Episode 75 Transcript

okay we've got an exciting interview
coming up with Achraf Lemnini,
he is the co-founder of a couple big
websites that have just launched
in in the last six months here in
morocco www.ocarz.ma
and www.storz.ma he's going to be telling
us a little bit about that process
and also some other projects he's worked
on leading up to this
so he's got a very interesting career
path but it all is coming together now
and really reaching its stride
and so stick around to learn lessons
from him
welcome to episode 75 of the business in
morocco podcast
today we have a special guest as
yeah all right uh who is the
co-founder of ocarz.ma
and stores.ma and we're gonna talk today
a bit about his background history
um his work experience and these two
new entrepreneurial endeavors that uh
that he's taken on um this year so
welcome to the podcast Achraf
thank you ryan uh let's just start with
a little background where
where did you grow up and what did you
study um
in university in in school um i grew up
in morocco of course
and um and i have a master degree
uh here in casa blanca uh from
usc toulouse which is a business school
here in casablanca and uh
and my
my master degree is in management
marketing and communication
and i started my career
a car maker
so i was the first digital manager
recruited here in morocco for a car
and i managed the digital stuff
uh for less than one week
in one year and then i i took
um the responsibility to uh
to manage the advertising for this car
maker we can
talk about it sure no my hog and uh i
advertising for the brand um
and uh for both ronaldo and dasia
and i did it for three years and then
i decided to uh to change
uh the orientation of my career
and i started working on in a
in a media agency and uh
well before we get to that maybe you can
talk a little bit about
renault what was it like working in one
of those big french companies
um into doing marketing for them it was
especially for the timing uh you know i
joined um
in 2007. actually it was between 2007
and 2010
and uh we were i worked
for for renault um when
carlos gone decided to launch what
we called the 2009
renault and with
several ambitious goals uh in terms of
uh you know product launches uh
profitability of the brand etc
so uh yeah it was it was very
doing marketing uh doing advertising for
for a car maker um
and uh working on two different
brands two different universe as you
dasia is the people brand
the people car and ronald was
a bit a bit uh
elitist as we as we said in french and
so it was very interesting to you know
between both uh both targets
and so you you're interested to be in
digital marketing
yeah yeah yeah 2007 we uh
we had uh very few uh
channels compared to now and there are
thinking the first 2000 there's no
you said right
sorry i was just saying in that time
like facebook was
completely brand new youtube had like 20
videos on
exactly no instagram we had something
like you know menara
that's ma and uh yahoo maybe
we have very very few uh we had very few
channels uh for digital advertising
and uh andrew androno onomaroc
were you know what was so one of the
brands um in the moroccan markets
dedicating a part of their um their
media budget to digital so it was very
helpful for me for the rest of my career
uh working on this kind of subject
very very early on
so this is for for ronaldo yeah yeah so
you had your time there
at uh renault for three years you
learned about what it was like to
to work in a big company you learned
about marketing
um talk to us about how you transition
to the next phase of your career
um actually the the standards
are uh you start in an agency and then
you go to work where for uh for a big
and i did the the perfect
deposits i started my career uh in a big
and i decided watching you know the
agency guides working
i said to myself i'm more adapted to
this kind of um of uh
universes than uh than what i were doing
uh in roano and in the big companies
and because very very early on i had
as an objective as an as a career goal
to um
to start my own company so i said to
uh it would be great if i switch right
uh to start uh you know
the consulting uh the consulting side of
of marketing and uh i joined actually
um one of the biggest uh media agencies
in the world
uh omd and uh
again i was the first digital planning
in a media agency in morocco so it was
um again very helpful
for my career to work on this kind of
it was in 2010 and again
i work it on on
car car industry because
i switched the role and i was working on
on media buying in digital of course
for renu but for other brands also like
mcdonald's nivea etc
that's great and uh we always like to
interesting career paths for for people
to sort of explain to our audience that
there's a variety of different ways that
you can
you know develop your career and gain
experience and knowledge
um talk to us talk to us about
your time at share lab what is share lab
and how did you uh get involved in that
actually there there is two companies
right now for my
uh for my entrepreneurial
um pat i started in 2012
my first company which is share and uh
