Meet the Moroccan startup that hopes to build a LinkedIn with customer relationship management

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This piece is part of New Work Lab's startup series.

This past December, New Work Lab, Casablanca's new co-working space, hosted their latest edition of PitchLab, where local entrepreneurs can pitch to peers. 

Four startup competed fiercely for the honor of being the New Work Lab startup of the month (shown above from right to left): Saad Jennane, the Kipintouch founder, Meryem Bennani of Creative Group, Abdelhamid Chakiri from Shorein, a platform for connecting with professional in offshore registration, Mehdi Tamli from Secret4sale, a marketplace for secrets.

First place was awarded to Kipintouch, which works like a mash-up between a business card scanner, a customer relationship management platform, and a social network. The web and mobile platform allows users to scan business cards, and then add users to a database, tracking contacts' LinkedIn and Twitter updates, and adding reminders of who to contact and when, on what topic. 

New Work Lab: Could you explain your concept? 

Saad Jennane: Kipintouch is meant to become a reference for virtual exchange of business cards and contact management. The beta version will be launched in April on the web and iOS, and later on Android and Windows Mobile. The app will target the US market first. 

NWL: what are the great strengths of Kipintouch? 

SJ: We can find contact sharing and managing apps but none stands out. So, we have the ambition to offer a new product on the market, an app that is:

  • Simple: a user friendly design to create an optimal user experience
  • Universal: it can be used with or without smartphones and is available for people who have or don’t have the app.
  • Comprehensive: it will offer a 360° experience from sharing the business card to managing contacts and follow-ups.
  • Open: our API will allow others to port contacts from Kipintouch to other apps, such as Facebook, Linkedin, Mailchimp, and Zoho.

NWL: what are your development perspectives (short and mid-term)? 

SJ: Our aim is to reach one million users during the first six months after the official launch. This is not a huge number, since Vine has reached 40 million in eight months and LinkedIn and Whatsapp have reached, respectively, 200 and 400 million users. 

NWL: What are the three challenges that you face?

SJ: Our challenges will be:

  • Creating a product that best serves those who need to share and manage business cards. To do so, we will listen to feedback, iterate so that Kipintouch promptly becomes the reference app like Whatsapp for messaging or Viber and Skype for free calls.
  • Reaching a critical mass of tens millions users quickly.
  • A challenge will be attracting the best technical and marketing talent to the team, especially in the US, to create the best app. My dream is to work with Guy Kawasaki or Fred Wilson. Building a startup in Silicon Valley is like creating a movie with Hollywood talent; the better the cast, the better the chance of success. 

NWL: What does Morocco need to boost its mobile app market?

SJ: Moroccans must take me for a fool because of my ambition, and this is the problem. We don’t think big enough. We don’t have to be limited to the Moroccan market; we can target the world or an entire region like the Middle East. If we can't laugh at our dreams sometimes, that means they are not big enough. 

Brilliant Moroccan entrepreneurs are launching global solutions: wants to gather athletes from all over the world and wants to become the events reference in the Middle East. We have to follow those ambitions and not place imaginary limits on them.

Investors must also get organized to follow these initiatives.

NWL: an advice you received that guide your footsteps?

SJ: The best piece of advice I received is to persevere, to never stop believing, and to never be discouraged by failure. This advice was given by my best mentor and my personal Guy Kawasaki: my mother.

A failure is not an end by itself but rather the best way to learn. That's a real philosophy in the US. 

NWL: The US thinking is an important source of inspiration for you, what are the precepts that mostly guide you?

SJ: Make the move: it’s normal to be afraid. As Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said, “the entrepreneurial journey starts with jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down”.

Quickly launch a prototype of your product. Reid Hoffman also said, “if you’re not ashamed [of your product], you launched too late.”

Share your idea. We have to stop thinking that we are the only ones to have an idea and be afraid that someone will steal it. When you have an idea, at least 10 other people have it too, five of which are seriously thinking of applying it and two who already did. I advise you to encourage collaborative working. The two times I co-worked at NWL, I gained excellent contacts and my first investors for Kip. You can also reach for the startups community Startup Your Life to exchange ideas and get help. “Give before you get” is the motto. 

And to all of you , I say Kipintouch ;)

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