Souq.com – The story that teaches you to dream big Souq.com – The story that teaches you to dream big

A decade ago, the availability (and utility) of an online marketplace was an unimaginable thought. In 2005, Ronaldo Mouchawar created his version of an online marketplace in the region, which grew to become one of the most popular portals and redefined technology as we knew it. Today, it’s being acquired by Amazon.

We come across several SME owners every day – some talk about hardships, some about success and some about failure. They share their different experiences; each journey is unique in its own way. Yet, there’s something that always think stands out as a common factor: they all have a dream. And, there’s an undeniable sparkle in their eye when they talk about this dream. Some dream to make money. Some dream to get famous. Some just want to build something that will eventually make a difference in the world.

In 2005, a tall, affable Syrian entrepreneur had similar dreams as he made his way to Dubai to start something fresh. His dream was to create a business that would empower people in a way that hadn’t been done before. At that time, he said: “The idea was to empower people locally to trade online. We saw that a lot of work was being done all across the world in the e-commerce space. For instance, you had Alibaba.com in China and the likes of Amazon and eBay in the USA, but there wasn’t anything similar within this region. So, we thought it was imperative to spearhead an online platform that helped us grow our local capabilities.”

Out of his dream was born Souq.com – a business that would soon disrupt the region’s technology sector forever. Let’s take a look at a timeline of his phenomenal growth –

  • 2005: Ronaldo Mouchawar co-founded souq.com in 2005 as an auction site linked to Maktoob alongside Jabbar Internet Group’s Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury.
  • August 25, 2009: Yahoo acquires Arab portal Maktoob.
  • 2011: souq.com’s business model was switched to become an online marketplace similar to Amazon.
  • March 24, 2014: The Company raised US$75 million in funding from existing investors.
  • October 17, 2016: souq.com makes an investment in grocery start-up InstaShop.
  • February 29, 2016: souq.com confirms it raised US$ 275 million – giving it the ‘unicorn’ status.
  • March 26, 2017: Emaar Malls bids for souq.com in an attempt to challenge Amazon.
  • March 28, 2017: Amazon acquires souq.com

Today, Souq.com features over 400,000 products and attracts 23 million visits per month. Commenting on the acquisition, Ronaldo says: “Joining the Amazon family will enable us to drive further growth, benefit from their technological investment, offer an even wider product selection through worldwide sourcing, deliver an enhanced customer service experience, as well as continue Amazon’s great track record of empowering sellers locally and globally. This is a milestone for the online shopping space in the region. As we take this next step in the journey with Amazon, our customers will remain our key focus and we will continue to deliver a seamless online shopping experience. Over time, I’m excited for what this acquisition will mean for every customer across the region. We always dreamed of combining technology with trade to give the Arab world a way to trade online.”

So, you think you have a dream that’s too big to achieve? Think again.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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