This story about Algeria’s eighth most visited website started around eight years ago, when police showed up to shut down the market in a suburb. For years, the market would regularly appear on a street known as Oued Kniss in the Algiers suburb of Kouba. There were people who would purchase or sell whatever they could think of, including televisions, carpets, and even televisions. “It was really enjoyable,” remembers Mehdi Bouzid.
As many teenagers in Algeria circa in 2006 Bouzid along with his 4 buddies, Hichem Soudah, Amine Benmouffok Ahmed Bouaouina, and Djamel Eddine Dib, had a dream of beginning an online blog. They had been pondering in their mind the idea of having a classified platform for their friends, so, when Oued Kniss’ souk closed the following day, they decided to speed their plans, establish themselves in a nearby cybercafe, and develop their own website. In tribute to the souk, which they believed played a significant role in Algiers’ character, they named it Ouedkniss.
At that point, they weren’t even thinking about making money, recalls Bouzid. “In 2006 there were few Algerian websites. There were just a few Skyblogs (a blogging platform that was quite popular during the time with users who were French-speaking around the world) forums, and a couple of information websites. The only thing we wanted to do was make our mark on the internet.”
Also read: Picuki for Instagram – Is it Really Safe and Anonymous?
From word-of-mouth to advertisements on Ouedkniss.com
The initial year the site received less than 20 visitors a day, along with a handful of classifieds posted by friends. But over time, the word spread. In 2007 the team was invited to attend one of the very first e-marketing events in Algeria and Ouedkniss was the host. more than 2,000 people in one day. “This was an all-time record for us,” Bouzid recalls. Bouzid.
After completing their studies at university that the group of five saw the growth of their numbers and could easily convert many students. At that time students were the ideal target, as they were interested in the possibilities offered by the internet and they wanted to experiment with something new. It was not long before word spread out beyond their schools and the site began to become a hit.
“Many users have told us they got started online due to Ouedkniss,”” says the co-founder. It was through Ouedkniss it says that many bought something from the web for the first time or searched for the perfect car or apartment for the first time.
Three years after working on and improving their product and letting Algerians make Ouedkniss their own, the five friends made the choice to up their game and start advertising the website and its services to Internet users as well as those who did not yet get online. When they focused on ads on the internet and Facebook to promote the service, they differed from their Moroccan counterparts who spent a lot on billboards and television to convince non-internet users to join. “You can find Algerians who don’t have an email address nor use the internet but are on Facebook therefore we decided to focus on these people.”
In no rush to make money
As students who were more interested in building something than in becoming rich, the five friends did their homework before monetizing the website.
In 2009, they introduced their Store offer, a monthly subscription that offered professionals an online shop with a pre-defined number of classified ads. The store was met with some resistance in the beginning with top users who weren’t ready to pay for something that they previously had for free. So, the team cut the price up to 1,000 Algerian dinars per 100 adverts, (10 DZD was $0.12 USD at the time). “It was so affordable, people couldn’t refuse this,” he said.
The end of 2011, the startup had only had 100 professional sellers The beta test was declared to be successful, consequently, the team left and appointed an agent to contact brick-and-mortar owners of their own stores. Over the course of a year there were more than Ouedkniss Stores increased six times.
The Stores were however, not the only monetizing option that the team explored. In 2010 , they began advertising on their website. “It required us to wait a long time,” says the cofounder. “I tried to handle the sales of ads] by myself from 2009 to 2010but gave up,” he continues, explaining that advertisers weren’t aware of the significance of the internet. “They were antiquated, and they thought that the internet was not serious enough.” The company has mostly outsourced the task to a few advertising networks.
It’s a better time according to him, due to the emergence of a more youthful advertising team as well as the boom in the internet, but advertisers still don’t understand the web culture. He points out that most still refuse to do CPM ads (where companies pay by quantities of 1,000 views) and prefer to pay per day. But, he says, despite these challenges, the website has been profitable since the year 2011.
See also: ThotsBay Forum For Sharing Videos.
Eight years later, after a lot of patience and perseverance, Ouedkniss now boasts 250,000 visitors per day. It is the first Algerian website in the country to gain the same number of visitors. While looking at neighboring countries that have major and international players combining in Morocco, and Tunisia being attacked by Schibsted’s Tayara could anyone have predicted the self-funded Ouedkniss remaining afloat for this long? “We’ve had offers, mostly emanating from the Middle East back in 2008,” says Bouzid, “but we don’t like the idea of having investors and we have a vision of what Ouedkniss might be in 10 years’ time.”
The five of them have already begun to diversify with their traveling section, in which users are now able to book their trips online and also the launch of a website dedicated to cars, Autobip.