Coded Talks: Abdullah Al-Dabbous – The MyFatoorah Story

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This blog post appeared on Coded blog on July 18th, 2016. It is published on StartupQ8 blog with the consent of the author and Coded.

Author: Ana Tadić

Coded started off with their Summer Full-time Bootcamp, which is taking place at Mefazec from July 17th to September 10th. And that means Coded weekly events are back again. The first Coded Talk will be with Abdullah Al-Dabbous, founder of a startup called MyFatoorah.

Coded: Could you tell us more about yourself?

Abdullah: I graduated from Arizona State in 2008 joined Arcapita in London for a year then EY transaction advisory services for 3.5 years. After that I did my MBA at Insead. When I came back I started MyFatoorah.

Coded: How long have you been involved with startups and how?

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Abdullah: I have always been a business-minded person looking for opportunities to venture with. I guess I have been influenced greatly by my father who is a businessman himself. While I was a full time employee, I started an exchange business which involves buying and selling physical currencies and an online currency platform from there. Furthermore, I enjoyed setting up a GMAT Boot Camp where many of the students joined top universities.

Coded: Could you tell us more about MyFatoorah? What is it about and when was it founded?

Abdullah: MyFatoorah is a unique online payment solution which has over 1000 registered vendors today. I started it in early 2015 and approached vendors in September that year. MyFatoorah gives you the key to simple SMS invoicing, online payment collections, and simple connections with your customers. There’s no need to download any software, as this sophisticated payment platform can be integrated to any new or existing site. You can bill clients via the web or their device, making it more convenient than ever for them to press ‘pay’ with the touch of their finger.

Coded: Can you share few main topics you will talk about on Tuesday?

Abdullah: On Tuesday, I will talk briefly about my background. How MyFatoorah started, how it works and the key challenges in working on a startup. Then I would like to share the key takeaways entrepreneurs should keep in mind when starting their own business.

Coded: Who should benefit the most of your talk?

Abdullah: People involved in tech, developers, existing business and people thinking of starting a business.

July 19th, 7:30 PM, Mefazec – be there!

Three lessons I learned from Startup Weekend (Kuwait)

Last week, the third version of Startup Weekend Kuwait took place at The VIVA Coded Academy. The whole weekend was exhilarating and intense! Over 120 people participated, forming 21 full teams that built MVP’s, put together business cases, and presented in front of the judges and audience after 54 hours of non-stop work. The turnout, energy, and resounding success of the event showed how far the startup scene had come in Kuwait over the past 18 months!

It’s always amazing to see how real life situations and decision making play out in teams over the course of the Weekend. Mobile or Web? Focus on marketing or building the product? Subscription Vs Freemium? Designs Vs Functionality? I saw every team dealing and struggling with these decisions, as would a real startup in “the real world”.

Along the same lines, as an organizer and observer during Startup Weekend, I learned a thing or two (or three) about what it ultimately takes to be build a successful startup:

Lesson one: It’s (mostly) about the team, not the idea

One of the participants, called Mohammad, was looking for a team to join late in the first day. Most teams had already formed, but I knew Mohammad personally, and knew that his marketing and event management background made him him a valuable member to any team. As I was walking around with him trying to find a team, I was surprised that several teams declined his offer to join them. Eventually, we found a team that had only two members who I knew to be talented and driven, just like Mohammad. He like their idea and they recognized the value they brought to them (both of them were coders/ designers). They formed a small but strong and balanced team of three.

Their initial idea was ambitious, but they pivoted to something entirely and extremely different. It wasn’t as ambitious, and I personally thought there were at least 4 or 5 more exciting ideas in the competition. I didn’t like their chances. But, lo and behold, Mohammad’s team won first place. Their idea, Mukancom, is a platform to find co-working space in Kuwait. Arwa and Shahd, Mohammad’s team mates, did a stellar job building an MVP. But, going by the judges score cards, what really set them apart was Mohammad’s final presentation. There might have been better ideas out there, but Mukancom’s overall execution and presentation was superb, and their team was strong on all fronts, and that made all the difference. (There’s another lesson here about pivoting too).

