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Five minutes with…Idriss Al Rifai – CEO and Founder of Fetchr

Five minutes with…Idriss Al Rifai – CEO and Founder of Fetchr

The on-demand delivery space is blossoming with hundreds of new companies disrupting an industry that hasn’t seen much change in the past 30 years, says Al Rifai

1. Could you explain a little about what Fetchr is about?

Fetchr’s vision is to enable all deliveries through technology. We want to be the world’s easiest, fastest, most convenient way to ship anything anywhere. We want to make shipping as easy as shopping, making delivery and pick up as easy as two clicks. We want to change standards for delivery.

2. What potential do you see for Fetchr in the UAE market?

The potential is huge. Receiving a package has always been a painful experience. We want to change that and make the shipping experience as delightful as shopping. We are working around your schedule and your constraints, and not the other way around. We also believe that a very similarly painful experience is shared by consumers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

3. What are the growth areas currently for your industry?

The on-demand delivery space is blossoming with hundreds of new companies disrupting an industry that hasn’t seen much change in the past 30 years. The trend is clear in the US and Europe where technology brought the delivery experience to a whole different level. We want to drive the change in the Middle East and Africa and provide a better experience for the customer: easier to use, faster and more predictable and transparent.

4. What new feature will your company launch this year?

We are launching a flock of new features. We are constantly improving our product and value proposition. One of the next features we are going to launch is international peer to peer deliveries, allowing anyone to send a package internationally just by pressing two buttons on his cell phone.

5. Will you be expanding into new territory?

Yes, our goal is to expand across the GCC and other key markets that face similar issues.

6. What are the biggest challenges for UAE businesses in your sector?

There are multiple challenges in the ecommerce space in the region. They deal mainly with the quality of the delivery services, the legal environment (or the lack thereof to operate an ecommerce business) and funding. Despite these massive challenges ecommerce has shown tremendous growth in the past few years across the Gulf. It represents a fantastic opportunity for any retailer or anybody who want to reach a regional audience with very limited upfront costs.

7. Fetchr is a start-up. How hard is it for start-ups to thrive in the UAE?

Challenges are plentiful: legal setting and fees, finding the right talent, finding technology team and retaining the team against tough competition and mature companies but also funding, the absence of debt financing for any start up. The list is long. Dubai, however has this entrepreneurial energy where things happen. The startup community is burgeoning.

8. There are many start-ups that focus on various aspects of e-commerce. Do you think this space is getting competitive?

As the space becomes more mature, competition becomes tough. We are however still very far from the level of saturation you can experience in the US or in other more mature markets. It is still a great time to start an online business as the market grows more than 30% year over year. Some segments of the ecommerce space are becoming more competitive ultimately giving better value for money to the end consumer.

9. Will you be hiring this year?

We are definitely hiring this year in multiple countries and multiple roles: sales, operations, technology are our key focus for the year and we are always looking for talented and motivated people!

10. What’s your leadership style?

My best leadership moments happened when I realized I did not have to lead. I surround myself with a leadership team who has similar values but diverse strengths. They are able to balance with my own strengths and weaknesses in an ego-free environment to get the job done.

11. What makes the perfect employee?

The perfect employee is someone who feels inspired by the vision of the company and therefore it’s not a job but their passion. Coming to work is not a means to an end but rather a place that fuels your own inner self to achieve greatness. The dedication is the most important thing; the rest can be trained/ learned.

12. Define success in five words…

Building something you’re proud of.

13. Three tips for becoming the boss…

• Always be the one ready to work the hardest
• Know what you are strong at and work on gather a team around you to work on your blind spots
• Always exceed expectations

14. When I’m not at work I like to…

Basketball has always been my passion. I always try to carve out some time for this!

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