What are they
Co-founder and CEO, Sohati.com and Loolia.com; Co-founder, Ounousa.com
Former Industry/Office: Communications, Media, and Technology, Beirut
Alumnus since 2016
Wassim Kari started his consulting career in Paris during the period of growth following the collapse of the Internet bubble in 2000. It wasn’t until 2011 that he arrived at Strategy&. Although he had grown up in Beirut, joining Strategy& with the Communications, Media, and Technology practice would be his first professional experience in the Middle East. He had decidedly mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension; however, from the very first hours of his integrating with the office and the team, it was clear he had made the right choice. The energy and the intellectual curiosity projected by the people he met the very first day were unique and exceeded every expectation he had.
Wassim particularly remembers the unique setup in the Cordoba compound in Riyadh, a mixture of hard work and deep problem solving set in a summer camp environment. During this period, he met amazing people who remain today great friends.
Prior to his tenure at the firm, in 2004, Wassim set out to pursue a business school masters at HEC Paris and he chose to major in e-business. Back then, he was fascinated by tech startup stories and what used to be called the “new economy.” One question was always on his mind: Will the Middle East region’s economies be transformed by tech, and if so, in which horizon?
Wassim decided to take part in this transformation, along with his wife, Elsa Aoun, who at the time was pursuing a master’s in management at HEC, and incidentally is also an alumna of Strategy&. In the years that followed, they founded three tech startups targeting the MENA region. In 2016, after closing a round of Series A with local venture capital funds, Wassim took the mandate of growing both Sohati, which focuses on the health industry, and Loolia, which focuses on the beauty industry. The moment was challenging as Wassim and Elsa were pursuing an advertising business model while the GCC markets were plunging into an economic crisis. Taking stock of the situation, they decided to tackle it just like a case to crack back in the days of consulting. They determined that they should pivot the business model into content-driven e-commerce. This bet proved to be successful as it enabled the team to grow to 30 people, and they are currently closing their Series B round.
Planning the future within the context of a startup is a volatile concept, Wassim concedes. He and Elsa are currently working on duplicating the e-commerce success they achieved in Lebanon (their pilot market) and activating new countries, the objective being to create one of the leading beauty and para-pharmaceutical e-retail channels in the region.
Outside of work, Wassim keeps it simple. He aims to continue discovering new parts of this world, and enjoying every minute with his two kids, Jack (6 years old) and Laura (3 years old), and Elsa.