In today’s dynamic business environment, securing funding and expanding into new markets are vital components of success for companies aiming to achieve sustainable growth. Licorne Gulf Holding, a prominent player in the industry, specializes in investing and providing comprehensive solutions to assist businesses in obtaining the necessary financial support, forming strategic alliances, and navigating the Gulf region’s market landscape.
We had the privilege of interviewing Alexandre Katrangi, Associate Co-Founder, and Irina Duisimbekova, Founder & President, key figures at Licorne Gulf, to gain deeper insights into their expertise, experiences, and perspectives.
Alexandre Katrangi & Irina Duisimbekova together, seasoned entrepreneurs with years of industry experience, have been instrumental in establishing Licorne Gulf’s strong presence in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and beyond.
In addition, Irina Duisimbekova brings a wealth of knowledge and a diverse skill set to her role as an entrepreneur. Her expertise in strategic market analysis, licensing, and certifications has played a pivotal role in supporting Licorne Gulf’s clients in their expansion endeavors.
Learn more about Alexandre Katrangi, Irina Duisimbekova, and their company through our interview below.
What is the idea behind Your Company?
Alexandre Katrangi : In fact, coming from the world of entrepreneurship and industry, it was very clear to us from the outset that there was a constant need for companies, whether small, medium-sized, or international, to obtain funds, financing, lines of credit, or investors to participate and contribute to the development of existing projects. This need also extended to international expansion, the anticipation of future projects, external acquisitions from competitors or similar companies, and the development of new structures and segments within the same company.
Due to our almost 30 years of international operation, particularly in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar, we have a wide range of associate partners who are investors in our group. We also have a track record of managing money or making investments for external investors, specifically for their international accounts. Our experience spans various sectors, including the oil sector, financial sector, industrial sector, sports (such as football and car racing), as well as the tech sector with sub-segments such as Fintech, deep tech, health tech, biotech, AI, and more.
Irina Duisimbekova : The main idea behind our company is to help existing companies or startups secure the necessary funding for their business development by leveraging our expertise and networks or our investments. We guide companies through the complex process of identifying potential investors, structuring investment offerings, preparing documentation, and facilitating negotiations.
How did you embark on your career journey, and do you have any advice for beginners?
Alexandre Katrangi : There are several reasons for this. First of all, various investment options are available, whether through traditional commercial banks, investment banks, or family offices. It’s important to note that these different entities often have different or complementary investment offerings, especially in the case of syndicated investments.
We initially established ourselves in Saudi Arabia over 25 years ago. Given my father family’s long-standing presence in the Kingdom for four generations, we have actively contributed to its development and various projects over the past 30 to 50 years. It was natural for us to expand our commitment and assist our Saudi partners, including industrial families and members of the royal family, in optimizing and developing their groups and investments both domestically and internationally, particularly in the Gulf region.
The trust we have built over the years has resulted in requests from our partners to support and manage their investments. Consequently, we expanded into the Kingdom of Bahrain and Qatar, and we now have subsidiaries in Switzerland, the UK, and other locations.
When it comes to giving advice, I’m not sure if I’m the best person for the job (lol), but I can offer some insights to newcomers. Many people mistakenly believe that money is the primary requirement for starting a business or undertaking a project when in reality, it’s the structuring of the idea and the vision that lay the foundation for a concrete establishment and leverage funds & capital. The hard work, effort, and networking then enable the project to be presented to investors who also believe in it and join the adventure.
That would be the main recommendation I could give to your readers. Nowadays, I’m often surprised by certain companies that approach us for investment but don’t seem fully convinced during our discussions. They exhibit hesitancy and struggle to envision the future, both in the medium and long term. However, I always advise our clients to have an unwavering belief in their project, develop a short, medium, and long term vision, and ensure proper structuring and management. The investment and financial aspects are then entrusted to us.
