I told you the other day about the Moroccan maker scene. One of the dynamic actor of this ecosystem is Derbsellicon, an online store importing electronics for Moroccan makers.
DerbSellicon solves one of the important challenge faced by many makers all over the world: having access to the tools. Electronics, components, drones, 3D printers are not easy to find when you live outside the big makers’ hubs in the US, Europe or Asia. Buying a 3D printer online, for example, can become a real custom nightmare if you’re doing it on your own.
Online stores for niche electronic equipment is one of the keys of success of the maker movement. I gathered many of them in this worldwide list of open hardware online store where you can find your local online retailer.
I interviewed one of the 3 founders of DerbSellicon to know more about his challenges and how it all got started.
Mathilde: Hi Jalal, can you tell me when and how did Derbsellicon start?
Jalal: First of all, I’d like to thank you for being interested in our startup. If I say “our” it’s because Derbsellicon is the fruit of a team made of Ayoub and Zakaria Elqotbi and myself Abdel ElJalal Ait El Harch. Idea behind Derbsellicon is to give programmers and Moroccan makers access to electronic components and boards that are widely available online but sadly hard to get in Morocco.
Concretely, idea sparked when Ayoub was a young student at FST in Tanger (Moroccan engineering school). He had to regularly asked his brother Zakaria who was based in France to buy electronic components and material that he and his classmates needed for their projects.
So, we thought of creating an ecommerce platform to make electronic and embedded technologies accessible to every Moroccans.
Mathilde: What are the most popular products among Moroccan makers?
Jalal: Most popular ones among Moroccan makers are the same than for every makers in the world: Arduinos (Uno and Mini) and their shields, Raspberry pi are extremely popular (specially modules B and B+), and of course a few sensors, more specifically ultrasound ones: HC-SR04 and Bluetooth communication modules.
Mathilde: Who are your clients? Who do you think is a Moroccan maker?
Jalal: It’s a niche market: professionals, students and passionate makers. There isn’t a typical profile of Moroccan maker. We receive orders from schools wanting to buy electronic components for young students in primary school, orders from electronic engineer professionals needing products for small and mid-size businesses, orders for designers and artists.
Our customers are from every age and background, just like the worldwide maker and DIY movement.
Mathilde: What are currently your main challenges?
Jalal: We have insane challenges! Since we’re in a niche market, reducing our margins is hard. We try to expand our community with events for makers, classes. We write articles and publish videos on our blog to democratize electronics.
But the real problem, one that we have almost every day, is a logistics one.
Since there is no local manufacturer of electronic component, all our components are imported from abroad. Import regulations are extremely complicated. It uses all our time and resources because Morocco is still a closed country for international exchanges and logistics here is not modern.
On one side, the import process is costly, heavy and requires a lot of red tape, on the other side custom and transportation services are slow and old. Many times we have to explain what a 3D printer is, and I’m not even mentioning drones that are considered as a spying device or war weapon.
Wish you the best for your project!