Hossam El Gamal is an Egyptian Entrepreneur, passionate to technology and innovations. He has a huge experience with start-ups companies, and more than 17 years’ experience in the Egyptian Marketing. Currently; Hossam is the Country Director of Anghami. Anghami is the number 1 music platform in MENA region with the largest catalogue comprising for more than 20 million songs available for more than 40 million users. Anghami is the number 1 music platform in MENA region with the largest catalogue comprising for more than 20 million songs available for more than 40 million users. Hossam was responsible for building and managing the country three years’ strategic plan and working in both the customers and contents acquisitions. Hossam was responsible for building and managing the country three years’ strategic plan and working in both the customers and contents acquisitions. Hossam has a Bachelor of Mechatronics from the high technological institute in Egypt. He is also certified from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Hossam has also obtained his post graduates studies (MBA) from one of the principal French business schools “ESLSCA Business School” specializing in Global Management.
How do you see Music?
Music is a living experience. The music is the background of our lives. So, you must live it; it’s not just to listen to it. And this part I call it the humanalization of the brand; how an intangible brand you make people feel it’s tangible.
Years ago, only few people knew about ANGHAMI, then now it has more than 15 million followers, a huge advertising campaign. Can you tell us how this sudden change has happened?
It wasn’t of sudden at all, it took us 2 years of hard working, commitment, and persistent to transfer Anghami to the version that everyone can see now. My journey with Anghami started in September 2015 as I worked there as a consultant and starting from January 2016 I joined Anghami team as “Egypt’s Country Director”. From the first day I joined we started executing the strategic plan which was about three stages synchronizing together. We set three main fronts and started to put a plan to achieve them. These fronts starting with neutralizing the content and bringing the missing contents of Egyptian music, as we were concentrating on the content acquisition. Then we enhanced the relations with the Egyptian artists and empowering the bond with the mobile operators in Egypt. Finally, we worked on building a strong relationship with music producers and labels. Afterwards we started setting pillars to be achieved. These pillars were divided into three categories. First, raise the Awareness through educating people about rights and intellectual properties. Second, working on Language Localization, through designing a platform that helps in protecting the language and saving Egypt’s identity. Finally, setting the tone of the brand by setting who we are talking to and what do we want to achieve.
What are the challenges that you have faced, and how did you overcome them?”
Well the main challenge was to change the habit of the people from insisting to have music downloaded on their devices, and they do that through piracy to listening to music through the internet through the legal channels aiming at protecting the intellectual property. So, we started on working on the people culture by trying to change it. Another challenge was the weak “ARPO” in Egypt which is the rate of average revenue in comparison to the expenses as it was very weak in the digital music in Egypt. So, we put a plan to attract more audience and to create new ways to generate more revenues. Finally, the adoption process of the product takes huge time, but through analyzing the insights about people habits, deploying the plan and with persistence we managed to succeed. As to be successful is all about data, and by using insights to engage more and strike harder.
In Egypt’s media we saw a huge advertising campaign, would you tell us more about the stages that this campaign passed through to be on the ground?”
The campaign started with the idea that we need to localize, and that’s was the idea as to how to localize aggressively on the ground, we needed to strike strongly as its very important that the message enter the DNA of the society, as to not make them feel that the idea is strange or coming from different culture. At the same time the idea must protect the positioning message people have about Anghami; that it is large entity and works internationally as the Egyptian audience prefer to be part of something that is big and internationally recognized. So, we must keep this in the tone of the brand, however it had to be localized. As we are targeting the youngsters, so in our campaign we had to stress on them. As I said before, we got all of these from the insights. From these insights we were able to analyze our group ages, and what to target them for, and what are the problems in the society. So, what we did was to take slice of life problems and use it in our advertisings and show to them that music is their background and you combine every aspect of your life with music. Also, it was critically important to deliver a message to the social class and that was very essential to the creative and the artwork team. Also, in the concept we are building as not to harm anyone. Everyone feels themselves in the ad. Through the creativity in the visuals or in the videos. We were trying to show the youngsters that we are always with them, we are always with you on the mobile, and solving their problems like traffic, studying, and many others. At the same time, we did the visual appealing as most of the visuals in Egypt are strange and dull, and they are always repeating other ads. With no creativity; we tried to go to the extra mile of innovation. To be innovative in the message, color, even the composition of the ad. You will find the heroes of the ad. Coming out of the phone as at the end we are telling our audience “Live the Music with Anghami”.”
What are the benefits that you give to your users?
Well, we in ANGHAMI we are the main way that will help millions of audiences to enjoy millions of sound tracks with the easiest way of user experience and have fun with some ads. In between, and if you don’t want the ad., you can pay for a monthly subscription. These procedures were very useful to use as it has put us in another level which is the subscription.
How did you move into subscription?
Well, to be able to start with the subscription, first we had to analyze the subscription method in Egypt. This was part of the study we did during our initial planning. As the payment method of Egypt is very limited due to the limited usage of credit cards and the social class has a great impact on our business. As in Egypt around 10% only owns credit cards and large portion of them fear the usage of credit cards online. Thus; we decided to go to the method of “Direct Carrier Billings” where it is connected to the mobile operators’ services. Users can pay through their mobile operator where the subscription fess is deducted from their mobile credit, in addition we set an agreement with “FAWRY”; a money transfer company providing POS machines all over Egypt where users can pay for ANGHAMI service.
ANGHAMI is making an agreement with Vodafone; will you tell us more about it?
