This story about Algeria’s 8th most popular website began around eight years ago, when police arrived to shut down the market in a suburb. For years, the market would appear on a street known as Oued Kniss in the Algiers suburb of Kouba. The market would allow people to buy or sell everything they could think of, from carpets to television sets. “It was very nice,” remembers Mehdi Bouzid.
As many teenagers in Algeria in the year the year 2006 Bouzid along with his 4 buddies, Hichem Soudah, Amine Benmouffok, Ahmed Bouaouina, and Djamel Eddine Dib, had a dream of creating the first blog. They had had in mind the concept of a classified website for their friends and, as Oued Kniss’ souk closed the following day, they decided to speed their plans, establish themselves in an adjacent cybercafe, and develop their own website. To pay homage to the market on the streets that they believed played a significant role in Algiers the city’s identity, they named it Ouedkniss.
At the time they were not even thinking about how to make money, says Bouzid. “In 2006, there were hardly any Algerian websites. There were a handful of Skyblogs (a blogging platform that was popular in the early days among francophones from all over the world) forum sites, as well as a handful of websites for information. We wanted to make an impression on web.”
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From word-of-mouth to advertisements on Ouedkniss.com
The first year the site received less than 20 users per day, and a few of classifieds that were posted by their acquaintances. But over time, the word was spread. In 2007, the group was invited for attend one of the first events for e-marketing in Algeria and Ouedkniss was the host. more than 2,000 people in one day. “This was a record-setting event to us,”” Bouzid recalls. Bouzid.
When they entered university, it was at this point that the five of them saw an increase in their numbers and could convert thousands of college students. In the early days, students were the perfect target because they were intrigued by the possibilities provided by the internet and wanted to explore new things. The word quickly spread to their institutions and the website was a success.
“Many users have shared with us that they began surfing the web because of Ouedkniss,”” says the co-founder. It was through Ouedkniss the site, he claims, that many people bought something on the internet for the very first time, or looked for an apartment or a car for the first time.
Three years after working on and improving their product and the decision to let Algerians create their own Ouedkniss design, five friends decided to take it to the next level and begin advertising the site for internet users as well as to people who had yet to join the site. By focusing on Facebook ads and online ads to promote their service, they were different from their Moroccan counterparts who spent a lot in billboards and TV to convince non-internet users to join. “You will find Algerians who don’t possess an email account nor access the internet, but are on Facebook and Facebook, which is why we decided to focus on those.”
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There is no hurry to make money
Students who were more focused on creating something rather than becoming wealthy, the five friends were patient before they began to make money from the site.
In 2009, they introduced their Store service which was a monthly subscription service that provided professionals with an online store with a set number of classified advertisements. There was some resistance at the beginning from top users who weren’t willing to pay for something they could get for free. The team decided to lower prices down to 1000 Algerian dinars for 100 ads, (10 DZD was $0.12 USD at the time). “It was so affordable, people could not refuse the offer,” he said.
At the time of its 2011 end the company 100 professionals selling their products However, the initial test was considered to be a success, therefore, the team resigned and hired an agent to contact brick-and-mortar store owners who own their own stores. Within a year, there were more than Ouedkniss Stores increased six times.
The Stores were, obviously not the only monetization method that the team considered. In 2010 , they started selling ads through the website. “It was a long timeto get there,” says the cofounder. “I attempted to manage the sales of ads] by myself between 2009 and 2010but quit,” he continues, saying that advertisers were not aware of the importance of the internet. “They were old-fashioned and believed that the internet wasn’t serious enough.” The company has mostly outsourced the task to a handful of ad networks.
The situation is improving according to him, due to the emergence of a newer advertising staff and the internet’s boom however, advertisers don’t understand the web culture. He explains that the majority of advertisers are still hesitant to run CPM-based campaign (where the advertisers are paid per the number of views they receive) and prefer to pay per day. However, he adds, despite these challenges the site has been profitable ever since the year 2011.
A 10-year plan
In the span of eight years, perseverance and perseverance, Ouedkniss now boasts 250,000 visitors per day. It it is also the only Algerian website in the country to reach this kind of number. When you look at the neighboring countries including major and international players combining in Morocco and Tunisia being attacked by Schibsted’s Tayara would anyone have imagined the self-funded Ouedkniss being able to remain independent for this long? “We’ve received offers, mostly that came from the Middle East back in 2008,” says Bouzid, “but we’re not keen on the idea of having investors We have our own vision of what Ouedkniss might be in 10 years’ time.”
The five of them have already begun to diversifytheir offerings, including the launch of their travel section, where customers can now book travel online as well as the introduction of a dedicated website for cars called Autobip.
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