Entrepreneur of the Week: Nicholas Brooks, MD, Zaeto Middle East

This new start-up is offering a cost effective way to reduce the negative impact environmentally damaging materials have on the local ecology
Entrepreneur of the Week: Nicholas Brooks, MD, Zaeto Middle East
Nicholas Brooks
By Lubna Hamdan
Sat 31 Aug 2019 10:12 AM

The Dubai-based company’s goal for the region is to reduce the environmental impact of heavy industry.  It plans to achieve this by adding a simple additive to fuel tanks or applied on parts, allowing companies to benefit from immediate results rather than having to formulate and implement major investments that cost them a fortune and take years to come to fruition.

It also excels in all environ-ments, including those with extreme heat, making it perfect for the local desert market in the Middle East.

How did the idea for Zaeto Middle East come about?

A long-term friend and previous business partner started the Zaeto conversation several years ago, as we wanted to develop a product specifically for the GCC and one with a core focus on the environment, alongside cost effectiveness for businesses – and thus, Zaeto was born in 2018.  The Middle East market needed some-thing like Zaeto – to make a difference now rather than another unrealistic five/ten year plan that requires major financial and infrastructure investment before producing any results.

What makes Zaeto Middle East unique?

Many of the region’s heavy industry companies involved in areas such as manufact-uring and marine transport, use lubrication and grease products that contain environmentally damaging materials that can lead to pollution of the natural ecology. Zaeto products reduce Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide levels substantially in diesel emissions. The latter is currently a key focus in Europe to tackle pollution, and more so than CO2, due to the critical health impact. Dubai is currently ranked as the 10th most polluted city in the world, and eight million people globally die from NOx related gas emissions per year. I feel it’s right to do something because we can.

While Zaeto can be generalised as a lubricants and grease company, it is so much more than that.  It impacts the environment positively by reducing harmful emissions by up to 35 percent, while increasing fuel economy; and lubricating parts better and more efficiently, which results in improvements in sustain-ability.  Zaeto benefits a company’s bottom line, a community’s health and the country’s goals of 2020, through to 2071.

Zaeto has to date shown fuel savings of up to 15 percent, general emissions improve-ments by 70 percent and engine performance improve-ments of up to 9 percent. We need to continue our efforts and spread this to a wider audience, to ensure we make a considerable impact.

What is your business model to generate profit?

We are a typical ‘price based on product with margin’ business. The key focus for us is for the consumer/customer to receive a commercial benefit by using Zaeto products, and at the same time making a positive environ-mental impact. We can charge more based on the bottom line results, but we choose to have better commercials for customers as they can then pass them on to their customers.

What are your main challenges?

Zaeto is only 18 months old, with the majority of our initial focus placed on building the brand equity and credibility in the region. There has been some initial resistance to using the product due to warrantees on new technologies and servicing parts, as well as cemented relationships amongst procurement and operational teams, which we didn’t initially anticipate.

Brands like Castrol and Caterpillar are well known and trusted within the region, with strong reputations in the market when it comes to lubricants and greases.

However, Zaeto has already created positive moves, with its unique capabilities of supporting day-to-day operational needs (exactly like its counterparts), but with three fold added benefits that include cost and part savings, reduced maintenance costs, and a positive environmental impact.

Tell us a little bit about your funding journey. How is the business funded and what has been your experience in attracting investors?

Funding has been fully supported by our partners, as we really live the ‘if it is to be, it’s up to me’ approach. The true interest on emissions, outside of CO2 is still very low compared to other wastes, but savings are a key focus today.   This, coupled with the continued factual results we are achieving, is why we have attracted interest from investors and accelerators.

How has Zaeto Middle East been performing?

Since launching in early 2018, Zaeto has run numerous successful local and international trials with companies like Emirates Leisure Group, Dulsco, City Sightseeing, Volvo, Vendetta Racing, Savaterre as well as Semi-Governmental Departments. Zaeto’s social impact shows a 70 percent measured reduction in CO2 emissions when adding D-ZEL Aid to regular diesel fuel; a 35 percent reduction is deadly NOx emissions and an eight percent Carbon Monoxide reduction.

Economically, Zaeto has demonstrated 20 percent saving on part replacement and a 15-20 percent reduction on maintenance costs.

Any expansion plans in the UAE, GCC and beyond?

Of course. We are very proud to be a UAE homegrown company, and hope to open our own UAE-based factory in Jebel Ali in the near future.

We are also already in talks with other GCC businesses and Africa is looking very positive too.

What are some new trends in the green technology sector in the region?

We see a lot more being done around recycling, reusing, renewing and upcycling. I’m a fan of SET, which has a great unit to ‘compost’ food waste, keeping it from landfill. The final product can fertilise your garden, and some large hotels use it already. Adrienne Doolan from Green Touches creates Aqueous Ozone to ‘clean’ and disinfect surfaces. Simple tap water is passed through the small unit to create it - it’s brilliant.

There are a number of new things as well as some older technologies that have been reworked. I’m part of some Green Groups where everyone is aware of the big picture, as well as the smaller parts, so there is great positive support to stay motivated.  I just wish there was more airtime to highlight what they are truly impacting, and how they are making a difference.

If you could go back, what would you do differently with Zaeto Middle East?

Initially I may have spent too long listening to the wrong people. In the end, people only know what they know, so this can sometimes hamper your progression. You have to ask the right question to the right person, to get the right answer. I wish I’d found the selling point several years ago when we first looked at the market.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Say hello to people - in business and in life. People’s phones do just as much to kill an unknown opportunity by having your head down in a crowd, than they do to deliver one to your inbox. They might be out of your work environment today, but tomorrow a valuable asset.

What is it really like being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is like jumping off a cliff and building your wings on the way down. You have to believe in yourself.  There is no “off switch” so learning how to manage this is key.  You will experience the highest ‘high’ you’ve ever had, but at the same time the lowest ‘low’ when things don’t go to plan. That being said, I would not change a thing as I have never felt more alive than the last 18 months.

For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.