Published on Arabian Blue Ocean, September 5, 2018
Startups showcased at StepConference 2018 seek to offer seamless services on beauty treatments, sport activities, health & medical advice, language skills, and transportation
Sometimes the lack of references of where to get a good haircut turns into a nightmare in a host country in which anxiety gets accentuated while waiting for our belongings packed in a container, visa process time and the new job demands. The adaptation to a new neighbourhood takes a toll in a peace of mind. All families and single employees pass through a more or less hard adaptation period when they arrive, which may be easily navigated if community engagement activities are part of their life soon. That seems to be the case of the United Arab Emirates, a country in the 20th position of the World Happiness Report 2018. Population in the UAE marks high their freedom to make choices (0.96), and new apps shown at Step Conference 2018 highlight different edges of the community engagement to make our choice decision an easier, happier task.
That is the case of Vaasara, a new app that prepares to embark the 4,000 salons and spas in UAE and allows exploring and booking for beauty treatments at salon, spas or home service. “Vaasara in Sanskrit means every day, so we want customers to book not only once a week or once a month, but on daily basis with a surprise,” explains Deepti Mohanty, founder and CEO of Vaasara.
Sport activities have a big impact in the level of happiness of a community, although not everyone is willing to enroll in a gym and pay a monthly fee or a yearly membership at a club. Meet´N´Train is the meeting point between freelance sport instructors and people looking to exercise outdoors within a group. The idea launched by Ahmed ElSayed was incubated at Sheraa and counts already with more than 2,000 users. Freelance teaches post their sessions in Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. Fitness events appear on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Their site maps the activities and the price, and many of them are free of charge. “Sometimes there are sixty people coming to a class,” comment the instructors Lina and Pauline. The options are varied: boxing and kickboxing, dance, fitness, HIIT; personal training, running and yoga.
Medical references are another slice of family worries, especially being new to a place in which matching the coverage provided by the health insurance and finding hospitals with doctors has to be done while fever is mounting up. HealthIgo, Mymedicnow and Yodawy address some of these issues. HealthIgo app, cofounded by Anirudth Gupta and Joseph Debs, is the meeting point between people and clinics, where patients may arrive with the service arranged with Careem. HealthIgo, which as startup was incubated at In5, and currently is in the second round of seed investment, can store the medical profiles of the family, information from the health insurance, offer doctors´ reviews by patients and provide alerts regarding medicine intake or wellness messages. “We are the biggest directory of the UAE health market, for the simple reason because we collect data and we match it with your profile,” says Mr Debs.
Mymedicnow is another app in which customers may sign with their Facebook profile to find nearby doctors, book an appointment and rate the quality of the service.
Most doctors’ calligraphy is near indecipherable, and Yodawy takes an approach to solve this allowing taking a picture of the prescription, getting the closest pharmacy or sending the medicines to the patient, and will submit the information to the insurance on behalf of the user. This medicine delivered app works with 500 pharmacies in Egypt and deliver the medication in need 30 minutes.
An aspect to definitely become an integrated resident in a host country is the language skills. Milingual is a social learning platform with more than 50,000 followers that eyes the UAE market to connect language students and teachers at coffee shops for their lessons. This solution also offers language schools to schedule their instructors´ session at a coffee shop, which may also offer the drinks for free or with a discount as a way for advertising. The users pay per activity or buy a voucher while schools are charged a monthly fee. Teachers earn per use and venues are paid per drink. “Students are assessed daily and they can rate their professor,” explains J.Antonio Antoli, international business development manager of Milingual. Born in 2015, the Spanish startup won several entrepreneurship awards and participated in three accelerators: the one at the business school IE, Area 31 and Telefónica-Open Future. Today it has 20,000 users in Madrid; it counts with more than 350 teachers, 200 locations and ten schools in Spain. Milingual started their overseas expansion in 2016 in United Kingdom. Starbucks and Heineken are among some of their meeting points. Institut Français and Vaughan are some of the language companies that use their platform.
Transportation is another headache if not navigated properly. For those ones thinking in making some benefit out of their car to pay the bills, Friendÿcar offers to connect car owners with car borrowers, and rate vehicles and service users. The startup last award was the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition sponsored by Smart Dubai and Dubai Chamber of Commerce.
Another option, when purchasing a car to go to the office is not a possibility and taxis or car rentals are too expensive for commuting to the office, is Buseet, which showcase its service between the different locations at StepConference 2018. The startup offer small bus services for daily commuting at locations requested by customers. Users get an email 30 minutes prior to the bus arrival and a SMS 15 minutes before the bus stops. Users may suggest new points for collecting and drop-off if they are not in the map, so the company will work out new routes. The Egyptian startup was part of the first cohort at StartupBootCamp Dubai accelerator last February. Their service already proved successful in Cairo, where they covered 15,000 trips, had 3,000 users ride their buses daily and received 130,000 likes on the social media.