DocShipper wants to revolutionize import/export and is recruiting in Beirut

With a turnover expected to reach “12 million dollars in 2022”, the French-Lebanese start-up Nicolas and Pierre Rahmé has nothing to envy to large companies specializing in the areas of supply, international logistics and distribution. On the contrary, since DocShipper plays at all three tables at the same time: “The company’s concept is unique” in the international import/export scenario, says the group’s CEO and co-founder Nicolas Rahmé. In fact, the company acts as an intermediary between customers and the various players in the supply chain, accompanying customers from A to Z with their orders and ensuring their follow-up. All 100% digital. “Logistics, sourcing (supplier search), compliance and quality control, etc., we take care of the entire product import cycle. DocShipper is the Uber or Airbnb of the import/export industry: user experience is at the heart of our approach,” describes the 31-year-old CEO. A concept that requires constant contact with the customer and, for that, customer relationship skills that the Rahmé brothers were able to find in Lebanon “a haven of talents”, underlines Nicolas Rahmé. Inaugurated last September, DocShipper’s Lebanese office already has “seven employees and we hope to have a dozen by the end of December, and 35, even 40, by the end of 2023”, he announces. With a monthly minimum salary of US$1,200, plus performance fees, the salary is clearly attractive in a country where the national currency is no longer worth much against the dollar, having lost almost 96% of its value in three years of crisis. In addition to breaking import/export codes, both digitally and operationally, the Rahmé brothers say they are more than “optimistic” about settling in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s choice

Founded in 2019 in Hong Kong, DocShipper opened a first office in Tunisia in the same year. But, in fact, “Lebanon was our first choice”, explains Nicolas Rahmé, until the outbreak of the economic and financial crisis in the country threw them off track. Three years later, the crisis remains, but “the situation is becoming good in terms of private sector investment”, he guarantees, but aware that “there is no zero risk”. Convinced of Lebanon’s “potential and abilities”, explained Pierre Rahmé, two years older than Nicolas, co-founder and head of the sourcing department. The two brothers decipher their coming to Lebanon for several reasons. “I have four in all,” says the CEO.

“First, despite the crisis and crumbling infrastructure, we quickly realized that anyone with enough money can survive. So, for us Franco-Lebanese people, it’s a return to sources that were important to us. So, our work and your recruitment will boost the national economy, at our level of course. Finally, it’s also a pragmatic business issue: Lebanese salaries are more competitive than elsewhere. In short, DocShipper in Beirut allows the company to “remain very competitive with great profitability”, concludes Nicolas Rahmé.

🇧🇷 bootstrapping 🇧🇷

Although DocShipper is a young company, its history dates back to 2015, when Nicolas Rahmé, recently graduated with a master’s degree from the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris, left for Thailand where he quickly founded, with partners, three international logistics companies: SIAM Shipping in Bangkok (Thailand), FNM Shipping Vietnam and FNM Shipping Malaysia. In 2018, his brother, who until then worked in finance between France and Switzerland, after graduating in 2014 from the Institut Supérieur de Commerce in Paris, joined him as head of the sourcing department: an acquisition that combines research of suppliers, compliance, quality control and logistics.

Thanks to revenues from the three Asian importers/exporters estimated at between 600,000 and 700,000 dollars between 2015 and 2019, the brothers unite them under the DocShipper banner in 2019, without foreign investors. A winning bet as the group maintains its turnover in 2020 at around US$670,000, before starting in 2021 with a result of US$4.6 million. And that, still being bootstrapped, that is, self-financing. Since the beginning of the company, “we have financed ourselves thanks to the profits it generates and there is nothing sexier for investors”, those who want to move towards “profitable companies”, explains Nicolas Rahmé.

Thus, driven by its international expansion and by ensuring the profitability of its start-up, which already covers more than 40 countries around the world, “we expect to raise funds in pre-Series A in mid-2023, which will prepare a second in Series A.” Translation: Financing a first commercial development to then collect development capital. A good omen, therefore, for DocShipper, and very good for Lebanon, which thus sees a certain return on private sector confidence and investment, versus all odds.

With a turnover expected to reach “12 million dollars in 2022”, the French-Lebanese start-up Nicolas and Pierre Rahmé has nothing to envy to large companies specializing in the areas of supply, international logistics and distribution. On the contrary, since DocShipper operates on three fronts at the same time…

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