The news that has come out of Lebanon over the past 2 years, may not be the most positive. But that does not mean great things are not happening on a national scale. The dedication to innovation and the innate unwavering spirit of Lebanese entrepreneurs, have empowered them to grow their businesses and scale
- Johnny Boufarhat, Hopin: In just over 2 years, Johnny was able to found and grow Hopin, to become a USD 2.1 billion business. It all started from a simple frustration, of not being able to find the rights to both collaborate and network remotely, with larger groups. So in 2019, he founded Hopin, which offers users a completely digitized platform, to host smaller meetups, hackathons, conferences and larger scale events. The technology is so advanced, that the platform allows live streams, breakout sessions, company or product booths and networking matchmaking. What Johnny did right: Instead of dismissing his frustrations, he decided to work to resolve this issue, and did so, well before the pandemic disrupted the world.
- Audrey Nakad and Zeina Sultani, Ostaz (formerly Synkers): Earlier this year, Ostaz was acquired by the Inspired Education Group. Founded in Lebanon in 2017 under the name of Synkers, the personalized tutoring company has grown in terms of course offerings and expanded across markets. It matches trusted and qualified tutors with students that need support to achieve their learning goals, and provides a personalized approach to learning. What Audrey and Zeina did right: Despite the challenges they were facing in Lebanon, they still powered through, and differentiated Ostaz from other players on the market, by enhancing their tutor vetting process and placing the user at the center of what they do.
- Nadine Hachach-Haram, Proximie: Proximie revolutionized the field of medicine, with its augmented reality platform, which allows doctors to virtually transport themselves in a clinical setting. Its co-founder, Nadine, is a plastic surgeon and tapped into her field of expertise, to innovate and create a ground-breaking solution for doctors to interact with surgeons performing the procedure and guide them in real time, in order to provide better medical assistance. In recognition of her efforts, she was awarded the British Empire Medal from the Queen and was listed in the Queen’s birthday honors list for her innovative work in the field of surgery and medicine. What Nadine did right: She studied the gaps in the field of healthcare, and created a visionary solution to enhance the medical field.
- Aya Bdeir, littleBits: Founder and CEO of littleBits, Aya grew up in Beirut and drew inspiration from both her parents – her late father an entrepreneur, and her mother, a banker. Whilst many young females are not encouraged to explore their passion in STEM, Aya’s parents encouraged her and her sisters to nurture their love for math, science and design. From a young age, Aya would take things apart and explore the inner workings of machines and objects. Her company littleBits, creates interactive building toys for kids and was acquired in 2019 by Sphero. What Aya did right: She sought to bridge the divide and advocate for Gender Neutrality in toys. She says she is proud that the user base of littleBits is made up of 40% girls – which is four times the average in the STEM / STEAM sector.
Every entrepreneurial journey has its challenges. What every Lebanese entrepreneur has done right, is identify an existing problem and created a solution based on the principles of innovation and growth. When you have the right idea, powered by an unwavering passion, don’t let the challenges deter you. Keep powering through.
Stay tuned for part 2, of inspiring Lebanese entrepreneurial stories, from Lebanon and around the world.