Episode 68 Transcript

Okay welcome to Episode 68 of the Business in Morocco Podcast today
we have Anouar Akerrouach with us he's an entrepreneur working in casablanca he's going to share about different
ventures he's been a part of and that he's founded so it's going to be a great episode to learn from his journey so Anouar thank you so much for being
here welcome thanks to you thanks would you mind just introducing yourself tell us a little
bit about your background
uh where you come from and your education just
introduce your journey to us a little bit yeah so yeah my name is anwar
akarash i'm from Casablanca i grew up here in Casablanca and i left to
to friends for study after at
17 18 years old i studied energy engineering
because i wanted to go back to come back
to Morocco and work for the air conditioning
for air conditioning company because i
have family working there
that's why uh Morocco like it's very hard so air conditioning is for me it was like okay this is the
perfect topic uh i could use some right now
actually yeah yeah so i studied that then i went i went i was in grenoble i
went
i moved to to paris i worked like one
year as a
in air conditioning company you know
like like an energy engineer
uh then i start like first i
okay so for just for the story i when i
was
studying i tried to to create a box
who can freeze a wine or beer in less
than two minutes
doing different process we do a kind of
mvp of the of the hardware
but it was complicated because you can
freeze actually
a wine in two minutes but you kill the
wine you cannot drink it
it's cold it's the perfect temperature
but you cannot drink it
so this is one of those businesses where
you're you start it because you're
trying to solve a problem that you have
maybe
no no honestly i just wanted to create
something like
i was in study and and it was just i
want to just to
applicate what i was learning okay
okay we can do this and i said okay we
can do this we can sell it to all the
all the countries we can say everywhere
where it's hot yeah right so was that
your first
kind of venture into entrepreneurship or
had you always been
very creative and thinking of ventures
before
it's the first one who really i create a
mvp
i try to really to to create the
hardware
with my professor and like i i activate
a lot of people
and i like i called for help for
different
experts so yes the first one
uh then i uh
one day i was working and i saw like the
there is like whatsapp instagram and all
the
like scalable companies say okay what's
this uh so i tried to
i started learning uh reading books and
watching like
uh doing conference and i launched a
chat called chat called it's a referral
messaging app
uh text messaging app it's like uh there
is like snapchat
it was just the photo and the chat call
the text so i
it was my first soft uh
startup software startup now now did you
do the development for that
uh application no no i'm not developer
so
i had like no idea how to develop
something like that
uh what i i went to to san francisco i
participated to
different uh like startup weekend
startup
events and i i pitched
the chat called i said okay in france i
i just do
the design i just learned how to do to
design an app
i do design i know i i okay in france we
have this app
and it's amazing like everyone is using
it
and we are soon launching in in
in us so if you wanna try it just
subscribe to this mail and i will send
you the beta test
and i back to i come back to paris and i
don't the same
okay this is the you know in in
california they're all using this
and we will soon launch in in paris so
if you want to
use it just subscribe to the beta test
and once i
got like more than one 700
subscriber say okay now i
choose to find a developer
and i found the developer it was a
freelancer
american one actually very very smart
guy
but it was very complicated because we
developed we
developed a lot of future features like
what but no one wants to use them
a lot of time but we but we we had like
more than five uh
five thousand download in five countries
it was good but i but it's not the
product i think so it's just the pitch
and the the message around the
chat call was interesting but it was
very complicated
complicated to to develop and to use it
what would you say would be the one
thing that you could tell our listeners
who want to be
entrepreneurs what was the one thing you
learned about that experience with chat
call
that has better prepared you for
entrepreneurship today
don't develop your product sell it
sell your product first yeah yeah sell
your product first
that's a great piece of advice yeah and
and launch
very very fast as fast as you can
because if your product is a is a shit
and you have user those user
will use it if your product is is better
so but your if your pro if your product
is perfect
and you have like no one want to use it
like
yeah that's a good point so you had you
know you pitched it in california you
pitched it in paris and you had 700
people saying yeah i want to try your
product
yeah and so at that point you said okay
this is worth developing
there's already interest and people
haven't even had a chance to try it yet
so i might as well put some time and
money into it
and also maybe they miss sorry it was
not easy to
to find a developer because if you like
developers they are busy they have they
have a lot of work like
the developers is this sexy
job today so the sexy skill but it's
very complicated to
to to say to a developer you know i have
an idea
if you want i think we can be like the
next billion companies
i i think he he heard that like every
day
the best idea in the world yeah
so what did you do after that yeah so
after that we