which is something we are still doing
right now
uh so we are a digital agency helping
to um to create content contact
content and to uh to um
reach their targets on the on digital
and um so this is the start
and in 2012 and 2017
uh two years ago we started uh
with my uh with my partners
uh share lab and uh actually
uh the big idea and the vision behind
is uh to bring digital to
physical uh physical uh point of sales
so we had this vision is that
people we continue to uh to uh
buy products on the internet
and they will do it uh more and more
and uh if they go to a store
or an event or something like that they
ask for more than just the transaction
they will ask for an experience and
of course the experience must be digital
must be immersive etc
so uh with my partners we create
several technologies uh when i talking
about creating things
i mean by that uh literally creating uh
stuff here in morocco in our
laboratory in robots
so we said to ourselves
uh three kind of goals one
how to attract people in a physical
point of sale using experience
so we create for that several
how to um to uh
make them feel you know the dna of the
through digital experiences and how to
convince them
to buy the product so this is
you know the phases in in the purchase
and we create several technologies
um for uh for this kind of
uh of goals and uh this is
for 2017 and uh in 2019
uh and 2018 story uh
i made you know uh um
exploration travel to uh to dubai
to see if we can sell our technologies
in the in the whole nina region and not
only in morocco
and one technology which is the
that we create
ashno.com and
this technology was very
interesting for some brands and retail
so i decided to start the company there
in dubai
and uh and i made
some you know contacts etc last year but
unfortunately with the kovit crisis uh
we are um we are slowing
our ambitions for uh for dubai uh till
uh this crisis
uh stops
tell can you tell us more about that
technology like you you you mentioned a
few times yeah we designed several new
technologies and you gave one
example there of the hologram yeah
explain that a bit more
yeah of course actually we have an
insight which is um in a supermarket
uh the decision to buy a product is
taken in the shelf uh
seventy percent uh of these decisions
are taken
uh in the shell and there is no
material no way uh to um
to make sure that we can improve our
i'm talking about connected material of
course uh
to improve our uh cells
uh using a technology and for the
retailers there
they are talking about a great um
a great um uh
criteria to uh to steal more which is
the stopping power by that they mean
if you make sure that people will stop
in front of the product
you are increasing your chances to sell
the product
so we have created an hologram which is
uh you know a screen taking the shape of
any product and you know with the 3d
you have this illusion that
there is no screen it's just uh it's
just in the air and this is a great
stopping power for brands
so this is the first thing and then
what we did we take this technology
and we connect it to a platform that's
brands to push the contents
according to the targets visiting the
in this in this time
so this is the second benefits to push
content according to the targets and the
time you are
you are expecting this kind of targets
uh in the supermarket and the third
benefit is um you can track
the views so what we have we have an
uh pushing people to stop in front of it
and then you have no sounds
so when you are in front of the
holograms the
the sound starts automatically
and whereas we start counting a view
so we can say to a brand this is
uh how many people stopped in front of
your content
and how long they they spend with your
with your ads
yeah and we are right now making this
kind of
of holograms which is something that we
can put
in uh in on in a shelf and
also we can make it in uh in uh
make it bigger and this is something we
uh delivered to aswak salam for their
opening in here in casablanca so we
deliver for them
uh an hologram uh with uh
1.70 meters
which is for with the shape of an ice
and wow and um
really this is the kind of technologies
we are very proud of
and the use of this kind of technologies
is limitless
definitely definitely a 1.7 meter ice
cream would have a lot of stopping power
clearly clearly so uh yeah this is the
of technologies we are making right now
uh the same technologies
are supposed to match with what we are
doing in the us cars universe
as as i told you preparing this uh this
episode we are working on something
that will uh match uh
both both sides of our our um our
the digital stuff and the used car stuff
yeah well it sounds like you really are
a serial entrepreneur i didn't even know
about this other section of your career
why don't you tell us more about the
used car stuff that you're launching
yeah um so as i told you i have
something like 13 years
experience uh and um
and i never stopped working for the
the car industry as
an agency um and uh
as um as uh an employee of ronaldo et
and uh while i were in dubai
i saw the how
the used cars uh markets is very
and i said to myself let's take a look
