All Stories

Most Successful Beauty Tech Startups in Kuwait

It won’t be wrong to say that the word “startup” is synonymous with “technology”. Food-Tech (Food space). Ed-Tech (Education domain). Fin-Tech (Financial products). Agri-Tech (Agriculture). Health-Tech (Healthcare). Clean-Tech (Environment concerned). And so on. And so forth. As you can see, it doesn’t matter which startup sector we talk about, technology is the bedrock of every single one of them. But let me tell you, these are not the only sectors which are making waves through technology. The sectors you’d have least thought of, are also using the power of technology to come up with better and more sophisticated offerings. Beauty/Fashion sector has also gotten on the technology bandwagon and has made huge strides in the past couple of years. Now, you might be thinking, how and in what ways can the beauty/fashion sector help us with the use of technology, but that question has become obsolete now. The beauty/fashion-tech startups have taken the world literally by storm, not only in the innovative ways they’re using technology but also with respect to the funding this sector has attracted. Global startups like Glossier and Memebox have seen tremendous traction and are rigorously expanding in terms of both new markets and newer products. Having said that, even the Middle East and specifically Kuwaiti beauty/fashion market is growing steadily and is not too far behind, when it comes to startups catering to this domain. The salon and beauty services industry in the Middle East is pegged at more than $20 billion and according to a report by Euromonitor International, Middle East was the fastest growing beauty market, in 2014.   The beauty/fashion market of Kuwait is flourishing and the sector has seen a respectable number of players, competing for what could be a multi-million-dollar industry in the near future. Let’s take a look at the players in contention of being the next big thing from the “Hollywood of the Gulf”. Nalbes A one-stop shop for men, women and kids – Nalbes is one of the dominant players of Kuwait, in the beauty/fashion domain. Started in January of 2017 by two Kuwaiti entrepreneurs – Abdulaziz Alanzi and Bader Alanzi, the fashion and lifestyle marketplace was incorporated with an aim to be the number one designers and lifestyle platform, in the entire GCC. The startup sells everything from clothing to accessories to home décor and even gift items. What is pretty unique about Nalbes is that, in its only first 8 months of operation, the website-only platform received a million-dollar round of funding - $1.5 million, in Series A. And this is after their $200,000 seed round, the founders had raised even before starting operations. A second round of funding in just one year not only showcases the promise that the startup has, but also the potential of the entire beauty/fashion domain of Kuwait.   The founders are well in the know of other big-name players operating in the same region but still believe that beauty/fashion is an untapped market and there’s a lot of room for growth. Although Nalbes has its roots in Kuwait, it ships all over the GCC region, and has clear objectives to scale newer markets, in not too far a future. Bookr Launched in the December of 2015 by Zaina Al Bader, Bookr is a beauty salon and spa booking app – available for both iOS and Android. An MIT graduate, Al Bader conceived the idea of Bookr with an aim to allow users to search for beauty salons and be able to book appointments, directly from the app. The intention behind was to cut the hassles that arise from multiple and manual visits to spas and salons, every time a person needs grooming services. Bookr is a subscription-based service and uses the straightforward method of charging a nominal fee from salons, each month, for using their software. What’s more interesting is that every time you use the app to book an appointment, you’ll earn points, in the form of rewards, which can be translated to free beauty services, in the future. Bookr saw good response from the local community and in its only first one and a half year of operation, it managed to onboard 50+ salons and spas, with more than 10,000 monthly active users. Later in 2017, with an aim towards global expansion, Al Bader launched the app in the biggest market in GCC – Saudi Arabia. And as expected, the response has been great. By the end of 2017, the service had already amassed 40,000+ monthly users, even after the presence of some home-grown and fierce competitors in the kingdom. The app plans to enhance its offerings by adding more salons and more payment options in addition to the scope of easier and higher points accumulation and redemption. Boutiqaat With the goal of becoming the largest online cosmetics and beauty products distributor in GCC and Middle-East, Boutiqaat is the most famous beauty startup, in Kuwait today. Started in 2015 by Mr. Abdul Wahab, Boutiqaat is a virtual makeup showroom of more than 300 brands, where celebrities from all over the world, share the beauty products they use with their audience on their virtual boutiques. The idea was born out of the necessity to provide women with not just a full-fledged cosmetics website but an easier way to find suitable skincare products, according to the nature of their skin, based upon the recommendations of celebrities and field experts. It’s a different kind of a feeling when the celebrities you’ve been following for years, themselves recommend you the products they prefer to use. This not only advocates the authenticity of the products but also serves the needs of the people with very different skin characteristics. Apart from skin care products and celebrities’ boutiques, the website also lists accessories (eyewear and phone cases) and perfumes and routinely launches new products to entice its ever-growing database of users. It also has an A-Z listing of all the famous brands – in and outside of Middle-East, for you to be brand specific while buying. Today, more than 500 employees serve the needs of the customers of the online shopping website, which has internet and fashion celebrities like Ascia AKF, Yalda Golsharifi, The Real Fouz and Dalalid, on board. Anotah Anotah was established way back in 1998 to act as an all-things women platform, when it came to apparels and accessories (which was included at a later point in time). Although the brand later expanded to kids’ categories as well, the initial motive of providing inspiring collections tailored to the unique taste of the modern generation has, to this day, been maintained. What makes Anotah different is that through its long-standing history, it has now become a name synonymous with creativity and authenticity. The lifestyle brand transforms latest trends into accessible fashion, and they do this via their diversified portfolio of offerings. Even though Anotah’s eye-catching collections are inspired from designers all around the world, the apparels are designed in-house to maintain the elegancy and authenticity of its products. From a single store in Kuwait, Anotah has already forayed into Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. (There are more than 20 stores in just Saudi Arabia!!) Courtesy of the way the iconic fashion retailer has managed to create a name for itself among women, teenagers and children alike, it’s now also recognized on the international fashion scene.     Although Kuwait has been lately seeing a lot of buzz in the beauty/fashion scene, with new startups emerging every now and then, the aforementioned four are the most prominent ones. And these startups have not only lifted Kuwait’s beauty/fashion industry to great heights, they’ve even provided a level playing field to the up and coming players. The future prospects do seem interesting.

