Riding to Success: Mudassir Sheikha’s Journey from McKinsey to Creating Careem, the Middle East’s Billion-Dollar Ride-Hailing Giant

Riding to Success Mudassir Sheikha's Journey from McKinsey to Creating Careem, the Middle East's Billion-Dollar Ride-Hailing Giant

Meet Mudassir Sheikha, the co-founder and former CEO of Careem, a leading ride-hailing and delivery company in the Middle East. The Pakistani spotted an opportunity that Uber missed and turned it into a billion-dollar startup.

Source: lums.edu.pk

Mudassir’s entrepreneurial journey all started when his colleague at Mckinsey, Magnus Olson, almost lost his life to brain aneurysm. The pair promised themselves that they’d build something impactful if Magnus survived.

After Magnus recovered, the duo committed to creating a significant impact and embarked on brainstorming sessions. Their vision was to address transportation challenges in the Middle East.

Source: entrepreneur.com

After taking a closer look at Uber, the outlier identified issues such as lack of Arabic support, low brand recognition, and unreliable cars that he could leverage to build his transportation company. In 2012, Mudassir and Magnus founded Careem.

While Uber focused on global expansion, Careem concentrated their efforts locally. They refer to their drivers as ‘Captain’ in order to break the regional stigma around the job.

Source: CNBC

A homegrown taxi service for the Middle East tailored to the local needs with Arabic language, regional payment options, and trained drivers in Arabic courtesy. They also introduced food and package delivery alongside regular ride hailing, unlike Uber.

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Source: YouTube 

Under Mudassir’s leadership, Careem experienced rapid growth, expanding its operations to over 100 cities across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, with more than 33 million users. Mudassir’s leadership and entrepreneurial spirit left a lasting impact on the tech ecosystem in the Middle East.

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Source: YouTube

In 2019, Uber acquired Careem in a deal worth $3.1 billion, making it one of the biggest technology acquisitions in the Middle East. Mudassir played a pivotal role in negotiating the acquisition, ensuring a mutually beneficial outcome for both companies and stakeholders.

While Mudassir stepped down as CEO of Careem after the acquisition, his legacy continues to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs in the Middle East and beyond.

Mudassir Sheikha’s entrepreneurial journey with Careem is a testament to the transformative power of technology and innovation in addressing real-world challenges and creating lasting value for communities, and it exemplifies the power of perseverance, collaboration, and visionary leadership in building successful tech ventures.

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