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Start-up: Golden Scent's nose for success

Malik Shehab, managing director and co-founder of the online fragrance retailer, explains how they sniffed out a market

I knew e-commerce would find its way to the Middle East, and I wanted to be part of this evolution.

How long has it been since you started your company?

We started Golden Scent at the end of 2014. However, our first campaign was in 2015, and this is when we kicked off and started our marketing strategy and efforts. Therefore, in total, we have been operating for four successful years.

Describe your business or product.

It’s straightforward: we are an online fragrance retailer. At Golden Scent, you browse, buy and receive your order within few days, to your doorstep. The ultimate luxury and convenience shopping by providing the customer with excellent service at competitive prices.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

When Ronny Froehlich [co-founder] and I were living in Europe, we noticed the boom, of the e-commerce industry, especially in the beauty segment. Our first step was doing our research and business plan, and we found out that in GCC people they spend four to six times more on beauty than the average person in Europe. With the added unique benefits that e-commerce provides such as shopping in the comfort of your home and the variety of options to choose from, we knew Golden Scent would be a success story.

I knew e-commerce would find its way to the Middle East, and I wanted to be part of this evolution.

How did you finance your business?

At the beginning, it was self-funded. Shortly after that, we received seed funding from angel investors in Germany, as the GCC wasn't ready yet to invest in e-commerce – it was more interested in real estate. Thankfully, a few years later things started to shift, and e-commerce began booming in GCC – today, Golden Scent has raised series A investment led by Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed, Entrepreneur Venture and EquiTrust, and joined by Wamda Capital and Raed Ventures.

At which point did you have a clearer idea of how you would turn your passion into a business?

When I was living in Germany, I witnessed the growth of e-commerce, and the unique benefits e-commerce provides to customers. I knew e-commerce would find its way to GCC and the Middle East, and I wanted to be part of this evolution.

I knew e-commerce would find its way to the Middle East, and I wanted to be part of this evolution.

How difficult was the transition from full-time employment to start-up?

I wouldn't say the transition was difficult, but definitely interesting: working in full-time employment where your tasks are clear and organised, then starting your own business where you must do everything, starting from packing Golden Scent boxes to making ultimate business decisions.

What are your biggest challenges?

In the beginning, it was finding the right talent with e-commerce, digital and online experience who would drive the business and understand how it works. At Golden Scent, we started to look for talent in other areas in the region, and it worked for us. Moreover, now this is not a challenge anymore, and we have many talented people in the region with digital and online expertise who can build successful e-commerce.

What would your advice be to future entrepreneurs?

Follow your passion, be disciplined, persistent and work hard to achieve your goals.

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