Kudwa Technologies was born out of a profound realization that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) face significant challenges, often leading to their closure, due to a lack of guidance and insufficient planning and analysis. This recognition sparked a passion within the founders of Kudwa, Karl Nasr and Sam Arif, to create a solution that could empower SMEs and enhance their sustainability.
With a vision to bridge the gap in financial decision-making for these businesses, Kudwa Technologies set out to provide comprehensive planning and analysis software. By addressing the pain points of SMEs and offering valuable insights, Kudwa aims to be a driving force behind their success and growth.
Karl Nasr takes us through the journey, challenges and solutions that Kudwa is providing to SMEs.
Q: What is Kudwa?
Kudwa Technologies (formerly Numu Cards) is a UAE-based startup that provides planning and analysis software for Small and Medium Enterprises to make fast and better financial decisions. We do so by offering SaaS planning and analysis solutions such as integrated financial systems, forecasting, real-time dashboards, collaboration features, and actionable insights through scenario planning and machine learning.
Q: Why did you decide to work on this solution and how did you get started?
The idea behind Kudwa Technologies Ltd evolved through various stages. It started when we began implementing a solution for a leading bank by reducing their reporting time from 25 days to just 5 working days. This made us realize that if big companies face this problem, what do smaller companies do? During my time at the London Stock Exchange, I closely collaborated with approximately 50 CFOs, discovering that this was a common issue for all of them. The FP&A resource, which holds extensive knowledge about the company, proved to be the highest paying resource. Additionally, while supporting and advising small and medium enterprises, we consistently encountered concerns revolving around cash flow and performance. We kept hearing questions about the financial forecasts, project feasibility, company’s performance comparison with the market, and identifying crucial KPIs. Combining these insights with over 60 CEO/CFO interviews from SMEs, Kudwa emerged as a solution that effectively addresses a genuine pain point in the market.
Q: Who is benefiting from your solution and why is it important?
As a planning and analysis software that helps Small and Medium Enterprises, we always tell our customers, if you don’t want to run out of money, you need us. Around 40% of small companies close their doors because of cashflow problems, and it was estimated that MENA SMEs lose up to $7Billion due to inefficiencies in planning and analysis. We decided to be a leading example in helping the sustainability of SMEs, this was what inspired the name “Kudwa”.
Q: If you had to choose one achievement to highlight during your entrepreneurship journey, what would it be?
Our most significant milestone to date was successfully securing our first paying customer. This achievement is highly important to us because it helped us validate the demand for the solution we are offering. While we also have non-paying clients, that first paying customer truly signified a substantial milestone for us.
Q: What are the main challenges that you have faced so far?
Our main challenges revolved around fast delivery and prioritizing our roadmap. We needed to determine which features to implement first while maintaining a quick testing process with beta clients and delivering efficiently. With limited resources, it was crucial to stay focused on addressing the most significant pain points that aligned with our vision. As a bootstrapped and lean organization, our goal was to rapidly create an impactful and valuable product. Sales also presented challenges, including identifying the ideal customer segment, reaching out to them effectively, and successfully converting leads into calls.
Q: How did you overcome these challenges and what did you do to keep on going?
The first challenge was product prioritization. We maintained a strong focus on addressing customer pain points. When faced with uncertainty, we consistently referred to the fundamental question: “What did the customer ask for?” This approach guided our decision-making process and ensured alignment with customer needs.
In terms of sales, we made sure to celebrate the small wins. Each time we successfully onboarded a new customer, we took the time to acknowledge and appreciate the achievement. It was crucial for us to create a sense of shared growth and maintain high levels of motivation within the team. By emphasizing progress, we were fostering a positive mindset that propelled us forward in the face of challenges.
Q: Why did you apply to the ScaleSmart program? What were you hoping to achieve when you applied to it?
Receiving validation from Berytech, a well-known organization in Lebanon, was a significant milestone for us. The program’s primary focus for us is getting introduced to other companies and linking to them. Recognizing that Berytech possesses an extensive portfolio of companies, we believe that establishing partnerships is the most effective path for our growth and success.
Q: What are your long-term goals as a startup?
Our aim is to expand and become the connected brain of every single business. Every strategic decision that needs to be taken for the company will have to go through our platform.
The ACT Smart Innovation Hub
The ScaleSmart program is under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub, a comprehensive initiative launched by Berytech aimed at enabling the Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem, revitalizing the funding and investment sector, stimulating innovation and startup creation, and strengthening the competitiveness, growth, and market access for innovative businesses in the agriculture, food and clean technology sectors in Lebanon.