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SME Story: ZED, the e-hailing ride service, is focused on personalisation

SME Story: ZED, the e-hailing ride service, is focused on personalisation

We speak to Abhinav Patwa, the head of the e-hailing ride service, about its unique offerings and future plans

Neesha Salian
Abhinav Patwa, Head of Zed

Give us a brief history of Zed. What inspired you to start the company?

We saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between technology and transportation, offering a convenient and efficient alternative to conventional taxi services. We didn’t want to be just another taxi provider in a crowded market. Determined to be different, we delved into in-depth research and analysis, by conducting focus groups and consulting local consumer behaviour specialists. The insights we gained were eye-opening, leading us to create an app that goes beyond the ordinary – Zed.

Tell us more about Zed’s business model.

Our business model is centred around providing scheduled ride-hailing services through our mobile application. In order to book a Zed, users are required to create an account on the Zed platform and can link their preferred payment method, streamlining the transaction process. Registration is a fundamental step for customers to access Zed’s services and experience the convenience of our platform. The application has a user-friendly interface, allowing customers to effortlessly book rides in real-time. Additionally, users can customise their vehicle from lighting to temperature, track their driver’s location, order a cold brew, and pick their music of choice – all before entering the vehicle.

Safety is a key consideration for us. We prioritise the well-being of both riders and drivers. To establish trust and credibility, we have implemented rigorous safety features including conducting comprehensive background checks on drivers, and ensuring vehicle inspections meet the safety standards.

To ensure smooth operations, we continuously collect and analyse data including rider preferences, travel patterns, and driver performance, among others. Data analysis serves multiple purposes such as improving service quality, optimising routes to reduce travel times, and making informed decisions based on user behavior and preferences. Having a data-driven approach is instrumental in shaping the company’s strategies and service improvements and will help us build out our feature offerings as we go.

As we operate in the UAE, the regional focus enables us to tailor our services, marketing strategies, and pricing to match the demand and preferences of the UAE market.

Our localised operations allow us to remain competitive and relevant in the region. However, operating within the competitive landscape, our business model necessitates a focus on gaining and maintaining market share. In order to achieve this, we continuously introduce innovative features and maintain a high level of quality service.

What is Zed’s unique value proposition when it comes to urban transportation?

Zed’s USP in Dubai’s urban transportation sector lies in personalisation, convenience, and delivering a touch of luxury. We are not just another e-hailing service, we are a tailored experience.

Our mobile application allows users to set the mood by picking a playlist, controlling the lights, managing the temperature, and even ordering a cold brew before they get in the car. Additionally, we offer users the ability to schedule recurring rides to avoid the hassle of hailing a car during rush hour, mitigating the chance of ride cancellations and car unavailability.

We’re all about making each journey a reflection of the passenger’s preferences, from music choices to the ambiance. It’s not just transportation, it’s an experience and we’re committed to setting new standards in urban transportation, making it an integral part of the overall Dubai experience. That’s what sets us apart in this bustling city.

 Why did you feel there was a gap in the market and how is Zed plugging the gap?

We noticed a significant gap in the market because traditional e-hailing services lacked the convenience and personalisation that today’s customers expect. Dubai, being a city of luxury and dreams deserved a transportation service that mirrored that image.

Zed is plugging this gap by offering a fully customisable and convenient limousine service that is all about matching your mood and empowering you. It’s not just about getting from point A to point B – it’s a seamless journey where you control the lighting and temperature before you step into the car. You can even set up recurring rides for added convenience. We’ve taken the best experiences from various industries to craft an app that goes beyond the ordinary. We’re on a journey to transform urban transportation, making it more personalised and convenient for our users and we look forward to the impact we’ll make in the market.

How do you see the e-hailing industry evolving in the UAE, and how does Zed plan to position itself in this changing landscape?

 The e-hailing industry in the UAE is on an exciting trajectory, and Dubai has always been at the forefront of embracing innovation. Technology is at the core of this transformation. We can expect an increase in the use of online platforms to book rides, given the rise in smartphone penetration and the convenience of online payments. Dubai is considering the potential entry of flying cars, which is a fascinating development. Sustainability is another significant factor. The move towards electric cars is not just a global trend but also a growing focus in the UAE, driven by environmental considerations and the need for cleaner transportation solutions.

At the heart of everything happening in the UAE is the concept of experience, and that’s precisely where Zed fits in. Zed is all about delivering exceptional, personalised, and luxurious experiences to our users. As the landscape evolves, we plan to position ourselves as the go-to choice for those who seek not just a ride but a memorable journey.

Our commitment to personalisation, convenience, and a touch of luxury aligns perfectly with the changing dynamics of the e-hailing industry in the UAE. We’re excited to be a part of this transformation and set new standards in the sector.

Zed places a strong emphasis on passenger customisation. Give us examples of the most unique and personalised ride experiences that Zed offers.

Each Zed journey is about tailoring the experience to you. When you sign up, you can choose your favourite colour, and the floor inside of your Zed will light up in that custom colour. But it doesn’t stop there. We give you the controls to create different modes to match your journey needs. Whether it’s a work mode, relax mode or travel mode, you have the choice to adjust the lighting, select your favourite playlist, set the music volume, and even control the temperature before your Zed arrives.

Want a chat or some quiet time during the ride? You decide how much conversation you want with your driver. And for those who can’t start their day without that perfect brew, you can pre-order your iced coffee, so it’s ready for you when you step into the car, saving you the morning rush. And for those regular commutes or appointments, Zed offers the convenience of setting up recurring rides known as rhythms, so you don’t have to worry about hailing a cab during busy hours. It’s all about making your journey truly yours, tailored to your preferences.

 What key lessons did you learn during your career that have influenced your approach?

 Throughout my career, I’ve learned some invaluable lessons that have influenced my approach as the head. One of them is the importance of differentiation. In a competitive landscape, it’s crucial to stand out and offer something unique. Zed was born out of this idea – to break away from the ordinary and offer a distinct, personalised transportation experience.

Another significant lesson is the value of starting small, becoming strong, and then scaling. It’s about building a strong foundation before aiming for larger horizons. We began in Dubai, with a clear focus on delivering exceptional service in this vibrant city, and we are now looking at expanding while maintaining our high standards.

Furthermore, perhaps the most crucial lesson is that customer experience is of utmost importance. In our case, the driver is our first customer. They play a pivotal role in delivering an unforgettable experience for our passengers. If our drivers are happy, our passengers will be too. So, we put a lot of emphasis on ensuring our drivers are satisfied and well-equipped to provide an excellent service. These lessons have shaped Zed’s approach, and we’re committed to setting new standards in urban transportation by applying these principles.

Being a startup, how is Zed funded?

As a startup, we’re fortunate to have the backing of one of the largest family business groups in the UAE. Their support has been instrumental in helping us bring our vision of redefining urban transportation to life

What plans do you have for Zed for the next six months and beyond?

Dubai is our primary focus for the short term, where we’re deeply committed to making a significant impact and setting high standards for transportation services. Beyond Dubai, we have ambitions to expand into other markets, including opportunities in the UAE and potentially beyond. Our goal is to replicate the success we’re achieving in Dubai and bring the Zed experience to more people, offering personalised and revolutionised transportation.

In the coming months and beyond, our plans for Zed are straightforward. We aim to continually enhance our offerings, ensuring each ride with Zed is a memorable journey, not just transportation. We’re dedicated to setting new standards in urban transportation, with exciting developments on the horizon. Our mission is to make Zed the go-to choice for personalised, convenient, and luxurious transportation.

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