The Abu Dhabi SME Hub is conducting a series of interviews with SMEs that, with support from the Khalifa Fund, are excelling within their respective industries.
The SME showcased this time is Eurosys, an Abu Dhabi-based smart solutions provider and systems integrator, whose clientele range from villa and farm owners to Etisalat and even police departments.
Speaking with us is Saleh Ali Mubarak, the entrepreneur behind Eurosys. Starting his company around 10 years ago, he first came up with the idea around the time he had completed his studies and had started his career after he had received many questions from friends and family asking for recommendations regarding their security systems.
He had noticed a lack of awareness regarding this topic, and set out to create Eurosys to not only sell sophisticated products such as access control and time attendance systems, but also to educate clients.
“My goal was to mainly educate customers and teach them [how] to make the best purchase as per their needs,” Mubarak said. “They should understand why they are paying a certain amount and for what goods or services exactly. If they pay a certain amount, what options would then be available to them? Do they need it or not? This is how we start to educate our customers.”
Starting with small villas and commercial stores, Eurosys’ clientele has expanded over the years to include government entities, banks, embassies, telecom companies like Etisalat, police departments, and most recently megaprojects.
“When we first started, we only offered CCTVs, as well as access control and time attendance systems,” he noted. “With time, we started to grow bigger and bigger, until we became a smart solutions provider [and] systems integrator. We started to offer complete home automation solutions, infrastructure cabling, parking management - we dove deeper into the smart solutions field.”
Challenges along the way
Mubarak identified a few challenges unique to his industry, including the constant threat posed by headhunters, as well the turnover of skilled employees.
“Finding the best and most loyal technical staff is very difficult in this market,” he said. “You need specialized people - not anyone can do this job,” he stated.
As a result, skilled technical staff are in very high demand, often headhunted and leaving for more lucrative employment offers. Considering the amount of time needed to train these employees, as well as the high salaries they command, this poses a significant challenge for an SME like Eurosys.
However, he notes that this is one of many obstacles a smart solutions provider faces.
“Another challenge we face is with nominated vendors,” Mubarak said. “For example, whenever we accept a project from a certain government entity, they might insist on specific, certain brands [for us to install], and they don’t accept other alternatives.”
He explained that this is a result of these public organizations preferring certain brands based on previous experiences or such, which in turn allows the vendors of these brands to hike up their prices given the demand. This means that clients end up having to pay much more than they need to.
“Once we go to the vendors, they have their preferred agents, or preferred system integrators (Eurosys rivals), so they give them a good price. However, when they price for us, it can be a bit high.”
He explained that this was common when Eurosys first started and was making a name for itself in the market. This changed as his company became more well-known and experienced, where they are now able to have a say in these affairs, where government entities would more take their advice.
“We are now able to give our clients so many better options than the brands they choose,” he said.
The final challenge he mentioned was the often common issue of liquidity, which is par for the course with any SME, but especially notable with a systems integrator like his company.
Khalifa Fund support
Mubarak mentioned that this issue of liquidity is one that the Khalifa Fund supported him in. The KF team also provided him with some mentorship, as well as dozens of support letters that waived some government fees for his company.
“This relationship between the Khalifa Fund and government entities is very important,” he said.
However, he feels what he truly gained the most from being endorsed by the Khalifa Fund was the ability to attend their numerous exhibitions as a KF beneficiary, which opened up several opportunities for networking and marketing, allowing him to grow the Eurosys brand in the industry.
“I used to invite some vendors to these exhibitions so that they could see our company there,” he said. “Over time, they started to provide us with special offers because they recognized that we are supported by the Khalifa Fund.”
Before launching his company, Mubarak said that he was faced with concerns from family and friends who had been worried about the risks of him entering into a new business venture.
“However, I took it positively,” he said, looking back. “I understood that I need to take risks if I want to grow.”
“It’s good to hear the opinions of people with experience, but in the end, you are the decision-maker, and you should know the risks,” he continued. “Usually, I don’t delay my decisions because in the world of business, if you delay your decisions, you will miss out on opportunities.”
He also mentioned he learned to never expand rapidly.
“For example, if you receive a big project and hire staff just to accommodate for this larger than usual project, you will be faced with a problem of excess staff once this project is completed. So, I am careful when I want to grow.”
Mubarak has also learned to enjoy the challenges of running a business, especially after he had seen the fruits of his labor.
“You feel that your life has meaning. Year after year, once you see how your business is going, you feel happy. Once you visit a place that your company worked on, you feel proud. I have good stories to tell my kids.”
At this point in the life cycle of his business, Mubarak feels that he has done all he can as an individual.
“I’ve done all the things that I can do from my side,” he said. “With the current situation with the Khalifa Fund, I have nearly reached the maximum potential of my company with my current resources and capabilities. If I want to grow more, if I want to expand and open new branches, I think I will need to start looking for a partner.”
He explained that he welcomes onboarding a partner who would serve only as an investor, but that being joined by a partner who would share with him managerial and decision-making responsibilities would allow him to focus and improve on certain aspects of his business.
Eurosys is a UAE Government-funded Smart Solution providers, System Integrator & Distributor. Eurosys delivers end-to-end tailored smart solutions across sectors, with full turn-key service, from concept phase through to design, development, installation and maintenance. To learn more: http://www.eurosys.ae/