Episode 25 Transcript

We didn't know exactly which projects
out of these six was gonna take off
first and highest but we knew they were
they were equally they were equally
attractive opportunities so I actually
almost shifted the 37 people from these
projects, I gave it one like let's say a
second chance let's do something else
you're listening to episode 25 of the
Business in Morocco podcast today we've
got part two of our interview with
Bashir Benslimane the founder of
SOS Credit Immo. In today's episode I'll ask
Bachir about how he decided to focus on
SOS Credit Immo out of the six businesses
he started after Marshmallow Digital.
We will also talk about his experience
raising money from investors, the current
state of his business, and life as an
entrepreneur in Morocco.
alright let's get started
So there were six products
one of them ones it was called SOS Travaux
So basically what it is, is a
platform of inter-mediation of brokerage
in everything construction related all
right so you get on our website and
you express the need to redo your pool
or rebuild your house or build a new
house or renovate your your flat or
build a new floor whatever it is you
want to do what we do is that number one
we get you different quotes from
qualified contractor partners of ours
okay so you can actually get the best
quotes so we save you a lot of time just
exactly what we're doing right now with
the banks and then number two we provide
let's say almost like a supervisory role
so the trust a trusted intermediary just
like AirBnb, let's say, so we've actually
verify some things about this potential
contractor for contractors and you can
make your choice and you can be like
reassured that he's actually going to
meet your expectations within deadlines
and everything and we started actually
doing some some construction work for
like several people across the through
these partners and so I started going
but I analyzed like the business overall
in terms of like advertising ROI and
then like long-term potential and
pitfalls and disadvantages and hurdles
and obstacles and whatnot so okay so
that was the one of the six then the
second one was an education portal so
like education for us abroad there that
you can find any type of course or any
type of degree like higher education you
can find absolutely anything under the
sun and it does not necessarily have to
be a degrees also it could be like
continuing education and whatever so
that was the second business so we were
exploring that as well and we put it
together put it online and we were also
exploring like the profitability metrics
and like I was like supervising it
closely along with another partner. And
when you say we you're talking about
yourself and some of the team members, employees from from Marshmallow Digital
actually okay exactly and then the third
business was I consider them almost the
same business so it was Auto Neuf and
Auto Reprise so basically Auto Reprise
and Auto Neuf. So Auto Neuf is we actually get our hands on unsold inventory of cars but of
last year's models that are sitting
somewhere in some warehouse because the
dealer that has the sales agreement with
the holding company abroad is not
allowed to leave them in the show so if
you go to BMW or let's say Range Rover
or Jaguar they're not
to display in the showroom last year's models
so that if they have any stock from last
year they definitely are encouraged to
store it in a warehouse so it's new cars
new cars but they passed a year old yes
without being purchased exactly and new
models have arrived and they could not
actually put the 2017 model next to the
2018 and the 2019 model. This is a huge
business abroad. Auto Neuf was basically
be offering the opportunity to people to
actually buy last year's model at 50%
discount pretty much Wow how did that
work and so we actually launched this
with another one with another website
called it's a buyback websites of cars,
so basically what we do is you come in
you you say alright I have a Renault, year model etc and we have a database that were
linked to and we're able to provide you
with an offer straight away but with the
discount obviously so you could actually
sell it for one hundred thousand dhs, let's
say but we'll buy it for you let's say
at eighty thousand dhs, but we'll buy it
for you at the same day, provided it
goes through an inspection in one of
these inspection centers and then
what we do is put the car in like let's
say run it through dealers that would
also bid on the cars and if we and we
can make a discount in the same day, we can actually buy it back from you but
before we actually pay you pay you as
it's going through inspection we already
have an offer from one of the dealers
that that's our partners and then we
make it cut on it, so that's, you're the
intermediary between the buyer and the
seller exactly you're making the deal
happen exactly and taking a percentage
of the sale but if the dealer doesn't
end up buying it we buy it anyway except
obviously we're trying to promote it as
quickly as possible so that we actually
don't run the risk
of actually buying it and keeping it in
stock for so long so this was another
business that we were in the evaluation
phase of its phase in the business life
where you're actually building the
portal launching like small campaigns
online seeing how many people actually
submit their cars to for you to buy them
how much does it cost you for every lead
ok is this system working welcome and we
this was the third product that was
launched at the same time as everything
grow very quickly over a few months of
these products being launched I saw that
the online mortgage brokers business was
like taking off like there is no small
so so what exactly separated
SOS Credit Immo
what separated it from the rest of your
ideas that made you focus on that one?
