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2021-07-14--:--

Today, the stories behind the creation of startups in emerging markets are often left out of the global narrative. In “Startup Confessionals”, we’ll dive into founder stories from the Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on the Arab world, to learn about some of their biggest lessons and challenges on the road to product market fit, and hopefully leave you more reflective, and inspired. Our mission is to illuminate founders in the region and uncover the honest and often unspoken truths about startup life, from the personal to the professional. We’ll dive into topics like: - How founders continue to stay motivated and productive when there are challenges - The topics of productivity and resilience - How they raised capital and more I’m your host, Yasmeen Turayhi, and as a product marketing expert in Silicon Valley and Board member of TechWadi, the leading non-profit organization building bridges between Silicon Valley and the Middle East and North Africa region, I’ll lead these interviews with startup founders and entrepreneurs where we will learn about what it takes to start a company from the personal to the professional.
Today’s episode is with Dana Baki, co-founder and COO of Munch:On (formerly LUNCH:ON), a food delivery app and one of the region’s fastest growing tech companies. The company was selected as one of the Top 50 Hottest Tech Companies in the World by Techcrunch. Before starting MUNCH:ON, Dana was a Partner of Business Development at Aljal Capital—a boutique venture capital firm in the UAE. We talk about: - Munch:On’s value proposition and the food delivery ecosystem - Why Dana and her co-founders decided to start this company - The moment they realized they had product market fit - How priorities shift based on the stage of the company and size - How the covid crisis impacted their business and how to deal with adversity Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned.
Mazen AlDarrab, Founder and Chief Growth Officer of Zid, a Riyadh-based Shopify-like e-commerce management startup that helps people (and businesses) set up their online stores. Mazen AlDarrab is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded and led different companies before Zid. He is passionate about e-commerce in the MENA region and is on a mission to enable thousands of retail brands with the power of modern retail. We talk about: ✅ Why he started the company Zid ✅ The landscape of the retail and e-commerce market in the MENA region ✅ His journey towards fundraising the company ✅ How he engages with customers and gets feedback for his product roadmap Stay tuned for upcoming shows with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned.
Today’s episode is with Amir Allam, the CEO and Founder of Elmenus, a food discovery platform with over 12,000 restaurants and over 1.5 Million monthly users. Their mission is to share the best dishes in each city in the region by combining a social, visual and personalized experience to help connect restaurants with the diners. Amir is an ex internationally ranked squash player, computer science grad, and he started Elmenus out of a love of food, technology and curiosity in building impactful products. He founded Elmenus in 2011 and grew it to a series C company with millions of users in Egypt. We talk about: ✅ Why he started Elmenus ✅ The landscape of the food and dining ecosystem in the MENA region ✅ How his priorities shifted within each stage of the company ✅ How he engages with customers and gets feedback for his product roadmap ✅ The biggest moment of adversity he and his team faced and how the pandemic became an opportunity Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned.
Today’s episode is with Asim Janjua, Co-Founder of MamoPay. As CXO he drives and leads organizational-design, operations, growth, and expansion with a human-first approach. Before MamoPay, Asim spent over six years working as a Technical Design Lead for Google Switzerland. We talk about: ✅ Why he started the company and why he chose to solve a problem in the payment industry ✅ The journey he went on to create a product in a highly antiquated and regulated industry ✅ The product roadmap for MamoPay and how that fits into the digital payments ecosystem ✅ How the pandemic impacted his business ✅ What he sacrificed to start the company and how he stays motivated Stay tuned for upcoming shows with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned!
Today’s episode is with the founder of Proximie - Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram, BEM, the recipient of the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for 2018. She is an NHS surgeon, lecturer and clinical entrepreneur. Nadine drew on her passion for innovation, education and global surgery to found Proximie, an augmented reality platform aiming to improve access to expert care and to scale clinical expertise. Through its patented platform doctors can virtually transport themselves into any clinical setting to visually and practically interact and collaborate. Proximie has enjoyed significant success with early adoption by major medical institutions and device companies and has been covered by news agencies around the world. Dubbed by CNN as the "Future of Surgery," Proximie and won multiple awards including Foreign Press Association Science Story of the Year. We talk about 1- Proximie’s value proposition and why she started the company 2- How she was able to implement the technology in the medical world 3- Her road towards medical institution adoption 4- Her background and early journey from surgeon to founder 5- How she handles her day to day responsibilities and how she overcomes adversity Stay tuned for upcoming shows with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned.
