Spread Your Tentacles with Akhtaboot

الأربعاء 19 أيلول 2007

Akhtaboot.com's logo

Written by Pheras Hilal

As Akhtaboot.com, an online recruitment website continues to engulf more members in its web of professional networking, 7iber sits with the brains and brawls behind the makers of the perky tongue-in-cheek analogy, to shed light on how it all started.

akhtabootlogo

In 2006, MIT-graduate Mohamad Haj Hasan and Georgetown-graduate Yousef Shamoun sat down together to map out a new online venture. After numerous brainstorming sessions to figure out what the market needs, the pair finally decided to put Akhtaboot.com to work in September 2006. “We wanted to create an online website that could benefit both job seekers and employers,” says Shamoun. But Akhtaboot.com’s success did not pan out overnight; the pair had to pour in generous time and efforts to craft the recruitment tool. With the help of Fouad Mardini, developer of Akhtaboot.com, the website finally saw light in July 2007.

The Birth of Akhtaboot

At first, the trio referred friends and relatives to the website, who in turn invited over their buddies to join in on what was perhaps one of the few well-crafted online start-ups in Jordan; if not in the Middle East at large. But hits were still modest, standing in at only 600 hits per week; personal blogs were garnering more attention. But the website’s luck began to turn around, today, the website stands among the 300 most visited websites in Jordan, also with plenty of buzz from the press and praise from the private and public sectors.

akhtaboothospitality“Akhtaboot, is now at a crossroads,” says Shayma Ismael, an interactive media consultant based in Cairo, “this is where Akhtaboot either makes it or breaks it,” adds Ismael. “Normally, after six months of a website’s launch, the website starts garnering exponential growth, and not just steady growth, meaning that at one point, it just has to take off,” says Ismael. And judging by Akhtaboot’s aggressive marketing campaign, there’s only one way to go, and that is up.

The Ideology of Akhtaboot

Akhtaboot partnered up with Play FM, another start-up that also grew to become very popular in the local scene. Job advertisements are now aired on the station’s airwaves and job vacancies are being announced on a regular basis. The website also launched a Facebook application for job seekers to be in the know of any new job openings and offers, there’s a career center tucked away in one of the website’s many tools for job seekers to gain advice and information on how to give their careers a boost. And like most small start-ups, the website is now using Google’s adclicks, to capture more referrals to the website. But Shamoun and Haj Hasan argue that the true strength of Akhtaboot lies in mainly two things: Its brand, and its social networking element. Ismael also agrees that these two elements are the website’s core competencies that set the website apart from its more established rivals.

“We just didn’t want to go for a generic brand like Jordan Jobs,” says Shamoun. According to Ismael, the brand is likely to garner plenty of attention, especially from fresh graduates and young professionals, because it’s quirky, street-wise and playful. “I feel that this brand is truly honest, and hits exactly on the right cords; Akhtaboot means connections and networking, and that’s exactly what the website is all about,” says Ismael.

akhtabootjournalismShamoun and Haj Hasan realize that the website’s most valuable asset is its brand. And now, the firm’s illustrator, Natalie Hijazi, crafts out new comic strips that are geared towards job seekers. “They [comic strips] are useful, first, because more users might come back just to enjoy the humor, which makes it a “sticky” website,” says Ismael, “Also, it gives the website more character and charm,” adds Ismael. Haj Hasan reasons that the comic strips can enhance the brand’s value in the eyes of its consumers. It helps people to associate and familiarize themselves with the brand.

What sets Akhtaboot apart from most Jordanian brands, is that it can actually build a culture around the brand. “Innovate and polarize,” says Haj Hasan; that is the main premise and “ideology” of the website. “Building on that, will get many customers,” says Ismael, “I know for a fact, that the Middle Eastern market is hungry for brains and creativity, and Akhtaboot is the right place to find both,” adds Ismael.

The Future of Akhtaboot

“Our main aim is not money, we want to raise the bar for [quality] of the websites in the region,”Shamoun and Haj Hasan want their website to continue its growth. They plan on penetrating the lucrative Gulf market by adding an Arabic interface and improving existing features while churning out new tools for job seekers and companies. “We want to grow…but our main aim is not money, we want to raise the bar for [quality] of the websites in the region,” says Haj Hasan. And by looking at the website now, many other online firms are already scrambling to keep up with the new competition.