Past and current employees explain what makes Careem the region’s biggest success story; In a discussion titled Mind over Matter, the main founders believe that working hard isn’t always the best thing
Bassel Al Nahlaoui, MD – Mobility, Careem; Wael Nafee, Partner at Raed Ventures and Former Vice President at Careem; and Asma Alyamani, Product Manager at Mamo Pay and Former Product Manager at Careem, explained the factors that contribute to Careem’s success and the lessons they have brought to their new roles. – Photos provided
There are few start-up success stories that resonate in the region like Careem, which started in the UAE nine years ago and has grown so huge it was acquired by Uber for 3.1 billion dollars in 2019, making it the first “unicorn” in the Middle East. His tremendous success has served as a springboard for new entrepreneurial talents in the country and the wider region, who have learned valuable lessons from his growth journey.
Former and current Careem employees, known as the “Careem Cartel”, took to the stage at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2021 to deliver key lessons at a panel discussion titled “Today’s Employees, entrepreneurs of tomorrow: lessons from the Careem cartel ”, moderated by Tarek Fouad, Head of Growth at Shurooq Partners.
Bassel Al Nahlaoui, MD – Mobility, Careem; Wael Nafee, Partner at Raed Ventures and Former Vice President at Careem; and Asma Alyamani, Product Manager at Mamo Pay and Former Product Manager at Careem, explained the factors that contribute to Careem’s success and the lessons they have brought to their new roles.
“To me, it’s the energy and chaos of the early-stage startup that has always been appealing,” said Alyamani. I really loved growing and evolving the business (Careem) and wanted to replicate that experience again. Dealing with different challenges and wearing different hats was another attraction. Recreating the system and culture of success (for any startup) is cool but also complex, so emulating it is a big challenge.
Careem has set a great precedent in the market, according to Nafee. “If you think about the Careem journey, it is a catalyst of hope for all new entrants. The biggest impact it has had on the ecosystem is to bring the belief that you can create a startup at this scale and at this level. There are many ways to help create a startup and establish its mission and values. Knowing the hustle and bustle already, I switched to my current role because I want to help more startups do so.
Al Nahlaoui, who oversees groceries, payments, food delivery and online grocery shopping, says Careem’s core values remain the same and continue to drive its operations. “Deep down, we’re always looking to help people with our solutions. This region has 700 million inhabitants and we still consider ourselves to be at the start of our journey. There will be many more success stories to emerge from Careem, and we will continue to attract the best talent and do impactful and meaningful work. “
The panelists agreed that internal culture is the key to the success of any business, with the need to articulate its values, to hire the right people through ‘fit’ and not just skills, and to be continually focused on the job. customer and create the best user experience for them. The success of companies like Careem can be attributed to their obsession with solving customer problems, they said.
Take a step back from the tumult of entrepreneurship
At another panel discussion titled “Mind Above Matter: Rethinking the Bustle of Being an Entrepreneur,” Dr Naif Al Mutawa, co-founder of the Tuhoon mental wellness platform; Craig McDonald, co-founder of FlexiPark; and Amna Al-Haddad, Olympic weightlifter from the United Arab Emirates; speaking to moderator Triska Hamid, editorial director of Wamda, explained why they decided to take a step back and take a break in the middle of their entrepreneurial journey.
McDonald’s cited reasons such as pressure at work, burden of expectations, and physical and mental stress as factors behind his decision. “It’s really hard to build something from scratch and make it succeed, and when it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, you start to beat yourself up,” McDonald said.
“Just as it would take time to recover from an injury, it’s important to take a step back and do nothing for a while if your business begins to wreak havoc on you,” Al-Haddad noted.
“After working for years with people about their stress and depression, some of them from entrepreneurial backgrounds, I’m now on the other side at the head of a startup,” commented clinical psychologist turned entrepreneur Al Mutawa, offering session participants the following advice: “Entrepreneurship can get very addicting, and sometimes you have to step back and rethink it.
Panelists suggested ways to tackle the problem, including engaging in fitness activities, learning to redirect and reframe negative thoughts, and blogging about one’s experiences.
The fifth edition of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF), one of the largest events for entrepreneurs in the region, organized by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), sees the participation of 55 speakers, including influential regional and global entrepreneurs, titans of the industry, and young creatives from the social, cultural, sporting sectors, etc. Bringing together over 4,000 entrepreneurs and startup founders from all industries on one platform, the two-day festival discusses ways to make a meaningful impact and promote positive change in the UAE entrepreneurship sector. Arab Emirates as well as in the region.
SEF 2021 is organized in partnership with the ICT Fund – an initiative of the UAE Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority, Sharjah Media City (Shams), Alef Group and Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.