Emiratis blaze their own trail to entrepreneurship

Four friends start a personal assistance service based in Dubai

Way to grow
Image Credit: Supplied
From left: Faisal Lutfi, Ahmad Al Ashram, Mohammad Kazim and Khalid Gobash,founding members of Allinque.
Gulf News

Dubai: It all started while on a trip to India almost two years ago. Four young Emiratis were united by a common desire to make something for themselves — and the way they chose to do so was to become entrepreneurs.

Mohammad Kazim, 28, one of the four, said: "My friends and I were just sharing thoughts and all of a sudden the idea of establishing our own business came up."

Faisal Lutfi, 27, said: "Back then we weren't exactly sure what the business was going to be, but the initial idea grew when we returned home and started meeting regularly to explore it."

Slowly the idea of Allinque — a personal assistance service based in Dubai — evolved.

"A few discussions and brainstorming sessions later, we came up with an innovative idea that would tackle an issue that many young professionals struggle with daily — better use and management of time," Ahmad Al Ashram, 28, said.

"As soon as we completed the financial model, we moved to the pilot stage, where we tried out the service on 80 of the people we know to test the process," Faisal said.

In January the project went live. Allinque, which targets young working professionals, provides its members with assistance in their daily tasks that they either do not have the time to do, or need to delegate.

Whether the task is to make a restaurant reservation, pick up laundry, buy groceries, send birthday balloons or finish bank paperwork, if it's legal and doable, the Allinque personal assistance service will take care of it.

The company offers three types of yearly contracts. A gold membership provides 40 hours of service per month, a silver membership gets 20 hours and bronze allows 10 hours. Information about the company can be found on its website www.Allinque.com.

One of the team's biggest financial investments was in the sophisticated software. As soon as a member rings the call centre, the system automatically links the number to their file, which pops up for the personal assistant, allowing him or her to be assisted in an efficient manner. The system also tracks the number of hours spent on each task.

When a member makes a request, he or she is sent an order confirmation via a phone text message within minutes. They are then regularly updated on the status of the request until it is completed.

All staff are signed into a binding client confidentiality agreement to protect the people who use the service. Since its launch, Allinque has attracted a diverse group of clients.

"We have Emirati, American, Lebanese, Indian, British and Saudi customers," Faisal said.

"We once received a request from a customer to wrap a car which he was giving to his wife as a gift, and we did it," Ahmad said. "Another request was to transfer a sick cat from Abu Dhabi to Dubai for surgery. We also managed to find a way to do that."

Certain services — especially hotel, ticket and travel reservations — are not limited to the UAE. An Allinque personal assistant can plan the logistics for an international trip and make all the bookings and reservations required by the customer.

So what would be the best advice that the group would like to give other entrepreneurs? "Do not venture into a new business without preparation and planning but also don't wait for years to execute," Khalid Gobash, 29, said.

"There is no perfect business book, plan or strategy that guarantees your success."

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