MOVE IT LIKE…
IDRISS AL-RIFAI, FETCHR

Company profile

Tell me how you got in to the last-mile industry

Prior to starting Fetchr, I was heading operations at Marka VIP, a leading e-commerce company in MENA back in the day. The company faced several issues with customer complaints about delayed packages or sometimes packages not getting delivered at all due to drivers facing issues finding addresses in the region, leading to high return rates. The industry did not care about the customer, did not take them seriously. I built an in-house logistics department to expedite deliveries. While working on this, I realized the potential impact a customer-centric, technology backed delivery solution could have for ecommerce and all deliveries across the region. In 2012 I decided to start Fetchr with Hassan Al Sayegh, Omar Yaghmour and teamed up with Joy Ajlouny, Co-Founder and Creative Director.

Tell us more about your journey

It has been quite a roller coaster ride with all that we have accomplished till date. From starting off in 2012 and being the youngest logistics company in the region, to present where we are considered a top name across the MENA region. I believe getting to the stage where we are today has been a combination of persistence and a relentless attitude to keep going. The most important thing in a start up is to be relentless and keep pushing.

Who/what are your main influences? 

My parents are a great part of what made me who I am right now. They always have been present by my side and helped me dramatically when things were extremely difficult and when we had no money to keep the company afloat. I will always be thankful for that. On the business side, I am a big fan of what Ronaldo Mouchawar did with Souq.com. After more than 15 years of hard work he managed to sell his company to Amazon a few months back. I can’t imagine what he has been through while growing the company in a nascent ecosystem.

What has been your biggest focus area for fetchr recently?

Recently, we have been focused on growing our cross-border movement from UK, USA and China into the MENA region. E-commerce has been a big focus area as more and more customers are shopping online. We want to facilitate this into the region and open up the market for international players who are looking for a reliable shipping company in MENA. E-commerce is under developed in the Middle East while the key enablers are there. I am very bullish on the growth of e-commerce and believe there are lots to be done now.

What makes fetchr unique? What sets it apart from your competitors? 

Our unique edge is our technology that sets us apart from our competitors in the region. The MENA region, unlike the more developed parts of the world, does not have a clear address system and therefore on-time deliveries can be a challenge. With our fetchr app, we capture customers GPS location and deliver the package to customers wherever they are. Moreover, we provide flexibility with scheduling, including multiple time slots everyday, allowing our customers to tailor their shipping experience. In short, we make the need of an address completely obsolete.

Can you define your company culture? 

Our culture at fetchr is driven by a strong sense of team-work, trust and ownership. We have instilled a culture where we focus on delivering products and services that address customer needs. Moreover, I believe we have a very open culture where we encourage our people to drive projects and at the same time leverage their teams as and when required.

What are fetchr’s specific requirements and priorities when it comes to transporting goods?

Our key priorities for our last mile delivery services include maintaining all our vehicles in good condition, ensuring that our temperature-controlled vehicles are operating at optimal temperatures and ensuring the safety of our drivers. We follow best practices in our warehouses as well to ensure all products are stored safely and in the optimal temperatures to ensure the quality of products at the time of dispatch.

What are your expectations for your shippers?

I think one of the key requirements and expectations that our clients have is providing a consistent delivery experience with short lead times. With our technology and best in class Operating Management System, we are able to meet this key requirement. Additionally, our clients also value the customizations that we offer them with our fleet and technology (time slots, white label solutions etc.)

What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now, and how are you making it happen?

The most important thing we are working on right now is growing our international deliveries from UK, USA and China into the MENA region. This is driven purely by customers who want to shop online from international markets and by e-commerce companies looking for a reliable partner to launch their deliveries into the region. We are setting up partnerships with parcel aggregators and large e-commerce companies who value better customer experience and – ultimately – lower “un-delivery” rates thanks to our technology.

What do you attribute the success of the business to?

I think the biggest driver of our success is our strong pool of talented people. I believe we have been fortunate to have a very driven and customer focused team that has helped us grow quickly in a short period of time. I also believe that working with like-minded people like Joy and Omar at the top is critical.

What has been your biggest learning/challenge to date?

I think one of my biggest challenges from first starting off the company has been raising and to attracting VC funding locally as a lot of people were still risk-averse here. I started Fetchr in 2012, and only after sheer determination and a belief in my vision, were we able to secure a Series A funding from a top-tier Silicon Valley VC firm, New Enterprise Associates (NEA). With NEA’s backing, we were then able to attract a lot of VC investment from the region.

What has been your biggest achievement?

The growth and buzz that fetchr has created in the market today, in such a short span of time is my biggest achievement. From the time we first started, as a small logistics company, operating in one country, to where we are today, it has been nothing short of a huge feat for us. I am also very proud to be the first company from the Middle East to attract money from a top venture capital fund from the Valley. We know the opportunities they have around the corner and the fact that they backed a company located 16-hour flight away is a great feeling. That being said, I owe our success to our strong, talented team that has relentlessly worked hard to get us where we are today.

Do you plan to tackle cross border shipments from markets like UK, USA etc?

Definitely! Like I mentioned, this will be a strong focus area for us at present and moving forward. Customers in MENA are hungry for products coming from these regions and the potential is huge!

What’s next for fetchr? What’s your five-year goal? 

I think the biggest focus for us in the next five years is to grow our presence across MENA and other emerging markets. My ultimate goal is to make address obsolete and empower customers to receive anything, anywhere on the go, even at the coffee shop! People are mobile now and don’t want to be stuck at home for 6 hours to receive a package they bought yesterday. I think that the mere concept of “address” will become obsolete in a world that isnow defined by its mobility and the prevalence of mobile technology.

2017-08-23T12:41:33+00:00 August 14th, 2017|Move it Like|