Amjad Puliyali, co-founder of on line grocery shipping startup GetBaqala based out of Bahrain, comes from a virtual heritage. After shifting to UAE to construct his professional career, Amjad ended up gaining insights within the domain names of digital, boom, performance, massive facts and personalisation. He turned into especially consulting startups and groups (in ecommerce and travel) like Etihad Airways, Souq.Com, Careem, Namshi and so on.
Amjad additionally had the danger of working with many Indian data-pushed companies like Vizury. Working with Vizury, in fact, was a large gaining knowledge of enjoy for him. During his tenure within the business enterprise, he got a threat to make bigger the enterprise’s commercial enterprise to the Middle East and Africa. And accordingly, whilst Amjad changed into raring to set up his own startup inside the Middle East, it become the digital medium, facts and mobile that intrigued him.
“One of the most important traits in the Middle East became cell which turned into choosing up in all markets. As we looked at traits across the globe and compared them with the neighborhood opportunity in markets like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, one of the things that struck us become human beings are seeking out grocery delivery offerings in these markets. Everywhere else inside the world you have got on-line grocery delivery however on this area. So we noticed an possibility here. We observed that during Bahrain and Saudi Arabia there was 400% 12 months-on-12 months boom within the search itself. Of direction in ecommerce there are already huge guys like Souq.Com (obtained via Amazon this yr) that have a presence inside the area but we desired to focus on hyperlocal and cell as a key detail,” well-knownshows Amjad.
So Amjad cease his activity and scouted for a market to test out the hyperlocal space. Though Amjad has lived in Dubai for 10 years yet set up a startup became an costly proposition within the u . S . A .. That’s when Amjad met Dharmi Magdani, Economic Development Board Of Bahrain (EDB)’s India usa supervisor in India and Bahrain came into the picture.
Says Amjad, “Obviously I had my reservations as to why could I visit Bahrain that is the smallest market within the Middle East. However, there had been some very definite blessings.” Saudi Arabia is just half-hour faraway from Bahrain. So checking out the product in Bahrain before coming into Saudi Arabia made feel. More so due to the fact the client behaviour is the same from the Arab target market. With an Internet penetration of virtually ninety five% and a mobile penetration of one hundred twenty%, it just seemed to have the proper metrics in location as well.
“But it was whilst we heard about the top notch support machine Bahrain had for startups, that sealed the deal for us. We had been sitting in Bengaluru whilst we were making use of for the enterprise license. It all happened to them,” he exhibits.
So Amjad best needed to go to Bahrain once to signal documents and GetBaqala, based in conjunction with co-founder Aboobacker Shinan, was up and running.
How EDB And The Government Are Helping Build A Robust Startup Ecosystem In Bahrain
Speaking about the measures undertaken by means of EDB for the helping the startup surroundings in Bahrain, Amjad exhibits that EDB changed into instrumental in getting the startup a virtual space, helped it to get legally paper clever prepared, and organized visas for the crew. So GetBaqala moved in to check out the marketplace with none problem.
The startup also were given selected for Bahrain Development Bank’s 12-month accelerator application Seed Fuel which supplied it investment to the song of $66K (BHD 25,000).
Besides EDB, GetBaqala additionally acquired most important government assist from Tamkeen, an enterprise tasked with developing Bahrain’s non-public area and positioning it as the important thing driving force of the economic improvement programme. Under Tamkeen’s subsidy application for startups, the agency hires Bahrainis and pays 70% in their salaries. Thus, with the aid of the government GetBaqala has hired fresh polytechnic graduates and is sending them Bengaluru for six month schooling. Tamkeen is imparting all the help, beginning from accommodation to tour for them, their six months’ earnings, as well as ICT support. Out of its 12 member group, four within the generation and improvement group are in India. Not handiest that, the startup has additionally been provided rent subsidy for a yr in Bahrain.
