Jibrel: February Update
Monthly Project Update — February 2020
Our current priorities are as follows: (1) Building out the Jibrel alternative investing platform — which includes vetting new startups, raising investor capital for those startups, building out more and better technical functionalities for the platform, and upgrading legal and regulatory permissions. (2) Driving more value for the JNT community. (3) HR adjustments: redeploying human capital, keeping expenses low, and improving efficiency.
Overall Project Status
Priority #1 continues to be the Jibrel alternative investing platform. The tech team has been dedicating resources to building out more and better functionalities for it. The business development team has focused on raising rounds for startups already accepted onto the platform, collecting and vetting applications from new startups, and moving forward with necessary legal and regulatory prerequisites for the next iterations of the platform. Meanwhile, the Jibrel alternative investing platform has been gaining attention, with several appearances in events and the media.
- Jibrel Platform: Ultimately, the frontend and design teams are focused on building out more and better pages and features for the site, to deliver a higher-value customer experience that will drive engagement and retention of startups and investors alike. These include updates to authentication and investing processes, as well as startup application processes.
- Jibrel Wallet: This month, the team released the iOS 3.0.4 and Android 3.5.1 versions of the Jwallet. The ERC-20 token gas limit estimation algorithm became more reliable in this latest Android version. Meanwhile, the iOS version includes integration with Jibrel’s Blockchain Explorer, as well as UX improvements and an overall app redesign.
- Backend: The main focus here continues to be on data and infrastructural systems to add value to the Jibrel alternative investing platform. These include the Jibrel Ethereum Blockchain explorer (which allows for improved efficiency potential that is extremely important for our future web apps and features — particularly for those that we will launch soon on Jibrel’s alternative investing marketplace).
- Jibrel Platform: As with other teams, Marketing is primarily focused on the alternative investing platform right now. Initiatives have included increasing the platform’s media footprint, building out the platform’s event presence, building awareness of the platform among potential investors, and assisting startups that are raising on the Jibrel platform with their own marketing needs. Helping the platform’s startups in this way makes sense for all concerned, as these startups seek to acquire additional customers and raise their own capital.
- Jibrel in the News:
Yazan and the Killer Crypto Use Case: Founder and CEO Yazan Barghuthi’s talk at TechWadi — Reimagining How Companies are Built, Funded, and Managed — is live on YouTube now, with captions in English, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic. (For those of our Chinese community not able to access YouTube, the Chinese subtitled version is also available on QQ.
Talal with MBRIF: Co-Founder and COO Talal Tabbaa was featured in a video from MBRIF (Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund), where he discussed how MBRIF has been accelerating the Dubai team’s progress on the Jibrel alternative investing platform.
Jibrel Platform Buzz: The launch of the Jibrel alternative investing platform MVP has been picked up by a number of sources, including Unlock Blockchain, Digital Journal, New Hampshire News, PressReleaseCC, and MENAFN. Honorable mention has also come from MedicalTourism.com, which mentioned Jibrel’s alternative investing platform as part of its feature on the UAE’s expanding influence in the blockchain sphere.
- Past Events:
TechWadi 2020 (February 6, USA): CEO Yazan Barghuthi, along with marketing team members David Doss and Daniel Elias, attended TechWadi 2020 in San Francisco, USA. Yazan gave a talk on the main stage (see above for video link), and the team ran a booth where we discussed the Jibrel alternative investing platforms with investors and startups from the USA and MENA regions.
DealMakers 2020 (February 9, Saudi Arabia): Sewar Nowwar (Business Development Manager) and Ala Haddad (Operations Associate) attended Endeavor’s DealMakers 2020 conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
STEP 2020 (February 11–12, UAE): STEP 2020 Dubai is one of the most important startup and SME events in the region. COO Talal Tabbaa, Business Development Manager Sewar Nowwar, and Operations Associate Ala Haddad all were in attendance.
MBRIF Welcome Event (February 25, UAE): This Dubai-based event welcomed Jibrel alongside fellow members of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund Accelerator. Jibrel was given a unique chance to showcase our business to UAE ministers, local and global innovation leaders, and MBRIF’s strategic partners. Talal, Sewar, and Ala all attended.
