I am happy to announce that I will be joining Wamda as its new CEO.
When Fadi Ghandour emailed me last April to see if I’d be interested to join him and Abraaj to change the early stage entrepreneurship ecosystem it was a no brainer that I would say yes.
As many of you know I have been a huge believer in the entrepreneurship scene in the Middle East and passionate about making an impact. A few years back while in Boston I decided to venture in this market and started Yamli with my good friend Imad Jureidini. As I was growing the company in the MENA region I faced many frustrating obstacles that I haven’t experienced in my previous US startup life. Back then it was virtually impossible to find Angel investors, the press was not a big supporter of Startups, the private sector did not respect “small companies” and it was very hard to convince good talent to join a “risky” venture. Although the picture looks better today there still exist a lot of obstacles, but one thing remains for sure, the MENA is a hot emerging market and growing.
A couple of years into Yamli, I decided to give back and founded YallaStartup with two of my friends Elie Khoury and Sami Shalabi. Through my engagement with YallaStartup I met many budding entrepreneurs that made me even more excited about the region. I saw talent that could easily compete on a global level.
After 4 years of running Yamli, we grew the company to become a household brand name in the Middle East serving more than 100M words per month. With the help of our partners we also managed to get to profitability through our enterprise packages, but it was not an easy ride. At one point in time and to maximize my cash flow I had to sell my furniture (minus my bed) and to exchange the foreign bills that were left over from various trips.
Luckily the company is doing much better today and no longer needs my full time operational engagement so I am pretty excited to dedicate my time helping other entrepreneurs through Wamda. Although I am not ready to talk about the details of what we’ll be exactly doing in Wamda, what will drive us is palpable impact. I have lived it and saw many others live it, so we will strive to add not just financial value but also value that can help take entrepreneurs to the next level. We are up for a big challenge, but I am confident with the support of people like Arif Naqvi, Fadi Ghandour and others that we will make an impact. Fortunately there are also other players driven by the same passion and we will collaborate with them on this journey.
No journey can be successfully accomplished without the right team. We are just getting started and looking for people who are passionate to make a change in the entrepreneurship ecosystem on all levels (media, community, investing, partner relations, events…) So do drop me a note or email if you are excited in shaping this journey :)