worked for like one year on one year for
the chat core
uh then i don't know
i wanted to learn to how to code or to
understand the technical
part so i don't know i have some
different side project but not very like
i wasn't like uh focus
100 on it just really just to to do like
some
to code some websites i do like some
freelance stuff so can you tell us more
what what is lego because some of our
listeners won't have heard of it before
the wagon it's uh it's a coding school
it's i think it's the best coding school
uh
to learn uh for entrepreneur it's really
for entrepreneur
why front of autumn because you you just
learn like
html css and ruby and
only the thing that can help you to
create like an mvp
yeah of course after you can
improve and be a developer
yeah for sure but it's like very focused
for entrepreneur you have an idea you
can build it
yeah you know how to handle database and
everything
did you go to a physical location for
that school or did you do everything
online
no physical yeah physical physical
location because i
i do believe they have a location in
morocco don't they
yeah they have run some uh some cohorts
here in casa yeah they are
everywhere in a lot of countries i don't
know if the
they still casablanca i don't know if
they just
like they move around a little bit i
know they did one
in 2018 but i'm not sure if they've done
one since
yeah because uh on their website you uh
there is no campus casablanca
maybe they move on okay so if you
if you were going to make a
recommendation to our listeners who
want to be entrepreneurs you would say
that the wagon is a is a good choice to
to learn the basics of coding if you
want to be an entrepreneur
yeah definitely definitely the ceo is
very
inspiring guy he's also a teacher
uh and all the teachers and people
working at the wagon
the culture of the wagon is very good
so i definitely recommend it yeah
that's cool well if it's not available
here in casablanca we do have 3wa
the 3w academy which is a similar type
of
model where it's a three-month really
intensive coding school that gives you
that
basic foundation from which you can
right away become a freelancer but then
build on that so
that's a great option for young people
yeah definitely
so then what came next and what did you
do after after that i worked for uh i
joined a company
named trust uh trusk and it's the uber
for the
for the uh for the for truck it's uber
for truck like
in paris if you buy like something like
a big sofa you don't have a car
you just with a push of button you have
you have your truck
really and you can move yeah yeah you
can move it
that's a great idea yeah definitely
and you don't have to you don't have to
go to uh you don't want to
and negotiate for a ronda with somebody
exactly
yeah exactly so i
i developed the the b2b part for them
it was at the beginning it was just b2c
but with the btc you know
you don't move a sofa like every day
there is no retention
uh so we developed the the b2b part and
after
when i was working with them like just
for three or four months i met
oscar the ceo of globo
and i say okay i want to work for this
can you talk a little bit because i was
looking at your linkedin profile at
trusky you were involved in sales you
were mentioning you were doing basically
b2b
business development sales can you talk
to us a little bit
about sales and what you learned about
sales specifically in b2b
yeah for you i don't understand like
what i learned like in sales in general
or yeah
just uh you know it's because a lot of
people you know entrepreneurs think that
entrepreneurship is just about building
products or services and
and they may not understand how
important sales are
for every business owner so maybe you
could share a little bit about what you
learned about sales or
or some of the things you did to to find
new customers
yeah the sales for startup is different
than sales for
other companies because it's startup you
are selling something
but doesn't work well
it's always complicated so when you
pitch it
you should be like always optimistic
never realistic because if you are
realistic it's complicated so
that's the part was very exciting with
global at the beginning
i joined them in i think in april
and we in april and from april to june
i we need to to have to sign a lot of
contracts so that was very exciting
because the company doesn't exist
in france and we just said okay we are
the best
and we we were also the uh the last
movers
because there's like delivery uh uber it
and fudora i think the moment
but big startups and
and it was not easy because people like
uh they say
oh no uh we have all we work with all
those
those companies so why will i sign with
you like a
fifth one like okay a
nem uh another app another app
and so what else do you say to convince
them uh
it's very easy because globo it was the
only one to
you can you can deliver you can order
food groceries pharmacy everything you
want in the city
okay so that was uh something that was
different about you
yeah because yeah there is food food
there is a lot of retention for food
for sure and they are also restaurant so
you can say okay
okay you can you deliver pharmacy but
it's not my problem i sell pizza so
they say okay to today okay you have
this but customers
they will have only one app they will
not have a lot of apps yeah they will
have only one app
you can do everything so and this is
unbelievable
and that was the that was the vision of
uh oscar
how did you meet oscar uh i i was
contacted by uh
a guy in paris and he told me about
grover
you should he should meet them they want
to launch in paris
it's a very cool project so i read
something and
like one week after like oscar told me
okay i'm coming to paris
