8 companies from the Arab world join the Endeavor Network

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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 Turkey) here.

EGYPT

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.

JORDAN

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.

LEBANON 

Entrepreneurs: Mohamad Arayssi, Maha Arayssi Rifai

Company: Beesline

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.

MOROCCO

Entrepreneur: Mourad Mekouar

Company: M2T

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.

The UAE 

Entrepreneurs: Ravi Bhusari, Derv Rao, Brian Sigafoos 

Company: Duplays

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

Company: Propertyfinder

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.

 

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