Interviewing Inwan.com founder Faisal Alharbi.
Tell us about Inwan.com
Inwan.com is a commercial network that provides a robust directory of all commercial venues in the region, including location, contact info, exclusive deals, social media and website addresses. Inwan already boasts more than 100,000 entries and will continue growing thanks to our “open collaboration” model which allows anyone to contribute information that we later verify.
What inspired you to start Inwan?
I’ve always had a passion for giving back to my community. When I came back to Saudi after graduating in 2006, I tried to search online for opportunities and was disappointed by the lack of information available, including basic things like working hours and locations of businesses. Sometimes the information would be outdated or flat-out wrong.
So, seeing a need, I created Inwan to provide a legitimate and collaborative website that would serve everyone reliable information.
What’s your vision for Inwan?
We aim to become the best online directory in Saudi Arabia and the Arab World by providing a complete, legit and up-to-date database for people to use and contribute to when they want to search for anything (e.g. universities, shops, malls, restaurants, companies, etc.).
We want people to think about Inwan.com the minute they need to search for anything. And while there are other services similar to ours, we feel that if we joined forces and collaborated together instead of competed, we could grow in strength and succeed together.
Do you think that getting a degree before starting a business is necessary?
Never let opportunity pass you by just because you think you don’t have enough formal knowledge. Take the chance and continue learning and developing. Knowledge is found everywhere; you only need to know where to look. University degrees alone won’t make you succeed in life, but experience and hard work will.
How was the inception and journey of making the site?
This site is the outcome of extensive research and design made by experts and engineers over the course of six years, dedicated to providing the best service we could. After consulting the right developers, I designed the business plan and hired a special company to develop the website.
My friends supported greatly with their contributions, especially since they came from different fields. Whether it was Ibrahim who took care of marketing, or Hashim, with his strong business sense that helped us with business development consultations. Everyone came together to make what we have today.
If you could only give one piece of advice to someone who plans to start his or her own business, what would it be?
“Product before profit.” Always focus on your business’s product or service. If you provide good service, you’ll get a good profit.