Richard Elkiddisse, the Managing Director for Beyond Marketing and Communications, speaks to Small Enterprise about the startup culture in the region, the challenges involved and the lessons learned from his own entrepreneurial journey

Tell us about Beyond Marketing and Communications?
Beyond Marketing and Communications is an integrated communications agency offering a diversified portfolio of high-impact communications and branding focused solutions and strategies. We are known to cater to some of the well-known international, regional and local players.

Our team of highly qualified PR professionals utilize industry best practices and specialize in corporate communications, campaign, and strategy planning, media relations and training, content creation, executive positioning, media monitoring, and analysis, press conferences, crisis, reputation and issues management and corporate identity.

When did you start up? How did you arrive at the idea behind your company?
Since its founding in 2013 in Dubai, Beyond has established dedicated practices in the telecommunications, technology, aviation, education, defense maritime, real estate, retail, healthcare, logistics, and the government sectors; growing to be the agency of choice for businesses, governments and multinationals alike.

We work with clients such as Majid al Futtaim, Kingston Technology, Airbus, Dubai Holding, Professional Communication Corporation – Nedaa, and Network International to name a few. Beyond has two core divisions – PR and Branding. I have already detailed the best practices in the PR division. In the branding division, we cater to clients’ requirements for marketing collaterals, advertising, corporate promotional items, and corporate videos.

Tell us about your team? Who is involved in the day to day operations?
Our branding team consists of designers, production specialists and account managers. The PR division is handled by the Director of Communications, supervising a team of PR specialists who manage the daily correspondences with our clients, a media relations specialist and editors for content creation. The monitoring team is responsible for keeping track of clients’ coverage and preparing media analysis reports.

Did you come across any challenges during the initial days?
Every startup goes through its fair share of challenges in the beginning. Apart from figuring out logistical issues like finding the right office space and location and registering the company, we faced intense market competition. UAE and specifically Dubai is a thriving hub for PR activities, and with many established, multinational agencies already operating in the region, it was a challenge to make our services stand apart.

However, we had a vision and purpose to prove ourselves. By understanding clients’ requirements and providing them with a personalized and customized approach as opposed to providing cookie-cutter strategies, Beyond was able to secure a name for itself.

How is your service different from similar companies on the market?
We pride ourselves in being able to execute beyond limits. The thing about PR is that an agency needs to understand the difference between products and services. We have worked with all kinds of companies and organizations, anything from a small line start-up to tech and telecom, and large multinationals.

We are committed to create and deliver innovative and creative strategies and ideas for all our clients. I am very hands-on, which I feel is very important. I like to get involved in every aspect of our tasks for clients to make sure the clients’ requirements are met.

We also have maintained long term relationships with our clients, developed a sense of trust and helped them reach their communication and commercial targets.

Is it easy or difficult for entrepreneurs to start up in the UAE? Are there any unique challenges they need to be aware of?
UAE is a very competitive market for entrepreneurs. In a rapid growth market and culturally rich region like the Middle East, it is essential to know how to market your company’s services, your business, and your products for a successful entry and growth.

Having great connections play a crucial part in helping small companies succeed. Good word of mouth also generates great results for businesses starting out in the UAE.

What are your future plans with your company? Any new markets/target audiences you plan to reach?
Beyond Marketing and Communications is a tier 1, award-winning agency. We cover the MENA, Asia and European regions for our clients, cultivating strong media relationships. In the near future, we plan to open offices in Europe and Saudi Arabia, in order to tap into both regional and international markets. Because we have existing relationships with media in both Europe and Saudi Arabia, we thought it was a good idea for a Middle Eastern PR agency to cater to clients there.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Dreaming big and taking risks are very important steps that need to be taken. For budding entrepreneurs, I would firstly advise to challenge themselves. Secondly, it is very important to face your fears to address new challenges that are part of any startup’s journey.

It is extremely important to build a great team as no one can succeed in business alone. It is also essential for entrepreneurs to make mistakes and then learn from their mistakes, which will eventually bring them closer to success.

Entrepreneurs need to understand their business well, along with the market they are operating in. It also pays more to deliver more than what the customer expects and listen to their requirements. Lastly, I would say being a successful entrepreneur takes a lot of work, a lot of vision and a lot of perseverance.

Our aspirations have no limit and we are committed to grow and progress in all aspects of our business. We are immensely thankful to UAE, this wonderful country that has allowed us numerous opportunities to grow our business and succeed.

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