- Upcoming Events:
SDG Impact Jordan (April 6–7, Jordan): This event is focused on innovation and positive change centered on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) of the United Nations. Talal will be leading a workshop at this event, titled “The Promise of Blockchain In Delivering on The SDGs”.
Seamless MENA 2020 (September 8–9, UAE): Talal will also be participating in Seamless, a major ecommerce and payments conference taking place at the Dubai World Trade Center. However, due to the recent outbreak of the Corona virus, this event will be postponed from 25–26 March to 8–9 September 2020.
AFE Annual Conference 2020 (Date TBD, Tunis): Jibrel COO Talal Tabbaa will be a speaker at flagship event run by the Arab Federation of Exchanges. The event focuses on geopolitical, technological and other changes impacting capital markets and investment banks. Originally scheduled for March 30–31, the event has been postponed until further notice due to the Corona virus.
- Jibrel Platform: As mentioned, the business development team has focused on raising rounds for startups already accepted onto the platform, collecting and vetting applications from new startups, and moving forward with necessary legal and regulatory prerequisites for the next iterations of the platform. We will release further information on new startups accepted onto the platform, and on the closing of current investment rounds, as soon as those events finalize.
Investors can complete KYC application online to invest in high-growth startups.
Startups can apply for funding online to raise funding through the platform directly.
- GBSA & Debt Tokenization: Jibrel has not renewed our membership with the GBSA (Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association) this year. As a reminder, GBSA is a member-only organization enabling the debt and capital markets ecosystem of the GCC (Gulf Coast Countries). Last year, we focused on debt tokenization (bonds and sukuk). Since then, our primary focus has shifted towards equity (the Jibrel alternative investing platform). We’ve built a powerful network with key ecosystem players in debt capital markets through our past GBSA membership, which opened doors for us that have strengthened Jibrel’s brand awareness and positioning. We remain grateful for our past collaboration with GBSA and hope to continue it at an appropriate future time. Ultimately, we plan to tokenize not only equity but also various other securities on the Jibrel platform.
- CBJ Pilot Program: The last few months of this program have been focused on education about the usage of the blockchain, the wallet, and tokenized cash. The Central Bank of Jordan and pilot participants were introduced to blockchain technology through the Jibrel Wallet and Jibrel Cash utilized in cross-border remittances. Blockchain-enabled transfers provided transparency, speed, and efficiency to transactions to all participants. The pilot is currently underway and will be ending in March.
Achievements, Challenges & Limitations
JNT Survey Results, & Upcoming JNT Change
As previously mentioned, Jibrel was conducting a JNT community survey over the past few months. We sent the survey out in English, Chinese, and Korean, and we had over a hundred participants. Below are a few significant takeaways. Of the participants:
- 90% are repeat-purchasers of JNT (purchased multiple times)
- 82% hold less than 500,000 JNT
- 80% are in Asia (esp. China and Korea)
- 78% purchased within the last two years (JNT is approx. 3 years old)
- 75% bought JNT on the secondary market (e.g., crypto exchanges)
- 65% listed the token price as their top priority
- 46% bought JNT this past year
Overall, we are deeply grateful to our JNT community, many of whom have stayed with the project for the long haul, and have even come back to purchase more JNT — despite the ups and downs of the crypto market and project itself. We remain passionate about driving value to as many constituents as possible over the long term. From the free-form responses, the majority of people listed some version the following as their desired outcome for JNT:
- Assets backed by JNT
- Turn JNT into equity in Jibrel
- JNT as a method of payment inside Jibrel products
- Token-burning of JNT via profit sharing
Based on the community survey, as well as on extensive research, planning, and deliberation, the Jibrel founders are working on a significant change relating to JNT, which we hope to finalize legal and structural prerequisites for in Q2 of 2020. We will announce the details of this change as soon as such requirements are finalized. Meanwhile, we plan to release additional info on the JNT survey soon.
Jibrel’s team size continues to remain flat, and leadership’s current focus is on how better to deploy human capital in more effective ways. We expect to have further updates about this topic soon.