The other ideas had a lot of potential but I
was limited in resources and funding so
I was limited in not only funding but
also people I did not have the financing
to be able to support all these
businesses at once and I already found
like the most attractive opportunity so
that basically I saw huge potential in
being one of the first let's say online
fin tech companies right now with the
introduction of this online mortgage
brokerage business model we should not
miss at the time I saw continuity I saw
like things that we could launch
straight away after we could do like
online mortgages today that we could do
like Sharia compliant finance and then
we can do we can actually do insurance
and we can do Sharia compliant insurance
and that we can do savings and
investment accounts and there was like
you know so many opportunities that were
not yet explored so I thought that we
could actually this was a business where
we can put barriers to entry to future
competitors extremely quickly whereas
the other businesses they could easily
be duplicated. Alright SOS Travaux
could easily be duplicated Formation360.ma could
have been easily duplicated. This Auto Reprise and Auto Neuf will definitely be
duplicated somebody is gonna take off
with this idea like very soon that's for
sure I mean a lot of a lot of people are
exploring business opportunities and in
the digital landscape of Morocco today
because I'd like that opportunities are
like limitless and the auto industry
extremely attractive but I thought by
giving priority to SOS Credit Immo, I could
actually I have the chance and I have an
opportunity to to make it extremely
extremely extremely difficult for anyone
to actually even consider doing
something like so this. So this particular idea
you saw that it was scaleable in the
sense that you're an intermediary
between a person who wants a mortgage
yeah and the bank
mm-hm and you act on behalf of the
customer to help them get the loan
exactly and you saw that there was
opportunities to increase your product
offering so you could up-sell in a sense
your customers and you found that there
were barriers to entry it was a
defensible market defensible exactly I
can imagine that part of the fact that
it's defensible is these relationships
that you have with the banks something
not easy for someone to get this is one
of them and then you have a head start
would I'd say the digitalization of the
entire business I mean like this
requires a lot of investments and a lot
of technology behind hours and days and
I'll tell you something I start off my
day at 5:00 a.m. this is not a barrier
to entry
but whoever would be considering doing
something like me like I encourage them
honestly like I like to see new
competitors honestly I like but they
better start at 4am. that's all I have
to say because we have a head start and
we've been working extremely hard to
build our algorithms and to build like
the website as you see it today is
extremely simple from a front-end and
then we have tools that we have
developed that will that allow us to
provide the best advisory services in
the shortest amount of time so whatever
your mortgage needs are, complicated as
they may be, we can provide you with a
recommendation within less than five
minutes right now we're actually working
on the website for the first time so we
like put a bit like but online a real
real serious website so it's gonna be
like something that's even in terms of
like websites, development in Morocco
it's gonna be like revolutionary it's
gonna be a one time like the first time
thing something something that people
haven't seen yet, ever in Morocco.
