Egypt Startup Vexls Offers Platform To Help Create Designs For An Arabic-Speaking Audience
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With there being an estimated 420 million people who speak Arabic globally, there’s a high demand for quality Arabic content. As such, Arabic content creation presents a business opportunity, and Egypt-based startup Vexls is cashing in on it. Launched by co-founders Salah El-Din and Shaimaa Essam in 2019, Vexls is a simple platform that enables non-professional users to create visual content catered for an Arabic-speaking audience. Whether it’s for a post on Instagram, or a banner on Facebook, the platform provides the basic structure for designs in Arabic, with options to create and edit designs quickly using Vexl’s drag and drop design tools. Users can also request printing and delivery options with a reasonable cost.
As a graphic designer with over 11 years of experience, El-Din had already worked with a host of clients from different fields and backgrounds before starting up Vexls. He noticed a brimming market of small-sized businesses, startups, and business owners who have limited budgets and seek high-quality logos and designs at suitable prices. Along with Essam (who is also a graphic designer), they researched the market and used former clients’ requests and needs to come up with a platform that could help customers create their own designs, even without having in-depth knowledge of graphic design.
“There wasn’t a single online platform that allowed you to create Arabic or localized designs,” says El-Din about their decision to focus on the void of online Arabic design. Launching the minimum viable product was their next step, which allowed them to garner more feedback and invite customers to use the product. After several rounds of feedback and development, the team was able to create Vexls (which is a nod to fellow designers, as it’s a portmanteau combining the words vectors and pixels) into what is it right now: a platform offering hundreds of easy-to-use design templates, as well as a database of localized images.
The platform is divided into several categories based on different industries present in the market. Each industry has a number of templates and sizes, such as if a customer wants to create a Facebook visual post, they offer editable templates with the correct dimensions. They also offer one-off templates or packaged templates, which includes a main design with supporting designs for customers to create a branding style for a campaign that could require similar-looking designs. The platform offers templates on social media designs, business card designs, logo options, infographics, resume, certificate, brochures, and more, and the co-founders continue to study user feedback to develop more designs and options.
The Vexls team handles the creation of the designs, while also collaborating with several freelance graphic designers. El-Din asserts that offering a seamless solution to Arabic content creation is their USP: “The driving force behind our business is the customer; meeting customer needs is what keeps us committed, and what drives us to continually offer highquality, trendy and aesthetic designs and options.”
Salah El-Din, CEO and co-founder, Vexls
Currently, Vexls is in its third (and final) beta version, wherein the team is focusing on marketing efforts to reach more customers. El-Din says that the platform has nearly 2,600 registered users, with 33,000 users having visited the site over the past three months. While users can sign up for free and gain access to a limited number of designs, the startup’s business model relies on a monthly subscription that gives users access to a more premium selection. In addition, as a paid service, users can also ask for requests like design changes or edits based on customer needs.
Up till now, Vexls has been a self-financed startup, though the duo is working on getting financing to expand the designs and business. Over the next three years, the team plans to expand and cover more graphic design services and offer them on the website, with El-Din stating, “Our mission is to become the number one Arabic graphic design destination in the MENA region.”
As a Cairo-based startup, though the co-founders have their eyes set for growth across the MENA region, El-Din says it’s still a work in progress. “The Egyptian market is ripe with opportunity for startups, and there is an active startup ecosystem. That said, there are naturally some obstacles that we face, but that we look to as opportunities in their own right that help us grow.”
That approach to opportunities is evident in the co-founders’ entrepreneurial journey as well- they previously launched another startup awhile back, but realized after some market research, that it did not have the potential to grow. After that, they went back to an area where they had expertise -graphic design- and focused on creating a product with better growth and return potential. “Whether a startup succeeds or not depends on the entrepreneur's ability and flexibility in taking challenges head-on,” says El- Din. “So regardless of the challenges, a startup is a learning process for every entrepreneur and their success, and this is the method we are using with Vexls. Every move and every step are a learning process.”
This mindset is also evident in how the co-founders handled early challenges- which was trying to offer as many designs as possible to suit a multitude of tastes and preferences, as well as finding the best way to give users the freedom to edit templates as they liked. This led them to develop a program that enabled them to create designs faster and facilitate the way customers edited the available designs, which gave them an idea for a revenue stream. As an entrepreneur, El-Din describes his leadership style as one that carefully selects teammates, find talents who are both passionate and creative, and continually motivate them.
El-Din believes that when it comes managing a business, every entity is divided into three parts: the employee, the customer, the investor. “If you appreciate the employee, this will reflect on their performance, which in turn, will result in more ideas, and in meeting customer needs. The customer is the buyer, so if their needs are met, they will continue to buy your product, and generate revenue and income, which in turn, translate into a happy investor, who is willing to invest in your startup and its growth.” That’s as close to a formula for success you’ll get- and we look forward to seeing how Vexls realizes it!
SALAH EL-DIN, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, VEXLS
What business tactics do you implement during challenging times?
1. Use crisis as an opportunity
“We have to have the mindset of benefiting from any problem or crisis. The success of a company or startup relies on how its founders are able to withstand challenges, that's what drives us toward success.”
2. Reflect and analyze
“We analyze all the givens or the input. At Vexls, we constantly analyze all the input, opportunities, and available options. Then we coordinate between this data and the effort needed to reach the best possible outcome. Even though we're designers, when it comes to challenges, we like to do it old-school by writing everything down on paper, and following a step-bystep process to resolve these issues. Handwriting problems and putting them on paper puts things into perspective. It allows us to clear our mind, and start with a new view.”
3. Face problems head-on
“We confront crises and problems, and not run away from them or create excuses to avoid them.”
4. Don’t doubt yourself
“We believe in our abilities, and we look back at previous challenges, and how we overcame them, and learnt from these experiences. We also believe that any challenge or problem we face now is bound to be resolved, and become a past lesson and experience. So even when we face problems, we know that we shouldn't worry much. Everything has a solution.”
5. Choose people wisely
“We believe in working and collaborating with positive people. Based on our past work and experience, people who have a positive mindset are usually good for a business, and have an overall positive effect on the day-to-day activities. That's why we constantly seek to hire and work with the people we know well, and who have this positive mindset.