"We lost 80 percent of our revenue in one night," says Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO and founder of e-commerce platform Souq. He's referring to the moment in 2011 when his company changed its initial auction model to a straight online shopping site. Thankfully, the move has long since proved to be the right one.
Less than a decade later, Souq.com is the Middle East’s largest e-commerce website, attracting over 45 million visitors per month with 9.4 million products on the site. It was acquired by global e-commerce and logistics giant Amazon in 2017 for $580m, the second company after Maktoob (now Yahoo Maktoob) he had managed to launch, develop and then sell to a US internet powerhouse.
And much like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Mouchawar has become a legend in the Middle East’s business community, credited with changing the face of regional retail. Ronaldo Mouchawar says businesses should work with universities to equip students with skills today's job market needs.
“We owe it to us to stay in the region and continue to create jobs. Part of Amazon entering and acquiring Souq was to grow the ecosystem to create more jobs. We have already hired tons of people in many of our markets.
“We’re super committed to the region. Even post the Maktoob exit, [co-founder] Sameeh [Toukan], myself, we stayed in the region. We invested in more companies in the region. We know the journey is hard and it takes seven to eight or 10 years, maybe even longer, because our markets are fragmented, but you have to have perseverance,” said Mouchawar, who also acquired a number of companies including grocery app InstaShop and logistics firm Wing.
In this edition of Inside AB, Jeremy Lawrence and Lubna Hamdan share the advice that Mouchawar has for start-ups in the region who want to be the next big success story.
(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)