Fuel Delivery Business App Win due to Problem Solving Learned at Georgetown, Students Say
When Nasser al Kaabi shared his thoughts on bringing the latest innovation to the Qatari market - an app-based fuel delivery service to reduce waiting time at petrol stations - a friend of the family and long-time businessman told him it couldn’t be done. That same evening, he called his friend Jamal Al Khatib to meet him on the Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) campus in Education City, and the two began planning how in fact, it could.
Just two months later, the duo would win first place in the Challenges portion of the 7th edition of the Qatar National Business Competition sponsored by Qatar Development Bank for iFuel, an app that will change the way Qatar’s residents refuel their cars. Their innovative idea won a big prize too – an office for 2-3 years and almost half a million Qatari riyals in funding to turn their idea into reality.
For Nasser, who is pursuing a GU-Q degree in International Politics, and Jamal, a 2019 GU-Q graduate in International Economics, rising to the challenge of a difficult problem was something they had mastered as part of their education.
“One of the greatest things I learned at Georgetown is how to learn. With this skillset and the available resources, nothing is impossible to understand or to achieve,” says Jamal. While the startup competition provided valuable training support for the competing teams, Jamal says they gained an added boost by applying their research skills from the classroom to the boardroom. “We did everything from writing the business plan to negotiating with application developers to examining other on-demand fuel delivery services across the globe.” That background work also included coordinating with Woqod for approvals and to ensure that all safety measures are met. He adds that summers spent interning in consulting, investment banking, and asset management also honed his presentation and organization skills, critical assets in any business.
For Nasser, a dedicated student athlete and last year’s GU-Q football team captain, the student experience is as much personal development as it is academics. “With so much emphasis on classroom participation, I was forced to challenge myself, and to get out of my comfort zone.” That intellectual engagement, he says, plays into “one of the most important aspects of building a successful business: developing your reputation, creating networks, and expanding on those relationships.”
And while their drive and hard work is focused on transitioning their startup from concept to a working model, says Nasser, the team doesn’t only measure success in business terms. “In Qatar, we have great infrastructure, available funding, and more importantly, a very supportive leadership. As youth, we have a duty to use the available resources to pursue our dreams and further develop our country.”
Now fully immersed in the development phase of their startup, which has garnered great interest from local banks and investors, the budding entrepreneurs took the time to present one of the two Al-Fikra trophies they were awarded to their Dean, Dr. Ahmad Dallal. “We wanted to thank the Dean and the professors who mentored us for all the support and resources that made our project possible,” said Nasser, adding: “Technology is making the world more efficient. On-demand fuel delivery is already available in more than nine countries around the world. With the support of the relevant licensing and supervisory bodies, we aim to bring our own model of that innovative technology to the Qatari market.” The team hopes to launch their business within ten months, says Jamal, but that won’t be the end of their journey. “We are young, and our biggest risk is not taking any risk. So get ready to place your iFuel order.”