and we met in paris and it's a very
inspiring guy
i know maybe you can do a podcast with
him it's
yeah that'd be great that'd be great
yeah for me it's the like the top three
best ceo in the world wow wow that says
a lot
that's awesome yeah so you worked for
glovo for
like about a year and a half yeah and
then what
what happened next did you why did you
leave
uh because at the beginning it was very
exciting it's a startup
but after that like the team are growing
you you do only sales and this part
wasn't so exciting
at the as the at the beginning okay yeah
at the beginning
you are selling stuff and you are also
like looking for
uh runners around is the the delivery
uh the delivery guys like
exactly yeah yeah yeah the delivery guy
and you are looking for trying to to
convince the pharmacy this one and you
see like every day you are like
you have more more orders more customers
so it was exciting but after that
it's a it's a big company it's
structured
uh i was i had like no contact with
oscar
and at this moment okay
and i i wanted to entrepreneurship for
me it's the
it's my thing yeah we can see that
that's
okay so then you knew okay this is
becoming too corporate too structured i
want to be back in that exciting startup
lifestyle so what did you do next then
yeah so after that i was in paris i i
bought an apartment there
uh i invest in the best investment in
bitcoin
i was lucky because like i invest in
bitcoin and
six months after like bitcoin was on the
top of the top of the top
wow so yeah i just stayed in paris a
little bit
with traveling with my with my
girlfriend after that i say
okay you know i remember we was like a
sunbatting going to surf and say okay
i'm really happy like just with t-shirts
short and my flip-flops so
let's move from paris and say okay but
maybe next year we can go to
asia and okay but asia
hong kong or san gabriel but we are not
far from
indonesia say okay
so okay but i want to move like very
fast and she she had a promotion
at her job so she can't left she can't
from the job so i say okay i'll go
tomorrow to casablanca
i will try this uh
fifth house right now it's electronic
stimulation
and if it works we stay there if no we
come back
and i come back and we move to to asia
uh so i say okay she told me i told her
okay if i
if i sell 100 class
a class session of fifth house we stay
in morocco
and in two months we said like 250.
so so what is fit house when you're
referring to this next company
explain it to us yeah fifth house it's
electro stimulation it's a sport coach
with the electron
electro stimulation at home actual new
stimulation is
you know it's a technology uh normally
it was only for athletes
for exported people but now
like since like five six years we can
people can use it and you can see their
different studio
in the world and you do only 20 minutes
of this
and it's like you you you train for four
hours
in a gym and it's not bullshit
it's very true yeah no my wife has tried
it and she
she has the sore muscles to to to back
it up your claims
yeah definitely it's the same technology
as you uh
when you go to a physiotherapist or
so you were in paris and you decided to
test this idea
in casablanca to see if there was a
market for it how did you
make sales from there at the beginning
we
i create a instagram account
and uh i i know a lot of class
uh i i i do a shooting in paris
with a lot of friends and we we fake it
like we say okay
we are in casablanca we are doing this
okay and we every day we put we post
photo
we do this okay stories oh that's crazy
people uh
testimonials from people okay this is
crazy
so and people start like contacting me
okay i want to try and try
of course you cannot because i was in
paris
okay yeah i'm all my coach are food but
maybe next month if there is a slot i'll
contact you
so this is how you you create your
customer list
okay so you you were advertising it as
if the classes were happening but that
was just a way to test
is there a market for this is there yeah
customers
yeah if they want to try it but before
coming to casablanca i went to
to madrid and uh to buy the
the material and i
i signed a contract with them as a
distributor here in morocco
okay okay so you you import the products
from spain
and you sell you sell a product and then
you also sell a service with that
is that right yeah there's
two two different things like there is
there is the the service
like for there's a requirements
retention you can
you sell a class station for two people
okay and the other side but when you do
this like
people start hearing okay fifth house
what's fifth house okay they do like
electronic simulation what's this this
is technology okay i want to buy one
so they contact the company they contact
me
and they okay okay we can and they can
sell the product
okay and i go to spain i bring one
understanding
so is that individuals that buy the
product or just a gym
uh gym hotels individuals also
and are you worried that if you sell
these products you'll cannibalize
your own business no because the market
is huge and
uh if there is like
today i'm like i think i'm the only the
only player who do like this at
home but if there is like other like
competitors
uh it's not a problem because it will
just educate the markets
yeah yeah after that just you okay and
they
after that just a bottle or for
who is the best in marketing and who who
had the best coaches
for the best program and but the market
is big
and and honestly and after that i can
like uh
i remember before the kovid situation
like we sometimes i i always
tell the people we we don't have slots
and this it was true this one
yeah yeah no that's not just it was not
just bullshit
okay we don't have slots so yeah maybe