Sal o2one Labs
283 days read

Kuwait startup Ecosystem: Slow Growth But Great Future!

A vast majority of the Gulf countries are at the forefront of economic diversification. This diversification has led to a change in the locals’ attitude towards the public sector. And the two ways, that has happened,  are – reducing the overwhelming dependence on it for the growth of the economy and seeing it as the only attractive employment option. Although the seeds for the change in mindset were implanted way back in the latter half of 2014, due to the oil price volatility, it’s only in the past year or so that things have really started taking a different shape. “Oil wealth proved to be a safer avenue and people, understandably enough, were not prepared to look beyond it. And just like the other Gulf regions, even Kuwait experienced this xerox copy of a scenario, until sometime back.” But the rising cost of living, fluctuating health of oil and streamlined ways to start up, are among a whole host of other reasons that have given a much-needed impetus to Kuwaitis to look beyond traditional business landscapes. Even the government of Kuwait has taken no time to recognize the potential startups have, and how they can affect the overall economy of the Middle Eastern country. Programs such as the National Fund for SME Development have been put in place by the government to support the country’s entrepreneurs. Let’s talk about the pointers where Kuwait lags and how it’s addressing them. Hindrances Culture is often the biggest barrier to innovation. Lack of a culture which can work on the lines of the popular saying “Necessity is the mother of invention/innovation” often proves too big of a challenge to counter. Until and unless the culture doesn’t pave the way for innovation, a startup ecosystem can never thrive. And building such type of a culture is the toughest job. Because culture cannot be defined by one single person or one single organization, it often takes years, if not decades, to build a conducive startup environment. The stigma that often surrounds unemployment, company shutdowns, or even bankruptcy, is one of the major enemies of a startup culture. What people fail to understand is that these things are not permanent failures but only temporary shortcomings. This not only makes people less inclined to challenge the status quo but it also makes them less risk-averse – something which is an absolute must-have for entrepreneurship. The second hindrance is something we cannot stop talking about, with respect to Kuwait (and maybe for the entire Gulf region as well). The Funding Aspects. A growing innovation hub needs a constant flow of cash. And this is not something the local government has a lot of control over. The solution lies in Venture Capital and Angel Investing. Startups cannot succeed if they don’t have access to funds. And because Kuwait is yet to experience a lot of solutions that startups can cater to, there’s a very wide scope of building things, which might be available in a San Francisco or Bangalore but aren’t there in the Gulf region. (You can take Souq and Careem for examples.) The other aspects of a conducive funding atmosphere include lesser regulations, availability to raise higher funding rounds and proposition of big companies acquiring small startups. Until and unless these factors are not facilitated, Kuwait might continue to grapple under the mere hopes of being a startup hub. A report published last year in Entrepreneur.com says that in the entirety of the Middle East region, Kuwait accounted for only 4% of the investment deals. The pace of evolution But things have started to take a better shape and not all is lost. Not just yet. The current ecosystem of Kuwait is a work in progress and if all the stakeholders work together, accomplishments will not take long. And there are indeed some startups, that have proved this correct. Two Kuwaiti exits in the name of Rocket Internet’s acquisition of Talabat for $170 million USD in 2015 and Delivery Hero’s acquisition of Carriage for a reported $100 million USD in 2017, are both among the top startup exits, in the whole of Middle East yet. It is deals like these that show that Kuwaiti entrepreneurship is much more than just a feel-good effort. And this is clear indication that Kuwait’s startup ecosystem is progressing. Angel investment firms and startup incubators are helping online businesses in Kuwait to gain a foothold in the market with streamlined funding aspects and mentorship programs. Two particular firms – Sirdab Lab and Arzan Venture Capital, have been extremely active in their pursuit of shaping the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kuwait. The former has its roots right in Kuwait while the latter, with offices in Kuwait and Dubai, has till date funded 12 companies (as per the website) in the whole of MENA region. Other factors include interconnectedness with other MENA countries, ranking among the top 50 smartphone penetration economies, and the emergence of some high-profile online business in Kuwait, such as Tap Payments & Boutiqaat. What does the future hold? The one thing which keeps coming up regarding the Middle East is its vast young population. And this is, if not more, than equally true in Kuwait’s case as well. The country has more than 50% of the population under 30 and as such, a vast majority of tech-savvy people. What’s more interesting to know is that nearly two-thirds of them will have a smart device in their hands, by the end of this decade. This means that not only the smart devices and internet penetration is going to rise, this young Kuwaiti population will have a lot of avenues to learn from and feed their curiosity. It’s quite well-known that a lot of immigrants also reside in Kuwait. Now, the government might not be too happy about this, but from an entrepreneurial point of view, and because we know that more than half of the Fortune 500 companies were built by either immigrants or children of immigrants, it certainly is a prospect to cheer. When people from developed economies make Kuwait their abode, they bring with themselves newer technologies, enhanced problem-solving approaches and better product building skills. Also, the Dubai based research group Magnitt has projected that more than $1 billion of venture money will be raise in the next year, in the MENA the region, out of which, Dubai and Kuwait will be the major beneficiaries. Even the local government is advocating the entrepreneurial mindset, which is evident from its recent agenda of transforming the country into a financial and cultural hub, by 2035, via 164 strategic development programs. The government is also in talks to increase the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit to 300%, which could be a really big impetus to the oil-dependent economy. In the language of the Venture Capitalists, it usually takes an average of 7- 8 years for startups to reach a maturity stage, where they become ready for exits. Now, because we know that let alone Kuwait, the entire Middle Eastern the region did not know the meaning of startups and entrepreneurship a decade back, it can be said that the startups and small business in Kuwait still have a long road to trace, in order to position themselves as attractive proponents for either more rounds of funding or direct exits.

