In a step indicating how MENA is embracing the future of work, UAE-based platform Ogram announced it completed a US$870,000 in a pre-Series A equity round by Global Ventures.
Launched in 2016, the online platform connects on-demand vetted gig workers with temporary job opportunities in different sectors, mostly in F&B, hospitality, e-commerce and logistics. The startup solves staffing challenges such as limited access to reliable staff, lengthy and costly onboarding processes for temp workers, and a lack of availability of staff at a short notice. Co-founders Shafiq Khartabil and Karim Kouatly, who were former restaurant operators, experienced similar staffing issues and wanted to address the staffing issues they faced in the F&B sector. In 2019, they were joined by former banker Karim Beyhum.
According to its release, the startup has served over 450 businesses and individual clients in the UAE, with over 1,050 active service providers placing 2,000 jobs per month. Ogram's app and website allow customers to book a job opportunity, as well as access automated clock-in/clock-out timesheets and direct staff payment through individual online wallets. The platform features pre-screened part-timers such as baristas, bartenders, waiters, drivers, entertainers, retail staff and cleaners. UAE residents who apply for temporary work permits to accept part-time work can apply for roles in the platform. Clients have included Al Tayer Group, Anantara Group, Bentley and Chez Charles.
With the new capital infusion, Ogram plans to scale its business in the UAE. As the current pandemic stir current employment structures, Noor Sweid, General Partner at Global Ventures is eager on their partnership with Ogram, with the firm joining Ogram's board following the round of funding. “We believe that embracing flexible work and upskilling the workforce to adopt multiple jobs will be the future of work in the region.”
Khartabil notes that the current situation has been a wake-up call to the global workforce, pushing individuals to garner multiple income channels and for companies to look into flexible solutions to reduced fixed costs amid the market uncertainty. “Going forward, we believe that flexible workers will allow businesses the agility to recover in line with the economy.” He adds, “The gig economy is the future of work and multiple jobs will be the norm future generations. It is a great time for investors and industry to take part and fuel this growth.”
We have capitalized on the fact that the current crisis has only reinforced the need for flexible staffing solutions as companies adopt corporate austerity measures. My tips would be:
Embrace the crisis and find creativity in building value to your existing user base or a new user base.
Don't bargain with the idea that things will go back to status quo. Accept the change and adapt quickly.
Engage your investor base, and continue investor discussions on how your business model has adapted during COVID-19 and what that looks like post COVID-19 (emphasizing on product sustainability).
Reinforce your mission/vision with your investor discussions with strong conviction galvanizing them to believe your mission/vision as well.