wow that's great so you said you're
selling b to c
through instagram um what is your what
does your
logistics look like when somebody orders
one of these
kits from you um how do you get it to
them do you use
uh chronopost or are you doing
fulfilling your own orders
no i want to have like a lead
instagram or my email or i okay i call
them i try to understand what they need
uh to propose them like the best package
then i i receive the the kit
and i i deliver them because when i
deliver them i need to
to explain how how does it work and they
have like also one day of formation
of training how to use the
the technology how to use software how
one use this i'm going to use this
okay so is it only now available in casa
or
at least before the virus were you
driving all over morocco to
deliver the kids yeah for for kids
delivery like
by morocco also in senegal but
for the for the for the the class here
only in casablanca
casablanca around like double but
okay wow so you would sell a kit in
senegal and you would travel down there
and do a day of training with
the the purchaser yeah wow
okay so how is uh
the coronavius how has that changed your
business
you know what impact has it had and and
how have you adapted to the situation
with the covid it's uh zero like now we
are in
we cannot have class because it's a
sport class
at home fifth house but you cannot move
to
to train with people and for security
also
so we just stopped the
fifth house company it's in it's in home
so then what have you done to adapt
what's you what's been your next
step uh
next step i
i don't i don't have really like fixed
idea but four feet house for sure we
will continue
just with uh because i i have uh coaches
for that at the beginning i was the
coach now i i have coaches
and they they do the work and it's kind
of automated work because it's not
scalable
so it's just going and if i if if i have
a lead
for uh to buy a kit i i handle it
but for the next step or for the next
adventure
for sure something like scalable and
soft company
okay so you've kind of shifted from
doing the coaching sessions in fit house
hiring coaches that that do it all for
you and you can just run the business
from
from wherever yeah so
give us an idea of of if i'm
a potential customer what are my options
in terms of
packages um in terms of what i pay
for the device and and what does it cost
to get the coaching
um and the services at home
so yeah if you want like just one one
kit
it's a 10 000 euro
if you want two three four five kids
that's it's the selling there's no
negotiating
we negotiate and there's not a real
fixed price
but it's around the yeah it's for just
one it's ten thousand
and if you want more more we can
negotiate but it's around like
eight to ten thousand and then in terms
of the services the coaching
at home what is what did that look like
uh yeah for the this part we sell
uh kearney
like 10 class yeah 10 station 10 session
and you paid at the beginning so
it helps me because i at the beginning i
have like a
treasury and you
you can fix like okay i wanna like on
monday
thursday saturday and it's maximum
two session per week
have you thought about offering any kind
of online services like through
zoom or whatsapp or something like that
yeah it's com it's complicated i thought
about it
if you if just to to keep the
community engaged on instagram and
but in morocco at the beginning
instagram was perfect but
after that it's just word of mouth
so we no no we do nothing because you
cannot do sports with the
without the technology and you can
just do sports without this just for
to keep the community but
yeah yeah so then if fit house is
reaching that point where it's a stable
and you've got it organized you have
coaches hired
then that means you as an entrepreneur
must be wanting to start something
something else so tell us a little bit
about 212 founders and
and your experience with homely yeah
two one two founders uh you know you
want to find out
you know what well we well ryan and i
have been looking into it a little bit
but um a lot of our listeners will never
have
heard of it so yeah so it's the it's a
kind of uh
incubator accelerator for startup here
uh it's uh
by cg cdg cd bank
so it's very it's a huge thing and it's
very great
and we were of the first uh
batch and uh and for the sonos founders
we uh with my co-founder we
we launched a real estate company
a digital real estate company uh with
uh everything digitalized uh with a good
okay the problem was when we
i went back to to morocco i wanted to
buy a
an apartment so i do a lot of visit a
lot of visits it was very long very long
and my my co-founder also and uh
and also i put like uh we had uh
an apartment a family apartment to sell
so it was managed by uh
uh real estate here in in casablanca
and one day the the agent called me hey
hey
come on we i have a nice flat for you
come visit
and i went to visit and it was like my
own flat
like the family flat you know okay so i
was like visiting this okay okay
okay like there is like like no
professionalism no
there's the i i didn't say like you
don't have like exhale something like
this you
do you know who who is the owner of this
apartment
and you say okay there is like no no
no professionalism there like a matter
say and my my co-founder had the same
problem
and say okay uh it's very expensive
uh very bad service so what can
how can we have how can we how can we
change the thing
so we launched the homely homeless the
digital
really states with a fixed price paid
only
one success
so and normally you pay like around five
percent
for when you buy something
but with homely you pay around one
percent so you have
a better experience everything is
digitalized for for the seller
