With a degree in finance from An-Najah University, Rahaf Abu Aishe initially embarked on a career as a sales representative but quickly realized that this path was not for her. As she took time off to reflect and figure out next steps, she stumbled upon a customer-relationship management training course offered through a large software company (SAP-CRM). She applied and was accepted. Rahaf wholeheartedly committed to the course, received her certificate with a final score of 92 percent, and soon after secured a job as an accountant at a big tech company. Being exposed to tech and its ability to transform lives was fascinating for Rahaf. In her new job, she started to learn coding and the language of tech, which drew her more into this new world and its endless possibilities.
Rahaf eventually relocated to Ramallah for her new job. One day, she went to a hair salon to get a new look but left feeling unsatisfied. She wished that, as a newcomer to Ramallah, there was a better way to find tried-and-tested hair salons in the area. That’s when her idea was born: an app to connect customers with highly rated salons across Palestine. She shared her idea with two colleagues – front-end and back-end engineers – who were excited by the idea and became her co-founders. Together, they launched Salon, a platform for customers to find preferred stylists hassle-free. In just one year, they had two mobile apps ready to go, one for hair salons and one for customers.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everything changed. The team knew that they had to adapt to survive. They came up with a plan to keep the app relevant during the pandemic by creating content related to DIY beauty and self-care during the lockdown. The content was a hit, and it kept the platform alive during a difficult time. They also created a loyalty program that allowed customers and salons to collect points, which helped mitigate the pandemic’s economic consequences.
After the pandemic, Rahaf and her fellow co-founders applied for several grants and contacted accelerators. They were referred to the Gaza Sky Geeks’ Startup Program and were particularly interested in the mentorship component program.
Rahaf and her team were thrilled to be accepted into the eighth cohort of the Gaza Sky Geeks’ Startup Program. Not only did they gain access to a network of mentors and resources, but they also received a US$20,000 grant as a top-performing startup in the program. With this support, Rahaf and her team are more determined than ever to take the Salon app to the next level. Rahaf explains, “Being a part of the Gaza Sky Geeks community was a pivotal moment for Salon and for me personally. I knew that I had found a community that would support me through thick and thin – whether I needed a mentor, a connection, problem-solving help, or just someone to talk to. The support and resources provided by Gaza Sky Geeks were invaluable to our success, and we are grateful to be a part of such a supportive and empowering community.”
Winning the US$20,000 grant from Gaza Sky Geeks was a game-changer for Salon. With this funding, the app was able to boost its online presence using influencer marketing tactics. Moreover, the grant allowed Rahaf to shift her focus towards B2B marketing and develop a platform that enables beauty salons to easily register and customize features.
Despite the challenges of shifting consumer behavior and the traditional way of making bookings with pen and paper, Salon has achieved remarkable success with its unique service. The team, three co-founders and eight full- and part-time employees, is determined to scale to other beauty-related merchants outside of hair salons.
Rahaf and her team embody the best of the entrepreneurial spirit. They followed their passion, innovated in challenging times, overcame setbacks, and are making their mark in the tech world in Palestine and beyond. Gaza Sky Geeks is proud to have played a role in Rahaf’s journey as a founder and role model for entrepreneurs across Palestine.
“Embarking on your own startup journey means much more than simply becoming your own boss,” Rahaf asserts. “It involves navigating a challenging path that is filled with both highs and lows. However, entrepreneurship means learning to persevere through tough times. Through trials and tribulations, you learn valuable lessons and grow. Ultimately, it is the willingness to push through the obstacles that leads to success as an entrepreneur!”