Careem has been growing at a rate of 30% a month, and has raised 1.7 million dollars in a Series A round of funding from Saudi Telecom Ventures
Mudassir Sheikha was fed up with the unreliable ground transportation in the middle east. A management consultant for McKinsey & Company, he often found himself traveling for business purposes, but was frustrated with the challenges ranging from drivers not showing up, not knowing how to get to the destination, and not being able to issue receipts that could be invoiced.
To solve the problem, he partnered with fellow former-consultant Magnus Olsson, and founded Careem in July of 2012. Careem was originally launched in Dubai as a B2B platform that allowed professional services to pre-schedule reliable transportation for their staff. Over time, the platform then expanded from just a web-based service to an Uber-like app that allows both business and individual consumers alike to order private transportation on demand, and then pay for it via credit card.
Arriving to the market right on time
Careem has since expanded its operations to include over 12 cities across the middle east, including Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Beirut, Dammam, Dhahran, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Karachi, Khobar and Riyadh – totaling over 100,000 users. The company has been growing at a rate of 30% a month, and has raised 1.7 million dollars in a Series A round of funding from Saudi Telecom Ventures. They are now in the process of closing a Series B round.
Careem’s services compete with local, conventional B2B transportation providers, as well as with similar on-demand transportation apps like Uber or Lyft . However, a strong commitment to service and the ability to tailor their services to the local market can help Careem maintain a strong foothold in its own niche.
The company’s website demonstrates a strong commitment to dependable, quality service, with promises like “If we are more than 5 minutes late, we will pay for your airport drop-off” and “Drivers will be punctual and will know your locations”. They also target specific market segments, like businesses and families with children – their Careem Kids service that provides cars with car seats included .
Careem clearly demonstrates the lesson that it is not always necessary to reinvent the (steering) wheel, sometimes all it takes is adapting an existing idea to the needs of and tastes of your community to dominate your local market.