The demand for on-demand services has heated up in the last couple of years. While the sector internationally has seen its fair share of activity, it took some time for interest and demand to follow suit in the MENA region.
However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector has become turbo-charged as customers discovered the need for these services and businesses simultaneously rose up to meet this demand.
Today, you can practically order nearly anything on-demand. From cleaning services to laundry, home refurbishing and car servicing and even pet care, this is a sector where the sky is truly the limit.
Here are 5 exciting startups making a name for themselves in this space.
Launched in 2015 by Rami Shaar and Jad Halaoui, Washmen showcases a journey that most startups would aspire to.
The company originally started with an asset-light model connecting customers with logistics partners and existing laundromats, but now fully owns the supply chain after the launch of its own laundry and dry cleaning facility in 2019.
Today, the company’s services encompass wash and fold, clean and press, homecare and shoecare. Washmen provides customers with same-day pickup and delivery in 24-48 hours, using QR coding to track every item in its facility.
In October 2022, Washmen partnered with unicorn Careem to make its services available on Careem super app.
Laundryheap was founded in 2014 in London, England and today is one of the world's largest on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning platforms, with a notable presence in the UAE. The company allows users to have their laundry collected, washed, ironed and returned to them in a guaranteed turnaround time of 24 hours.
Deyan Dimitrov and Mayur Bommai started the company in 2014 as a small startup with a mission to digitise the laundry industry for business travellers, and since have transformed the business into a 24/7 on-demand laundry delivery service.
The company operates across 10 international markets including the UK, the US, Ireland, the Netherlands, the UAE, Singapore, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.
Since launching, Laundryheap has cleaned over 10 million items of clothing and grown by 1663% in three years, placing them on Deloitte’s list of fastest-growing companies in the UK in 2019.
But laundry is just one vertical that players in the market have addressed. CAFU, on the other hand, has chosen to focus on customers’ vehicles.
Founded in 2018, CAFU is the MENA region’s first on-demand car service platform. It offers fuel delivery, in addition to roadside assistance such as engine oil change, battery servicing, tyre change, car wash, and steam sterilisation, all via its app. The company has also launched insurance services for customers on the CAFU mobile application recently.
CAFU does not charge delivery fees and in fact sells fuel at petrol station prices. It also offers subscription plans.
CAFU has been growing rapidly in the last four years and reached a landmark nine million fill-ups in 2022.
CAFU operates under one brand and is split into two companies. While CAFU Tech focuses on the technology platform, ancillary products and support services enabling customers to connect and place their orders; the CAFU Petroleum business brings core services to customers, taking care of operations and logistics.
Founded in 2019 by Abdallah Abu-Sheikh and Ahmad Mazrouiand and launched in 2020, Rizek is an Abu Dhabi-based startup that refers to itself as a super app for on-demand personal and home services.
Combining the best of all worlds, the company’s offerings include but are not limited to: home cleaning, COVID-19 PCR tests, beauty care, maintenance, personal training, and automotive services at home.
Having raised $24 million and with a presence in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, it was acquired in 2022 by Astra Tech, a UAE technology development and investment group. Rizek was valued at $75 million prior to the acquisition, having also been featured on Forbes Middle East’s Top 50 most funded startups list in 2022.
JustLife, previously branded as JustMop, is a service marketplace that connects professional and top-rated service providers with people requiring home services such as cleaning, basic healthcare, beauty & wellness, maintenance and others in the MENA region.
The company, named JustMop at the time of its launch in 2015, was initially started with a focus on the home cleaning category, by connecting verified personnel with consumers in need of cleaning services. However, company co-founders Kerem Kuyucu and Ali Cagatay Ozcan quickly realised that there was dormant demand in the UAE and regional market for a much wider scope of on-demand home services.
And thus, the platform’s journey towards becoming a bonafide super app had begun, and JustLife has since rebranded and expanded its offerings to cover other verticals and regions.