THE RIGHT APPROACH

Kuwait 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

By calculating every aspect of timing and delivery, Carriage has cornered the market through finesse, merit, and agility.

Abdullah Al Mutawa
BIOGRAPHY
Abdullah Al Mutawa graduated with a civil engineering degree from the US and worked at Schlumberger before opening up his own restaurant in Kuwait City called the Stack, which led him to later found Carriage, the first service of its kind in Kuwait to combine online food ordering and delivery in one platform.

What has been key for Carriage's success and intensive growth in such a short period of time?

My partners and I launched Carriage because we found a major need in the market for the services we offered. Targeted clients needed a tech solution that could run in the background and drive the logistics support efforts we were focused on. The best way to address this was to create our own customized system to address the suburban landscape in Kuwait, which makes delivery more challenging. The country is geographically dispersed, and we had to tackle this problem and make it feasible from a business perspective. We needed to make sure we could reach the maximum number of people in the shortest amount of time. We therefore developed algorithms and all our systems internally, thanks to our CTO, to provide customers with the fastest on-demand delivery platform. We started with the food sector, knowing that we would have the option to transfer into other verticals. We developed algorithms that take into consideration preparation, travel, and transit time to customers, even the amount of time it takes the consumer to pick up their order from the delivery personnel, before providing an ETA. We offered transparency and live tracking for the consumer, services that were appreciated by the end user. As such, we had a huge influx of consumers right off the bat, and a large number of restaurants started to deliver through us.

What factors allowed Carriage to properly and quickly implement it services in other parts of the region?

The entrepreneurial drive we have as founders is essential. We tend not to worry about bureaucracy and always think outside the box in terms of the solutions we implement. We are extremely agile. The way we operate in Kuwait is not the same as we operate in other regions. In Kuwait, for example, we have our own drivers, while in Saudi Arabia we hire freelancers. We are always working to understand the dynamics of the environment we are operating in. By understanding how each market operates, we are able to enter it in the most effective way. We are now attracting international players because we have the know-how and specialized knowledge to navigate the region. We were targeted by many international entities and sat down with a number of them. We were also growth driven and numbers oriented, meaning we were burning through cash in terms of marketing and customer growth. We wanted to ensure we could corner the market and develop the best possible service. One of the most important metrics of our success is the growing number of on-demand delivery platforms appearing in the market, which has also created healthy competition.

What have been your biggest challenges in the past year, and how have you managed them?

There have been two major problems: scale and talent acquisition. Talent acquisition was an issue across the board, especially in the tech department and other areas of our operations. Along the way, you need to make sure your team understands the company's strategy and goals. We had to make sure we were spoonfeeding strategy to our people to ensure they were onboard every step of the way. We usually like to hire from within. In Saudi Arabia, we used to have a Saudi GM, who is now is a deputy CEO. We have a Bahraini in charge in Bahrain; in fact, 99% of our employees in Bahrain are locals. Whenever we expand, we work on developing a workforce that is composed of that nationality. No one understands the market better than locals, which is the approach we try to take.