When Tanaz Dizadji launched insydo, a Buzzfeed-style digital guide of Dubai in January this year, she had no idea her startup would become so successful so soon.
The founder and chief executive of insydo says she’s used her background in marketing, finance and technology to build a search-centric product that provides people with curated recommendations and the best businesses in the city.
“We launched on the Web in January this year and released our native iOS and Android apps in October, and the traction we have seen so far has been really exciting. We have a growing community of over 300,000 people using insydo every month and our apps surpassed 10,000 downloads just last week,” Dizadji told Khaleej Times.
In a typical month, people across the UAE make over a million searches for various services in Dubai. With this background, Insydo is fast being considered as a definitive digital guide to Dubai and recommends its users the best of everything in the city. From top gyms and restaurants in Dubai to the best beach clubs and restaurants, it claims to offer unbiased reviews as well as help in finding anything from furniture stores and movers to car rental companies and other everyday essentials.
“In a nutshell, insydo is your go-to app for the best of everything in Dubai. We work undercover [like a mystery shopper] and test every business anonymously to give people ‘The Good, The Bad and The Tips’. So, whether you need an emergency plumber or you want to plan an action-packed weekend, you’ll find it all on insydo,” Dizadji said.
“To help businesses reach even more people, we have now built insydo+. This is our new ad tech platform, which allows featured businesses to boost their page with unique digital content and features to their insydo page,” she added
Citing an excess of fragmented information available online, Dizadji says it can be hard to filter out what the user is actually looking for. “Insydo solves that problem by guiding people to the best of Dubai, so they can find specific services, products, and activities to save time and make the most of the city.” Dizadji, who is among one of the UAE’s 50 most influential Brits, said insydo is constantly adding new features. Users can search, filter and create personalised ‘Pick Lists’ that they can refer to any time they want.
“We have also added ‘Playlists’ and ‘Vibes’ that inspire users to discover more about their city. There are many other features on the way. We are in the process of integrating reservations so that people can book directly through insydo.”
To a question about what gave her the idea, she said she identified a gap in the market. “There was a ‘need’ and insydo became the solution to an everyday problem that we all face. How often do you turn to page two on Google? If you’re anything like me, rarely. Wouldn’t life be easier if you could search for anything in your city and have the top recommendations at your fingertips? Yep, and we’re the app for that.”
Startup strategy, challenges
Dizadji is keen to expand in the UAE and said Abu Dhabi will be coming soon, with other cities to follow in 2017. “It’s not something we take for granted. We’re constantly reassessing our aims; we’re an ambitious team and know the importance of being agile to ensure that we meet both the needs of our users and the businesses. ”
To a question, she said insydo is expected to raise funds to expand its base in the UAE and the region. “Yes, we are in talks with VCs [venture capitalists] at the moment; it’s a very exciting time for us.”
Human capital, she says, is one of the primary challenges she faces. “One of the main challenges I faced was building the right team. Your team is everything; they need to harness your energy, motivation and passion for building a winning product. and it’s extremely hard to find those individuals who will go that extra mile. Recruitment can seem time-consuming and incredibly draining, but I think it’s one of the most important factors when it comes to the success of your startup.”
Dizadji said Dubai is advancing rapidly and the government is investing in setting up an infrastructure that harnesses talent and entrepreneurship. “You see how Dubai will thrive as a knowledge-based city and, potentially, a digital powerhouse on the global stage,” she said.
“When it comes to forward-thinking cities and entrepreneurial environments, Dubai is definitely making its mark on the global map. Like every ambitious startup, the city moves forward at an accelerated pace and we’re lucky to be led by such visionary thinkers.”