Verofax co-founders on how AI is powering their business
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SME story: Interview with Verofax founders Jamil Zablah & Wassim Merheby

SME story: Interview with Verofax founders Jamil Zablah & Wassim Merheby

Verofax is currently at the scale-up stage, providing marketing core competency solutions to six of the world’s top 100 global brands

Gulf Business
SME story: Interview with Jamil Zablah & Wassim Merheby, co-founders of Verofax

What inspired you to start Verofax?

We have extensive experience working in sales and marketing for global enterprises.

Throughout our careers, we noticed that traditional brands selling in multi-brand stores, struggled to connect with consumers and engage them effectively.

As a result, they faced challenges in driving trial, retention and advocacy. The channel held data, and two-way communication was not possible, which hindered the ability of consumers to learn more about  product qualities, validate authenticity, and receive personalised recommendations and promotions.

In such scenarios, brands had to resort to buying costly market analysis reports, which came late and were based on small sample sizes, hindering accuracy.

This problem became even more apparent when we compared the 25 per cent growth of direct-to-consumer brands with the struggles of incumbent brands to retain customers and grow.

In 2018, the emergence of blockchain and AI technology presented an opportunity to turn products on the shelf interactive, with the use of a unique weblink for direct-to-consumer communication and product validation.

This led us to establish Verofax, with the goal of developing a direct marketing solution that would help brands turn their products into their best marketing and communication tool. We soon saw that such an interactive tool per product item would soon replace the outdated barcode technology from 1967 that serves only to recognise items in stores.

We quickly put together a business plan and secured pre-seed investors who shared our vision to disrupt the digital product marketing industry, which is estimated to be worth $300bn.

Our goal was to offer an alternative tool that would delight customers and enable direct communication and marketing for brands.

What are some of the challenges you faced when starting off Verofax?

Back in 2019, our startup faced numerous challenges in the GCC region. The infrastructure for startup support and banking facilities were lacking, and there were no software-as-a-service (SaaS) venture capitalists (VCs) available.

Additionally, the UAE was not recognised as a software development hub, and it was challenging to attract tech talent due to the high cost of living and our limited budgets.

The pool of experienced professionals in developing and promoting SaaS solutions was limited, making it difficult to find and retain the right team members

Our global clients and prospects had constant doubts and questions about the proprietary nature of our solution being developed in the UAE. Unfortunately, VCs did not have technical due diligence teams to assess our B2B SaaS startup, which made it difficult for us to secure investments, especially when compared to other consumer-facing “Me-too” applications that may have had lower chances of success.

Tell us about your offering, its USP and business model.

Verofax is an award-winning AI-powered product twinning service that helps enterprises increase supply chain transparency and auditability, reduce operational costs with analytics, and enhance customer acquisition and retention marketing.

Brands can now turn every product interactive and a channel of direct communication. With computer vision, brands secure their supply chain and can validate purchases for release of rewards.

With AI analytics, we can help brands digest real-time consumption data to improve their operational efficiency. By leveraging Verofax’s technology at a low-cost and rapid deployment, businesses can accrue immediate benefits.

Tell us about your funding and how you plan to utilise it.

Verofax has conducted to date three funding rounds (pre-seed, seed, and a bridge convertible round totaling $3.1m).

Each round has been oversubscribed. We have some of the world leading VCs on our Cap table such as 500 startup, Dubai Angel Investors, Benson Oak Ventures Wami Capital, Trove Capital UK, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Privity and others.

We are currently raising a safe note round of $3m with several leading VCs such as Navig8 Group committing $2m to help scale our operations to the EU and North America and provide our services to
global brands.

We are also expanding our operations to Saudi Arabia and across MENA region in partnership with Microsoft as a digital native partner and with Saudi MCIT powered by Plug and Play.

Any expansion plans in the pipeline?

Verofax is currently at the scale-up stage, providing marketing core competency solutions to six of the world’s top 100 global brands. At present, we are working with 20 of the leading CPG brands in the world to help them implement our solution.

Our goal is to onboard an additional 40 brands by Q4 2023, and simultaneously launch our A round fundraising. This will allow us to further expand our offerings to brands and retailers worldwide.

How has MBRIF helped you with your business?

At our stage of growth and expansion, MBRIF has been invaluable by providing us with expert advisors of the highest caliber, whose insights have added tremendous value to our operations.

Moreover, the fund has facilitated opportunities for us to engage with government and corporate networks in the region, which has helped to expand our relationships and partnership opportunities.

Finally, it has connected us with global and regional investors, which is critical for scaling our next phase of growth.

Also read: SME Story: Interview with Prabhakar Posam, CEO of Patang

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