Re­gional Star­tups

10 Re­gional Star­tups You Might Have Missed

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Content -

A list of new star­tups launch­ing in the re­gion

We have summed up 10 of the most re­cent up-and-com­ing dig­i­tal star­tups that have seen the light of day dur­ing the past year.

Coun­try of ori­gin: Egypt Founder(s): Ahmed Saad, Ba­haa Galal, Rooda Al­neama, and Mustafa Oth­man Sec­tor: Dig­i­tal me­dia Launch date: De­cem­ber 2013 Crowd An­a­lyzer is an Ara­bic so­cial web mon­i­tor­ing tool that helps com­pa­nies mea­sure peo­ple’s ac­cep­tance to­wards their brand and prod­uct by “lis­ten­ing to what they’re talk­ing” on so­cial me­dia. The plat­form dif­fer­en­ti­ates be­tween dif­fer­ent Ara­bic di­alects and con­ducts sen­ti­ment anal­y­sis ac­cord­ingly. The map­per-dis­tin­guished tool, which can scan all the tweets and posts hap­pen­ing in a spe­cific lo­ca­tion, won the 2nd place in Doha Ven­ture Day, for which around 80 early-stage ap­pli­cants were se­lected. The prize of $8,000 was added to $32,000 that the start-up man­aged to se­cure from Turn8busi­ness ac­cel­er­a­tor. Crowd An­a­lyzer also won first place at the Arabnet Beirut Startup Demo Com­pe­ti­tion. “Sen­ti­ment anal­y­sis tech­nolo­gies are widely avail­able for other lan­guages, but are very un­der­de­vel­oped when it comes to Ara­bic, although the Ara­bic lan­guage is the fastest grow­ing lan­guage on the web,” said Saad. “We tai­lored the dash­board for dif­fer­ent busi­ness pur­poses in the re­gion.”

Coun­try of ori­gin: Morocco Founder(s): Zeineb Ya­coubi Sec­tor: e-health Launch date: Septem­ber 2013

Dabadoc helps pa­tients in Morocco find the right doc­tor and book an ap­point­ment on­line. Clients can look up doc­tors based on their spe­cial­iza­tion, lo­ca­tion, and years of ex­pe­ri­ence. So far, Dabad­doc has more than 500 physi­cians listed on its plat­form, each hand-val­i­dated by Ya­coubi. Al­most 15 ap­point­ments are booked daily. One of Dabadoc’s ap­proaches to be­com­ing prof­itable is to es­tab­lish part­ner­ships with in­ter­na­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. Dabadoc’s com­peti­tor in Mor­roco, rd­vmedecin.ma, has been down for sev­eral months, help­ing Dabadoc build fur­ther mo­men­tum. “We are pri­mar­ily fo­cused on the users who have ac­cess to the in­ter­net, but in the long term, we would also want to at­tract peo­ple who are not ac­cus­tomed to go on the web to search for a doc­tor”, ex­plains Zeineb. Coun­try of ori­gin: Jor­dan Founder(s): Eve­lyn Zoubi Sec­tor: Fash­ion Launch date: April, 2014 Glanse is an app that fuses fash­ion and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to alert users of the lat­est items on sale. The app is an in­ter­ac­tive, user-friendly ser­vice that al­lows the user to cre­ate a wish­list and fol­low other users’ choices, as well as give and re­ceive ad­vice on fash­ion choices. Launched un­der the men­tor­ship of Sil­i­con Val­ley’s Plug and Play in the US, the on­line fash­ion plat­form has gar­nered more than 8000 users, be­com­ing one of the pre­mium fash­ion apps of the re­gion. The startup has in­cor­po­rated more than 500 brands in its ser­vice, and aims to triple the num­ber to 1500 brands. “It made me think fur­ther on how I shopped,” says Zoubi. Usu­ally I love check­ing out items on sale at my fa­vorite brands. I check them one by one, put aside the ones that I don’t like, and take the ones I like to the fit­ting room. So, a feed of items on sale was the di­rec­tion that we have de­cided on tak­ing.” Coun­try of ori­gin: UAE Founder(s): Di­nesh Lal­vani Sec­tor: Ed­u­ca­tion Launch date: Jan­uary 2013 When Di­nesh Lal­vani, pre­vi­ous owner of Flip Me­dia com­pany, was try­ing to teach his son Hindi, he couldn’t find any con­ve­nient app to fa­cil­i­tate the process. This got him think­ing of cre­at­ing his own app. Growl Me­dia, the par­ent com­pany of Appy kids, was founded eight months ago and has now 5 edu­tain­ment apps in its port­fo­lio tar­get­ing chil­dren aged 1 to 6. The apps in­tro­duce a non-west­ern cul­tural con­cept through en­ter­tain­ing jun­gle ad­ven­tures and an­i­mal in­ter­ac­tion. The ed­u­ca­tional con­tent com­pany man­aged to raise $500,000 in seed fund­ing to launch its first app, Appy An­i­mals. “We re­alised there’s very lit­tle in the mar­ket that can re­ally en­ter­tain kids and speak to their cul­ture, and this is a frus­tra­tion shared by par­ents from all back­grounds,” says Lal­vani. “I felt that there was a need for sto­ries that had more cul­tural mark­ers in them and the char­ac­ters of Al­fie and Haathi were born out of that.”

