On the Cusp of $17.5M: Secrets for Successful Tech with selfologi

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The Healthcare sector in MENA has been an impeccable driver of technology, agile digital infrastructure, and digital adoption across industries and geographies. The need for innovation in the healthcare industry has been evident, where in response to the pressures of a global pandemic in 2020, the healthcare sector observed its record-high VC capitalization. A year later, VC investment in the sector across MENA maintained its drive having raised almost 99% of the funds deployed last year. 

By Q3 2021, investor interest in MENA-based HealthTech has been honed on the exploration of digital disruption and Tech-integrated solutions. In the third quarter of the year, medical marketplaces and telehealth platforms gained investor popularity with startups like Egypt-based marketplace Yodawy, Saudi-based Telehealth platform Cura, and UAE-based cosmetic treatment search & booking platform selfologi raising major rounds. The drive for optimized b2b medical processes has surely made tangible progress on the betterment of societies as well as recorded in our Wa’ed-sponsored 2021 MENA VC Impact Investment Report. As healthcare startups raised 20% of the 403 impact investment deals closed between 2016 and Q3 2021, the healthcare sector has proven itself to be a crucial element in a fully-equipped next-gen future. 

As the drive for Tech innovations in the Healthcare sector sets precedent for VC deal dynamics and startup venture offerings for the years to come, we invite Rob Pye the CEO of selfologi to share his take on the key to successful Tech for his experience setting up selfologi, the multi-functional cosmetic treatment platform which raised a stellar $17.5M earlier this year: 


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‘For anyone launching a digital start-up, having the right technology in place can mean the difference between success and failure.’

After a couple of decades in the e-commerce industry, I know that investing in the right technology from day one is essential to drive performance – something that was critical when we launched selfologi, the region’s first platform for users to discover, learn about, and book cosmetic treatments, all in one place.
In the digital age, we depend on technology for every aspect of our business, from finance to marketing to data to merchandising and more; it’s critical that everything is tightly integrated for the scalability of your business.

Technology – laying the foundation of a successful digital start-up

Tech is becoming the heart of the economy in the Middle East.  Here in the UAE, a task force dedicated solely to the development of a next-generation economy is being set up, with a digital plan set to take the country well into the future. While your digital strategy consists of obvious fundamentals such as marketing, customer service, and product, the technology you choose should be one of the most researched and considered business decisions you make. It will define how well you run your business, enable you to build the right foundations, and ensure scalable results long-term.

So how do you know where to start? How can you work out which of the rapidly evolving technological
solutions should be a priority for your business? And how can you guarantee that the choices you make
today, will ensure you get the most out of your business in the future?

1. Choose timeless Tech 
Your customers and their demands are evolving, rapidly. They expect the very latest, most engaging digital experiences. From mobile apps to chatbots, research shows that 67% of customers will pay more for a great experience. To ensure your customers don’t look elsewhere and in order to put customer experience at the heart of what you do, we have to move away from a traditional monolithic approach to platform development and move to a ‘best-of-breed’ technology approach, to meet their ever-evolving needs.

Start by doing your research and try to consider what your business needs, both now and in the future. I have been in the ecommerce beauty industry for 20 years, and have seen first-hand how a traditional, monolithic approach can hinder a business. You can become ‘trapped’ on outdated versions of platform technology, forcing you to effectively re-platform if you want to upgrade to the latest version, as any customization you’ve made to the platform is inevitably incompatible with the latest version and the code has to be rebuilt from scratch. This is timely and costly and ultimately doesn’t really move your business forward, so an approach that lets you scale with new technology and continue to build new functionality that adds true value to the user experience is the key foundation for accelerating growth. 
With selfologi, we recently embarked on a new, truly innovative venture that had to leverage the latest headless technologies, which is what drove our approach to vendor selection. Success is about agility, and we had to create a platform that could evolve with our consumers’ behaviors. We are in the cosmetic treatments business and our website aims to be the ultimate destination for users to discover, learn about and book cosmetic treatments across the Middle East. Clinics will be able to sell their treatments direct to consumers, so we needed to have a platform that could handle a completely dynamic product catalog, at scale, whilst allowing us to cater for any possible treatment combination the clinics want to create.

Enter Composable Commerce, an approach that leverages a ‘best-of-breed' approach to technology selection, allowing you to select the best technology solutions for each part of your tech stack, from e-commerce to search to CMS and beyond, enabling you to meet market demands both now and in the future. 

 2. Select the right Partners 
For your business to succeed, you need to partner with, and learn from, the right people. The eCommerce platform, CMS, and search engine you select upfront will help you establish the right foundations, not just in terms of the technology you choose, but in all aspects. If possible, work with the partners you know and trust, who can orchestrate such an approach to technology. If you are new to the digital start-up world, then ask around. Really invest time in doing your research – it will pay off in the long run.

When selecting partners, considering your consumer's entire journey from day one is also important. When we set up selfologi, we knew that we wanted to make a transformative change – but we needed a strategy that applied to the entire business. We selected an expert search engine partner, that took a unique approach to insight research and content creation, which we linked to a dynamic product structure so that the clinics and practitioners on our platform can be ranked based on the relevancy of what consumers are looking for. 


 3. Stay Secure

Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t equipped to deal with a potential data security breach, simply because they underestimate just how vulnerable they are. As start-ups increasingly rely on technology, the need to protect your customers’ information becomes more important than ever. Large, multi-national online businesses can afford the very best cybersecurity, meaning hackers often target the smaller ones. As with most things tech, cybersecurity requires a holistic approach that encompasses superior technology, information advantages, and trusted partners. A security breach can be detrimental for a new business, affecting your reputation and damaging consumer trust from the outset, so setting up the right software early on is essential.

This is an exciting time for our industry, and for start-ups across the region. With the right technology and the right partners, you have the opportunity to really create something of enormous value, so go for it! When we set up selfologi, we very quickly realized that we would have to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. But we trusted our intuition, surrounded ourselves with amazing technology and people, and decided to get disruptive!

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