Interview With Twffaha Co-Founder & CEO Ashraf Mansoor

| Jul 14, 2008 | comment 4 Comments

Ashraf MansoorBefore anything, I’d really like to thank Ashraf Mansoor, the co-founder and CEO of Twffaha, the job portal for Arab women, which was previously reviewed here, for taking some of his time to answer our questions about Twffaha, and give us more insight into the startup, how things have been going so far, as well as sharing some tips and advice for other entrepreneurs.

How would you describe Twffaha in your own words?

Twffaha is an endeavor to endorse and promote recruiting women in the Middle East. It is an online job portal that strives to provide women job seekers with state-of-the art tools, and tips that will help them unearth jobs in accordance with their skills and qualifications. A platform for employers to land their next greatest prospect, and a belief that women are an underrated asset that if recruited properly will guide to economic growth and sustainability in the Middle East.

How did you get the idea for Twffaha? And what made you feel passionate about this specific idea?

The idea for Twffaha came in late 2007. We came across different studies that showed the rate of recruiting women in the region is far beyond the international rates. At the time we were designing a job portal for a different purpose, and then we thought we need to find a niche in order to compete with the numerous job portals in the market, that’s when we decided to launch an exclusive women job portal, and came up with the name Twffaha.

What difficulties or challenges did you face making Twffaha a reality?

As an Arabic startup you are destined to face challenges. The atmosphere is not conductive for startups. One of the problems was finding the right people who believed in the idea and who can be a driving force. We also encountered major outages during our public beta that forced us to reconsider our infrastructure, and find new reliable partners. We believe problems are an integral part of a startup structure, so we embrace them.

How many people make up the Twffaha team?

Upon launch the team consisted of two team members – also co-founders – me and Ammar Mustafa. However, we welcomed two new recruits into our team that we believe will strengthen our team and help Twffaha achieve its long-term strategy, so the tally is now four.

We are excited not only because the team has grown bigger but also because these additions reinforce Sales, Marketing, and Community Management. Announcements of the new recruits will be posted on our blog soon.

How have you financed Twffaha up to now?

We are a small startup, so financing Twffaha has been basically from personal savings, and family savings. We did not pitch investors or sought seed rounds for financing, privately running a startup is the best thing in the initial stage, funding should come later. Having limited resources Is great and force you to come up with creative solutions to the encountered problems.

How do you plan to make Twffaha into a profitable business?

We are studying different options to monetize Twffaha. Serving ads, paid subscriptions along with other alternatives. However, a good part of being privately funded is that we are under no pressure to be profitable. Of course we want to turn a profit, but right now our sole focus is creating the platform, and developing the community around it, profit comes second.

Why do you think companies and recruiters should use Twffaha instead of other established job platforms that are open to both Arab men and women alike? What do you think is its added-value?

Primarily Focus. Yes there are plenty of job sites that offer similar services to Twffaha, but focusing on the women segment only is an added value. Why should a recruiter filter through male and female CVs if he/she were interested in a female applicant at the start? Another added value is exposure Jobs that are posted on Twffaha are automatically syndicated to and free of charge. In addition, posting jobs is free so companies and recruiters do not need to dish ridiculous amount of money to hire.

Could you give us a little idea about the technologies powering Twffaha?

Twffaha is developed using PHP, and Javascript. We deploy Unix servers that runs Apache. For databases we use MySQL.

What kind of feedback have you been getting from people who have seen the beta version?

Our community is thrilled with the inception of Twffaha. We have been receiving regular Thank you e-mails from women. Women and Job Seekers are the primary focus of Twffaha, that’s why last week we introduced the Community Evangelist position to serve their vision and ambitions.

What are the main features you’re looking forward to adding to Twffaha?

We are looking to make Twffaha available in other languages along with an Arabic version, we expect to launch the Arabic version by October, 2008. Mobile phones are a hot commodity so we are working on developing friendly versions of the service. Twffaha looks right now as a regular job portal, but we aim to enhance it with different features and releases to provide job seekers and employers a different unique experience.

When do you plan to launch Twffaha publicly?

We had to put of the public launch for some technical reasons. Twffaha now should be publicly available by late July 2008.

Where do you see Twffaha a few years from now?

Hopefully, we would have a larger database of users and employers alike. Serving more countries, and providing more cutting edge features. Within a few years from, we would like to have a prominent chunk of the employment market in the region.

What lessons did you learn from launching Twffaha that you’d like to share with other entrepreneurs?

  1. Be Flexible in your plan.
  2. Embrace problems, and look for creative solutions.
  3. Connect with other startups, and learn from them.
  4. Your community of users is your most cherished asset.
  5. Listen to critics and reach to them, this will do you good.
Ashraf A. Aziz Mansoor: A web entrepreneur, technology enthusiast, and web strategist with over 8 years of experience. Originally, from Engineering background with strong emphasis on project management, quality control, cost analysis, and information technology. Areas of interests: Software as a service (Saas), social media, mobile social networks, and Arabic startups. Recently, focus on creating a friendly job site for women. Currently Founder and CEO of
  • Ashraf Mansoor

    Thank you for the coverage, and the opportunity.

  • Ashraf Mansoor

    Thank you for the coverage, and the opportunity.

  • yahya

    nice work, unique and bright idea.

  • yahya

    nice work, unique and bright idea.

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