Irina Duisimbekova : I graduated from South Bank University with a Master of Business Administration. During my tenure as a Business Advisor at the Chamber of Commerce in France, I had the opportunity to advise French companies on their expansion into CIS countries. I provided strategic advice and networking support, particularly for the Ukrainian and Russian, and Kazakhstan markets. This experience led me to start my own business in commodities trading, supplying major French refineries with aluminum ingots used in automobile spare parts manufacturing. Over the years, I ventured into different sectors, establishing several companies, which provided me with a broader vision and entrepreneurship experience.
To beginners, I would recommend not being afraid to launch their own businesses, even if there are risks involved. Embrace the possibility of setbacks and bankruptcies, as they can ultimately lead to success and independence.
What is the goal of Your Company? What problem are you solving with it?
Alexandre Katrangi : Our company is primarily a family investment holding company. We invest in sectors that align with our interests and if the opportunity presents an attractive investment proposition. Additionally, we assess the financial feasibility of the deal based on our investment capacities. Suppose a particular opportunity doesn’t fit our criteria. In that case, we have partners in our company, such as venture capitalists, American capital, investment banks, Swiss or European family offices, as well as private or sovereign funds from Middle Eastern countries and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).
This allows us to present investment proposals and secure financing from these individuals and institutions.
Therefore, we offer companies the financial capacity to support their projects or international expansion, along with relevant advice to facilitate their development.
Irina Duisimbekova : We also provide guidance to companies seeking to expand their business into Gulf countries, offering them significant growth opportunities and market penetration. However, successfully navigating the complexities of the GCC region requires strategic planning, market insights, and reliable guidance. This is where we come in, offering comprehensive services that include conducting detailed market analyses. We assess the economic, political, and cultural factors that impact your industry in GCC countries. Our analysis includes evaluating market trends, competitive landscape, customer preferences, and regulatory frameworks. We also assist in obtaining necessary licenses, permits, and certifications, streamlining your entry into the GCC countries and minimizing potential risks.
How important are employees’ energy levels for the success of Your Company?
Alexandre Katrangi : You know, in any business or sport, the most crucial factor is the people involved, the human beings. The cohesion and harmony among team members greatly influence the success of industrial and commercial operations.
We are fortunate to have an exceptional team of executive managers, such as Rim MATHLOUTHI and Marko Markovic, who contribute their energy, expertise, insights, organizational skills, and networks to the success of the investment projects we undertake, both for ourselves and for our clients.
Above all, they possess a key quality: an extremely positive mindset and a drive to forge ahead. This work ethic comes naturally to them, allowing them to thrive within project frameworks and build strong relationships with clients, governments, and financial institutions. They operate with a sense of tranquility and without the need to exert unnecessary pressure on themselves.
This is what truly matters, especially in today’s times – being surrounded by collaborators who embody a positive spirit and possess impeccable expertise.
What keeps your company moving forward, even in the face of challenges?
Alexandre Katrangi : First and foremost, our years of international expansion have allowed us to establish strong partnerships, acquire customers, and attract investors worldwide. Through the projects we have undertaken and our investments, our network of industrial and financial contacts has expanded, enabling us to continue investing in various areas and raising funds from new partners who have benefited from our initial investment.
Of course, there are often challenges as each case is unique and economic, political, and security conditions can undergo significant changes. However, our approach is always to move forward, be proactive, and not hesitate to adjust our course or restructure investments and cases for our clients when necessary. We respect the need for momentum in such situations.
Unfortunately, we frequently encounter clients who hesitate or fail to realize that working sequentially rather than in parallel is not ideal. It is essential to always have multiple options, even if it comes with a cost to maintain them. These options can be activated as needed at any time.
Regrettably, this is often the case: many of our customers disregard our recommendations and fail to work proactively in parallel instead of in sequence. When we alert them to potential pitfalls or profound changes that could impact their development in the coming months or year, they often remain focused on their current operations and delay taking action, thinking that everything will be fine or that they can address it later. However, the “we’ll see later” approach can be catastrophic once a situation arises, as it often takes several months to activate certain parallel options.
