Entrepreneur of the Week: Keno's Kenan Al Mobayed

How the firm went from operating in select areas of Dubai with an average of 15 car washes a day, to catering to as many as 100 orders across the UAE
Kenan Al Mobayed
By Lubna Hamdan
Sun 06 May 2018 06:02 PM

You have come a long way in a short period of time, attracting over 13,000 customers. What has been your secret to success?
We have succeeded because we focus on quality. Keno staff are not ordinary car washers. I like to call them “ninjas”, because we train them ruthlessly before they head to the streets.

Our on-demand app is also fast, reliable and affordable, enabling our customers to pin-point their car location before quickly being met by a Keno ninja. It saves car owners both time and effort to personally accompany their vehicles to carwashes, which are often packed with vehicles.

Moreover, our process does not require direct communication between the customers and our ninjas, except in the case of interior cleaning. As for material, we depend on our own eco-friendly detergents and save around 99 percent of used water compared with ordinary cleaning processes, making us eco-friendly.

What have been some of your most difficult challenges?
It is sometimes difficult for us to meet all our orders, especially as our customers are usually in a hurry to have their cars cleaned when they are at home or in the office. But it reflects positively on our company as it means we are now in high demand.

What are your expansion plans for the future? Where do you wish to take Keno?
We currently employ 30 ninjas, but have plans to add 30 more in order to meet increasing demand. Right now we are focusing mainly on quality, but also continue to offer new services such as our recently added vehicle maintenance option.

Expansion-wise, we are looking to open in Abu Dhabi in the coming months, as well as the rest of the GCC at a later stage.

Many Gulf tourists use our app when visiting Dubai, so expansion in the region should not be too difficult. They prefer our quick services rather than busy traditional auto washes.

Despite high demand for fast car wash services, there remains serious competition in Dubai. How do you deal with competitors?
We’re well aware that Keno is not the first of its kind. There are other similar applications for car care around, but elements such as using motorcycles to get to our customers’ vehicles have helped us cut both time and cost.

Price has played a significant role in the success of our company, as our services are not much higher in price than other auto washes. Quality is also a key factor in our success.

Dubai has a large number of mid and high end cars, so the average service in Dubai is mainly high end. We have kept up with these standards, which is why we have a good return on investment (ROI) for our business.

You can listen to as many entrepreneurial stories as you’d like, but the ones that will really help you are those of failure not success”

Where do you see Keno in the next five years?
I expect it to become the largest auto wash company in the UAE in a year. We now receive over 100 orders a day, and our target for next year is 500-600 orders per day.

What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs?
You don’t have to be a tech expert to launch an app, but if you’re not, it is essential that you find a partner who is. You have to bear in mind that entrepreneurship involves high risk. 

So while I do follow my intuition, I also think twice before making a decision.

In terms of challenges, an entrepreneur is likely to come across many issues and the way ahead is seldom clear. The trick is to keep moving. There is a lot of stimulating chit-chat in this domain and many entrepreneurs claim to have all the answers, but no one has all the answers.

You can listen to as many entrepreneurial stories as you’d like, but the ones that will really help you are stories of failures, not successes. Focus on these examples, study them and find out why they failed. Finally, my advice is, don’t ever get emotionally attached to an idea before you’ve done your research.

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Last Updated: Sun 06 May 2018 06:55 PM GST

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