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Inspired In Bangalore, Starting up In The Gulf

GetBaqala (Baqala means grocery in Arabic), is the brainchild of Amjad Puliyali. He was inspired to startup in grocery delivering after his years living and working in Bangalore.

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“What the Flipkarts and the Big Baskets have achieved across India is staggering. I wanted to create a similar experience except customized for the Middle Eastern market,” said Mr. Puliyali speaking of his effort to popularize his grocery delivery startup.

Yes, it may seem like Get Baqala is late to the ecommerce and delivery space. But you have to look at it from the point view of the Middle East region. Technology adoption for everyday essentials like buying groceries, ordering a taxi, channeling a doctor hasn’t taken off yet nor has the startup eco system as mature as it is in India. In some cases, there seems to be no reason. When it comes to groceries, most homes will have a grocery store around the corner, or going to an upscale mall for even mundane needs is deeply ingrained as part of life. That’s why GetBaqala is kind of a disruptive pioneer in a sea of convenient Baqalas.

GetBaqala was officially launched in Bahrain in October 2016 by Indian tech entrepreneur Amjad Puliyali. The grocery delivery app takes orders from customers and sends the order to a partner supermarket which will then process the order. A delivery man, from an external delivery company or the partner grocery outlet but wearing the GetBaqala brand, then collects the order from the shop and delivers it to the customer in less than 2 hours, or it can be scheduled for next day delivery. The app will notify the customer at different stages of the process, for example when the order has been received and the goods have been dispatched.

GetBaqala allows a customer to select most goods available for purchase, although the catalogue team are still adding inventory to the app. They have partnerships with select stores in the region.

They are also looking into new features for the app such as “scheduling”- saving preferences so that certain goods are delivered regularly, avoiding customers having to select these every time. Another consideration is the need to localise the app and make it available in Arabic- thus far, English is the only language option. The app’s tech team currently sits in Bangalore although Amjad is looking into the feasibility of moving certain members of his team to Bahrain.

There are relatively few grocery home delivery businesses in Bahrain, despite some stores in Dubai, such as LuLu and Choitrams, offering the service. Al Osra supermarket is pioneering home delivery in Bahrain but there is, Amjad believes, a gap in the market.

Amjad lived in Dubai for nine years before deciding to start his business in Bahrain: “The ecosystem for startups is evolving in Dubai. You don’t have the luxury of making more mistakes and there are far too many distractions. Bahrain is a great testing ground for new ideas and it is far more cost effective. Great thing about starting up in Bahrain is we are already receiving orders from Saudi and Kuwait. Around 20 per cent of revenue is from outside of Bahrain.

He also spoke about the role played by the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Bahrain: “After conducting a cost-comparison exercise, I noticed that the EDB has an international office in India. For me, 100 per cent ownership was a crucial factor in setting up the business. Dharmi Magdani, the EDB’s India country manager, assured me that this would be possible and provided me with all the necessary information and once I had decided upon Bahrain, the EDB then coordinated all the initial registration work whilst I was still in India.”

Amjad raised $120,000 pre-seed capital from friends, family and angel investors in the digital media industry who saw the potential of his idea. He is looking to raise around $500,000 in the next stage of capital raising.

The company is also looking to expand at a later stage to Saudi Arabia, which Amjad describes as “the big market.”

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GetBaqala Startup Bahrain EDB Bahrain Amjad Puliyaii

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