to uh to uh our
our uh market in morocco and
uh i noticed that there is
no serious offer for someone who wants
to uh manage the cell
of his car without struggling
and i saw in dubai some great
initiatives like said anycard.com and by
and i saw the data and uh
it blowed my mind when i saw that we
uh used car markets representing
three times the new car market
so in 2018 it was something like
580k uh
used cars sold in in morocco compared to
something like 170k cars
new cars sold uh in the same year
and of course it's a big market
and uh i thought to myself this is
something like
my team and i uh will be very happy to
work on
using our digital background
use our car car
industry background etc and
to start a new company helping people to
sell their cars uh in a better way
so um and uh we started you know with
the team
uh looking for some data considering
several business models and um
i saw one number which is very important
and this is why
for all cars.ama we don't want
to take a commission on the sale so in
one report uh moroccan people said
that 80 of them
don't want to sell their car to a
it means two things they want to sell to
a professional
and they want to sell through a
because they don't want uh
to uh to lose money
selling to someone who want to sell it
and they want to give commission to
or at least if they do that they will do
uh uh because they are forced
and not something that they want to do
two or three or five percent in some
uh from the price uh they are supposed
to get
um so when we saw that
we said to ourselves okay let's forget
all the existing business models and
let's um focus on a service
based business model and um
then another idea emerged or
and right now we have uh some platforms
copying this we said to ourselves
how can we help them sell their car with
zero their house
and the answer was very very obvious
we have two industries used and new cars
so the first business model of orcas was
we can help you sell in your used cars
or all what you have to do
all what you have to do is to make a
test drive for a new car
and by doing that we have services
sponsored by uh and
a new car maker
so this is our first business model
and this is something that we will
do again uh but once
we uh we will reach you know the scale
uh we need to give this kind of promises
uh to uh to the car makers yeah and
as uh i told you uh earlier
we are working on um
and we launched a new offer
for 249 dirhams
we give you several services that can
help you to sell your car
and the better uh circumstances you can
and right yeah talk to us about if let's
say i have a used car
and i would like to sell it i pay you
249 durhams
what happens next so uh
we invite you to uh our checkpoints
right now we are present in two
locations in casablanca and robots
and uh we uh
we have you know like a studio in our
and uh we make a check uh of your car
as i told you it's not a mechanical
check it's uh
uh it's a declarative check it's
according to what the client described
about his car we make
professional photos we record videos
which is something new we added to our
we were the first uh platform
doing that in morocco we prepared
a brochure like you know your car where
we're a new car
uh we push your uh
announce um in several platforms
on facebook on our websites and other
classified websites
and we manage you know
with our local call center all the calls
you will receive for your for your car
so we are we are we're making sure doing
that that you will not
uh have to manage all the all the
the the people bothering you while you
are working or doing your stuff
in your day i just ask is that
yeah is that call center open 24 hours a
day because i've sold things online here
and gotten calls at midnight and 1am
it's uh it's eight hours and uh you can
leave a message if you call
after you know uh 6 pm yeah and we have
also the the live chat system with our
so uh you can express an interest
to uh for a car and we call you um
the day after okay yeah and uh
so i said so we managed the calls
and if someone is interested to buy your
and of course you need to see it and to
make a test drive
instead of um of
leaving your work uh
to make this happen we
we manage it for you so we have agents
that will come take the keys make the
test drive
and give you back the keys uh at home or
or at work wow and once you decide
you know each day we give you all the
the list of people interested to buy
your car
and you decide to sell or
to wait if you want a better offer
and once you decide we
make in the whole safety
uh circumstances because we know
uh who you will meet because we have a
of his uh of his uh driving etc
so you are in a safe side because
we have some proofs that uh you are
supposed to meet this person
to uh to sell your car in at this price
so and of course zero commission
uh all you have to pay is 249 your hands
to get the the whole package that is
value it's a it's a no-brainer for
anyone that
doesn't want to use their time to to
meet strangers and
and try to sell their vehicle it's just
an unbelievable value you're offering
we have great testimonials from you know
