Ritesh Tilani is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and the founding partner of enhance, a holding company that develops web and mobile-enabled businesses in the Middle East and Africa. The company's portfolio includes joigifts.com, an online physical gifting business and medigo.com, a Berlin-based medical travel entity with a regional head office in Dubai. The Indian, 36, who grew up in Dubai, returned to the emirate in 2006 and has been involved in the tech world ever since.
I’m a night owl, so I’m usually up late the night before. At the same time, I don’t want to sleep through the day, so I set the alarm for six hours after I go to bed. I check my notifications for anything important I need to respond to before I start getting ready for work.
I jump in my car, a Lexus GS 430, to head to work. I try to be as productive as possible throughout the day, so I save phone calls for when I’m driving, since I can’t do anything else during that time. I’d take an Uber or Careem, except I love driving. Back in the US I used to have a black Camaro with a low body and T-tops. It looked a bit like the Batmobile, and my friends started calling me Batman for it, a nickname which has stuck until today. I call either my mum or dad, or my business partner Alper to plan an important meeting coming up that morning.
I’m at the office, a warehouse converted into a creative workspace we lovingly call The Garage. I juggle a lot of balls every day, as is the case with most start-up founders. But the morning is the busiest.
We have an angel investor from Saudi visit us. He heard about our current funding round through a mutual friend, who is interested in investing. We have already raised the majority of the round, and with the new investment we plan to expand joi’s offering and grow our customer base. The meeting goes well, we give him a tour of the Garage, introduce him to our team and take a group photo in front of our now famous graffiti wall.
Time for the weekly Sprint Meeting, where we bring the entire joi team together over a conference call across our offices in Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Cairo, which houses our development team. We update each other on key initiatives and welcome the latest addition to the team with our induction tradition of asking him to share a secret. We also sing happy birthday for one of the team members.
I eat at my desk while working. I then head to our category manager’s desk to finalise the products for joi Luxury, the new sub-brand we’re launching to cater to the higher end of the market. joi lists products from some brands like Jones the grocer and Lime Tree Café in the UAE, and Godiva and Magnolia Bakery in Saudi Arabia. Once in a while, our partners graciously send over delicious samples for us to try, one of the perks of my job.
I have a meeting with the HR manager of a leading Dubai-based company. We have already shaken hands on serving their gifting needs with our “joi@work” business line. We discuss details of credit terms and process automation, and agree to finalise the contract by next week. I promise them a karaoke party when it’s done, as long as they won’t force me to sing too.
I have another meeting, this time for Medigo, with a large online travel agency. Medigo can enhance their customer offering by adding on international medical treatments to upcoming trips. They have a concern around our ability to handle their volumes. We agree to move forward with a trial, which is great news for us.
I leave The Garage and make a few more calls on the way home, this time to friends. I have friends all over the globe, and it helps to have a generous international mobile plan. At home I have a quick bite and hit the gym or the squash court. I used to play for my university in the US and now try to get a game in once in a while. As unintuitive as it sounds, squash gives me Zen.
After a quick shower, I jump in my car to meet one of my mentees over dinner or drinks. I had very helpful mentors when I launched my first start-up, and I feel I have a responsibility to give back, now that I have some experience. So I regularly mentor new start-up entrepreneurs.
Back home I get some more work in. At some point I’ll take a break to have another small meal. My metabolism is superhigh, so I’m constantly eating throughout the day. While I eat, I like to watch an episode of my favourite TV shows. It could be Modern Family, Suits, Silicon Valley or Game of Thrones. After replying to some more emails, at 2.30am I go to bed to get my full six hours in. I’m always out within 20 seconds of my head hitting the pillow because that’s how exhausted I am. I’ve promised my body I’ll let it rest more once I retire.
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