During his MBA, Vincent was exposed to China’s buzzing online games industry on a daily basis. Originally from Lebanon, he knew there was a severe lack of culturally-focused Arabic gaming content for a region with, like China, thousands of years of history.
His MBA experience in China inspired and equipped him to tap into the online games market.
Now, Falafel Games is now one of the most popular gaming apps in the Middle East—indeed, it is the Middle Eastern company with the most games to appear in the Top 100 Grossing charts on the Apple App Store. One title is in the top-20, and one is in the top-50.
Launching his own company is the culmination of a journey that for Vincent started when he spotted an advert for the CEIBS MBA in the Financial Times—then, he was working as a tech consultant for software company NQ Mobile.
On the program, his passion for entrepreneurship was given space to breathe. “It was always in me,” he says, “but before [CEIBS] I wasn’t sure of the line between corporate, and entrepreneurship. The school helped me crystalize from a theoretical and practical perspective the differences between the two.”
Academically, Vincent cites strategy and entrepreneurship as the key modules that allowed him to mold his perspective of entrepreneurship into a theoretical and case-based understanding of the entrepreneurial space.
His fellow MBAs also played a key role in helping translate that understanding into a feasible business project.
“I had classmates that worked in industry,” he explains, “and that helped me form a business model, calculate growth forecasts, and gain insights into how this industry worked.”
During his time on the CEIBS MBA, Vincent also refers to the entrepreneurship-focused extracurricular activities on offer. With a group of classmates, he set up the CEIBS souvenir shop. “Surprisingly, there wasn’t a serious souvenir shop back then—it seemed to us like a no-brainer,” he says.
Attending multiple alumni events, Vincent and his classmates would sell souvenir sweaters, mugs, and various other CEIBS branded gifts—at Falafel Games, Vincent also works with a small diverse team of 25 people, made up of nine nationalities.
He was also the president of the CEIBS Entrepreneurship Club, which forced him into thinking up entrepreneurial initiatives and events. “I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders,” he explains, “suddenly I was put in a position where I had to think like an entrepreneur.”
Organizing events with venture capitalists, media representatives, and tech entrepreneurs, Vincent tapped into the startup community in China—successful entrepreneurs from Shanghai also came to the CEIBS campus to talk to the students about their ventures.
Knowledge of China was a key ingredient to the success of Falafel Games—the CEIBS MBA positions itself as a program providing ‘China Depth, Global Breadth’, with a holistic education of the Chinese market.
“When I started [at CEIBS] I happened to coincidentally be in the right place, a good place, at a good time,” Vincent continues. “It was a period when free to use online products were just starting to appear in the games business.
“Without CEIBS, I don’t think I’d have had this success,” he says. “The CEIBS MBA dramatically reduced the risks I was taking because I was learning from the mistakes and best practices of the Chinese.”
Being able to use the Chinese market as a reference point for his business, Vincent avoided falling into the same pitfalls as previous industry players who went to the Middle East and encountered the same past issues that had plagued businesses in China.
He still has that access. Vincent spends half his time between Hangzhou, in China, and the Middle East. Whenever he meets new potential investors, he says that mentioning he’s an alum from CEIBS plays massively in his favor. “It’s really helped to recruit capital,” he adds.
“When I meet any Chinese CEO, or investors, no matter how great my marketing pitch is they are much more impressed when I tell them I am from CEIBS.”