How do you make ketchup at home? What are some self defense moves to use in case of an attack?
Many of these questions will yield thousands of answers in English when searched on Google, but so few cater to a largely Arabic speaking region and education-hungry population.
Ekeif, established in 2012, began to fill a gap in the local market and produce short Arabic videos that answer everyday questions and provide DIY tips. The platform joins other startups in the region such as Kharabeesh, looking to capitalize on lagging Arabic content.
According to a 2015 Wamda Research Lab report, more than 60 percent of the Arab world prefer digital Arabic content. The videos are short, fun, practical, and informative.
It’s like Instagram for how-to videos, said founder Sima Najjar.
Ekeif promotes user generated content through an Android app and a web portal hosting 5,000 videos to date, ranging from makeup tutorials, food recipes, to explanations of everyday science questions.
Ekeif independently produced and wrote the videos up for many years. And YouTube was optimal for the kind of service offered. Their channel grew to have more than 260,000 subscriptions and a total of 65 million views.
Last year, Najjar realized that there are many influencers with tips that can benefit Ekeif’s audience, but don’t have the capabilities to produce short videos. She reached out to 25 experts such as Arabia Weddings, and started producing featured videos. In turn, the experts gain exposure and a free marketing tool.
With so many viewers on board and many more questions to answer, Najjar thought it was time to democratize her company by moving into a user generated content (UGC) model.
“We thought it’s good to act as an aggregator and allow [influencers] and others to publish their videos on our portal,” Najjar said, explaining the company’s full transition to UGC.
Although Najjar realizes there might challenges with quality control if absolutely anyone can upload videos, she sees that the benefits exceed the risks.
Her team is constantly on the lookout for any irrelevant content to delete. “We are excited to experiment and test with how people react to the new concept,” she said.The company depends on an advertising model and a B2B model producing how-to videos for clients’ personal use.
Mother of two and a founder of four
When Najjar established Ekeif, she was already the founder of Sims Model Management agency. A year later, she established Pink Dusk, a local design boutique in Amman.
Along with her now three companies, Najjar’s other occupation was a being a mother of now 4-year-old Farah and 2-year-old Laith.
“It’s definitely a challenge to be a working mother, but it’s doable if you create your own support system,” she told Wamda, stressing on the help she receives from her parents and husband.
In order to balance it out, Najjar ended up prioritizing Ekeif and selling her two other companies.
She prefered Ekeif because she could work from home and it was much more flexible than event management.
During his first year, Laith used to accompany his mother to work every day. He was also an unusual guest to three courses Najjar attended. In fact, he even tagged along to a Google conference.
Najjar’s latest and now fourth venture is a YouTube channel dubbed Mama Sima that highlights random events of her life with the kids.