo prevailed in their struggles, and now boast one of the most popular online classifieds site in the region, which has now expanded to 14 other countries. The duo now have a dedicated team of over 70 staff working hard on the site as well as the various brand elements that go into it. There was even a question about the origin of the site’s name, which resulted in a very apt Snoop Dogg reference.

Whatley also confided that it’s “not always about the right idea, but also the right timing”. When the pair moved to Dubai, they struggled to find the things they needed such as a place to rent, furniture, etc. which are often the first things anyone would look for when moving to a new city. And so dubizzle was born, and currently hosts over 125,000 classifieds alone. The site’s main channels of revenue are through various banner adverts and paid property listings, while other segments of the website are run free of cost. However there are still strict rules (and a dedicate team) in place that check the adverts posted to ensure that nothing is being posted that is against the site’s T&C.

More questions poured in via the event’s dedicated Twitter tag #thinkstartup, with most people wanting to know how the site managed to secure funding and what their future plans were. Both Butler and Whatley said that there are plans for the company to continue expanding and looking into other service offerings, and that further announcements and improvements will be coming to the website.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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