Saudi Entrepreneur Khaled Sehly was a pharmacist before he quit his job to become an entrepreneur.
In March 2017, Sehly launched AirWayBill, a crowdshipping platform, after receiving many shipping requests from his friends and family members during his travels. His platform matches between travelers and people requesting items, and it has two apps available on Android and iOS.
AirWayBill allows users to list the specifications of the items they want to ship and find travelers who can carry these items for them. Users upload a picture of the item, a description, the store they wish to buy it from and a meeting point to meet that works for both.
Users can track their items. For security reasons, users have to pay the item’s price and a 10 percent fee before dispatching their request. Payment will remain pending until both parties meet. The fee is divided between AirWayBill, which gets 20 percent of the amount, and the traveler who gets 80 percent.
A pharmacist turned into entrepreneur
After studying pharmacy in the German University in Cairo, Sehly worked for major pharmaceutical companies. However, his perspective changed once he started working for a pharmaceutical startup in Dubai called New Bridge.
“When I started working at this startup [...] I learned up close about entrepreneurship, and saw how an entrepreneur needs to act faster and provide a suitable offer to meet the clients’ needs”, Sehly said. “We competed against major companies and made great achievements every day, with team members functioning as intrapreneurs” he added.
Expressing his belief in the success of his platform, Sehly noted that “the sharing economy is becoming more prevalent around the world and in the Arab region.”
Furthermore, the number of travelers is increasing daily. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) the number of air passengers reached 3.8 billion in 2016 and is expected to increase to 7.2 billion in 2035.
Bill it your way
AirWayBill means air flight policy. which is a document that proves that the carrier has received the package and is now ready to ship it, Sehly explained. He added that the platform doesn’t actually sell anything, but only links the traveler to the person requesting the shipping.
For users and travelers to reach the meeting point easily, AirWayBill partnered with Careem last June, providing both users and travelers with promo codes for the Careem app, giving them a $15 credit that covers the cost of the ride to the pickup and delivery location.
From Spain to the world
The company is based out of Spain and falls under strict EU regulations, said Sehly, without giving further details on the matter.
In Madrid, the CEO formed a team of five founding partners from diverse backgrounds, including banking, travel, and advertisement. They don’t receive a fixed salary since the startup launched recently, however they do get shares in the company.
Among them is the Saudi President of the company AlShareef Hazza AlAbdali, the sole founding investor, who invested an undisclosed amount of money, according to Sehly.
Quick vs steady profits
The company doesn’t aim to make quick profits, but seeks to attract relevant users who will drive the app’s success, explained Sehly.
The team is currently experimenting with social media to spread the word. In August 2017, and after five months of launching, the app attracted 150,000 downloads on Android and iOS, with 50,000 registered users and 4,000 users who have already submitted shipment requests from now until 2018, according to the cofounder.
Users come from all around the world but the team focuses its operations on the United States, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Spain. This will help AirWayBill better monitor the operations, identify commons issues and improve the service, Sehly explained.
A worldwide model on the rise
This model is not new to the region. Many companies there are working in international shipping and these include large entities like Aramex with its Shop & Ship service, or startups like Saudi Jibili, Egyptian Zaagel and Frienshipper in Dubai. There’s Onyourway in Lebanon as well, which operates similarly to AirWayBill but doesn’t set the commission beforehand, leaving it up to the user and the traveler to negotiate.
“A traveler [who have] some free time can accept multiple requests for items to carry, and can therefore earn more money,” he concluded.
Feature image via AirWayBill