our early birds our early adopters
because right now we did it for
something like 400
uh cars and for the offer you know for
the 249
we have already something like 30 or
clients in uh in less than 10 days
so uh yes we think definitely that
the value is perceived as
great uh how you
you you you call it uh my money value or
value for money yeah value exactly yeah
so uh yeah the the fit with the
with the expectations is great how do
you make sure
that the potential buyer is
serious about buying the car
and that you're not going to be wasting
you know going to pick up the car and
take it to somebody who
you know may not really want a car or
may not even answer the phone when it's
time to do the test drive
um you know for this kind of purchases
um um
if people take their time to
fill uh a lead form in our website
to ask for uh a rendezvous
uh etc uh the risk
that this person is not serious are very
okay uh we are not talking about
you know uh commodities or something
like that we are talking about buying a
yeah and uh but you are right
we have some cases of people uh
expressing interest to uh to meet the
buyer or to make a test drive
and uh they don't come but
it's really uh rar uh this kind of uh
this kind of
situations mm-hmm the lead form adds
that extra barrier
to prove somebody's interested you don't
just have to one click you have to fill
in all this data
and so yeah definitely
so what are your plans for okars.ma
what does the future look like uh
the scale that's the first goal uh
you know in morocco we have something
six cities representing 80 percent of
the market
so we are we are right now presents uh
located in casablanca and um and robots
next uh pit stops are
uh marrakesh banjir
uh fez or mcness we didn't decide yet
uh and i got here of course
with kaza and rabat which will be eighty
uh of the markets covered by all cars
that ma so this is the first
uh this is the first objective and the
we are we are putting in our roadmap
the second one is um
is to contribute because we don't think
that one initiative
can um can uh clean the markets
but uh we definitely think that
the moroccan people deserve to have
services like this
so our goal is to make sure that
we scale our offer to be
able to um to serve maximum of
of uh moroccan people selling or buying
a car
and to become you know a reference uh
uh on on the the service uh
that we give and to improve it with
other kind of services so this is for
all cars that's ema
as an as uh as a concierge uh
for for uh the used cars uh market
and second um we want
to add a physical space
um i will not say uh anything uh
more uh to make sure that people
who um don't believe
on the internet uh because um uh
they have uh a certain age
uh or um an intellectual level
or something like that and they don't
believe in a
in a virtual format to send or buy a car
to give them also a great physical
experience for that so this is the
second objective
and goal and the third one is what we
are doing right now
opening stores uh
which is a platform that goes with
with uh with the car industry
uh because at the same level
right now we don't have a marketplace
focusing or on on
the services uh for out and product
uh in after sales so the idea is to
create a unique experience um
for for the after sales services and
and that's stores.m.a yeah exactly
it's already online and as i told you we
are still improving the platform
we didn't start our our
advertising yet uh because we need to
some uh some technical
stuff and uh right after we start
our our advertising campaign so ashraf
oh cars.ma is quite new i mean i just
started seeing the billboards around
january february like quite quite
november actually okay all right so
maybe they just really reached
my awareness because they started
becoming very prominent i noticed them
but was stores.m.a was that also
planned because you're launching two big
websites in a very short period of time
or did you launch oh cars and then
realize hey let's
also do this after the fact
actually uh stores
we finished the development of the
right before the coveted crisis in
february okay and uh
it was planned to launch stores uh right
after all cars
i see and uh what we noticed uh
this is the the good side of
uh the crisis uh we are still living
is the acceleration of the e-commerce
uh e-commerce in our country
yeah so um so with our partners
we said let's do this let's
uh let's um launch
stores right now uh because
the timing is perfect for our go-to
uh so it was planned but um
it was not planned to be launched uh
in this period and uh when we saw what
happened uh it was the right time
so what do you offer on stores.m.a who
is the customer
and what are the services the customer
still uh
car drivers uh car owners
uh who want to buy uh
an accessory uh an after-sale service or
something like that but
in good conditions they don't want to go
to uh you know their
life or or uh
in other uh reach retail
retail markets here in casablanca or in
the restaurant
of morocco and they want a good
experience doing that
and hopefully they want to be
to be served at home they don't want to
