Neil Patel

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In the vast landscape of entrepreneurship, stories of success are often marked by determination, resilience, and a passion for making a positive impact.

Karim Bernoussi’s journey from being the fifth child in a Moroccan family to the founder of Intelcia Group, a global outsourcing powerhouse with 40,000 employees and almost €800M or $936M in revenue, is nothing short of inspiring.

In this blog post, we delve into the life and experiences of Karim Bernoussi, exploring the pivotal moments that shaped his entrepreneurial path and the values that drive his company’s success.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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Roots in Morocco

Born in 1963, Karim Bernoussi grew up in post-independence Morocco, surrounded by the love of his parents and six siblings. His father’s influence instilled the importance of hard work and education, setting the foundation for Karim’s future endeavors.

Growing up in a nurturing environment, Karim learned valuable lessons about the significance of family, love, and the correlation between work and reward. He started schooling in a French school in Morocco and remembers the level being very good.

Educational Pursuits in France

Since he loved math and numbers, Karim’s academic journey led him to France, where he pursued engineering at the prestigious Télécom Paris. Guided by his passion for mathematics and the promise of a future in telecommunications, he graduated in 1987.

Despite his father’s advice to pursue civil engineering, Karim was drawn to the emerging world of telecom and digital technology, setting the stage for his future in the industry.

Karim’s early career was marked by a deep dive into problem-solving within the telecom sector. His initial exposure to the industry sparked a profound interest, fueled by the belief that telecom and digital technology were the future.

Karim’s decision to join Télécom Paris, rejecting other enticing opportunities, showcased his determination to follow his passion, even against traditional advice.

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Balancing Public and Private Sectors

Karim’s career trajectory involved traversing both the public and private sectors. He remembers working in countries like France, Germany, and the Philippines, where he gained a unique world perspective that would later prove invaluable in his entrepreneurial journey.

On returning to Morocco, Karim’s ambition was to work for the government because he grew up in a family where everybody was working for the public sector. That’s how he started to work with the public sector in telecom. He also went on to work in the ministry and then to build a university.

Karim appreciates the experience because he was close to government institutions and had the chance to be hired by Lufthansa and the multinational company Microsoft, where he worked for five years.

Karim recalls two important lessons he learned at Microsoft: one was how to sell, and the other was the total lack of hierarchy.

He comfortably interacted with personalities like Bill Gates and Steve Bulmer at a conference, offering recommendations on how to do things. He would use these lessons when building his own companies down the line.

Lessons in Team Management

Karim worked closely with highly intelligent people in the US and Europe, which gave him valuable insights into building a business. He talks about learning a lot from them, specifically how to understand and accept different cultures.

He was exposed to many different cultures that later paved the way for Intelcia, which operates out of 18 countries and has 40,000 people on board. Karim stresses how he travels extensively to share the company culture, DNA, and values across the organization.

He makes himself available to his employees on chat and is open to answering any queries they may have. And makes it a point to spend time with agents and engineers.

At the same time, Karim is keen on giving back to his country and setting an example for other entrepreneurs. He imparts lessons on how to keep their values, work hard, and not focus on short-term profits to build strong global companies.

The Call Center Epiphany

The entrepreneurial spark ignited when Karim, along with two friends, ventured into the call center business in 2000. Launching Tosco Morocco in partnership with a Swedish company, Transcom, marked the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey.

The call center venture opened doors, offering valuable lessons in business management, negotiation, and strategic decision-making. Karim remembers traveling to Europe and meeting with the big players to convince them to come to Morocco.

They convinced Transcon, a Swedish-based European company, to set up shop in Morocco. Their joint venture had a 40% stake, with the other 60% owned by Transcon.

Microsoft and the Entrepreneurial Leap

After a stint at Microsoft, Karim returned to Morocco with a newfound entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, he seized the opportunity to buy back a significant stake in Tosco Morocco, rebranding it as Intelcia.

