Kuwait's Blue Outdoors Aims To Be The Go-To Platform for Enthusiasts Of Outdoor Activities
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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.
As an entrepreneur, Majed Alhamlan says that he is always on the look out for opportunities. His first company, Fresh Boat Marine, focused on boat maintenance and detailing services, and from building relationships with marine and outdoor suppliers and customers, he came across another idea for a venture. He noted that the clientele often have a hard time finding the right supplies and access to customer service, while outdoor suppliers have problems reaching their audience because of showroom locations and lack of online presence.
Launched in 2017, Blue Outdoors initially started providing spare parts and accessories for marine vehicles, and with fluctuating online store sales throughout the year, Alhamlan pivoted the business to include not only products related to boats, but also those relating to summer and winter sports, outdoor entertainment, and many other categories. Today, Blue Outdoors is an online marketplace for outdoor entertainment products in Kuwait. Through its website and mobile application available on iOS and Android, Blue Outdoors provides products from boat accessories and water sports equipment to camping and trips products.
With more than 14 categories, over 100 brands, and more than 45 local suppliers, the platform also features a marine directory for water sports schools, diving centers, and adventure trips companies, as well as a maintenance center, various payment options, and more. Suppliers can benefit from having an online point of sale to potentially increase sales, a 24-hour delivery service for customers to all areas in Kuwait, and marketing opportunities through digital and social media outlets. For customers, it’s a one-stop shop to buy all their needs online from multiple suppliers.
The venture was met with positive feedback from customers and suppliers upon launching. The business model is based on commissions and delivery chargers. Suppliers don’t need a fee to join the platform; they can just provide a fixed percentage or multiple percentages based on product cost. Higher percentages will lead into more benefits for suppliers, such as extensive marketing campaigns and special offers. Customers are also charged a delivery fee based on their location. Alhamlam also notes they do get a small percentage of products from international suppliers: “The percentage we get from international suppliers is much higher than local suppliers, which will balance the overall commission percentage average.”
With advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alhamlam says that they’ve been taking precautions with regards to the safety and health to their staff and customers. Following the government’s curfew regulations, the startup continues to offer their delivery service, with minimized office hours and work-from-home options. “We are trying to help our customers to get through this crisis and try to minimize their losses,” says Alhamlam. With their suppliers struggling to maintain business continuity, Alhamlam notes they’re approaching them to urge them to add more products to the platform and offering to deliver to their customers, as well as use their payment gateway to serve customers.
With more plans for growth across GCC, the team welcomes feedback from customers as much as possible, as well as try to capture as many local supplies as possible. “This will give us a competitive advantage, since our goal is to be the biggest online market for outdoor, marine, and sports products.”
‘TREP TALK: Majed Alhamlan, founder and Managing Partner, Blue Outdoors
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait?
"Before starting a business, entrepreneurs should study the market they are about to enter. They need to gather as much information as possible in order to understand the market. Once they are ready to launch, using a minimum viable product (MVP) method is necessary to test their product in the market, as it will save entrepreneurs a lot of money. Launching a first version of the service/product is less expensive than developing a product with more features. At the soft launch period, entrepreneurs must gather as much feedback as possible from users. This will help them improve their product/service and implement the feedback and ideas, while developing their product/service. By doing that, entrepreneurs will have the chance to fix and develop their product/service and pivot their ideas if needed, and of course, will save them a lot of money in this process. My other advice is being careful when choosing their business partners- building a strong team is essential and extremely important. So, they need to look for hard working partners who can add value to the business."
What are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today, and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
"Since we recognize the importance of technology in our day-to-day lives, investing in technology is always a good idea. Solving current problems in the market by implementing tech solutions is promising. There are a lot of sectors in the Kuwaiti market that need developments and a lot of investments in order to compete in this fast-changing world. Technology is being developed every day at a very fast scale and possible solutions are becoming available every day. Paying attention to the development of the tech industry is very important as opportunities are being created every day. Looking for problems in the market and trying to solve it is what entrepreneurship is all about- trying to change the world, and making a difference for millions of people."