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Riding The (Digital) Wave: KMMRCE Holdings Founder Darren Hodgkin KMMRCE Technologies and KMMRCE Pay are the latest culmination of Hodgkin's entrepreneurial learnings so far.

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed Edited by Aby Sam Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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KMMRCE Holdings
Darren Hodgkin, Chairman and founder, KMMRCE Holdings

"I have always been fascinated by digital technology trends, even at the earliest stages of my career spent working in print. I saw a massive amount of untapped potential in the capabilities we could bring clients, helping them to create deeper connections with their customers across multiple platforms." For Darren Hodgkin, Chairman and founder of UAE-based KMMRCE Holdings, riding the wave of digital trends and innovations has been his career's main purpose, long before the coronavirus pandemic re-maneuvered the business landscape into making "digitization" the norm.

Over the past decade, KMMRCE Holdings has built its standing in the UAE as a portfolio of companies and investments that offer agnostic software-as-a-service (SaaS) and payment-as-a-service (PaaS) technologies, and global fintech services. Two such brands -homegrown SaaS company KMMRCE Technologies and financial ecosystem-as-a-service (EsaaS) specialist KMMRCE Pay- were established as KMMRCE Holdings' subsidiaries in early 2022. Soon after, in a move to further solidify its position in the country's ecosystem, KMMRCE Holdings opened its headquarters at the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC). "With DIFC committed to driving digital innovation, we're confident that their world-class reputation and infrastructural support will play a big part in our expansion as we cater to the technological needs of both local and international entities," Hodgkin notes.

This statement briefly reflects what Hodgkin has maintained needs to be at the forefront of every new project he's been at the helm of: innovation. "On one hand, technological innovation means always looking ahead and being prepared to act fast, but simply being new (or different) is never enough for long," he explains. "To innovate successfully and create something with staying power, you need to build the proper foundations based on knowledge and expertise. Rather than rushing to be first over the line, two of the biggest lessons I've learnt are taking the time to acknowledge things you don't know as a leader, and being laser-focused on finding the best talent who can fill those gaps."

Source: KMMRCE

KMMRCE Technologies and KMMRCE Pay are thus the latest culmination of Hodgkin's entrepreneurial learnings so far. As a SaaS subscription and turnkey e-commerce solution platform, KMMRCE Technologies predominantly targets enterprise-level clients across multiple verticals, including grocery, beauty, electronics, fashion, wholesale, home furnishings, edtech, and fittech. "The platform features more than 50 unique modules that can be used to customize, build, manage, and grow a successful digital business," Hodgkin says. "KMMRCE Technologies has two main revenue models: the first being a SaaS subscription. The second, which falls under KMMRCE Special Projects, involves a full-service consultancy solution tailored to the specific needs of our clients' businesses." Using a tech stack that enables businesses to easily integrate into the KMMRCE platform, it also offers other amenities such as customizable backend-as-a-service (BaaS) dashboards, digital wallets, and predefined customer journey maps.

Darren Hodgkin, Chairman and founder, KMMRCE Holdings. Source: KMMRCE

One may wonder what exactly sets this particular platform apart in a market that has seen a sudden surge in e-commerce solutions over the past two years. The answer to that lies in the time that has been spent on creating the technology that runs it- KMMRCE Technologies may be a standalone brand today, but it was first introduced ten years ago as a developer. "We have been developing the technology behind KMMRCE in the market for several years through long-standing digital, e-commerce, and fintech partnerships," Hodgkin points out. "Our goal, back then, was to provide future-forward e-commerce platforms to take clients online, and create maximum impact in the eyes of their consumers, at a time when the majority of brands were still relying on physical stores. After developing a comprehensive, proven enterprise-level tech stack that provided seamless integration to clients' varying enterprise needs, we saw the opportunity to move into the SaaS market."

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The COVID-19 crisis forced business owners across the globe to unlearn old ways and adapt to a new world where online businesses were now the norm. But while this process was one that was novel and difficult to navigate for many, it was familiar territory for Hodgkin and the KMMRCE team. That ultimately became KMMRCE Technologies' main competitive advantage, says Hodgkin. "With the technology already in place to help middle-sized to large retail organizations maximize the massive opportunities available, we saw the breadth and reach of our SaaS model grow rapidly," he says. "Our main focus, however, has always been on constantly evolving the platform to help clients increase revenue and achieve their business goals. For example, we've developed added-value support in areas such as picking, packing and delivery and loyalty management systems."

Source: KMMRCE

And if the setting up of digital businesses has been one digital trend Hodgkin has aimed to stay atop, the other has been the growth of the fintech sector. Created as a PaaS transactional-based business, KMMRCE Pay enables seamless online and offline transactions for financial institutions, both traditional and digital. "KMMRCE Pay offers an entire payments ecosystem as a service," explains Hodgkin. "We can deliver bespoke payment solutions to tier-one banks, governments, telcos, fintech firms, and retail merchants. By occupying the role of issuer, processor, and acquirer for online and offline transactions, we serve clients from end-to-end."

Among KMMRCE Pay's many services include payment gateways, digital wallets, issuance of credit, debit, and loyalty cards, point of sale (POS) installation, and systems management. While KMMRCE Pay can be availed as a separate service, it can also be used by merchants and business owners who have already set up digital businesses using KMMRCE Technologies. "Our individual tech stacks offer seamless migration via a payment gateway, and KMMRCE Technologies' customers can avail the best rates," Hodgkin says. "Online retailers can also benefit from additional plug-ins for social commerce capabilities and loyalty programs."

But the buck doesn't stop here for Hodgkin- he has already got his sights set on the next digital trend to target. "SaaS, EsaaS, including grocery, beauty, electronics, fashion, wholesale, home furnishings, edtech, fittech, and fintech are only going to get bigger and more aggressive with increased demand for faster, agile, single-based solutions," he explains. "We will be developing ancillary services to streamline operational efficiencies for clients and equip them with the digital retail and financial infrastructure to excel."

As for his goals for the long term, Hodgkin's reply brims with the kind of confidence that can only come when you've been leading a firm with a vision for over a decade. "KMMRCE Technologies has an aggressive roadmap for the number of added-value services we will offer clients, and we aim to have more than 1000 individual websites operating on the KMMRCE platform in the next 12 to 18 months," he says. "The focus now is on investing in developing our internal resources to strengthen our capabilities from within, so that we can ensure the quality of services we put out into the market."

Related: Dubai-Based Fintech Startup Stake Is On A Mission To Democratize Real Estate

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East.

She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and was also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program.

Ahmed is particularly keen on writing stories involving people-centric leadership, female-owned startups, and entrepreneurs who've beaten significant odds to realize their goals.

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