“Challenge 22 gave us the drive to reach our full potential”
In the second of our series about Challenge 22 start-ups and participants, we caught up with the team behind ViaVii to find out how the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s flagship innovation programme is helping the business to reach its full potential.
Tell us a bit about yourself and ViaVii?
My name is Rola Fayyad. As someone who’s been in the travel and hospitality industry for over a decade now, I was able to identify some gaps in the industry. In particular, I noticed that travellers to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region struggled to search and find experiences that allowed them to discover new cultures and meet new people.
That’s where my journey with ViaVii began. It’s a platform and mobile app – available on both the Apple and Google Play Store – that helps users discover and book online travel experiences in more than 50 cities around the world, including in the MENA region. Today, the platform offers more than 20,000 immersive experiences designed and hosted by locals, delivered digitally as ready-to-buy experiences, connecting hosts to travellers from around the world looking for personalised and unique experiences.
Why did you get involved with Challenge 22?
Having the opportunity to serve hundreds of thousands of fans that will be making their way to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, some of whom will be experiencing the Middle East and Arab world for the first time, was an amazing opportunity for ViaVii that we couldn’t pass up. With Qatar being an emerging hub for both the aviation and tourism industries, it made perfect sense for us to participate. And I can happily say that being part of the programme allowed me to meet key entities in the sector, connect with investors and learn more about Qatar National Vision 2030, which acts as a huge catalyst for innovation in the country.
How has Challenge 22 changed your start-up business?
Prior to taking part, our platform was only delivering on a fraction of its potential. Working with mentors, taking part in workshops and meeting potential investors made me realise the full potential of what our technology could offer. Towards the end of my participation, I pivoted and ViaVii was created into a platform that focused on experiences and meeting local and like-minded people. Being a part of the Challenge 22 innovation family and utilising all the support that came with it provided the team with the necessary drive to develop a platform that saw the entire region as a potential market.
How will your business help enhance the fan experience during Qatar 2022?
ViaVii will act as a platform for authentic and unique experiences where fans and travellers – based on their interests and previous travel preferences – can receive tailored itineraries for every trip they undertake, allowing them to sidestep the usual generic tourist trails. Our capacity building training is able to open the doors of thousands of locals in Qatar to host experiences to serve up to 1.5 million visitors in 2022. By providing this service to fans, we have a unique opportunity to spotlight Qatar and the region’s rich and vibrant culture and heritage in a positive light while also contributing to a digitised tourism industry in the near future.