 

Lesson two: It’s not about the money, money, money

One of the things that caught my attention was the participant’s seemingly lack of interest in the cash prize. Over 210 people had signed up as participants before we had event announced the money reward. I made the announcement on stage during the event, and I distinctly remember listing the non-cash prizes first (free co-working space at Sirdab Lab, free UX consultation from Catalyst) and leaving the cash prize at the end, anticipating it would get the biggest cheer. That wasn’t the case. The non-cash prizes got a lot more noise and excitement than the cash prize announcement.

In fact, not once during the Weekend did I hear people talking about the cash prize. I got asked a few times about the non-cash prizes. It seemed that no one really cared about the money at the end of it all. And yet here there were, 21 teams working 54 hours straight without much regard for the possibility of monetary reward.

You often hear successful people say something like “Don’t start a business for the money” or “At the end of the day, it’s not about the money” but those sayings often get dismissed as idealistic mantras reserved for the already rich and successful. But the lesson I learned here is that passion, competition, and the desire to build something worthwhile are far bigger motivators than money. (I’m happy to report that the top 5 teams have all continued working on their startups after the event!)

 

Lesson three: The true value of having a co-founder

In Startup Weekend, most dropouts occur late in the second day. It’s around that time when participants start feeling exhausted, and the finish line is oh-so-far without any guarantee of success. Our lead organizer tells me the following story: two participants from the same approached him around midnight on the second day. One of them, the “CEO” of the team (she came up with the startup idea), told him she wanted to quit. She was mentally drained and didn’t think her team had a chance of winning, so she wanted to pack up and go home.  But her teammate (the co-founder) insisted she stays. She was asking the organizer to convince the CEO not to give up. She was begging her friend to see it through until the final presentations, for the sake of the team, because she knew that if the CEO quit, the rest of the team would too. The CEO, quite literally with tears in her eyes, decided to soldier on.

That team ended up winning second place, and were in close contention for first place.

It goes to show that, above all else, the greatest benefit of having a co-founder is having someone to lean on when you’re ready to give up. In the emotional roller coaster that is a startup, co-founders must take it in turns to support each other through the tough times.

 

I can’t wait for next year’s Startup Weekend, where I’m sure the ideas will be even bigger and better!

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing Coffee Meetup + Basics of Digital Marketing Talk

This Wednesday, the StartupQ8 Coffee Club Meetup will take place at The VIVA Coded Academy, Kuwait’s first coding school. The meetup is a chance  for local entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to meet, network, share ideas and collaborate.

This week, the Coffee Meetup will proceed a talk on the Basics of Digital Marketing by Abdulaziz BuKhamseen as part of the VIVA Coded Academy’s speaker of the week event.

Abdulaziz is the creator of Kuwaitiful.com, one of the top blogs in Kuwait. He has worked as head of digital marketing for payment startup Next Payment, and is currently handling major parts of online marketing for the Al-Babtain Group.

The talk will be most useful for those who want to understand how to best utilize paid online marketing via search engines and social networks. These basics are a must for anyone involved in a startup, so don’t miss it!

 

Here are the details:

When: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Schedule:

7.15 pm- Coffee Club Meetup (More info here)

7.45 pm- Basics of Digital Marketing Talk (More info here)

9.15 pm- Networking and, of course, pizza!

Where: The VIVA Coded Academy in Al-Tjaria Tower 35th floor (Al-Soor Street, downtown Kuwait)

 

See you all there!

REMINDER: The First Full-time Coding Bootcamp in Kuwait + Instructor Bio + Scholarships

Disclaimer: the author of this post is a co-founder of "Coded".

 

A few weeks ago, we posted an announcement about “Coded”, the first coding bootcamp in Kuwait started accepting applications for it’s summer full-time full-stack bootcamp. 

 

The program aims to take students with little to no coding background or Computer Science experience and turn them into junior level professional developers within 8 very intense week.

 

We meet a lot of ambitious people in Kuwait who have great ideas for startups but don’t have the technical background to execute on those ideas. If you’re one of those people, the Coded Bootcamp would be a great way for you to quickly acquire the basic technical skills you will need to either build the product yourself, or have a good enough understanding of the technical aspects to be able to communicate with a technical co-founder or team.

