Young Dubai businessman behind unique SDaaS for SMEs
A Dubai-bred young serial entrepreneur is disrupting the local Software as a Service market with a unique AI-driven platform for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, launched at the start of the year.
Called Zoftware, it is “Software Democratisation as a Service, where software products of the people (companies) are recommended by our people (the team), for the people (B2B clients) for any problems they face in their businesses,” says Aayushman Dalmia, 29.
Within the first quarter of operations, Zoftware already has arrangements with a growing list of over 6,000 companies – including the Microsoft and Zoho suites, Google, Adobe and others.
“You can find a packed suite of software just with a generic search, but do you require everything in that or can you customize it? Maybe not. Zoftware is free for the customers while we work with them to understand their needs and even do the work for them in customising solutions from the software companies. Consider us as the Zomato or Tripadvisor for the software industry.
“Avoiding wastage of resources by reducing the gap between the capability knowledge of any software’s offerings and solving the problems of the end users is core to Zoftware’s mission,” says Dalmia, who came up with the idea when he could not find such a solution while searching for his needs himself.
“Zoftware is about marrying software with the best of customer experience. We make it easy for customers to navigate the ocean of software to find the right tools for their business and purpose. We offer deep insights on software and match organisations to the right product, be it for accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), project management, IT, payroll and many more,” says Dalmia, confident his idea will revolutionise the convenience of running a business.
Zoftware is a unique startup offering a choice of business tools in software with a personalised touch, using Open AI’s ChatGPT, for SME owners and companies. There are plans to take this to India, a huge market for SaaS providers and consumers.
“We have raised 500,000 dollars as a convertible note. And there are plans to raise another $1.5 million in the next round,” he says. “We are aiming for a revenue of $1.5 million by end of 2023.”
The rise of ChatGPT has only become an enabler for the Zoftware team. “Our technical analysts have been nimble to stay ahead on the transformation curve. We are in the process of setting up an AI bot with whom people can converse with, we understand what the customers want from the platform and give them the relevant output data while connecting with the vendors.
“If they want, we can also onboard it for them. With ChatGPT, it can give you out the names, but it cannot do comparisons and the prices that are out there. It cannot help you come to a decision, while we can help find the best value for the clients.
“According to studies, 75 percent of businesses fail in their software implementation. We want to make it to zero, because it is a waste of capital and resources such as time, effort and money. In the SME section, that is not something one can afford. We want to reduce the wastage cycle as much as possible. And we want to build the trust of our customers.”
Zoftware is Dalmia’s latest fruit of labour, coming from his own personal experiences when he saw a gap in the market. He set up Yalla Referral, a referral and benefits platform, is co-founder of an online diamond-purchasing platform Carat Finder and Director of Growth and Innovation at Data Direct Group.
“I remember, in 2018, when I wanted to implement CRM for my sales team, I ended up putting so much effort and money only to realise a year later that I had a complex setup which wasn’t needed at all. Several dollars went in waste apart from the time and effort. Many startups and SMEs may not be able to come out of the wrong direction taken.”
Russian company expanding taxi business in Dubai
Yango – a ride-hailing, delivery and e-grocery company with Russian origins – is gaining popularity and challenging industry majors Uber and Careem in Dubai, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing sources.
Its share of the local ride-hailing market in May amounted to between 4% and 8%, less than a year after the company started operations in the UAE’s most populous city, according to the report.
Yango launched in Dubai in September 2022. It’s operated by Netherlands-based company Ridetech International, formerly Yandex Taxi, a subsidiary of Yandex NV, the Dutch-registered holding company for the Russian IT conglomerate Yandex.
Analysts note that the company’s popularity stems from the influx of Russian businesses and expats, who have been relocating to the UAE over the past year amid anti-Russia sanctions imposed in the West. According to Islam Abdul Karim, Yango’s regional general manager, the number of orders for Yango rides is growing at an average of about 20% every week.
