At Endeavor’s 51st International Selection Panel a couple of weeks ago, the support network accepted 28 entrepreneurs from 20 companies in 12 countries to join its community. These high-impact entrepreneurs hailed from Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Miami, Morocco, Turkey and the UAE, bringing Endeavor’s total number of entrepreneurs to 872 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 558 companies. while
Eight of those companies were from the Arab world, with
companies from Morocco and the UAE joining Endeavor for the first
time, as the event marked the launch of a new Endeavor affiliate in
the UAE. Each company that joined had to undergo a rigorous
interview process with several experienced entrepreneurs in
Endeavor’s extensive network, in an all-day session designed to
test their business model, execution, and vision.
Those who completed the sessions took home valuable advice. Duplays, the platform for connecting to sport activities, received input on its current scaling process, explains Brian Sigafoos, the CEO and Cofounder of Playpass, the company's technology platform.
“We had to defend Duplays, our future potential for growth, and
our future potential. It was amazing to be in the same room with
some very excellent people, and hear them give us their very honest
feedback on our strategy,” he says. “Not everyone agreed,
funnily enough, but we did hear a few things consistently, and
we're very open to that and change those things. Both of the two
mentors who helped us out the most validated and approved our
vision for PlayPass.”
Michael Lahyani, the CEO and founder of Propertyfinder.ae, the other company to join from the UAE, echoes that sentiment. "What's great about Endeavor's ISP is that you get the rare opportunity to speak with new mentors who are both experienced and well-informed about the ins and outs of your business, because they've just read your prospectus. I was challenged on things that questioned my assumptions in a very positive way."
For Lahyani, who is continuing to scale the real estate listing company across the Middle East, part of the appeal of joining Endeavor is the chance to not just receive mentorship, but also to help other companies.
"Endeavor's mentoring will be a very positive benefit, but one of the main reasons I'm excited to join the network is that I like being part of an organization whose main purpose is to give back," he says. "Unlike in most emerging markets, we're lucky in Dubai to be surrounded with a lot of mentors, and, when the time is right, I look forward to connecting with entrepreneurs across this region as well as those in remote corners of the globe."
Another company that benefitted from the ISP was Baraka Optics Group, which first attended an Endeavor ISP in 2010 in Cape Town.
There, Baraka Optics Group wasn’t accepted into the network on his first try, but the founders received valuable advice that set the company on the right track, founder Ahmed Ragab explains. “The main feedback I received was that I had to make sure that I have the right team on board,either through upgrading or adding people.”
Mentors also advised the company, which was primarily selling
offline at the time, to hone its revenue model for online retail.
“I had to focus my marketing strategy, and retailer strategy to be
more focused, and more consistent, rather than being diversified
and diluted,” Ragab says. “I was divided between wholesale and
retail; they advised me to pick one and focus on it.”
By building retailer applications that made the company’s offerings more consistent, and and focusing the retail strategy, Baraka Optics was able to grow from 21 shops to 34 shops since 2010, and double its profit from 2011 to 2013, Ragab reveals.
Joining Endeavor will mean “New work, new jobs, more profit, and more interest,” he says. “Higher impact will be achieved.”
Meet the rest of Endeavor’s newest group of high-impact
entrepreneurs from across the Arab world, and see the entire list
(including Argentina, Brazil, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Miami, and
Entrepreneur: Ahmed Ragab
Company: Baraka Optics Group
Description: Baraka Optics Group (2008) provides unique and quality eyewear products with premium service to meet the design and pricing needs of Egyptian middle to upper-class consumers. Growing out of an importer and distributor of foreign goods by the same name (Baraka, 1979), Baraka Group is a trusted and well-established brand with over 30 retail locations in metropolitan and resort locations throughout Egypt. Through its C & Co. product line, Baraka Group became the first company to offer Egyptian-branded eyewear and target the underserved youth population with trendy, affordable products. The company also offers its services through an innovative pop-up retail application, C & Co. Express.
