Makhsoom: The Lebanese Group Buying Success Story

Antoun Abou Zeid

Daily deals are catchy, and having the opportunity to get them twice a day is simply a double shot of awesome. Welcome to the world of Makhsoom.

In case you don’t know about Makhsoom, it is a group-buying platform based on a website that offers you daily deals at discounted prices for a variety of services and products over a certain period of time. Sounds catchy.

We had the joy to meet the man behind the company, Antoun Abou Zeid and have a quick chat with him, to get to know more about Makhsoom.

Antoun is an ex-banker who always felt that going to his daily job was a punishment, though his career was brilliant and promising. He left Kuwait and the banking sector, deciding to leave everything behind, coming back to Lebanon, jumping with both feet in the online entrepreneurial field.

His encounter with Alex Azzi, the “Internet guru” as he says, was the starting point to the online business that eventually led to Makhsoom.


The Makhsoom Interview

Q: How did you decide to start Makhsoom up?

A: Right before opening Makhsoom we  were working on a project for plastic surgery in Lebanon  where we were the medium between patients and doctors, and this lasted six months. This is when we decided to open Makhsoom and within two weeks we were online and working.

Q: Do you remember your first deal?

A: Yeah sure, it was a a paintball ticket for half the price, and what was funny about it that me and my friends were the first customers!

Q: When did Makhsoom pick up? How did you know that you were on the right track?

A: Deals were slow, but then we had a deal for a massage therapy that sold 150 deals in two days; we were then sure that things were on the right track and this pushed us more towards getting new and interesting deals.

Q: How many team members you had when started?

A: It was only me, I did everything. From Google ads to Facebook page and ad management to sourcing the deals. And customer service too.

Q: Why the need for customer service?

A: Following up with our customers is a must, and we also do check over the quality of the services/products we are selling.

Q: How was your input of deals and how did it grow?

A: First we had a deal per week, then after a short period we posted two, now we have daily deals sent twice a day.

Q: And you are still doing it alone?

A: No, our team grew quite exponentially, we have now a Tech support team and a full-fledged Sales unit.

Q: What about customer service?

A: This is one of the things that I still take care of personally. Of course, we have a great team of 4 persons for customer service doing a great job. But I insist on being copied on all correspondence with our customers, in order to better assess how we can serve better… Facts are, I’m involved in pretty much every single activity the company does!

Q: So how about competition in the market?

A: Competition is very aggressive, especially that we are the leaders in the market now. There are so many newcomers who put even more pressure on us. By pressure, I do mean targeting even better quality for the products/services we are offering to our customers.

Q: You said you were number one in the market?

A: We definitely are. But this is not just my personal belief; all indicators tell so: Google Trends and Keyword Tool, Alexa.

Q: That’s why you opened Dubai operations? Expand more?

A: Dubai was part of the vision we had; you know the sky is the limit, and for us we want to reach the whole world, and we believe that we can achieve this ultimate goal with our steady steps and fruitful track history.

Q: Back to Lebanon now, how much do you think your business is affected by local politics?

A: Actually politics doesn’t affect us, and we believe that our clientele isn’t affected: deals are deals, whatever the environment is. A good deal remains a good deal, just as long as people are here.

Q: So now you have two operations, Lebanon and Dubai; how are you dividing your workforce?

A: Our headquarters are located in Lebanon; so all the back office operation is here.

Q: What are the challenges that you perpetually face in Lebanon in your business line?

A: Our overhead is quite high, Internet connection, electricity, utility bills, etc… I even remember when we had to move to our new offices, we didn’t have any land line, and hence limited Internet connectivity only, so our salesmen had to go to nearby internet cafes in order to get connected!

Q: Any special news you’d like to share with our readers?

A: What I want to say is that we are undergoing detailed studies for three new projects; cant say more than that, but for sure we are steadily moving a step further towards the global market.

This is when our interview turned into a geeky conversation with passionate debates about Apple and Google… I guess you know how these things end :)

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