Kuwait-Based Floward’s Abdulaziz Al Loughani On How Preparedness Helped His Startup Navigate The Impact Of COVID-19

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You’re reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

This article is part of a series on pioneering entrepreneurs in Kuwait that Entrepreneur Middle East has built in collaboration with Kuwait Finance House. Kuwait Finance House is considered a pioneer in Islamic finance or Sharia’a compliant banking, with it being the first Islamic bank established in 1977 in the State of Kuwait, and is today one of the foremost Islamic financial institutions in the world.
 

Floward, a Kuwait-based flower and gift delivery service, has secured a US$2.75 million funding, led by KSA firm Impact46 fund, with the participation of Faith Capital, BNK and other regional companies.

Founded in 2006 as floral, gift retailer and distribution company, it moved to fill the gap as an online flowers e-commers platform in 2016. The startup was founded by Abdulaziz Al Loughani, who is no stranger to the entrepreneurship scene as he’s also the Managing Partner of Faith Capital, and co-founder and Managing Partner of Talabat.com until 2010. Besides Kuwait, Floward operates in KSA, Qatar, Bahrain and UAE. Acording to its release, Floward has been able to grow its current net revenue to over $30 million and has raised closed to $7 million to date, including its recent funding round.

Like any other businesses, the COVID-19 crisis has affected the startup. “At the beginning, there was a lot of uncertainty on how demand will look like, what business/safety/financial implications would it have on us,” says Al Loughani. To combat this uncertainty, the startup took major cost-cutting initiatives and asset-liability management measures. Though market size has shrunk, Al Loughani notes that e-commerce penetration has

Meet the Computer Scientist Who Helped Push for …

Security Pro File: Award-winning computer scientist and electronic voting expert Barbara Simons chats up her pioneering days in computer programming, paper-ballot backups, Internet voting, math, and sushi.

Barbara Simons has been fighting for secure elections for two decades. But the award-winning computer scientist, who’s also well-versed in voting technology and its security vulnerabilities, doesn’t consider herself a security expert. Everything she’s learned about election security, she says, came from hanging out with security experts.

“My job had nothing to do with security. My training is in computer science,” she says. “I’ve never hacked [a] machine … [but] I think I could learn [how to],” she says.

Simons, 79, has been a major and influential player in the movement to institute paper-ballot backups for electronic voting systems and in warning about the security risks of Internet voting. She and many other computer scientists argue that computers and software alone can’t properly handle the task of tallying votes.

“You can’t trust computers to work properly [with voting systems],” says Simons, who has served on multiple projects and task forces on election security. “You need paper as a check on the computers.”

In 2000, online voting in US elections had sounded like an exciting and promising prospect to Simons when she joined the Internet voting study task force convened by then-President Bill Clinton.

“In those early days looking at Internet voting, it was, of course, why not? I thought it was a good idea,” recalls Simons.

But her enthusiasm quickly waned. Security experts from academia and government labs shared grim assessments of the major security risks in online voting, so the final report published by Simons and other members of the National Workshop on Internet Voting flatly rejected the notion of shifting to online voting in the new millennium.

“It basically said, ‘No,

Predictive Analytics Software from Ctrl2GO Helped Industrial Companies Cut Costs by 20% in 2020

HOUSTON, Oct. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Ctrl2GO, the global provider of predictive analytics and maintenance services, has helped its clients cut equipment maintenance costs by 20% in 2020. Such figures were attained on average by enterprises in the machine-building, oil and gas, energy and other industries, which have implemented Ctrl2GO PMM software  (Predictive Maintenance and Monitoring) in their operational processes.

The solutions developed by Ctrl2GO are designed to efficiently process and analyze big industrial data, assessing the technical condition of the equipment and predicting its potential behavior. Such an approach allows companies to streamline maintenance processes, extend overhaul intervals, and prevent up to 80% of equipment malfunctions.

Over the past year, companies using PMM software packages have reduced downtime by 20%, unplanned repairs by 20%, and cut direct repair costs by 5-8%. Diagnostics lead times have been reduced by 90%, while the technical productivity of staff rose by 15-22%.

A definitive case that illustrates the effectiveness of the PMM solution is the servicing of a metals mining and processing giant that saved $510,000 due to higher reliability of the equipment. The issues faced by the client involved the insufficiency of reliability of the equipment that caused unplanned failures in the operation of boilers and turbines, leading to a loss of revenue due to downtime. The solution developed by Ctrl2GO provided technical condition tracking, which was integrated into a single maintenance and repair process of the enterprise equipment. This resulted in a unified approach to monitoring heterogeneous equipment fleets and a transfer of existing technologies to previously unfamiliar equipment. As a result, the client managed to reduce repair costs by $50,700, and increased revenues while reducing equipment downtime to $455,000.

Another example of successful integration of Ctrl2GO solutions can be found in the oil and gas sector,

Snapchat says it has helped over a million people, largely under 30, register to vote

Registering to vote is a snap, as a whole lot of young people have learned via Snapchat.

Snapchat has helped more than a million users, over 80 percent of whom are under the age of 30, register to vote ahead of the 2020 presidential election, representatives for the company told NBC News and Axios on Thursday. More than half of the users who registered are first-time voters, Snapchat said. Additionally, roughly 65 percent are between the age of 18 and 24, The Hill reports.

While NBC notes this isn’t as many as the 2.5 million users Facebook has helped register to vote, it’s more than double the number of users Snapchat helped register for the 2018 midterms, per Axios. Snapchat says that nearly 60 percent of those it helped register for that election ultimately cast ballots. This year, Texas was reportedly the state where Snapchat saw the most registrations.

Additionally, NBC notes that “the recruitment of Generation Z and millennial voters could play a larger role in affecting the outcome in certain districts” and that the million Snapchat registrations “will almost certainly be a boon for Democrats.”

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How 100 Page Speed Score Helped Australian Internet Advertising Jump to First Page of Google Search

COVID-19 has created a big impact on businesses globally. Companies are making drastic adjustments to their expenditures just to survive this unprecedented economic crisis. Those that previously relied on paid online advertisements are left with no choice but to put their campaigns on hold indefinitely.

Google and Facebook Ad management companies like Australian Internet Advertising (AIA) saw a sharp decline in their clients because businesses started reducing their spending on paid ads.

AIA is an eight year old digital marketing agency which has already established itself as one of the premium  Google ads management  companies in Australia. It is headed by co-founder and director William Polson.

According to William Polson, “Now with companies cutting costs on paid ads, the importance of SEO has never been more relevant. That is why we knew we had to be at the top of Google for all SEO related search queries.”

SEO has been a part of the internet marketing landscape for many years, as it helps generate high volumes of targeted organic traffic. It is cheaper than paid advertisements, which is why more and more companies are using SEO services to reach their target audiences.

With #1 rankings in organic search for Facebook and Google related keywords, AIA was faced with the task of reaching the first page of Google for keywords like ‘best SEO agency in Sydney ’. 

SEO is dynamic, as Google keeps rolling out new updates to improve search relevance for their users. In September 2020, Google switched over to a mobile-first indexing system for ranking websites. What this meant was that companies needed to have good page speeds, as it became one of the top factors for page ranking by Google.

How 100 Page Speed Score Helped Australian Internet Advertising Jump to First Page of Google Search How 100 Page Speed Score Helped Australian Internet Advertising Jump to First Page of Google Search Photo: Screenshot