 

Coded recently announced that there are scholarship opportunities to fund the entire program fee for selected students. More scholarship opportunities will be added this coming week as well. So if you’re really interested in joining the program but the fees are too expensive, try to apply for a scholarship so you can join the bootcamp for free.

 

The instructor for the course comes directly from Coded’s affiliates in the US, Coding Campus. His name is Charles Stauffer. Charles is an enthusiastic software developer who has specialized in web applications. Charles has a wealth of experience working on both large and small teams. He also loves training students and new employees. Charles has a degree in Digital Animation & Computer Science from Brigham Young University. He has over 10 years of programming experience, and has notably worked as a PHP developer at Bluehost, one of the largest web hosting companies in the world. Charles’s specialty is in Python, JavaScript, and PHP.

 

Charles Stauffer- Instructor for Coded

Charles Stauffer- Instructor for Coded

 

The deadline for applying to Coded is July 10.

 

For more information and to apply visit http://www.joincoded.com

 

Good luck everyone!

 

 

 

Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for November 2014

Here at StartupQ8 HQ, we always try to put together events that are educational, insightful and fun for our entrepreneurial community. This month’s event is one we’re particularly excited about, more so than usual.

Ask any early-stage entrepreneur you know what accelerator they would join if they can join any accelerator in the world, and the overwhelming majority will give one of two answers: Y Combinator or TechStars. While the former has a very impressive portfolio, it is TechStars that has stronger mentorship, smaller classes and more ecosystem emphasis.

We’re thrilled to announce that TechStars Managing Partner Mark Solon will speak at this month’s event. Mark isn’t your typical Silicon Valley VC. He has helped build successful businesses and develop communities in smaller towns such as Boise and Boulder. He is visiting Kuwait with Kevin Tapply, and is going to share his insight on startup fundraising.

Speaking of successful businesses, our entrepreneurial chat this month will feature a founder who was not content to just develop a top ten downloaded app for Kuwait, so he went and built one with 3 million users (and growing) from all over the Arab world. We’re pleased to welcome Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed, co-founder and CEO of Waveline Media, as our entrepreur interview. He has been instrumental in building three great products: Yabila, Nabd, and Elektron Games. If any entrepreneur has real insight into how to scale an app in the Arab World, it is him.

Since this is a milestone event, we are co-hosting it with other tech related communities in Kuwait: Google Developers Group, who have kindly allowed us to encroach on their usual meetup time, and KW Tech Meetup, who will showcase some up-and-coming Kuwati startups during the event. The event is on Wednesday November 19th, starting at 7:00 pm in Global Tower.

Schedule:

7:00 – 7:05 Welcome
7:05 – 7:55 Mark Solon on Fundraising
7:55 – 8:50 Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed interview
8:50 – 9:15 Startup Demos
9:15 – 9:30 Networking

As always, register on our Meetup.com page and we’ll remind you to attend. We expect a strong attendance so get there early. See you all there!

Get Listed in Kuwait’s Largest Startup Resource Directory

Are you a web or an app developer? A designer? A business advisor? A lawyer? An investor?

Are you interested in offering your services to startups but don’t know how to reach them? Well how about you let them find you instead? 

As active members of the startup community in Kuwait we realize how fragmented the market is. We always hear great ideas from people who can’t find the right technical team to build the product. We also know people who have amazing apps and websites but have no clue how to monetize it. So we decided to take action, by connecting people and helping them build awesome startups!

As a first step we are launching a Start Up Resource Directory, a compilation of all local services available for startups. Think of it as a bridge between your SME (or if you’re a big company that caters to the needs of startups we will still include you) and the entrepreneurs looking for your services. Covering a large array of sectors, including web development, finance & funding, angel investors, venture capitalists, marketing and branding, mobile development, graphic design, HR, accounting and advisory, the Start Up Resource Directory has all you need to connect with more clients. Now is your chance to be part of the largest directory in Kuwait. To sign up your company and build your profile, please visit this link http://sirdab-lab.com/?page_id=232 and build your company’s page before the deadline of April 20th. There will also be a print copy published of the directory to further increase visibility and awareness. So don’t miss out!

