Kuwait's MyHome Connects Homeowners To Verified Maintenance Professionals
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This article is part of a series on pioneering entrepreneurs in Kuwait that Entrepreneur Middle East has built in collaboration with Kuwait Finance House. Kuwait Finance House is considered a pioneer in Islamic finance or Sharia’a compliant banking, with it being the first Islamic bank established in 1977 in the State of Kuwait, and is today one of the foremost Islamic financial institutions in the world.
Owned by IT company Wabash Tech General Trading Co. WLL (which also developed the website Moqawalat.com), MyHome was launched in 2018 as a mobile-based application for Kuwait residents to connect with verified contractors, technicians, suppliers and other professionals for home maintenance needs. The entrepreneurs behind the venture -Abdullah Abbas Marafi, Mohammed J. Al-Awadhi and Bader Altukhaim- had the idea to reduce friction between residents and service providers. With the goal to organize the maintenance market and deliver quality service to their customers, the platform sets clear and transparent prices, as well as processes for the customer and technicians, matches providers with customers, gives customer 24/7 support and in-app warranty request for jobs and constant ongoing review of service providers. While customers can have easy access to technicians without searching through directories or classified newspapers, service providers can generate job leads from the platform.
The co-founders note they’ve held extensive market research, from pricing to service provider and forming a strong team to ensure they deliver the best, and so far, they’ve received positive feedback. For their profit model, CEO Awadhi says its all about ensuring they have capable service providers that work with integrity, responding to market need to grow their services accordingly, listening to user feedback both from homeowners and service providers and constantly adapting, and finally, ensuring the different needs of both parties. “Different stakeholders have different needs and striking the right balance between the two is key to making this business model work.”
As for what’s next, the co-founders plan to acquire “a more significant market share in the Kuwait market primarily by switching offline customers to using MyHome for home services,” plus introducing more service needed by the users and expanding to other markets in the future, developing new features and optimizing their internal operations to become more lean and efficient.
Excerpt from a conversation with co-founders Abdullah Abbas Marafi, Mohammed J. Al-Awadhi and Bader Altukhaim:
What has been the most negative feedback on your products/services/business solutions that you have received and how did you go about it?
When the app was just an idea, we were told that the maintenance market was not suited for the online world from both potential service providers and users. To get to product market fit, we mirrored the way that maintenance is done offline and replicated the process onto our app. We set prices for standard issues and left an option for users to request an assessment when the issue was not clear cut. Moreover, we gave technicians the ability to raise additional invoices for cases where additional work was required- it was key that we did not recreate the wheel to adapt, especially in a sector such as maintenance.
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait and why?
If you are an electronic business, make sure you have quality developers, as your code is everything and you can’t afford cutting corners when developing your product that may result in bugs or downtime during your launch or operations.
Hire skilled staff that are intelligent and self-motivated, and also share your goal. Employee equity is a great tool to align the interests of your staff with investors. Never underestimate the power of marketing, but you need to be efficient in applying your budget to the relevant target audience. Prove your business model, full-time dedication is very important. Launch, get feedback, revise and make changes accordingly. Be your own customer if you want to increase your chances of success. Creating a business that solves a problem you personally faced gives you a comprehensive understanding of the different pain points involved, and how to improve the status quo.
The product you launch with will never be your final product, it must keep on evolving and adapting to the market as you go. To that end, you do not have to worry about launching a product with all the features and plans you have in mind. Bring it down to its core element and launch fast, since the earlier you launch the more time you must test your product out and adjust. Some features will be reprioritized based on how your product is being used, and some features will only come to mind after you launch. Therefore, launching with an MVP allows you room to adapt and evolve according to market demands.
Lastly, what are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
There are many industries that are still offline in Kuwait and the region, I would advise to search for gaps in the market or try to cater to the needs of the people. Also, it is critical to take ample time to plan your business model, test your idea with a prototype and see how the market responds, then adjust accordingly.
There are many industries that are ripe for disruption mainly because they are operating offline and lack an online presence. The internet was mainly used to gather information, but nowadays people expect to act and transact online and that is where the big opportunity lies. Be a risk-taker and don’t fear failure. If you’re going to fail, make sure you fail fast and move on, leaving emotions out of the equation.