In this episode, I speak with Talal Tabbaa, the co-founder and COO of Jibrel; a Swiss blockchain development company building decentralized financial products on Ethereum. He is also the co-founder of CoinMENA, a regulated crypto-currency exchange and serves on the Board of Middle East Payment Services (MEPS) in Jordan. We talk about: ✅ Why he started CoinMena ✅ Why he thinks the MENA region is ripe for crypto expansion ✅ How he navigates with uncertainty in the midst of financial regulation ✅ Some of his favorite books that inspired him Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
I talk to Tarek Mounir, founder of Enhance Fitness which has already crossed 160 full time employees and is on track to generate $1 million in monthly revenue by September 2021. Tarek Mounir was Deezer’s CEO for the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and Turkey. He oversaw Deezer’s P&L and business strategy for the region and sat on the executive management team for Deezer Globally. Tarek has been investing in startups since 2012, and he’s part of DAI (Dubai Angel Investors) since 2016. He has invested in over 15 startups so far and counting. In this conversation we talk about: ✅ How Tarek started the idea for Enhance Fitness ✅ His journey to product-market fit, and creating a company that supported the life of his trainers ✅ How he cultivates a relationship with his customers and makes sure their opinions integrate into the product roadmap ✅ How he deals with adversity, while juggling so many different responsibilities Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Emilian Popa, who is an Africa focused investor and entrepreneur. He is the Founder and CEO of ILARA Health, a high tech point of care diagnostics venture which aims to democratize access to diagnostics across developing markets. He is passionate about prevention and early detection of diseases. Emilian has over 10 years of successful launching, fund raising, growing, exiting technology ventures in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Russia while he is presently focused on the Africa region. https://ilarahealth.com/ We talk about the following and so much more: ✅ How he was able to distribute and scale his product in Africa ✅ Why he is so passionate about creating accessible healthcare in Africa ✅ Adversity he faced in this process Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa. Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Islam Shawky, the Co-founder, and CEO at Paymob, the leading digital payments provider in the MENA region. Islam started his career during his studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC) to build Paymob, which has grown to process millions of transactions through the online and offline digital solutions. We talk about the following and so much more: ✅ His product roadmap and when he knew he had a product market fit ✅ Why he decided to start a payment company, and especially in an ecosystem that doesn’t always support the most innovative payment solutions ✅ How he was able to masterfully shift his thinking during the pandemic and adjust his product strategy based on the needs of the market You can learn more about Paymob here: https://paymob.com Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Jalil Allabadi who co-founded Altibbi in 2011 with a mission to provide accessible healthcare to everyone. During the past 8 years, Altibbi has grown to become the largest digital health provider in the Arab world with +2 million pages of content, 24/7 Telehealth service in 12 Arab countries and +500,000 daily users. Jalil is an Endeavor entrepreneur since 2014, member of the Entrepreneurs Organization, member of the Board of Trustees at Royal Health Awareness Society and most recently was one of 17 global leaders to receive the 2019 Schwab Award. I was so inspired by Jalil’s path to building Altibbi, and the road he took to become one of the leading healthcare platforms in the region. We talk about the following and much more: ✅ His family history in the healthcare space, and his family’s work in creating an Arabic medical dictionary ✅ Why he decided to continue in this ecosystem, but use technology to help grow and scale it ✅ The moment he realized he had product market fit, and how he connects with his audience ✅ The road from bootstrapping to fundraising with investors Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Mokhtar, the founder of Port of Mokha, a luxury coffee brand. Mokhtar comes from an ancient lineage of farmers in Yemen that traces back to when the world’s first coffee was cultivated in his home province of Ibb over five centuries ago. In 2013, Mokhtar began focusing on his family’s roots as coffee farmers in Yemen. Seeking to reverse Yemen’s nearly lost art of coffee cultivation, he founded Port of Mokha. Mokhtar has helped to reverse the declining quality of Yemeni coffee and re-establish it as the one of industry's most treasured origins. In 2017 his coffee was rated as the number one coffee in the world by the Coffee Review. His work has been profiled in GQ, FastCompany, Vanity Fair, and New York Times, among others. Acclaimed author Dave Eggers’ NYT best-selling book, The Monk of Mokha, traces Mokhtar’s journey as a social entrepreneur and his harrowing escape from war-torn Yemen with his first coffee samples. We dive into the following: ✅ What Port of Mokha is with our audience, and also where they can find it ✅ Why he decided to start his company, and his journey ✅ How he was able to prove his product market fit, and become a luxury ✅ How he was able to pay the farmers in Yemen what they deserved ✅ Adversity that he faced on his journey, especially during the pandemic Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
