Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Meet our founder of the week: Rabbit’s Ahmad Yousry

OUR FOUNDER OF THE WEEK- Ahmad Yousry, co-founder and CEO of Rabbit (LinkedIn).

My name is Ahmad Yousry, and I’m the CEO and co-founder of Rabbit. I would say the first pivotal moment in my professional career was when I applied for a networks engineering position at Vodafone Egypt. As a result of the interview process, Vodafone’s HR team felt like I was a better fit for a position in their marketing department. I still don’t know why [laughs], but that decision changed my professional career entirely. I spent nine years working at Vodafone’s Egyptian branch, learning a lot about the ins and outs of marketing, before moving to the UK to head the company’s CRM center of excellence for Southern Europe, Africa, and Asia.

My role entailed a lot of traveling. I used to be on the road for 27 days of the month, and it was through this I fell in love with Uber and with technology’s ability to solve real-world problems. When I moved back to Egypt, I was lucky to land a job as Uber Egypt’s head of marketing, and after working a number of positions at the company, I became the general manager of Otlob (Now Talabat). After my tenure at Otlob, I met my brilliant co-founders. We collectively decided to launch Rabbit to expedite the evolution of the retail industry in Egypt.

The idea for Rabbit blossomed as my co-founders and I were discussing the future of retail. Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, and others changed the entertainment game by offering on-demand entertainment. Uber equally changed the transportation game by offering on-demand transportation. We realized that on-demand retail, too, was ripe for growth and would clearly be the way of the future. We began observing how companies abroad were offering ultra-fast delivery services to make a material difference to customers’ on-demand retail experience. After studying whether the Egyptian market was ready for this kind of disruption, we decided to launch Rabbit in 2021 and test the waters.

Rabbit is in the business of time. We sell peace of mind. Life nowadays can be hectic and unorganized, and Rabbit’s objective is to help alleviate that problem by unlocking on-demand retail for our users. By delivering their needs quickly, we help make a significant difference in terms of customer experience, and help them avail more time in their schedule and focus on their lives. We are proud of the fact that we deliver on our promise: 95% of orders made through our app are delivered in less than 20 minutes.

Our entire business is built with speed in mind, and we measure all our processes in terms of seconds. The most important KPIs I focus on include tracking the time spent to fulfill orders, monitoring the percentage of orders that meet customer expectations, and our user retention levels, as well as generally tracking our levels of efficiency.

I enjoy every second of my job. It has been an amazing journey so far. What I love about my job now is the fact that I’ve virtually become useless. Our team is made up of great talents. My co-founders and I were most useful during the company’s formative stages; when we were setting the vision, culture, and goals of the company. Now, I get invited to meetings where the team makes great decisions, and I have absolutely nothing to add [laughs]. I just sit back, observe the team’s amazing performance, and am happily taken aback by how useless I’ve become. Witnessing the team’s evolution is inspiring. For my co-founders and me, the best part of the job is empowering our team and giving them the freedom to fail, and the flexibility to take the initiative and create.

The founder’s journey can be lonely, but you can alleviate some of it by surrounding yourself with people who complement your weaknesses. If you pick the right team, and are partnered with great co-founders, you will always be able to turn to them for advice when you need it. For emotional support, for instance, we collectively have daily venting sessions about the daily challenges we face as a team.

The fact that we have friends at other startups who can relate to the problems we face has also made our journey easier. Talking to fellow founders is very thought-provoking. They face similar challenges on a daily basis, so when we come to them with our problems, they can definitely relate and offer useful insights. It’s very comforting to talk to founders like Omar Hagrass, co-founder of Trella, and Thndr founder Ahmed Hamouda, among others.

Fundraising is a never-ending endeavor for us: We hope to raise more funds in the future to expand, serve more users, and to enhance our customer experience, which are all part of our short- and medium-term goals. We raised USD 11 mn in pre-seed funding in 2021, which was at the time the MENA’s biggest pre-seed funding round.

Startups that I think are killing it include Khazna, Trella, and Taager. I love Khazna’s proposition and their focus. They’re a very principled business. I really like Trella’s resilience as a startup: the foundation they built is very impressive. And Taager is amazing in terms of how they’ve evolved their business model.

In my downtime, when I’m not spending quality time with family and friends, I devour business content. I watch CNBC regularly to catch up on the global economy as it spirals out of control [laughs]. I’m also an avid reader, so whenever I have the time, I like to kick back and dive into an interesting book.

The last great thing I read was The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horrowitz. Horowitz paints a vivid picture of the ups and downs of starting a business. He accurately captures the challenges all founders collectively face. I think it’s an especially prescient read today given how turbulent the global economy is.

If I had to do it all over again, I would still go down the investor route early on. I believe that bringing in the right investors turbocharges startups in many ways. Not only do investors bring capital to the table, they also bring market insights, and can help provide great networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. Our investors, for instance, connect us with counterparts in foreign markets to help both parties understand and navigate the problems of our collective industry.

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