Microsoft Profiles StartupYard Alum Gjirafa.com
Last week Microsoft profiled the Albanian language Search and news aggregation service, and StartupYard alum, Gjirafa.com, in a glowing “customer story,” which revealed key details of Gjirafa’s startling growth in the Albania/Kosovo region.
Gjirafa.com By The Numbers
Among the highlights (you can read the full article here), were some amazing growth statistics: Gjirafa now aggregates over 15,000 Albanian language news articles a day, from 170 news portals. It has fully catalogued 100,000 bus schedules in the region, and created a trip planning functionality that has never been available before in the region, on any platform. In addition, Gjirafa now indexes 33 million pages, and has nearly 250,000 unique visitors per month, for a total of over 3 million page views, despite launching less than six months ago. Gjirafa’s founder and CEO Mergim Cahani says that Gjirafa expects over 1 million unique users per month within a short period. The service has garnered 112,000 likes on Facebook within the last half year.
(The above numbers were all lower in the Microsoft report, which was published less than 2 weeks ago- Gjirafa has added 800,000 views per month, and has upped its number of bus schedules by over 200%).
The Microsoft customer story also reveals that Gjirafa has made significant headway in user acquisition by becoming the leading indexer of used cars for sale in the Albania/Kosovo region, practically overnight. Gjirafa now lists about 70,000 cars, collected from local listings, and is expanding to job listings, real estate, and mobile phone sales. Cahani credits Microsoft, and the Microsoft Azure credits obtained through the StartupYard program, with allowing Gjirafa to expand at such a fast clip, saying: “It would take us many months to build indexes like this if we were larger and had to manage our own infrastructure.” Gjirafa entered into a partnership with Microsoft shortly after completing the StartupYard program, when Microsoft took interest in the service, noting that it was consuming an unusually large amount of server capacity.
For Albanians, By Albanians
Since we last interviewed Cahani, Gjirafa has continued to experience rapid growth in its user base. The service depends on Albanian speakers taking pride in home-grown competition for search goliaths like Google, Yahoo, and Yandex. Cahani said of the service’s patriotic nature: “The first [Albanian speakers] they like about Gjirafa is that it’s their language, and that it’s an Albanian/Kosovar company. They’re really proud of that fact, and they think it’s past due, frankly. They feel that Gjirafa is theirs and they identify themselves with it – and that’s exactly what we want. We are for Albanians, and the reaction has been really strong.”
Gjirafa met its investment goal for an angel round last fall, following participation in StartupYard 2014. They are now working on expanding and perfecting their search platform, attracting more users to the platform. They also plan on bringing new e-commerce and search solutions to local Albania/Kosovo regional partners, and making themselves central to the growing online market in the region.