Be a tourist with the experience of a local.
This is the objective of the Jedo, an app launched by Christian Almurr and his team.
Almurr named the app after his friend — nicknamed Jedo — who used to act as an informal tour and hiking guide in different corners of the country. "Jedo" means grandfather in Lebanese Arabic.
Ultimately, this is the role the app hopes to play: To act as a virtual tour guide and allow users to visit a specific location or a region of Lebanon on their own, but with the feeling of being led by a guide.
“We want to encourage people to visit every corner of the country and experience the local life, even if they don’t know anyone there,” said Almurr, one of Jedo’s three co-founders.
The app lists more than 2,000 attractions all over Lebanon. It allows users to choose from pre-designed plans and recommendations from local experts while offering discounts and exclusive offers.
Available for free for Android and iOS users, Jedo generates revenue from commissions it collects from reservations made through the app.
It aims to bring together stakeholders in the tourism sector — including hotels, guest houses, restaurants and tourist guides – all on the same platform.
An investment of $60,000
While the idea for the app was brewing for some time, it began to take shape in mid-October 2019, just before the outbreak of the Oct. 17 popular revolution and the start of Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis, said Almurr.
The initial development was done with a friend. This platform was Almurr’s side project as he worked for a global advertising agency in Dubai and taught user experience and research at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) in Lebanon.
At the end of 2021, Almurr realized the Jedo app's potential.
“We had a waiting list of over a thousand people from all over the world who wanted to download our app when we hadn’t even finalized it yet,” said Almurr. “That’s when we felt the need to get serious and put more effort and research into it.” The team then grew to four people.
In February 2022, Jedo joined USEK’s ACIE (Asher Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) and its founder subsequently managed to raise $60,000 to develop and launch the platform.
In May 2022, an initial “very simple – mvp,” version — according to Almurr — was made available to users, allowing only registered experts to share their experiences.
“Its purpose was to test our concept and the market, and to make sure that some features were working properly,” he said. When an update was introduced in September 2022, locals were given the ability to share tourist attractions and hidden gems from their villages.
Today, the start-up has some 10,000 registered users who have already booked one or more activities via the platform. By the end of the year, it hopes to reach 100,000 users, “which should be easily achievable” according to its CEO.
“We plan to establish ourselves in the United Arab Emirates by the end of 2023 and then perhaps move on to Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands,” said Almurr. “But for that, we will need to raise new funds, for which we have already started approaching investors.”
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Joelle El Khoury.