This company is part of Executive’s Top 20 for 2015. Read more stories from our entrepreneurship in Lebanon section, for the latest analysis on the country’s ecosystem.
Product: Networking conference
Product launch: 2012
Employees: No fixed employees; freelancers
Founders: Ali Chehade
Ali Chehade’s Dream Matcher networking event began as an online startup, inspired by an idea for a television show which subseqently pivoted into an offline company. The Dream Matcher ‘experience’ is a networking event that lasts for a couple of hours and hosts 50 to 70 people. During the event, participants write their dreams on post-it notes, stick them to a large wall and have them viewed by others. In a bid to help one another achieve their ambitions, participants with relevant skill sets approach the post-it writer during the event to offer their assistance with their ‘dreams’. This can be scaled up to corporate or entrepreneurial oriented spin offs. The former is marketed to small-to-medium enterprises and the latter offers a variety of entrepreneurship prizes (such as co-working spots and advertising space). Since 2012 more than 50 events have been organized inside and outside Lebanon, in places such as the US and Spain. Their pilot corporate event was tested on PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dubai in February 2015, who approached Chehade after hearing about the Dream Matcher. According to Chehade, the experience was well received by the roughly 80 employees who participated, and was followed by discussions with private companies in Lebanon to build up their corporate segment.
While there are no fixed employees, the capacity to create jobs indirectly through its networking event renders it worthy of Executive’s attention. The concept is marketed to young professionals but participants are often drawn from a wider market. With regards to social impact, there have been successful pairings of employee with employers, and the creation of startups through individuals who met through their networking experience at Chehade’s events. Nour Atrissi, for example, secured the entrepreneurship prize of the “How to start your business” course from AMIDEAST Entrepreneur Institute through the 2013 Dream Matcher Entrepreneur edition, which enabled her to co-found another Executive top 20 startup, Teens Who Code.
The scalability factor results from their business model, which identifies licensing of the program as a source of income; the package will be outsourced and licensed worldwide, without the need for physical on-the-ground presence. Ticket sales to individuals for the non-specialized events, which are held every month in Beirut and in various cities across Lebanon over the last year, are also a source of income. With revenues in 2015 standing at $20,000 at time of writing, Chehade has earmarked the corporate events as the main breadwinner in terms of revenue for future financial projections.
As a tool for exposure, Chehade also describes the recent media and corporate partnership with the television show Bala Toul Sireh on the Future TV channel, which will air success stories from the event, in a bid to gain momentum. Chehade’s future growth plan in the long term sees licenses being rolled out worldwide, and wishes to restart the online platform.