When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released in 2007, Ala’ Alsallal wanted the people of Jordan to be able to enjoy it. So, he gathered a team of 50 people to help him translate the anticipated novel and posted it online, to wildly popular reception. Unfortunately, he also received a cease and desist order from J.K. Rowling’s lawyers.
Nevertheless, Ala’ came out of the experience motivated. He realized a real demand for high-quality Arabic content existed in Jordan. Several years later, he launched Jamalon, an online bookstore, which provides unparalleled access to a comprehensive catalog of nearly 10 million books in English and half a million in Arabic. The company has reached hundreds of thousands of customers in the MENA region.
Selected into the Endeavor network in 2011, Ala’ will quickly tell you the impact from Endeavor Global Board Member Fadi Ghandour, who has mentored Ala’ for a decade, has had on his growth as an entrepreneur.
Today, Ala’ gives the following advice to entrepreneurs to start and scale a business in the MENA region:
“First, start in Jordan (or a similar country) where you can run your company with an affordable cost to prove your model and attract funding. Second, scale in a country where you have a supporting ecosystem (like the UAE). Third, build a team culture from the beginning and make sure to hire people who believe in your vision, so they become partners along the way. Lastly, join Endeavor, a global organization that empowers entrepreneurs in emerging markets to scale.”