The Co-Founder of Spades, a payments solution based in the UAE, warns startups against “aggressive customer acquisition”

Adnan Haque, co-founder of a contactless payments solution used in 200 restaurants in the UAE, believes that startups that add value to a consumer’s life will last in Pakistan, and he advocates against aggressive customer acquisition. His remarks come at a difficult time for Pakistan’s startup community.

On Aaj News’ In the Arena, Haque told Asma Mustafa that a company will do well if it “ends up creating a new kind of industry or kind of helping an industry, as long as there’s tapered growth.”

On the other hand, he believes that “companies that spend aggressively to acquire customers end up getting the most hurt.”

“Of course you’re a start up, you want to show how you’re disruptive and you want to show how you can grow super fast, but not at a cost that will end up affecting hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

He stated that there are numerous opportunities to add value in Pakistan’s technology sector and even in brick-and-mortar areas “as long as it’s measured growth.” In the interview, Haque also discussed growing up in Lahore and London, as well as studying in Canada and the United States before settling in the UAE.

“When I came here, I was working for a small, private equity team. What I fell in love with was the fact that this country was literally giving opportunities to anybody and everybody.

“And I think that was the biggest calling for me. People that live in UAE are absolutely blessed to have a country that supports them, gives them opportunities, has the right processes and infrastructure in place to help people like me succeed.”

He added that it is one of the best places in the world to do business.

“I’ve done it (business) in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, even in Canada. Every market has its own pros and cons. But I think this hub is built to help businesses come grow and essentially expand.

“There’s a lot of government support in helping businesses set up and start and then obviously there’s benefits from a taxation perspective … you’re essentially helping people that either come from developing countries set up here or even western countries come and expand their brand. There’s safety, there’s security.”