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Donna Benton on How to Build and Scale a Global Business

Donna is a serial entrepreneur whose first business – The Entertainer – disrupted the Middle East market by creating a new, two-for-one coupon culture.

Donna Benton started the Entertainer in Dubai in 2001 after identifying a market gap in both providing consumers with dining incentives and enabling restaurants to reach new customers. Starting with just $3,000 Donna built the business alone from the ground up, from set-up legalities to eventually selling half the company to Abraaj, a private equity firm. Today, the Entertainer offers 38 products across 15 countries, and has over 10,000 merchant partners globally.

We talked about the challenges starting up – and it wasn’t just the usual ones: for example, Donna had to educate consumers who thought her product was too good to be true, and there must be a catch! We discussed her international expansion, and how it started with a chance conversation. I asked Donna what traits she thought entrepreneurs must have to succeed and she listed loads of them: thick skin to accept rejection; passion to put in the long hours; drive to beat the loneliness; a zest for learning; and the ability to lead by example. In selling half her company, it was critical to find the right partner who shared her vision for the future, involving international growth and going digital. And finally, we talked about how important it is for women to have financial independence.

You can follow Donna Benton on Instagram @donna_benton, and the Entertainer app can be downloaded from app stores on Android and iOS for various countries around the world.