Three Trends That My Startup Capitalized On To Successfully Navigate The COVID-19 Crisis
As a society, we have teleported into the future where mobile apps, Zoom calls, and online grocery deliveries have become the norm.
Over the last few years, startups in the Middle East have emerged as key drivers of economic growth and job creation, while also promoting innovation and creativity in a variety of sectors. The region has become a hub for startups, with a total of US$659 million invested in MENA-based companies since 2019, based on a report by the Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (DTEC). But now, with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, there have been a variety of challenges and opportunities for startups in an uncertain marketplace.
For starters, the pandemic has had an impact on the overall investment environment, with startups being one of the most vulnerable, both from a business and operations perspective. However, the crisis has also served as a catalyst for technology adoption with digitization becoming a core component of everyday life, as more and more people look for services from the comfort of their own homes. As a society, we have teleported into the future where mobile apps, Zoom calls, and online grocery deliveries have become the norm.
This is something I’ve personally experienced at my company, MySyara. We have faced the same challenges that the pandemic brought about, but ultimately, saw the opportunities for growth. Launched in 2019, MySyara offers the region’s first car maintenance app, providing users one-stop-shop for complete car care solutions on their doorstep. With the COVID-19 pandemic, and its resulting lockdown and social distancing implications, car owners have sought safer ways to maintain their vehicles without leaving their homes, and MySyara has been able to meet all their car maintenance needs with the click of a button.
MySyara has been able to come out of this tumultuous period by focusing on three trends to aid our growth- here’s a closer look at each of them:
1. COVID-19’s impact on consumer behavior Digital automotive services are fairly new in the region, but they have undergone a quantum leap in adoption. As highlighted in the PwC survey on digital content consumption, customers are looking for convenience without leaving their homes, and quicker contact-less interactions with automotive service providers. MySyara capitalized on this macroeconomic trend by allowing customers to book car washes and minor services via the app and call centre. In fact, the entire customer experience has been built with the focus of ensuring a seamless, transparent, and cost-effective car ownership experience where they are not required to move from their place of work or home.
2. COVID-19’s impact on customer acquisition Digital customer acquisition has been fairly favorable to our businesses, as digital content consumption has significantly increased. The surge in user sessions on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have allowed us to expand our brand reach quickly and effectively. In addition to social media customer acquisition efforts, the work-from-home behavior has allowed us to capitalize on the search engine element of customer consideration of our services as well.
3. Decline in new car sales A decrease in household spending is driving down new car sales and increasing average vehicle age in the region. This has created an opportunity for MySyara as the demand for vehicle maintenance outside of dealerships has increased. In addition, Mysyara has been able to provide highly competitive pricing to satisfy our customer’s needs. We have been able to focus on empowering local workshops by upskilling them to provide dealership level servicing at independent garage price levels.
With the rollout of the vaccines against COVID-19, a new world is now possible to be envisioned, especially as individuals, organizations, and customers adapt to new ways of operating by embracing disruptive technologies. This means that the future of the regional startup ecosystem stands on solid footing, and it’s up to the entrepreneurs themselves to follow through on their ideas, and make sure they achieve the success they dream of.
Chirenj Chandran is the CEO of MySyara, and he also serves on its board of directors. He is a former director at Amin Auto Care, Tyrecompare.ae, as well as WINCH Roadside Assistance. MySyara offers services ranging from doorstep waterless car washing and detailing, to pick-and-drop car servicing, diagnostics, and car repairs. The company has grown rapidly since its launch in 2019, when it introduced the Middle East’s first car maintenance app providing complete car care solutions at the touch of a button.