Coun­try of ori­gin: Egypt Founder(s): Basil Fa­teen Sec­tor: Mo­bile app Launch date: March, 2014 Kablaow is a “peo­ple”app with a mission to make con­tact ex­chang­ing and or­ga­ni­za­tion as easy as a busi­ness cardswap, only with a phone in your hand. The pro­gram sorts ev­ery new con­tact added to the user’s list ac­cord­ing to the time and place of meet­ing them (through an in­te­grated GPS sys­tem and time cal­iber). “We’re al­ways meet­ing new peo­ple in our so­cial and pro­fes­sional life,” said Basel Fa­teen, “and each per­son has so many ad­dresses to begin with: phone, sms, email, fb, twit­ter linkedin… they cause so many headaches that we tried to find a so­lu­tion to in­clude all th­ese things.” The startup was self-funded with a cap­i­tal of $80,000 and made it to the run­ner-up list at Arabnet Beirut’s Startup Demo com­pe­ti­tion. They have cur­rently re­ceived an undis­closed seed round, and they plan on launch­ing an IOS ver­sion. Coun­try of ori­gin: UAE Founder(s): Ashraf Alk­iswani Sec­tor: Ecom­merce Launch date: July 2013 Karaz is an on­line ed­u­ca­tional and e-com­merce plat­form that aims to build bridges across gaps that sep­a­rate a mar­ried cou­ple by im­prov­ing their in­ti­mate life, which will lead to hap­pier mar­riages and less in­fi­delity. Launched with $110,000 of fund­ing, Karaz.me al­lows only mar­ried adults to ac­cess the web­site. The plat­form gained pop­u­lar­ity for its care­ful tack­ling of a sen­si­tive is­sue in the Mid­dle East where it only ad­dresses Ha­lal re­la­tion­ships. The web­site also pub­lishes the lat­est stud­ies about sex­ual re­la­tion­ships and pro­vides di­rect sex­ual con­sul­ta­tions with spe­cial­ists, all in the strictest con­fi­dence. “The amount of in­for­ma­tion about the in­ti­mate life of cou­ples in the Mid­dle East is very limited due to the fact that it is mis­con­strued as taboo,” says Alk­iswani. “We here aim to re­duce do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, in­fi­delity, di­vorce, and sup­pressed emo­tions in the re­gion.”

Coun­try of ori­gin: KSA Founder(s): Otba Mushaweh Sec­tor: Web ser­vices Launch date: De­cem­ber, 2013 Typestage is a plat­form ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing high qual­ity Ara­bic web fonts at a time when the Ara­bic web ser­vice is the fastest grow­ing in the re­gion. It won 3rd place at Arabnet Riyadh Ideathon 2012 with its mission to over­haul Ara­bic con­tent on the web. “There are nearly 500 Ara­bic fonts around, and more than 90% of the fonts are un­suit­able for use on the web, ei­ther for aes­thetic or for tech­ni­cal rea­sons,” said Mushaweh, an ex­pe­ri­enced graphic designer and also the owner of

Lo­gos Guide, a pri­vate cre­ative stu­dio founded in 2006. “Ara­bic con­tent is still just 3% of in­ter­net con­tent. The Ara­bic users are obliged to read all of their con­tent in one de­fault font,” con­tin­ues Mushaweh. Typestage is cur­rently ne­go­ti­at­ing with in­vestors to ad­dress the high­lighted is­sues and ex­pand its user­base.

