By Lubna Hamdan
Yanzo co-founder says home gym equipment among most requested items following groceries, medicine
It’s not every day that you come across a start-up doubling its revenue during a global economic crisis, but Dubai-based virtual personal assistant Yanzo is the exception.
Since the spike in coronavirus cases in the UAE in February, Yanzo - which can find, book and deliver products and services - has seen a 60% rise in revenue month-on-month, according to co-founder Tarek Osma.
Business has been so good that he’s had to turn down orders.
"We started seeing the boost in the first week of March, and it’s still growing as we speak. Usually we grow at 15-20% month-on-month, given we’re a start-up, but now we’re doing 50-60% month-on-month without any marketing or advertising… I didn’t expect the epidemic to grow, we didn’t see it coming this fast but things were happening really quickly and we’re actually turning orders down because we can’t handle the demand right now.
“We’re turning down 20% of orders that we’re getting per day,” he said.
It’s a good problem to have.
Osman describes the start-up as "the perfect middle man,” with a wide network of suppliers and logistics partners that allows it to provide customers with the best deal in the market, be it for an iPhone, a luxury designer bag or most recently, grocery items, without having any employees on the ground.
“We do all the backend bidding. So if you ask me for an iPhone, I'll go to all the tech suppliers who can provide it and deliver it at the cheapest price. You don’t see any of the back end processing. We just come back with a quotation and charge you online,” he said.
And it all takes as little as 40 minutes. Customers can contact Yanzo through WhatsApp and within an average 5 minute conversation, the backend bidding begins.
The cost can be as low as AED35 and as high as 15-20% if it’s a complex order related to events, although that’s not where Yanzo has seen the surge in business.
The start-up, which is part of the Wamda X incubator, has seen a trend in home gym equipment as more people workout at home due to gym closures as part of measures by the government to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
“Most orders are retail so shopping for different items. Since we have to turn down orders because we don’t have the capacity to fulfill them, we’re prioritising medicine and groceries because these are in high demand at the moment. And then comes any retail item after that, but there is a definite trend we didn’t see coming at all which is home gym equipment, so yoga mats, dumbbells, pull up bars, because people aren’t working out from gyms so they're ordering these things to exercise from home,” Osman said.
He initially started the business with two co-founders to help business professionals and working mothers run their errands. But with social distancing requirements in line with the global epidemic, and people more worried about health than ever before, it’s provided the perfect fit for Yanzo.
It’s also being approached by retail brands with no e-commerce presence to help deliver items to customers and act as their personal shopper.
"Because of the drop in malls' footfall, brands are using Yanzo to ease the shopping process for their customers,” he said, having partnered with the likes of cosmetics giant Kiko.
Corporates like Mashreq bank are even offering Yanzo as a "staff perk to motivate their employees to work from home,” according to Osman.
Yanzo is now growing its team and supplier network to manage more orders, and is looking to expand beyond the UAE.