The Journey of MesCadeaux.ma, from the Diaries of a Moroccan Entrepreneur

Soufiane Guerraoui, Feb 04 2014

When Youssef, my friend and co-founder of MesCadeaux.ma, got married in March 2012, he and his wife received many gifts, but most did not fit the couple’s needs. So we asked ourselves: how can we find a simple and effective way for the bride and groom to receive the gifts they really need, and how can a guest be aware which gift is appropriate. That is when the idea of creating an e-commerce website specifically dedicated to gifts dawned on us, and the journey of MesCadeaux.ma started…

Today, www.mescadeaux.ma has become a comprehensive website, positioned in the segment of gifts, not only for weddings, but also for birthdays, baby showers, and any other occasion that may require offering gifts.

Focus groups, brainstorming sessions, networking ... nothing has been left to chance: our goal was to make this website a reference for online gifts, first in Morocco and then across the MENA region.

And now, a step closer to our ultimate goal, www.mescadeaux.ma is becoming renowned for providing web visitors with thousands of gift ideas and products and services from a dense network of partner shops. Our visitors’ favorite feature in the website is the gift recommendation platform which helps customers find the perfect gift according to their budget, the event, and their profile, and based on the type or brand of the desired gift. That’s not the end of the story. They are also able to create wedding lists, birthday lists, and so on, and can easily disseminate them to relatives and friends who can then buy the gifts on the list or contribute in proportion to their budget.

Besides choosing and offering gifts, the website has other complementary sections. For instance, one section shows a directory of event professionals and tips to help people organize the perfect event. Another section includes a name generator to help future parents find the perfect name for their baby...

Finally, MesCadeaux.ma also has many features for enterprises that assist them in their internal and external communication operations (staff motivation, customer loyalty, attracting partners ..)

Although exciting and rich, this adventure was not a long quiet river, but rather had many pitfalls: we were venturing in a difficult market where getting information as simple as addresses was hardly reliable, and consequently increased our rate of “not known at this address”, as well as increased transportation costs and the chances that accidents occur, especially when one of our salespeople go to an appointment to sign a partnership with a particular merchant.

Another big challenge we faced was building a strong and competent team. We had to find the right person for the right job, willing to take a major role in society. After multiple recruitment meetings, we managed to create a team of 4 people to work on a daily basis. At a key stage like ours, one should not hesitate to meet many people and to play co-optation.

Payment is yet another challenge that most local and regional e-commerce businesses can relate to. We work in a market where card payments are limited and buyers still prefer to see and touch the product before they purchase it. Hence, we have chosen to multiply the means of payment (by credit card, bank transfer, cash on delivery, through a payment partner with a network of physical branches and in store) and delivery methods (at-store reclamation or delivery to the address of choice).

The list of challenges is long, but our everyday goal is to transform difficulties into key success factor to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Avoiding a local difficulty through innovative solutions is definitely one of the most exciting activities of this great adventure.

Today, with a strong and reliable website, we record sales every day in Morocco and thousands of visitors a day.

As part of our strategy to grow in the MENA region, and in our search for exposure and serious funding, we have participated in the Startup Demo competition at Arabnet Riyadh held in December 2013.

The experience was rich in meetings and networking opportunities, and was made even better when we won third place in the competition, based on the jury’s evaluation, and won the People’s Choice Award. Being third place winners, we were awarded a scholarship to travel to Silicon Valley to be part of the PITME Labs program, where we managed to benefit from media exposure and build relationships with potential investors. This is an experience we recommend to all entrepreneur wishing to give a trans-MENA dimension to their project.

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