to uh go to look for um for what they
and also they need some uh
some expertise and uh
and uh advices
because they are not experts so the idea
is to um
to give uh the four million
car owners uh in our country
and a good alternative compared to what
they have
till now and uh this is our
you know b2c uh b2c
positioning we have also
um a lot of demand from
car makers after sales specialists
who want to reach directly the
buyer without you know the
uh the the stone that we have right now
which is you buy to uh uh
we we call it in morocco grossest um
you know the the people who uh who buy
in bulk uh
your merchandise yeah you want to cut
out we say cut out the middleman
thank you yeah so this is it and get
gets a better offer
for their customers uh delivering you
know the service or the product
uh directly uh to the to the consumer
so we are working on on uh
on both and also again our
digital agency background
and marketing marketing teams
helps a lot to make sure that
you don't buy only
a presence in on our website you are
um content you are buying good
good advices um to make sure that you
will deliver your products in the
in optimal optimal
circumstances um you know as we finish
up the podcast i did want to ask you
you know knowing that there's going to
be some economic challenges you know for
the near future
what can you what piece of advice can
you give
to other entrepreneurs other young
business owners or
or people that are going to be looking
for jobs
as we go into the summer and head
towards the end of the year
um first thing is resilience
because you know uh in this kind of
times uh
we can spare and uh and notice
uh the
the missionaries and the opportunists
if you are really uh
true about what you are doing i think
it will be hard to stop in any
and we you will always find a way
this is something i truly believe as i
told you preparing the episode
all what we are doing it's a
self-funding stuff
i started my first company with 40 uh
k dirhams something that i borrow from
from a friend of mine and
thanks and good things take time and
uh and if you are
not uh believing
in what you are doing you will never
uh if you are facing crisis or not
so for an entrepreneur
if it's not coveted it will be something
and what makes the difference is uh
how obsessed you are
yeah that's good advice thank you ashraf
thank you that's great
thank you so much for uh coming on the
podcast and sharing your vision
and and your work and and your companies
that you're starting up uh
we wish you the best of luck and uh we
would definitely like this so much
we'd definitely like to have you back on
the podcast uh
once uh you've had a few more months to
grow these businesses and uh to be
flexible and to pivot
and uh yeah i'd like to have you back to
get an update
it will be a pleasure and uh thank you
for what you are doing and
uh again sorry for your audience
you know my english is not that good
compared to my
french or my arabic uh so um
sorry uh no this was great you did great
i hope so and i promise that it will be
uh improved for the
the next time no this was this was great
thank you again so much
thank you so much all right have a nice
one bye
another great interview with uh moroccan
great to see these initiatives
as i mentioned i really think that what
morocco needs is more brands
more brands that are reliable and he is
definitely going after a market that is
terrible it is absolutely awful the used
car market
nobody likes to sell their cars nobody
likes the process of buying a car
you know as he mentioned it's not just
older people or people who don't like
that don't believe the internet if you
go on some of these other
other sites you know they're posting
cars for sale
that are three years old right you know
i don't believe
what i see on a lot of these websites if
i want to buy a car
and it results in a ton of wasted time
and effort yeah yeah that's the thing
that i think
people will be really attracted to is
the efficiency you know you're
eliminating huge inefficiencies in the
market and that's a big opportunity
a lot of great lessons we can we can
learn from ashraf
i love his uh eyes to see
new ideas i mean he traveled to dubai
to pitch the hologram technology and
while he's there he sees these used car
sites and says
hey why not do this in morocco and now
they're doing oh cars.a and stores.ma
just he went there for a completely
different reason
but his background and cars helped him
to to see that opportunity
yeah i also love that he's really data
you know he keeps saying you know
there's four million uh
car owners in morocco the used car
market is three times the size of
the the new carb market he has solid
data to
to back up his belief that the business
has opportunity you know
he doesn't just rely on a gut instinct
he does the research
and extremely extremely ambitious
i mean they have literally started up
these these huge uh websites the big
but he's got that entourage with him it
sounds like a really good crew to be
part of over at share lab these guys
are willing to take on these huge tasks
i love it inspiring

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