500StartUps Invest Big in Egypt's ElWafeyat
ElWafeyat is spearheading the regional market for online obituaries, providing a cost-effective and simple way to announce deaths and send condolences. And they've just received California's 500Startups' seal of approval. We talk to Nesma El Far...
With every passing year, social media expands in it scope. Facebook and other similar platforms give its users the ability to easily share life’s special moments and celebrations with friends and family. Looking to focus on commemorating those we love after they have passed is ElWafeyat an online platform for obituaries and condolences around the region. This promising new platform seems to be exponentially rising, so much so that it has garnered the interests of none other than California’s 500startups.
It is no secret that obituaries are a huge part of Middle Eastern culture. For many it is important to offer condolences to the deceased no matter how close the relation. Recognising that there is a online obituary void, ElWafeyat is a platform that will essentially spread the news faster than printed mediums. “We will build family trees and map the social graphs for people to instantly announce the death of a family member, reaching a much wider audience than through physical newspapers,” explains co-founder Nesma El-Far.
ElWafeyat was founded by Youssef ElSammaa, Omar Hamdalla and Nesma El Far, Con & Ashraf. Working together, ElWafeyat instantly appealed to Flat6Labs who helped accelerate the development and execution of this new social media platform. With their help ElWafeyat began building momentum which led them to a conference in Bahrain that would ultimately take the digital service to the next level. “Our initial conversation with Dave McClure, founder of 500Startups, started last June when we pitched in an angel investments event in Bahrain, and believe or not, we finalised the deal with Dave on Whatsapp!”
Dave McClure is an entrepreneur who founded 500Startups, one of the most recognised California based business incubators. Often described as a super angel investor, 500Startups has stayed true to its name by making large investments in over 500 startups. Meeting with a Dave McClure is in its own right a big deal, however securing a deal is simply a game changer. According to Nesma El Far, “500Startups provided us with capital, in other words, an investment of $100,000. However, this is not the only benefit of the programme. One thing 500Startups is helping us a lot with, is customer acquisition. Although the market in the Middle East is different and a bit less mature, the tactics for online and organic marketing remains the same. It might be more challenging, but what are entrepreneurs if they’re not always up for yet another challenge?”
With newspapers dying, ElWafeyat has an opportunity of pioneering a globally useful and cost-effective platform that makes dealing with heartbreaking news easier. It may not sound like the coolest platform, however it is practical and will help many families at the time when they most need it. “We are providing our current users with a cost-effective way to announce the passing away of a close family member. We’re also providing their friends and acquaintances with the most efficient ways to send condolences as well as a aggregating the daily obituaries from local newspaper and sending them to our subscribers every morning,” El Far describes.
With the support of 500Startups behind them ElWafayat believes that they are in the position to properly mature their service and focus on expansion. El Far states that their “goal is to grow ElWafeyat regionally by expanding into other Middle Eastern countries in the coming months. Ultimately, we would like to build a global product by changing people’s behavior towards obituaries, funerals and condolences; by offering a personalised, instant and cost-effective way to announce and send condolences. We have a unique product, so maybe in five years we’d get acquired by a giant tech company in Silicon Valley. Who knows?“ The future may be unpredictable, however what is known is that dealing with death is never easy, but thanks to ElWafeyat spreading the unfortunate news will be.