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Who the heck are we?

Sirdab Lab is created by a bunch of people who are passionate about entrepreneurship, shared learning and building successful startups. We provide entrepreneurs with a community, a co-working space and access to the highest caliber mentor and network.  

Still wanna know more?

Visit www.sirdab-lab.com. And find us on Twitter and Instagram @sirdab_lab.

 Do you have feedback for us, would you like to get involved, or just want to say Hi?

Drop us a line on: info(at)sirdab-lab(dot)com

Reminder: Startup Weekend is *tomorrow*. What are you going to build?

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An interview with the founders of AbiDoc

AbiDoc is my new best friend and here is why: I hate it when I call to book a doctor’s appointment. Every time I do I get random times that don’t fit my schedule, which is probably caused by the inefficient person on the other end of the line, flipping through the appointment book. (If you live in Kuwait you probably know what I’m talking about and feel the same way)… AbiDoc solves this problem by offering an easy to use online platform where patients can directly book their appointments!

Below is an interview from the founders of AbiDoc, as we were fortunate enough to meet up with them. Together we extend an invitation for you to join us at our StartupQ8 October meetup which will be held this Monday in Global tower at 7:30pm.

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Startup Info:

Name of Startup: AbiDoc

Name of Founders and titles: Dr. Mussaad Al-Razouki (Chairman), Mohammad Al-Ali (Chief Executive Officer), Eng. Haytham Al-Hawaj (Chief Technology Officer)

Year Founded: 2012

Number of employees/partners: 9 (Kuwait); 4 (Cyprus); 3 (UAE);  3 (Jordan);  3 (Oman); 3 (Bahrain); 2 (Saudi Arabia)

What’s your elevator pitch?  

AbiDoc is an online scheduling service that allows patients to directly book appointments with doctors in Kuwait (and soon the wider Middle East region and beyond).

How did you come up with the idea for your startup?

Mussaad: As a doctor, friends and family always ask me to recommend a “good doctor.” So, together with my co-founders, we decided there had to be a better way to get information about  doctors.

Haytham: We then decided to incorporate an online booking system, similar to the system we had developed at goalcourts.com for renting out artificial football pitches. We felt it was important to have an interactive service that went beyond the functionality of a simple directory. Our mobile application takes this interactivity a step further, allowing patients to search for the nearest doctor by utilizing the GPS of their smartphone.

Mohammad: Similar services which allow patients to directly book appointments with doctors online exist in other international markets. Furthermore, other industries in the Middle East have been very successful adopting online services. Some great examples include Talabat.com, ClearTrip, and KNCC’s online booking system. We believe healthcare is next.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Thankfully, we have managed to overcome two major challenges thus far:

1. Product development: we initially underestimated the amount of time and effort that would    be required to design and develop the AbiDoc platform. Our ambition to have a multi-sided website, contact center, and applications for both Android and iOS, combined with the complexity inherent in the concept behind the product (e.g., the ability to handle online and offline bookings, reschedules, and cancellations; handling back-and-forth communications between patients, administrators, doctors, and receptionists; integration with email and SMS messaging services; etc.) caused us to significantly go beyond our initial estimated market launch date. But with each delay, we managed to build a more solid platform that caters to the needs of the patient, the doctor and even the receptionist with whom we work tirelessly to ensure a very user-friendly system

2. Business development: signing up the first batch of doctors was quite challenging. Initially we reached out to doctors through friends and family. Doctors are inherently   extremely busy professionals, so we sometimes had to get creative in how and when we     would meet with them – we have met with doctors at 11pm after their clinic hours, at     8am before their clinic hours, at cafés and my personal favourite – on a Friday afternoon   at Avenues Mall during Ramadan. We even had a marathon 5 hour meeting with a large client to make sure that we addressed every single concern of the management team. However, signing up more clinics and hospitals became easier after that first group of pioneer doctors bought into the online booking concept. Now AbiDoc is well known throughout the Kuwaiti market and we have even worked with our partner doctors, clinics and hospitals to help deliver on other technological needs. One of our key goals is for AbiDoc to become one of the most trusted names in healthcare

Personally, do you think it is more difficult to raise capital or find the right talent? Any suggestions to make it easier?