At the time of the buyout, the company was valued at €2M or $2.3M and doing €85M or $104M in revenues with 200 people working in it. This marked the official inception of the Intelcia Group, setting the stage for rapid growth, acquisitions, and global expansion.

Growth Through Strategic Acquisitions

Intelcia’s growth was not solely organic; strategic acquisitions played a crucial role. The acquisition of a French company in 2010 and subsequent expansions into Africa, Spain, and the Dominican Republic propelled Intelcia into a global player.

The ability to adapt, learn from diverse cultures, and lead a team spanning continents became integral to Intelcia’s success. Karim explains that Intelcia is essentially an outsourcing business that provides people, processes, and infrastructure.

The company provides call center services and CRM for big customers, which means that it answers their customers. Intelcia responds to queries from anywhere across the world, whether it is explaining bills or requesting a tech guy to solve technical problems.

More than 700 engineers work on software development, building the infrastructure, and supervising managed services. Intelcia gives customers agility and economical pricing, which is profitable for them.

As Karim explains, their core objective was for Intelcia to grow quickly, and to make that happen, they entered into acquisitions. At the onset, the company had 200 people, and it took Karim and his co-founders around three years to understand and learn the business.

Soon, they got to the point where Intelcia had acquired big customers like Lenovo and Google and had become profitable. By 2007-2008, the company went from €5M or $5.38M to €7M or $7.54 in revenues in 2009. By 2010, it was earning €10M or $10.77.

Raising Funding for Intelcia

Karim outlines Intelcia’s fundraising journey, starting with a private equity fund. They raised around €3M or $3.23M and next took out a loan for €4M or $4.31M and purchased a company. This strategy allowed them to double their volume in 2010.

Storytelling is everything which is something that Karim Bernoussi was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

Karim and his co-founders bought a company with €10M or $10.77M in 2010. And quickly grew to a €20M or $21.54 revenue company with 1,000 people. In 2000, they were addressing only the French-speaking market.

That’s when they decided that if they wanted to grow In France, they couldn’t do it from an offshore location. To capture the market, they bought a company in France that was earning revenues worth €33M or $35.53M.

Collaborating with another local company on a no-competition basis also spurred growth.

Karim reveals how they became a €54M or $58.14M company with 2500 people by deploying this strategy. Three years down the line, they were profitable and growing despite the challenges. Intelcia continued growing year after year, going up to €63M or $67.84.

Similarly, Intelcia has been acquiring local companies in Spain, Egypt, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, and the US and is now addressing four big markets that comprise half their business.


Karim Bernoussi’s entrepreneurial journey is a testament to the power of passion, resilience, and a commitment to values.

From his roots in Morocco to leading a global outsourcing giant, Karim’s story offers insights for aspiring entrepreneurs on the importance of staying true to one’s values, embracing diverse experiences, and nurturing a global mindset.

As Intelcia continues to grow, Karim’s dream of providing jobs, dignity, and a better life to people in the south remains at the heart of the company’s mission.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more including:

  • Karim Bernoussi’s journey from Morocco to global entrepreneurship showcases the power of passion and resilience in achieving success.
  • The fusion of telecom expertise and entrepreneurial spirit led to the creation of Intelcia, now a global outsourcing giant with 40,000 employees.
  • Balancing experiences in both the public and private sectors provided Karim with a unique perspective, influencing his approach to entrepreneurship.
  • Strategic acquisitions played a pivotal role in Intelcia’s rapid growth, transforming it into a global player with a presence in 18 countries.
  • Karim’s commitment to being close to customers and employees underscores his belief that profitability is a consequence of investing in people and building strong relationships.
  • Intelcia’s expansion into diverse markets, from France to Africa, Spain, and the Dominican Republic, reflects the company’s adaptability and global mindset.
  • Karim’s dream is rooted in bringing jobs, dignity, and employability to people globally, emphasizing the importance of staying true to values in the entrepreneurial journey.


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Neil Patel

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