5 rapidfire questions to Lebanese e-resident Clement about his entrepreneurial journey and recent charitable work in Beirut
E-resident Clement Farah is founder and CEO of marketing agency MindMatter OÜ and is based in Beirut, Lebanon. I interviewed Clement by email originally in July just a few weeks before the devastating explosion in Beirut on 4 August 2020.
Since then, he has been putting all of his time and energy into doing what he can to help the Lebanese people affected by the blast. This includes using his time to voluntarily set up a donations page for those affected by the blast, as well as a free news site.
Here at e-Residency, we’re so impressed with what he and his team have achieved in a short time and all voluntary in nature. I’ve included more information about this below the original interview, including links to the various initiatives and donation opportunities.
But first, enjoy Clement’s e-Residency story.
1. What does your e-Residency company do in a nutshell?
MindMatter is a digital agency, focused on producing immersive digital products, from development to post-production marketing. We use a collaborative approach to support our clients, from online schools and eCommerce platforms to charities, with branding, digital strategy, design, and marketing campaigns.
Some of our proudest work has been for ‘positiveyou.co’, a therapeutic app from Paris, France providing mental health services, which has been in great demand during COVID-19. We also worked on ‘donatetolebanon.org’, a donation site operated by an Australian NGO, to help Lebanese people who suffered from the Beirut blast, and ‘lebanesepolitico.com’, a news website (in Arabic), with millions of views.
My team at MindMatter seeks to get to know our clients first in order to really understand the look and feel of their business and how to communicate this publicly. This intimate know-how allows us to design a tailored strategy and implement an appropriate package of services. We are always looking to continue improving the products and services we provide, by continuously monitoring and analysing performance, and making adjustments in turn.
2. When and how did you hear about e-Residency and why did you apply?
In 2018, while reading some articles, I stumbled upon Estonia’s technological innovations and involvement with the digital world. For me, e-Residency was a gateway to go beyond the closed banking system in Lebanon, which is a total mess and complicates the nature of our work as we rely heavily on online transactions.
I became an e-resident in November 2018 and picked up my card at the Estonian embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia. I established Mindmatter OÜ in February 2019 with the help of e-Residency Hub. The process was straightforward with easy-to-follow online forms and instructions.
3. What has e-Residency enabled you to do?
E-Residency allowed us to partner with amazing financial institutions like Transferwise and Stripe, which made our company grow quickly through creating subscriptions and generating profits from the very first months of operation. Moreover, structuring our agency as an Estonian company based in the EU gained immediate trust from new customers visiting and purchasing services from our site.
4. What have been the biggest challenges of running your business?
It was new territory for me, learning about the challenges of banking and payments. Many fintechs are not serving Lebanon so I had get to know potential solutions for my Estonian company. The second challenge was to learn about the European rules for running an online business, data privacy policies, and terms of service for digital products.
Luckily, e-Residency Hub has provided us with great advice and has taken care of our accounting tasks so all we have to do is to focus on acquiring new clients and developing amazing products.
E-Residency Hub is a trusted member of our Marketplace. Find out more:
5. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, who are interested in the e-Residency program?
I quote Steve Jobs, “Stay foolish stay hungry”.
There are no limits when it comes to running a business online, and taking the plunge is the first step towards your dreams. I think any entrepreneur anywhere in the world should consider the E-Residency program, because of many factors:
- The EU status creates trust towards your customers
- The great pool of fintechs and banks
- Company finances and taxes are fully managed by professional accountants
- It’s easy to get legal advice from knowledgeable Estonian lawyers
As mentioned above, Clement has been spending much of his time and energy working on projects to help Lebanese people affected by the Beirut blast in August.
An update on Clement’s activities following the Beirut explosion:
We collaborated with Australian NGO Steps of Hope for the project Build Bayti. It is an extremely transparent model in which you can choose a specific case to donate to and track progress.
We built the donatetolebanon.org site in about 48 hours. It was live and started to accept donations on the third day after the explosion, the idea being to expand the possibility of making donations to as many countries as possible. The website has grown substantially and taken a turn. Very soon it will have its own identity and will be operated independently by a team of volunteers. MindMatter has therefore handed over the project in order to focus on our client work again.
We have also collaborated with free Lebanese thinkers and journalists to launch lebanesepolitico.com, a news website in Arabic that tackles the sensitive situation in Lebanon.
All of these projects were built in collaboration and delivered free of charge as a way to give back to my native country, Lebanon. MindMatter compensated all the expenses of these projects.