Money & Me: Dubai media production entrepreneur on leveraging his hobby

Kashif Joosub is the founder of Light House Studio, a media production business in Dubai’s Al Quoz industrial district, that has grown to an Dh8.5 million-a-year business with a staff of 22, since it was launched in 2011. The 34-year-old business graduate of American University of Sharjah worked in import-export for a spell, before using his savings to set up a business that leveraged his hobby of photography and video-making.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

My parents always reminded me and my siblings to save money. When I was in high school I opened up a savings account. I’d save up for things like Sega – you know, the pre-PlayStation and X-box videogame console. My dad had an electronics company – TVs, radios, watches – wholesaling to small retailers. That’s how I learnt the business basics because I used to go work in the shop at the weekend. Also I travelled with him to China, Hong Kong when he was buying.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I got paid in goods from my dad and a couple of friends and I sold them at flea markets in Pretoria. We took small things like little mini-radios with cassettes. We found others selling toys, like those tamagotchis that were selling like hot cakes then, and traded with them. At end of month, we’d split the profit, which was about 1,000 South African rand (Dh234), between the three of us.

Are you spender or saver?

I do save monthly but I enjoy travelling. Every six months I travel. I got married a year ago and now I’m spending for two people. We’ve travelled to several different places since we got married – the Maldives was the last place, for our anniversary. But I’m a net saver.

What is your most cherished purchase?

My first DSLR camera. That got me hooked on photography and opened up the idea of getting into it as a business. I bought several cameras after that but that was the first I paid for myself, I looked after it.

Where do you save your money?

I have a savings account in the bank where I put aside part of my pay monthly. Before setting up the company during the boom in Dubai, I put some money in some investment funds, very long-term, mixed portfolio – top 50 companies in the US, that kind of thing. Not a huge amount but I had some surplus.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

Credit card. I do a lot of online purchases and I get air miles.

What has been your best investment?

I think it would be my company itself. That has given me exceptional returns. More than any specific piece of kit. It started off in the first year with turnover of around Dh1.2 million-Dh1.3m – the growth has been exponential. The staff of 22 is very important to make it work as an investment. So incentives are important, like upgraded health care. These are the kinds of things you need to ensure the success of the business.

What do you most regret spending money on?

I have no major regrets. Last year I purchased a new camera that came out and I wanted it Asap, so I paid a premium for it and a couple weeks later the price dropped significantly. I should have more patience.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Work smarter rather than harder. Whatever career path you choose, just start saving from the first pay cheque or profit you make. I did that and I still stick to that.

Do you have a plan for the future?

Most of my investment is in my business. There are a lot of plans for growth and I’ve been sitting down deciding what is the next purchase for that. What else? Maybe move to other UAE cities. Personally, maybe we’ll purchase our own apartment. Rents are still firm in Dubai and property prices still soft. We’ll look at purchasing maybe next year or closer to Expo 2020.

What would you raid your savings account for?

A wedding ring … but I already did that.

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