Archive for the ‘Inside StartUpArabia’ Category

Abjad Hawaz 7o66i Kalamun, lost in the Markup

| August 5, 2010 – 1:00 pm | comment 2 Comments

أبجد هوز

An Arabic art gallery without some of the best crafted calligraphy holds no value. That’s a fact. Arabic calligraphy & poetry are forms of cultural pride and not just art. Going digital, we lose all that. From readability to interaction. It’s all gone. Bold? Italic? Underlined? Get yourself ten Arabic books. Open’em, read’em, do you find anything in Bold? Italic? or Underlined? No you don’t. But we do have all that on the Web. How come?

Some will debate this with Interaction & Readability unity across different languages–English that is but with all the author-ware software developers’ presence in the region there hasn’t been one solid negating report which gets us to a simple conclusion, not enough efforts, at least not as much as it deserves.

So with all the calls for Arabic content around and how much Arabic content is going to be important for the growth of Arabic users’ online experience and the Internet industry in general, the basics haven’t really been covered.

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Arabize, slap an Arabic funky name on it n’ you got yourself a new startup

| June 15, 2010 – 11:40 am | comment 9 Comments

So if you skipped the class where your math teacher introduced Equivalence, you haven’t missed much. You can easily learn it while checking up some of the Arabia’s start-ups with some of the online services that you usually use. Mind you some will confuse you with Equality.

While this could be a degrading statement, there are very functional and online industry evolutionary reasons behind that. Simply it’s not our copycat genes that make us race for developing an Arabic version of the next big thing. Facebook? hah, we can make one in Arabic. Twitter? now that’s easy to make, let’s do that.

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Welcome, Saleh Esmaeili

| June 15, 2010 – 8:30 am | comment 5 Comments

Saleh EsmaeiliI’m really glad to announce that over the coming days and weeks, you will start seeing another new byline on StartUpArabia.

Saleh Esmaeili, a fellow web aficionado and interactive/web producer based in the UAE, who has been in the business of building websites for about ten years now, will be joining in to write on StartUpArabia, to share his views and reviews of the Arab web industry.

Those of you who are based in the UAE and who have been to some of the web-oriented events in Dubai or Abu Dhabi (Twestival, DemoCamp, …etc.) will most probably have met and maybe even chatted with Saleh at at least one of them.

I’ve been a fan of Saleh’s own blog for a while now, and have enjoyed reading his opinions on that blog and even in the comments here, and I can’t wait to read more as he tackles stories and topics relating to Arab startups.

So please everyone join me in welcoming Saleh on StartUpArabia; and make sure you follow his writings here.

What major obstacle did you face while looking to fund your project? [Poll Results]

| February 18, 2010 – 4:03 pm | comment 5 Comments

In the latest poll on StartUpArabia, the question that was addressed to the entrepreneur readers was:

What major obstacle did you face while looking to fund your project?

The result of reader voting came out as follows:

Major obstacles getting funding

Out of 89 readers who responded to the poll:

- 37% of them responded that it was initiating contact with potential investors
- 29% said it was allocating and finding the right investors
18% think it was measuring the seriousness of the investors
- 8% believe it was the cost of connecting with investors (traveling and attending conferences …etc)

The remaining 7% cited other obstacles.

What do you think? Do you share the same view? What solutions do you see for these obstacles?

What major obstacle did you face while looking to fund your project? [Poll]

| August 31, 2009 – 12:32 pm | comment 2 Comments

A new poll has gone live on StartUpArabia, you can find it on the sidebar on the right or vote straight from this post.

This poll is more targeted at startups and entrepreneurs who have sought funding for their project/business at one point or another, and tries to determine what kinds of obstacles they faced while doing that.

What major obstacle did you face while looking to fund your project?

Feel free to further expand on your response in the comments section of this post.

What do Arab startups need the most? [Poll Results]

| August 4, 2009 – 9:26 am | comment No Comments

In the latest poll on StartUpArabia, the question to the readers was:

What do Arab startups need the most?

The result of reader voting came out as follows:

What do Arab startups need the most?

Out of 230 readers who responded to the poll:

- 30% of them believe there is a need for more original ideas
- 28% say funding is the most needed thing for these startups
17% think Arab startups are in need of mentoring
- 12% believe there is a need for strong complimentary teams at these startups
- 8% think marketing is what Arab startups need more of

The remaining 5% listed some other very interesting and true needs for Arab startups; among them are: business freedom from govermental interference, market research skills, ability to set up a truely limited liability company, more social media interaction, available data and statistics, unregulated non-paternalistic markets, and good execution.

Another really interesting thing the results of this poll show is that even though it’s often easy to blame the lack of funding or support for the lack of successes in the internet space in the Arab world; not all of the important things Arab startups need are external factors, there is a lot they can work on and solve themselves like picking and working on more original ideas, putting together stronger complimentary teams, buffing up their business and market research skills, reaching out more to the community …etc.

Of course, the external factors like mentoring, funding, government support are also very important and should go in parallel to help startups on their way to perfecting their product and building a successful business around it.

What do you think? What’s your view of things?

