The People behind the big start – Round 2
UthMag goes behind the scenes in order to get into the action and understand; who are the people responsible for “The Big Start”. Over the next few weeks, UthMag will be interviewing all the panelists, that are responsible for mentoring the contestants; so that you know what’s in store. Before you make your decision to enter your “Big Idea” into “The Big Start”, have a quick read!
This week we present Jarmila Nikodijevic Fryntova, Marketing Manager at Al Tamimi Investments. We sat down with her to understand exactly what’s in store.
Name: Jarmila Nikodijevic Fryntova
1) Tell us about your Educational Background.
I have a diverse educational background. I wanted to become a lawyer and enrolled into the
Faculty of Law at the Charles University in Prague, which is one of the oldest universities in
Europe. I studied law for four years but discovered that it was not what I wanted to pursue. I
then joined the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in
Systems Engineering/Quantitative Methods in Economics. I also completed an intensive one
year programme in International Marketing and Management at the Waterford Institute of
Technology (WIT). After returning to Prague, I completed a Master’s programme in Systems
Engineering with a focus on project management.
2) Did you always picture yourself in a role, like the one you are in at Al Tamimi Investments?
Not always. I wanted to be a lawyer and was well on the way to becoming one. However, while
working as a legal assistant at a reputed American law firm, I realised that law was not my real
calling. I have a flair for ideas and enjoy working with creative people and that’s when I decided
to change careers.
My educational background fits well with my current role at Al Tamimi Investments. I have
the opportunity to utilise the technical skills gained at university as well as be creative. I enjoy
exploring ideas for new projects helping in their development. It is very satisfying to work for
ventures that are positively contributing to the development of the economy. I especially enjoy
working on The Big Start project and helping to develop young entrepreneurs through our
3) Why do you think the Youth is being targeted for the Big Start and why not seasoned professionals?
As a private equity firm we do receive many business proposals from seasoned professionals
who have dreams of starting their own business. They naturally stand a better chance of
becoming entrepreneurs compared to students as they would have spent considerable time in
the real business world and gained better know-how and understanding of business through
their industry experience. The youth, on the other hand, have great ideas and aspirations to
become successful entrepreneurs. They are more dynamic, energetic, courageous, and bring
a new perspective to fresh ideas. The opportunity to obtain funding is less available to them
because of their inexperience.
We believe it is important to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth and provide
them with much-needed support to develop into successful business leaders. Students in
their final year are soon going to be making a transition from academia to the real world and
our programme speaks directly to those individuals by empowering them to make their big
ideas viable. The program not only creates career opportunities but also creates new business
opportunities within emerging industries. Some of the most successful corporations that we
see today came out of a garage or a dorm room. So we want to make sure that young talent is
encouraged and given an opportunity in this competitive business atmosphere.
4) What kind of qualities do you look for in a Contestant?
A Big Start contestant needs to have a vision of what he or she wants to achieve, why they
want it and how they are going to do it. Creativity is undoubtedly required because that’s what
makes business ideas stand out. However, it needs to be feasible and grounded by a good
understanding of business as well as the environment in which it will be set up.
Perseverance and passion are also important traits we look for in our students as that is what
will help them to persist through the ups and downs of a challenging entrepreneurial journey.
We are looking for students who are motivated, are calculated risk takers, self-driven and
5) What is your role in mentoring the contestants and what can they expect from this
The Big Start team works together on mentoring students on all core areas of business. As a
private equity firm, we meet many aspiring entrepreneurs on a regular basis and analyse the
viability of various business ideas. We use our expertise to help students think like real business
people and develop their ideas into viable concepts. We give them the opportunity to look at
their ideas from different angles, analyse them both in the macro and micro context and coach
them to find answers and shape their concepts.
I advise students on areas of marketing strategy, operations, and business development during
the mentoring phase as well as give them feedback on the overall business idea and strategy.
I also guide them on developing feasible marketing plans help them to find a good balance
between creativity and practicality. This is supported by the mentoring offered by other
members of the Big Start team.
6) Is there any advice that you would like to pass on to these future “CEO’s”, before they put
their million dollar idea on the line?
Think about what you really want to do in life and why you want to do it. Once you have done
that, live that dream to the fullest. Be passionate about what you want to do, visualize success
and believe in yourself. Value any constructive criticism that you receive and apply it. You
will never know everything so always be open to learning something from the people and
experiences that you encounter along the way.
During the last season’s awards ceremony, we caught up with Jarmila to get a better understanding of the action.. here is a video of it..
With mentors like Jarmila, you have no reason not to give The Big Start a shot.. Go ahead, you never know, 10 years from now you either might be laughing it off on your Private Jet or sitting at your desk wondering.. What if???