Can this Dubai startup improve Arabic content design?

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ShortPoint, a Dubai-based web and content-design startup that launched earlier this year, hopes to save content creators hours of coding by integrating its service with their Content Management System and expanding their editing options.

"When authors publish content, they can edit the font (in bold or italic) and insert a picture or a video," says Founder and CEO Sami AlSayyed. "But they can't design the web content or page. So we improved the 'editor tool' to offer a different, uncomplicated experience."


Sami Alsayyed demonstrates ShortPoint's concept.

Shortpoint’s service is presently compatible with four systems. The company plans to expand its service to work with CMS like Oracle WebCenterWordPressDNN SoftwareDrupalJoomla and other softwares used by bloggers and SMEs.

The company has received a $100,000 investment from Silicon Oasis Founders. The startup plans to invest this amount in a, comprehensive marketing strategy, a much needed approach as they have relied on word-of-mouth and event exposure for advertising.

But despite the many challenges ahead, like finding the right talent, ShortPoint plans to continue offering solutions for Arabic content designers without neglecting English content.


Shortpoint allows users to customize the editors' tools.

Origins

Designing websites is a long-standing passion for AlSayyed and his three cofounders (two Jordanians and a Ukrainian).

"I've had a passion for web design for eight years," he said. "I've built and designed [all] kinds of websites, from small links to large portals."

The challenge for AlSayyed was not in building ShortPoint’s website but in designing its pages, a process that can be difficult and time consuming.

"It's a real headache for both web developers and clients," he told Wamda. Understanding the the complexities of this task, AlSayyed left his corporate job in the US and decided to take the risk and launch what he describes as “a product that can be added to any website to simplify and facilitate its content design.”

Targeting big players

ShortPoint's main target is "companies that employ thousands of employees and have their own internal system," according to AlSayyed. He explains that clients buy the software's license for a one-time fee of $7,000. But as each license can be used for one server only, most of the clients end up buying two, one for each of their two servers. Annual support and maintenance are also offered at a discount for each deal.

These fees and payments constitute a good income source for the startup, where, according to AlSayyed, one license purchase covers the team's salary for three months. "Large companies are like investors who help us in developing and updating the product so we can later expand to other customers and more mature markets," he said.

Two clients from the UAE and five global clients have purchased ShortPoint so far. However, the cofounders realize they need to cut their prices and add new features if they want to include SMEs, startups, news portals and bloggers in their customer base.


ShortPoint aims to make things a bit easier Arabic-language content creators.

Can ShortPoint resolve Arabic CMS issues?

The biggest problem with CMS is that they are not designed for the Arabic language, according to AlSayyed. A lot of issues come up, like the right-to-left text formatting and the absence of several symbols in Arabic. ShortPoint’s solution is to not just translate English software into Arabic but to incorporate Arabic-specific symbols, making the Arabic language experience as smooth as the English one.   

Strategic partnership

Microsoft's approval for incorporating its widely used web design portal, Sharepoint, was a big milestone for the ShortPoint team. After testing the product’s functionality, the tech giant has reportedly started marketing ShortPoint to clients and partners around the world, and is assisting the startup with IT infrastructure support, access to technical know-how and with organizing events and workshops.

Fierce competition

AlSayyed is well aware of the level of competition in the content-design field, especially on a global base, but he is sure of ShortPoint's competitive edge.

He noted that WordPress offers similar services, but their “drag and drop” option only works with their Visual Composer.

ShortPoint's compatibility with different programs is an advantage, as is its mission of "handling one of the most important challenges of the internet today, which is Arabic content."

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