MENA’s Regional Growth & Startup Ecosystem in 2020
While the Jibrel alternative investment platform has global aims to bring in startups from a wide variety of backgrounds, for the time being, the startups on the platform are all from the MENA region. The focus on this region — with its unique set of challenges and opportunities for startups and investors — is a deliberate move to provide value to all constituents of the platform.
In a grossly overvalued global startup market, where ridiculous valuations may be granted to financially bleeding companies, such as WeWork, startups in the MENA region offer attractive opportunities for investors. While year over year growth has excited a lot of investors, it is essential to keep in mind the hurdles as well. Differing regulatory systems and cultures continue to be the red tape that startups must overcome. Furthermore, the lack of alternative funding sources seen in other parts of the world is a problem as well, a problem that Jibrel aims to solve. Yet these obstacles are nothing the Arabic youth cannot conquer in the long term. Making up the majority of the region’s demographics, they are doing what’s needed to push the needle forward, and we at Jibrel hope to help them do just that.
Regional Growth & Startup Distribution
The United Arab Emirates houses almost 40% of all startups in the MENA region. This phenomenon is primarily due to the startup-friendly regulations and economic support that the government has championed. With such initiatives, it is no wonder the most significant acquisitions (Careem and Souq) have emerged from there. Yet while the UAE may be the front runner, it is not alone.
Egypt has grown to be a close second, accounting for over 20% of startup investment in the MENA region. The thriving educational system and low-cost labor have made Egypt an attractive nest for many entrepreneurs.
While Bahrain may be the smallest of the Middle Eastern countries, it has been a financial leader in the region. Bahrain’s financial industry includes a vast network of 116 licensed banks, 151 insurance companies, and several other investment institutions that account for a fourth of its total GDP. Now, it seems that Bahrain is taking the lead in crypto-asset regulation as well. By undertaking numerous initiatives to attract blockchain talent, Bahrain is establishing itself as a blockchain pioneer in the region.
Oman has also seen incredible growth with the Al Waha Fund of Funds and other prominent funds deploying capital in the country. The rise of incubators and the country’s ties to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have also contributed to a flourishing startup environment.
While the startup ecosystem may be exploding, talent is not always so easy to find. Startups are hiring, yet only 12% of the workforce is actively searching for such jobs instead of a more traditional career. Still, except for the UAE, 94% of entrepreneurs hire locally. This tendency is primarily because hiring channels are not diversified. Most entrepreneurs rely on their professional networks to recruit with a far smaller percentage coming from other channels such as online, universities, etc.
The most qualified regional workforce is thought to be located in Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt, yet there is often a gap between salary expectations and salaries offered. In fact, 52% of entrepreneurs across MENA offer salaries ranging from $250 to $1000 per month.
The issue of talent acquisition and development is of critical importance in MENA’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Cultural trends, hiring methods, educational challenges, and the allure of stable work at large, established corporations all complicate the team-building process for MENA’s entrepreneurs.
Multiple players in the ecosystem need to play a role in improving access to talent conditions, including entrepreneurs themselves. Universities, media, governments, incubators, and accelerators all have a valuable role to play in this process.
- Our top priority continues to be the Jibrel alternative investing platform, which is making strides from technical, business development, and marketing perspectives.
- The alternative investment platform has been featured in a wide variety of both in-person events and online media in the past month.
- Jibrel’s team size continues to remain flat, and leadership’s current focus is on how better to deploy human capital in more effective ways. We expect to have further updates about this topic soon.
- Jibrel is deeply grateful to our JNT community, many of whom have stayed with the project for the long haul, and have even come back to purchase more JNT — despite the ups and downs of the crypto market and of the project itself. We remain passionate about driving value to as many constituents as possible over the long term and hope to announce JNT changes in Q2.
- While the Jibrel alternative investment platform has global aims to bring in startups from a wide variety of backgrounds, for the time being, the startups on the platform are all from the MENA region. The focus on this region — with its unique set of challenges and opportunities for startups and investors — is a deliberate move to provide value to all constituents of the platform.
The Jibrel alternative investing marketplace makes it simple to invest in startups and raise capital. Visit www.jibrel.com to start the application process.