Time flies when you're having fun! Dubai-based startup Geeks, launched in December 2014 by the Jordanian partners Mousa Yassin and Fathi Alsharif, has successfully wooed customers in need of tech support, by providing them a prompt on-demand, location-based service.
Over the last couple of years, Geeks won the ‘Most promising startups’ award by Forbes Middle East (2016), raised over $1 million in funds, mapped out plans to expand in the GCC, and morphed from a consumer-focused outfit to one that is serving both consumers and businesses.
This last development constitutes a pivot that has begun to net Geeks’ new and lucrative opportunities. From serving the end consumer, the startup extended its activities to offering a remote IT and Tech Support platform to small and medium businesses. The startup now has over 80 regular business clients, and this number is growing month on month.
“While growing our consumer segment, we saw a large gap in the market for IT services tailored for small and medium businesses. Our business platform helps small and medium businesses figure out the best IT infrastructure for their industry and size and also gives them access to on-demand remote IT support whenever they need it,” says Geeks’ cofounder Mousa Yassin.
Mousa also explained that business clients are given access to a personalized platform that they use to submit their requests, view their stats, and manage their IT assets. While a fulltime IT resource can be costly and would be able to support 50-60% of IT issues, Geeks provides a less costly alternative and connects the business with a multi-qualified team to instantly address any IT and Tech issues that might arise in the office.
The business sector fed by consumers
Many of Geeks’ business clients came from consumer referrals. By providing several business owners and employees with prompt and efficient help time, Geeks’ reputation flourished through word-of-mouth recommendations. According to Ala Majaj, Chief Sales Officer, their latest success “has been a mixture of leveraging consumers to refer [us] to their enterprises and capitalizing on the brand’s image of a quality, honest, and transparent service provider.”
Geeks’ service prices vary between consumers and businesses. Consumers’ services charges vary depending on the service needed, while companies can opt for one of the three packages: Tech Starter, Tech Essential, and Tech Pro. Business clients can pay through payment gateways, but at this point Geeks also accepts cash, bank transfer, and cheques.
Some customers still book over the phone by Geeks is working towards receiving all the requests through the platform. Additionally, Geeks offer a live online chat for other questions that might arise. Most recently the team has been looking at chatbot service options.
Fathi Alsharif tells us: “We do see the importance of implementing chatbots and we have been playing with a few bot frameworks. […] To achieve that, we are constantly gathering information about issues, root causes, and solutions,” he continued. “Solving a lot of technical issues and repairs for over two years helped us identify common patterns in the questions, answers, and the results of the interaction between agents and customers. This helps train and test the bot more efficiently and [will] hopefully help us launch one in the near future.”
Readying a (big) lateral step
Geeks wants to expand into Saudi Arabia, which borders both the Geeks founders’ country of origin Jordan and where they currently reside - the United Arab Emirates. Plans to set up a shop in Jeddah are in the works, according to cofounder Mousa Yassin.
“The launch plan into KSA is still coming together,” he said. “We are currently spending a lot of time testing and assessing the different aspects of the market. The target is to have a lean tech-driven operation running before the end of the year.”
Having more money always helps startups scale to new countries, which is where the venture capital that Geeks raised this summer comes into play. “We strongly believe in the importance of having the right investors on board,” said Yassin, “investors who understand startups and can support our strategy and growth.” This includes teaming up with Dubai-based Wamda Capital. “We are fortunate to have a great and close relationship with Wamda Capital, which helped us lock in half of the [financing] round,” said Yassin, “and at the same time we are in contact with a number of investors in [Saudi Arabia] who can potentially add value to our expansion initiatives.”
Jordan: MENA’s source of tech talent
Following a visit to Jordan last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos declared it the Arab world’s leading tech country. The Geeks cofounder Fathi Alsharif said: “I think there's a huge amount of talent in Jordan and it is the tech hub in the MENA region. Growing up in Jordan, I [...] saw that we were always up-to-date with technological advancements. There were IT centers teaching software and web development courses and [...] authorized certificates since the early 90s,”. As it happens, Geeks is also in the process of setting up an office in its country of origin. This may well prove useful for scouting out promising innovators, of whom there seems to be no shortage. “Since the internet has always been accessible and fast in Jordan, many young talents have been teaching themselves coding, networking and support skills,” said Alsharif. “These skills enable them to build great products and companies.”