Startup of the Week - Nomads

"Nomads, fusion of Pop-Culture & Arab Quirk"

Every week we will be featuring a different MAGNiTT Startup in our newsletter. Week after week, we will be exploring the most noteworthy startups in the MENA region whether in tech, trade, or even lifestyle. We hope that learning about other startups will help you with your own endeavour; our purpose is to help you succeed too. To kick off the series we have reached out to Nomads (check their profile at the following link)

1. What problem do you solve?

Nomads Dubai combines pop-culture with Arab quirk and brings homegrown merchandise and apparel to the people of the U.A.E. The idea came about a year back when we thought that there was a need to tell Dubai’s story from the eyes of the expat. We grew up with a lot of cultures and quirks and that’s why it was necessary to keep the story alive. We focused on all the simplest things like coffee cups, tote bags, t-shirts etc. to put our slogans and designs on and kicked off with a 1.5m x 1.5m table at Comic Con. Ever since, we’ve been a hit on social media, on ground events and even amongst the residents and expats who buy our merchandise to share U.A.E’s story with the world.

2. Who are you competing with and what makes your solution better?

In a nutshell, anyone that sells pop-culture merchandise is a competitor. It could be a well-established e-commerce platform or an artist with a small pop-up store. Our merchandise is a by-product of our background. It is the brainchild of the environment that we grew up in and the inspirations that we’ve derived from other people. Therefore, we combine our knowledge of copy and design with these quirks to redefine street style and pop culture in the Middle East. That’s why our customers can identify a Nomads Dubai product from the rest.


3. What were the biggest hurdles you faced early on and how did you overcome them?

Right after Comic Con we kicked off with an on ground event spree as a result of which keeping track of stock was quite difficult. This would usually affect our creativity, as we would be busy trying to establish an online platform while attending events. And most importantly, the biggest challenge for anyone who makes merchandise is capitalizing on current trends. We went through a clear demand exceeding supply scenario and how we overcame that was by branching out into different roles. At present, we’re the Co-Founders and also the social media executives, the copywriters, the designers, the merchandising managers and even the web developers. What helped us a lot was to identify the key areas that needed support and then dividing it equally amongst the both of us. We got on board a talented graphic designer who would take charge of the art direction and have brainstorming sessions to chart out social media campaigns, blogger integration and new releases. We also provide paid internships so that university kids can help us identify what’s trending, what’s fresh and also participate in events across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.


4. What is your biggest barrier to future success?

The biggest barrier to success would obviously be insufficient funds to support the concepts for various apparel and merchandise that we want to make. We have full-time jobs and we work on Nomads full-time as well. In an ideal situation, we would love to be focusing all our energies and time on the things we want to make however, to keep the products rolling and to pay for our designers and interns the flow of money needs to be constant. And that’s why we’re looking out for investors who can contribute with ideas and also elevate us to our goal of becoming a street-style, pop-culture brand in the U.A.E.

5. How do you plan to make money?

So far we’ve made all our money from on ground events and Instagram. We personally handle the sales via Instagram and have tied up with a local e-commerce platform called Ideyna as well. We are currently setting up an e-commerce website of our own from which we will drive sales, traffic and ads to earn revenue on our products.

6. What advice would you share with other start-ups?

It’s okay to go back to the drawing board at any stage. Sometimes our idea of what the brand is might get lost in translation. So it’s always advisable to sit down with the decision makers to find out if another route can be explored or if there’s any scope for rebranding.

7. Is there a particular service provider you would recommend to other start-ups?

Fetchr is an excellent delivery service that has helped us meet our deliveries on time. There’s another delivery service called Tropic that pays you in advance and that takes off the hassle of chasing your customers. We would also recommend Astrolabs’ events that train you in different aspects of advertising, digital and marketing. It’s also a great place to meet entrepreneurs and industry professionals.

8. Did you discover and use an online tool that is a “must-have” for start-ups?

Keeping track of our finances has been a very big obstacle for us. Therefore, we would ask start-ups to get Splitwise. It’s a great app for finances. In a nutshell, it’s a pocket balance sheet that keeps track of your outstanding bills and transactions. If you’re always on-the-go then Splitwise is your go-to app.