Start-up of the Week: ‘Blossom’ — Showing the way to women entrepreneurs

Time: June 26, 2018

JEDDAH: Blossom, a Jeddah-based accelerator that focuses on female-led technology startups in Saudi Arabia, was launched in Dec. 2017.
It is the first and only accelerator that aims to empower and enable female-founded startups in Saudi Arabia.
A lack of resources to support growing women-led startups in the Kingdom prompted Eman Shakoor, the CEO, to establish Blossom to help other women to overcome the challenges she faced when she tried to build her own startup earlier in the same year.
Shakoor told Arab News: “I realized the growing potential and ambitions among Saudi women to start their own businesses. However, I also noticed the need to provide more access to resources and networking for them to really build up something amazing and sustainable.”
The accelerator gives early-stage startups the opportunity to participate in a boot camp and a demo day, while providing them with resources, knowledge, networking, and access to nearly 35 mentors in various business fields over a two-week program.
“A total of 28 applications were received during our first round earlier this year, shortlisted to 12 suitable applicants. From these, only four (Maison Glamour, Noorah Kareem, Passioneurs, and Ewahimprov) were selected to be part of Blossom’s first cohort,” the Blossom chief said.
Applicants are evaluated on the experience of the founding team, the product’s value, the business’s scalability and its current stage of operations.
Shakoor said: “We are looking for early-stage existing startups that have at least one female founder, an innovative tech-product that solves real problems and is backed up by market research, with a good understanding of competition, scalable future growth and, finally, the team’s experience and commitment to the business, and its product.”
As for the program’s objectives, the startups can expect guidance in refining their business models and improving their technical strength. During the two-week intensive program, participants are provided with 24/7 access to a co-working space, one-on-one sessions with expert mentors to help them in improve their businesses.
The entrepreneur said: “Startups get mentorship on everything from business models, introduction to entrepreneurship, lean principles, product design, marketing, accounting and financing, legalities, and pitching/presentation skills.
“We also organize public events and workshops focused on networking, idea-sharing, and inspiration throughout the year.”
She said: “Our main goal is to promote entrepreneurship and make it trendy among Saudi women by using Arabic names for our events.”
Since its launch, the accelerator has arranged three events: Techpreneurship Sprint (a one-day business plan competition targeting technology startup ideas); the SELLA Event (a technology entrepreneurship networking event focused on idea-sharing, inspiration, and networking); and the THIQAH Event (a female- empowerment event that teaches women how to become more confident, and to create the company they deserve).
“Going forward, and sponsored by SEDCO, Bin Dawood and other organizations, the accelerator is aiming to accept three to seven applicants in two rounds every year, for a three-month acceleration program that ends with the opportunity to pitch their ideas and products to well-known investors at the demo day,” Shakoor said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Middle East leads the world in angel investing

Time: June 11, 2018

Dubai: Middle Eastern entrepreneurs are leading the way when it comes to angel investing, according to an HSBC report on ‘Private Banking Essence of Enterprise’.

Two-thirds of entrepreneurs in the Middle East (66 per cent) are angel investors, funnelling both capital and expertise back to the entrepreneurial community, with the United States accounting for 54 per cent and the Asia-Pacific region accounting for 45 per cent.

The report, which researched the views of over 3,700 successful entrepreneurs across eleven countries globally, also found that differences exist between generations in how they perceive and approach angel investing.

More than half of younger Middle Eastern entrepreneurs (57 per cent) view angel investing as a way to connect and collaborate with peers, thus staying up-to-date with industry progress. In comparison, 52 per cent of an older generation of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs view angel investing as a way to diversify and grow their investment portfolio.

“Middle Eastern entrepreneurs are well and truly at the forefront of angel investing in comparison to their counterparts in the US and Asia. They not only understand the positive impact it can have on their business activity but also recognise the opportunity it provides them to collaborate and learn from their peers,” said Sobhi Tabbara, HSBC’s Global Market Head of Private Banking, Middle East.

When it comes to sourcing new investment opportunities, over half (53 per cent) of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs source these through their friends, rather than using a financial adviser (38 per cent). They also perceive their role to be supportive, cultivating business development and leadership skills.

Social impact

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs consider social responsibility, being active in the community, or environmental responsibility as their top priority as a business owner, compared to the global average of 21 per cent.

