In the context of a quantum theory of gravity such as string theory, one may expect the Big Bang singularity to be replaced by a nonsingular bounce. I will argue in this talk that the fate of a generic contracting universe before the bounce is likely to be a universe filled with many string-size black holes. I will then discuss the properties of the resulting gas of primordial `stringy' black holes. I will show that the regime dominated by such a string hole gas can be consistently described by explicit solutions of a string effective action including first-order $\alpha'$ corrections. I will end by discussing the limitations of such solutions, and I will mention future directions to construct a full theory of the very early universe.