Startup Spotlight: Abu Dhabi-Based Verofax's Traceability-As-A-Service Solution Is Helping Digitally Transform Brands In The UAE
In the time that has passed since its launch, Verofax has seen its operations extend to other areas of the world such as the United Kingdom, Southeast Asia, Africa, and North America.
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This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.
It was after witnessing an increase in counterfeit retail products that Wassim Merheby and Jamil Zablah decided to launch Abu Dhabi-based tech startup Verofax in 2018. "Verofax was started as a compliance and operational excellence solution, because we saw a need for product validation in the market in light of the growth of counterfeits," explains Merheby. "No tool in the market used digital product identifications (IDs) to authenticate product attributes; soon after, we realized that the potential of digital IDs went far beyond just product validation, and understood their use as a marketing tool. With product digitization, we enable businesses to track every product's lifecycle from manufacturing to the point of sale, and collect data at each point."
Having thus discovered multiple opportunities from what started as a singular solution, the Verofax co-founders thus set forth to create a range of consumer and retail tech solutions to help digitally transform brands. That was achieved by amping up the startup's offerings with a traceability-as-a-service (TaaS) solution. Using this, the Verofax platform enables the generation of real-time purchase data by offering a unique microsite (or individual web page) per product. The blockchain-enabled TaaS tool also offers what is known as a "consumption heatmap," which collects data points on where, when, and how products are consumed, as well as by whom. "We provide brands with a comprehensive suite of insights and advanced analytics to support better understanding of their customer behavior, and thus improve customer satisfaction," Merheby points out. "By creating a microsite per item, we enable brands to collect insights and data points on product consumption and consumer behavior in real-time. Brands can then leverage this data to achieve operational excellence and better engage with consumers, improving their overall sales and product availability."
Wassim Merheby, co-founder and CEO, Verofax. Source: Verofax
In the time that has passed since its launch, Verofax has seen its operations extend to other areas of the world such as the United Kingdom, Southeast Asia, Africa, and North America. And in all these locations, by empowering merchants with information that sources purely from their clientele, Verofax's end-goal is to help brands secure customer loyalty. "Modern consumers are looking for an experiential, conversational, personalized buying experience that current solutions don't provide," Merheby adds. "Verofax unlocks capabilities for brands to get direct first-party information from consumers by using their primary product packaging as a more effective marketing tool. Our solution enables brands to turn their offline products interactive, and into a direct-to-consumer marketing channel. Tokenized rewards are also granted for long-term consumer retention. Our solution capabilities set us apart because we can reduce brand customer acquisition costs to around US$1, increase customer acquisition rates to over 60%, and increase customer retention by six times."
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However, collecting real-time consumer data isn't all that has contributed to the numbers Merheby shares. Verofax also offers augmented reality (AR) services to enhance the quality of consumer interactions at brand events. Having already tapped into this space, it is no surprise then that Merheby and his team have plans to move into the Web3 arena in the upcoming year. "As a technology company, innovation is mission critical to our business; this is why we already have research and development plans for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the Web3 economy going into 2023," Merheby says. "We are constantly thinking of new ways to evolve our business to offer the best solution to our clients, and stay ahead of our competition. We pride ourselves on the relationships that we build with our clients; from the discovery call to execution, we work with them every step of the way."
The Verofax platform enables the generation of real-time consumption data by offering a unique microsite (or individual web page) per product. Source: Verofax
Verofax hasn't come this far into its journey as a solo act, of course. In its three funding rounds so far, the startup has amassed $3.1 million in investment. The different rounds have seen participation from investment firms such as UK-based Trove Capital Limited, Canadabased Mfd Holdings Inc., UAE's Dubai Angel Investors Limited, as well as the Saudi Arabia-based Sanabil 500 MENA Accelerator. "One of the main benefits of building our solution in this region has to be that the UAE has the highest share of fundraising in the region," Merheby says. "Additionally, we have a network of distribution partners globally to access local markets- this is what has helped us in Asia with expansion into Web3 solutions like NFTs, and in Africa for the compliance solution side of the business. We are a Microsoft digital native partner, and our solutions are also listed on both the Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS) marketplaces. We have a self-serve page on our website with four subscription plans of varying levels of benefits to serve businesses of all sizes."
With Dubai being a key office location for Microsoft and AWS, Verofax has found considerable ease in setting up business in the UAE. But Merheby candidly also states that all is not rosy for software companies in the country. "The wider community still doesn't look at Dubai as a city where software is developed for consumption; rather, it is still a place where technology is consumed more," he says. "We are constantly met with doubt and questions about the legitimacy of our solution. Additionally, we find that there is a lack of understanding around B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) products- there aren't many venture capitalists in the Emirate that are tech-focused; the investment allocation is given mainly to consumer-focused applications. Finding and retaining the right talent from the UAE is another challenge, as the pool of experienced professionals in selling SaaS solutions is limited."
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