A “Startup Nation” dream
While local talent is abundant, the startup ecosystem in Morocco, on the other hand, is still embryonic. Moreover, in order for the big companies to succeed in their Digital Transformation strategies, it’s rather indispensable to rely on and collaborate with dynamic and innovative startups.
These large corporations have an opportunity to leap towards their sought future, by integrating startups to their transformation projects, bidding on their innovation capacity as small structures. This is why the creation of a startup ecosystem is more important now than ever.
In Morocco, the fact is the startup ecosystem is still in its early development stages. “Of the 40% of people with entrepreneurship intentions, only 4% do launch a company”, says Mehdi Alaoui, who launched “La Factory” an innovation space aiming at bringing startups and big corporations closer together. “Big companies can’t afford to keep working with classic methods relying on big IT services companies. This takes 1 to 2 years of collaboration meanwhile everything moves faster”, he explains.
Big bosses have yet to trust local startups with their business, despite the fact that many Moroccan startups succeed at getting international fund raising (E.g. “Media Tab” in Singapore, “Ways to cap” who dreams about being the African “Ali Baba”, “Buzzkito” who are active in the Middle-East and who raised $1.7M, etc.). To solve this problem, “La Factory” is on a mission to help young entrepreneurs sign new contracts quickly.
This is starting to work. On startup, for instance, developed a check scanning solution, another one developed a chatbot for a big bank, and a third one developed an application for expense optimization to the account of a Moroccan bank subsidiary in Tunisia. “This is not a hype; we’re doing business down to earth with complex solutions that are deployed in a matter of 2 to 3 months.” Mr. Alaoui continued.
A shift in mindset
Even if with some successful experiences, there is still huge grounds to cover in order for Morocco to become a “Startup nation”. At the big companies’ level, this implies that innovative projects should not follow the classic process of attribution, because small young companies don’t have the “references” and “certificates” that external vendors are usually required to produce.
“We need to shift our mindset and accept that some ideas don’t work anymore. We need to understand and accept the reality that 1 project with a big IT Services Company is the equivalent of 10 projects with a startup. Meaning that it’s worth it.” Highlights Mr. Alaoui.
The other major challenge is to simplify administrative procedures for creating startups. Tunisia, who requires really simple procedures, is a great example to learn from.
In Morocco, on the other hand, it’s still impossible to compensate employees with stock-options, the bankruptcy law is a huge constraint, and even buying Facebook ads proves to be complicated due to limitations on currency exchange.
Big consulting firms are nowadays competing on agencies territory. Such is the case of “Capgemini”, who are hiring and flexing their muscles for Digital Marketing. This being said, Digital Agencies need to focus not only on content but also on the event industry. In Casablanca, Share Conseil is innovating itself with the ambition of “Digitizing retail and event industries”, as assures Achraf Lemnini, Founder and CEO. The idea is to shift the agency’s positioning to “Phygital experiences”.
This process consists of directing consumers to a store, convincing them of the relevance of the product and insuring sales performance through storytelling. In practical terms, this is made possible by some locally developed technologies (VR Ad Games, Bullet Time Experience, Holograms, Connected Comparators, Lead generation platforms). For instance, the Bullet Time Experience, which, during an exposition, consists of shooting 360° pictures of participants in slow motion. This 360° picture can be immediately viewed on a social wall, and easily shared on social media.
No matter the technology, the goal is always the same. That is deeply understanding the clients journey in order to offer them a customized and effective service or experience.