What do you currently do?
I am the Co-Founder of Mello, which is the UK’s first and only range of cold pressed melon juice. I’m half Arabic and half Irish, so I just love exotic fresh foods and as you’d expect with Middle Eastern roots – watermelons and melons featured heavily in my diet growing up. So I decided to leave my job as an International Investment Manager for the British Government to combine my entrepreneurial spirit with my passion for Middle Eastern food.
What is your inspiration in the business?
My parents are my biggest inspiration. When I was a child, my family were forced to leave our home in the Middle East very unexpectedly due to the Gulf War. We came to the UK with nothing and had to rebuild our lives from scratch. I credit my drive and determination to succeed to the sheer strength and resilience shown by both my parents while I was growing up. They taught me that life is too short to do something that makes you unhappy and that things will change when you least expect. So enjoy every day as it comes and make the best decisions you can with the knowledge you have at that time.
Who do you admire?
I admire people that aren’t afraid to take a risk in life and to escape the ordinary routine that we’re all so easily caught up in.
Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I think any entrepreneur would be lying if they said they wouldn’t have done a few things differently. But every mistake is something to learn from and only makes you stronger. There were a couple of occasions when we dedicated a lot of time to exploring opportunities and nothing came of them. But I think you have to spend the time exploring different avenues to know that they’re not right for you and to rule them out going forward.
What defines your way of doing business?
To never give up on anything that you put your mind to. When we first started out people told us we would never be able to create fresh melon juice for the retail market because it is so alkaline that it lacks the natural acid for a high shelf life. It would have been easier (and cheaper!) to just heat pasteurise Mello but that would have meant compromising on our goal to produce the most fresh and natural juice, like the one I’d grown up on. We didn’t give up and did over a year of R&D to find the perfect production method that captured everything we had set out to do.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
When we first started, there was so much advice out there saying that the very first step is to spend a time writing a formalised business plan. I don’t believe in that at all because you’ll have no idea how your business is going to turn out until you get out there and start putting all the pieces together. Things will change and you need to adapt and react quickly to survive so having a written business plan won’t help at all. Get out there and just start working on your idea, you’ll see that all the pieces of the puzzle will eventually fit into place.