Saed Shela is a serial entrepreneur with over 8 years of experience in the IT, telecommunication, and recruitment sectors. Saed is the CEO and Co-founder of SocialDice, and a Board Member at SteadyPoint.
Prior to co-founding SocialDice, Saed was the CEO and co-founder of SteadyPoint, an information management and SharePoint development company, assisting SMEs, publicly-listed companies such as Jawwal, Wataniya, and government institutions improve their business processes, information flow, and data analytics.
Saed began his career as a Software Engineer at ASAL Technologies and worked with Intel, HP, and other international companies in the area of software development and implementation.
He is a community advocate, having founded the Palestinian SharePoint User Group, and continues to participate in several tech-focused communities in Palestine, in addition to being a frequent speaker at several conferences in Palestine and Jordan on the topics of technology education and entrepreneurship. Saed was designated the “Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in Palestine for SharePoint Server” award for his technical contribution in the field and on the ground in Palestine.
Saed earned his BSc in Computer Information Systems from Jordan University of Science and Technology.
Tell us about your business. What exactly does your business do?
The current recruitment process for MENA SMEs is very time consuming, inefficient and hectic. The current solutions fit the enterprises rather than SMEs leaving this segment unserved. As recruiting agencies are very expensive, job sites only good for sourcing, and current applicant tracking system are tailored to big enterprises from features and price. Reaching out to max talent needs multiple accounts, payments, and tools from different job sites where you need to aggregate the CVs manually in your folders and manage the rest of the process using emails and excel sheets.
SocialDice offers an innovative digital hiring solution making hiring easy, smart and fun. Employers can advertise their job to several job sites via few clicks and they will manage all candidates from all job sites via our candidates’ dashboard. They will drill down to top 10-15 candidates directly via our Artificial Intelligence technology that leverage machine learning & semantic algorithms, collaborate effectively via our social timeline, communicate with candidates via our features and manage the stages of the process.
How did you start this business?
About two years ago, I was recruiting for the company SteadyPoint for software engineers. We tried to put up a job ad on several job sites, social media and sent emails, and juggling between these platforms consumed so much time. I screened hundreds of CVs that made me sick. After the pre-selection process, the team started discussions from our selected candidates through emails and managing interviews through excel sheet which ultimately led to inefficient process of the whole recruitment cycle.
So I did some research on what would be the best hiring solution for our small company and I found that the market is flooded with very expensive recruiting agencies, ATS tailored to enterprises (and also expensive) and insufficient job sites.
That’s where we spotted the opportunity to build something to help SMEs acquire the talent, grow their business, and get people meaningful jobs.
I went to pitched the opportunity at StartupWeekend and that’s where I met the CTO of SocialDice; Nael Ramadan. He is the person that built softwares for companies like Intuit, Verisign and was in the US for 17 years doing what he did best. Nael was working for a software company in Palestine that fired him because he ate tuna in the office (Yeah don’t ask).
So that’s how we teamed up and built SocialDice.
What were the challenges or the hardest moment during those early years for SocialDice?
Refining the pricing model or finding the perfect pricing models for each of our customer segments. We pivoted 4 times to reach the right model.
Penetrating the UAE market was also a challenge considering we started from Palestine.
How did you make it through your challenges and difficulties?
We listened carefully to our customers’ feedback in all the sales lifecycle. Those when we pitch the solution on the phone, or when we have the face to face meeting, or when we send them price offer and finally after they become customer. You just have to listen.
It was also getting the right people that have good experiences in UAE to help us in penetrating the market from advisors and employees. Also, try to locate an incubator that could help make the setup easier.
WHY did you go into this line of business in UAE? Why UAE?
According to the 2015 Global Investment Report published by UNCTAD, the United Arab Emirates is the second largest FDI recipient in the West Asia region, making it very attractive country for companies who wants to expand and grow their business and those who are seeking jobs, therefore they have high employment which resulted in the need of software’s to manage the HR and recruitment process.
Who has been your greatest influence that inspired you in setting up this venture?
Saed Nashef. He is the current board member, and main investor at SocialDice. He’s the founding partner at Sadara Ventures. He encouraged us to pursue this opportunity when he was a Judge at Startup Weekend event.
What would be the future plans for SocialDice?
We are looking to empower the recruiters, hiring managers, and HR employees with one platform for all their hiring needs where they view recruitment as passion rather than a hectic and burdensome process. We aim to reach that by continuing to utilize top notch technologies to develop new and enhance features that remove all the time-consuming and hectic stages at the hiring like reading CVs, sourcing candidates, managing interviews, verifications, and communications. That’s beside providing insights to empower them to make better hiring decisions.
We are planning to support several languages in our platform from Arabic, Turkish, and maybe French in the future. Adding these languages will help us penetrate the Turkish, and North Africa markets.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs when setting up their business?
Founders should always be raising investment, selling their product/services, and hiring/retaining talent. There is no specific time to hire, raise or sell, it’s all the time.
Fax:+9714 434 1163
by Cristina Magallon
LinkedIn: Cristina Magallon
Company Page: UAE DNA