Coun­try of ori­gin: Egypt Founder(s): Adel Boseli, Car­men El­Saadi, She­hab Marzban Sec­tor: Busi­ness and In­vest­ment Launch date: Novem­ber 2013 Shekra is a spe­cial­ized crowd fund­ing plat­form in Egypt ded­i­cated to con­nect­ing en­trepreneurs and in­vestors; hence the fu­sion of two Ara­bic terms, “sharek” and “fekra”. It dif­fer­en­ti­ates it­self from other crowd fund­ing and crowd eq­uity plat­forms in the re­gion, such as Yomken, Zoomal, and Eureeca, by only al­low­ing a closed net­work of in­vestors to fund projects. Since launch, it has suc­cess­fully funded three projects. “15% of Arab youth have a strong de­sire to start their own projects, as com­pared to 4% in the West,” the co­founders stated at the Global Is­lamic Econ­omy Sum­mit in Dubai, where they re­ceived the Is­lamic Econ­omy Award as best SME Devel­op­ment provider.“There’s also a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of wealthy Arabs, both in the re­gion and the di­as­pora, who want to in­vest in star­tups for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons rang­ing from help­ing to cre­at­ing suc­cess sto­ries to as­sum­ing so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards their so­ci­eties.” The re­cent startup also re­ceived the Eth­i­cal Fi­nance Ini­tia­tive Award 2013 which of­fered $50,000 for the founders. Coun­try of ori­gin: Le­banon Founders: Amer Ho­maissi, Mowaf­fak Al­la­ham, and Salim Moughar­bel Sec­tor: Lan­guage ser­vices Launch date: Novem­ber 22, 2013 Shakkel is an Ara­bic Di­a­criti­za­tion Soft­ware that takes an un­di­a­critized Ara­bic text, and re­turns it di­a­critized, (“mshakkal”( ) or “m7ar­rak”( )), fa­cil­i­tat­ing the learn­ing of Ara­bic lan­guage. Fol­low­ing the new wave of Ara­bic font and lan­guage en­hance­ment on the web, the startup pitched its idea last Novem­ber at Startup Week­end 2013 and snagged the first prize of $4,000. The project was cre­ated by the three techies from the Le­banese Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity who ob­served what made the Ara­bic lan­guage on the web dif­fi­cult to read and learn and tried to solve the is­sue. Shakkel is in­tended to help peo­ple bet­ter learn the Ara­bic lan­guage us­ing com­put­ers. It also tar­gets news agen­cies to help make their news more read­able and un­der­stand­able.

Coun­try of ori­gin: Le­banon Founders: Elias Ghanem Sec­tor: On­line pay­ment Launch date: March 2014 Telr is a mul­ti­c­ur­rency and mul­ti­lin­gual pay­ment gate­way for small and medium en­ter­prises (SMES) in emerg­ing mar­kets launched in Arabnet Beirut 2014 by for­mer man­ag­ing direc­tor of Paypal MENA Elias Ghanem. The ser­vice in­tends to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the dom­i­nant COD (cash-on-de­liv­ery) method in MENA, used in over 80% of trans­ac­tions in the Mid­dle East, by in­stantly en­abling busi­nesses to ac­cept and man­age on­line pay­ments via web and mo­bile. With its lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions, as well as loans to mer­chants that meet cer­tain cri­te­ria for sales vol­ume, Telr aims to build a plat­form that makes it easy to trans­act in lo­cal cur­ren­cies. “We want to put to­gether the right APIS so that com­pa­nies have easy in­te­gra­tion,” Ghanem said on a panel on pay­ments at Arabnet Beirut 2014, stress­ing that quick setup time will set Telr apart from re­gional com­peti­tors. Telr is ac­cept­ing 130 dif­fer­ent cur­ren­cies world­wide.

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