Sal o2one Labs
287 days read

Most successful Food Tech Startups in Kuwait, 2018

It won’t be wrong to say that the word “startup” is synonymous with “technology”. Food-Tech (Food space). Ed-Tech (Education domain). Fin-Tech (Financial products). Agri-Tech (Agriculture). Health-Tech (Healthcare). Clean-Tech (Environment concerned). And so on. And so forth. As you can see, it doesn’t matter which startup sector we talk about, technology is the bedrock of every single one of them. But let me tell you, these are not the only sectors which are making waves through technology. The sectors you’d have least thought of, are also using the power of technology to come up with better and more sophisticated offerings. Beauty/Fashion sector has also gotten on the technology bandwagon and has made huge strides in the past couple of years. Now, you might be thinking, how and in what ways can the beauty/fashion sector help us with the use of technology, but that question has become obsolete now. The beauty/fashion-tech startups have taken the world literally by storm, not only in the innovative ways they’re using technology but also with respect to the funding this sector has attracted. Global startups like Glossier and Memebox have seen tremendous traction and are rigorously expanding in terms of both new markets and newer products. Having said that, even the Middle East and specifically Kuwaiti beauty/fashion market is growing steadily and is not too far behind, when it comes to startups catering to this domain.a The salon and beauty services industry in the Middle East is pegged at more than $20 billion and according to a report by Euromonitor International, Middle East was the fastest growing beauty market, in 2014.   The beauty/fashion market of Kuwait is flourishing and the sector has seen a respectable number of players, competing for what could be a multi-million-dollar industry in the near future. Let’s take a look at the players in contention of being the next big thing from the “Hollywood of the Gulf”. Nalbes A one-stop shop for men, women and kids – Nalbes is one of the dominant players of Kuwait, in the beauty/fashion domain. Started in January of 2017 by two Kuwaiti entrepreneurs – Abdulaziz Alanzi and Bader Alanzi, the fashion and lifestyle marketplace was incorporated with an aim to be the number one designers and lifestyle platform, in the entire GCC. The startup sells everything from clothing to accessories to home décor and even gift items. What is pretty unique about Nalbes is that, in its only first 8 months of operation, the website-only platform received a million-dollar round of funding - $1.5 million, in Series A. And this is after their $200,000 seed round, the founders had raised even before starting operations. A second round of funding in just one year not only showcases the promise that the startup has, but also the potential of the entire beauty/fashion domain of Kuwait.   The founders are well in the know of other big-name players operating in the same region but still believe that beauty/fashion is an untapped market and there’s a lot of room for growth. Although Nalbes has its roots in Kuwait, it ships all over the GCC region, and has clear objectives to scale newer markets, in not too far a future. Bookr Launched in the December of 2015 by Zaina Al Bader, Bookr is a beauty salon and spa booking app – available for both iOS and Android. An MIT graduate, Al Bader conceived the idea of Bookr with an aim to allow users to search for beauty salons and be able to book appointments, directly from the app. The intention behind was to cut the hassles that arise from multiple and manual visits to spas and salons, every time a person needs grooming services. Bookr is a subscription-based service and uses the straightforward method of charging a nominal fee from salons, each month, for using their software. What’s more interesting is that every time you use