'Winning Challenge 22 was a turning point for us' say ViaVii
Winning Challenge 22 in 2017 has been described as a 'turning point' by a group of young entrepreneurs from Jordan.
The group, known collectively as ViaVii, were one of ten winning start-ups during the second cycle of Challenge 22 – the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy's flagship innovation programme. Their start-up is a web and mobile platform for tourists which they believe could become a game-changer for travelers across the MENA region, and eventually the world.
Led by Rola Fayyad and Ibrahim Abu Rajab, the team is made up of ten members. Their expertise includes vast experience in programming, software engineering and start-ups. Fayyad has 13 years' experience in travel industry management and also co-founded Girls in Tech in Jordan.
As well as receiving a cash prize of USD 15,000, the winning start-ups are provided with a grant of USD 100,000 to help take them to the proof of concept stage – along with unparalleled networking opportunities in Qatar.
During their recent week-long visit to Doha, it was the opportunity to meet with established companies which helped take ViaVii to the next level, according to Fayyad.
"Winning Challenge 22 was a huge turning point for us," said Fayyad. "Investor-wise, customers – everyone started believing in us more. In Doha we had the opportunity to meet with people we would never have been able to contact before – and this is all thanks to Challenge 22. These include entities in the aviation and tourism industry who have shown high interest in our company."
ViaVii acts as a local hub for genuine experiences where visitors – 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.
Something, Fayyad says, there is a huge need for across the Middle East and North Africa – starting with Qatar.
"I've been in the hospitality industry for over a decade so I knew we would be able to pivot our product to fit with Qatar National Vision 2030," she continued.
"We've been working on this for around three years, but we changed the product after winning Challenge 22 to focus on experiences, meeting local people and things to do when you visit new countries. We are passionate about creating this across the MENA region, which is really offline and fragmented at the moment."
The start-up is also developing an AI-powered travel recommendation engine to curate all of these experiences and make them bookable on the ViaVii platform.
And their hopes for the future? The plan is simple.
"We want to be the next travel experiences app in the MENA region – and we want to be at the World Cup to serve up to 1.5 million visitors in 2022," she added. "We want to show off the culture and heritage of Qatar and the region in a positive way."