“With nearly a quarter [of] Middle Eastern entrepreneurs viewing social impact as their top business priority, it is clear to see that this group of entrepreneurs are also one that want to give back to society, understanding the benefits that doing good can have in helping to grow their business,” Tabbara.

The HSBC research also suggests a strong relationship between an emphasis on social impact and entrepreneurial ambition in the Middle East. Half of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs projecting high growth ambitions said that they started their ventures with the intention of creating positive social impact.

This suggests social impact should be seen as an integral part of the recipe of entrepreneurial success in the Middle East, and not separate from it.

Those entrepreneurs who project high growth ambitions are also more likely to have a mentor. In the Middle East, 89 per cent of entrepreneurs have a mentor relationship, viewed as a highly effective tactic for learning and development, in comparison to Europe (59 per cent) where it seems that entrepreneurs are yet to be convinced of the value of mentorship.

The research was conducted by Scorpio Partnership between December 2017 and January 2018, covering mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, Germany, France, the US, Switzerland, Australia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

This article was first published in Gulf News

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Why Saudi Arabia Keeps Partnering With Blockchain Startups (Video)

Time: June 07, 2018

Saudi Arabia is getting friendly with U.S.-based blockchain-focused startups.

The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology recently partnered with ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based production studio focused on building enterprise software products powered by Ethereum. The ministry co-hosted a “blockchain bootcamp” with ConsenSys as part of its efforts to support technological development.

The three-day bootcamp provided in-depth training on how to create a development environment and build decentralized applications. You might have noticed that this isn’t the first time Saudi Arabia has gotten cozy with a blockchain startup. It recently also partnered with Ripple, the San Francisco-based fintech startup known for the XRP coin.

The kingdom’s defacto central bank teamed up with Ripple to pilot instant cross-border payments between banks in the region using the blockchain. Ripple said this would allow for faster, cheaper, and more transparent transactions.

The Saudi central bank is also working with the United Arab Emirates central bank to issue a digital currency that would be accepted in cross-border transactions between the two countries. As the Saudi government continues to experiment with digital currencies, it signifies a transfer of focus from oil to emerging technologies, such as blockchain and digital tokens.

Ahmed Al-Thenayyan, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for the technology industry and digital capacities, said that AI, Internet of Things, and the blockchain “serve as major contributor[s] to the Industry 4.0 and the development of GDP.”

This article was first published in FORTUNE

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Start-up of the Week: Laith, a chic and minimalistic brand

May 28, 2018

JEDDAH: Laith is a chic and minimalistic brand inspired by the Parisian “10-item wardrobe” method, which encourages people to mix and match the 10 items in their closets.

The brand was designed by Saudi Arabia’s designer Jalila Nayil, and was launched in February 2018.

“Since our minds are always cluttered, and we live a very busy life, I aim to reduce stress through my collection,” she told Arab News.

“Dress up or down, you will always look elegant. It’s versatile, it’s cohesive, it’s your go-to wardrobe.”

The clothing line’s pilot collection AW2018 primary colors were black and ivory, and consisted of 31 items and different fabrics.

“They are the classiest and most universal colors — I wanted to start with the basics,” said Nayil.

She uses different fabrics for her clothing line such as crepe matte, crepe silk and velvet.

“The lining is Italian crepe de chine and 100 percent silk. Each of the fabrics is in ivory and black. I wanted to mix and match the fabric to create and focus on texture.

“I wanted to use the matte crepe to create a chic, practical look, and you will find it in the blazer, slim pants, Kaftan dress and the trench coat.

“Whereas silk crepe is more on the comfortable and elegant side, which compliments all the fabrics. You can find it in the dress, the wide-leg trousers, the crop top and the flowy top. The silk ties down both fabrics, creating a subtle contrast.

“Lastly the velvet, which gives you the ultimate luxurious appearance. You can see it in the blazer, slim pants, dress, wide-leg trousers, and trench coat,” she explained.

Nayil’s next collection SS19 is expected to consist of neutral colors. The designer said each of her collections expresses a certain theme.

“I see what is missing, what is needed and I work from there,” said Nayil, “keeping elegance in mind.”

“I want people to feel confident and free,” Nayil said.