the app to book an appointment, you’ll earn points, in the form of rewards, which can be translated to free beauty services, in the future. Bookr saw good response from the local community and in its only first one and a half year of operation, it managed to onboard 50+ salons and spas, with more than 10,000 monthly active users. Later in 2017, with an aim towards global expansion, Al Bader launched the app in the biggest market in GCC – Saudi Arabia. And as expected, the response has been great. By the end of 2017, the service had already amassed 40,000+ monthly users, even after the presence of some home-grown and fierce competitors in the kingdom. The app plans to enhance its offerings by adding more salons and more payment options in addition to the scope of easier and higher points accumulation and redemption. Boutiqaat With the goal of becoming the largest online cosmetics and beauty products distributor in GCC and Middle-East, Boutiqaat is the most famous beauty startup, in Kuwait today. Started in 2015 by Mr. Abdul Wahab, Boutiqaat is a virtual makeup showroom of more than 300 brands, where celebrities from all over the world, share the beauty products they use with their audience on their virtual boutiques. The idea was born out of the necessity to provide women with not just a full-fledged cosmetics website but an easier way to find suitable skincare products, according to the nature of their skin, based upon the recommendations of celebrities and field experts. It’s a different kind of a feeling when the celebrities you’ve been following for years, themselves recommend you the products they prefer to use. This not only advocates the authenticity of the products but also serves the needs of the people with very different skin characteristics. Apart from skin care products and celebrities’ boutiques, the website also lists accessories (eyewear and phone cases) and perfumes and routinely launches new products to entice its ever-growing database of users. It also has an A-Z listing of all the famous brands – in and outside of Middle-East, for you to be brand specific while buying. Today, more than 500 employees serve the needs of the customers of the online shopping website, which has internet and fashion celebrities like Ascia AKF, Yalda Golsharifi, The Real Fouz and Dalalid, on board. Anotah Anotah was established way back in 1998 to act as an all-things women platform, when it came to apparels and accessories (which was included at a later point in time). Although the brand later expanded to kids’ categories as well, the initial motive of providing inspiring collections tailored to the unique taste of the modern generation has, to this day, been maintained. What makes Anotah different is that through its long-standing history, it has now become a name synonymous with creativity and authenticity. The lifestyle brand transforms latest trends into accessible fashion, and they do this via their diversified portfolio of offerings. Even though Anotah’s eye-catching collections are inspired from designers all around the world, the apparels are designed in-house to maintain the elegancy and authenticity of its products. From a single store in Kuwait, Anotah has already forayed into Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. (There are more than 20 stores in just Saudi Arabia!!) Courtesy of the way the iconic fashion retailer has managed to create a name for itself among women, teenagers and children alike, it’s now also recognized on the international fashion scene.     Although Kuwait has been lately seeing a lot of buzz in the beauty/fashion scene, with new startups emerging every now and then, the aforementioned four are the most prominent ones. And these startups have not only lifted Kuwait’s beauty/fashion industry to great heights, they’ve even provided a level playing field to the up and coming players. The future prospects do seem interesting.