What do Arab startups need the most? [Poll]

| May 23, 2009 – 9:32 pm | comment 5 Comments

A new poll went live on StartUpArabia, you can find it on the sidebar on the right or vote straight from this post.

This poll asks a pretty straightforward question in a little quest to find out what people think Arab startups need the most at this point in time to be able to make it and succeed.

So without any further ado:

What do you think Arab startups need the most?

Feel free to further expand on your response in the comments section of this post.

How will the current economic crisis affect Arab online startups? [Poll Results]

| April 20, 2009 – 10:00 am | comment 3 Comments

In the latest poll on StartUpArabia, the question to the readers was:

How will the current economic crisis affect Arab online startups?

The result of reader voting came out as follows:

Effect of the crisis

Out of 123 readers who responded to the poll:
- 43% of them believe the effects will be positive
- 39% say they think it’ll affect online startups negatively
 - and the remaining 18% don’t see it having any effect whatsoever

The results are obviously very close, which I guess reflects the existing confusion out there on how everything going on will be affecting different types of businesses on the short and long run.

Personally, my belief ever since the crisis began has always been that for online startups, there is eventually no way but up; I mean, it’s not like they were getting all that many big investments before the crisis, or making really big money from the online advertising market that makes up less than 1% of overall advertising spend. So with the option of investing in real estate becoming unsafe for investors, and with businesses cutting their marketing budgets; if anything at all, it would mean it’s a chance for a bit more investments to make it to the online world, and for a bit more advertising to move online.

From being in the middle of it all, I can actually confirm that this is happening, slowly maybe, but it is happening; more investment opportunities are becoming/going to become available for Arab online startups, and more businesses are currently experimenting with online advertising.

But now comes in the role of the entrepreneurs and startups to make sure they benefit from this chance, build their business case to entice the right investors for them, and make sure that those businesses experimenting with online advertising have successful online campaigns with maximum analytics transparence, so that they see how effective the internet is as a medium and stick to it even when things pick up again.

In short, the crisis can be a great time for Arab online startups if they grab the opportunities it offers them and are ready to jump on any chances hidden in its midst. 

What do you think? What’s your view of things?

StartUpArabia Turns One Year Old

| April 17, 2009 – 12:33 pm | comment 41 Comments

The idea of StartUpArabia was one that I had in my mind for quite some time, but I only got around to start working on it in the beginning of March of last year, planning out where I wanted it to go, putting everything into place for the first steps, and working on a bunch of content to be ready for the official launch so that readers wouldn’t come to an empty site.

The first alpha version went online on March 15th 2008, where I continued to tweak and work on it, shared the link with some friends and industry insiders to get their feedback, while also giving a chance for the search engines to start picking it up.

A month later on April 16th 2008, with a good initial amount of content that was already getting indexed by search engines, and after having reached a point where I was happy with how things were looking, and having integrated most of the feedback I got, I officially launched StartUpArabia with this post: “Welcome to StartUpArabia

The launch went very well, and the feedback was overwhelming and very encouraging from everyone. A nice little extra was that StartUpArabia was even noticed by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch on its first day and he tweeted about it here; which gave it a good little boost.

One of the points a number of people often suggested early on was the need for an Arabic version, which was already in my plans, but that I pushed even higher in priority, rolling out the Arabic version of StartUpArabia on June 30th 2008.

After that I started working on a project that would months later see the light of day as StartUpArabia Database, the database of Arab startups, entrepreneurs and investors. The database was ready by August of 2008, but only officially announced at a DemoCamp Dubai event earlier this year, as I kept wanting to work on it more.

In parallel to working on the database, a few other smaller projects were launched for StartUpArabia; The job board went live on August 4th 2008; The mobile version went online on November 20th 2008; and the Arab world’s tech events calendar was launched on November 28th 2008.

The past year has been a great ride, giving me an opportunity to meet so many great and passionate people from the internet scene in the Arab world, as well as help even in a small way in raising awareness around internet startups in the Arab world.

I’d like to thank every single person who has been there along the way; reading and commenting; offering help, support and encouragement; you all rock. StartUpArabia wouldn’t be what it is without you all.

Special thanks go to my wife for her never-ending support and help throughout the whole thing, especially with the Arabic version, and for bearing with me all the evenings I’ve spent toiling away in front of my laptop working on StartUpArabia.

A new year starts for StartUpArabia, and I’m looking forward to it with a lot of excitement, as it shapes up to be even greater than the first. A list of really cool projects are planned, a lot of ideas are floating around, the Arab internet scene is even more active, and it’s just awesome to be in the middle of it all.

How will the current economic crisis affect Arab online startups?

| February 22, 2009 – 10:04 pm | comment 6 Comments

A new poll has gone live on StartUpArabia, you can find it on the first sidebar on the right or vote straight from this post.

Ever since the current economic crisis began, opinions have been divided on what kind of effect it will have on online startups in the Arab world; from some arguing it will be positive as the crisis should drive online advertising, to others thinking it will take them down like it’s doing to many other types of businesses, and then there are the ones who think it will have no effect whatsoever.

And so this poll is simple and straightforward; asking the following question:

How will the current economic crisis affect Arab online startups?

So what do you think? In what way will it affect them?

Feel free to further expand on your response in the comments section of this post.

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