so you mentioned barriers to entry and
earlier you mentioned fundraising yes
what was that experience like
fundraising to get the money and the
capital that you needed to build this
business it was extremely difficult
today I think it's definitely easier
especially with the launch of the Innov
Invest program which is a state backed
program funded in part by the World Bank
and other institutional & international investors so
basically they put a bid they've either
identified venture capital and
investment fund management companies who had the ability and the track record to
raise funds even more and be able to
identify startups in technology and
innovation and actually boost up the
startup ecosystem and it's actually happening
and it's working and anyone with a
start-up idea right now that they
consider innovative like today is the
perfect timing because the the ecosystem
is like ready everyone is willing to sit
down with you and listen to your
business opportunities mechanisms and
processes are already put in place
they've already got an experience in
investing in startups and honestly like
this is the best timing in Morocco for
startups in innovation in tech, I'm so
happy for people who are considering a
start-up for the first time because I
went through hell for the past seven
years raising funds for innovative ideas
and I had to deal with angel
investors and angel investors in Morocco
before Innov Invest, angel investors they like the investing real
estate they invest in agriculture they
invest in coffee shops and restaurants
all day long you will easily find
someone to partner up with you and help
you build this residential complex that
you where you would actually sell the
units and split the profits old ideas
establish that establish exactly
especially in real estates you'll find
millions of angel investors everyone
understands the business but it's harder
to find people who will fund new ideas
how many times were you told no? 129
times 129 times that's a lot of
rejection if but what what kept you
going? Many things the first thing is i
have a Kindle I read a lot in like
the VC world the startup world blah blah
that's people who've raised I'd say like
many people have raised had pitched over
140 investors to actually get a VC to
back them up. And keep in mind raising
from Morocco is even more difficult than
these people we read about in the books
because they're raising in Europe and in the
US. The first VC I'd say I pitched in Morocco I got backed
up that's because they're extremely
sensitive to innovation they're
extremely sensitive to tech, they're
based in Washington DC they know the
trends worldwide they've invested in
FinTech before they're all over the
world so it was like a no-brainer for
them so they saw the track record they
evaluated the opportunity they saw our
performance for the past few years and a
half and they're like bingo it's a go
but before so before they actually
arrived I was pitching
you know angel investors institutional
funds but that were not actually adapted
to let's say startups and definitely not
in fin tech and what not and that was
extremely hard part and out of 129
I was also pitching VCs abroad and
these VCs either they were saying it
was too "pre-seed" for them or it was too
seed for them to actually participate in
like Series A, Series B, Series C round or they say Morocco is not in the scope
okay and this was actually one of the
main reasons because many VCs are they
have like a geographical scope so either
they're investing in France or they're
investing in Europe or the the my
industry was not in their scope so they
were in health care or whatnot so I was
like but I was pitching everyone because
I was running out of money obviously as
any startup and I knew that I had like a
few months to go so. So now that you have
this new funding mm-hmm what is the
outlook how much runway do you have now and when do you need to be cashflow
positive? Within a year, ok, within a year, you expect to meet that goal yeah yeah we're
gonna do our utmost best this I can
guarantee and you will see it. Good enough
for me. Tell us a little bit about the
value proposition that
you offer. Tell our listeners why they
should use SOS Credit Immo to get a
loan? if you go online today on Google
you'll pretty much find like one or two
or eventually three types of mortgage
simulators in our new websites that
we're going to be launching in a in like
within like the next three weeks there
is probably gonna be approximately fifty
simulators but displayed in a really
user-friendly and we walk you through
the steps okay we hold your hand and
we're explaining everything step by step
in full transparency and providing you
with all the information you need
without overwhelming you with nonsense
of information you'll be able to
calculate anything under the sun
absolutely anything you can think of and do I ever need to go to a bank?
