“At Jamalon, we believe in breaking down barriers,” says this week’s Entrepreneur of the Week Ala’ AlSallal, the Jordanian entrepreneur behind jamalon.com, an Amman-based online book retailer.
“Books are capsules of knowledge that give us the passion to keep moving forward, to help people in the MENA region improve their lives.”
As a teenager fascinated with computer programming, AlSallal volunteered for Ruwwad, an Amman-headquartered non-profit community development organisation, teaching other young people basic computer literacy.
With the support of Ruwwad’s founder Fadi Ghandour, who became his mentor, AlSallal launched Jamalon - which means ‘top of the pyramid’ - in October 2010.
In developing Jamalon’s business model, AlSallal ensured to cater to the specific needs of the region, growing strong relationships with local publishers who were often overlooked by global retailers such as Amazon. Furthermore, a logistical partnership with Aramex enabled Jamalon to extend its reach across the planet by offering free worldwide delivery and parcel tracking, while its cash-on-delivery model was developed to suit the unique needs of the region’s book buyers.
The company, which AlSallal has built working alongside his mother and siblings from day one, now delivers over 10 million Arabic and English titles to 22 MENA countries. They have also forged strong partnerships with over 3,000 Arabic and 27,000 English-language publishers.
“Jamalon’s main goal is to bridge the gap between books and readers all over the region,” says AlSallal.
Soon after launching, Jamalon received a number of industry accolades, including the People’s Choice Award at the ArabNet Digital Summit-Startup Demo Competition in Beirut, and winning the UAE’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit business plan competition.
AlSallal announced Jamalon’s latest venture at the recent Abu Dhabi Book Fair - Jamalon Print on Demand. The service aims to fill major gaps in the region’s publishing industry, opening doors to those authors and publishers to whom traditional offset print are not a viable option due to the budget, timeframes and distribution networks restraints.
“As a company that believes in breaking down barriers for the exchange of knowledge between individuals, Jamalon’s POD marks an exciting new chapter for us,” says AlSallal.
AlSallal graduated with honours in computer science from Philadelphia University in Jordan, and earned a master’s degree in information technologies and telecommunications at Athens Information Technology in Greece. Most recently, he enrolled in Harvard’s Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures executive programme.
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