Entrepreneurs: Hazem Dalati & Fahed Dalati
Company: Crave Restaurants
Description: Crave’s casual dining restaurants fill the gap between Egypt’s high-end hotel restaurants and international chains. Brothers Hazem and Fahed Dalati take month-long trips to international food exhibitions and foreign restaurants to follow dining trends. They then change the Crave menu quarterly with new fusion dishes that adapt global cuisine to Egyptian tastes through creative local ingredients. The Tico parent company includes a catering arm for corporate and private celebrations, and a hospitality management service that organizes large-scale events at two Cairo business parks. Crave plans to add five restaurants in Egypt and five throughout the MENA region within three years, as well as grow its catering business.
Entrepreneur: Omar Tabbaa
Company: EAT Restaurant Group
Description: EAT offers four distinct themed restaurant brands
in eleven locations across Jordan and Bahrain. The family-focused,
alcohol-free EAT restaurants offer Italian, Asian, or modern Arab
cuisine in thoughtfully decorated environments – and they stand out
from typical traditional Jordanian casual dining experiences.
Unlike foreign restaurant chain competitors, EAT focuses on
sourcing ingredients locally with its own butchery and bakery to
maintain quality and consistency and recently launched a customer
loyalty card program, Group-wide food delivery service, and new
shisha café brand. EAT plans to add 26 restaurants in eight
countries over the next three years using its franchise model.
Entrepreneurs: Mohamad Arayssi, Maha Arayssi Rifai
Description: Founded in 1993, Beesline is a brand of natural
personal care products developed and produced in Lebanon. Based on
the science of apitherapy (the medicinal use of bee by-products),
Beesline products are rich in natural active ingredients that
are free of additives like artificial coloring, fragrances and
harsh preservatives. With over 150 SKUs, the products offer
specialized treatments for a wide range of skin care problems, such
as acne and eczema, as well as cosmetic needs like make-up and
skin-whitening items. These products are sold in thousands of
pharmacies and supermarkets throughout the region in Saudi Arabia,
Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE, as well
as through Beesline’s retail store in Beirut.
Entrepreneur: Mourad Mekouar
Description: In the absence of a centralized bill payment system in Morocco, Mourad Mekouar founded M2T, a multi-channel platform that enables un-banked customers at the base of the pyramid to pay bills, transfer money, and purchase mobile minutes and transportation tickets all in the same location – saving them time, money and energy. M2T processes over 40 million transactions each year, serving on average two million users per month through its 1,700 payment points across Morocco, Senegal and France. Having already captured 80% of the Moroccan bill payment market, M2T is poised to extend its service across MENA and Western Africa.
Entrepreneur: Youssef Chaqor
Company: Kilimanjaro Environment
Description: Kilimanjaro Environment is at the forefront of the
green energy movement in Morocco. The company collects used cooking
oil from restaurants and hotels, which it filters, treats, and
resells to biodiesel manufacturers. It also resells fatty acid
products to both biodiesel and feedstock production plants. Having
recently launched a pilot biodiesel production plant, Kilimanjaro
now also produces biodiesel in house. The company’s process not
only eliminates and treats waste, but also helps reduce CO2
emissions and find new ways to create clean energy.
Entrepreneurs: Ravi Bhusari, Derv Rao, Brian Sigafoos
Description: Based in Dubai, Duplays uses sport to engage communities, satisfying social and physical activity needs by removing the logistics and organizational hurdles that might otherwise deter participation. As a sports-network enabler, the company coordinates tournaments and leagues for individuals in over 20 sports, and has developed employee wellness programs for 65 corporations. Additionally, Duplays has hosted over 20 sports events sponsored by big-name brands looking to carry out initiatives to reach customers. Duplays recently launched two new initiatives: PlayPass, a technology platform to help sports/activities organizers plan and coordinate events, as well as franchising (already in Qatar, Jordan and India) to scale growth internationally.
Entrepreneur: Michael Lahyani
Description: Propertyfinder is an online real estate catalog that allows visitors to browse for free over 80,000 residential and commercial properties, posted by over 500 real estate agents in UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Egypt. Users can filter their searches for price, location and size. Propertyfinder also publishes its own real estate tips and quarterly industry reports, as well as ‘Prestige,’ its luxury real estate magazine. Real estate agencies benefit from Propertyfinder’s one million monthly views, which generate over 120,000 monthly leads. In the coming years, Propertyfinder intends to expand throughout the Middle East.