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The desert unicorn, Fetchr is revolutionizing global e-commerce in Middle East.

Idriss Al Rifai takes us through his journey of fetching success.

Started by Idriss Al Rifai and Joy Aljouny, Fetchr is an on demand delivery application that picks and delivers almost anything.

Founded in 2012, the company aims to automate the delivery and logistics niche. It is now operational in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt & Bahrain.

What motivated you to switch career from a civil servant at the Ministry of Defence to an e-commerce?

I worked with the French Ministry of Defense until 2008 in various capacities. At Business School, I was drawn heavily towards entrepreneurship and was filled with the urge to start a business of my own. After my MBA, I joined the Boston Consulting Group, where I got opportunities to speak with several VC investors.

Eventually, I moved to the e-commerce space where I headed operations for the then second largest player in the Middle East, when I realized that more than 2 billion people live without structured addresses, even in places of rapid development like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. I was consumed with solving the ‘no-address’ problem when I decided to start a company that would employ technology to overcome this challenge, and thus Fetchr was born.

What was the first step you took to build your company?

I am a firm believer of the fact that even if you are small in size (like an early stage start-up), you can create an impact.

Especially in today’s world where there is so much support for start-ups and disruption, small companies are becoming more and more agile and have started redefining the status quo. The realization that technology can solve the ‘no-address’ problem and that the MENA region is the right starting point for this made me hire a set of driven engineers and operations personnel to build what is now a 4000+ employee company!

What steps do you think you should take to turn your dream (Make fetchr a verb) into reality?

Over the past few years, we have built our brand based on quality experience for both our clients and our end customers.

In order to make ‘fetchr’ a verb, we need to continue to grow and expand to more countries, in addition to strengthening our core competencies (technology and operational efficiency).

Though we have grown exponentially and made a mark on the e-commerce logistics industry, we still have a long way to go to achieve our dream and I believe we are on track to realizing this.

What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now, and how are you making it happen?

A defining quality in the e-commerce industry is customer experience. With a ‘Customer First’ approach, we have always worked towards improving our services so as to provide a world-class experience to both clients and end customers. Keeping this in mind, we are working on some key initiatives:

  • Making the UI user-friendly and intuitive – reduce number of steps for booking and receiving packages.
  • Streamlining operations and improving efficiency using technology, with heavy investments into R&D.
  • Improving overall client and customer experience through quick complaint resolutions, AI-based scheduling of packages etc.

What makes this time so perfect for your startup to kick off?

The whole world is going digital. E-commerce in the Middle East is expected to grow to $20B. We have already grown at 350+% YoY over the last few years and are expected to continue along that trajectory. With top tier VCs investing in Middle East, this is a great time for start-ups to transform and grow.

Is your startup lucrative enough for investors? If yes, why?

Yes, of course!
The Middle East, particularly the GCC, has a unique combination of considerable disposable income coupled with an appetite for shopping and unmet demands for making shopping easier. As an innovative start-up operating in a high potential market, Fetchr is a very lucrative investment for VCs.

How to anticipate and avoid the pitfalls that can sink a Startup?

  • It is important to hire and retain the right talent by building an energizing work-culture.
  • Judicial use of funding raised – to be used for growing the organization and employee morale but not to be splurged unnecessarily.
  • Find the right balance between growing the business and streamlining daily operations – neglecting either can alter the trajectory of the start-up.
  • Delegate tasks to the right teams and make sure all teams work in-sync with each other towards a common goal.

Why, as a customer, should you sit at home and wait for six hours to get a package? The logistics company should come to you”

Idriss Al Rifai , Cofounder of Fetchr

Looking for a simple and reliable App for sending and receiving packages? Let’s Fetchr it! 😉