Libyan Spider is a success story that started out at first as a hobby by Hadi Naser.
He was born in August 20, 1973. His father, Mohamed Naser, was a soldier in the Libyan army and his mother, Salha Najah a housewife. He spent most of his childhood between his hometown, Gomata and the capital, Tripoli, Libya.
In 1989, Nasser dropped out of high school due to personal circumstances and started working at different odd jobs. In 1996, he saved enough money to take him to the UK to learn English as a second language. While abroad, he realised the importance of his high school education and decided to go back to Libya where he completed and received his high school degree in 2001. The following year, he enrolled at Tripoli University in the arts program where he studied English.
While in university, Nasser also owned and worked at an auto spare parts shop. In January 2000, he bought his first computer.
He quickly became fascinated and absorbed by it and wanted to learn everything related to computers. By the end of 2001 he had taught himself different skills such as HTML, CSS, Fireworks and started web designing as a hobby. He designed his first professional website for a client and Libyan Spider was born July 13, 2002.
Choosing a name for his own company didn’t come overnight.
Nasser says he spent days thinking of the best name with the best meaning. He wanted it short, catchy, meaningful and something that no one would forget. He thought of how websites were connected to the World Wide Web and, to him, his company represented the spider that would be able to construct a web – in this case websites.
He started to research into other business opportunities that were related to web design and came across domain registration and webhosting.
He saw a real demand in this market especially to potential clients outside of Libya and in return serve the Libyan market in this almost untouched field.
Starting this new business was not easy. It required much study and research. All this was new to him – exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time, he says.
His business required having a credit card – something that was not available to Libyans in Libya. Nasser turned to a friend in Canada for help. They agreed to him wiring the money to their account in return, they would purchase the items required online. This method of operation would continue for a few years until credit cards were introduced in Libya.
In 2003, Nasser started to fall behind in his studies due to the time that this new business was taking and so he had to make the hard decision to stop his studies in order to give his new business a chance of success. he had completed two years of university when he left the programme.
The office was a back room in his auto parts shop. This would cause confusion to new clients, as they would be expecting to arrive at an IT office to do business and not a car spares shop! Marketing was by word of mouth; Libyan Spider was basically a one-man show. He designed websites and registered domains host for clients. His clientele reached 15 in 2003. In the same year, Nasser decided to take the plunge and left his auto spare parts shop – his major source of income – to focus completely on Libyan Spider.
The big break came when a local weekly newspaper requested that he design a website for them. He agreed to do it in exchange for free advertising in the newspaper for one year. In 2004, his clientele grew to 60.
At the end of 2004, Nasser bought a small office. He saw an increase in demand for services especially from foreign companies re-entering Libya after the removal of the UN embargo. The same year, Nasser signed up at university in Tripoli for two semesters in computer science and three courses in Linux Administration in Cairo, on order to help him improve his skills. It was at this institute that he met a fellow ambitious classmate who would later head his website design department.
In 2006, the income from website design reached $100,000.
The year proved to be a great one for him – Libyan Spider became a .ly Registrar and it was the year Kaspersky Lab, a leading anti-virus company, would partner with Libyan Spider to serve the Libyan market. This gave the company the boost it needed onto the international stage.
In 2008, Kaspersky sales reached approximately $1 million.
Libyan Spider was growing, and fast. Nasser and his colleague could not keep up with the demand that this business required. In 2007, Libyan Spider bought a new and larger space to accommodate their 11 employees.
Libyan Spider, like many businesses in Libya, was hit hard during the February 17 Revolution against the Qaddafi regime. The internet was shutdown andNaser’s business was put on hold.
He waited 10 days without internet before making the hard decision to leave Libya to continue to serve his clients abroad and make sure clients in Libya did not lose their online data. With the UN-led embargo in force, Libyan Spider faced many challenges, from frozen accounts and having their US-based servers shutdown to having them being accused of being part of Qaddafi’s regime in international newspapers. Naser was on the brink of losing his reputation and his business.
It was patience, his faith in God, countless conversations with banks, lawyers of companies he was doing business with and newspaper journalists that enabled him to clear the company’s name, restore data and resume business. These were trying times for Libyan Spider. However, it managed to survive the war and is continuing to make good progress.
Entrepreneurship is the creation of opportunities regardless of resources currently controlled. Naser never received assistance from the government nor has taken any loans from any bank. He is an entrepreneur who has overcome challenges with what he had.
Today Libyan Spider employs more than 20 people, has three locations in Tripoli and one in Benghazi. They plan to expand to Zawia and Misrata in the coming year. They also plan to expand their services to include IT training in IT security and web design. They also have over 60 dedicated servers in Libya and the US.
The company has become a partner to many international companies like Cpanel, Parallels, R1soft, ABBYY and continues to grow. Naser also is the founder of the job portal job.ly and domains.ly – the market place of premium .ly domains.
In 2010 total sales reached approximately $3 million with a clientele base of over 20 000.
Now, Mr. Naser plans to market his .ly domain names worldwide. There are over 18,000 English words ending in -ly (not to mention people’s names such as http://riel.ly!)which makes it a hot domain.
So far, over 10,000 have been sold through Libyan Spider, with a goal to reach 200,000 sales.
The two major challenges Mr. Naser faces are:
- The Price: .ly domain names are not cheap at $75 each (however competitors charge in excess of $120, some even $150!)
- .ly means Libya: which used to mean Qaddafi. While Qaddafi is gone, there is still a need for trust to return to Libya.
The second plan Naser has is to sell or invest his premium .ly domain names. His largest sale was local.ly for $100,000.