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The early bird

The early bird

Originality is all well and good, but Kipp thinks timeliness is the key to successful entrepreneurship in this region.

January 24, 2011 2:57 by

Consider the success story that is Gonabbit and Cobone: the two websites were among the first to implement in the Middle East the model of ‘group buying’ popularised by Groupon in the US. The two both opened shop mid-2010 and now have a significant presence in the Middle East, with GoNabit currently running deals in the UAE, Lebanon, Jordon and Kuwait and with Cobone operating in UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. According to GoNabit chief Jahanbani, GoNabit has generated over US$1.25 million in savings since its launch in May. Statistics from Cobone suggest the company generated AED2 million in savings in the last eight weeks of 2010. is set to launch anytime soon (the site is up but not operational), but with the market already dominated by GoNabit and Cobone, they might just find they’re entering six months too late.

Or how about one of Kipp’s top performing companies of 2011, Dubizzle—the free classifieds and community website set up in 2005.  The site is essentially an interactive online version of classifieds section where users can look out for property for rent or sale, job opportunities, cars for sale or pretty much anything they need. Hardly original in the global scheme of things. But it now boasts up to a million visitors on a monthly basis. Dubizzle is headquartered in the UAE, and, thanks to recent regional expansion plans, is now available in 14 different countries around the MENA region including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya and Morocco.

So sure, we agree local entrepreneurs do need to be in tune with the needs of the market. When done the Wild Peeta way, for instance, such effort can be very fruitful. But there is no denying that when it comes to successful business models, being timely does take precedence over being original.

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