Sal o2one Labs
347 days read

Why the Middle East Startup Ecosystem needs a reboot

It won’t be wrong to say that the word “startup” is synonymous with “technology”. Food-Tech (Food space). Ed-Tech (Education domain). Fin-Tech (Financial products). Agri-Tech (Agriculture). Health-Tech (Healthcare). Clean-Tech (Environment concerned). And so on. And so forth. As you can see, it doesn’t matter which startup sector we talk about, technology is the bedrock of every single one of them. But let me tell you, these are not the only sectors which are making waves through technology. The sectors you’d have least thought of, are also using the power of technology to come up with better and more sophisticated offerings. Beauty/Fashion sector has also gotten on the technology bandwagon and has made huge strides in the past couple of years. Now, you might be thinking, how and in what ways can the beauty/fashion sector help us with the use of technology, but that question has become obsolete now. The beauty/fashion-tech startups have taken the world literally by storm, not only in the innovative ways they’re using technology but also with respect to the funding this sector has attracted. Global startups like Glossier and Memebox have seen tremendous traction and are rigorously expanding in terms of both new markets and newer products. Having said that, even the Middle East and specifically Kuwaiti beauty/fashion market is growing steadily and is not too far behind, when it comes to startups catering to this domain.a The salon and beauty services industry in the Middle East is pegged at more than $20 billion and according to a report by Euromonitor International, Middle East was the fastest growing beauty market, in 2014.   The beauty/fashion market of Kuwait is flourishing and the sector has seen a respectable number of players, competing for what could be a multi-million-dollar industry in the near future. Let’s take a look at the players in contention of being the next big thing from the “Hollywood of the Gulf”. Nalbes A one-stop shop for men, women and kids – Nalbes is one of the dominant players of Kuwait, in the beauty/fashion domain. Started in January of 2017 by two Kuwaiti entrepreneurs – Abdulaziz Alanzi and Bader Alanzi, the fashion and lifestyle marketplace was incorporated with an aim to be the number one designers and lifestyle platform, in the entire GCC. The startup sells everything from clothing to accessories to home décor and even gift items. What is pretty unique about Nalbes is that, in its only first 8 months of operation, the website-only platform received a million-dollar round of funding - $1.5 million, in Series A. And this is after their $200,000 seed round, the founders had raised even before starting operations. A second round of funding in just one year not only showcases the promise that the startup has, but also the potential of the entire beauty/fashion domain of Kuwait.   The founders are well in the know of other big-name players operating in the same region but still believe that beauty/fashion is an untapped market and there’s a lot of room for growth. Although Nalbes has its roots in Kuwait, it ships all over the GCC region, and has clear objectives to scale newer markets, in not too far a future. Bookr Launched in the December of 2015 by Zaina Al Bader, Bookr is a beauty salon and spa booking app – available for both iOS and Android. An MIT graduate, Al Bader conceived the idea of Bookr with an aim to allow users to search for beauty salons and be able to book appointments, directly from the app. The intention behind was to cut the hassles that arise from multiple and manual visits to spas and salons, every time a person needs grooming services. Bookr is a subscription-based service and uses the straightforward method of charging a nominal fee from salons, each month, for using their software. What’s more interesting is that every time you use the app to