Celebrating 10 years of Pioneers: el Grocer

Celebrating 10 years of Pioneers: el Grocer, on the power of long-lasting relationships

Contributed by: Nader Amiri, founder of el Grocer

“MENA, especially UAE, is a great place to start, and the pandemic proved that. No one did better than the UAE in turning a global problem into an opportunity. The vision, the determination, the openness to ideas, action orientation, and risk-taking: we see this nowhere else in the world.”

They say, “you can’t predict the future. You have to create it.” There are certainly trends to follow, but ultimately it is about what we create with our understanding of the customer and market. Eight years ago, many of our customers were friends and family who were willing to take a chance on us- that’s how every startup starts.

Feedback from early customers helped us optimize our initial product. They helped us lay the foundation. During the pandemic, we were truly tested. We had to work harder than ever to keep providing reliable service to our customers, who were counting on us to get them the essentials they needed. But we did it, and in the process, we earned their loyalty and trust.

One of the most significant changes we have noticed was our relationships with suppliers. Our vendors were highly supportive in our early days. They understood when we had tight cashflows, and we were able to work through it together. Over time, many of these vendors have become true partners. They understand our business and are invested in our success. Now in return, we are commissioning them for new projects, thanks to the trust built over the years.

The pandemic was a watershed moment for us. We had to adapt quickly to the changing market conditions and work harder to ensure that we could continue to provide a reliable service to our customers, who were counting on us to get them the essentials they needed. It drove the industry maybe five years forward. 

We were counting on consumer habits to evolve gradually, but the pandemic created sudden changes, and we had to multiply our efforts to keep up. We had to adapt, accelerate, and prioritize to meet demand. 

This is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication, and it would not have been possible without the support of our team, partners, and customers. In a period where multi-million dollar companies were crashing, none of our tech infrastructure collapsed thanks to the scalable quality that my partner Raed and the rest of the team built. 

Being a part of the AstroLabs ecosystem was pivotal to our success. The guidance, mentorship, and connections we made through AstroLabs were invaluable. One particular workshop with Roland and fellow founders helped us focus on critical issues and develop solutions that have been instrumental to our success. Fast forward to the pandemic, we were able to scale up and meet demand despite it all. We strengthened and personalized our search engine and added language capabilities. That helped customers gauge our ability to overcome drawbacks.

Today, we are proud to be part of Etisalat. This vast new network has allowed us to grow quickly but sustainably. The acquisition is a natural evolution of on-demand shopping and a significant step in providing a holistic digital experience for customers.

This is a very exciting time for the on-demand shopping sector. We started this journey to bring a superb new grocery shopping experience to people in the UAE, and we are proud of what we have achieved.  Ten years from now, I see this evolving into an essential part of people’s lives. 

We are excited about this new chapter and look forward to serving our customers in the years to come. Thank you for your support and for being a part of our journey.