Startup of the Week: Taking Excel beyond its ‘boring’ reputation

The founder added that they are extremely passionate about Excel and the data-driven approach to business. (Supplied)
Updated 02 September 2019

Startup of the Week: Taking Excel beyond its ‘boring’ reputation

  • Khayat said that Excel increases productivity and efficiency in all sorts of enterprises: “Our clients are from multiple industries ranging from finance, retail and fast-moving consumer products”

People usually approach learning to use Microsoft’s Excel software from a purely technical (and boring) angle. However, a Saudi startup aims to take it beyond this common misconception.
“Our objective was to deliver Excel learning with a meaningful, practical point of view and engaging cases from real life businesses,” said Mohammed Khayat, founder of the Jeddah Excel Community (JEC).
Some 11 professionals started the Excel-based business that is “expected to create 80-100 job opportunities,” or even more depending on the success of the JEC.
It hopes to prove that young Saudis have taken the country’s move to diversify the economy seriously and are founding innovative startups to help the Vision 2030 reform plans’ objective of moving away from a dependency on oil.
The founder added that they are extremely passionate about Excel and the data-driven approach to business.
“Our mission is to enable teams and leaders in the data-driven business world through innovative learning solutions and business intelligence tools.”
Khayat told Arab News that the JEC is a group of professionals from different sectors, like consumer staples, finance, technology and management consultancy.
“What we all noticed in common throughout our careers is that Excel completely increases one’s productivity and efficiency at any level. We quickly felt that it was our call to help people with the software, especially considering that most of them are in an early stage in their careers,” Khayat said.
He described Excel as the world’s most powerful spreadsheet tool, and that there is no other application that can come near this title.
“It has a huge range of functions, features and customization options. That is why it seems intimidating and hard to navigate for a lot of people, and this is where we enable our learners to make Excel useful for them,” Khayat said.
Khayat said that Excel increases productivity and efficiency in all sorts of enterprises: “Our clients are from multiple industries ranging from finance, retail and fast-moving consumer products.”
He added that the JEC deliver their training in classes as the community found it more engaging. “However, we still provide open online tutorials for anyone who would like to know more about Excel at their own base,” he said.
Khayat said that the JEC recently broke the 200 individual learners threshold last month, and they are working with six business accounts. “It’s been a pleasurable journey and there is more to come.”
Khayat said that the reference to Jeddah in the community’s name has nothing to do with loyalty since their “loyalty comes first to our country, Saudi Arabia. But stamping a service or a product with a localized branding gives it a flavor of culture. This is a common practice worldwide with so many products and services that started at one place and are now global,” he said.


Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

Updated 13 min 27 sec ago

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

TOKYO: Taro Kono, the defense minister of Japan, said that threats to his country’s oil supply was the “most worrying scenario” he could imagine in international relations, in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities. 

“The most pessimistic scenario right now is that something happens in the Straits of Hormuz and the oil supply gets cut down, and that would send a shock wave through the global economy. I think the price of oil is already rising after this attack on Saudi facilities, so that’s the most worrying scenario right now,” he told a conference in Tokyo, Japan.

However, speaking on the sidelines to Arab News, he insisted that Saudi Arabia would remain a reliable partner of Japan - which imports around 40 per cent of its crude from the Kingdom - and downplayed concerns about long-term supply problems.

“Saudi has been and will be an important source of our energy supply. We have international co-ordination, and we have reserves, so we are not really worried about that,” he said. 

Kono, who was until recently Japan’s foreign minister, said that his country would be seeking to promote diplomatic solutions to the latest Middle East conflagration. "We definitely need to ease the tension between those countries. As Foreign Minister, the last thing I was doing was calling the Iranian Foreign Minister and the French Foreign Minister to ease the tension the region through diplomatic actions, and I think it's important to continue doing it.

“This Houthi attack on Saudi is a little different, because it's a terrorist attack. I think we may require some kind of military operation against those drone attacks, and that's something out of Japan's constitutional boundary. I think Japan will be focusing on diplomatic efforts in easing tension in the region.”

He raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophistication in the recent attacks. “If it is really drones, that is a lot cheaper than any form of conventional missile,” he said.