In Depth: Fetchr to fuel e-commerce in MENA

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Dubai-based Fetchr raises $11 million in its aim to solve logistical issues of emerging markets. Now deliver packages even to places without ZIP Codes. The primary target industry for Fetchr is technology.

fetchr founders
Fetchr founders Joy Ajlouny and Idriss Al Rifai.

The Fetchr story – all about how it started

Idriss Al Rifai, while at an event in Silicon Valley California seeking funding met Joy Ajlouny, a serial Palestinian entrepreneur based in California. Joy at her previous e-commerce company had great difficulty with shipping to the Middle East and most of the packages were sent back to her due to the face that they did not have proper addresses. While on stage Idriss spoke passionately about solving the problem of no addresses in the Middle East and emerging markets. After meeting they both connected their ideas on logistics and last mile issues that affect so many e-commerce companies. They both knew that with their combined experience that they would be able to change delivery with technology and help grow e-commerce in the Middle East and emerging markets.

Fetchr is the first Silicon Valley funded app to be launched in MENA. Tell us about the journey in getting funded by NEA (New Enterprise Associates)

The Middle East is an area of the world that is largely overlooked by Silicon Valley. Raising series A was not an easy task for Idriss and Joy. Sheer determination for almost 1 year saw them knocking on every door. What kept them going is their belief in the vision of Fetchr and the legitimacy of the technology and utility of what they were building. The delivery logistics industry is well established in Europe and the US while in the Middle East it is still underdeveloped. Their hope is that this investment from one of the largest funds in the world will open the doors to foreign investment into tech businesses that are founded in the Middle East and put Dubai on the map as a technology hub that harbors talented entrepreneurs seeking funding.

What is Fetchr’s USP and how does it make sure to stay ahead amongst potential copycats?

Last mile delivery is one of the greatest reasons why e-commerce has not reached its full potential in the Middle East. CEO Idriss Al Rifai’s mission is to empower delivery through technology. Other address finding apps only offer a location service while Fetchr offers a fully integrated, 100% transparent, end-to-end logistics solution for both ecommerce and retailers.

Is Fetchr available worldwide? How does your logistics mechanism work in different countries? 

Currently Fetchr is only available in the UAE. However we are going to be using the majority of our funding for expansion throughout the Middle East and beyond, using a mix of our own fleet and outsourced drivers.

Fetchr raised $11 million in Series A funding from NEA. What are your short, medium and long-term plans?

At Fetchr, we aim to make delivery simple and hassle free for its customers, this competitive advantage is achieved by empowering delivery through technology. With the funding received we aim to aggressively grow & expand throughout the Middle East. With innovation and advancements in our services we provide users with an ultimate solution for businesses and consumers.

How do you see the competition from established players like Aramex?

Players like Aramex have grown into fantastic companies with worldwide reach. We are primarily a technology business which allows us to leapfrog existing (tedious) delivery processes and introduce new standards for shipping whether you want to send or receive anything. Customers demand that and this is a key enabler for ecommerce as a whole!

How many employees does Fetchr have currently and what are your hiring plans?

We are approaching 100 employees already and we anticipate this number to grow aggressively over the coming months.

Who are your clients? 

We deliver for anyone who needs to deliver anything, anywhere. We do delivery for some of the largest ecommerce and retail players in the market as well as a long tail of SME’s.

How many packages does Fetchr deliver per day in the region?

We currently deliver a couple of thousands of packages a day across the region. The growth has been very strong. The largest demand is currently in the UAE however we expect KSA to have the lion’s share of delivery orders in the next couple months.

How much it cost to ship an item using Fetchr? 

To deliver via the app it cost AED 30 for anything under 3kgs and AED 50 for anything under 12kgs. For B2C rates we take into consideration volume, weight and distance for our pricing which we keep as competitive as possible.

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