Hundreds of Lebanese entrepreneurs have been making headlines globally over the past few years. One success after another, their stories come to light, positioning the small nation as one that births hope. As we explore the stories of the entrepreneurs that built innovative companies from scratch, tapping into unchartered waters and thriving despite the odds, we take pride in sharing their stories.
- Charlie El Khoury & Nicolas Zaatar, NAR: NAR is the first of its kind automated drone data management solution on a tablet-based app, offering cost and time efficiencies. Charlie, Nicolas and their team created a pioneering application that enables “image labelling, organization, packaging, and sharing on the fly and in offline mode”. What’s more, is that NAR’s platform provides data analysis and reporting, with each flight inspection. Its users can now log in and catalogue images in real time. NAR was acquired by US-based B3Bar, which led to the team’s relocation to the US – catapulting their growth as a company. What Charlie and Nicolas did right: They set up NAR in Lebanon and worked tirelessly to innovate, resulting in an exceptional App that caught the attention of B3Bar, which led to the next spur of growth.
- Carl Wazen, Yoco: Carl founded Yoco in 2015, little did he know the success the company would achieve in a short period of time. Today, Yoco is the leading payments platform in South Africa, catering to small businesses. The platform offers small businesses a convenient way to accept card payments, both in-person or online. At present, the platform supports over 100,000 small businesses, of which, 80% had never accepted card payments before. Yoco has raised over USD 50 million in VC funding since it was founded. What Carl did right: He focused on an untapped market segment that was generally underserved, and addressed the needs of small businesses by offering convenient online payment solutions.
- Tamim Khalfa & Nael Halwani, Toters: When Tamim and Nael founded Toters in 2017 in Lebanon, it was the first company to provide such an offering, delivering convenience to consumers based on what they desire, need and want. The biggest pivotal shift, from a users’ perspective, happened during the pandemic, when Toters expanded its offerings to fully service every need that a consumer may have. Think late night ice cream cravings, to fun gadgets, toys for the kids, and beauty and wellness products. Complementing the expansive range of products and aligned with their mission “to make people’s live simpler,” Toters added a Butler service (think of your own personal driver), a points system that keeps you coming back for more, and an exceptionally responsive customer service team that always leave you happier. What Tamim and Nael did right: They focused on innovation, continually improving the customer experience on the App, and nurtured a solid customer service team, that puts the client first.
- Cherif Massoud, Basma: An orthodontist by practice and an innovator at heart, the key recipe that lead Cherif to create Basma, an invisible aligners company. As an alternative to braces, Basma’s invisible aligners are both designed and monitored by orthodontists. The at-home treatment promises straighter slides in an average of 6 months. The successes are both in the results achieved, as well as the funding the company has received. Basma recently closed a seed funding round of USD 1.2 million. What Cherif did right: He found a way to innovate in his field of expertise, offering clients exactly what they were looking for – straighter smiles, in less time and at a lower cost.
- Khaled Yafi, The Berry Company: The Berry Company was founded in 2007 in the UK, after Khaled was inspired by superfoods and their nutritional benefits. Since its founding, The Berry Company’s juice range grew to have different flavors, infused with vitamins and minerals for a healthy body. They can be found on shelves around the world, and the brand’s Blueberry juice even won an award. What Khaled did right: He tapped into an industry with vast potential from early on and grew the business steadily. As the company gained market share and a solid reputation globally, he diversified his offerings.
- Daniel Daou, Daou Mountain: Daniel always dreamt of becoming a winemaker. However, his aspirations were dampened, being a young man living in France – his goals seemed out of reach. But his dream never really went away, so he nurtured it by collecting wines and studying the art of winemaking. The dedication to fulfill his dreams soon paid off, and Daou Mountain was founded, a wine brand that fuses ecological elements. His wines have been awarded many times, with his Cabernet wine being the highest rates on the Central Coast. What Daniel did right: He followed his dreams and realized his deep-seated passion. Today, he is on a never ending quest for the perfect wine, which he continues to make in his vineyard.
At BDD, we believe in the vast potential of Lebanese entrepreneurs. Our entire ecosystem seeks to provide a digitized space where talent can network and grow, both in Lebanon and beyond borders. Part 4 of this series will be coming soon. There are just too many exceptional stories of Lebanese entrepreneurs to fit into one post!
If you have an inspiring journey to share, a personal experience on how you continue to thrive as a Lebanese entrepreneur, or how you overcome the challenges, get in touch with us to share your story.