This article was first published in  Arab News

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Start-up of the Week: Amirni – Making a difference in the field of logistics in Saudi Arabia

May 22, 2018

  • Amirni.com is a one-stop shop where one can find all of its services and products
  • Clients can either call or use the chatting feature on the company’s app for all questions or concerns

JEDDAH: Amirni Express Co. (AX) is a Saudi-based logistics, mail and goods delivery company that provides on-demand delivery services through its own fleet of cars and drivers.
Established in 2016, AX currently covers Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Dammam and Alkhobar. AX allows both the general public and businesses to send or receive anything, anywhere, and at any time within Saudi Arabia, and soon in the greater Gulf Cooperation Council region. All retailers and consumers can select products and set up a scheduled delivery time on demand by simply using the company’s app or through its website, or by calling directly.
Aiming to ease the life of Saudi consumers, AX was founded on the principle: “To Simplify and To Serve.” In an era of technology, it plays an effective role in the delivery of goods and services in an efficient and professional manner. The company’s main objective is to be available at all times and places providing technical delivery services using an application designed to service wherever you are in the Kingdom. Everything from restaurant deliveries to pharmaceutical pick-ups, and bulk services can be arranged.
Specifically, in the field of delivery services, Amirni Express Co. realizes the importance of pharmaceutical delivery. It offers its services 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Its website, Amirni.com is a one-stop shop where one can find all of its services and products. In addition, discounts and special offers are frequently presented to Amirni clients. By using state-of-the-art GPS technology, clients can track their orders and acquire the exact time of arrival. Clients can also choose their most convenient payment method, as all of their vehicles are equipped with a point-of-sale system that accepts debit and credit cards. Clients have the payment options of ATM, or cash, or via MADA network.
Amirni CEO, Abdullah Alnajar described what is next for his company. “In the near future, each of our consumers will have access to Moe-Bot, an in-app A.I. Assistant, who will help them save money in addition to anticipating their needs before they are requested so that their needs are readily available by the time they are desired. We are morphing into an artificially intelligent ecosystem that profoundly understands each consumer and supplier!”
Since Amirni’s goal is to enrich delivery services and make it easily accessible to customers, it manages all data, orders, and requests through their own in-house call center. Clients can either call or use the chatting feature on the company’s app for all questions or concerns. The call center is available at all hours of operations (8 a.m. to 2 a.m.).

This article was first published in  Arab News

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Generation start-up: Golden Scent sniffs out success

May 20, 2018

 

In February, the firm co-founded in 2014 by Malik Shehab in Saudi Arabia, announced expansion plans after a successful December 2017 Series A funding round

In the Middle East, the growth of the online beauty market may be starting from a lower level than Europe or the US, but it is accelerating.

One of the leading lights in the GCC is Golden Scent, a Saudi Arabian start-up platform. In February, the firm co-founded in 2014 by Malik Shehab, announced expansion plans after a successful December 2017 Series A funding round. In that round the company secured backing from major players including Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures, Equitrust – the investment arm of Choueiri group – Wamda Capital and Raed Ventures – the investment arm of Almajdoui Holding. It did not disclose the value of the funding it received.

It is the founders’ experience of the European market that gave them the impetus to start Golden Scent.

“When [co-founder] Ronny Froehlich and I were living in Europe in 2013, we noticed the boom of the e-commerce industry, especially in the beauty section,” Mr Shehab tells The National. “Our first step was doing our research, and we found out that in GCC, women spend four to six times more on beauty than the average woman in Europe. With the added special benefits the e-commerce provides such as shopping at the comfort of your home and variety of options to choose from, we knew Golden Scent would be successful.”

According to Euromonitor International, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will be the fastest-growing region in beauty and personal care products. The MEA’s $25.4 billion market will grow by over 6 per cent a year over the next five years, outperforming global markets where the sector is expected to grow 3 per cent a year. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which together account for a quarter of the MEA’s market, will grow by 12 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively. Additionally, Saudi Arabia dominates the overall sales market with a national spend of $5.3bn.

Retail e-commerce sales in the Middle East are forecast to rise significantly between 2017 and 2020, according to a report by ResearchAndMarkets.com. The primary driver for that is increased internet penetration, already surpassing 90 per cent in many countries in the region. Shoppers are also warming up to the idea of online shopping, although the tradition of brick and mortar shopping remains strong. Online retail sales are forecast in the report to double by 2020 compared to 2017 for the Arabian Gulf countries.

It is just such predictions that have inspired Mr Shehab to grow the business. “At the moment we are expanding our product portfolio from fragrance focused to beauty products to have a wider product portfolio,” he says. “We started with fragrances and until now we are focused on fragrances and this is our speciality and what we are known for and always will be.

