Hani Al Saleh serves as the CEO of Arabian Hala, a leading provider of logistics in Saudi Arabia. He specializes in supply chain management and transportation, ensuring that companies across the globe are able to work as efficiently as possible. His primary career experience includes initiating multiple investments, including Naqel Co. and Hala Supply Chains. He is a veteran investor and businessman with ample operational experience in building successful companies and teams. To Hani, the key to a successful business is managing complexity, making many disparate parts working together.
Ever since graduating King Saud University in 1994 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Management, Hani Al Saleh has been a lifelong learner. His continued education has included an MBA from Babson College in 2001, graduating with honors. Since then, he has participated in courses with distinguished schools to advance his knowledge of business leadership and the fields that he works in. These courses have been from institutions such as IESE, IMD, LBS, and HBS. He remains active in industry affairs today, participating in workshops and seminars.
Hani Al Saleh’s early career included a stint as a project manager in the Saudi Industrial Development fund, where he worked to contribute to local industrial growth and development in the Kingdom. His career with Arabian Hala Co. began in 2001, and he was promoted to CEO in 2002. Later, he managed Naqel Co., another company specializing in global trade and logistics. This company was spun out of Arabian Hala as a JV with the government from 2005 until 2011.
After this, Hani Al Saleh has leveraged his expertise, particularly in logistics, to serve on various boards while managing his portfolio of investments. Most are through Arabian Hala in its capacity as an umbrella company. Hani’s current Board Director positions include Alujain Corp., Tire Service Center Co., and Health Water Bottling Co.
Hani Al Saleh on the Success of Older Startup Founders
There’s no shortage of talented individuals that hope to make it big as startup founders. For many, becoming an entrepreneur has been idealized as a way of earning a fortune and establishing a name in the business world. However, despite the mental model of a young founder finding their fame at the head of an industry-changing new company, the statistics tend to differ when it comes to what success looks like as an entrepreneur. Hani Al Saleh has worked to recognize that a successful company doesn’t have to come from a younger visionary.
This is something that is often ignored by investors, many of whom latch on to promising young entrepreneurs in hopes of being involved in the next unicorn. Research is increasingly showing that this approach may actually lose investors money in the long-term, particularly when it comes to investments in fields they have little experience in. Instead, the odds of creating a sustainable company increase drastically in your 40s and further beyond that.
In fact, the older you get, the more likely you are for you to be successful as an entrepreneur. A recent study conducted by the Census Bureau and MIT professors found that age correlates to startup prosperity. Whether a company or a side hustle, older entrepreneurs are more adept at leveraging their experience into a productive venture. A 50-year-old startup founder is over twice as likely to found a profitable startup as a 30-year-old (2.2 times more likely to be precise). The difference gets even more staggering with age—a 60-year-old founder is three times as likely. For that matter, the same hypothetical 60-year-old is 1.7 times as likely to build a startup that ends up in the top .1 percent of companies—a unicorn, in the parlance of investors.
So why the gap? Many success stories tend to depend on the perspectives of younger entrepreneurs. It’s tempting to buy into the narrative that it’s feasible for a founder to create something incredible on the first try, but more often than not, there’s more to it than that. Entrepreneurship is often a long-term endeavor that extends far beyond the first company a person creates. By failing forward, an individual gains valuable experience that serves them well in future ventures. Most entrepreneurs are repeat founders that have learned their lessons from failure.
Even individuals that have no prior entrepreneurship experience are advantaged by spending time in an industry. Connections, insider knowledge, and financial experience can all be leveraged to create a startup that goes a long way. While many believe that the cornerstone of a successful startup is a new idea, many such ideas come from professionals that have gained the necessary knowledge firsthand along with the expertise to execute an idea correctly.
For that matter, many older individuals that start their own businesses have experience as leaders in the companies they came from. This harkens back to the idea of having both a good idea and good execution—not every person can both have visionary ideas and be an incredible leader. In addition, good leadership is only gained through experience. Former executives and
the like carry years of service to their companies with them to startups they create, and it shows in their operational strengths.
With a focus on younger entrepreneurs, investors can sometimes hamper themselves when it comes to discovering new innovation. More and more research points to older generations finding more success in their entrepreneurial efforts, bringing their experience to bear on modern problems. It’s encouraging for anybody that thinks they missed their chance to create a startup and a major wakeup call for anybody that believes that new talent is everything.