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Industry: Online media
Founder: Sima Najjar
Established in: December 2011
Number of employees: 3
Revenues last year: $11,000, with growth rate doubling
Capital raised: Currently finalizing a deal to raise $200,000
Sima Najjar is fluent in English, but always preferred to learn in her native Arabic. But a couple of years ago, she was searching for good self-help guides online and came up empty, sparking her curiousity.
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“I always liked the EHow videos and answers but I didn’t find them in Arabic. So I found a gap in the market and thought about turning it into a business,” she says. With the help of the Amman-based accelerator Oasis 500, the result is EKeif (literally EHow in Arabic).
Launched in December 2011, the company provides simple Arabic language videos aimed mostly at women. Among the most popular are tips on styling hair, recipes and how to make a homemade facemask.
At just 29, Najjar is one of Jordan's most exciting entrepreneurs
EKeif has seen rapid growth and its videos now get over 1 million views a month. The company is in the process of confirming a major capitalization deal, worth around $200,000, which will completely transform the site. Currently they produce around 40 new videos a month, but they hope to raise that number to 1,000, potentially putting them among the leading companies making Arabic-language content online.
Najjar says she will seek to learn from the lessons of the original EHow. After being bought out the company produced a lot of content rapidly and faced criticism that quality suffered, eventually leading to it pushed down Google’s search engine. Najjar says she is aware of the danger and will maintain stringent quality control measures, but with such rapid growth planned the dangers are clear.
In terms of revenues, the site makes money not from ad sales, as the original EHow did, but through selling space in the videos to specific companies. “We are going to make money through product placements and branded entertainment. We also have sponsored videos, a Youtube partnership and an exclusive contract with Mobili in Saudi for six months to have our videos downloaded through their platform.”
Najjar admits that revenues so far have been miniscule – just $11,000 last year – but says they have focused on the product in the short-term in order to attract major investors. Incomings, she says, are likely to double this year and grow exponentially in the coming ones.
Video killed the article?
While the idea for EKeif may not be original, the company benefits from being in an underdeveloped market. Just one percent of content online is estimated to be in Arabic, while Arab-speaking people make up closer to five percent of the global population.
More importantly, Najjar says, Arabic content online seems to be largely skipping text articles and going straight to video. YouTube have predicted that in the next decade as much as 90 percent of online content could be video and Najjar says this trend is particularly prevalent in Arabic content, explaining her decision to focus heavily on the medium.
There are also challenges, Najjar says, in gaining loyalty as Arabs tend to get their news via social media rather than going to specific sites. “The Arabs are very social [online], they go to Facebook or Youtube – they don’t go to the Internet to surf the net generally. This is the customer behavior of the Arabs and this is what we used to target them through our videos.”
While they may be based in Jordan, the company has identified Egypt and Saudi Arabia as the real growth markets for Arabic content, with around 70 percent of their hits coming from the latter.
It is clear that the market is opening up and Arabic-language content is underserved. With the right decisions at this critical time, the company could become a market leader, a target Najjar has set herself. “We want to be the Arabic EHow and the ultimate source of how to videos online. If you have any questions you will go to EKeif and find it there.”