Saferoad and saving lives in Saudi Arabia
“Resolutions to such a problem cannot be done by a single party or authority rather than a collaboration by all means of resources available whether it's police traffic control, technology, schools, and non-profit organizations that spread awareness amongst people,” says Mohannad Alhaj, CEO of Saferoad.
“The main goal of Saferoad is to reduce this number. To help the drivers here in Saudi Arabia to enhance their driving behaviour. This is why we started this initiative in saving lives, and changing driver behaviour.”
Saferoad is a telematics solutions provider across the whole of Saudi Arabia. The company is committed to making the roads safer through a wide range of service solutions that it provides across many sectors: transportation, construction, oil and gas, to name a few.
Saferoad is a GPS tracking provider which gives readings every few seconds to a server which then saves that data and creates a location on the map to monitor the safety of that vehicle.
The long and winding road
Alhaj started Saferoad in 2008 alone in a warehouse garage, where he built up the hardware and software for the GPS tracking solutions that Saferoad offers. By 2009, Alhaj was obtaining the necessary licence to sell his AVL solutions and tracking devices. With only a small amount of capital and operating alone, Alhaj and Saferoad now boasts over 180 corporate clients across Saudi Arabia as well as more than 40 employees, with Saferoad selling its solutions to more than 70 countries across the world.
“When I started this business there were no resources and no money. It was only personal resources at that time and I was working 24/7. I actually don’t remember having any weekends off from 2008 to 2013,” says Alhaj.
“We’ve gone from working with a single server working on DSL connection to a data centre and cloud servers now.”
The client that really kick-started the rise to success was Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian oil giant. Saferoad became a qualified GPS tracking provider for the company in 2010, something that Alhaj describes as a pivotal moment in its history.
“We have installed more than 500 devices into vehicles around the kingdom to Saudi Aramco haulers vendors, where at that time, there was only three people in the company,” says Alhaj. “It was like I had won a hundred billion dollars, it’s one of the best moments during this entire process.”
Following the hugely successful partnership between Saferoad and Saudi Aramco and AEV-Aramco Entrepreneurship venture or Waed”, everything changed for Alhaj. “We started to have better business, better clients from this moment onwards,” he says.
Onwards and upwards
From then on it has been a continuous rise for Saferoad. After all the hard work of building the hardware in that garage, growing his business to more than 200 domestic and international clients, Alhaj found Saferoad amongst the TechTour top 50 growth companies in the world in 2015.
Further proof of the rise in Saferoad and Alhaj’s stock came in December the same year, as Alhaj was named number four in Forbes’ list of 100 Entrepreneurs shaping Saudi Arabia’s Future.
“I got the whole company together and said that this, where we are as a company, we only got to this point because of them, their efforts and we hope that we can become better and better,” he says.
“It was very surprising, but I was extremely happy because I had spent a lot of years working and it’s a proof that people have recognised this effort, bringing the company many years of success.”
Twists and turns in the road
To achieve success, a company must overcome a series of challenges, be them internally or externally. Saferoad, being a Saudi company and non-binding to any of the larger companies from the US, Canada or Europe, found investment from corporate customers difficult in its early days.
“To implement an application such as our GPS solutions into Saudi Arabia was difficult when compared to the US or Europe, and the answer for this is that they have good infrastructure in their countries,” he says.
“Here in Saudi Arabia, it’s difficult for the client and the customers to understand the benefits of the application of this GPS service. How can they increase the performance of their vehicles and their fleet? How can they make a return of investment on this? We work on how to deliver the exact service to the client that fits with their internal requirements.”
Operating purely throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided Alhaj and Saferoad with the ability to become one of the leading service providers and this is down to the simple fact that there are no other companies providing the same or similar services to them.
“There could be more than 100 competitors in Saudi Arabia, but 99 out of those 100 are agents and resellers for foreign companies. Saferoad is a Saudi company through and through. As the only Saudi company we are in a key position to understand and capitalise on the requirements of Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure,” says Alhaj.
Saferoad may be the only company that provides such GPS tracking service solutions but the company has resources and agents who operate across Saudi Arabia.
Saferoad created many brands for many companies which offer the same solutions we offer but using different devices and applications in the Saudi Arabia domestic or international market. Most of those company’s clients aren’t aware that Saferoad is the company who operate it.” says Alhaj.”
Putting people in the driving seat
A good company is driven by good people and Alhaj admits that it is the people who works with him to deliver the services that Saferoad provides that has brought the company the success it has experienced to this date.
“Through the challenges that we have faced over the years, it is the team support that has helped Saferoad overcome those challenges,” says Alhaj.
“We have a family environment in Saferoad. We’ve always ensured that we invest in people who can and have helped this company to be on the right track to provide an optimal service that can satisfy the clients.
“We are saving lives and satisfying customers by delivering their requirements and needs on reducing operating costs. The team feels a huge amount of joy every day at Saferoad because they are a part of saving those lives which is a very noble goal here.”
Looking ahead, Saferoad has its eyes set firmly not only on this goal of satisfying the client but ultimately saving lives throughout Saudi Arabia. Alhaj believes that the company must focus on becoming stronger at saving lives, providing more services for more companies and individuals in order to enhance the driving abilities of their fleets.
“Saferoad is looking to pave the way to a better future. This is our goal, a safer road network throughout Saudi Arabia and we are working every day to try and enhance our service in order to achieve this,” he adds.
Looking to the future
Saferoad’s development process is always working and shows no signs of stopping, working harder to improve the quality of its services and adding more innovative ideas to better serve its clients and Saudi Arabia. The company has ambitions of working with agents all around the world, and Alhaj admits that this is something that can only be achieved through that can be achieved through liberating the perception that people from the middle east are simply consumers to a mindset that they are an innovative people who can innovate for the whole world.
“We are developing the company through our employees because they are proud employees and want to further Saferoad’s goals; a greater level of safety for many countries around the world”. The employees help Saferoad in order to develop its operation and every day we feel we are adding values. Every day we are saving lives in the whole world because of our services”. Every day we have satisfied customers and more market,” he says.
“Saferoad gets many, many good service solutions around the world right now. We have met many international clients interested in becoming an agent. From the US, to Brazil, to South Africa, Kenya, Russia, Australia, New Zealand. Everywhere.”