Former Chief of Staff for the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Omar AlShamsi has had an illustrious career in the investment sector. Having started his career in Daman Securities, Omar played an instrumental role in establishing and developing the UAE’s security office in Abu Dhabi and managing government relations after the merger of First Abu Dhabi Bank. Coming from a multi-business family, Omar naturally gravitated towards entrepreneurship opening a café with his sister during his time in banking. The café had a strong focus on local food from local ingredients. Omar’s appetite for the F&B sector grew, he found himself working as an F&B supplier along the way too. These experiences gave him first-hand insight into the shortfalls that exist in the market, making him determined to find viable solutions.
In 2019 Omar established KPISOFT, an enterprise performance management software, in the UAE Within his first year with KPISOFT, he closed the largest deal for the company globally. He has also consistently helped KPISOFT establish a solid footing in the GCC and today the company competes actively with Oracle and SAP.
His collective experience in investment, software, and business coupled with his belief in making a difference in the F&B sector paved the way for Watermelon Market, a food tech company that Omar started with Cristobal De Nadai and Archya Sengupta in 2021.
Watermelon Market is a food and beverage ecosystem that helps all entities within that value chain manage and advance their business and has quickly established itself as a market leader and essential tool for anyone working within the F&B space.
“We decided to build our own solution for the F&B market. We found that one solution was insufficient, so we ended up with an ecosystem. In general, the industry has low transparency, it’s very difficult to navigate, order, and keep track of your orders. Other pain points we discovered were the ability to ensure that there is an adequate amount of products in supply, as well as cash flow management problems.”
Watermelon Market’s aim is to become a one-stop e-procurement solution for the industry through its user-friendly web and mobile-based platform. Currently, the platform has over 800 restaurants, 200 suppliers, and 30 000SKUs.
Offering full transparency to a traditionally rigid and painful process, Watermelon’s easy-to-use interface allows customers to access a proven inventory management system. The ability to track, manage and receive full insights into their finances, all in one unified and integrated cloud-based platform. Further, spending patterns, notifications on when stock is low, forecasting, and more are also covered while suppliers can manage orders, inventory, and invoices with 24/7 customer support.
“Watermelon Market has reduced purchase order time by 70% across more than 7,000 orders in the last 12 months.”
The company plans to expand its business model from B2B to B2C, with the launch of Watermelon Home.
“We have suppliers that are very happy to extend their products in bulk to homes. And the introduction for Watermelon Home is for the person that needs to buy in bulk on a regular basis, products range from napkins all the way to niche products, like caviar.”
In a short time span, Omar and his management team have managed to produce strong results, which he says is largely due to a collective team effort, and the way the business treats its customers. “If you are in the ecosystem, you’re in my home, and if you are in my home then I need to make sure that you are taken care of. This is very typical in Arab culture,” he adds.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a name that sparks joy. As Omar says, watermelon makes people happy. It’s a happy fruit that carries happy memories. More importantly, the fruit’s own ecosystem was the inspiration behind the Watermelon Market name.
As a UAE national, Omar strongly believes that any business that doesn’t care about the local community in which it operates shouldn’t be in that market. He believes that his business has an opportunity to benefit the local producer. A task that he is determined to champion in a big way.
Omar’s plan is to keep building and growing the Watermelon Market ecosystem to ensure that it remains relevant and inclusive to everyone in the industry. His biggest goal within the F&B sector is to reduce food waste in the region and increase access to food around the world.
|Omar graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio with a Bachelor of Science in accounting; he also holds an Executive MBA degree from INSEAD with a focus on the digital world.
His career started in Daman Securities where he helped establish and grow the UAE’s security office in Abu Dhabi. He then moved to Dubai Group, which was under Dubai Holding during that time, where he was stationed in Hong Kong. His role while in Hong Kong was part of the management team for North Asian Investment Books. He managed public and private equity investments for the group. He was later recruited to the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (First Abu Dhabi Bank today) to manage investments in the treasury division. After four years of working across various roles in the treasury department, he became the Chief of Staff for the bank. After the bank merged, Omar took care of the government relations division for the newly formed entity (First Abu Dhabi Bank) before venturing off to help establish KPISOFT in the Middle East.
As a member of a multi-business family, Omar has also been instrumental in assisting the organisations in which his family is involved in. Most notably, in the manufacturing world for Gulf Craft, where Omar has taken on a consultant role to manage their growth trajectory. The company is now one of the largest boat manufacturers globally garnishing accolades from across the globe for its manufacturing capability and quality.
Brought together by their shared appreciation for the F&B market and technology, Omar AlShamsi, Cristobal David De Nadai Albornoz, and Archya Sengupta have over 70 years of experience combined. Watermelon Market currently has a presence in the UAE, with expansion plans throughout the GCC.