We did launch with Vodafone an agreement to make it easier for subscribers to pay for ANGHAMI services then with “FAWRI” then “ETISALAT”. The purpose of these agreements was to make it easier for subscribers even the pricing we made it suitable for the society. We created a daily, weekly, and monthly subscriptions. This was also done to deliver the message that you can listen to music which is cheap as we were aiming at protecting the intellectual properties or music rights. By only small fees you can support the artist that you love as at the end this money returns to the producer to enable him to produce more songs, and more albums; in return he will pay more in creating more music and will enable us to create more civilized music and films. For instance, the movie of “Fast and Furious” how the film makers were able to produce 8 series of the movie and branding all over the world, all these due to their protection of their intellectual properties where it generates more revenues to them. This is the power; how we understand the purpose of content rights and how it will reflect on producers, writers, artists, and the whole industry.
What could you tell us about the Revenue streams for your streaming services?
In the revenue stream there are two methods. The first one is the freemium where the free user can listen to ads., after every couple of songs, where we generate our revenue from those ads. The other method is the paid subscriptions where the user doesn’t want to listen to ads., wants to listen to music offline, and download music. Since we are still in an emerging market, so the subscriptions are not that much so we depend mainly on ads. That’s why we are trying to be innovative in the ads. They are not just ads., as we are using interactive advertisement where we create features where the client can use it. The most powerful features are that we link the offline with the online as the user can use ANGHAMI to capture a photo or interact with something offline and the feature turns it online. The last campaign was with “Nescafe” and before with “Miranda” as with captured photo users can win a prize from ANGHAMI; and many other experiences. For example; “Lipton” designed an ad., where users can set their favorite song as their daily alarm, as “Lipton” is a brand for tea and their message were “we will help you wake up” and it also gives a forecast for the weather and that shows how much “Lipton” is user friendly. We also have lots of brands who did engagement with users through doing competition with them; where it enables users to engage more with ANGHAMI. As this is scientifically true as there is a research done that proves that brands that are bonded with music, people always miss them if they went out of the market. When you make music part of your day to day life, it affects people a lot. A good example is “Bershka” the music you listen to in Bershka you will find it on ANGHAMI users are playing it a lot.
After the challenges you have faced; what would you say to young Entrepreneurs?
The new fashion of entrepreneur I don’t like it, as everyone is calling themselves entrepreneurs. It’s not bad but Entrepreneur is not a word; the entrepreneur must have a specific personality, has its own characteristics, and many dimensions. We have seen in our lives while we are working a lot who introduce amazing ideas and when they gain some profit they just go and spend it and forget about the project, and the project dies. A lot of youth are missing the major characteristics; which are the enthusiasm, passion, believing in what they are doing. It is very natural that they face challenges and failures, people will discourage them and puts them down, its natural as they are doing something that is strange from the traditional. The most important trait is to have huge patience, love to what you are doing, and great enthusiasm. Also, the ability to take over the ups and downs, have vision, and always try to be different. There is always a concept called “Differentiation” as the market is full of many players. Also, the innovation of the idea is essential, also to continuously develop it. From the most interesting ideas were the Chinese; where they are always developing the packaging and people are astonished by it. So, lots of aspects that affect the product or service, most essential of it is the innovation in communication. So how to be innovative, have enthusiasm, and to hire the right people. As there is nothing called that one person do all the job, you must hire the most powerful people to help you. At that time, you will find your brand flying like a plane. Entrepreneurs must believe in themselves and in others, build a powerful team, and to take into consideration that they will not win immediately. It’s very normal that you take time till your idea is being sold and understood by many.
What does ANGHAMI expects their employees to be?
In ANGHAMI we all work as one family, we all love each other and support each other. We are all cool. As we are working in music industry, employees must be trendy, innovative. We can’t hire someone who is rigid or uncreative. They must do more trials, do crazy stuff, and have the love to try new things.
What motivates you?
That’s very difficult question, as for me “Hossam” I have a problem that I personally can’t be satisfied easily. But generally; what motivates me is that I always see a dream in front of me or something I am chasing and trying to find it and achieve it. I get motivative with things that contains challenges and innovations, I don’t like ordinary things. I have never imagined myself as being a part of a traditional job with fixed hours and just wait for a salary. I really love to do the job that contains lots of thinking. I like to use my mind and how to do edge differentiation between the product or a service I am working in and between others in the market. This excitement is what attracts me, in all aspects of my life. I never liked the normal things, may be that’s my personality. but this is what motivates me is that I always feel that there is something coming, something I must be doing.
How do you measure your performance?
I always have a problem in performance, I have known to measure my own performance, as all the time its never enough for me. Although I plan for myself and sets targets, but all the time I am under the pressure that I am running after something and want to chase it more and more.
What are your future plans for ANGHAMI?
For me thinking about ANGHAMI in Egypt; there is a big room to reach and to cover, as actually our target segment is still extremely large. As we have 380 million audience eligible to use ANGHAMI and currently we just acquired 50 million users from them. So, we still have a long way to target all those audience, specially that we are full of features that we haven’t announced about them yet, there are still huge efforts to be made.
Do you like competition?
I love competition, competition is in my blood. When I was young; I used to run and participate in competitions. Thus, this taught me to run all the time after things, and there are lots of competitors around, so I will never stop running.
Does competition like ANGHAMI?
Of course competition likes ANGHAMI; we work in a very competitive industry that are full of competitors. Regarding our region; it wasn’t full of competitors but recently everyone wants to enter the market, to compete, and ANGHAMI is the fastest growing start-ups in the middle east so the eye is now on it. Competitors now are looking forward to either competing or partnership with us. As they have realized how much the market is growing and to how extent it’s a potential market. Now, there are lots of competition and this so healthy for us to compete, as at the end it leads us to develop more, innovate and think more of taking market share from each other. A successful platform like ANGHAMI is the catch for everyone to compete with.
Thank you very much for your time.