“We did many steps to ensure our product expanding plan works, starting from studying the market, hiring the experts to shifting to a bigger warehouse.”

Mr Shehab says the importance of bringing in the right experience can’t be overplayed. “To be able to succeed, you need to surround yourself with experts who are specialised in their field and scale it with them and be on top of everything,” he says.

“At Golden Scent we invest in our people by sending them to training and conferences to expand their knowledge and skills. Any employee of Golden Scent can register themselves to any course they believe they need to enhance their skills to do better at Golden Scent and Golden Scent bears the cost of the course,” Mr Shehab says.

“In order for the company to grow the people need to grow, too.”

According to EMI Research, the GCC’s retail value of fragrances is forecast to be worth $3.6bn in 2021 – $2.1bn in Saudi Arabia, and $807m in the UAE.

Understanding the local market is crucial, says Mr Shehab. “Like any business you have to keep up with the local culture and trends happening every second of the day otherwise the company will fail.

“Our marketing team does market research and social media reports on a weekly basis to keep up with what’s happening and join the party if there is any going on.”

New trends are also helping to drive the market, including the fashion for natural ingredients and organic products, hairstylist and founder of the Dubai-based professional hair styling tools brand Eeideal, Haysam Eid, told The National last year. “Brands such as [France’s] Corine de Farme and [Australia’s] Organic Care are becoming more mainstream due to their strong distribution channels and competitive pricing. As more and more consumers become aware of the advantages of these products and witness the positive effects of going green, the popularity and acceptance of organic products continues to be positive.”

Digital influencers are key, says the Emirati beauty blogger Dina Al Sharif, who has been working with brands as an influencer for nine months, just two years after launching her Instagram feed. “I’m pretty sure that brands now rely on influencers more than anything to promote a product. They are aware that when a real person talks about a product, people believe it more.”

The growing global preference for clean, green and sustainable beauty products has taken root in the MEA, with analysts TechSci Research indicating the regional market for natural and organic cosmetics could grow annually by 12 to 15 per cent over the next five years.

That would place the retail value anywhere between $4bn to $5bn by 2022, driven, according to TechSci, by increasing consumer awareness and demand for products that are not only better for their health, but better for the environment and society overall.

For Golden Scent, the future is indeed bright. As Omar Almajdouie, founder and managing partner of Raed Ventures said when announcing the firm’s backing of the Saudi Arabian start-up: “The company has already broken even, achieving a double digit million dollar in revenues.

“The strong growth as well as the vision and excellence of the founders who built Golden Scent to the number one beauty online destination in the GCC, has led us to invest in this excellent opportunity.”

That assessment is one with which Mr Shehab concurs. He says within five years he sees “Golden Scent as the number number e-store in the Middle East for beauty.”

He will, of course, have competition. Firms in the region vying for a slice of the pie included the UAE-based Bashacare, launched a year before Golden Scent. Bashacare, founded by Jad Haidamous, is an online retailer of beauty and skincare products. The selection of brands is limited in terms of access and most brands it carries are sold in pharmacies, clinics or luxury spas.

Offering a different online beauty service is Blowout&Go, a provider of mobile blow-dry, hair styling and makeup services across Dubai and the UAE. The team of qualified hair stylists and makeup artist travel directly to the customer, whether it be a home, hotel or office, “providing the same high quality experience which you would expect in a salon but with the convenience of never having to leave your door”, it says.

So given that Golden Scent will have its work cut out for it to achieve its lofty targets, but what drives Mr Shehab to pursue them?

“I didn’t start to sell the company. I started to build a company,” he says. “If you work hard, do the homework and research, and keep trying, you will never fail.”

And what gives him the most pleasure about the start-up he says, is, “The joy of checking the website orders in the morning and day before.”

This article was first published in  The National

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Start-up of the Week: A helping hand with new hobbies

Time: May 15, 2018

JEDDAH: Fadi Yahya founded Suplift with the goal of helping people start new hobbies and to learn new skills by bringing them together.

Yahya, the chief hobbyist at Suplift, describes himself as a builder, fixer and an artist. He realized there was a need for such an entity when he tried to learn to play the guitar for almost five years without any real progress.

Suplift was launched in February 2016 in Jeddah as a platform that “provides the opportunity to learn new hobbies and leisure skills and encourages people to share their passions with others.”

