Helping startups get off the ground

Philip Bahoshy Image credit: MAGNiTT

A startup for startups might sound like a bit of a far-fetched idea at first. But not after Philip Bahoshy has explained the concept behind floating a venture called MAGNiTT. A British-Iraqi entrepreneur who has been living in Dubai for more than seven years, Philip acquired a B.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics and then an MBA from INSEAD, following which he decided to set off on the path of entrepreneurism. He realised, however, that is not as easy to get the ball of independent business rolling as management programmes will have you believe. Most fresh entrepreneurs end up with a lost struggle, mostly due to the frustration that stems out of getting concept validation, guidance and support, and funding opportunities. That is what set Philip to think about how he could help change this situation. And thus was born MAGNiTT.

MAGNiTT is an online platform to help the MENA ecosystem connect. It is aimed towards entrepreneurs, investors, ecosystem supporters and service providers. “For startups, by pitching their ventures on MAGNiTT, entrepreneurs gain precious exposure to investors, ecosystem supporters, and service providers. MAGNiTT also provides startups with tools and services to help with concept exploration through launch and growth. For investors, by registering on MAGNiTT, investors gain access to an exhaustive directory of MENA startups and can rate, follow, and connect directly with the founders in the ecosystem. For service providers, on MAGNiTT, they and ecosystem supporters can advertise their offerings and provide their services directly to startups,” states the portal of the company.

So who can register on MAGNiTT? It welcomes all startups, individuals or companies who can contribute to the MENA startup ecosystem and for now, since its platform is in its beta testing stage, the registration is free of charge. Also, currently all information is based on a simple form needed to complete a profile, the primary items being a business presentation upon request and a two-year financial model. However, no one is obliged to share this on MAGNiTT. Explaining how the connection works, the website states: “When a MAGNiTT user is interested in your startup he is able to send you a connection. Through this, they will be able to indicate how they would like to support you. Once accepted, you can chat directly on MAGNiTT.”

One of the interesting features offered by MAGNiTT is the tool kit. This is a hand-picked and comprehensive list of online websites that MAGNiTT believes are essential to startups. These tools vary in degree and depth of service as well as costs. Another feature is the service directory which is a list of MAGNiTT-approved service providers that are focused towards developing and supporting startups in the MENA ecosystem. The MAGNiTT service directory lists service provides across all sectors such as legal, accounting, finance, web development and so on with the underlying characteristics of being startup-friendly and experienced.

To pitch an idea on MAGNiTT, all you have to do is register and complete two steps regarding your startup. Once published, you can update your profile. Responses are character-restricted to keep them short and crisp. In terms of information, questions are aimed to tease a user’s interest in your startup and include your elevator pitch, the problem you are solving, market opportunity, the monetization approach and competition. The startup profile can be shared across many platforms with each profile having a unique URL.This can also be shared through Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and e-mail.

With the entire basic infrastructure in place, Bahoshy is now focusing on raising funds to grow the MAGNiTT team. So far, the costs have been allocated to the website’s development. A beta version of MAGNiTT was released with limited access. “This allowed us to improve and tweak the platform before opening it up to the public,” said Bahoshy during an interview, who also says that it helped him make an important decision: MAGNiTT will be a mobile-responsive website rather than a platform that’s both a desktop website and an app.

Encouraged with the growing response, Bahoshy has exciting plans for MAGNiTT in the long term as well: he wants to add more services for startups, including legal, marketing, and even HR. Also, startups will be able to pitch to VCs via video on the platform. A blog has already been started, which has become a valuable resource for entrepreneurs, as well as research reports on the different markets and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the MENA region. As for making money off MAGNiTT, Bahoshy says he plans on two approaches to go about that: a subscription model for users that charges a premium for additional information, as well as advertising revenue from service providers that can support startups based on their specific needs and requirements.


Image credit: MAGNiTT