We have thus far deliberately refrained from seeking to raise capital until we start to generate significant cash flow. It is our opinion that our valuation and equity holding would be significantly compromised if were to look to external funding sources, and therefore have so far self-funded AbiDoc ourselves.

We have a talented team who have done a great job launching the AbiDoc platform and developing one of the largest healthcare networks in Kuwait. However, even they would admit that an extra helping hand or two would have helped. Unfortunately, it is often hard to find reliable programmers. Midway through development, we hired on a trial basis one prospective programmer, but ended up having to let him go due to the fact that he was generating more bugs than new features to our system!

What has contributed to your success to this point?  What advice would you like to share to early stage or new entrepreneurs?

We believe that having the following qualities are essential to be successful

Persistence: Unforeseen delays and setbacks are inevitable when building something from scratch. You sometimes end up taking two steps forward and one step back. You meet people who are skeptical of what you are doing and (whether deliberately or unintentionally) sometimes discourage you. You think to yourself at times whether the decision to put everything you have in terms of dedication, time and money, at the expense of other opportunities, into the venture was worth it. Nevertheless, you owe it yourself, your partners, and the enterprise to see it to the end. Despite the emotions that may trouble you at times, you need to remember that you embarked on this journey for sound reasons built upon a foundation of business logic and rationale, and that it deserves a decent shot at success.

People: Working with the right people is essential to creating a successful business. We make a conscious effort to appreciate all of the people we work with, and to encourage them to utilize their respective strengths. We recognize that everyone has certain talents, and they should be used. This recognition has allowed us to form a true team and to build our business. As we expand beyond Kuwait, we have been blessed with strong and reliable partners in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Cyprus, Jordan, Oman and the UAE. We are also in the late stages of discussion with potential partners in Lebanon, Qatar, and Turkey. Even with regards to our doctor network, we try to avoiding using the word “client” or “customer” as much as possible. Instead, we refer to them as partners, especially since our interests are closely aligned – the more visitors we get on AbiDoc, the more patients they will get. We believe that we are all working towards a common goal

Passion: You must be passionate when you start your venture. There are times when we work 12-16 hour days with sometimes as little as 4-5 hours of sleep at night. Nevertheless, we remain motivated. We are focused on our mission, which isn’t just to add more doctors on our platform. AbiDoc’s ultimate mission is to help doctors and hospitals solve all their administrative and technological needs, thereby allowing them to focus on their core function of caring for and treating their patients.

Promotion: We have had to adapt our promotional efforts as we have grown from a concept to an actual network. It has been necessary to be creative in the ways that we reach out to doctors. This initially consisted of tapping into friends and families’ networks. As we began to grow, the doctors themselves were a source of referrals, and many of them actively promoted AbiDoc to their colleagues on our behalf. Now, as we have officially launched and start to market to patients we aim to be equally creative and adaptable towards them. Whether this be through leveraging the power of the Internet and other technologies (e.g., social media, Google ads, blogs, etc.) or more traditional means (e.g., offline social networks such as professional networks, expatriate networks, clubs and organizations, etc.), it is important to take advantage of any opportunity that can help spread word of the AbiDoc brand and value proposition to others

Positivity: When starting up a business, it is important to make sure that the people you are partnering with are positive and inspiring individuals. You must always have an optimistic outlook on every situation that you come across, and this is never truer than when starting up a business. When one individual is struggling, it is the job of the other partners to step in and uplift the situation. AbiDoc is made up of some very talented individuals: we consist of a doctor and healthcare industry expert, a management consultant, and a biomedical engineer with a combined total of nearly 20 years work experience. Together, we exude a passion, knowledge and expertise in the healthcare, strategy and operations, as well as technology. We engineered a robust business plan and tried to account for every scenario we foresaw before we first embarked on the enterprise.

What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship? Did you quit your day job to do this? 

