Incepted and executed during the pandemic, Touch-Less is the Egyptian startup realising the potential of QR codes and going full throttle with it.
A so-called ‘great equaliser’, the COVID-19 pandemic is actually far from. We’ve seen businesses pivot, scale, expand or falter throughout this pandemic. But perhaps the most fascinating are the ones born not just during it, but from it.
As the world slowly opens its doors, people are finding themselves maneuvering a phantom menace while armed and armoured with sanitisers, gloves and masks. However, the ‘new normal’ is now expanding from work-from-home and Zoom calls, to reviving economies and industries that have been hibernating for months. The service industry is particularly tricky , thanks to the added challenge of taking contactless precautionary measures across the board.
“We saw an opportunity during this crisis. We saw a world becoming increasingly jittery with contact, be it with other people or objects, and then it really hit us... QR codes,” co-founder and CEO of Touch-Less Mostafa Medhat tells Startup Scene.
Founded amid the Coronavirus outbreak, Touch-Less is an Egyptian startup leveraging the demand for the swift and seamless integration of contactless technology that can help both customers and businesses navigate their way through the new ‘new normal’. Touch-Less helps restaurants, cafes, retailers, hotels and shops among other businesses migrate certain experiences online so that the contact jitters are curbed.
“QR codes, in essence, are a call to action. It’s right there in the name, Quick Response. It’s an instantaneous method that provides access to all sorts of features, and now is it’s time to shine,” adds Medhat. “No more disposable menus at restaurants, brochures and guides at malls, or quality surveys at hotels; you can have a holistic ecosystem for your business and all a customer has to do is point their camera at a code.”
In this effort to realise this existing technology’s full potential, Touch-Less is, quite literally, rebranding QR codes. They’re not just aiming to have those maze-looking black and white blocks scattered all around, but they’re developing a system so that their designers and software engineers can create QR code that fit a client’s branding guidelines.
“This solution isn’t new or revolutionary in its application,” notes Medhat. “But it’s an extremely viable solution that solves an extremely pressing issue businesses are reckoning with as they reopen their doors. And the sky’s the limit really.”
The role a code plays is to redirect a customer to a certain landing page, and the magic happens from there. The startup customises said page so that it can include a one-stop-shop for a user. If it’s a restaurant, then a user can access the menu, promotions, social media or website. The entire ecosystem is on there.
There’s also a B2B benefit that sets Touch-Less apart, in that it provides a business with detailed analytics to help, say, a restaurant track which meal was ordered most on a specific day, what are the peak hours, were there more clicks on the Facebook or Instagram profiles or how performance reviews during specific hours can give insight what’s working and what isn’t.
“We supply our clients with a super simplified customer-friendly system to integrate, we train staff so that they’re immaculately clear on how it runs and we provide analytics in a dashboard that’s straight forward with no need to be savvy in data science to make sense of,” says Medhat.
Medhat’s forte does play a role in all this. In addition to co-founding Touch-Less, he is also the owner of Tradeline Stores, one of Egypt’s leading tech and electronics stores and one of the country’s few certified Apple resellers. That experience is definitely tapped into when realising the potential for Touch-Less.
“We’re not just a software house, we’re also a marketing consultancy, a combination of both that provides tech-enabled solutions that utilise this convenient technology,” says Medhat. “This technology doesn’t just limit us to the service or retail industry, but we’re also equipped to reshape HR departments through it.”
One of the applications Medhat is aiming to accomplish with Touch-Less, is to install the QR code software for companies to swap out with the traditional key card or thumbprints that employees use to log in/out. Both now considered a risk, the system would essentially do the same by having employees just swipe their code via a phone to sign in/out, notifying HR with detailed logs of any tardiness and other employee behaviours.
“The philosophy here really is that less is more,” says Medhat. “That’s the Touch-Less methodology; it’s putting simplicity and convenience at the forefront, not just for our clients, but for the users or anyone that will come across this ecosystem we provide.”
The roster and creative minds behind Touch-Less is also nothing short of impressive. Alongside Medhat, his fellow co-founders are Egyptian veteran entrepreneurs Moataz El Sherbini, Mahmoud Shaarawy and Omar Salem. Their board members include Mohamed ‘Nagaty’ Aboulnaga, the Egyptian serial entrepreneur and co-founder and CCO of Egyptian ride-hailing app Halan, alongside fellow Halan co-founder Ahmed Mohsen and marketing expert Jad Ghalayini.
“The speed in which we were able to kickstart operations is really no fluke. This diversity of skill sets each member of the team brings to the table is honestly unmatched,” Medhat points out. “We’ve got F&B gurus, seasoned marketing specialists, tech tycoons and retail experts. That really is the indomitable strength we have in our team, and that’s why the timeline that spans this idea’s inception to launching and rolling out last week is a feat of it’s own.”
“Our ambition is that Touch-Less becomes widespread all across Egypt, be it in retail, F&B, hospitality and various other businesses,” says Medhat. “But that’s only the first milestone, next up is to export Touch-Less so that we’re also software providers and marketing consultants in Dubai, Beirut and Jordan, which we’re working hard to accomplish within the next quarter.”
Touch-Less have already struck deals with major corporations within the service and retail industry such as Majid Al Futtain, the Emirati mammoth holding company based in Dubai with malls spread out across Egypt, UAE and Lebanon. And Medhat adopted Touch-Less himself in Tradeline Stores across Egypt, along with payment solution provider valU, and a long list of restaurants in Cairo and Alexandria.
“One of the biggest factors I can attribute our success so far to is that the pandemic helped usher in these economies of scope that are so reliant on tech-driven fixes to life post-corona,” notes Medhat.
“But what was even more optimal is that our launch coincided with restaurants in Egypt’s opening their doors again - which was also no sheer luck. I spent months concerned if we’d be able to be up and running by the time the service industry is revived. But it was perfect. The day people were rolling into restaurants again, we were there. Installed and fully-functional for all to see and experience.”
You can find out more about Touch-Less by visiting their website right here.
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