I will wrap 2021 up with an exciting discussion with Retailo’s Co-founder Talha Ansari.
Earlier this month, Tamatem secured $11M Series B investment led by Krafton, a South Korean game developer behind the game series PUBG.
What shall I add… that this year has been eventful and exciting? Very. Our ArzanVC family is keeping us proud and we’re bracing for what 2022 will bring―we got quite a few announcements in the pipeline…
Set big, scary targets that will inspire you
Hasan: Retailo was launched during the early stages of Covid-19 pandemic and you managed to create a truly resilient business ever since. Looking back at 2021, what’s your biggest lesson learned?
Talha: I think it’s the importance of being a regional player from Day 1. Retailo is the first regional B2B startup in MENAP and we flipped the traditional model of starting in one market and then expanding organically. It was challenging and some people questioned our model, but our growth has proven that ultimately it was the right choice. We were able to tap into a $160B market with more than 3M potential SME customers, picked business learnings from both KSA and Pakistan, hired a regionally diverse team, worked with top regional and local manufacturers, and achieved both high sales volumes and revenue. Saudi is fast becoming a regional tech powerhouse and Pakistan has massive potential. We benefited greatly from our multi-market model and are now preparing to expand to other markets which will further improve our reach and business growth.
Hasan: You have a long-term vision of reaching and impacting 10 million retailers across the MENAP region. What’s your top priority for 2022?
Talha: In the past 18 months we expanded to 11 cities where more than 700 colleagues serve 50K+ SME retailers.
Hasan: Those are some good numbers…
Talha: Yes, and we want to keep the momentum in 2022. Our three main priorities for next year are geographic expansion, venturing into new business verticals and expanding our BNPL service. While we are reaching out to a broader customer base, the BNPL option will further improve the lives and business of the under-served market.
Hasan: What’s your strategy for the Saudi market?
Talha: We are headquartered in Riyadh and already present in six of the largest cities in KSA. Riyadh and Jeddah have given us a great launch pad and we are primed to disrupt retail supply chains in other cities.
Riyadh is fast becoming the tech hub for the MENAP region. In the retail sector this means e-invoicing, which has disrupted the conventional market. The ease of business is increasing every day and we see a lot of local talent coming into the market. Overall, there is growth of population, especially the middle class, which means more disposable income spent on consumer goods. The realization of Vision 2030 partially relies on a robust and tech driven retail supply chain and expansion of the sector. Let’s not forget that new startups can now be listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange and that is attracting impressive volumes and investors… We are taking full advantage of this dynamic environment in Saudi.
Hasan: Earlier this year you signed a partnership with Maersk to make use of their warehouses. Will we see more such strategic deals in 2022?
Talha: Working with a global organization like Maersk has helped smooth out our warehousing operations and focus on many other areas. We are in the process of formalizing more partnerships that will enrich our business processes and better the customer experience.
As a customer-centric company, we are fully aware of the growth vs. performance trap that other startups have suffered from and we are doing everything to avoid it.
Hasan: What would you say is your biggest leverage as a startup?
Talha: We have always believed that our biggest strength is our team. Retailo was founded by three former Careem executives and, besides their startup leadership experience, it was equally important that they were friends who shared the same values. The best product or business idea is only as good as the people working on it and our top management was selected accordingly.
Keeping that in mind, since the pilot phase we have looked for people who have the skills that would help us scale quickly but are also aligned on our values which means they should be humble, respectful, have complete ownership, believe in starting small and growing big, follow the customer-centric philosophy, and enjoy their journey in Retailo.
I am very happy to state that Retailo now has more than 700 colleagues from diverse backgrounds and yet sharing the same vision and values. This is a powerful factor which gives us enormous synergies and strength to overcome any challenges that may arise.
Hasan: Competition among B2B marketplaces is growing very fast and the store owners have more choices. How do you stay ahead?
Talha: We have in-depth understanding of customer needs and wants, and we are familiar with the local markets. Retailo’s leaders and team members have similar backgrounds and experiences and have been connected with tech startups and supply chains. We also have the experience of living and working in KSA and Pakistan, which allows us to form lasting relationships with both customers and suppliers.
Of course, being the only multi-market and cross business B2B startup of MENAP that operates in both KSA and Pakistan is a huge advantage. We’ve been able to capture the customer base from a high purchase price-low volume point all the way to a low purchase price-high volume point giving us the best of both worlds.
Hasan: Now, the secret to success: What’s yours?
Talha: Our success comes from the values we follow. Retailo’s founders, colleagues and investors have a shared vision. This shared vision has given us the energy to do amazing things and grow exponentially. We believe in dreaming big and starting small, having a humble mindset and a learning culture, and setting big, scary targets that inspire us to greater heights.
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)
Retailo is the first regional B2B startup in MENAP that flipped the traditional model of starting in one market and then expanding organically. They opted for the multi-market model right from the start and today they serve over 50K SME retailers across 11 cities. Its Co-founder Talha Ansari explains why Retailo's team is the startup's biggest leverage and why they'll be expanding their BNPL service in 2022.
Women of the Year
Mejuri‘s Noura Sakkijha is featured in Women of the Year 2021 list of Canada’s most incredible women leaders. Well-deserved, Noura!
Finalist of the Year
Klaim was awarded 2 finalist positions in the Gulf Capital SME Awards: “B2B Technology StartUp of the Year” and “Digital Business of the Year” for the GCC region. Congrats!
Fatura crossed the USD 100M annualized GMV threshold in less than 2 years! Also, the startup’s family grew to 350 members. 💪
CARSEER signed a cooperation agreement with Mahmoudia Motors Group = the official & exclusive dealers of Jaguar and Land Lover in Jordan.
Retain those customers
Gameball presents its 6 strategies on how to turn customers from window shoppers to loyal customers.
- Lifecycle Marketing Manager at The Luxury Closet (Dubai)
- Country Manager (Germany & France) at Mejuri (London)
- B2B Sales Support Manager at Cartlow (Dubai)
- Commercial Associate at Retailo (Riyadh)
- Senior Growth Specialist at Fatura (Cairo)
- Scrum Master at Fatura (Cairo – hybrid)
We’ll see how this one goes… See you next year!