As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for the results you deliver. For Darnafees, it means that our entire team pays a lot of attention to the orders we receive in order to ensure the highest standards and quality.
Imagine being able to request any service of choice, as dishwasher, washing machine or refrigerator reparations, or receiving assistance with painting walls, shifting furnitures and roof waterproofing. In less than one hour, these household problems are fixed and taken care of by a professional. It costs minimal effort, time and the quality of work is ensured. Ideal, isn’t it?
Darnafees is the first mobile application in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to request and book a broad variety of maintenance services. The application is a virtual meeting place, connecting local service providers with clients in need of household maintenance while offering affordable prices. OCHQ asked Abdullah Bashir Alkadi, one of the four founders of Darnafees, to explain more about the concept of Darnafees.
How did it all start with Darnafees?
My brother Ahmed and I are both civil engineers. At a certain point during our career, we were very eager to crystallise our unique business idea into a start-up that would be in congruence with our background, while solving a problem on the market and supporting our local community. I started reading a lot of books on business and personal development as this is part of my interests, such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and books from business strategists like Tony Robbins. We started with identifying the market and target group and shared our ideas with our friends. It turned out that they had similar business ambitions! So, we decided to exchange our knowledge and ideas and to become a team, which led to the creation of our small business and digital application in Erbil! Now, we are four co-founders: my brother and me, Abdulrahman Khouja and Ahmed Bashir.”
People in Iraq are familiar with the traditional way of dealing with household problems, which is calling friends or families in order to get in contact with a service provider that can fix their household inconveniences.
Could you elaborate a bit more on the use of the application?
“Darnafees is a virtual meeting place for clients in need of maintenance work and high-qualified workers who are specialised in 14 different services, from plumbing to furniture shifting to electrical installation. If a client requests a local service provider for a maintenance task in the house, our application is able to meet its demands within one hour, giving a customer three to five different offers of local professionals that are registered on our application. Each offer has a guarantee period and offers a different price point, and finally it is up to the customer to pick one of our experts that seems adequate for the task.
What is important to know, is that we apply a due diligence process and will automatically remove any service provider whose rating is less than 3.5 out of 5. Our team constantly reviews our rating systems and ask for feedback from our customers on our offering services for continuous improvement and have set criteria to check the background of our local service providers.”
During the Orange Corners programme, I was able to meet people from several backgrounds and with different business ideas in the tech business, an industry which is still quite underdeveloped in Iraq.
What is your unique selling point?
“Our concept is unique because the customers are the final decision makers. This has to do with the quick tendering process we apply: the clients invite the local independent worker to place a bid for the work or project that needs to be finalised, and based on these criteria the customers will choose a bid. Darnafees only facilitates the interaction and communication between customers and suppliers. We concluded out of market research and from our interviews with 200 different individuals in Erbil that 95% of the interviewees were enthusiastic and ready to use our application. The 5% of the target group that were not keen to use the application, can also call us to place a direct order.”
“People in Iraq are familiar with the traditional way of dealing with household problems, which is calling friends or families in order to get in contact with a service provider that can fix their household inconveniences. Through this application, within just a matter of a couple of clicks, people are able to receive offers in a very short period of time instead of, going around and calling friends or relatives to look for the appropriate service providers. Additionally, using Darnafees, you know that the service providers’ background is checked, the price is reasonable and that the delivery of services is impeccable. We started with eight services since our launch in March 2021 and now we have reached 14 services. We aim to add two services each month. Eventually, it is quality over quantity.”
What kind of start-up development did you notice before and after athe Orange Corners programme?
“During the Orange Corners programme, I was able to meet people from several backgrounds and with different business ideas in the tech business, an industry which is still quite underdeveloped in Iraq. We have some start-ups for vegetables or food deliveries, so the agricultural products don’t go the waste. But unfortunately, the tech industry is not very supported or funded yet. We received good mentorship support during the Orange Corners programme and the professionals, with classes in HR, finance and sales. We were also able to use the office space for meetings with new service providers that we would potentially hire. But overall, it has been difficult to receive national and international funding for our start-up idea. But we won’t give up, and I do belief that we will receive more funding support in the future if Darnafees will enhance and improve its services in the way it is doing right now.”
In the future, we hope to provide more training to our service providers and to become the number one application for providing professional services. Rest assured, it will take time, but we will get there!
Are there other challenges you face when creating Darnafees?
‘”One of the primary challenges we are still dealing with, is our business registration. In Iraq, it is quite costly. I know several young individuals with brilliant start-up concepts that are not willing to work on them because of the entrepreneurial barriers.
On the other hand, it’s challenging to convince people to change their behaviour and letting an unknown company show them different ways of solving a problem. With our application, it will take some time till we gain more customer trust. It is all getting started now since we are in the early stage of our start-up. We are currently looking for a marketing person that could help us with convincing customers to see the benefits of our services. Word-of-mouth marketing remain a vital component for the growth of our start-up, just like elsewhere in the MENA countries, I guess.”
Why the name Darnafees?
“”The name Darnafees is self-explanatory and understood in both the Arabic and Kurdish language. It portrays a screwdriver and it has a catchy connotation. Picture an application with a screwdriver and you know exactly what we do: fixing things. The name will get stuck in one’s mind and will linger around for a while. It underpinned the word-of-mouth strategy that our clients use and that we benefit from.”
What do you think of being an entrepreneur?
“I think it’s very hard, as there are a lot of details that you need to be able to manage. But the good thing is, that you feel that you’re doing it for yourself and the community, so you don’t really get tired as easily as compared to working for a boss or for someone else’s his or her business idea. All the effort and time you put is for your own project and success. I believe a lot of people have bright ideas but they just need to take their first step. The first step is always the hardest step, because you know you will need to get out of your comfort zone. But once you do that, you will need to have a concrete plan including a real budget plan, and after that you can break it down into small pieces. It is all about one step at a time.
If you love your idea and you dedicate all your time to it and if you know it will be favourable or the market and community, you will have more motivation to work on your idea because you will see the results immediately. As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for the results you deliver. For Darnafees, it means that our entire team pays a lot of attention to the orders we receive in order to ensure the highest standards and quality. In the future, we hope to provide more training to our service providers and to become the number one application for providing professional services. Rest assured, it will take time, but we will get there!”