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SearchinMENA.com: A Unique Online Business Search Engine that Supports Arab Businesses B2B Needs

http://www.searchinmena.com

Search in MENA Helps SME in creating new channels to online attract clients online and build a vast network of product & Service providers for Arab Enterprises in MENA region.

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We had an in-depth and lengthy interview with Mr. “Salim Akil”; Founder of the UAE (Dubai)-based start-up “http://www.searchinmena.com” about his Company.

As per Mr. Akil; one of the biggest issues with Google lays within the indexing which requires optimization. Due to the weakness between buyers and sellers online connectivity, many searches may come up with incorrect and irrelevant links to specific searches via google. This is where optimization of an index plays a huge role.

Search in MENA Helps SME in creating new channels to online attract clients online and build a vast network of product & Service providers for Arab Enterprises in MENA region.

We do that through a business Search Engine which provides a tool to find discover & locate products, services and companies in MENA region.

I started my own business in 2007 in my hometown, Syria. We were number 1 for 3 consecutive years. Our aim with moving to Dubai was to expand our horizon and improve the business Arab e content – which is noticeably not much taken care of in this region.

We target all sectors in the MENA region. And yes we only strive for the best of the best. Our Strong competitors are Kompass and Alibaba . We aim to spread our wings and have the biggest b2b database! We earn money from SME through a yearly subscription which is 300$ for a normal membership and 1000$ for a golden one.

A major issue is the weakness of the Arab Business e content, in a simpler form; the weak point is in the connectivity amongst buyers and sellers where their commercial exchange and PR via the web is poor.

Search in MENA helps SME in creating new channels to attract clients online and build a vast network of products & services providers for Arab enterprises in the MENA region.

It is a unique virtual marketplace which provides Arab business with an online business search engine that supports their B2B needs.

Mission Statement:

• Improve the Arab e-content.
• To put buyers and sellers in touch with each other and generate contacts.
• Create channels to make commercial exchange in MENA region.

Vision:

SearchinMENA.com is looking to be the main business search tool for who search about a company, product or service in MENA region to do business.

Future customers:

Small & medium enterprises in MENA region which do B2B nationally & international in many sectors.

Growth industry:

Internet Marketing is a vast and booming industry which is fast, and there are some studies about that as following.

Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. Akil regarding his start-up “SearchinMENA.com”;

1. What is it exactly that you do and what “SearchinMENA” is all about?

Search in MENA Helps SME in creating new channels to attract clients online and build a vast network of product & Service providers for Arab Enterprises in MENA region.

We do that through a business Search Engine which provides a tool to find discover & locate products, services and companies in MENA region.

 2. When has “SearchinMENA” been founded? And what stage is “SearchinMENA” currently at?

We launched the website in 10-10-2010. Dec-2010 listed as Top 30 “The best Mediterranean start-ups, with a high growth potential and projects for international development, are being selected for MedVentures by a network of country coaches in 10 Mediterranean countries”

http://www.medventures.biz/projects/projects.php#SEARCH

We moved to Dubai in Sep 2011 and now we operate from Dubai and very soon we shall be launching in Riyadh & Qatar.

3. What is “SearchinMENA” business model and how does it work?

We earn money from SME through a yearly subscription which is 300$ for a normal membership and 1000$ for a golden one. In additional to Google Adsense inside our website.

 4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

We started the local business in Syria from 2007 to 2010. Started from 1 which was ME then I have expanded my team until we become 7 employees in 2010. So I have few of them now with me.

 5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

1-     Increasing the Business Arab E-content so the Arabic language becomes the main language for our search engine.

2-     Covering b2b database in MENA region with all sectors.

3-     Easy interface for Arab users.

4-     We don’t charge any fees to search for the information stored in our database.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “SearchinMENA” achieved so far?

We still haven’t got the break even yet. And we have now 10,000 companies in our website most of them from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Syria and other countries in MENA.

7. Who are your competitors?

The monsters Kompass.com and Alibaba.com

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

The Funding now and we try to improve the concept in the market now to get investors in the next step.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

The Business Search Engine!! Many people think we are like google.com or like yellowpages.com. but we are different. Because Search in MENA provides B2B database only with all trade information needed for our companies clients.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

Because the website is addressing many needs of online business in the Arab world, in addition we have a successful story with our former local business search engine called “Search in Syria”.

11. If “SearchinMENA” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

We will still be focusing on the same area which is MENA region, but we will improve the services and create new ideas to increase the quality. In addition, we will create new channels to increase the clients associated with the companies listed in our database and directory.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “SearchinMENA” based on?

Because of the weakness of Arab Business e-content.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

Understanding the concept more, and earn skills in Sales, Networking, online Marketing, and Entrepreneurship.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Find the right persons who can work with us and face the challenges.

15. What’s the benefit for the user?

Access to a vast network of product & Service providers for Arab Enterprises in MENA region.

16. How did customers and/or users find out about you?

we are not famous now, they find the website via Google from top links, because we have 1 Million pages indexed with google and Millions of professional keywords which are targeted towards the business content;

17. Who are your current users? Who are your target users?

Our users are the ones looking for products, services, or companies in the Arab world and which most of them use Google in order to find what they are looking for and they face issues not being able to find the corresponding companies since these businesses have not been properly indexed in search engines as this requires lots of search engine optimization and other online marketing campaigns which those particular companies might not be focusing on and as a result search queries may come up with incorrect and irrelevant links to specific searches.

18. Where do new users come from and what makes new users try you?

The new users come from the traditional search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo and the size of the companies and the quality of their service and / or product make the users come back again.

19. What do your users say about your product and/or service?

Our search engine helps them to quickly and efficiently find all the details they need pertaining to the company, product or service that they are looking for.

20. How are you going to scale?

By increasing the businesses database of every country and enhancing our web presence and online exposure, perform  a re-seller based marketing campaigns and expand our business by opening new branches in new countries and cities around the world.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers keep asking for?

The business database for some of the countries is still small and our customers keep on asking us to grow and develop our directory’s companies listings. 

22. Are you going to internationalize?

We have done that already and we are planning on continuing to do so into venturing in new territories.

23. How big do you think you can get?

We could get really big to the extent that I couldn’t even imagine it!

25. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

When we will get investment, we will need all kind of skills.

26. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

Our business can be self-sustainable but that will not help us to spread faster and It will take many years to achieve the vision, for that we are looking for angel investors for a year then at a later stage we will be considering venture capitals.

27. Finally, what advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

1-     Join all kind of business investment and start-up competitions, seminars, conferences and events.

2-     Don’t hire a lot of people until you improve your business concept.

3-     Meet other entrepreneurs and learn from their experience and journey.

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