100 under 40: The world’s most influential young Arabs
Sun 27 Mar 2016 07:37 AM
Jihad Kawas
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Jihad Kawas

Industry: Technology

Designation: Coder, digital entrepreneur

Country: San Francisco (Lebanon)

Age: 19

Being paid by a billionaire to skip college and get straight
into a day job does not happen very often, but when PayPal co-founder Peter
Thiel offered Jihad Kawas $100,000 to work on his start-up Saily, the young
Lebanese high school student jumped at the chance. He was one of 20 to secure
funding from over 3,000 applicants.

Kawas’ app Saily aims to change the way we buy and sell
online. Described as Instagram for classified listings, Saily is a
photo-focused app that connects sellers to buyers nearby. It allows neighbours
and communities to communicate and negotiate prices on everything from an Apple
computer to used Nikes. In its first seven months, Saily recorded 150,000 users
– the current registration rate is 1,000 users per day – and rung up more than
$5m in sales.

Before graduating from high school in Beirut in the spring
of 2015, Kawas had already taught himself to code and forged a path as a
digital entrepreneur.

A son of small business owners, Kawas started
his first company at the age of 13. He has won global entrepreneurship
competitions, and given two TEDx talks. He currently resides in San Francisco.