What do you do when it feels like there are no solutions to manage your own health? In this episode, I interview the prolific Nadine Karadag, where we learn about her search for health and wellbeing which led her to launch Valeo, the latest startup in Dubai’s health technology space. The app promises its users a simple, personalized solution that allows them to schedule health tests, receive detailed results, and get well-rounded support from the best international wellbeing experts, all from the comfort of their own homes. Unlike the Valeo experience, Nadine’s own health journey was not that simple, and she says candidly: “While going through difficult times personally and professionally, my health started to decline. Physicians tried to fix it with medication that made me feel even worse. I then tried functional medicine with high-profile practitioners from LA to Dubai, which turned out to be expensive and time-consuming, leading to no real results. This only left me with an extra layer of feeling like a failure.” We talk about the following: ✅ Why she decided to take her health into her own hands ✅ The need for personalized, holistic care in the Middle East ✅ Her competitive advantage, and why she decided to focus on this particular industry ✅ How she met her co-founder and how they decided to launch this company ✅ Her journey raising money, and how the product roadmap will continue to change as they grow and scale in the region You can find more information about Nadine here: https://feelvaleo.com/ Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
In this conversation, Yasmeen speaks with Hamdi Tabbaa, the co-founder and CEO of Abwaab. Abwaab is an online learning platform that allows students to learn at their own pace, test themselves and get ahead with expert tutors anytime and anywhere. By offering short, engaging video lessons, visualized learning journeys, continuous assessment and performance analytics, they are changing the way students learn outside the classroom. Previously, Hamdi was the General Manager at Uber for MENA in the Levant & GCC. Under his leadership, he grew the business and worked with the government to pass ride-sharing regulations in Jordan, the first of their kind across the region. Before that, he established the specialty grocery store Dukkan, becoming one of the first in Jordan to introduce organized retail at a neighborhood level. We talk about: Why he decided to start an online education platform How education has changed globally and in the MENA region Their competitive advantage and why he decided to tackle this industry How the industry evolved during the pandemic The future product roadmap, and how he continues to preserve through the difficult moments You can find more information about Hamdi here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hamditabbaa Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Mai Medhat, the CEO and co-founder of Eventtus; an events engagement platform and the leading event technology company in the Middle East. Eventtus was recently acquired in July 2021 by Bevy, a California-based enterprise software startup for virtual conferences and community events. Mai is an Egyptian tech entrepreneur who co-founded Eventtus with a mission to mobilize events after a personal experience at some events that used to be managed manually. The company raised +4M in VC funding and is successfully serving 20,000+ events in 60+ cities. Mai was named “Entrepreneur of the Year" by Arabian Business in 2016 and she has been recognized by the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 as one of the most promising entrepreneurs and was invited to represent Middle East startups in an iconic panel with Former President Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook. Eventtus was named Startup of the year in 2017 by Entrepreneur Middle East Magazine. We talk about the following and so much more: ✅ How Mai decided to create an events platform company ✅ How she connected with her co-founder and their journey to product market fit ✅ How she built an innovative event technology platform using data and collecting inputs from the market ✅ The recent acquisition by Bevy, and the experience ✅ How she keeps herself motivated and how she handles adversity Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Karim Khashaba, the co-founder and CEO of Yodawy founded in Oct 2018. Yodawy is a digital healthcare infrastructure that upgrades the medication value chain and improves access to medication at the lowest cost. Karim is an ex. engineer and Booz & Company consultant, having 10+ years management consulting and technology experience across