Among the traits of a successful entrepreneur of modern times, versatility is one of the most important ones. Because modern business is evolving continually, an effective entrepreneur successfully adapts to the changes that each day brings and also works dedicatedly towards the final goal. In the same way, an entrepreneur or a business leader cannot succeed with just professional skills alone. He or she requires a combination of technical expertise, effective leadership skills and empowering personal values.
The success story of Ghassan Muradwij and Riyaz Alambath, two serial entrepreneurs and the co-founders of KOI, a sophisticated ride-sharing service based in Dubai, will illustrate the principle well. In 2015, the two co-founded and successfully launched KOI as a Business-to-Customer ride-sharing app. In just 18 months, the company gained over 700 loyal drivers and had served over 100,000 passengers. But to better complement the industry and overcome stiff competition, they drastically re-invented their identity over the next three years.
By doing so, KOI not only flourished but also made history by becoming the first proven Business-to-Business technology business in the global ride-sharing ecosystem. Their story exemplifies the need for versatility for the modern entrepreneur.
The global mobility industry is complex and continually changing as consumers have many mobility choices today, especially in urban areas. Traditional services such as vehicle ownerships and taxi’s are restricted by a linear value chain model. But newer business models such as on-demand mobility and ride-sharing are thriving. In particular, ride-sharing services have been disrupting the industry by bringing in convenience, reducing costs, improving customer experience and ensuring safety. However, newer entrants in the industry face stiff competition from dominant service providers such as Uber.
As KOI’s leaders, Ghassan and Riyaz faced the same challenge. “When KOI initially started, we set it up as another ride-sharing B2C application. However, we realized that we needed to really differentiate KOI from the likes of Uber and other B2C applications. We needed to find a way to complement their business rather than compete with them”, Ghassan explains. As the two began revising their value proposition, Riyaz made the pivotal observation: Online travel agencies (OTA’s) failed to provide good transportation services on the ground because of substandard technology. They still followed a traditional approach, which greatly reduced their visibility and increased the margin of errors. The co-founders saw this as a wonderful opportunity to help the industry and this was a turning-point for KOI.
“Over the next few months, we studied the market and really understood their problems and limitations. We proceeded to build technology to cater to the B2B industry and proceeded to integrate that to our existing B2C technology to solve the issues OTA’s are facing,” Ghassan shares further.
Overall, re-inventing KOI was a huge success. Besides exiting competition, the company established a new identity: an end-to-end B2B technology brand within the global ride-sharing eco-system known for safety, affordability and comfort in personalized and luxury rides. The new KOI platform became a very accessible platform for various organizations such as OTA’s, corporations and luxury car service providers. Using the KOI technology, they began working together towards the broader goal of serving customers.
“The updated features on the KOI Driver application aim to make their lives better by helping them plan days ahead and earn more. On the other side, our customers, who always suffered from visibility, are now able to access driver details, track the route and even schedule future rides with the same driver”, Ghassan elaborates.
Personal and Professional Beliefs of the Two Entrepreneurs
Although Ghassan and Riyaz are successful now, it is their unique journeys that shaped their individual and combined success.
Since childhood, Ghassan has been passionate about entrepreneurship. He saw it as a challenge to achieve goals through grit, mental toughness, drive and perseverance. Professionally, as Ghassan believes people to be the most important component of any business, he looks for honesty, dedication, fearlessness and drive in others.
Unlike his counterpart, Riyaz is a serial entrepreneur and has extensive experience working in the online travel industry. Having closely observed traditional business models, he aspired to simplify complexities and create value in business through technology. Professionally, Riyaz regards integrity and respect as the driving force that builds deep and successful relationships.
Apart from domain knowledge, Ghassan and Riyaz share a passion for helping the community through effective leadership. They are united in their understanding of success: making the world a better place by helping people, businesses and society in general.
Optimistic Towards a Brighter Future
Over the past two years, eight of the biggest OTA’s in the world have partnered up with KOI and it is now operational in Dubai as well as London. “We have 5 more strategic cities planned over the next 12 months and our target is to continue to grow and disrupt ground transport globally”, Riyaz sums up.