Off hours: Dubai city guide chief focuses on life’s details

Tanaz Dizadji, the executive director of the online city guide insydo, says taking a leap into the start-up world has been a non-stop learning experience.

Tanaz Dizadji, the founder of the underground city guide Insydo, says having the right team is even more important than getting the product right immediately. Reem Mohammed / The National
Powered by automated translation

Tanaz Dizadji is the founder and chief executive of insydo, an undercover online city guide that scopes out and shortlists different services and things to do in Dubai. Ms Dizadji, 31, an accounting and finance graduate, started her career as a chartered accountant in investment management at PwC in London. She was also the director of corporate social responsibility for Omnicom Media Group and has led philanthropic and artistic projects such as the Elephant Parade – a social enterprise that runs the world’s largest exhibition of decorated elephant statues to raise conservation awareness. When she’s not fusing the world of coding and content, the Briton also blogs on Linked­In about her journey as a digital start-up. Ms Dizadji has lived in Downtown Dubai since 2010.

How do you spend your weekend?

I love spending Friday mornings discovering new breakfast spots around Dubai. Once the food coma has worn off, I make sure to hit a Reformer Pilates class for a boost of energy to get me through the day. I’m also a huge movie buff, so I always indulge in the Platinum experience at Reel Cinemas, where I can get cosy with a blanket and zone out. I mostly work on Saturdays but there’s the occasional visit to Cove Beach for sun and relaxation.

How did you become an executive director?

I took a huge leap into the start-up world when I founded insydo two years ago. It’s been a non-stop learning experience that has me involved in every aspect of the product – from the development to technology and the marketing.

What is your go-to gadget?

I love my Beats by Dre headphones when I want to go into power mode at the office. But my real obsession is the Fly-X3 Stabilizer, which lets me shoot video from my smartphone like an absolute professional.

What was the lowest point of your career?

I really don’t believe in career “low points” because every challenge makes you stronger and more knowledgeable. In the start-up life you have got to accept that there are always mom­ents of struggle, so if you get caught up in discouragement, you will constantly hit walls and that gets you nowhere.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

When you are developing a product it is important to build incrementally and get it out there. You can design and plan all you like, but until you make it accessible to people you will never know how they will react. But there is nothing more essential than hiring the right people and surrounding yourself with talented, passionate go-getters – it will make or break you. If the product is not working, the right team will always steer you towards a solution – and this applies across the board. A chef who pays attention to detail is what makes a restaurant successful – it is always about the people.

What is your most indulgent habit?

Binge-watching a good TV series late into the night, even when I have an early start the next day.

What can’t you live without?

My family – everything else loses context without them.

What do you have on your desk at work?

I like a clean desk because it clears my mind and helps me feel better organised. Aside from my laptop, I have three monitors for multitasking.

What book are you currently reading?

The last good book I read was A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – he is a brilliant author. But lately I mostly find myself reading Facebook manuals.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

A work-life balance doesn’t really exist in start-up life – the business consumes you. But I do feel like I’m at that stage in life where I want to work hard and achieve something. If you love what you do, you never feel like you’ve lost that balance, even though your friends and family might not agree.

If you could swap jobs with any­one who would it be?

That would be Mark Zuckerberg – he’s super-smart. We like to think of Facebook as a social network, but it’s really just a giant media agency that we voluntarily contribute data to. I’d love to be in his shoes.

Follow The National's Business section on Twitter