High-impact Lebanese entrepreneurs supported by Endeavor achieved outstanding business success in 2013, despite the harsh economic conditions facing SMEs in Lebanon. The outperforming Endeavor Entrepreneurs hit their ambitious growth targets in regional and global markets, and created new job opportunities for Lebanese talent found in Lebanon and overseas. A total of 15 high-impact entrepreneurs from Lebanon are now supported by Endeavor, the non-profit organization leading the global movement supporting High-Impact Entrepreneurs.
Moving And Shaking The Technology Sector
Elie Habib and Eddy Maroun of Anghami, the number one legal music service in MENA, launched an industry disrupting bundle combining music and 3G data at $1 only. Fresh with $1.75m of funding and with the trust of local and international labels, the new service gives Anghami customers a huge choice at an unprecedented subscription price. The partnership with Alfa, a Lebanese mobile provider that was chosen to be the launch partner, brings the company closer to the original vision, allowing users to carry their music library wherever they go and enjoy listening to their favorite music for a minimal fee.
While 2012 was a year of product innovation and development for gaming website At7addak.com, Brahms Chouity focused on perfecting his product in 2013. With a new business model that worked seamlessly for the consumer and the advertiser, At7addak.com has seen its first profitable quarter since the inception of the company. The online business is now set for a year of growth, where the user base is expected to reach 3 million Arab gamers and $2m in sales. The year 2014 might also witness the replication of the success of the At7addak.com concept and its user-generated technology platform onto many other verticals and demographics, resulting in the release of a network of over a dozen other websites.
Delphine Edde and Herve Cuviliez consolidated the position of Diwanee as the leading premium publisher for the female audience in the Middle East, reaching 5 million unique visitors per month. The company expanded its partnership with the leading luxury and FMCG brands in the region. Diwanee became a content partner of Youtube, and launched Duniati, a YouTube channel for women in Arabic with an impressive line-up of content. Also in 2013, Diwanee launched mooda.com, an e-commerce site for Arab fashion designers, and is actively contributing to support the emerging Arab fashion design scene.
For digital marketing entrepreneurs Nemr Badine and Marc Dfouni, success in 2013 came in the form of several milestones being crossed by Eastline Marketing. While its team grew to 30 employees, revenues grew over 50% compared to 2012. A creative department for graphic design and visual communication was established and a new office was set up in KSA. Eastline Marketing also introduced a number of advertising and social content advertising solutions to the market, including location-based reward points for mobile marketing, and a promotion type for Instagram contests named ‘Sweepz’.
For Apstrata, the back-end-as-a-service provider and sister company of ElementN, founded by Rabih Nassar, 2013 was a seminal year. Apstrata enabled Lebanese mobile network operator Touch to launch Touch Cloud; its developer led Apps platform. Apstrata also launched with Touch one of the first operator billing implementations in the region, a service now available to any business in Lebanon to charge their customers through their phone bills. Heading a team of technologists, Nassar rallied the mobile application developers community around the Touch Cloud initiative by organizing training workshops, talks, and competitions during which the team engaged more than 250 developers in Lebanon. During the second half of the year, Apstrata was selected by regional Dubai-based mobile giant du as a partner to penetrate the applications developer market in the UAE, and launched the du developer portal for m-government applications at Gitex in Dubai.
An impressive $10m sales deal with a tier-one Europe-based Telco conglomerate, was closed by Labib Shalak, founder of Mobinets, a telecommunications consultancy providing innovative network management services to telecom operators. Having started its operations in 2003 in North Lebanon, the company currently assists telecom giants all around the world including Siemens in Germany, Nortel in France and Cingular Wireless in the US. Shalak will hold a second funding round for his company over the coming months, at double the valuation of the previous year. Mobinets has recently appointed new board members Hussein Rifai and Mehmet Unsoy.
Glorious Success in the Manufacturing and Design Sectors
Women entrepreneurs had a remarkable share of success in 2013. Taline Assi, co-founder of Mosaic Marble which offers tailor-made mosaic products, succeeded in moving her offices and factory to bigger premises in Mazraat Yachouh. The entrepreneur plans to expand production capacity and strengthen quality and cost control. During 2013, Mosaic Marble completed the restoration work of 600sqm of mosaic flooring for the Williamsburgh Saving Bank in Brooklyn, New York. In 2014 the world will watch the company’s mosaics featured in a Hollywood movie starring Denzel Washington.
Hailed as a patron of Design Days Dubai, Nada Debs, a renowned furniture and home accessories designer and the founder of NADA DEBS, has seen her piece of art, the Concrete Carpet, short-listed for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria & Albert museum in London. In 2013, NADA DEBS finalized a promising partnership with a retail gallery in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – the region’s largest market. The company also had an image re-branding and a face-lift of its Beirut gallery space, optimizing its global marketing. As part of the Endeavor/Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Program, NADA DEBS hosted an Ernst & Young senior manager to develop advanced financial and management reporting which enabled the company to improve its processes and procedures.
One of the earliest Endeavor Lebanon entrepreneurs, Jad Khoury, founder of digital printing leader Print Works, has successfully set up his new factory in Dubai. The new 3500 m2 facility in the Dubai Investments Park (DIP) will be fully equipped with fabrication and printing services for employees to move in during the first quarter of 2014. The company will be strongly positioned to service the growing GCC market and to aggressively expand Print Works’ market share in the coming year.
Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility
“It has been an exciting year for Endeavor Lebanon Entrepreneurs and we are both happy and proud to see some of them achieving key milestones and turning points for growth in their businesses,” said Mr. Tarek Sadi, Managing Director of Endeavor Lebanon. “With the help of our local Venture Corps who generously donate their time to mentor the selected entrepreneurs and share with them strategic advice that steer them to success, Endeavor Lebanon will continue to support Lebanese SMEs in expanding and reaching their high-impact potential, accelerating economic growth and creating new job opportunities in Lebanon,” added Sadi.
Endeavor Lebanon Entrepreneurs ended the year with a series of on-campus talks to an audience of university students and alumni, inspiring them with their entrepreneurial experiences and giving them advice to ensure success in their careers. At the American University of Beirut, Brahms Chouity, Jad Khoury, Marc Dfouni and Elie Habib addressed over 100 students and professors through inspiring presentations on entrepreneurship and one-on-one conversations that took place at the university.
Endeavor Lebanon Entrepreneurs include, as of January 2014, Elie Habib and Eddy Maroun (Anghami), Brahms Chouity (At7addak), Mohamad Arayssi and Maha Arayssi Rifai (Beesline), Herve Cuviliez and Delphine Edde (Diwanee), Marc Dfouni and Nemr Badine (Eastline Marketing), Rabih Nassar (Element N), Labib Shalak (Mobinets), Taline Assi (Mosaic Marble), Nada Debs (Nada Debs Furniture and Design), Omar Onsi (Nymgo) and Jad Khoury (Print Works).
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