"We invest in the founders that are building radical, outlandish, out-there solutions," says Managing Partner at Nuwa Capital, Khaled Talhouni on the Perfect Pitch Podcast

"We invest in the founders that are building radical, outlandish, out-there solutions," says Managing Partner at Nuwa Capital, Khaled Talhouni on the Perfect Pitch Podcast

By Nazmia Nassereddine, 31 March 2024

If you've been following Lucidity Insights for The Perfect Pitch podcast, you're in for a treat! Last month, we have Managing Partner at Nuwa Capital, Khaled Talhouni, here to share his journey from a young Marxist in Jordan to a powerhouse in the global VC world. This episode surprised me with its it's personal looks at how Khaled’s childhood ideological beliefs shaped his personal and professional growth in unexpected and transformative ways.

In the heart of Jordan, within the confines of privilege, Khaled speaks about growing up being acutely aware of the stark contrasts that exist across society. The juxtapositions that existed within the streets of capitalist society drove Khaled to question the fundamental structures of his world view from a young age. As a teenager, Khaled found solace in the radical ideals of Marxism—an ideology that promised solutions to the glaring inequalities he witnessed daily.

Khaled spoke then about how those ideologies were challenged while studying at Duke University in the United States. Studying economics, he discovered the free market's role in lifting societies out of poverty—a stark contrast to the theoretical utopian approach he had imagined through the lens of Marxism. The practical successes of capitalism, especially its transformative impact in regions like China and Latin America during the latter half of the 20th century, reshaped his worldview. Touched by life in the streets of the Middle East, Khaled’s evolution was deeply personal, steering his passions towards looking at ways in which capitalism could create positive societal change.

"When I was younger, I think I was very attracted to that idea of radical solutions to big problems... But the economics arguments in terms of like, how the free market, or capitalism, as it were, can help lift so many people out of poverty, is quite revolutionary (in and of itself)," says Khaled.

Khaled soon found himself drawn to Dubai, a city synonymous with transformation and opportunity. What was meant to be a temporary stay extended indefinitely as he navigated the complexities of the job market and ultimately stumbled upon a career defining path. A quick introduction to Dubai Holdings’ Dubai International Capital threw him into the deep end of venture capital, where he worked on establishing the region’s first seed fund—an initiative far ahead of its time, aimed at nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit within the Middle East.

Now, as founding and managing partner at Nuwa Capital, Khaled gave Lucidity Insights’ podcast audience a closer look at how investors spot high-impact opportunities, the evolving landscape of startup ecosystems in the region, and the critical role of cultural understanding in fostering innovation.

In this episode, listeners will get a front-row seat to hear about the lessons Khaled has learned from his years navigating the complexities of both Middle Eastern and global markets, and his top tips for entrepreneurs to attract the right kind of investment to scale their ideas into lasting ventures:

1. Dare to Disrupt

Wondering how a self-described Marxist ended up at the helm of a venture capital firm? Khaled’s journey into the venture capital world was a personal mission all about supporting radical, innovative solutions to real-world problems. For him, venture capital is the platform to foster radical changes and drive societal progress  today. In this episode, Khaled tells us what it truly means to be an investor in people and ideas that can redefine industries, and advises founders not to shy away from any idea!

"I believe in radical shifts and radical changes, and I'm really amazed at what founders are able to do by building businesses that reset entire industries or social constructs or ways of interaction, for the better."

2. Mentorship and Mindset

Intrigued by what shapes a venture capitalist? Khaled also shared the pearls of wisdom he learned from industry titans like MEVP’s (Middle East Venture Partners) Walid Hanna and Wamda Capital’s Fadi Ghandour. Persistence, optimism, and the ability to see potential where others see obstacles are just the start.

"The unending sense of optimism, optimism in what the future might bring, I think that's an incredibly important way of conceptualizing the world and seeing how things can, in a trajectory, be positive," Khaled says, highlighting how crucial mindset is in this game.

3. From Visions to Reality

For all you aspiring entrepreneurs, Khaled breaks down what venture capital can really do for innovation and entrepreneurship in the episode. It's not about the money—it's about making visionary ideas feasible and giving radical solutions a chance to flourish, and Khaled emphasizes that its entrepreneurs and founders who must really drive the change. "Us as VCs, we don't really do that. We sort of are the midwives to producing good companies, but it's the founders who are actually doing the work."

4. Not When but How

Thinking about when to approach a VC? Khaled advises, "You can talk to VCs as early as you want, but you want to make sure you're talking to the right investors that are relevant first to your stage, and then second to your sector." It's all about aligning with those who understand your vision and can genuinely contribute to your journey.

5. The Perfect Pitch

And finally, the question of the hour, what makes the perfect pitch? Khaled values clarity and conciseness in a pitch above all else — as a direct approach shows investors the entrepreneur's deep understanding of the issue they're addressing. Entrepreneurs should articulate the problem clearly, explain their solution effectively, and quickly demonstrate market potential.

"You'd be surprised how many people get lost in talking about their product or the market size," Khaled reveals on the podcast. "If you're able to articulate an idea or concept as a founder, that's an insight into how you think about problems and how you will work with other stakeholders, whether that's clients or employees or shareholders."

Looking for more seasoned insights and transformative tips from Khaled? Be sure to check out the full episode, it’s packed with the kind of startup wisdom every entrepreneur needs to hear. You can get the full story, watch or listen to the podcast at LucidityInsights.com or find the Lucidity Insights Podcast on Spotify, Youtube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you stream your podcasts.

You can find this episode and more from the Perfect Pitch Podcast at:

- Lucidity.com

- YouTube

- Spotify

- Apple Podcasts

Related Report

Dubai's Venture Capital Ecosystem

There are 749 scale-ups that have raised over US $1 million in fundraising in the Middle East and North Africa region; collectively raising over US $19.5 billion, cumulatively, as of December 2022. Over 40% of these scale-ups call Dubai home.

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