Can you please explain to us what is Tickle My Brain and how you started it? Is it your first business experience?
I lived in Canada my whole life and then decided to move to Lebanon to attend AUB. I felt that I was Lebanese but didn’t know anything about my country so I wanted to come back.
I finished my studies in finance and worked in Dubai for 2 years in the finance field. During my stay in Dubai, I discovered the need for opening this business when I wanted to leave my job to go to law school to become a corporate lawyer. While I was looking for someone to replace me in my job, I was going through CVs and they were really unprofessional. I started asking myself how come no one knows how to write a CV? The quality was really not acceptable.
I never thought of becoming an entrepreneur before this moment. I barely knew what the words even meant – 2 years ago no one was talking about it; it wasn’t hype like today. So I got excited and started imagining the whole business of selling CVs online and threw myself into the business of helping people connecting with right businesses.
I started with a blog www.ticklemybrain.org where I wrote career advice on helping to build professional CVs targeting the Arab world. At this point, I moved back to Beirut. I had money saved from my job and borrowed some from my dad and launched the whole business for 20K. I was able to pay them back in 9 months.
I first started promoting my project by telling people: “If you fix your CV with us, we’re going to connect you with people help you find a job.” With time, I found out that people need help with writing more than their CV. My finance background and the fact that I am an inquisitive person with a very organized mind, who loves to read, gained me credibility in the market.
She sold my first 1500 CVs for $40 – $50 each depending on whether it was a fresh grad of senior CV. After that I decided to focus more on the writing and started offering cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and content for websites. At the moment, the product offering ranges between $99 and $450. The website platform is very active and can connect you with a writer directly.
The website has been active for 2 years, the demand is increasing and now that we started ads it’s even more active. I lives out of this business and don’t make money any other way. I have 19 freelance writers, a marketing person, a developer and a designer.
What are the main challenges and obstacles you met in your experience as a web entrepreneur?
I started alone and would never advise anyone to start the company alone. A co-founder is a must. It’s really hard when you have no one to bounce ideas on and to take advices from. I am still looking for a co-founder.
I also couldn’t find good developers and couldn’t understand anything related to coding especially that I was in finance couldn’t understand price for value and was afraid of being scammed.
Being in Lebanon and being around my family and around my father who really wanted me to go to Harvard law school; it was really challenging to fight for what I want. For him, moving back to Lebanon and opening up a business was the worst decision I could make I always feel negative about the country (Lebanon). A part of me wants to raise money and grow here and another part doesn’t want to be trapped here. This love and hate relationship with Beirut slows me down.
What are the main opportunities and resources that helped you in your achievements?
The Internet was the main opportunity that helped me in my achievements. Once you become an entrepreneur the Internet becomes your best friend and there is nothing that can’t be found on the Internet.
People around me are also a big support that I refer to sometimes especially my brother who is an engineer and an MIT.
What are you still planning to achieve?
My dream in life is to create things so my favorite part of Tickle My Brain (TMB) at any time is creating copies for ads. So my biggest dream is for TMB to succeed.
Could you summarize for us in brief what you have learned from your business experience?
Your business idea is 99% perseverance.
What do you believe are the 3 main reasons why we have few women as founders in web entrepreneurship and why is it that those who are there seem to have difficulties in scaling up?
Historically when there is something new men always jump on board first. The way entrepreneurship is projected to people is like it’s something that needs people who are tough, who are cut through and who don’t sleep. It may seem like a man’s job because it’s sounds harder. When you hear the word tech it sounds like a man thing because in life men are more likely to go in engineering.
What do you expect from a network/project like WeHubs and how do you think you can contribute to it?
I expect from WeHubs to bridge the gap between the Middle East and Europe and help connect women with each other to create a form of solidarity – and with influential mentors from around the world.