Are you building a startup and want to share your story? Do you have tips for entrepreneurs, or insights to MENA industries? Submit your article with a photo and we'll get in touch with you.
Photo format: 800 x 491 pixels.
Capitalising on the rising trend of freelancers in the Middle East, Stllr Network is a first-of-its-kind platform dedicated to connecting companies with savvy freelancing digital marketers.
Freelancing is the backbone of a rapidly growing gig economy. Age-old barriers to flexible work arrangements have taken a backstage to markets rife with freelancers and gig workers all across the globe, and the Middle East is no exception.
In a survey of over 4,000 professionals in the MENA region, nearly nine out of 10 said they freelance or plan to freelance in the future. Countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Omar, Qatar, and Bahrain have high surges of freelance talent, particularly in areas such as online marketing, graphic design, and content writing jobs.
One company that is capitalising on this trend to support digitally-savvy talent is Stllr Network. Founded in 2021 by Nouran Ghannam and Ahmed Mustafa, Stllr Network is a first-of-its-kind freelance platform dedicated to digital marketing services, providing over 26 categories of digital marketing, such as SEO, social media, media buying and copywriting.
“The Middle East is home to diverse dialects, slangs and cultures,” Nouran Ghannam, CEO and co-founder of Stllr Network, tells StartupScene. “Through the platform’s large network of talents, we provide marketing services in all the different dialects from across the region. Consider Stllr Network like your local marketing agency. We have a wide pool of vetted talent that is well versed in the local language and culture to create marketing services tailored to suit business’s unique marketing needs.”
She adds that businesses can also opt for English language services and expand their digital marketing across different countries in the region.
Regardless of an organisation’s geographical base or market niche, supporting local talent is key for Stllr Network. With rising talent in the region and with digital marketing constantly evolving, it is becoming increasingly important to connect businesses and brands with skilled and specialised freelancers.
As a former marketeer, Ghannam experienced first-hand the marketing challenges faced by businesses. From time delays to miscommunication and overrun budgets, the marketing process is riddled with common issues that impact business outcome.
According to Ghannam, a company outsources up to 40% of its marketing budget on average. Stllr Network aims to reduce wasted cost in marketing departments by giving companies the ability to hire talent seamlessly and experiment with different services through its plug-and-play model.
“There is significant outsourcing in the marketing industry,” explains Ghannam. “Most organisations don’t hire graphic designers full time and if there is a campaign, additional work is required, which usually involves hiring more people. We aim to solve these challenges through the platform to make operations more efficient and cost-effective.”
Unlike traditional freelancing platforms, Stllr Network allows for its registered talent to be nominated, introduced and referred to projects based on their skill sets and experience. “We’re pioneering the first platform for teams,” says Ghannam. “Marketing is rarely a one-person job. It takes at least two people to get the job done. Our community-based model is the first of its kind in the world, enabling marketing professionals to refer and recommend their colleagues. This also allows for businesses to take on bigger projects, which is usually done by boutique agencies. But now these projects can be done online with less cost.”
To date, Stllr Networks’ beta customers include a pilot with e-commerce platform Zid; social platform TikTok MENA; pharmaceutical company Grinta; Saudi-tech company Squadio; entertainment platform Vertex Gaming; and Hesas Misr, a semi-governmental initiative organised by Egypt’s Ministry of Education and edtech startup Almentor.
Although it is a young startup, Stllr already has success stories from its clients. One client gained over one million sales after using the platform, while another increased its monthly orders by five times.
“Stllr Network aims to be the largest network of vetted marketing professionals in MENA,” says Ghannam. “There is untapped potential for teams in the marketing industry. We hope to realise this potential through the platform, while also providing marketing solutions for business and supporting the region’s rising talent.”
The startup has just closed a six-figure USD investment round from 500 Global, a Silicon Valley VC, and angel investors through Women Spark and Falak Angels. Money raised will go towards acquiring talent in Egypt and the Middle East, providing additional solutions for enterprises, and expanding across KSA and the GCC.
Sign up for the daily Startup Digest.