Kuwait's Fanajeen Offers Key Ideas And Insights From Books In 20 Minutes (In Arabic)
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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 August 2019 by Mohammed Alshammari and Abdulaziz Alshalfan, Fanajeen is a mobile application offering key ideas and insights from books in 20 minutes, which users can either read or listen on the iOS or Android app. In an attempt to encourage users to make reading a part of their daily routine, the startup extracts valuable information from books, and then converts them to 20-minute-long reading or listening material in Arabic. The co-founders began by producing book summaries in Arabic, which helped them to refine their editorial standards and to develop a network of writers and narrators. The feedback they received helped them to enhance the quality of their content.
With paying subscribers from more than 17 different countries, the app is now amongst the most downloaded podcasts in the region (Top 20 in MENA and Top 10 in KSA). Alshammari notes the positive feedback of their customers, “People in Kuwait are gradually consuming more audible content every day. More and more people are starting to realize the power of audio to turn boring routine activities into fun and engaging experiences. A once-boring traffic jam is now a venue for gaining new insights on nutrition, human psychology, or the life of Nelson Mandela.”
Abdulaziz Alshalfan, co-founder, Fanajeen
As for its business model, Fanajeen is based on an ad-free freemium model with revenues generated from paid subscriptions. Free users can enjoy reading or listening to a select list of book summaries, while premium users can unlock the entire library and other features with a monthly or annual subscription. The co-founders have big plans ahead. They intend to scale content production, drive traffic through content marketing and explore new revenue streams, some of which they’re exploring are granting B2B licenses, offering and pursuing affiliate marketing with booksellers.
Excerpt from a conversation with Mohammed Alshammari, co-founder and CEO, Fanajeen
What has been the most negative feedback on your products/services/business solutions that you have received and how did you go about it?
One recurring criticism that any book-related service constantly receives is that it lacks some book title, and Fanajeen is no different. A user would search for a book, not find it, and end up frustratingly telling us about it. To address this need, we work hard to increase the rate of book summary production in all nonfiction categories. Gladly, our rate of content production has been continuously growing ever since our launch last August, and right now we are producing 20+ book summaries every month in both text and audio.
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait and why?
The Kuwaiti customer is well aware of the latest trends in technology worldwide and will not settle for a subpar service or product. To build a strong product or service in the technology sector, you need to find a strong technical team.
Moreover, entrepreneurs should realize from day one that building a product or service is a continuous project. It will never be a one-time thing that you just build and sell. So, with that in mind, think early on about how you can engage your customers and acquire their feedback. Understanding your users’ experience is paramount.
What are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
There are plenty of opportunities in the technology sector that entrepreneurs can capitalize on. Yet, it is wiser for entrepreneurs to focus on a specialized market (and game it) before venturing on to the larger, highly competitive markets. Two pieces of advice that we find important are as follows- first, understand that you can't plan everything from the start. Start by planning for what you can, then act. New information will arise as you put work in which you can then use to adjust your plan or change it. For more insights on this read about deliberate and emergent strategies, or about the PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) methodology. Second, reap the fruits of globalization. For those working in the digital space, it is easier now than ever to get connected to brilliant talent from all across the globe and work with them. Just do your research, be organized, and settle only for the best of talent globally.