Kuwait's Li3ib Allows Sports Enthusiasts To Easily Book Sports Facilities, And Even Set Up Their Own Tournaments
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This article is part of a series on pioneering entrepreneurs in Kuwait that Entrepreneur Middle East has built in collaboration with Kuwait Finance House. Kuwait Finance House is considered a pioneer in Islamic finance or Sharia’a compliant banking, with it being the first Islamic bank established in 1977 in the State of Kuwait, and is today one of the foremost Islamic financial institutions in the world.
Launched in October 2017 by Khaled Al-Amiri and Khaled Abdulqader, Li3ib is an app and website that facilities sports venue reservations and scheduling recreational games for sports enthusiasts, and even allows users to organize tournaments and manage competitions on behalf of corporations. Initially, the co-founders set out to help amateur football players to join games happening near them. They soon discovered that users preferred to play with their friends and family members rather than strangers, and that the real issue is the difficulty of booking and finding facilities to play at. They altered their focus to simplifying and modernizing sports facilities by having a system to manage their bookings, rather than relying on phone calls, and pen and paper.
“Our platform has now simplified the booking of the popular recreational sports from football to tennis,” says co-founder and CEO Al-Amiri. After gaining a solid reputation within Kuwait’s sports community, companies and individuals took notice and allowed the team to enter the event management business, turning Li3ib to a sports management company that manages facilities and events to allow local athletes access to both. Though Al-Amiri notes that their idea isn’t new, he points out that it’s the first to succeed locally.
“We created a community for all levels of athletes and showcase that on our social media.” Their community has extended to include photographers, referees, medics and other talents valuable to the sports community, and this is what Al-Amiri says is one of their strong assets. “Establishing such a vast network of disconnected talents is what allowed us to organically enter the events market. Organizations no longer need to chase different people and create multiple invoices. Instead, [they] just deal with us directly for whatever sports service they require (from custom jerseys to professional tournaments).”
Khaled Abdulqader, co-founder and COO, Li3ib
Besides providing their venue partners with significant new revenue stream, they also provide a reliable system for managing and tracking their customers, wherein they can receive a custom report of the facility’s performance in comparison to the market and receive suggestions to improve based on customer feedback.
Booking commissions, events and advertising are the core pillars of Li3ib’s business. Events and advertising as revenue sources came as a surprise, Al-Amiri says, and credits it to their growing traction that it was added as services they started to offer and complement the business. As for what’s next? With an established footing in Kuwait, the duo says they’re ready to expand regionally.
Excerpts from a conversation with Khaled Al-Amiri, co-founder and CEO, Li3ib:
What has been the most negative feedback on your startup that you have received, and how did you go about it?
Football is the most popular sport in Kuwait and athletes of other sports complain that they do not have enough tournaments to compete in or venues to play at. The sports market in Kuwait is very fragmented and riddled with bureaucracy; which makes it difficult and slow process to add new venues to our platform. Essentially, the demand is higher than the rate that we can add new venues. By creating local events and showcasing it on our platform and social media, we are educating the local market and venue owners that there is ample demand and opportunity in the sports industry.
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait and why?
I could write an entire article around this question alone. There is tremendous hype around the entrepreneurial lifestyle and, unfortunately, misinformation. My main advice would be don’t start a business just to start a business, start a business to solve a problem. If it’s your first business, then solve a personal problem. That way you can invest your time and energy effortlessly into something that you are naturally passionate about. Every business has it’s struggles and obstacles, but even this experience should be enjoyed.
Lastly, what are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Kuwait has a very rare social welfare system for Kuwaiti citizens that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. If you create a company and work solely for the entity that you create, you will receive a salary that is higher than entry-level wages in other countries. Take advantage of this financial support.