Exclusive Q&A with Abdallah Abu-Sheikh and Ahmad Mazroui, co-founders of RIZEK

Dubai-based RIZEK is looking to launch their service marketplace soon, but that has not stopped the startup from raising a significant $1.5M funding round in September 2019 from reputed angel investors, as well as partner with companies such as Alibaba Cloud and NMC.

Following the investment and partnership announcements, MAGNiTT wanted to take the opportunity to catch up with Abdallah Abu-Sheikh, founder and CEO, and Ahmad Mazroui, co-founder of RIZEK, to learn more about their startup.

1. Tell us about RIZEK in layman’s terms. What do you do exactly?
RIZEK is, very simply, the Amazon of services — a marketplace where you can access all the services you need for you and your family.
2. We can’t get away with not talking about the COVID-19 virus. How does RIZEK look to tackle this problem, both internally and through your product? 
Having a set of agile teams helps cope with it internally by using all the online communication tools, as well as leveraging our own technology to run more testing and analysis.

As for the product, RIZEK is the only marketplace structure that offers healthcare services; and through this, we aim to give a helping hand to all the authorities and the people by increasing accessibility to healthcare professionals and real-time response for treatments.
3. Has in-home healthcare only seen a recent surge due to the current climate, or do you expect this to grow in the long term as well? Why?
We think the severity of our current situation has opened people’s eyes to how some of our daily habits and interaction with services can sometimes have big consequences. A lot of people are starting to notice that it is possible to pick up a virus when going to a hospital or clinic, and thus prefer their services at home, which is arguably a more controlled environment. This realisation is across service sectors, such as beauty, education and others, in addition to healthcare. 

However, while the COVID-19 pandemic is developing a market for healthcare at home, we also foresee a growing market in the longer term, especially as people are more open to the service in the current climate, which is likely to stay even after we are declared safe. Moreover, with the busy lives of parents and children, and a more independent elder population, the convenience of healthcare at home is expected to sustain the demand in the market.
4. Are you doubling down on in-home healthcare, or are you looking to expand into other areas as well?
We are offering all the services that can be done at home. In-home healthcare is very important, but there are other services as well, which – when performed at home – can save people a lot of trouble. This is what we try to champion.
5. What is the main target audience for your product?
Anybody who is looking for the highest convenience standard is within our target market. Having a large bandwidth of services offered gives us access to a larger demographic.

6. What is your business model exactly? How do you generate revenue?
We bank upon our partners' success. We help connect them to opportunities and open potential business doors for them, and in return, we earn a small percentage of their service fees.
7. You have recently raised a sizeable funding round. Other than capital, what else do you look for in your investors?  
We were lucky to have the support of some very dynamic investors like Ahmad Al Mansouri and Ammar Al Khudairy, who are both serial investors and have proved to us that the value they add can be so much more than capital.
8. Aside from the current climate, what are the other main challenges that you face when looking to scale your startup?
Talent can always be a big challenge, but places like MAGNiTT help bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and talent. Winning consumer trust also continues to be our biggest mission and we aim to continuously earn that through providing high-quality service time and again.
9. In 2019, HealthTech startups in the MENA region raised more funding than any previous year. With the space getting more crowded, how do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
The healthcare industry is one of the biggest industries in the global economy, so we wouldn’t say that the space is getting crowded. In fact, we think there is still a lot of room for innovation and people to come into the space. Our main differentiator is that we are both consumer-focused and tech-driven, and we aim to be this way for the long haul!
10. What do you think the most interesting global trend in HealthTech is at the moment?
We think with the current situation, people should pay significant attention to the help Artificial Intelligence (AI) can provide to Healthtech. AI can help predict epidemics, as well as help fight them. This potential of AI, if tapped into correctly, can save a lot of lives and help a lot of people in need.

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E-commerce deals in MENA-based startups have tripled from 2016 to 2019. Find out more details behind this trend and many more in our 2019 MENA E-commerce Venture Investment Report HERE