Amr Hussein started his entrepreneur journey in Egypt with KoshkComics – the first Vertical Social Network for Comic Artists to connect, and self-publish their comic books to more than 300 Million smartphone users in Middle East, and 2 Billion users worldwide. KoshkComics, the winner of The Spirit of GIST Tech-I award, has helped put Middle Eastern artists on world comics map since 2014.
Hello Amr, can you tell us the story of KoshkComics?
It all started in 2014, when my team and I wanted to do something new with digital entertainment. We decided to build a 30-days only Facebook app with different gaming tracks and see how people would engage and react to that. One of these tracks was a digital comics series for a contemporary extension of the heritage “Arabian Nights” tale. At the end of the month, the game’s Facebook page had 40K likes, and the app itself had 10K users of which 4K users were playing everyday for 30 days.
Achieving this was super difficult given our limited marketing abilities and tools. Our team was determined to overcome these difficulties and we adopted different marketing techniques including organic communication channels, offline meetups with friends and family as well as a limited budget of Facebook Ads. The feedback of users helped us to fine-tune our product, and validate the regional digital entertainment market in the Arab world. It also oriented us to focus on digital comics, which were followed by the majority of users, as the core product. The original idea was then upgraded to a platform for digital comics, not only for our team productions but to streamline different products of independent artists as well.
In mid 2015, when we launched the Beta version of the Koshk Comics mobile app, we launched the 2nd season of the Arabian Nights called “Arabian Nights – Shahryaar in Lala Land”. The positive feedbacks from the audience made me enthrilled for both Art and Technology. I wrote the scripts, and my co-founder did the illustrations. We developed Koshk Comics with all our heart because we believe in Comics and love to make new ones.
Where do most of your artists come from? And where would you like to develop your business in the future?
We’ve been focusing on Egypt and Middle East for the past years and our next stop is Europe ! We believe that Europe has a well-connected ecosystem for diverse cultures. This fits our vision of cross-cultural distribution of comics to value diversity and uniqueness in artistic styles and stories.
The Koshk team is working hard to pilot our vision of exchange of ideas/morales through visual stories in Europe. We’ve covered comics events in Switzerland and France. We also participated in a one month incubation program in one of the biggest incubators in Paris – Paris&Co. Our team stayed in Paris for one month to assess the potential of the French market and outlined amazing results in terms of connections with artists, potential partners, and comic publishers.
How is it like to set up Business in Egypt?
The Egyptian business ecosystem is taking its early steps to support entrepreneurship. The country economy is stills struggling though. This is reflected in the considerable amount of overhead costs paid by startups. I discussed this issue in a previous interview with The Cairo Review.
Despite systematic difficulties, Egyptian startups strive to seize what appears to be weaknesses as opportunities. For example, the devaluation of currency makes the development of apps and systems cheaper than ever before, making room for BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) services.
Keep on moving forward, and bypass obstacles with endless persistence.
Would you recommend Egypt for entrepreneurs? Which issues should be taken into account?
Egypt has very good talents in the development fields, with relatively low hour rates. This seems to be an opportunity to keep under the lens.
And having local expertise is essential to develop business in the Egyptian environment.