Words by Delphine Edde, published on Labneh & Facts
“It’s actually easy to start a company. What’s hard is to make it grow!”
“In 2006, my husband and I were living in France. At the time, we just had our first child, and he was growing bored of his corporate job. We both share a very strong thirst for adventure, success and work! He asked me if I was up for trying new things, and I thought to myself, why not? We considered moving to Brazil or New York City, but we finally picked Beirut. We had already founded a small company in Lebanon, called Pixel Veggie. We had 4-5 employees working on web, design and content development for European brands.
I’m Lebanese, but I lived all my life abroad. Lebanon has always been close to my heart and to the heart of my husband, who’s French. We even got married here. We both wanted to contribute to the country’s economic growth, through our knowledge of digital media and the jobs we could create.
So we figured, why not try to make our small company grow, and start a new adventure in Lebanon?
We moved to Beirut in 2008. I wanted to continue to work in the field of digital content creation, because it’s something I love. And I also quickly realized that here in Lebanon, content was very limited, especially in Arabic. When we started, we wanted to focus on Lebanon. Three months into the job, we understood that there was no money to be made here, so we started exploring the Arab market. And this is when we noticed that in the Gulf, there was a real lack of content for women. The culture there was different—women faced numerous taboos and were sorely lacking information on health-related topics. This is how Diwanee came to life, with a mission to create light, educational and informative content in a region where politics, religion and geopolitics are omnipresent. One of the first media brands that we launched was called 3a2ilati (“my family” in Arabic), where we gave women free access to doctors to discuss sensitive topics.
In just one year after we moved to Beirut, I had given birth to my second child, I had changed my job and I had created a company!
Today, I look back at these moments with nostalgia, knowing now that they were not the hardest. It’s actually easy to start a company. What’s hard is to make it grow!
We experienced very tough times: We had to fire people, raise money and find investors. What made me fight was my passion for digital content, the work we do, and the constant need to reinvent ourselves.
The journey never ends!
In 2014, the French company Webedia bought 51 % of our company, and one year ago, we decided to merge with UTURN Entertainment, a Saudi company, leader in Youtube content in Arabic. This year, we became Webedia Arabia, a media group targeting the Arab world, and we now employ 250 in five countries. Diwanee alone created five media brands: Yasmina, Atyab Tabkha, 3a2ilati, Rajil, Warrini, all reaching an audience of 10.2 million unique visitors.
I’m proud that we managed to create jobs in Lebanon. And I’m proud that we are still here, especially during these times of crisis. I’m proud that our 80 collaborators are still here with us, that we can pay them thanks to our regional clients.
I’m happy to say that my husband and I have experienced our thirst for adventure to the fullest, and I wouldn’t mind a little bit more stability to be very honest!”
Delphine Eddé lived the first 30 years of her life in France and moved back to Beirut in 2008 to start Diwanee with her husband. They were among the first companies to relocate to BDD in 2015. “With BDD, we share the same values of community building and promoting innovation and all things digital. We love being part of this highly energetic ecosystem, they always encourage our work and support us in whatever we need!”