Archive for the ‘Startup News’ Category
Quirkat, the Middle Eastern game development studio has announced the launch of a new online ‘Fantasy Football’ game just in time for the South Africa 2010 World Cup. The game was developed exclusively for the Facebook platform and can be played in Arabic, English or French.
The game offers players the range of features they’d come to expect out of a fantasy football game. They’ve also featured all 736 players from the 32 teams participating in this summer’s World Cup in South Africa in a visual playing environment.
As users play on in the game, their teams are ranked against a number of real-world player events, such as scoring, successful defending, and bonus points for Man of the Match stature.
The game also allows users to create their own leagues in which they can compete head to head against selected friends.
Kngine, the semantic web search and question answering engine, that was previously reviewed here, recently launched a brand new statistics platform called Kngine Stats.
Kngine Stats goes out and collects, organizes, and indexes a large number of records of statistical data from resources such as: the UN, the World bank, the CIA Factbook, and a number of other important sources.
What it does with that collected data is crunch it together to come up with different statistics that users can tap into by selecting a certain topic, viewing the statistics for it and even filtering them; in hopes of making these large datasets easier to explore, visualize and share.
Yallakora, one of the popular sports portals in the region has announced the launch of a mobile version of Yallakora TV, giving users the possibility to access sports news and information, as well as watch match commentary and analysis directly from their mobile phones, while on the go.
Yallakora, which is owned and run by LINKonLINE (a subsidiary of Orascom Telecom Holding), is available in both English and Arabic, providing full coverage to different sports with a bigger focus on Football, through publishing various details and news regarding Football leagues and championships in the Middle East, North Africa and others. This includes team news, player information and statistics, match results as well as analysis for Football matches
Yallakora’s new effort isn’t through an application that has to be downloaded and installed, all users have to do is point their mobile phone browsers to yallakora.com to access the mobile version of the site, and access the information and news on the site, as well as mobile phone compatible video streaming of interviews, match analysis and the contents of Yallakora’s video library.
A number of Arab entrepreneurs and startups are currently looking more and more to the mobile phone as a practical way to provide their services, especially with the high and growing mobile penetration around the region. We can surely expect a number of other announcements revolving around mobile in the coming year.
The Egyptian version of Souq.com is available in both Arabic and English, hoping to tap into one of the biggest internet markets in the Arab world in terms of number of users with over 12 Million internet users as of June 2009 according to ITU numbers (15.9% out of a population of nearly 80 Million).
Souq.com has been cautious not to attempt to grow too fast and launch the service for the whole region at one go, preferring to set up operations country by country, having staff on the ground in each country to manage the system and make sure users (both sellers and buyers) get the most out of the system and are fully satisfied, also aiming to overcome any trust or security fears.
A number of listings have already started showing up on the site, and one of the offers the service is currently giving is free pickup and delivery in Cairo and Alexandria.
With this launch, Souq.com now operates in four countries: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and now Egypt.
Photojonet, the online photo service that was launched from Jordan, to provide digital photo printing services at good prices, and was previously reviewed here, was shut down all of a sudden a few days ago. The service’s twitter account then promised a new version would be up under a new name soon.
We got in touch with the CEO and co-founder of the service, Issam Hijazi, and he gave us some insight into what’s happening.
Photojonet was initially founded by Issam Hijazi, who started work on the project as part of his graduation project, and Rami Al-Natsheh who came up with the initial idea and invested in it. The service was launched in July 2009, and apparently just a few months into the life of the project, some differences started surfacing between the co-founders related to managing the project, that finally led them to decide to go their separate ways. Hence, the service was shut down.
Anyway, according to Issam Hijazi, he has been working on getting resources and relationships back together to relaunch a similar service under a new name. The code is currently being re-engineered, as well as the whole infrastructure for the web application.
A number of new features are being implemented too, as well as the use of other new technologies. The plans are also to expand it to beyond just photo prints, to include an online store covering more photo related products.
Issam shared the name of the new service with us, but asked for it to remain confidential for the time being. We’ll bring you more information about the new site once it’s launched.
This story though also highlights one of the challenges that face entrepreneurs when launching a startup, and that is working with the right co-founders and clarifying all the important details from the beginning, so as not to run into any big hurdles like this while the focus should be on building and growing the business.
TwitVid, the service that enables people to easily and quickly post their videos for sharing on Twitter, and that was previously reviewed here, just recently announced the launch of a number of new interesting features.
The new set of announced features is as follows:
Real-time video search: Over the past period, with the continuing accelerated pace at which news and content is shared online, a lot of focus has been going to services that can keep up and offer real-time access to that information and the possibility to search through it. TwitVid attempts to crack that for video, by offering the ability to search through video content posted on Twitter through it in real-time.
Virtual gifts: Virtual goods have emerged as a very effective means of monetization for online games and services. Just a look at some of the companies selling virtual goods through their applications and games on Facebook, and the deals that have been happening around them recently, show how hot that space currently is.
TwitVid debuted its gifting service in November, through which they enable users to buy and send gifts to one another.