Irina Duisimbekova : Despite humanity’s current geopolitical situation and environmental challenges, businesses must be proactive and quickly adapt to these changes. For instance, some of our clients who were operating in Russia experienced a sudden cessation of activities and a 50% loss in turnover. They had to swiftly find new markets. Others in the oil and gas sector had to transition to renewable energies due to climate change. In this ever-changing landscape, a combination of vision, adaptability, customer focus, strategic partnerships, continuous learning, professional expertise, and determination empowers us to navigate challenges and thrive in business development and capital-raising endeavors.
In your opinion, how is technology driving changes in businesses, and do you believe it is aiding the growth of Licorne Gulf Holding?
Alexandre Katrangi : Undoubtedly, new technologies are profoundly transforming various economic and industrial sectors worldwide. From the emergence of the Soft War in banking and finance to the advancements in artificial intelligence and even the introduction of the Metaverse, these technologies are playing a significant role, particularly in the medical field, including surgery. Even during my father’s time as a surgeon, he witnessed how these new technologies revolutionized patient treatment.
We constantly encounter innovative solutions and projects presented by our customers for investment or fundraising, which are highly attractive to our investors. Countries such as the United States, Europe, and Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are actively engaged in a race to optimize and utilize these technologies to their fullest potential.
Regarding our business, which primarily involves investments and fundraising, technology has improved the way we operate, present proposals, and structure investment cases. However, since the core of our business revolves around the human relationships we establish with our customers and investors, technology has limited influence on our decision-making process and how we propose financing to companies.
Irina Duisimbekova : I would say that embracing technology trends is crucial for your business. We are currently in the era of digitalization and automation. What used to take days for accounting processing can now be done in a matter of minutes. CRM platforms enable automated management of sales and client relationships. The responsiveness and automation of your business contribute to providing services in the most optimized and seamless manner. Technology plays a vital role in the growth of your company and assists in expanding your business.
How is your company adapting to digitalization?
Irina Duisimbekova : In my private aviation company, Aerojet Me, digitalization has significantly helped me save time in requesting quotes from my extensive database of operators and owners of private jets worldwide, which includes around 5000 different entities. Within just a few minutes, I can receive offers, compare them, and generate a competitive quote for my ultra-high-net-worth individual (UHNWI) clients. It has truly been a game-changer for us!
Do you use innovative ideas to be unique?
Irina Duisimbekova : Innovation is a crucial strategy for maintaining a competitive edge in the ever-changing business landscape. By investing in research and development, we have the opportunity to delve into new technologies, products, or services. Exploring emerging and disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, or the Internet of Things can lead to groundbreaking innovations. By harnessing these technologies in unconventional ways, we can differentiate ourselves and create distinctive value propositions.
What services, solutions, or products does Your Company offer in line with current industry standards? Additionally, could you share some insights into your upcoming products or services?
Irina Duisimbekova : We offer strategies designed to assist businesses in obtaining funding to fuel their growth, operations, or specific projects. With a strong network of institutions, investment banks, venture capital firms, and private equity firms, we provide valuable expertise to help companies expand in the Gulf region. Our services include market overviews, strategic partnerships, and guidance on regulatory requirements.
Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?
Irina Duisimbekova : The world is in need of courageous individuals who are ready to take risks,
pursue their dreams, and transform their unique visions into reality. Starting your own business is a pathway to personal fulfillment, professional development, and the chance to leave a lasting impact. Embrace your entrepreneurial spirit, seize the present moment, and embark on this exhilarating journey. Keep in mind that with passion, determination, and the right mindset, the opportunities are boundless. Begin your business venture today, and we are here to provide you with support every step of the way!
Connect with Irina Duisimbekova on LinkedIn.
Connect with Alexandre Katrangi on LinkedIn.