Nearly 30 percent of the startups Dojki has worked with have attracted billions of dollars and thousands of talented professionals to the GCC
Dubai – Farzal Dojki’s company Next GenI has worked with over 50 tech startups at the GCC, committing hundreds of engineers and millions of hours over the past 10 years
Building a tech team for a tech product is like a “fun roller coaster ride,” says Farzal Dojki, founder of NextGenI, a firm that works with tech startup founders to build their tech teams, or with corporations in their push towards digitization innovation.
As an industry veteran who has worn many hats, Dojki will be the first to say that not everything went smoothly. After receiving degrees in computer science and economics from Austin and NYU, he worked in the United States as a software developer for two very large companies. However, when he returned to Pakistan in 2005, he initially worked in a small company.
“We didn’t use the term ‘startup’ back then,” he recalls. “It was a big change in my life and showed me how much fun it is to work in a small team of passionate builders. Jeff Bezos’ 2 Pizza Theory is the best explanation for where the fun ends and the bureaucracy begins. After that I worked in two small companies for a few more years and I really liked it.”
However, when a fourth startup he worked for shut down, he decided it was time to go it alone. “That was the birth of Next Generation Innovations. In the last 10 years we have done over 100 projects, about 50 of which were pure startups, and of them more than 20 have raised Series A or more.”
Dojki emphasized that NextGenI works with a variety of companies as long as it is innovative work. “We are a boutique company; This is our biggest advantage and we want to keep this advantage because it helps to overcome challenges. We are not responsible to our shareholders, but to our employees and our customers.”
He noted that the size of a prospect’s human resources team could be literally one person for an idea-stage company, or over 10,000 people for an enterprise. “This breadth of experience is only achievable if we focus on one core area, and for us that core service is rapid innovation. We only take on work that is innovative and we are confident that we can be the best people to solve it.”
When asked about the challenges he has observed in the UAE startup scene that NextGenI can address, he said: “I think we solve two challenges. The first is that of talent, where finding co-founding CTOs is difficult. NextGenI, through our UAE entity, provides a pathway where we can assume the role of interim CTO until the startup establishes a Series A, and provide potential C-level executives with the roadmap and stability that the Expat -Pre-acquisition population of the region needs job roles.”
Second, he says, is the wealth of experience the company offers in product strategy; Most founders in the GCC are first-time founders and can leverage experience working with a team where most team members have worked for two or more startups. “One of our software engineers has worked on three startup products over the past six years and all three have been adopted by European and American Decacorns.”
Dojki noted that NextGenI’s London office serves the EU and North America region, which is important as there is much to learn from these advanced economies. However, with startup activity ramping up across the region — 300 percent in Pakistan and 50 percent in most GCCs — the company wants to keep using its best people for the region, “…and not distracting us,” says Dojki.
He was recently awarded the Golden Visa for 10 years. Though he is the primary recipient of this visa, Dojki said credit goes to “the hundreds of Pakistani software developers from our local universities who have worked at NextGenI over the past 10 years.”
“The software products they have developed have enabled the founders to raise approximately $500 million in VC capital,” he explained. “These platforms are valued at over $4.5 billion combined. The endorsement by the UAE government increases our motivation to continue investing the time of our best employees in GCC startups.”