We’re very happy to bring you the story of Naim Nasreddine, 35, founder of Towbe, a breakdown service app for cars, motorcycles, and boats. Berytech provided him and his partner Ali al-Amin with coaching services to help them launch their project. In less than 6 months, Towbe gained control of 60% of the B2B side of the Lebanese repair market, got funded and created 7 new jobs!
A family of entrepreneurs
“I come from a very entrepreneurial family. It started with my great-grandfather, who founded a textile business in Guadeloupe. His business grew to become an empire of 12 companies. My grandfather, father, uncles, even my mum, grew the business and diversified it. I myself was never sure what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted my family to be proud of me and I wanted to help others. I believe this is what drives me. This and boredom. I get bored very easily. That’s why I’ve been testing out many careers: I started as a trader for HSBC London, then I became a certificated dietician, I created my own real estate company in France, I became a French wine distributor in Lebanon, and in 2012, I created AdFirst, a marketing company which sells advertising space on taxis and buses.
How it all started
In 2015, I had a problem with my car while driving back from Faraya for a business meeting. I got two flat tires. I called my insurance company, but it only covered accidents! So I had to get a tow truck. It took the driver six hours to come and help me, and I missed my meeting! The irony is that one kilometer away there was a tire shop. That’s how I got the idea for Towbe. It allows users to be localized with one click if they have problems with their car, motorcycle or boat, in order to receive assistance in less than 15 minutes.”
Naim decided to sell his advertising company, and partnered up with Ali al-Amin, 24, a developer he met at a party. “Ali is a genius. We share the same vision. He is able to see things on the long term and he loves to help others.”
“We joined the Berytech community by first moving into their co-working space in Mathaf. And that opened a lot of doors for us. In November 2017, we were among the five finalists of a start-up competition called ‘The Startup Booster Track‘, organized by Berytech part of their partnership with The Next Society.
That’s when Maroun Chammas, the Chairman and CEO of Berytech and the Vice Chairman and General Manager of MEDCO, noticed us. He liked our idea and became an angel investor. We have another investor as well. In total, we personally invested $200,000 and raised some more. I don’t know if any of this would have been possible without Berytech. It’s a huge accelerator. There are still hurdles created by traditional businesses which prevent small innovative enterprises like ours from going further. We need to change that and Berytech gives entrepreneurs like myself the opportunity to make our ideas come true.”
“Naim is hard-working, down to earth, motivated and passionate, coachable and committed to achieve,” says Corine Kiame, Investment Manager of IM Capital and Naim’s coach. “These are the traits of a serious entrepreneur set to succeed.” Kiame went on to explain why Naim was an entrepreneur interesting to investors, “he understands the value of smart money and achieved big traction with minimum funding. His app answers a real need that was still untapped in Lebanon and could lead to a promising future for the sector.”
Today, Naim and Ali are done with the development phase of their app. Three months ago, they connected insurance companies and tow-truck drivers (the B2B side of their business) and secured a deal with the main towing company in the country, which holds 60 % of the market. This fall, they will be launching the B2C side of their app, connecting users and tow trucks. “We want to link all these jobs, not replace them. We want people in need to get help faster and in a more efficient way, that’s all. We want to reduce the stress associated with a stressful situation. I thought of boats too because I used to live on an island and without a GPS it’s a nightmare when something goes wrong. I also ride a motorcycle, so there you go!”
After Lebanon, Towbe wants to expand into the MENA region. After that, Naim will most certainly create a new startup. Because, as he says, the biggest problem he will ever face, the one there is no solution to, is…boredom. But, thankfully for him, he loves the intellectual challenge of finding solutions to hard problems, as well as making people happy. So, as long as there are problems to solve, Naim should be able to find solutions to this boredom.
Find out more about TOWBE on their website.