Ouedkniss.com How Teenagers Created Algeria’s Biggest Website

The story of Algeria’s 8th most visited site began around eight years ago, when police showed up to shut down the street market of a suburb. For decades the market would frequently appear on a street known as Oued Kniss in the Algiers suburb of Kouba. There were people who would purchase or sell any item they could think of including televisions, carpets, and even televisions. “It was really nice,” remembers Mehdi Bouzid.

Like many teens in Algeria during the period of 2006, Bouzid together with four companions, Hichem Soudah, Amine Benmouffok Ahmed Bouaouina, and Djamel Eddine Dibdreamed of starting a blog. They had already had in minds the idea of creating a classified website for their friends which is why, after Oued Kniss’ souk closed, they decided to hurry their plans and get set up in the nearby cybercafe and create their website. To pay homage to the souk, which they believed played an important element in Algiers the city’s identity, they named it Ouedkniss.

At the time they were not even thinking about earning money, according to Bouzid. “In 2006 there were not many Algerian websites. There were a handful of Skyblogs (a blogging platform that was quite popular at the time among users who were French-speaking around the world), forums, and a handful of websites for information. The only thing we wanted to do was make your mark across the web.”

From word-of–mouth to online advertisements on Ouedkniss.com

The first year the website got no more than 20 people per day, plus a handful of classifieds that were posted by their friends. However, gradually the word began to spread. In 2007 the group was invited for one of the first events for e-marketing in Algeria And Ouedkniss even hosted thousands of people in just one day. “This was an all-time record to us,”” remembers Bouzid.

 It was upon entering university that the five of them saw the growth of their numbers and could easily convert hundreds of students. The students of the time were the ideal audience, since they were interested in the possibilities of the internet, and they were keen to test something new. Soon, the word began to spread beyond the universities, and the site was a success.

 Many users have told us they got started using the internet because of Ouedkniss,”” says the cofounder. It was on Ouedkniss it says that many bought something at first, or sought out an apartment or car for the first time.

After three years of working on and improving their product, and the decision to let Algerians create their own Ouedkniss design, five friends took the decision to go all-in and begin advertising the site in a way that appealed to both internet users as well as to those who had yet get online. By focusing on Facebook ads and online ads to market the service, they were different from their Moroccan counterparts who spent a lot on billboards and television to attract non-internet users join. “You will find Algerians who don’t even own an email nor use the internet but use Facebook as a result, and we chose to focus on these people.”

In no rush to commercialize

Students who were more focused on creating something rather than becoming wealthy, the five classmates were patient before they began to make money from the site.

In 2009, they launched their Store service which was a monthly subscription service that offered professionals an online shop with a pre-defined number of classified ads. There was some resistance at the beginning, especially from the top users, who were not willing to pay for something they could get free. Therefore, the team lowered the prices to 1,000 Algerian dinars for 100 ad, (10 DZD was $0.12 USD at the time). “It was so inexpensive, people could not refuse that,” he said.

At the time of its 2011 end the company had 100 professional sellers however, the test was considered to be a success, it was decided to move on to hire a sales rep to reach brick-and-mortar store owners who own their own shops. In a year, the number of Ouedkniss Stores increased six times.

The Stores were, naturally, not the only monetizing way that the team looked at. In 2010 , they began making ads available on the website. “It took us a long timeto get there,” is the cofounder’s plight. “I tried managing advertising sales] on my own from 2009 to 2010, but I quit,” he continues, saying that advertisers were not aware of the significance of the internet. “They were antiquated, and believed the internet wasn’t serious enough.” In the present, the company has mostly outsourced the job to a few ad networks.

It’s a better time, he admits, thanks to the development of a young advertising team, and an internet boom however, the advertisers do not get web culture. He notes that the majority are still hesitant to run CPM campaigns (where the advertisers are paid per the number of views they receive) and insist on paying by the hour. He says that despite those difficulties, the website has been profitable ever since the year 2011.

A 10-year plan

In the span of eight years, perseverance and perseverance, Ouedkniss now boasts 250,000 daily visits, and has become the first Algerian website in the country to achieve such numbers. Looking quickly at neighboring countries which include major international players combining in Morocco as well as Tunisia being threatened by Schibsted’s TAYARA – could anyone have anticipated self-funded Ouedkniss being able to remain independent for this long? “We’ve had offers, mostly coming from the Middle East back in 2008,” says Bouzid, “but we don’t like the idea of investing We have our own vision of what Ouedkniss could be in 10 years.”

The five members have already begun to diversify with Their travel section, where users can now book travel online and also the launch of a website dedicated to cars, Autobip.