Startup Spotlight: Now Money

Startup Spotlight: Now Money

One of the most promising fintech startups in the region is NOW Money. The company was founded in 2015 by Ian Dillon and Katharine Budd. NOW Money uses cutting edge mobile banking technology to improve the lives of low income migrant workers in the UAE. They help workers access banking and remittance services otherwise out of reach, for the first time providing them with direct access to a current account, debit card and remittance service directly from the NOW Money smartphone app and service center. When we asked them how they came up with the idea, they explained that both of the founders had a history in banking and had been intrigued by “Challenger Banks”, which are disrupting the industry by providing a complete banking service accessed on a smartphone. They also noticed that Dubai has a large population of the blue-collar workers. They researched the kind of problems workers face and discovered that more that 70% of the workers are “unbanked”, meaning they don’t have access to traditional banking methods because they don’t meet minimum salary requirements. They then realized they can develop an application which includes them in the financial system with more social benefits. We were amazed by how easy the application is. According to their research, more than 85% of the workers use a smartphone to be able to get in touch with their families back home. The worker will have an account into which they get paid every month, which is provided by NOW Money’s partner bank. The worker also will be provided with a debit card, which can be used to withdraw money...
Startup Spotlight: Smart Labour

Startup Spotlight: Smart Labour

Imagine a world where a carpenter books his flight back home on discounted rates, a housemaid learns Arabic and English to communicate with her employers and a taxi driver is able to take customer service classes – all on their phones. That is the kind of world a UAE-based entrepreneur has in mind. Abu Muadh, an IT professional in Dubai, launched Smart Labour in 2015 and hopes to make a lasting impact on the lives of over 2.2 million workers in the UAE. The project is one of the most unique start-ups emerging out of the UAE, being the first app focused primarily on blue-collar workers. “We use our phones for every little need – to transfer money, book flight tickets or learn a new language. Yet, there is very little being done to connect blue-collar workers to the Smart World,” Abu Muadh, founder of Smart Labour said. Being a passionate volunteer, Abu Muadh was actively involved in projects at workers accommodations, distributing food packets and essentials through registered organizations. However, he soon realized that he could give a lot more to the workers’ community if he empowered them to use their mobile phones for much more than just watching movies or calling their families back home. “You’ll be surprised to know that almost every worker in accommodations has a smartphone. We help them with food and clothes but that only goes so far in making their lives comfortable. I wanted to use my expertise in IT to offer them a product that actually makes a lasting difference in their lives,” Abu Muadh said. The app currently offers free...

IBM: Battle of the Bots

Bots. They are taking over. And we’re embracing the chat-bot craze, so come join us as we put bots against each other in a head-to-head, tournament-style competition. A group of kick-ass developers will be building chatbots with Watson brains in 3 hours to win $1000 in cash and be named Master of the Bots. If you are an awesome developer, register to compete. Please note that seats are limited. You’re still welcome to watch the battle of the bots if you can’t code (we’ll judge you, though.) Breakdown of the day: What’s in it for you? >Win $1000 USD in cash from Dubai Startup Hub. >Your superior bot will be showcased at STEP Conference 2017 with Botler. >Win a free seat for any upcoming Astrolabs Academy class. >You will also have a chance to make building bots a career with Botler. Our rules are simple: >You can compete alone or within a team. >You need to build your bot on the day using Watson Conversation (we’ll be there to help.) >Don’t be afraid your bot will fail, just make sure it does it with style. Build a bot. Win some cash. Rule the...
Keeping it personal with your customers is key for entrepreneurial success

Keeping it personal with your customers is key for entrepreneurial success

Making up 40% of the country’s GDP, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and startups are considered the backbone of the UAE’s economy. According to the UAE Ministry of Economy, nearly 300,000 SMEs account for 92 per cent of UAE companies, and employ 86 percent of the private sector workforce, while the global international development organization, Spark, estimates that 19 percent of the world’s entrepreneurs come from the Middle East. With such an incredible growth rate, getting noticed amongst the clutter becomes very difficult. However, the key lies in staying personal.   Getting to know your customer is the first step in staying personal. Holding conversations after regular intervals of time, discussions and research will allow you to know your customer better and get into their minds. Lacking knowledge will keep you restricted from knowing how your consumer feels about your product. Staying open to feedback is also an important factor- be it good or bad. Partners take precedence over customers. Although they might be your customers to a certain extent, but first and foremost, they’re part of your community. The idea behind this is to let your biggest advocates be your spokespeople, either on Social media or through word of mouth. It all builds up to your brand being driven by the community, rather than people in a marketing department.   The best way to build a good brand image is by delivering an unmatched consumer experience at every single interaction. First step to delighting your customers is knowing what they want and their primary reason for staying loyal to your brand. Once you have that knowledge, mapping the consumer’s...
Startup spotlight: ULIQ

Startup spotlight: ULIQ

Universal Linguistics (ULIQ) provides a platform that enables customers to connect on-demand with live interpreters and translators who speak the local language and the desired foreign language. We spoke to Damu Winston, founder of ULIQ, about the application and how it works. The app is currently in beta testing on iOS and available on the apple store for people to use. To download it, visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/universal-linguistics-uliq/id1142289433?ls=1&mt=8. If you are bi-lingual or multi-lingual, you should register today. So far, people have been using ULIQ to practice another language or for on the go translations. You can use the app if you find yourself struggling with language barriers in a foreign country while entering a taxi, shopping at a market place, or ordering food a restaurant. Based on your location, it will suggest the language you want help with and connect you with a real person within a minute, with a press of a button. Currently, this service is being offered for free by ULIQ. In recent conversation with Damu he said “When I was a child I could speak 7 languages; fluently. Now, I barely speak English. The saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”, in my case that could never be more true.  When I moved to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as a consultant, I constantly found myself lost in translations, either because of the language or because I was unaware of the cultural nuances. So I found myself always saying, I wish I could just call someone, like a friend. Someone who could help me, who knows the language, the culture, area, etc. So for people like...