According to a Lebanese Central Bank official at the Arabnet Beirut summit this year, the Lebanese enjoy queuing in banks and use the line-time to “socialize”.
Whether this is true or not, for most people around the world queuing is an evil, necessary at best and a waste of time at worst.
And this is why Bahraini entrepreneur Zaman Abdulhameed Zaman launched Skiplino, a cloud-based service that allows companies with a reputation for bad queues to manage client wait times and - importantly - for their customers to join a remote queue before they arrive
For corporate customers it allows them to better manage client flows.
For individuals, the app will estimate the time between their current location and the branch they need to visit using GPS, and issues a ticket number based on that. If they’re late or have to make an unexpected stop, the app will automatically nudge the ticket back a few places.
The technology is free for individuals but costs between $99-149 for companies.
Skiplino is the first product out of Zaman’s ‘startup studio’ Level Z, launched in August 2015 a ‘startup studio’ that supports developing ideas turn into independent ventures.
Zaman is the CEO, but his cofounders are just as important to the business: product head Ali Mohsen, head of operations Alharith AlAtawi, and Ricardo Gaspar, who is head of design.
“We invest in the human capital,” Zaman said. “We hire marketers, developers and designers to work on more than one startup.”
But it’s not a holding company for startups.
“As soon as the products prove their efficiency in the market we announce it as an independent venture managed by one or more of our staff. Then we start to prepare for the next company,” he said.
For example, while Level Z is the only investor in Skiplino now, Zaman is in the last stages of closing a $2.6 million investment deal from a group of investors in Bahrain and abroad, although he declined to name names.
Last February, Skiplino joined Microsoft’s cloud-based program Bizspark Plus. The aim of this partnership is to boost Skiplino’s sales and audience reach, to build on the added credibility provided by the Microsoft name.
Convincing the Arab market
To market the app, Zaman contacted around 75 companies and managed to persuade 40 of them to download the app. They include banks, insurance companies and governmental departments in Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Mexico and Armenia. He wouldn’t say precisely who those entities were though.
“While companies in the West [that I contacted] activated the app in the same day, the Arab companies took a much longer time for explanation and online interviews so that they can be assured that their data is safe.”
So far the app is available in Arabic, and also English to target a global audience.
“We’re working on adding another 18 languages to break the language barrier between the user and the servicing company on the other end,” Zaman said. “The data appearing on the screen will be in his [preferred] language, as well as the voice notifications.”
The founders aim to have 5,000 partnering branches in the next three years.
“Our measuring unit is the number of branches [companies], because the service provider might have a 100 global branches, so targeting all of them is not impossible. Silicon Valley is definitely going to be on our list after we reach this goal, especially since we are following their standards in product development, marketing and also recruiting.”