Amjad famous, “For both me and my co-founder, Bahrain was new. Dubai turned into our natural choice even though way of life is highly-priced in Dubai but it has get entry to to a huge marketplace and has capability. However our runaway extended easily from 3 to 9 months through selecting Bahrain. Also, we liked the fact of being nimble and simple inside the beginning.”
Ease of capital turned into yet any other appealing characteristic for the duo to transport to Bahrain. That’s because the Bahrain authorities has decreased the capital requirement from $53K (BHD 20K) to as low as $3K (BHD1K) for businesses and even lower than that during a few cases. Hence GetBaqala started off with $3K (BHD1K) capital which now has grown to $266K (BHD100K).
GetBaqala: The Journey From Inception To 20k+ Downloads
And consequently, GetBaqala to start with started as an internet grocery delivery platform. When a person places an order the platform maps it to the nearest grocery outlet to him. However, now it has reiterated on the version, as, Amjad felt that it isn't going to scale. Given that the rate is described through the grocery man, the startup does now not have any leverage on that and dependency on shipping is with him. Hence it made sense for GetBaqala to pivot from managing their complete shipping.
Explains Amjad, “It makes sense for us to own closing-mile logistics as this is the most effective factor of interaction we have with our consumers physically. If I don’t optimise that enjoy with my consumer, I am now not going to win that trust lower back. And particularly in relation to food, it's far all about agree with. We are breaking his courting with supermarkets over the last 10-15 years to agree with us on satisfactory and shipping. So I need to construct that same consider in order that humans know that with us, delivery is on time and high-quality is maintained. We will take it lower back on the spot in case you don’t just like the product. Also, customers can price right now on the app if a shipping enjoy has long gone incorrect.”
Also, the startup moved away from more than one grocery companions, consolidating to one in all the largest hypermarkets within the GCC (signed NDA with them). Eventually, this partnership will help it access different GCC markets as properly. Now similarly to the mobile app for clients to region an order, it also gives its consumers an app like Instacart in the US. The Shopper app is basically an internal app, where the startup has element-time and complete-time customers purchasing for the orders positioned by way of their customers with their associate shops. The startup cautiously hires and trains buyers; they are part of the crew. Delivery App, is every other app simplest for the transport boys, in which the customer’s address/shipping region and actual-time tracking is enabled. The app permits the startup to do hours delivery. The startup continues the Shoppers and Delivery crew separate.
As the startup desires to be asset and stock mild, the majority of the sourcing of products is still underneath the care of the hypermarket. However it does supply some of the goods personally, for this reason running a hybrid version. The idea is to maintain products with short shelf lifestyles with the companions while the startup assets some of the long lifestyles products which they don’t have. These normally encompass speciality offerings like vegan products or the likes.
As of final month, GetBaqala claims to have crossed 20,000+ downloads with out spending a penny on advertising or advertising and marketing. Out of these, over 10,000 are monthly active customers. It boasts of a very good retention charge of 70%, which means basically 2.8 times a month, clients store on the platform. Average order size has since inception expanded from $13 (BHD5) to $48 (BHD18) with the addition of more categories.
Amjad also claims to have a customer acquisition cost to lifetime value ratio as 1:10X. Meanwhile, revenues have grown forty% month on month. He provides beaming, “It took us 10 months to attain our first $100K, however the subsequent $100K got here in 2.Five months.”
It is this compelling story, which comes without even elevating a seed round, which has made Silicon Valley investors interested by pumping in Series A investment within the startup!
But Amjad isn't involved approximately the inflow of investment. While Bahrain has lack of energetic tech traders unlike India, but finances are pouring into the atmosphere. And one of the maximum important ones would be the $one hundred Mn Fund of price range announced by the government.
He provides, “Funds are coming into the ecosystem, so we aren't worried approximately that. Our imaginative and prescient is to emerge as the number one cellular commerce platform in order that all people can come and listing any product with us, and sell it to consumers in hours.”
When one compares GetBaqala’s model with Grofers or BigBasket in India, the duo observe a comparable version however minus the Shoppers app. However, neither of them promise a instantly hour transport for each order, rather ask the patron for the desired time slot from the patron to make the delivery.
