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: Resume and presentation services
Product launch: 2012
Founder: Tara Nehme
Tara Nehme, the Lebanese-Canadian founder of TickleMyBrain (TMB), first noticed that people’s resumes needed assistance when a friend asked her to check their CV at the last moment before applying for a job in Dubai. What started as a small career advice blog in 2012 has evolved into an online platform dedicated to improving the presentation of users’ credentials. TMB offers services for improving documents (such as resumes and various applications) uploaded to their website for a minimal fee of $99 for the basic package, and $5,000 for a business plan.
Nehme identified that many candidates suffered at the application stage of careers due to poor presentation of otherwise good credentials. Akin to coaching for a pitch to an investor, TMB offers guidance to clients wishing to give the best first impression possible, without deceiving potential employers by carefully monitoring the content management of a portfolio. TMB’s main business is selling the overhaul of resumes and cover letters, but they offer other services as well to meet premium writing requests of clients. Until now, the business has operated through a freelance writing team.
Their business model matches freelance writers with clients who need editing and language services, at a 30:70 revenue split to TMB and the writers respectively, the latter of whom are heavily vetted by the business. Their future model centers around scaling the business to include a ‘tiered system’, offering express services with a fast turnaround alongside the current TMB system, as Nehme often has urgent requests. The value proposition of this would be the speed of writing turnaround, which is how they wish to scale globally.
The project is currently self-funded, and Nehme took a $15,000 loan and offered stakes to other employees within the company, including her chief designer and chief technological officer, with the majority stake resting with Nehme. The operations are based in Beirut, with freelance writers worldwide, and they review the services by incorporating a feedback mechanism from both writers and customers. Most of her employees, bar seven freelance writers, are Lebanese and TMB have recently opened offices in the Beirut Digital District as operations are based in Lebanon.
The company became profitable seven months into its foundation, with 15,000 sign ups to the website, and more than 3,000 paid users. TMB’s biggest growth is within the business plan offering, with more than $100,000 in total sales in the last year. Their target market includes any professional with a need for overhauling the presentation of their credentials. In terms of scalability, Nehme believes that their future lies with an express service, which will be rolled out in February 2016 and marketed globally. TMB’s value to the Lebanese economy is their ability to improve the chances of employment for their customers, and the opportunities offered to their own employees at what is essentially a tech-based startup. Nehme explains that their corporate social responsibility services go beyond a resume refurbishment, and regularly holds workshops and lectures on credential presentation. “I care very much about the Lebanese, and I care that they get the same chances as everyone else. What we’re offering is the chance to compete in a very tough world,” says Nehme, who hopes that TMB’s impact will come full cycle and see individuals who benefited from their services feed back into the Lebanese economy.