Here’s how a startup from Dubai is beating Uber.

Here’s how a startup from Dubai is beating Uber.

Most entrepreneurs have goals of changing the world by providing better services that would make lives easier. However, a handful of CEOs have goals that are higher, better and more demanding. They have a vision of building an institution hat will make lasting changes over time and influence people in the entire region or industry.

Mudassir Seheikha is one such example. The Stanford graduate, former McKinsey consultant and co-founder of Careem, mentions that this region of 700m people not having lasting corporate institutions is rather unfortunate. This is why he introduced Careem in the Dubai region.

3 indicators that signal Careem becoming an institution:

• “We impact the lives of the majority of people, 50+%, in the region

• We get rated as the #1 employer for people from the region (both locally and those studying abroad)

• Our alums take on leadership roles at other companies/institutions in the region.”

Sheikha says, Uber being the better-funded platform, the fight will be a tough one. However, he also states that there is room for both platforms in the market, and the one that wishes to become an institution must be the winner.

In the Middle East, Careem, founded in 2012, is beating it, for now. Careem, which announced a $60 million funding round led by Dubai-based Abraaj Group last November, is in 27 cities. Uber is in 10 – but it announced late last year that it was investing $250 million in the region, and that Egypt had become its fastest growing market. Knowing that Uber can’t be ignored, Sheikha seems calm knowing Careem has over 40,000 drivers and over 2 millions registered users. Uber has also been following Careen when it comes to local innovation. For instance, allowing women in Saudi to plan a month’s rides in advance.

“We are the fastest tech startup in the region, almost entirely funded by regional investors (who have accumulated decent wealth), and have demonstrated that home-grown startups can compete successfully with some of the most aggressive global competitors. This is new for this ecosystem, and as a result, there is a growing interest in investing in and supporting local startups.” Sheikha said.

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Careem as an idea is the work of Mudassir Sheikha, Magnus Osson, and Adbullah Elyas who leads the company in the Saudi Arabian market. “Everyone at Careem, including all call center staff, has stock options in Careem. We are all partners in this venture and are benefitting directly from Careem’s success. While this may be an established model in the Silicon Valley, it is relatively new to the Middle East, and we have had to work hard to educate all relevant stakeholders on it. We even opened a secondary offer to staff to make them realize the value of their equity.” Said Sheikha.

 In terms of short-term goals, Careem is doing fine. But how do you transform this short-term success into a long-term institution? The key pillars to doing so are service to humanity and the search for the truth.

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