Ibrahim Colak is the Founder and CEO of mrUsta.com. mrUsta is an online marketplace that connects customers to the best service providers (Ustas) to finish all their personal jobs
Prior to mrUsta, Ibrahim has gained extensive experience during his 15 years in the corporate world working with major corporates like Vestel, Nokia and Microsoft.
Ibrahim is a skilled problem solver, from his early days as an IT engineer at Nokia Networks to the conception of mrUsta, he has always strived to find better solutions to known problems. His technical background, creativity and passion haven given him a strong foundation to excel in the business world. He also gained significant experience on marketing and sales during his professional life in Nokia and his entrepreneurship journey.
He has managed to combine his engineering degree with his creativity and strong business acumen to be a successful entrepreneur in the Middle East.
Nominated as Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Arabian Business magazine, Ibrahim Colak successfully pitched the concept and business case of mrUsta to Dubai Business Hubs, Investors and Venture Capitalists which led to being part of the In5 Incubator Hub. He also won the Afkar.me startup competition with 20k USD prize and become part of the startup program.
Tell us about your business. What exactly does your business do?
mrUsta helps you find the right service provider whether you need to paint your home, learn how to make sushi, plan a birthday party, or fix your car in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and all over the UAE.
– It just takes 3 simple steps to post your job and begin receiving offers from qualified service providers in your area.
– You can review their profiles, read their reviews and compare their prices before choosing the right service provider for your job.
– No more needless searches through the yellow pages, classifieds, newspapers, or internet and numerous phone calls to figure out the right service provider who can do the job at an acceptable time, quality and price.
By effectively and efficiently connecting customers to service providers, our aim is to make the process easier and happier for both parties. We have helped many great customers connect to the right service provider and have helped many qualified service providers grow their businesses.
Better services for a better life
How did you start this business?
I have been living in the UAE for over 9 years now. In the first few years I realized that finding service providers is a real struggle especially if you are living in “new Dubai” which most expats do. I looked for solutions and found nothing local so I decided to do it myself. There was no doubt in my mind that there is a real need for a platform/app/service to help people living in the UAE to find service providers (aka Ustas). I knew that I had the skills needed to run a business but there were some areas that I needed some support in. So instead of setting up the business on my own I decided to approach individuals that I knew would be able to fill in the gaps. In the end we launched the business with four co-founders including myself. Covering development, business, marketing and finance.
What was the hardest moment during those early years?
There are many challenges that you face and will continue to face. One of the major challenges is fund raising, The other major one that come to mind is finding good talent in the UAE that are willing to work in a startup.
How did you overcame them?
Unfortunately the market is not sophisticated enough to understand “startups and taking risks”. As much as there is money in the region there is still some education needed for investors (be it angel or VC) to understand that when investing in a startup you shouldn’t be looking for the immediate short term return and instead have long-term vision, look at the team and understand the potential. We struggled with this in the first round, we spoke to many different types of investors, attending many pitches, meetings, events etc. In the end it paid off and we found someone that had the US sophistication as well as understood the local market the potential and he saw the value of the team. This is still a challenge with most startups in the region and we really hope that things start to change to encourage more entrepreneurs to take risks and make dreams come true.
Having a stable job in the UAE is essential so asking someone to step into a startup where there are many unknowns limits your options. What we noticed is that we need to take a step down on competence provided that the candidate has the right attitude and instead spend time and effort to increase their competence really worked for us. And there was the added advantage of gaining loyalty from them as they felt they were learning new skills.
WHY did you go into this line of business in UAE?
Being based here in the UAE and understanding the culture on how things work in the country is essential. Also UAE is a great testing platform for many countries in the region, the scale is smaller but the behaviors are very similar. The government support for the startups in the UAE and having incubators like In5 is also very important for a startup to grow as well.
Who has been your greatest influence that inspired you in setting up this venture?
I believe Elon Musk is a very good example to all entrepreneurs. He really believes in what he is doing and he never stops to improve his ideas and learn lessons from his experiences and applying them to his future plans. He always collaborates with successful partners and creates a solution for his real customers. Believing what you are doing and creating solutions that will help daily life of people motivates you as an entrepreneur.
What are your future plans for the business?
We plan to continue growing in the UAE, increasing both our customer and Usta base. We also intend to move to neighboring markets before the end of 2016.
We of course continue to gather feedback and customer experience and needs and will continue enhancing the product so that it is always the best it can be
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs when setting up their business?
It is very important to have a dedicated team to start the business. If the business needs different skills to run it is very essential to have skilled partners who are dedicated to the idea and give their full time. You need to understand your users or customers to create the best solution or them. You need to communicate them continuously and never close your ears to their feedback. And every negative and positive feedback is very important. Actually negative is more important than positive feedback. Because some positive feedback will come from the people who don’t want to upset you so it may shadow the real solution. Really think of why you are doing it. It will not be an easy journey and the lows are lower than anything corporate can put you through.
Company Address : In5
Email : Ibrahim.email@example.com
Mobile : +971 50 7082724
by Cristina Magallon
LinkedIn: Cristina Magallon
Company Page: UAE DNA