It is a platform that deals with the lack of leisure activities among the young population of Saudi Arabia, and the realized need of such activities has been highlighted in the Quality of Life program 2020 (one of the Vision Realization Programs of Saudi Arabia).

The word Suplift is the combination of the two English words, supporting and uplifting, which summarize the platform’s core activities and mission.

Yahya explained: “Relying on the 3Cs approach (classes, community, and content) and Suplift’s Discovery Events (Estakshif), we want people to discover their abilities and hobbies as well as promote their hidden talents.”

Suplift aims to organize four small discovery events a quarter featuring four different activities. The participants will have the chance to discover each one performed by experts and passionate individuals from their community. This will introduce the tools, methods, and exercises needed for a skill to be mastered or performed.

Since its launch, Suplift has arranged several discovery events in Jeddah, such as music and horse riding, for people to come and discover new hobbies and activities. Its website provides a wide range of classes/hobbies under different categories, such as learning a musical instrument (guitar, piano and oud), fitness (yoga and tai chi) and languages (English, Spanish and French).

Yahya said: “We have more than 250 coaches available on Suplift, with an extensive list of hobbies.”

The site provides the learners with a direct access to real-life classes in their cities and communities, created by local experts in those skills and hobbies. It also offers a corporate program that focuses on teambuilding activities, through sharing hobbies and skills among the team members of an organization.

The founder explained: “The program aims to improve workplace relationships and to boost employees’ abilities and loyalties.”

Ernst and Young Saudi Arabia (EY) benefited from this program in its offices across the country earlier this year as a part of the company’s International Women’s Day’s activities. Additionally, one of the Quality of Life program’s (QoL) main goals is to reach 420 local hobbies clubs in the Kingdom by 2020.

Yahya said: “Suplift objectives are already in line with the QoL program goals and objectives.” “We are committed to helping in clubs’ creation and facilitating sponsorships in order to maintain sustainability,” he said. “Our headquarters are currently in Jeddah but we are planning to launch our office in Riyadh by mid-2018, and expand further to the Eastern Province as well.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Badir Program launches new strategy to invest in startups

Time: May 6, 2018

RIYADH — Badir Program for Technology Incubators and Accelerators, one of the leading initiatives of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), has launched a new investment strategy seeking to invest in “high potential” technology start-ups with a focus on the program’s incubated or graduated companies.

The Program did not disclose the size of the total funds planned for investment in incubated or graduated start-ups, but said the investment strategy aims to bridge the funding gap that hinders emerging companies from turning into businesses capable of attracting investments.

As part of its new investment strategy, Badir Program has completed its investment financing transaction in Voxel Company — one of the most prominent projects incubated by the Program and specialized in 3D terrestrial and aerial digital survey and virtual reality technology. The Voxel Company, which was valued at $3.5 milion during the valuation process, intends to use the new funding in improving and developing its services and increase its expansion in the local and regional market.

That is the second transaction for Badir Program after its participation last week in the first funding round of Telfaz11, a Saudi digital media company with 20 million YouTube subscribers to its network.

“Our new investment in ‘Telfaz11’ and Voxel meets our new strategic goals of investment in the incubation outputs of the start-ups with the aim to help them expand and grow in the targeted markets, especially given the challenges and difficulties faced by Saudi start-ups in obtaining the necessary funding,” said Nawaf Al Sahhaf, Chief Executive Officer of Badir Program.

He added: “Badir Program will have a dual investment strategy — funding start-up companies in the incorporation phase; and incubated & graduated companies in the growth phase. Also, the Program will continue to support the start-up ecosystem and look for opportunities in technology innovation that match program portfolio requirements and are in line with its new strategic objectives.”

Badir Program is one of the leading programs of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. The program was established in 2007 to improve and support technical entrepreneurship throughout the Kingdom by helping the strategic policy applied in entrepreneurship and incubators in collaboration with government agencies, universities and the private sector. — SG

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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‘Embrace risk,’ Saudi Arabia’s new entrepreneurs urged

Time: May 03, 2018

JEDDAH: Saudi entrepreneurs were urged to “think global, stay local” during a conference address at Dar Al-Hekmah University.

Prof. William Kerr, who chairs Harvard University’s Launching New Ventures program, told an international research forum that risk-taking was an important quality for entrepreneurs.

