Despite a tech-savvy population and strong fundamentals, the Middle East region remains one of the underserved e-commerce markets worldwide. While this could be attributed to several reasons, a factor that is widely regarded as key is inadequate logistics infrastructure. It’s also a structural gap that startup WING.ae’s team zeroed in on while considering business ideas for their venture. “Discussion went around [about] taxi app, rent-a-car mobile app, and carpooling/sharing technology, but once we did a bit of research, [we realized] at the time there was very little [tech solution] in delivery and logistics,” says Muzaffar Karabaev, co-founder and CEO, WING.ae- an on-demand delivery and courier marketplace. Having started operations in early 2016, just few months into its launch, the logistics marketplace has managed to raise an undisclosed amount of seed funding from the region’s e-commerce giant Souq.com.
WING.ae’s mobile and web-based service allows individuals to compare rates among UAE carriers, and handles “small delivery tasks” for them. The business also has a B2B side to it, and works with merchants, who are looking for technological support to manage deliveries, and payments. Explaining how the startup managed to attract Souq’s interest, Karabaev says that their offering fits with Souq’s long-term growth strategy. “When they [Souq] grow their business, they can rely on our shipping solutions without having multiple relationships, or building their own fleet,” he notes. He adds that it’s also personally a great benefit for the WING.ae team to be mentored by Souq.com’s founder and CEO Ronaldo Mouchawar, and CFO Asif Keshodia.
What Happens Next
Co-founder Karabaev says that the startup’s main priority is to improve their “order allocation algorithm” for couriers, and improve “API for merchants/customers.” The team is also in the process of growing their network of courier services. “We see that the same day on-demand shipping is either very expensive or non-existent in UAE, apart from restaurant delivery. We see huge potential in this area,” he notes.
Tips For MENA Startups To Deliver An Effective Pitch
Muzaffar Karabaev, co-founder and CEO, WING.ae
“[First], build the version one of your technology, and make sure it works! [Second], have a solid team and at least two founders if it’s your first project- more founders the better. [Third], have a good business plan and financial model. [Your] track record helps, but if you are passionate and a hard worker, you will eventually get there. I am sure there will be No’s and failures along the way, but keep going! Also, do not take No for the answer, be persuasive and prove your point with facts and research.”
THE INVESTOR VIEW
Ronaldo Mouchawar, co-founder and CEO, Souq.com
What are Souq's reasons for investing in WING.ae?
“We were impressed by Wing’s team and vision to build a tech driven transparent logistic network. We believe that a platform such as WING.ae is equipped to fulfill enormous demands for Souq.com. The logistical needs of Souq.com continue to evolve and improve, since the only humanly interaction between the customer and the company is the last-mile delivery agent. Through WING, we believe that it provides a unique proposition that will enable to provide an overall better experience to our end customer.”
What competitive edge does Souq see in WING.ae’s solution?
“The unique proposition of WING is how it aggregates courier companies, fills the logistics supply gaps, creates economies of scale, and offers a win-win situation for the logistic companies as well as the customers and merchants. We believe that a platform such as WING.ae is equipped to fulfill enormous demands for Souq.com, especially during our big campaigns such as White Friday.”