4 Startups that make event management easier in the Levant

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Organizing an event is never easy. How do you make sure that enough people attend, or that they'll pay? Small businesses or individuals that throw their own events can easily feel overwhelmed. Several startups have launched in the Levant to solve this problem. Here's a look at what each is offering and what their advantages and disadvantages are.

1. Presella 

We recently covered Presella, the first platform in the Middle East that combines e-ticketing services with the opportunity to crowdfund your event.

Like Eventbrite, the platform allows event-goers to register and pay online as well as attend simply by showing a QR code on their phone. The difference is that the startup welcomes both established promoters and young event-organizers that haven't yet secured the necessary funds, but can get a boost with its crowdfunding option.

Pluses: The plateform is user-friendly and for some events, users can get cool rewards such as free goodies, discounts and more if they book early on.

Minuses: The website could be more social, but co-founders said it's on the way.

2. Rikbit

In Lebanon, Rikbit is a community-driven event platform that allows users to post group events and invite their friends. The goal, say the founders, is to help individuals organize group activities in Lebanon.

It offers the standard features one would find on Eventbrite, but adds features specific to group activities such as managing the reccurrence of the events, or setting a minimum number of attendees before confirming an event. 

To generate revenue, the site takes a transaction fee from event organizers. Thus far, its most popular events in Lebanon include weekly hikes, paragliding, paintball and beergers (beers and burgers).

Pluses: The platform offers a neat, user-friendly interface where you can browse through a large choice of diverse and sometimes unusual events. It also focuses on social media; every event page features the list of participants who’ve already booked, and most have chosen to publicize their Facebook name, picture and profile, making it easy to connect.

Minuses: It's still young, having launched in January after training at Lebanese incubator Seeqnce, and it's clearly a minimum viable product; users can't add events directly; they still have to email Rikbit's team to add an event. Yet the startup plans to add these features and allow merchants to create profiles soon, says co-founder Rawad Hajj. 

3. Sajilni 

In Jordan, Sajilni.com (meaning "sign me up" in Arabic) is an e-ticketing platform, like Presella, where event organizers can sell create events and sell tickets.

Unlike Presella, it doesn't offer crowdfunding. But like Eventbrite, it allows users to accept payment, manage attendees, extract reports and send invitations.

Founder Hiba Mansour built Sajilni with the help of Jordanian accelerator Oasis500. Like Rikbit, the platform also takes a 5% commission on events, but unlike Rikbit, it's designed only to deal with one-time events.

Thus far, its most popular events in Jordan include skydiving and local concerts.

Pluses: The event-organizers can set up personalized page like the one Dum Tak Festival did.

Minuses: Not enough events. While the platform launched with a popular skydiving campaign, and has continued to offer yoga workshops, concerts, conferences, and kids activities, it has still seen slow uptake in Jordan, perhaps because the market is small. Yet the team says it will also begin focusing on going regional to overcome this issue.

4. Lebtivity

Lebtivity is the only one of these four that is not a direct  event management site; it's an event aggregator that lists events going on in Lebanon.  

Any event organizer or event-goer can add event to its calendar. The platform doesn’t offer online registration or online payment, but it does offer unique features like the ability to bookmark favorite events, receive reminders and synchronize events with an online calendar.

Exactly a year ago today, Randa Farah, Teddy Zeenny, Rana Abou Rjeily, George Zeenny, and Charbel Jamous launched the site because they couldn't find a list of hiking activities. Now, it  features various categories of activities that range from Arts & Culture to Sports & Outdoors. For now, it's a self-funded parttime endeavor for them, but they plan to monetize with ads in the future.

Its most popular events are those organized by venues without websites, the founders say.

Pluses: It's not hard to see why users have flocked to it: it makes it very easy to add events or import events from Facebook. It's also comprehensive; founder Randa Farah claims that the website covers 90% of the events in Lebanon. 

Minuses: The only drawback is that too many events flood the homepage at once. The platform recently added a filter to sort events depending on how popular they are. It's a good start.

This is clearly starting to be a hot market. Other websites are under construction such as ihjoz, a Lebanese web & mobile eticketing platform.

Overall, the advantage of each platform comes down to its local flavor. Global platforms offer the standard features, but those platforms offer intuitive, user-friendly interface that highlight the local scene and how vibrant it is. 

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