Meet this week’s mentor: Mai Ali, a lawyer, mentors, and entrepreneur with a great experience in digital content. Mai is based in Dubai, and besides her job at the legal department in the MBC group, she started her own business, so she has a good idea of how entrepreneurs struggle.
Hello Mai! Can you please tell us more about your area of expertise and how did you get into the field?
I am a media, music and entertainment lawyer. I Joined MBC Group about four years ago handling legal matters related to the production of movies, series, and shows in general. I have also worked in the music industry through our record label company. In addition to that, I handle App development matters, digital content and new media, licensing agreement and much more.
What else have you previously worked with?
I graduated with an LLM degree in International Commercial Law with a specialization in banking and Finance. After graduating I joined a law firm in Jordan where I trained and received my Bar membership. I later joined a South African company called GroFin where we extended facilities to SMEs aiming to help grow them in Jordan and the region. My role there as a legal counsel enabled me to assist the company in all facility agreements and transactions while mentoring the SMEs wherever needed to ensure that they remain legally compliant.
Have you previously done mentoring work?
This is my first time mentoring. Previously it was done as part of my job.
Were you mentored in your career? If so, what impact did this have on you? If not, why have you decided to embark on mentoring?
Not officially no, but I used to constantly seek advice from experts in their fields wherever I felt there was an opportunity. Having a mentor from the start would have had a tremendous effect on my career path and businesses and this is why I would like to help others embarking on similar a journey. It is our duty as individuals to provide and offer support wherever and whenever possible. Keep in mind, that it will be and should be us that is reaching out and not the other way around. We benefit no one by withholding our knowledge and experience. And we stand to gain everything by sharing our knowledge and more importantly our experience, where the benefits will not only affect this generation but will trickle down to the next.
Tell us about the startups with SBC that you are mentoring. How are you excited to help them throughout their journey in the Accelerator program?
I have had the pleasure of working with Dressire and Controlcast so far, both Yaman and Ashish are highly motivated individuals who are passionate about their businesses. Our meetings are a combination of business and legal aspects of the startup and how both intertwine. The way we work is by breaking down the business to identify areas where legal attention is required. We analyze the business’s key goals and work towards securing and reviewing them from a legal perspective.
What do you wish to gain from mentoring startups?
I wish to learn from these startups as much as they learn from me. I hope I can shed some light on the importance of proper legal structure when setting up any business. A strong legal structure is a foundation and blueprint for any business, and I strongly believe that by taking care of that startups stand a better chance of surviving the first critical years.
Who/what inspires you?
I co-own a bridal store where my business partner and I design our own bridal collection yearly. This business taught me that inspiration is everywhere around us. I get inspired by the way people interact with each other, by music and nature around us and anything you could think of. However, when I think of individuals, I am lucky to consider myself surrounded by many inspirational people. A lifetime inspiration for me has been my father whom without, I would not be where I am today. One of the many lessons he taught me is that we are not defined by the way we are conditioned growing up and that we can beautifully adapt to the individuals we aspire to become. He raised me as an equal to my brother in Arab society and taught me day after day that I can achieve anything I desire with the right mindset. But most importantly he taught me that greatness loses its spark if when achieved we forget to remain humble and grateful.
Anything else you would like to add/share?
Starting your own business is a difficult journey, and we all sure have had our own “I give up moments”, but our capacity to push through and fight as human beings is beyond our imagination. Even when the initial business plan collapses, with the right support and knowledge, participants in this program will know that that collapse in itself is an opportunity to usher in a better plan. I would like for all the startups to leave this program feeling stronger, supported and inspired.