Mussaad: AbiDoc is the fifth venture that I have been involved in, but it is the venture with the most potential especially given the fact that it has a high chance to truly revolutionize the very opaque healthcare industry. Transitioning from an office employee to an entrepreneur over the past 3 years has been challenging and surprisingly very hard to explain to former colleagues – especially doctors. Medicine is a noble profession and an extremely rewarding one. As doctors, our profession has benefitted from the specialization of doctors into different clinical practices. You have doctors that specialize in one physiological system, like how neurologists focus on the brain and nervous system, and other doctors who focus on an entire disease system, such as diabetes specialists. Now, the next step is to have doctors that specialize in different parts of the healthcare system. We have already seen certain large hospital systems, such as the Cleveland Clinic, introduce the position of Chief Patient Experience Officer, an executive doctor whose sole purpose is to monitor and improve the patients’ experience.  As one of the first Arab doctors with an MBA focused in Healthcare Management and Finance from Columbia Business School, my personal goal is to develop a strong competency in healthcare management and the use of information to improve the efficiency of financing the future of our healthcare economy. Our aim is for AbiDoc to be the engine that will analyze this information. Together with Mohammad and Haytham, I am very confident that we will find a way to leverage the insights that the analyses generate, which will in turn improve the quality of healthcare within Kuwait, the greater GCC region, and beyond.

Mohammad: I had just completed my 3-year Business Analyst program at McKinsey & Company. I was fortunate to have earned an offer to return post-business school, but wanted to have an additional professional experience before continuing my studies to round out my outlook on business. As a consultant, I had the privilege of working on a wide range of engagements across many different industries and geographies that exposed me to issues that private sector senior executives and public sector policymakers in both emerging and developed markets face. However, I was largely limited to issuing recommendations, and rarely was involved in the implementation of ideas since this was typically left in the hands of the clients we were serving. AbiDoc has given me a better understanding of the challenges involved in establishing a company from scratch and the effort required to expand.

Haytham: I have been an entrepreneur for the better part of the past 3 years. After working as a biomedical engineer at the Ministry of Health, I decided to launch my own web and app development company, Designed Value Innovation, which developed the technology behind AbiDoc.

What do you think the strengths and weaknesses are of the Kuwait entrepreneurship and startup community?  What would you personally like to see?

We believe that initiatives such as the StartupQ8 community have been great for Kuwaiti entrepreneurs like ourselves that have recently developed a new venture. It has been great thus far getting to meet new and interesting people, bouncing ideas off one another, and having credible people who have experienced what we have to give us feedback and mentoring.

As far as we are aware, there is a lack of an accelerator, incubation and venture capital community that can provide an ecosystem within which entrepreneurs can grow and flourish. Many people have great ideas but feel that they cannot pursue them due to lack of funding and support.  Even establishments such as KSPDC require that a minimum of 20% of the capital raised for the company come from the entrepreneur, which is sometimes out of reach for many young, budding, and aspiring entrepreneurs. And even if you do have the capital, as an internet startup you often do not qualify for funding due to the lack of tangible assets. We hope that the KD 2 billion fund issued into law by the government of Kuwait will help alleviate some of the above issues and help transform Kuwait into the Silicon Valley of the Middle East.

What’s your ask right now? What do you and your startup need? (i.e., users, partners, marketing support, mentorship, talent, investment, etc.)

There are a few ways in which the StartupQ8 community, as well as your own friends and family, can support AbiDoc as we now officially launch and start to grow our user base:

1. Be sure to download and write a review for our app for either Android or iOS (just search for AbiDoc) and register an account as a patient so that when you need a doctor you can simply book an appointment via AbiDoc. You can also visit us at www.abidoc.com and register an account there. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media channels and retweet or repost anything you see interesting – we in turn hope to engage with our follower base as much as possible. You can find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/abidoc); Twitter (@AbiDoc or www.twitter.com/abidoc); Instagram (@AbiDoc or www.instagram.com/abidoc); and Google+ (www.gplus.to/abidoc).

2. If your current (or favourite) doctor is not on AbiDoc, please send us an email via info@abidoc.com and send us his or her name (and ideally contact information) and we will reach out to them to partner and list them on the AbiDoc network. We are actively adding new doctors to our network, and want to make sure we are offering our patients a wide range of options that fits their needs.