Yango’s main rivals in the region, US-based Uber and Uber-owned local firm Careem, told Bloomberg that they welcome the competition.
Uber and Yandex have already faced off in the Russian ride-hailing market. Their rivalry ended in 2017, when the companies merged their Russian businesses to form a joint venture with Yandex as the leading partner. Last month, however, Yandex bought out Uber’s share in the company for $702.5 million, becoming the sole owner.
Esports company seeks to ride wave two years after IPO pop
Investment opportunities in eSports and virtual gaming are on the rise, especially in Southeast Asia and Middle East and North Africa market regions, and companies such as Esports Technologies are looking to ride the wave.
Esports Technologies made the biggest splash of the IPO market for the year 2021 on the NASDAQ (EBET) when it made its debut with a jump in share value of 507% and eventually soared up to 700%.
According to a new market research report titled ‘Southeast Asian Gaming Market – (2023-2028)’ and released in March this year by Mordor Intelligence, the market is expected to register a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 16.2% with the onset of 5G technology. It marks a reverse trend after a little flat 2022 when revenues dipped slightly. Only the MENA and Latin America regions showed positive growth, according to a NewZoo report.
The rising popularity of various sports and investments in internet infrastructure are the primary factors driving the market’s enormous growth potential. Buying E-sports stocks online and their subsequent performance are the rage among America and South Asian investors with an incredible surge in both demand and price.
Since the IPO of Esports Technologies, it has been confirmed on the books as well above average opening. According to data from Jay Ritter, the average IPO pop from 1980 through 2020 was 18.4% in one day. In 2021, the average first day gain after an IPO was 16%. Using all common stock IPOs between 2000 and 2020, the positive average first-day IPO returns was 21.11 percent in one day.
While getting a direct exposure to the eSports theme is fairly limited, investors can target companies that generate significant revenue from video games and e-sports.
Competitive gaming events, conducted virtually at a professional level, are becoming big business. With its roots being in South Korea, Asia has led global eSports trends and growth for over the past 20 years.
Dubai company proves microcosm of World Cultural Diversity
The UAE is a melting pot of cultures and the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development fell on Sunday 21. Many organisations celebrated the occasion in the poster city of Dubai over the weekend while some opted to beat the Monday blues with the right excuse.
Data Direct Group, a leading business group in Dubai since 2002, chose to start early with lot of fun activities at their Deira headquarters. DDG’s core arm is digitally driven Business Process Outsourcing. With 26 nationalities working on ensuring good customer experiences, unity in diversity and cultural amalgamation comes naturally at the organisation.
“May 21 is a very important day for us,” said Rajiv Dalmia, the group founder and chairman. “Diversity of cultures is an extended requirement of the business, but it is also very vital to our ethos if we have to remain true to our values to enhance customer experience.” DD is also an equal opportunity employer to more than 580 employees with around 290 of them as females.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are more than 200 nationalities living in the UAE, with 10% Emiratis and an eclectic mix of expatriates. That is more than the member states registered with the United Nations at 195.
As a leading group handling the customers of many government and private companies, the DDG roster is an ideal microcosm of the varied and colourful mix of religions, race, ethnicity, caste or creed. “Many call centres in the UAE try to cater to the top nationalities by numbers among the population by keeping a dedicated option for customers to converse in the language of preference,” said Dalmia.
“We also keep evolving and try to incorporate inclusion to the best extent possible, even if there is only so much you can do.”
Girish Ojha, the chief human resource officer, agrees. “While language can be a barrier at times, our instructions to the staff is to be understanding and try to reach out to them in all means possible. On a daily basis, with each call that tries to reach out to our clients through us, our employees are duty bound to make data available through any source of contact possible.”
One of the key members of Data Direct, on condition of anonymity, said: “I am a global citizen when I am here in the UAE. The charm of working in this country and at this workplace is that you get to learn so much about the world without travelling anywhere.”