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how AI-powered Quiqup is revolutionising the UAE’s q-commerce market

7 min read
how AI-powered Quiqup is revolutionising the UAE’s q-commerce market

Bassel El Koussa has come a great distance from launching a enterprise in a lounge in London to operating one of many fastest-growing quick-commerce last-mile supply firms within the UAE.

It was a protracted trip, however a mindset of “resilience in any respect prices” is what helped him and his co-founders survive the pivot of their enterprise mannequin, shifting the corporate from one continent to a different and the turmoil of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr El Koussa says he’s an entrepreneur “by likelihood”.

After finishing a grasp’s diploma in worldwide administration at SOAS College of London in 2008, Mr El Koussa went on to work for a producing enterprise in Saudi Arabia. A few years later, he determined to pursue a level in finance on the Imperial Faculty in London and went on to hitch the enterprise capital business.

Mr El Koussa began working for a expertise investment-focused personal household workplace in London and that’s the place he met Quiqup’s co-founders Federico Ferraro, Tim Linssen and Danny Hawkins.

The concept of beginning a enterprise of their very own brewed for some time earlier than they lastly launched the corporate in 2014.

“What we launched initially within the UK was form of a get something delivered to you, like an on-demand enterprise,” Mr El Koussa says.

“It was like InstaShop meets Deliveroo meets Careem all boxed in a single. That was the place to begin of Quiqup after which we grew from there.”

how AI-powered Quiqup is revolutionising the UAE’s q-commerce market

The enterprise was bootstrapped with £50,000 and the companions, like most founders, struggled initially.

“We began off principally from the lounge of certainly one of our co-founders. A few us manned the desk whereas others have been on the market doing deliveries,“ Mr El Koussa stated.

“We have been on the market within the components, experiencing what it meant to exit and execute this operation ourselves and interacting with prospects.”

The AI-powered start-up offered on-demand same-day supply companies for retailers and eating places of all sizes. It used a community of self-employed drivers it known as “Quiqees” and managed to construct a stable and dependable buyer base within the UK.

Nonetheless, the companions realised that the corporate had not grown sufficient in measurement to grow to be the “dominant participant within the meals supply class, which was the main enterprise phase again within the days.

They noticed the chance in pivoting to the e-commerce sector and quicker supply phase, deploying the expertise that they had constructed over time.

What we launched initially within the UK was form of a get something delivered to you, like an on-demand enterprise. It was like InstaShop meets Deliveroo meets Careem all boxed in a single

Bassel El Koussa, chief government, Quiqup

In 2015, the corporate raised an undisclosed quantity for its sequence A spherical, which was adopted by a £20m sequence B financing deal in 2017 to help progress.

The companions made the choice to broaden internationally and in 2018 launched operations within the UAE. The next yr, Quiqup introduced £10m strategic funding to additional develop its operations.

“We realised that the true alternative is right here and we made the transition” to the UAE, Mr El Koussa says.

When Quiqup began UAE operations, it was a “logistics-as-a-service” firm, serving eating places, retailers and e-commerce gamers.

The UAE market, nevertheless, was a “fully completely different beast” however Quiqup had the “primary constructing blocks and it was only a matter of prioritising which route it wished to take”, he says.

Over the previous yr, the enterprise has shifted fully in the direction of quick-commerce, or q-commerce as it’s recognized, serving e-commerce and retail sectors within the Arab world’s second-largest financial system.

The worth of the Mena q-commerce market is anticipated to develop to about $47 billion by 2030, analysis from Redseer exhibits. Adjoining sector alternatives may additionally assist the q-commerce market within the area to develop in worth to $100bn by then, the consultancy stated.

Mr El Koussa says the pivot was dictated by demand developments that emerged within the post-Covid lockdown interval.

At the moment, Quiqup serves as an e-commerce enabler for small and medium enterprises in addition to bigger company shoppers. The platform gives last-mile logistics companies, utilizing AI and machine studying to energy its operations.

That a part of the market is “comparatively underserved and the chance is far wider for us in that space”, Mr El Koussa says.