“Don’t try to pick a winner,” he said. “Reduce the cost for the global network and for entry in Saudi Arabia, and build greater rewards and better competition.”

Kerr works with companies around the world on the development of new ventures and transformations to ensure profitable growth.

Later, he told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia appears to be at a wonderful turning point where bringing entrepreneurship and enabling its growth will make a more vibrant society and also improve the local economy.

“Entrepreneurship doesn’t operate by itself, so the question is what do you give to the entrepreneurs? If you give them access to the market and reduce the cost of entering a business or competing with big companies, then we can expect lots of economic growth.

“One should learn from examples and others’ experience. Female entrepreneurs, in particular, should look for female role models.

“It can be a lonely business for any entrepreneur, so look for mentors’ support and work hard.”

Shatha Abu Al-Faraj, of Dar Al-Hekma University, addressed a class at the conference on “digital design process and digital fabrication techniques for teaching product design.”

“Digital fabrication is a new field in Saudi Arabia now that we live in a fast-paced era. Everyone should be able keep up with the technology,” she told Arab News.

“I am not only teaching big things, I want to teach a stay-at-home woman how to design things as simple as jewelry. By graphic designing, you can design your own jewelry and wear exactly what you desire. Of course, interior design and furniture design will also be easy.”

Visiting scholars were taken on a tour of Dukkan Dar Al-Hekma, a shop stocked with high-quality products made by university students.

This article was first published Arab News
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Entrepreneur of the Week: Fashtory’s Alanoud Al Mubarak

Apr 27, 2018

The fashion app that supports emerging designers and tackles current challenges while offering a free-to-user service

Alanoud Al Mubarak saw the need for a platform that connects fashion buyers with designers, so decided to launch a non-transactional online navigable directory based in one of the region’s most promising yet untapped markets, Saudi Arabia.

Fashtory, which operates in over 21 countries including the UAE, boasts products ranging from bespoke clothing to abayas and shoes. Al Mubarak tells Arabian Business how the app supports emerging designers and tackles current challenges while offering a free service.

Why did you decide to launch Fashtory?

I created Fashtory because I felt there was a gap in the market for a platform that connected up-and-coming designers in Saudi Arabia with interested buyers. I personally love travelling and finding unique pieces wherever I go. Following conversations with friends and family, we agreed that the current process of scrolling through Instagram or relying on word-of-mouth was too time consuming and failed to connect designers and buyers efficiently.

I created Fashtory to bring both together, giving designers a chance to become the next big thing while helping fashionistas get their hands on unique products. As for the name, it’s a simple combination of the words “fashion and “directory”, and that sums up what the app is for.

What were some of the challenges you encountered while setting up Fashtory, particularly as it is a platform that doesn’t really have a benchmark here?

The greatest challenge we encountered was differentiating ourselves in the market and positioning Fashtory as a directory rather than an online shopping platform. It is entirely non-transactional, and acts as a social network instead, facilitating conversations rather than purchases. With so many emerging e-commerce platforms in the fashion industry, it was easy for Fashtory to mistakenly fall into the wrong category.

What are some of the difficulties you are facing in running the platform?

As with any new mobile platform, maintaining and growing the user base for designers and buyers can be challenging. Fashtory is dependent on an active user base for it to run smoothly. Although we have noticed a fast uptake in a short period of time, encouraging users to regularly check and update their accounts can be a challenge at times.

What is your business model?

Fashtory is built on a subscription basis, charging brands who want to be present on the platform a small fee billed through the App Store and the Play Store. However, since the launch, we have waived the fee until we firmly establish a loyal customer base.

What were you doing before?

Before Fashtory, I was working in our family business, which operates in the industrial chemical sector. I am still working in this role, but developing Fashtory in my spare time. It has been challenging juggling both, but the hard work and long hours are ultimately worthwhile when I see how fast it has grown in such a short space of time. Someday, I hope to be able to concentrate solely on Fashtory. But until the platform is further developed, I will continue to pursue the two ventures simultaneously.

Were you ever afraid to set up your own venture?

Initially, I had reservations, but I was always quietly confident that Fashtory would become a success. Sometimes the greatest opportunities in life come with a risk. I knew that in order to develop the platform, I had to take an initial leap of faith.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given to you?

The road to success is full of twists and turns, but one should always remain confident in their ability to make their dreams a reality. If you are focused and dedicated, your hard work will eventually pay off.

This article was first published in the Arabian Business

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