Part of our “Better Together” Photo Story series, featured in the February 2017 issue of Inc. Arabia. Insider stories from sibling and spouse pairs in the MENA Region that co-run companies; and the good and bad that comes with running a family business.
Dunia Othman and Ibrahim Colak – Dubai, UAE-based Couple
Set up in 2014, mrUsta is an online portal connecting UAE residents with service providers such as plumbers, painters, cleaners etc. Customer growth since launch has been over 500%, they claim. In October 2016, it raised $750,000 in a pre-series A round.
IBRAHIM: When the idea of mrUsta came to us, Dunia was still working part time, while I quit my job.
DUNIA: We conceptualized mrUsta when we were dating, got married while we were launching the business, and I got pregnant while we were raising funds. It’s really been a rollercoaster!
IBRAHIM: When we were on our honeymoon, we got this great opportunity to pitch our idea to the Afkar Incubator. I was on the beach swimming and Dunia was answering my calls. People thought she was my assistant!
DUNIA: Because we started seeing each other at work, I can’t imagine not working with him. I struggle if I have to do something where he is not involved. This is the bizarre part, because most couples get into business together much later.
IBRAHIM: I know how her brain works and vice versa. When I have an idea, I know what holes Dunia will poke into it. And so I already know how to develop a solution. We both prepare concepts that are bullet proof, which saves us all a lot of time.
DUNIA: I back up his ideas but that doesn’t mean I am always going to be on his side. It’s interesting because sometimes we leave from a board meeting where I have just disagreed with him, and then we have to drive home and then eat dinner together.
IBRAHIM: Also, it’s also not easy to give direct orders to your wife at
work, because at home she is the boss. On a serious note, the problem arises when we have to take time off together. This means that we are both away from the business at the same time, which is why we get a break very rarely.
DUNIA: We want people to use mrUsta whenever they require a service. In the way that people have gotten used to Uber for taxis, we want mrUsta to be an essential for when they land in the country.
Photograph by: Anna Nielsen