By Megha Merani / Entrepreneur ME
It’s not every day you hear about a multimillionaire investor’s team paying a surprise visit to a startup’s office in a different country as part of their evaluation process. But when Dubai-based global conglomerate NIKAI Group sifts through pitches from startups seeking funding, the company takes its due diligence very seriously.
The NIKAI Group, founded by former Indian diplomat Paras Shahdadpuri, is one of four large enterprises participating in the second edition of Dubai Startup Hub’s (DSH) Market Access program.
As the entrepreneurship initiative of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dubai Startup Hub’s Market Access program aims to bridge the gap and facilitate deals between startups, SMEs, and leading companies and government entities in Dubai. Startups and SMEs from across the globe submit ideas and solutions that solve key challenges faced by prominent companies- like NIKAI.
And when it comes to evaluating proposals by startups, NIKAI’s Vice President – Sales and Strategy Karthik Moorthy, who has been charged with identifying the right investment opportunities for the company, makes it clear that he and his team are out for real solutions that will boost the business. “When we do our due diligence it’s more hands on, it isn’t just looking at reports or Excel sheets.”
For example, when NIKAI received a proposal from a startup in Egypt in the field of shipping logistics, Moorthy and his team hopped on a flight to Egypt to talk to others in same business. He also sought the help of local domain experts in Egypt to study and evaluate the proposal.
“We also paid a surprise visit to the business at the address they had mentioned. The intention was not to take them by surprise, but to actually do real time due diligence,” he says.
Moorthy insists thorough due diligence is crucial to identifying whether or not a business plan is robust and worthy of funding.
“60-70% of proposals that we shortlisted fell through because most of them were looking at largely a further round of funding with a very fancy proposal, which covered layer A and layer B, but as you started drilling down, it fell apart.”
“Our intention at Nikai is to be a strategic partner for startups that provides not only the relevant funding, but also the local expertise, and access to the markets within the UAE. Given Nikai Group’s presence in the field of electronics, logistics, food retail, and staffing, the market access that it can provide for right startup ideas is truly its trump card as a strategic partner.”