No because we're the we're the best
partners for the bank's we help them by
bringing a lot of new business. Banks who
before us were reaching let's say 2 - 3
billion dhs in newly originated
mortgages every year we can actually
contribute to like let's say 10, 15, 20, 30
% increase in new business ok so this is
number one, number two this new business like in terms of work it doesn't cost
much for them because we actually
process all the data for them and we
bring them all the math everything super
needs all the documents are ready so
they're easier mortgages to close than
the ones they're actually they need to
physically work on at their branches and
agents, number three we're partners with
many banks so we can
actually we can get you the best
mortgage for you given your financial
profile and given your needs and
restrictions in terms of what you're
trying to acquire so we take into
account a lot of criteria to be able to
set out the recommendation, the
recommendation comes straight from our
algorithm so there is no margin for
human error
none whatsoever so as soon as you speak
to us over the phone even now so our
website today
is being remodeled we're releasing a
more complete website but the algorithm
even today is available if you call us
within five minutes the system generates
a recommendation and it tells you okay
so we've analyzed all the data entered
based on our on your conversation with
our mortgage with the mortgage advisory
spoke to us this is the most optimal
financing strategy so you're actually
going to finance your mortgage through
this Bank without actually naming the
bank in the recommendation but we have
an offer that meets your criteria so
you're gonna find us at this rates and
this is the duration of the loan and
you're gonna be paying so much and this
is how much it's gonna cost this is how
much you'd be saving if you're
refinancing and you're planning to do
this with your wife she has a completely
different case and we analyze absolutely
everything for you and give you the best
recommendation out there so we actually
save you so much time this happens over
five minutes. So you help me with the
process of the application, we take care
of everything, you help me get and
understand what documents I need to
provide, yes, you have relationships with
the banks so you get me the best rate
that's available for me, we process the
paperwork for you so you can actually
get a mortgage from the comfort of your
own home, so you're providing a great
customer experience how much are you
going to charge me for all this?
Nothing it's absolutely free and this is
one of the reasons why it's disruptive,
people in Morocco are not used to a free
service this is probably one of the
first free services out there completely
free no hidden fees no hidden charges we
are paid by all our partner banks that
the same rate, it's a percentage on your
loan whoever makes the best offer for
you this is the offer you'll get and
we'll charge them that rate but it will
not affect your terms and conditions
whatsoever. What is the main obstacle to
convincing people that they should use
your website to get a loan? Actually none
people had like some people obviously
they're bit worried about anything
that's free but as soon as they get
their recommendation by email 100% of
the time they get the recommendation
before the mortgage advisor hangs up the
call, so as soon as they see it with their
eyes I mean like compare this with any
service you get elsewhere like where
else would you get a recommendation in
five minutes an analysis of your
borrowing capacity, an analysis of all
your income, you know like the best
financing strategy laid out extremely
clearly with all the numbers black and
whites in less than five minutes I mean
you can't get this anywhere in Morocco.
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now back to the show
you mentioned Sharia compliant so within
Islam there are rules about loans yeah
Does getting a home loan or a business
conflict with Islam? No basically Sharia
compliance mortgages it goes way
back its Sharia compliant business let's
say so that's what it starts with
basically the principles behind two
people actually agreeing to anything so
what it says in principle I've done a
lot of research basically when someone
sells something to someone they need to
support a risk okay and this is number
one they need to support the risk so
Sharia compliant mortgages the bank
needs to actually go purchase the house
first before selling it to you in the
meantime the act the client can change
his mind, that's where actually the bank
is definitely making a profit margin but
they they need to assume a risk and
they're assuming it so this is the first
way is Sharia compliant the second way
is that when two people do business in
Sharia compliance best practices the
price of that sale should never change
so there should be no hidden fees there
should be no additional costs regardless
of what happens in the future so that
makes a lot of sense and I think a lot
of our listeners may have thought that
it was not okay to get a loan on this
right yeah some of our other listeners
may be thinking I'd like to have a loan
what are the most important things about
a loan application? What are some things
that people can do to improve their
chances of getting approved? Going
through us because I see a lot of
mistakes by people who actually try and
go through it by themselves number one
they do not have the tools the software
the simulators to to be able to generate
the data they need to make the right
decision and pursue the most appropriate
financing strategy for them so handling
it on your own I'm sorry but you're not
