QL Exclusive: An interview with Qatar-based entrepreneur, Haitham Al-Haidari
Qatar Living speaks to the entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Modaris.Me application, to learn more about his journey of innovation and success.
Haitham is a Yemeni entrepreneur, who came to Qatar in 2011.
He studied mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University in Qatar, and graduated in 2015.
Haitham’s first experience of being involved in business was back in 2014 when he was still a student. He was a partner with his fiancée back then, and this marked the first step toward the idea of setting up Modaris.
Haitham worked in sales engineering in elevators, but he stopped this to focus on building his own business Modaris with his wife.
In 2014, Haitham ran an education center called united missions, which helped students in IELTS, TOFEL preparations.
“Eventually, this business failed but what came out of it was one service that later on became Modaris,” he recalled.
“After I studied engineering, I studied business for a while, and my wife she is a business major, so by then she was the one who helped me a lot and helped the business part of starting Modaris,” Haitham said.
Modaris is a smart marketplace which features tutoring services, and connects tutors to students. The platform offers both online tutoring as well as home tutoring.
It is not only for academic subjects but also a place where whoever can teach something can offer their services
“We have everything, from learning English to learning how to swim and everything in between. We have about 20k registered tutors on Modaris now, and over 12k subjects,” Haitham said.
Modaris got a big list of awards which started from QITCOM award in 2017, as the most innovative startup in Qatar.
In 2018, Modaris was chosen as the best three big startups in Qatar.
The app won several other awards in 2019, and was even recognized by Al Jazeera when it made a documentary about Modaris.
Modaris received another honor at an American conference in Dubai, the biggest award Red Herring award which is an award that has been going on since twenty nine years in Thailand. Within the same two weeks, Modaris received the best digital exporter in Qatar.
Talking about his inspiration behind his business journey, Haitham said, “In terms of long-term thinking, my wife inspired me a lot. In terms of not quitting and taking what you want to achieve no matter what and being responsible and taking responsibilities, was my late father. There are also things relating to believing in myself that are definitely my mother inspires me in it,” he described.
What sparked Haitham’s interest in starting Modaris app is how everything has been moving toward the digital world.
“It was clear that we have a problem with the big market for private education and tutoring. When we started Modaris in Qatar, there was no marketplace where there were many options with tutoring.”
Being an entrepreneur does not come easily, but it comes out of all of the experiences and growth. Haitham’s biggest lesson is to never stop learning and growing with your business.
“Best lesson is the fact that anybody who would start a business should know that they have to grow with the business. Business and specially tech businesses they grow up really fast and so the more the business grows the more problems appear and different sections and sectors that not necessarily the CEO can be aware of, so it is important that the team and the CEO make sure that they grow with the company, and they should keep learning with time,” he said.
The biggest challenge that Haitham faced was when he quit his previous small business which he had launched with someone who did not prove to be a good partner. With that business failing, Haitham reached a point where it was hard for him to make ends meet.
“I had enough money to pay one month’s rent and if I did not make it we would have been on the streets. This is when my wife and I began devoting our time to build Modaris and we had no other options and it worked and happened. Not only to pay the rent but also to win the most innovative startup in Qatar and to get investors and to grow so fast,” he described.
COVID-19 was a very tough period on all the small businesses and companies. However, many people were able to adapt to save their businesses by finding solutions to help maintain their businesses.
Modaris’ experience was highly positive, and the app reached new heights during this period.
“Because we operated in Malaysia and Australia, we started to see the effects before it reached Qatar, and by February we started making a lot of adjustments to Modaris to make sure that we are ready for COVID-19, so when it hit Qatar, we were one of the first companies in Qatar that were ready to operate without any disruptions, because of our international presence,” Haitham said.
Before that Modaris was a home app for home tutoring, and people used to book the person to their home, but when COVID-19 came it stopped sending tutors to students’ home.
However, Haitham mentioned that they took it as an opportunity, and quickly jumped to online tutoring and started something called Modaris virtual classroom.
“2020 with coronavirus, it gave us the opportunity to open the online tutoring scheme and we opened to all around the world, so now we literally service users from all around the world,” he added.
Haitham encourages all the people who are dreaming to be entrepreneurs to start working on a business at the earliest, and to be brave enough to build it.
“We cannot just not do something because we are afraid of failure, because then we won’t achieve anything as we did not even try, and this is a big waste of opportunities,” he said.
“My message to the younger generation is to start a business as soon as possible. Start as soon as possible, so you fail as soon as possible, so you can learn to succeed as soon as possible. We have to embrace failure because it is a part of the game,” he concluded.
To know more about Haitham, you can check him on his Instagram: @haitham.alhaidari and to know more about Modaris visit www.Modaris.me
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