By Mohamed Alaa Al-Din
Jobzella is planning to expand in some Gulf markets, especially Qatar and Kuwait. Meanwhile, the company has already started to provide its services in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, it has started to establish its main headquarters in Dubai, to be completed at the beginning of 2016.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, the company’s CEO, Nader El-Batrawi, said users of the site have exceeded 150,000, and the company is targeting to increase the number to 500,000 by the end of 2015.
How did you come about the idea of your project, and what is the nature of the services offered by Jobzella?
I started my project around 2013, after gaining experience in the field of professional relations thanks to my work as a manager for Bayt.com, specialised in offering jobs through the Internet. It caught my attention that clients could not effectively reach the jobs published on the Internet. I found that the Arab market lack a connection between the labour market and job seekers, so this became the service that I decided to provide through the professional business network Jobzella. Jobzella is considered a professional platform as well as the largest online search engine in Egypt and the Arab world. Right after specifying the idea and the tools of its implementation, I resigned from Bayt and sold all what I had, even the apartment where I lived, in order to provide the necessary liquidity to implement the project.
The site does not only offer job search services via Internet, but it also provides training courses for the people who wish to develop their skills and their different educational phases. The last service mentioned is offered thanks to the search engine which prepares databases for all courses provided by various universities, institutes, research and training centres all over the world. Thanks to how this service functions, the Egyptian user can participate in a course offered by an American university, in addition some of these universities offer certificates during these courses. In other words, the user can obtain certificates from international universities via the Internet.
What are the challenges you faced while executing your project?
The real challenge was communicating with investors to support us in implementing our expansion plans. A lot of investors did not recognize the importance of the services we offer as a social professional network and a platform of searching jobs, at the time where we need more investments to support us in our competition with the website of LinkedIn, especially that it is currently the only competitor.
How did you overcome this obstacle?
In 2013, and after an investment round of the company, KI-Angel fund acquired 15% of the company, and by the end of last year, we were able to obtain investment from Al Khaleej Training and Education, which is a Saudi Arabian company, specialized in educational services and classified by Forbes magazine as one of the best companies working in the educational sector in Middle East, in return for acquiring 60% of Jobzella and keeping right of management for five years.
Do not you have concerns regarding the latter investor acquiring ruling share in your own project?
I have a management right for five years, and if the performance continues properly, I will continue to be in charge. Moreover, the fact that Al Khaleej Training and Education has a ruling share does not mean that I have no role in the company. For instance, Steve Jobs had only 1% share of Apple. More important than the share the investor acquired is the value the investor added to me, whether through his relations in the Gulf area or the wide base of projects that can be implemented in cooperation with him, in addition to the volume of investment we acquired.
How did you make use of the last investment round?
The last investment round helped us to expand in the Saudi market. Moreover, we prepare now to provide our services in the Emirati market, the beginning of next year, and to move the administrative headquarter to Dubai. We started to execute some projects in Saudi Arabia, one of which is a project for the Saudi government within the programme of Saudization, in cooperation with the Human Resources Development Fund in the kingdom.
Why did you move the headquarters of the company to Dubai?
The headquarters of the company will be moved to Dubai by the start of next year. The reason why is because we are focusing on the Gulf States with the offers we provide, especially that our main partner offers its services in the Gulf. Our plan also includes expansion in Qatar and Kuwait, so being based in Dubai will serve our plans, since 70% of the company’s income relies on the Gulf markets, in addition to the facilitations and exemptions in Dubai, where we will also be provided with all the infrastructure needed for our services and will be exempt from taxes.
How many customers do you have?
We currently have more than 150,000 users and we plan to increase the number to 500,000 customers by the end of this year. We also have more than 4.2m job opportunities and training offered on our Jobzella platform, in addition to more than 2,000 companies that offer job opportunities in all the different countries of the Arab world.
Have you already achieved revenues?
Right now we are focusing on expansions, so we do not achieve revenues. However, according to our plan, we will start achieving revenues during 2017.
Do you plan on attracting new investments?
According to the plan, we are still expanding in Egypt and the Gulf, and the investments we received will be enough for these expansions. In 2017, we will start a new phase of investments on a global scale.
What do emerging and pioneer companies from the government to grow?
The country is going through some tough times on an economic level right now, and the government looks forward to attract more investments. So the government has to subsidise local entities of small and medium enterprises, especially those offering geniu services. We are not asking for financial support, but for a convenient investment climate, like exemption from taxes of investment incentives. Unfortunately, the government does not support companies that offer innovative services even though they may be the cornerstone for the Egyptian economic growth through creating a wide database using these companies.
Let’s take Apple as an example; Apple had a very big financial surplus which exceeded that of the United States in 1975, or WhatsApp application, which was sold at $13bn. This number is more than the foreign monetary surplus in Egypt. This means that companies based on innovative ideas could push the economy of the country to grow.