Quiqup’s expertise within the London market has helped the corporate to develop its operations within the UAE shortly and huge conglomerates realised that “there’s numerous depth in our method”, he provides.

Since launching operations within the UAE, Quiqup has achieved about 160 per cent common compound annual progress fee, says Mr El Koussa.

In March, Quiqup acquired a assure for a Dh5 million ($1.36m) mortgage from the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund that can assist the enterprise acquire entry to “reasonably priced debt finance to constantly spend money on its analysis and growth capabilities”.

In November 2020, the delivery-tech start-up raised greater than $5.5m in a funding spherical led by Supply Hero. Current shareholders Cedar Mundi, JOBI Capital and Transmed additionally participated within the funding spherical.

Quiqup now plans to broaden its geographic footprint within the broader Mena area. The corporate goals to ascertain a presence in Saudi Arabia subsequent yr, which can most definitely be adopted by Egypt at a later stage, Mr El Koussa says.

“For us, Saudi Arabia is tremendous essential, and we’ve got our eyes on it.”

The corporate at the moment has sufficient capital and can look to boost extra funding at an “acceptable time” to gasoline additional progress, Mr El Koussa provides.

Q&A with Bassel El Koussa, co-founder and chief government of Quiqup

Who’s your position mannequin?

There’s multiple. Each my mother and father have actually impressed me, exhibiting me either side of the coin. The holistic considering got here from my mom. The skilled depth, imaginative and prescient and understanding of find out how to handle enterprise, organisations and other people properly has come from my father.

What’s your mantra of success?

Resilience in any respect prices — it’s all the time going to be that for me. It is embodied in our journey — an uncommon story of a enterprise that began in a lounge in London and ended up in Dubai. That is only a testomony to the truth that we let go of our biases and feelings. We all the time discover alternative to maneuver ahead.

Are you a risk-taker or a cautious entrepreneur?

It actually will depend on the state of affairs, however I might say I am a calculated risk-taker. There are occasions when it’s important to belief your intestine. After which there are occasions when that you must look deeply into issues earlier than you make choices. I manoeuvre between each ends of the spectrum continually.

What profitable start-ups do you would like you could possibly have began and why?

I like Tesla. Not essentially for the bravado and the star [status] of Elon Musk, however extra for the environmental influence that enterprise is bringing to the world, in an business that’s characterised as one of many largest contributors to carbon emissions. I believe that revolutionary method was wanted to shake up that total business, and that is what I actually love about that firm.

The place do you see Quiqup in 10 years from now?

We see this firm enabling lots of of hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout the Mena area which might be making the transition to the digital world and establishing on-line outlets. We wish to help native companies in getting on-line and turning into a part of the e-commerce revolution.

Mena is our first huge milestone, nevertheless, … we’d have a look at rising markets past the Mena area and will doubtlessly have a look at the remainder of Africa and South American markets [at a later stage].

What would you alter when you needed to do it over again?

I began this enterprise after I was 27 years outdated, and as a first-time founder, you shouldn’t have a degree of reference. So we are likely to dwell in numerous self-doubt. I believe, quicker decision-making and believing in oneself and trusting the intuition, is one thing that might be there in my subsequent enterprise. I might transfer quicker, I will simply imagine in myself a bit extra and take choices quicker.

What new abilities have you ever learnt with launching Quiqup?

I’ve learnt to pay attention — I believe that’s one thing numerous entrepreneurs have learnt. Slowing down and listening to each single view that’s offered to you by your individuals since you’re not in all places, you do not know the whole lot. You want to have the ability to soak up [information] after which allow [strategies]. The opposite factor is adaptability … [and] believing in realizing when to decide out of your intestine and when to look deeper.

What’s your recommendation for budding entrepreneurs?

Begin quick, fail quick and be taught quick.


Firm: Quiqup

Began: 2014

Founders: Bassel El Koussa, Federico Ferraro, Tim Linssen, Danny Hawkins

Based mostly: UAE

Trade: E-commerce Logistics

Funding measurement: $50m

Traders: Supply Hero, JOBI Capital, Transmed, IFA Capital, Alchimia, B8 Ventures

Up to date: August 22, 2022, 5:42 AM

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