Rabih Soueidi, Co-Founder, Sapience
Today, globalization of markets, complexity in business models, pressure on the bottom line, and difficult revenue growth have driven every business to rethink strategies, irrespective of their size. To grow and sustain profits, enhance customer delight and protect stakeholder interests is challenging. Rabih Soueidi is an ardent entrepreneur who co-founded Sapience, a leading provider of full service, custom market research, analysis, and consulting in consumer and business-to-business sectors in the Middle East. Mr. Soueidi is a data scientist and researcher passionate about helping people solve business and marketing problems. An MS degree holder in mathematics, Mr. Soueidi started his career as a math teacher and soon moved to the research industry at the Pan Arab Research Centre in Dubai and later joined Mindshare, an advertising agency, leading the research and analytics. “Many motives prompted me to venture into entrepreneurship, and imagination and continuous learning are one of these drivers. In my previous job, I was called “the math man,” it was a delighted nickname, but I was never satiated and sought more,” shares, Mr. Soueidi. In this industry, data people, IT, and researchers are often considered to be on the sideline or background in the industry and Mr. Soueidi wanted to be on the frontline and do things the way he wanted.
The Story of Sapience
Like many ideas, Sapience was started in a casual discussion between Mr. Soueidi and his partner in a casual discussion during a coffee break. Mr. Soueidi says, “Occasionally, my partner and I wondered when we would start our own company until it happened. In the beginning, we sought to bring a franchise and represent some multinational agency that was not present in the region.” They traveled through Europe meeting candidates and soon realized that people are the main asset of the business they were venturing in. In 2015, the industry veterans started Sapience Consultancy where ‘Sapience’ means the wisdom acquired from knowledge. The company started with a market research project for one of the leading retail groups in the GCC.
“We started with a market research project for one of the leading retail groups in the GCC. For the first two years, we had much uncertainty because all our projects were ad-hoc, and we could never predict the future. But we kept going; we celebrated every project we won and were keen on delivering outstanding results to retain our existing customers and gain new ones,” asserts, Mr. Soueidi.
With the vision to bridge data and people and bring brands closer to customers, Sapience was founded based on marketing science and filling gaps in the market from consumer research, data analytics, and technology perspectives. Data science and technology is the pillar of the company and the company uses them in the backend and data storytelling in the front.
Benefits for Clients
Initially, Sapience started with one client on board and today, the company is servicing many prominent local and multinational brands. The portfolio includes clients from various industries such as healthcare, automotive, retail, FMCG, F&B, technology, and finance.
“While our headquarter is in Dubai, we expanded our services to the MENA region. We also grew an incredible team that we consider our family and owe a big part of our success. Currently, seventy percent of our revenue comes from ad-hoc studies; the remaining are retainers. We want to increase the volume of the pie and have a 50/50 split,” expresses Mr. Soueidi.
Words of Wisdom
According to Mr. Soueidi, an ideal leader must have good listening skills, effectively communicate ideas, and be straightforward. The leader should build a connection with the team members by being inspirational, leading by example, providing positive criticism, and providing solutions. They should provide credit to the people and make the team members feel they have ownership of their work; they will be happier and more responsive.
For young entrepreneurs, Mr. Soueidi says, “I advise aspiring entrepreneurs to work hard and smart but try to alleviate the stress that comes with it. Learn when to rest and do not get obsessed with quick wins. Do not be afraid of trying new ideas. Appreciate and reflect on the mistakes you make. Ah, and please sort out your bookkeeping from day one.”
Roadmap of the Company
During the first five years, Sapience was mainly focused on business development and establishing a market presence in the UAE. In 2021, the company set a three-year plan to tap into new industries such as education and government and is constantly investing in technology, machine learning, and talent development.
“In market research, you need to have a good balance between technology and people. Technology and automation allow you to be fast and flexible in dealing with a large amount of consumer data, and you need the right talents to extract insights and put things into context,” concludes, Mr. Soueidi.