Jadd Elliot Dib is the founder and chief executive of Pangaea X, a digital platform that brings together data analysts and freelance scientists for work opportunities with potential clients.
Mr Dib, 29, came to Dubai in 2014 and has been a risk advisory consultant with Deloitte and head of data analytics for international security and defence consulting firm Aeromaritime. He lives with his wife in City Walk, Dubai.
Was money significant during your upbringing?
I don’t like to use the words rich or poor. My dad did well in his career. He was a banker in Lebanon and was presented with an opportunity to go into business with a private family fund.
So, we were always very comfortable. I was born and lived my early years in Paris and then business took my dad to Spain, where I lived for 16 years.
My family instilled in me: “You have to work and earn what you want.” So, nothing was really given to me.
When I was a kid, I had pocket money, but in my teenage years my parents told me to get a job. If I wanted a new phone or video game, I had to go and earn it.
How did you raise that cash?
When I was 13 or 14 years old, my mum opened a French bakery in south Spain. They put me to work as a dishwasher — my first job. I had to start from the bottom and was paid around €20 (Dh85) a week.
I moved along the ranks, became an assistant baker and then worked in the kitchen with the chef. I learnt skills, besides money being the goal.
My dad was fortunate enough to be in a position where he could get me internships. They pay you with knowledge and references. It shines a light on what exactly you’re in for.
Did you learn a saving discipline?
If I wanted to buy something bigger, like an iPod Touch, I worked a couple of months and got my money together.
I had the benefit of living at home, where bills are paid and food is on the table. All I had to do was not spend.
So, it did teach that basic fundamental and prepared me for when I left to go to university.
Did exposure to entrepreneurialism inspire you?
Growing up, I never wanted to be involved in finance. I was a nerd, a geek, I loved laptops, building computers, so I went into tech.
But having the background my dad brings and mum being an entrepreneur helps get you in the right mindset that you could eventually set something up for yourself.
I had some family here and got an internship at Deloitte in the UAE. I got into consulting and exposed to data analytics, a specific subsection of IT risk, and specialised in it. I could see there was a gap in the market because data analytics is a young field and decided to start my own company.
Has Pangaea X helped people earn during the pandemic?
Freelancers were looking for jobs way before that, but a lot lost jobs during the lockdown, so they were looking to make a living.
Pandemic or not, our business model … I wanted a place to give everybody equal opportunity, no matter what passport, no matter where you live. Everything is done digitally, so why can’t freelancers work from one side of the world for a client on the other side? We have freelancers in more than 57 countries; you can bypass borders to earn a living.
How did you fund your company?
It all came from my pocket, we don’t have outside investors. I decided I’m not going to look at it the same way if it’s not my money that I’m risking.
Then I am going to move heaven and earth to make sure it has the best chance to succeed. When it’s your money you’re spending, you have that sense of urgency to make it work.
Has your spending outlook evolved?
My habits have changed, but also right before I started my business, I got married. I don’t spend stupidly any more, I have certain responsibilities.
I look at Pangaea as my family, but also have my other family: my wife and I. Before, if there was anything I wanted, whether it be a new iPhone, tech or a holiday, I didn’t think twice.
I married right before the lockdown in March 2020 and started the business around the same time. Our honeymoon was cut short, the world went on pause and I made sure we were ready to go as soon as it opened up.
How do you increase your wealth?
We invest in the stock market, different industries, but I prefer putting money back into Pangaea X and kind of invest in myself.
We have our family fund that my father takes care of. He invests for us and we put savings aside for that.
Unlike most techies, maybe, I’m not into cryptocurrency. The ship has long sailed, the risk is just too much.
What is your best investment?
What I’ve put into the business, for me, has the greatest reward, not monetarily but the fact that we’re going the right way; every day, numbers increase.
Specifically for data, there’s nobody else like us. We connect freelancers to clients and take a certain fee. That makes enough money to sustain the company, so we can continue development, keep marketing running.
We make sure everybody’s happy with their cut. We have things in the pipeline that will build our monetising concept, but right now, it’s not about making money, it’s about surviving and growing.
Do you have a financial philosophy?
The famous saying is “money doesn’t buy you happiness”. It doesn’t directly, but it buys you a step in the right direction — having more money sometimes means you can spend more time with family.
I love diving and it takes money to go somewhere I can dive. If I had a stack of money next to me, looking at it wouldn’t make me happy, but the possibilities of what I could do with that money, the activities … that stuff makes me happy.
Are you wise with money?
I’d like to think I am, but there are certain things I buy because I love tech. It’s not a necessity and, obviously, I don’t buy mindlessly, but whenever I feel it’s worth it.
I don’t have a lavish lifestyle or drive a fancy car, and there’s nothing I’ve spent money on that I really regret, maybe a couple of movies that I regret going to as I look at my time as more valuable than a ticket to the cinema.
Do you have spending weaknesses?
I have three: tech, travelling and watches. My father is a watch collector and gifted me my first nice watch, an IWC, when I graduated. Ever since, I love a beautiful watch and it’s an investment I could give my kids down the line.
I recently purchased a Hublot, a limited edition that’s my prized possession. Besides that, I’m really not into luxury brands. Most of my cherished purchases are not materialistic, they are experiences. I’m an avid traveller.
What are your future financial goals?
I have the dream of retiring early. I really enjoy creating this company and want to get to a point where it’s succeeding on its own and sustainable.
My retirement plan is already in place. If it doesn’t succeed, then I have to go to plan B, but my savings, investments and things over time will grow.