3. Finally, spread the word (WhatsApp, BBM, etc.) and try us out! Feel free to give us feedback on how we can do better at http://www.abidoc.com/website/suggestions.php. We’re always on the lookout for ways to improve.

Anything you’d like to add?

We would like to thank you and the rest of the StartUpQ8 community for your time and support! We hope to be the next in a long line of successful Kuwaiti startups, and intend to eventually expand into the wider GCC region and beyond! Of course, we cannot achieve this without you and your support.

Next StartupQ8 Event: Monday the 27th of May

So, the focus for this month is Multi-Sided Platforms, and here’s the agenda for the event, to be held Monday May 27th at Global Tower:

Start at 7:30PM

7:30 – 8:10 What’s a Multi-sided platform? by Mijbel AlQattan

8:10 – 8:20 Mini-break

8:20 – 9:00 Interviewing with the founders of Next Mobile Payments – Sayed AlMohri

9:00 – 9:30    Networking

Ends 9:30PM

Click here to register.

We’ll be posting more information about multi-sided platforms and an interview with Sayed in the coming few days. In the meantime, why don’t you share the event with your friends?

StartupQ8 agenda

So this month in our StartupQ8 event, we are focusing on multi-sided platforms.

I thought the name sounded dense and technical. So I looked it up on Wikipedia, and multi-sided platforms are defined as “economic platforms having two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits”. Not much help.

But when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that multi-sided platforms are everywhere. If a company has two distinct customer bases, and creates value by enabling them to interact, then it’s a multi-sided platform. For example, Facebook had to cater to users and advertisers, while Ebay had its buyers and sellers. It gets interesting when you consider how these companies have to grow one user base to attract the other.

PS: As always, the event will be in English.

PPS: For those who would like to pray, we’re arranging for Isha prayers to be held during the mini-break.

Creating an online marketplace: A quick interview with the founders of vewmo.com

We wanted next week’s StartupQ8 Monthly Event to be useful for people interested in online marketplaces and their challenges. So we asked Faisal AlMahmeed and Tareq AlShaikh, the two founders behind the soon to be launched online marketplace vewmo.com, to join us and discuss their experience. Not only did they agree to that, but they were also kind enough to answer a few questions about their startup for a blog post. Here’s the Q&A:

 

What is vewmo.com?

Vewmo.com is an e-commerce website where customers will be able to buy either products or vouchers for offers at spas, restaurants, salons, etc. We are supporting the small business community is a part of our social responsibility, by making it easy for small businesses to partner up with us and feature their products and services.

There have been many attempts to implement this business model. What makes Vewmo unique?

We are mixing concepts of the traditional online shopping experience and the daily deals experience. Gift vouchers will be available too. We believe that we should sell things that people would want to buy! Hence, the in-store availability of certain products will be displayed on the website. We will also carry some products exclusively, and other products can be bundled for even better pricing.

What are the most important elements in terms of design and user experience?

This is a very important issue that we thought long about and worked hard to address. In terms of design, we made sure that it is uniquely different from what is currently out there. We want the experience to be cozy and neat. We also worked very hard in developing the mobile version to give it a totally different, mobile-centric experience, so that customers can view the products with the look and feel of an app.

What are your plans for vendor acquisition? What about users?

We’re looking for vendors who have a sustainable business line so they can sell products year-round rather than seasonally. Also, vendor diversification is important so that customers can see a variety of products and services. This should be reflected very positively in our customers’ shopping experience. We will also have a “Feature Your Business” section that should attract small businesses to become our partners. User acquisition will be start with an aggressive social media strategy. Everyone in our target market can be found on social media, and it will help to spread the word about our business.

What are your plans post-launch?

We have built the platform, now it’s time to measure and learn. We will closely monitor what sells and what doesn’t. We will evaluate vendor and consumer experiences. These are very valuable elements that you can get for free. We have a dedicated page on our site called “Help Us Improve” where customers can recommend areas of improvement as well as suggest unique products to be featured on our site. Finally, constant adaptation to market changes and consumer taste will be another pillar of our efforts post-launch.

 

Vewmo.com will be launching soon. If you want to learn more or have any questions, join us at the event next week. To view the full schedule and register, click here.

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