The UAE is a fast-developing market. Regulations can change frequently and obtaining correct information can be difficult, time consuming and costly. When embarking on a new business setup in Abu Dhabi it is essential to work with experienced, reliable and efficient experts.
Jenny’s passion is company formation, and being The Founder and CEO of Gateway Group of Companies has worked with foreign companies and individuals wanting to start businesses in Abu Dhabi. She understand their activities and goals and then guides them through the appropriate options, risks and how to mitigate them, regulations and costs, so they can have security, protection and 100% profits of their business. She has helped SMEs, MNCs, entrepreneurs and start-ups to create Limited Liability Companies (LLC), Foreign Branch Offices, and Representative Offices. Whilst working across all sectors, Jenny specialises in Oil & Gas with Supreme Petroleum Council approval and also with Classification for contractors and engineers.
A Committee Member of the British Business Group in Abu Dhabi that aims to promote and develop business relations in and between Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the UK’ Jenny has displayed the commitment of British business to the region providing them a forum, advice, networking activities, social opportunities and connections to other organizations with similar aims.
Also a judge at the inaugural International Business Excellence Awards in Dubai in May 2015, she showcased business best practise in UAE.
There seems to be no stopping Jenny Hunt.
Name of Own Business (How did this business name came about?)
Gateway Group of Companies. The company provides onshore company formation services. So we help foreign companies looking to enter the Abu Dhabi market. The name Gateway symbolises what we do – we are a gateway for foreign companies coming into the Abu Dhabi market. The branding is also clever, as the logo is designed like an Arabic window, so a mix of Arabic culture meeting an ‘entry’ route.
How did you start your business?
I met so many companies and individuals struggling to set up in Abu Dhabi or who had already set up and were unfortunately set up incorrectly. I wanted to help these people to make informed choices that were right for their business and their goals. I also wanted to provide them with a secure sponsorship platform that didn’t cost them the earth, but gave them the management and control of the business.
Why did you decide to go into this line of business in the UAE?
I had been working in this industry already as an employee for other companies. I had my own ideas of how I would like to do things differently.
What were the highs and lows of setting up your business? High and Low Moments
The highs are really achieving milestones, such as securing the Trade Name for your business, obtaining the Trade License and getting your office space set up. Once you are up and running, winning clients is always a high – one week in particular I won three new pieces of business on the first three days of that week. These successes spur you on, excite and energise you. The other highs are when you meet people networking and they already know your name or business via referral – having the support of the Abu Dhabi business community is amazing, so I try to share lots of useful information about setting up in Abu Dhabi and generally doing business here, so that everyone can benefit.
The lows are fortunately rare, but for an entrepreneur, there can be lonely times and also times when you don’t have a team of people to bounce ideas with.
What was your best day at work?
Winning my first client, who actually confirmed and was ready to start before we even had our trade license in place.
What was your worst day at work?
My days are usually pretty full with meetings. One day in particular it was back-to-back meetings and on my way into Abu Dhabi I had a call from a business contact requesting a meeting for the evening. For me it was not a problem, I simply added it on to the end of my day. However, it was leaving that meeting and picking up the messages on my phone that had started to come through as I had gone into that meeting, that I learned of a tragic incident at home and for the first time ever I regretted squeezing that extra meeting in because I could have been home.
How did you manage to fund or finance your business?
I put together a business plan and funded the start up through personal funds.
Who has been your greatest influence in setting up this venture?
Richard Branson has influenced me in so many ways. His approach of starting ventures based on existing services/products but putting his own twist on them to make them better is what I love. Its not always necessary to come up with an innovative idea, sometimes, small tweeks to existing operations can make a massive difference.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs when setting up their businesses?
Take calculated risks. Research and plan before investing and have 100% confidence in yourself and the venture. Ultimately, love what you do – you will be living it 24/7, and if you really love it, it won’t seem like work at all.
Describe any amusing or strange experiences, or interesting moments (an incident that happened that you will never forget) that took place while establishing or running your business.
I hosted a launch party for my business and invited potential clients and business partners to tell them all about my new venture. One of my invitation was to the British Ambassador to the UAE. When I received confirmation of his attendance, I was so excited and messaged my business partner, who was equally excited but never expected him to attend. On the evening of the event, I was just preparing to make my speech and the Ambassador arrived. My business partner couldn’t believe it and I was so touched that he took time out of his hectic schedule to support my event.
Describe any challenges you experienced and how you overcame them.
Navigating the red tape of setting up businesses in Abu Dhabi can be frustrating at times, especially when trying to get clarification on information and get sent from department to department, sometimes going around in circles particularly if it involves a new activity in Abu Dhabi or something rather unusual. The trick is to have patience and be persistent. There is usually a solution, its just a case of identifying the right person to help and not giving up.
Outline the reasons why your business succeeded and any particular factors that influenced your success.
I have deliberately tried to position Gateway as a professional organisation and a thought leader in Abu Dhabi. The company regularly shares information that is relevant to setting up and doing business here. I think this openness is quite unique. Also, our approach is to be honest – we only deal with onshore company formations in Abu Dhabi; however, if we speak to a potential client who should be established in a free zone, then we tell them that, point them in the right direction and wish them well. Our aim is to help companies to thrive in Abu Dhabi by sharing our knowledge and experience and being a ‘go to’ resource. We are interested in genuine long term relationships with our clients, not getting a quick signed proposal for a piece of work that is not in our client’s interest and therefore not in ours. I believe that if we all help each other, it’s a win-win situation.
Did you ever think you will be what you are today?
Definitely not. I used to run my own business in London before moving to the UAE and when I moved here to get married, I actually had the intention of getting a stress-free, 9-5 job. I guess you can’t take the entrepreneurial spirit out of the girl. Moving to Abu Dhabi, getting involved in the business community and learning about doing business here has been the making of me and enabled me to be involved in something that I truly enjoy.
Outline your future plans for your business.
I have lots of expansion ideas, some specifically related to company formation and visa services; others which are completely unrelated. However, for now, I’m keeping tight lipped about all of them.
Outline any important lessons you learned along the way or ways in which you would have done things differently.
I was fortunate in that I knew my industry before I set up in it myself, so I don’t think I would have done things differently. However, from the conception to physically doing it there was hardly any time at all. I’m not the sort of person to ponder for ages; once I get an idea, I want to run with it, so that is literally what I did. So whilst, I was focussed on getting myself set up, I hadn’t appreciated that I would get so many enquiries right from the start, so there were times when I wished I had more time initially to develop systems and create templates rather than doing it as I went along.
Describe the defining moment that made you feel certain that your business is going in the direction you want it to go.
Within the first month of setting up, I was introduced to one of the world largest construction companies looking to come into the Abu Dhabi market by a law firm. That was an amazing feeling!
Explain why you set up your business in the UAE.
I was living and working in Abu Dhabi when I had the idea to set up my business, so Abu Dhabi was the natural place. Also the company formation and visa services are very niche and specific to Abu Dhabi, so the systems and processes, as well as connections that I know are here rather than another country.
What is the single most important decision you made that contributed to your business?
To focus on what I know and stick to it. I regularly get asked for assistance with all sorts of different things and initially it was tempting as some of the opportunities could have generated income before I had an established client base. However, going down those routes would have taken up considerable time and also taken my focus away from the business.
Gateway Group of Companies
T: +971 2 5644 232
M: +971 558861376
PO BOX 36687, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
by Cristina Magallon
LinkedIn: Cristina Magallon
Company Page: UAE DNA