Many Americans think of Silicon Valley as the all-inclusive epicenter of the startup world; however, that's is a pretty far cry from the truth. In fact, there are a number of startup hubs around the world that are regularly bringing great, innovative products and services to consumers, despite the fact that they are half a world away from the Bay Area.
From Tel Aviv to Bangalore, healthy startup scenes are popping up all over the globe, and one of the areas leading the charge is the Arab region. Here are five of the hottest Middle Eastern startups--and what entrepreneurs worldwide can learn from them.
BeeLabs Mobile Development House
BeeLabs is one of the top mobile developers in the Arab region, with a focus on creative mobile applications for Arab users. Based in Amman, Jordan, the company's main focus is to create Arabic mobile content and applications that showcase the same level of professionalism and innovation as many of its English counterparts. Originally, the company started off in the education space, but due to their overwhelming success, they have since evolved into a feature-rich mobile games developer as well.
If there's anything Western marketers and brands can learn from BeeLabs' rapid mobile success, it's that the mobile industry is becoming a worldwide phenomenon and an important aspect to any business's growth strategy.
Dokkan Afkar is an e-commerce platform from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia whose mission is to provide an inspirational e-commerce experience for creative professionals in the Arab world. The company is centered around products that are inventive and offer distinctive designs. Much like BeeLabs, with their focus on the mobile space, Dokkan Afkar is another example of the rapid growth of international e-commerce and proves that there is a market demand for creative, innovative products and services in every corner of the world.
This health and medical platform provides top-notch medical information and connects people with local doctors. Sohati has become a destination for health-related information in the Arab region, focusing on sharing content that is more easily accessible and understood. It's team of in-house editors and independent doctors help curate information so users can find what they need quickly and easily. With its comprehensive approach and varied content formats, Sohati proves online medical references are effective when they're simplified and accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Alhodhud is a company that develops educational content for children in the Arabic world. Also based out of Jordan, Alhodhud's programs are fun and entertaining for young school children, while also helping them learn how to read. Designed specifically for schools and training centers, Alhodhud's games utilize sounds, animals, and matching games to provide interactive and memorable learning experiences. If there's one thing American entrepreneurs can take away from this startup, it's that there is always a market for both educational and entertainment-based apps, but combining the two can prove to be successful.
An Egyptian-based company, Kngine is an app that answers users' questions via their own search technology. By utilizing text and voice-based search queries, this app can provide detailed responses to a variety of user-generated questions. With it's growing success, Kngine is proof that although Google has become an international Internet giant, it's not the end-all be-all for online search. Plus, Kngine's unique search technology is an example of how startups can provide creative solutions to improve their user experience and grow their audience.
Genesis International is one of a handful of businesses that is overseen by Omani entrepreneur Qais Al Khonji, a businessman who is well known in his country for helping citizens overcome the hardships of starting their own businesses. As a chairman of long-standing, successful family businesses, Al Khonji has a track record of helping build great companies that last, and Genesis International is one of his main focuses.
The Omani-based company leads many different initiatives in a variety of sectors, ranging from higher education to solar energy to core testing for oil and gas, and even trying to build a "smart city" which may enable citizens to pay utility bills automatically, amongst other things. Certainly Genesis International has its hands in a lot of projects, and is an example that anything is possible, even in countries like Oman where it can be difficult to start and run a successful business.
You may be familiar with Wix as a leading cloud-based web development platform, but what you might not know is that this company isn't even 10 years old. The Tel-Aviv-based web development startup was founded in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan and has since taken the web development industry by storm. Born out of their own personal experiences, Wix was created to make it easier for people to build their own HTML5 web and mobile sites through the use of their online drag and drop tool suite. Wix's platform made an often complicated task into a simple and enjoyable activity, which has been the key to their overwhelming success over the years--a lesson any entrepreneur can appreciate.
While Silicon Valley remains the go-to hotspot for entrepreneurs from around the world, other corners of the globe are fast catching up and providing just as many interesting and useful products for consumers. If we can learn anything from these companies, it's that cultural relevance and solving region-specific problems often trumps the value of an internationally recognized brand name. If you're able to provide effective solutions to local problems, your startup is potentially much more likely to become a success.