The business idea of Dunia Othman and Ibrahim Colak, the husband-and-wife founders of mrUsta, rests on a win-win model for all stakeholders involved - small service providers struggling to reach more customers coupled with UAE residents in desperate need of their services.
The first version of the mrUsta website, an online platform linking skilful and reliable maintenance and repair workers with often frustrated individuals who need something fixed urgently, was launched in January 2014.
The platform lists a few thousand home service providers – described by the co-founders as ‘Ustas’ – in various categories, with each profile containing not only the contact information and location, but also the reviews and ratings posted by previous customers.
“We see many jobs coming through on a daily basis,” says Othman. “The great thing is that there are Ustas from as far as Ajman now being able to respond to customers in areas where they would have never had access to in the past, like Dubai Marina."
Following the closure of their seed fundraising round in September 2015, the mrUsta team was able to release a new version of the website with new iOS and Android applications, which were downloaded more than 2,500 times in the first two months.
Over AED1 million in revenue has been generated for the Ustas since launching the apps.
MrUsta has been well received by their customers as well, with the number of users increasing by over 200 percent in the same period. Moreover, the platform has recorded a steady month-on-month increase of 96 percent in terms of jobs posted on the platform.
Othman explains that experiencing difficulties in finding quality service providers used to be a common thread connecting almost everyone living in the UAE.
An additional strength of their business, she adds, is that it is a highly-localised solution. “At the end of last year we launched the ‘Save the Husband’ campaign that was very well received by our consumers and on social media,” says Othman.
“The campaign resonated strongly with everyone, and one of the videos had over 200,000 views on Facebook. It is important to be original in your marketing approach and to make things locally relevant.”
Colak quit his promising career at Nokia to launch mrUsta with his wife and two other co-founders, Onur Tepeli and Serhan Yazici. He has not had a single regret after making that decision almost three years ago.
“As tough as it was, I always knew that in a corporate career you are basically trading your time for money, whereas in your own business you get a lot more value for the time you spend building it,” he says.
“The benefits of running your own business and building it from scratch have always excited me. The fast tempo of a start-up founder’s life where no two days are the same as well as being in control, taking risks, putting yourself out there, all these are the things that eased my decision.”
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