you have a dashboard you can see uh okay
you have uh
all those all those visitors uh you have
this this is planet we do we send a
photographer
a professional photographer who do the
photos for you so you have nothing to do
we handle it
from zero to one so it sounds like a bri
a brilliant idea and there's clearly a
lot of problems and
inefficiencies in the real estate uh
market here
so then what happened yeah definitely
like this it's a brilliant idea we do
like the big mistake it's we just do a
copycat
of different startups existing in in
europe
uh so we and like and the fight
so we we create a product focused on the
for the seller because
in for example in in paris uh
is the seller who who the pain is
is a full seller because you pay a lot
of charge a lot of
commission it's very expensive there is
no services
it's very bad so we
we create this and when we lo when we
launched
uh it was okay we had like no problem to
find sellers
it was very easy to find sellers and say
okay like we had like
the best product like we are a good sale
good sales
yeah no uh
yeah we understand like after one month
okay this is not the problem the problem
is to find the buyer
okay so we need to to change all the the
product for
to be focused on the buyer on the buyer
not on the seller
so of course we just create a a
website focus on the
with a different branding focus on the
on the on the
the buyer the buyer and
but the problem we faced on is the
the mark the market in morocco is very
illogic like the price are very
there is no logic in the price right
yeah
yeah we've talked about this for a long
time especially commercial real estate
and other kinds of real estate
it seems that there is it's very
expensive
uh versus
i think partially it's because there's a
lack of information and so it's hard to
get a gauge on
what is the market rate and unless a
buyer goes and
looks at lots of different properties
then they don't have a clear
idea and for the seller when they're
listing their place they can just say oh
i think you know based on the the square
meters that's this is what it's worth
this is the neighborhood this is the
square meters
and they can't do enough research to
find out well what how does this compare
to what
everything else is being sold there's a
lack of information
yeah definitely and there's also some
some some
some sellers they say okay i want to
sell to at this price
say okay you know but we are a little
bit expensive we
i give you an advice just put it at this
price because this is the market
today you say no no i want i want to
sell at this price
say but it's complicated to sell at this
price say okay i will wait
so okay yes
i mean we've seen this i mean uh their
properties when i was looking for my
office the places that i could rent
i went to see offices that had been
empty for years
no one rented and they wanted a price
that was
just so expensive but they wouldn't
bring the price down and
it stayed empty for a very long time
yeah yeah
it's the same residential real estate
you see villas and apartments that are
empty
for years just like ryan's saying
because the landlord
doesn't lower the price yeah and they're
for the rent they're also sometimes
scared
for if the the if the the person
don't want to pay or don't want to leave
it's very complicated morocco
yeah that's true the uh yeah the legal
side of it
yeah so that's why the tenant yeah so if
they don't need money
and there is a lot of apartment in
casablanca uh
owned by like uh rich people
like they have like two three apartments
and there is like zero
like they they don't rent it and they
don't want to sell or they want to steal
at this price or
they just they don't want to arrange
because they don't need money so
yes so as we as we come to the end of
the interview
um could you just give our audience
your opinion of the future of
entrepreneurship here in morocco
and and maybe just give them some
encouraging words about
you know what you see our opportunities
and
uh what do you think the future looks
like here in morocco
there's a lot of lots of lots of
opportunities in morocco
and we have all the the skills like
you can find like sellers technical guys
everything and there's a lot of people
also coming back from europe coming back
to a lot of friends coming back to
casablanca because there's a lot of
opportunities
uh sometimes it's not easy but
there's a lot of opportunities and also
now with internet
you can learn everything and you can
really
and you can address all the markets of
the world
but and tested it here in morocco
because it's very nice it's very cool to
test
business in morocco because it's it's
it's like for example for four feet
house it's very small there's like a
word of mouth
and you can really touch a community and
it's it's and it's growing very fast
that's great so there's a lot of
just do it just do it try
it it's fun also yeah yeah we can tell
that you love
you love it and that you're not going to
be working in a cubicle for a fortune
500 company for
25 years we can see that in your journey
no because also
i would be like very bad in a big
company i think i don't have the skills
to be in a big company
well thanks so much anwar for uh coming
on the podcast
and talking about your your history and
your business we
list you the best of luck um with
fit house and any other entrepreneur
adventures that
that will be coming in the future um
we wish you health and safety during
this coronavirus
confinement and uh we hope to talk to
you again uh
soon are we pleasure yeah i'm sure
there's going to be another venture we
can bring you back on and learn about
the the next few startups you have
yeah soon

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