Of the 20 companies picked for 2012’s top entrepreneurs, five stood out for their innovation, business acumen and drive. In no particular order were AdTech, a startup that imports used computers to sell on the Lebanese market, Anghami, which provides online music, Cinemoz, a video-on-demand service, Eastline Marketing, an online marketing company, and finally Butterfleye — now Instabeat — a startup manufacturing heartbeat-monitoring goggles for swimmers. Of these, Anghami made it into the top 20 for a second time running, and is profiled here. Here, Executive checks in with the other four to see how far they have come and where they are now.
Entrepreneurs: Joseph Massih, Elio Massih
Ages: 29, 24
Number of employees: 4
Revenues in 2013: $800,000, up from $300,000 in 2012
The model: AdTech imports used computers from the United States to sell in Lebanon. Targeting a specific niche in the lower class Lebanese market, they have partnerships with electronic wholesalers in Tripoli, the Bekaa, and the South. From these partners they also purchase electronic scraps, computers that are dismantled in AdTech’s warehouse and sent to be recycled. Plastic parts can be recycled in Lebanon, but the rest are sent to Europe, where they have partnerships with a network of big recycling companies.
Since last year: AdTech’s revenues have more than doubled from $300,000 in 2012 to $800,000 in 2013. During the past year they realized that Lebanon was lacking the proper means to recycle old electronics. “After a year of importing electronics, we saw a proper solution for us to get rid of our old stuff,” explains co-founder Joseph Massih. This year they began procuring electronic scraps from their partners that buy used electronics, and have just acquired land in Batroun on which they plan to build a recycling facility.
Looking to the future: The founders of AdTech are currently talking to investors to get funding to enable their procurement and recycling of unusable electronics. They are also looking at other markets. They are currently looking toward Iraq, and are thinking of starting a similar program there by mid-2014. They hope to reach the $1 million revenue mark by 2014.
Entrepreneurs: Karim Safieddine, Maroun Najm, Jad Saroud
Ages: 29, 29, 30
Number of Employees: 13, up from 11 in 2012
Revenues in 2013: $500,000, up from $200,000 in 2012
The model: Cinemoz offers an on-demand online video platform. They currently have over 1,000 movies available in Arabic. Their two main goals are preserving the heritage of Arabic cinema, and kickstarting the next wave of Arabic content throughout the world. Their core revenues come from advertising. They will be launching a paid subscription via credit card, SMS, and in app devices by mid-2013.
Since last year: For Cinemoz, 2013 was the year of scaling. Since last year they doubled their audience and established content partnerships with three major studios across the region and also launched their own production track. They have started creating their own content tailored to a younger audience
Looking to the future: Cinemoz is seeking to develop its user base. Their main markets today are Saudi Arabia and Egypt, followed by the rest of the Gulf. They are working on growing these markets and evolving outside of the online sphere to attract an offline audience. They are planning high-end online campaigns to attract users by delivering original content. They are aiming to generate between $760,000 and $1.1 million in 2014.
Entrepreneurs: Marc Dfouni & Nemr Nicolas Badine
Ages: 37, 37
Industry: Online Marketing
Number of Employees: 32, up from 15 in 2012
Revenues in 2013: $1.6 million, up from $1.2 million in 2012
The model: Eastline Marketing is an online marketing company. They deliver services in the domains of social media marketing, search engine optimization, paid search marketing, and online advertising. They serve markets locally, regionally, and internationally.
Since last year: The team has grown from 15 to 32 employees and has doubled revenues. In terms of geographical reach, they have expanded to Saudi Arabia. They have also launched new products online, one of which, SweepzApp.com, is a self-service platform for companies to launch sweepstakes online for their users to enter a draw through Facebook or Instagram.
Looking to the future: In 2014, in addition to further expansion in Saudi Arabia Eastline Marketing plan to further develop additional components for their Sweepzapp.com app. Their projected revenues for 2014 are 2.5 million.
Instabeat (formerly Butterfleye)
Entrepreneur: Hind Hobeika
Industry: Sports technology
Established in: 2011
Number of Employees: 5
Revenues in 2013: no current revenues, but 1,000 pre-orders
The model: Instabeat is a sports technology startup that has designed swimming goggles that can monitor a swimmer’s performance while they swim. The goggles allow swimmers to visualize their heart rate in real time through the lens, with a blue light if fat is burning, green light for being in a fitness zone, and a red light if they have reached maximum performance. The goggles measure calories, number of laps, number of flips and turns and breathing patterns. To top it off, swimmers can upload their information after their workout for a detailed analysis over time.
Since last year: Instabeat has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, surpassing their target of $35,000 by raising a total of $56,374. Though they have not yet sold their technology, in the past year they have received 1,000 pre-orders for their goggles — priced at $150 a piece. Their market is mainly international — with 90 percent of pre-orders coming from outside the country.
Looking to the future: Instabeat plans on selling a couple of thousand units in the next year. They are currently focusing on a swimming product that they want to distribute all over the world. Beyond this, they want to develop new sports products, not just limited to swimming.