book an appointment, you’ll earn points, in the form of rewards, which can be translated to free beauty services, in the future. Bookr saw good response from the local community and in its only first one and a half year of operation, it managed to onboard 50+ salons and spas, with more than 10,000 monthly active users. Later in 2017, with an aim towards global expansion, Al Bader launched the app in the biggest market in GCC – Saudi Arabia. And as expected, the response has been great. By the end of 2017, the service had already amassed 40,000+ monthly users, even after the presence of some home-grown and fierce competitors in the kingdom. The app plans to enhance its offerings by adding more salons and more payment options in addition to the scope of easier and higher points accumulation and redemption. Boutiqaat With the goal of becoming the largest online cosmetics and beauty products distributor in GCC and Middle-East, Boutiqaat is the most famous beauty startup, in Kuwait today. Started in 2015 by Mr. Abdul Wahab, Boutiqaat is a virtual makeup showroom of more than 300 brands, where celebrities from all over the world, share the beauty products they use with their audience on their virtual boutiques. The idea was born out of the necessity to provide women with not just a full-fledged cosmetics website but an easier way to find suitable skincare products, according to the nature of their skin, based upon the recommendations of celebrities and field experts. It’s a different kind of a feeling when the celebrities you’ve been following for years, themselves recommend you the products they prefer to use. This not only advocates the authenticity of the products but also serves the needs of the people with very different skin characteristics. Apart from skin care products and celebrities’ boutiques, the website also lists accessories (eyewear and phone cases) and perfumes and routinely launches new products to entice its ever-growing database of users. It also has an A-Z listing of all the famous brands – in and outside of Middle-East, for you to be brand specific while buying. Today, more than 500 employees serve the needs of the customers of the online shopping website, which has internet and fashion celebrities like Ascia AKF, Yalda Golsharifi, The Real Fouz and Dalalid, on board. Anotah Anotah was established way back in 1998 to act as an all-things women platform, when it came to apparels and accessories (which was included at a later point in time). Although the brand later expanded to kids’ categories as well, the initial motive of providing inspiring collections tailored to the unique taste of the modern generation has, to this day, been maintained. What makes Anotah different is that through its long-standing history, it has now become a name synonymous with creativity and authenticity. The lifestyle brand transforms latest trends into accessible fashion, and they do this via their diversified portfolio of offerings. Even though Anotah’s eye-catching collections are inspired from designers all around the world, the apparels are designed in-house to maintain the elegancy and authenticity of its products. From a single store in Kuwait, Anotah has already forayed into Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. (There are more than 20 stores in just Saudi Arabia!!) Courtesy of the way the iconic fashion retailer has managed to create a name for itself among women, teenagers and children alike, it’s now also recognized on the international fashion scene.     Although Kuwait has been lately seeing a lot of buzz in the beauty/fashion scene, with new startups emerging every now and then, the aforementioned four are the most prominent ones. And these startups have not only lifted Kuwait’s beauty/fashion industry to great heights, they’ve even provided a level playing field to the up and coming players. The future prospects do seem interesting.

Sal o2one Labs
347 days read