qualified okay so especially if you're
refinancing for example and you don't
know the rates across the entire markets
so you don't know what terms and
conditions are proposed by every single
different Bank in the market and you'd
be wasting a lot of time trying to
do all this work that we're actually
offering you for free number one and
we're saving you a lot of time and even
from an eco friendly perspective you
know how much gas you're gonna be spending driving back and forth to banks
all day long and all week long going
after paperwork and submitting stuff
we're actually saving you all this time
and hassle so the best way I think today
is to go through us. And in terms of the
actual elements of the application is it
better to have a job the same job for a
long time or is it better to show that I
move up and I get promoted and what type
of income do I need to have for a
certain kind of loan? This is very good
question so basically what a lot of
people don't know what I didn't even
know I am
I came back tomorrow is that you can
actually get 100% financing if you have
a full-time job for more than six months
only if you have a full-time job for
more than six months you can actually
get 100% financing even better you can
get 105, 106 % financing which will allow
you to finance even the notary fees okay
so this is for people who have full-time
jobs if you're running your own company
you need two years of income statements
you need two years which is which makes
sense I mean like if it's a start-up you
need to be able to comfort the bank that
your your business is actually you know
producing income not necessarily an
impressive net income or earnings before
income tax but at least that you are
generating like something consistent in
terms of revenues so they have a formula
that they apply they actually take your
overall revenues and then divide them by
12 to get your monthly revenues and they
apply a ratio of actually 20 to 25
percent sometimes dirty distance so they
only take like a third of what your
company revenues are divided by 12 to
actually determine your monthly revenues
as a shareholder at 100% of your company
if you only have a stake in it so they
obviously apply the percentage that you own in the company but so they need two years of
income statements and you obviously need
to put something up front you cannot get
100% so you it's a start off at a
minimum of 10% up front so if you find a
flat for 1 million dhs you need to upfront
100.000 dhs ok you're talking about small
business owners, for small business or
company owners same applies to all
business, owners all business and people
who have like profession libérale,
doctors, dentists etc they they're also
considered like business owners ok great
one of the last things I'd like to ask
you is
to talk a little bit about what it's
like to be a business owner what keeps
you up at night? What is one of your
greatest challenges? Okay so number one
the challenges I think one of my
biggest challenges right now is reaching
equilibrium between family and work
because you know this is the year three
for me and this in my new startup I have
like great ambition towards the future
but it involves a lot of work a lot so
that means I actually get home super
late 9:30 is extremely late when you
have a family so yeah I have a wife and
two children and that's extremely late,
because it's like half an hour away from
my kids actually going to sleep so I
don't I don't actually get the pleasure
of spending too much time with them
before they go back to sleep if I'm
lucky I'm there by 8:00, 8:30 so this is
extremely challenging and I and I leave
my house at like 5:00 a.m. so so that's
my time still and I don't get to see
them in the morning the only day I, I
forced myself to religiously be
available most of the day and spend
hours with them is on Sunday but
honestly I don't think that's enough
you know so obviously my ambition is to
be able to build something great that
they'd be proud of and offer them the
best future possible but it's extremely
challenging because in my lateral values
family comes first one
right now spending most of the time at
work so that's that's I think that's my
major challenge right now it's the only
difficult part of it right now
before it was the funding that was most
difficult part of it, but right now it's
it's definitely I need to I have a lot
of commitments to respect with my
investors, I have extremely high targets to
meet they have placed a huge huge
confidence in me the entire team being
the local team or the other team in
Washington DC which I had the
pleasure to speak to from a couple of
occasions a lot of pressure and I've had
a couple of partners like investors
before and as they know as my current
investors know I've always always forced
myself to like meet my expectations with
my partners and you know this my name is
my honor and if I say I'm gonna do this
if even if I cannot meet all my targets
I need to almost kill myself trying to
meet them. That's not the answer that I
was expecting you to give but I
completely agree with it and that ends
it's a great answer I think it's it's an
answer that a lot of founders share and
there's a lot of empathy for you in your
situation the struggle between family
and and focus on the business we want to
thank you very much for taking the time
to sit down and talk with us, thank you,
maybe in a few months will sit down
again and get an update on how the
business is going my pleasure, you're always welcome. Thank you Bachir
you've been listening
to the Business in Morocco Podcast my
name is Ryan Kirk here with my co-host
Ryan Maimone, if you enjoyed this episode
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