Hassan Jameel, Deputy President and Vice Chairman, Abdul Latif Jameel took part in the Forbes Middle East Family Business Summit 2021 in August, a virtual event which highlighted the ways in which family businesses are adapting and transforming their business models in a digital world.

With an increased focus on customer experience, most family businesses have taken significant measures to update their existing legacy systems and are already reaping the benefits of a digitally efficient operating model.

Hassan took part in the session, Betting Big on the Future: Investing in Startups, joining a panel of experts including His Excellency Dr. Nabel Koshak, CEO and Board Member, Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC); Mohamed Mansour, Founder and Chairman, Man Capital; Masaood Rahma Al Masaood, Vice Chairman, Al Masaood Group; Makarem S. Batterjee, President & Vice Chairman, Bait Al Batterjee Group; and moderated by Ahmad Youssef, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company.

Family businesses in the Middle East are increasingly exploring ways to disrupt their businesses.  According to a joint survey by McKinsey & Company and the Family Business Council Gulf, 91% of family businesses are working on digital and disruptive strategies but face significant challenges. 

Hassan Jameel
Hassan Jameel
Deputy President and Vice Chairman
Abdul Latif Jameel

Hassan welcomed the audience by speaking about how passionate he is about family businesses, particularly in the Middle East, and provided an insight into JIMCO (Jameel Investment Management Company), the global investment arm of the Jameel Family which launched earlier this year.  JIMCO’s mission is to forge a better future through supporting extraordinary enterprise, where ideas, people, and capital come together in ventures that are enabled to go on and build tangible value in activities from which the world truly prospers. 

He opened the conversation with an overview of JIMCO’s early-stage investment in RIVIAN, the innovative American electric car manufacturer which is producing a range of trucks and SUVs using 105kWh lithium-ion batteries for a 109 mile range or a 180 kWh battery for a 400 mile range, using AI technology to help drivers extend their battery life threefold by optimizing charging habits.  He expressed how, in business, leaders are always learning, and that even a company which is decades old can learn from a two to three year old startup, as was the case between Abdul Latif Jameel and RIVIAN.

In line with JIMCO’s strategy of making high-stake investments in the future of mobility, it participated in the Series C round of funding for air taxi startup JOBY Aviation, which recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange following a merger with Reinvent Technology Partners and is now the first US-based eVTOL company listed on the public market.

Speaking during the panel, Hassan spoke about the importance of the relationship between the investor and the startup, build on trust and mutual understanding, saying:

“As a rule, in our role as a principle investor, we always encourage startup leaders to focus on their business and not to worry about the funding.  You can’t underestimate the importance of this action.  A startup CEO’s responsibility is to think about the business long-term, focus on scaling up, and building the team, rather than on a constant source of funding.  We also add value to our startups by connecting the dots.  Building on our 75-year expertise across a diverse range of sectors and markets, we can introduce strategic partners to each other, and help to source additional investment into the business.”

Echoing the comments of panel speaker Mohamed Mansour, Founder and Chairman, Man Capital, Hassan said, “As a family business, we all used to be startups.  Our involvement should be beyond capital alone, that is what true partnership is about.”

Through the JIMCO Technology Fund, JIMCO has invested in a range of Middle East fintech startups, including tabby, Lean Technologies, Rain, Speero, and Flextock, while the JIMCO Life Sciences Fund has signed collaborations with a range of innovative healthcare disruptors including clinical stage biotechnology company Evelo Biosciences and Cellarity.