A $15 Bn Online Grocery Market In The Middle East
Amjad offers an thrilling evaluation. “Bahrain as a market is 1 Mn+, that is half of of Koramangala! But the consumer spending is 4X of that during India.” Having spoken to Indian businesses in grocery such as the ones that failed (Peppertap), Amjad believes that GetBaqala has a sizable core base it could experiment on in Bahrain.
And after they increase this base, there is a larger pool of audience in neighbouring countries like Dammam, Kuwait and other GCC individuals. Even in Bahrain, he expects 5% of the people to transport to the web grocery.
He exhibits, “Latest reviews display that via 2018, Middle East grocery trade ability is $15 Bn. Grocery offline in GCC is a $325 Bn + possibility. Think of even 1% shifting on-line!” Ecommerce is predicted to develop 40% to $forty one.Five Bn in 2020 in GCC.
Meanwhile in Bahrain, offline retail is a $2 Bn+ marketplace that's only 2% of the complete GCC marketplace. GetBaqala is aiming for a 5% of this market within the next 3 years.
“So although it is the smallest market, it is a $50 Mn opportunity for us,” he concludes.
When one compares with India, as consistent with a Goldman Sachs file, “The domestic on-line retail enterprise is evolving right into a hyperlocal, on-demand marketplace. India’s ecommerce market is expected to develop 15 times to $three hundred Bn with the aid of 2030.” The Indian online grocery market is predicted to attain $40 Mn (INR 270 Cr) via FY ’19 growing at a CAGR of 62% from 2016 to 2022. As in keeping with the document, Morgan Stanley expects the online grocery and food segment to emerge as the fastest-developing segment, increasing at a compounded annual boom fee of 141% by 2020.
On the same traces, GetBaqala will live targeted on on line grocery as it's far the quickest moving section in Bahrain as well. And look to stepping into neighbouring nations. For example, neighbouring Dammam – the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia – which Amjad believes is another beast altogether. And therefore GetBaqala objectives to tame this beast inside the subsequent six to 9 months.
But how about the opposition in Bahrain itself?
Amjad reveals, “When we commenced in September in remaining yr, we were the most effective one gift. Now there are five gamers who are into on line grocery. Howe, er we're triumphing on certain key differentiators.” Some of the players handing over on line grocery now include Wafiapps.Com, Alosraonline.Com to call a few in conjunction with incumbent shops like Jawad Group which have recently launched their personal mobile app for grocery transport.
One of them is that GetBaqala does no longer have a minimal order. So a purchaser may even order a single bottle of water. However, it encourages customers to shop for bulk on the way to save up finances on shipping. If the order length is less than $13(BHD5), it prices $1.33(500 fils, 1 BHD=a thousand fils) and for order sizes more than BHD5, the transport turns into unfastened. In addition, it has more than one fee alternatives and has currently brought benefit pay cellular to them.
Adds Amjad, “In India, cash is coming in, you'll have 10 gamers in Bengaluru on my own. So obviously in contrast, Bahrain is much less unstable in terms of hyperlocal.”
But Amjad is likewise now not sceptical of larger gamers like Alibaba, Amazon or buyers like SoftBank entering the place, who have on the whole overlooked it due to geopolitical tensions.
Explains Amjad, “Even if larger gamers come to Bahrain, we see it as an possibility than a hazard. Because in that event, we might show a favourable acquisition target, having accomplished the basis for them plenty earlier on.”
While the founder of on line grocery shipping startup, Amjad, may not be some distance off from the point, proper now the hassle for tech startups like GetBaqala is convincing traders of the tech tale. Investors historically were making an investment most effective inside the real property, oil, and manufacturing sector in Bahrain. While EDB and the authorities of Bahrain are leaving no stone unturned to strengthen the startup environment in Bahrain, ultimately how convinced can be the buyers to reroute their money into the Bahrain’s developing startup environment is the real take a look at for the usa’s tech startups.