“From adversity comes opportunity” … this famous saying of the American polymath Benjamin Franklin fits well in the context of Covid-19.
The pandemic, which disrupted businesses and shook the global economy, also gave many entrepreneurs an opportunity to twist business strategies, boost services, improve products and solve various bottlenecks that industries face.
For Ahmad Ramahi, Mohammad Abu Kwaik and Nasser Almaawi, the founders of Riyadh-based crowdsourced delivery of startup WeDeliver, this is an opportunity to address pandemic-induced supply chain barriers, expand the customer base and enter new territories with their innovative offerings.
“Covid had a very positive impact on our business … because lockdowns and home orders increased the demand for supplies that customers were unable or unwilling to go out to buy goods,” said Ramahi, 33, who worked as operations manager at ride-paying company Careem before we start WeDeliver, says The national.
At an early stage, we realized the need for reliable, cost-effective last-mile delivery to businesses in our region.
Ahmed Ramahi, CEO and co-founder of WeDeliver
“Working at Careem was an inspiring journey. It helped me see how fast-growing start-ups work … I learned a lot about a sharing economy, so I left my job to start my own entrepreneurial journey equipped with my experience in active-light operations. ”
WeDeliver connects companies with delivery needs for individual drivers. It uses technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to connect companies that have packages to be delivered to freelance drivers via a mobile app.
“We realized at an early stage the need for reliable and cost-effective last-mile delivery to companies in our region. Demand for such services has risen sharply during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, ”said Ramahi.
The Corona pandemic has led to an increase in demand for last-mile deliveries as companies digitize to keep up with changing consumer habits.
The global last-minute delivery market is likely to grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 9 percent to reach more than $ 66 billion in 2026 from $ 39.6 billion last year, according to a report of Bengaluru, the India-based market research firm Valuates Reports.
Key factors driving the growth of the last mile industry include rapid integration of technologies into existing systems, increase in demand for fast and reliable delivery, increase in internet penetration and proliferation of the e-commerce industry.
WeDeliver was founded in October 2018 and fulfilled the first delivery via its network of drivers in January 2019. Since then, there has been no looking back at the company, says Ramahi.
Currently, it meets more than 1,700 shipments a day on average through its network of over 1,000 freelancers. It aims to double the daily number of shipments by the end of this year.
The startup says it has tripled revenue in the last four months and achieved double-digit growth every month since launch.
“WeDeliver serves hundreds of businesses of all sizes every day. We have maintained a double-digit month to month [shipment] growth since we started … and we tripled our numbers in the period April to June on a quarterly basis, ”says Ramahi.
WeDeliver does not hire drivers or own warehouses. It also reduces the total delivery cost by using crowdsourced freelance drivers and underutilized warehouses for storage.
The founders started the business with their own money, but English investors also joined at an early stage (within a few months of starting) with $ 110,000, according to Ramahi.
After raising $ 2.4 million in a pre-financing round in July, the company is now seeking to raise new funds.
“Fundraising is essential for any startup to continue to survive in the highly competitive market and maintain high growth rates … new investments will support our product development, acquire talent and expansion plans,” says Ramahi.
“WeDeliver plans to open a new round of investment soon with the aim of raising more [of] million dollars to support product development and further expansion plans. ”
The startup, whose pre-seed financing round was oversubscribed, is eager to partner with “strategic institutional and individual investors” who can add value beyond capital and support its expansion plans.
Its current investors include Vest Investment, Palestine Telecommunications Group Paltel, Salasel Alimdad Logistics, the Mutasami Family Fund, Arcom Technologies and a group of Saudi angel investors.
With the injection of new funds, WeDeliver aims to expand its team from 22 to 30 by the end of next month.
“Building the right team is one of the most important factors for the success of any startup. We worked with limited resources … [but] now with new funds we are opening new vacancies to fill some gaps in the company, but we still need a bigger budget until we have a more mature organizational structure, ”says Ramahi.
Using the WeDeliver application, companies can request a driver and have their package delivered anywhere in the kingdom. It also offers all parties in the delivery process real-time updates to keep track of the status and location of the goods.
The company plans to expand outside of Saudi Arabia in the next few months.
WeDeliver is developing a “promising franchise model” that the company will start piloting from the first quarter of next year, according to Ramahi.
“We will expand to 10 new cities in three countries … new markets are not finished yet as we are still conducting market research … but Jordan’s operations are expected to be launched at the end of the fourth quarter of this year,” he says.
WeDeliver, which aims to be profitable soon, is not open to an exit. Its founders intend to expand operations across continents in the coming years.
“We are not cash positive yet because of our investment in building the product and business expansion … operations are profitable in some cities and we predict to be profitable in most of our operating areas in the second quarter of next year,” said Mr Ramahi. .
“Being acquired is not a goal for us at this stage, I think it can be a result of hard work and great results. If there is a good opportunity, we will definitely consider it, ”he adds.
Questions and Answers: WeDeliver’s co-founder and CEO Ahmed Ramahi
Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
I see WeDeliver as a global leader in the last-kilometer delivery space, operating in all countries across five continents. It will appear as the first choice for an on-demand delivery service for all customers.
What gives you confidence when competing in one of the most competitive industries?
The logistics industry is huge and still booming, but it still depends on heavy assets … which is why we see a great opportunity for our innovative tech-driven asset-lightweight operating model that is already disrupting the last mile industry.
Are you a risk taker or a cautious entrepreneur?
Risk taker for sure. I always believe in my entrepreneurial instincts and prefer to go after them. The results have been very satisfactory.
If you could change one thing in your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?
Some previous hiring decisions were not right. Though I realized it at an early stage, but I kept giving chances. Unfortunately, it had a bad impact on the company. But we have acknowledged the flaws and have improved our process of acquiring talent over the years.
What is your vision for the next 10 years?
WeDeliver strives to be the preferred delivery brand on demand.
I strongly believe that WeDeliver has the potential to be the first deca-corn in the region (starting with a valuation of over $ 10 billion). This is because we work in an industry with a huge market size and we can deliver scalable solutions that will ultimately allow us to have a foothold in new markets outside our region.
What are WeDeliver’s core values?
Creating new jobs and supporting society are key parts of our values. According to our principles, we aim to create more than 5,000 jobs by the end of 2022, both full-time and part-time. Our mantra of success is to be agile and build a network of reliable partners.
What new skills have you learned in the process of starting your startup?
My communication skills have definitely improved as I deal with many stakeholders on a daily basis at the same time. They include my colleagues, clients, captains, investors and potential partners. For me, every day is a new learning experience.
Company Name: WeDeliver
Started: October 2018
Founders: Ahmed Ramahi, Mohammad Abu Kwaik and Nasser Almaawi
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Industry: Logistics, last kilometer delivery
Capital raised since inception: Over $ 2.5 million
Investors: Vest Investment, Palestine Telecommunications Group Paltel, Salasel Alimdad Logistics, Mutasami Family Fund, Arcom Technologies and a group of Saudi angel investors
Updated: September 5, 2021, 6:40 p.m.
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