Analytics reports: In a bid to offer more value to people who tweet many videos, and who would like more insight on how well their videos are doing, TwitVid has launched a new analytics feature that shows the number of views for a video, its top linkers, the evolution of traffic over time, as well as where the traffic is coming from. Traffic can also be displayed by geographic location and internet domain.
TwitVid has found a lot of success as a platform of choice for video uploaders on Twitter, even attracting a number of high profile and celebrity users along the way.
TwitVid is a product of EatLime, a Sunnyvale based company, founded by Mohammad Al Adham from Jordan and Adil Lalani from Pakistan. The company previously secured a round of funding from investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Amidzad Partners, and XG Ventures.
Mrrha, an Arab online service that was launched from Egypt around a simple idea to allow users to upload a file and mirror it directly on up to five popular uploading sites of choice, has been acquired by Emirati company Creative Solutions.
Mrrha was launched in November 2008 by brothers Mahmoud and Ahmed El-Masoudy from Egypt, aiming to make the process of uploading files to the internet for sharing purposes and mirroring them on the most famous file uploading services a lot easier and faster.
Mrrha depends on a parallel uploading mechanism to make this possible, which means that the file will be uploaded to Mrrha and sent to the other uploading sites at the same time, making it so that the user won’t have to wait until it’s uploaded to each site.
Creative Solutions, the acquiring company, is a web development company founded by Khamis AlSharyani in 2008, based in Alain (UAE), that provides web consulting, solutions and services for its clients. The company is a subsidiary of Bin Majed group.
The details of the deal have not been made public.
Woopra, the innovative and real-time web analytics tool, has just officially come out of beta, with the company announcing the beginning of Woopra’s general availability.
With this launch, Woopra have introduced a whole paid plans structure, with registration now open to everyone opting for one of the paid plans, that range from $4.95 per month for sites with up to 100,000 monthly page views, all the way to $99.95 per month for sites with up to 4 Million monthly page views.
Free ad-supported plans, with a monthly page view limit of 30,000, will be made available via invitations that will be sent out by existing users, as soon as they get the whole invitation system up and running.
All current beta accounts will be automatically transformed into free accounts, but their users can choose to upgrade to any of the paid plans.
The different plans bring different levels of service as well as the page view limits, with differences in the number of users they can create for their account, the number of months that data is stored for, SSL support, email reports, and whether they have full or limited access to some of the more advanced features.
For more details on this launch, you can check out the official blog post here: Woopra officially exits beta.
Seedcamp has announced the six winners of this year’s edition of Seedcamp Week, after an intense week of mentoring in London by a diverse mentor, investor and entrepreneur network.
Among the six winners is Jordanian startup Talasim, an online social network and photo sharing service for comedy/funny content, which was founded by Zeid Koudsi and Sabri Hakim, and is one of the projects leading Arab UGC portal Jeeran invested in and incubated.
Each of the six winning teams will be receiving a €50k investment from Seedcamp and active support over the next three months to help develop their products and companies. In return Seedcamp should be taking a stake worth between 5-10% of each company.
These next three months will be spent in London, with the winning teams working with the Seedcamp team on building the product and company together, and with the teams provided access to services worth 2-3 times the invested €50K, with the goal of helping grow and nurture the teams, and putting in-depth focus on developing the product and business.
During the course of these three months, the groups will also have an opportunity to take advantage of the same group of experts that participated in the Seedcamp week through weekly dinners, topical lunches, conferences, and continued mentorship on various issues. They’ll also get to demo their products to other groups from Seedcamp as well as potential investors in two events along the way.
Woopra, the innovative and real-time web analytics tool, just announced that their beta program is coming to an end and that in the coming weeks, the beta label will be dropped and the waiting list for the service ended.
From then on, different levels of paid accounts will be introduced and registration will be open for anyone wishing to sign up for a paid version of Woopra. Those who are interested in the free version will still need to obtain an invitation code in order to register a site.
As part of the introduction of paid accounts, the page view limit that was fixed at 10,000 page views a day for beta accounts will be lifted, and users will be able to instantaneously upgrade to any level of traffic necessary to ensure Woopra tracks all of their visitors daily.
The paid account levels are structured based on monthly page view limits, and according to a non-final draft of the pricing structure, range from $4.95 for sites with up to 100,000 monthly page views, all the way to $99.95 for sites with up to 3 Million monthly page views. Free accounts for personal non-commercial use have a limit of up to 30,000 monthly page views.
All current beta accounts will be automatically transformed into free accounts, but their users can choose to upgrade to any of the paid versions.
Of course, for each level, other than the page view limit, there are different levels of service as well, with differences in the number of users they can create for their account, the number of months that data is stored for, whether SSL support is provided or not, and whether they have full or limited access to some of the more advanced features.
These changes should start happening over the next couple of weeks, with a number of new features to be introduced to the service as well.
All this of course is a natural step forward for Woopra, that was in the plans from the beginning, in order to start generating revenue, cover the costs of their infrastructure, and make the company and service sustainable.
For more details on the coming changes and the pricing structure, check out the official Woopra blog post.