A number of Middle Eastern businesspeople have taken the leap toward entrepreneurship alongside family members to bring innovative products and services to the region. Many of these individuals have gone on to become some of the most successful startup owners in their respective industries.
Read on to explore a few of the top family-run startups in the Middle East:
Formerly known as Laundrybox, Mybox has revolutionized the way that individuals complete their apparel-related chores. In 2013, former banker Fahad Al Kalooti established the company alongside his brother, Bader, after he sent his suit to a dry cleaner, but received the wrong outfit in return. Together, the siblings have developed a startup that provides all the shoe shining and laundry services that their clients may need. Those who need their attire cleaned may simply drop it off at one of Mybox’s numerous lockers across Dubai, select the services that they want done, and then pick their items up from the same location.
The startup, which began with lockers in 25 buildings that served 1,000 clients, has since expanded to 70 buildings and 7,000 clients. In addition, the Al Kalooti brothers have recently introduced a mobile application that makes the process of ordering laundry services easier for customers. They have also expanded their services to Qatar and are looking to tap into European and North American markets, as well.
Husband-and-wife team Bader and Mona Ataya co-founded the e-commerce site MumzWorld after recognizing a dearth of parent-driven products and information at their local malls. Established in 2011, the startup now serves as a one-stop source through which parents can peruse different brands of children’s items, compare them to others, and make purchases. MumzWorld serves as a convenient alternative to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, allowing parents to buy products both at home and on the go. More importantly, the startup serves as an important source of knowledge about the best products for children of different age groups. Whether parents need a nursery bassinet for their newborn, an outfit for their 10-year-old, or toys for their toddler, they will be able to find it all on MumzWorld.
In an effort to introduce some of the most stunning craftsmanship that Middle Eastern artists have to offer, sisters Rania and Zaina Kanaan established a startup that helps them sell their wares to new audiences. With a name that means “for the people, by the people,” Ananasa has served as an online platform for local artisans since 2011. Before the startup, Middle Eastern artists had virtually no means of reaching buyers from anywhere outside the local region. Through Ananasa, they can now attract the attention of customers across the globe without the need to handle the logistics of running their own online shops. As a result, the startup gives buyers the unique opportunity to browse through a catalogue of handmade artwork, apparel, and home accessories and then make negotiable offers.
The sisters behind Ananasa established a second startup, Charicycles, in 2014. Looking to promote sustainability and provide affordable transportation to those living across Dubai, the co-founders take the frames from old Japanese bikes and upcycle them into beautiful new creations. Charicycles offers customized bicycles for both men and women, which ensures that everyone can find the right fit for themselves. Clients can either select from one of the startup’s upcycled bikes or arrange to renew their existing ride with exciting colors and replacement parts. The Kanaan sisters also use Charicycles as a means of giving back, donating one bicycle to young refugees for every five bicycles that they sell through the company.
Looking to provide Dubai with an innovative platform for reselling items, the husband-and-wife team of Morrad Irsane and Sharene Lee established Melltoo. Locals can list—either online or on their mobile devices—any item they no longer have use for at a price that they deem appropriate. From mobile phones and automobiles to furniture and accessories, Melltoo users can also browse through lists of available items in any category. The startup’s co-founders are also looking to showcase the work of Dubai’s artisans by inviting them to sell their wares through the site.
6. N Products
Since 2015, spouses Nabil Haddad and Nour Nsheiwat have taken the Amman startup scene by storm with their innovative take on handmade furniture. The couple formulated the idea for their company, N Products, after initiating a search for affordable furniture and finding little that fit their budget. Instead, they decided to create their own furnishings, a concept which quickly took off with the help of outside suppliers and artisans. N Products has since allowed the couple to take unused items and other raw materials and transform them into handmade, ethnic-inspired goods for the home.
In 2014, Ibrahim Colak and Dunia Othman, a couple from Dubai, founded the company mrUsta, which joins customers with reliable service providers. Anyone living in the UAE can turn to the startup’s website if they want to connect with professionals who can help them with important tasks around their homes. Whether you are looking for a cooking class instructor, car repairman, or house cleaner, you can easily find the right service provider and obtain convenient online quotes. Home service providers can also enlist as “Ustas” through the startup if they have relevant professional skills. Since first establishing their startup, Colak and Othman have seen a client growth rate of more than 500 percent and garnered over $750,000 in pre-series A funding.