Europe and the Middle East. He started his career as an R&D engineer with NTT DOCOMO Eurolabs in Munich in 2008 and switched to Booz & Company in 2010, spending the next 9 years based out of Munich and later Dubai. In 2016, Karim also founded MedexCloud; a clinic and hospital management platform currently serving 100+ public and private sector clients across Egypt. On today’s show we talk about: ✅ Why he decided to create Yodawy, and specifically, why he wanted to focus on digital healthcare ✅ Why he decided to tackle this industry and market, and how his platform evolved ✅ Yodawy’s competitive advantage in the MENA ecosystem ✅ How the pandemic impacted his business Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with the prolific Badr Ward, the instigator of the Edtech industry for Children across the Middle East and North Africa, and the founder of Lamsa. Led by the latest in Early Childhood Development (ECD) research & Education Technology, Lamsa is the essential learning companion in every child's developmental years, laying the foundation for lifelong development and success, in the years that really matter. On account of his vast and diverse knowledge, Ward was selected by the World Economic Forum as a member of the Global Future Council and serves as an Advisory Board Member at the Emirates College of Technology. We talk about the following and so much more ✅ How his early years in the Montessori school system shaped his perspective on early education ✅ His decision to build Lamsa and his product development journey ✅ How he creates feedback loops with both customers: the parent and the child ✅ His top takeaways and advice on how he stays motivated and aligned - this is one you don’t want to miss! Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Halima Iqbal, the CEO and founder at Oraan, a financial company that helps women access financial services. A former investment banker and consultant with 8 years of experience, Halima moved back to Pakistan in 2017 after a decade in North America with a drive to make finance inclusive and simple for the underserved millions. She is the only female executive in the Pakistan Fintech Association. Along with her finance background she is a certified chef and co-founded Mealsurfers (food-tech) which was acquired in 2016. We dive into the following: - Why she created Oraan after her initial inability to create a bank account in Pakistan - Her flagship product, Committees and how it works - What it is really like to be a founder, and how to deal with challenges - How she navigated the fundraising journey and the advice she would tell new founders - How her team navigated through the pandemic Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
Today’s episode is with Rami Darwish, the CEO and Founder of Arrow Labs. Rami is a technology industry veteran, who has 20 years experience in the sector. Before founding Arrow Labs in 2011, Rami held key technical and business roles in leading global technology corporations Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard and Daon. Arrow Labs provides a solution to make deskless work simpler, better and more productive for frontline workers. Their  flagship SaaS solution – called MIMS - connects workers to the back office from the field and orchestrates daily workflows and tasks to be executed with simplicity. Arrow Labs’ technology makes remote workers (and companies) more efficient - dispelling the notion that technology threatens non-office jobs. We dive into the following and so much more: ✅Rami’s reason for creating Arrow Labs in 2011 ✅How he navigated the pandemic with Arrow Labs ✅How he bootstrapped the company, and then went on to raise two rounds of funding ✅His focus on growing in a global market, beyond just EMEA ✅What he sacrificed to start the company, and how he deals with challenges ✅ A book that he recommends every founder reads Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa!
Today’s episode is with Tarek Sakr, a seasoned CEO and tech entrepreneur with a proven track record of innovation, disruption and changing the status quo across the region. After a successful career in finance, Tarek followed his passion for tech and successfully founded and grew the top 2 online marketplaces in Kuwait, Q8Car and 4Sale. 4Sale is the leading online classifieds platform in Kuwait, where over a million monthly active users connect to buy and sell anything. 4Sale is available on the web, Google Play and App Store. We talk about: ✅ How he started his business when the technology and startup ecosystem in the Middle East was almost non-existent ✅ Why he decided to build his first business in Kuwait ✅ What motivates him to continue even in the face of challenges and adversity ✅ Why he did not take funding, and instead choose to focus on building his product and offering ✅ How the pandemic impacted his business ✅ Why HR and Hiring is the most important focus point for him now Stay tuned for upcoming episodes with startup founders in the Middle East and North Africa! Please tag us and tell us what you learned. We’d greatly appreciate a review if you are enjoying these conversations.
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