A user's view: Steph chats with Careem's Rakesh Ramesh about scaling and fraud prevention
We caught up with Rakesh Ramesh, Digital Marketing Director at Careem, the Middle East’s largest taxi service, about his experience working with Adjust. When Rakesh first joined Careem back in 2015 they weren’t tracking any of their mobile activity, and they weren’t heavily investing in mobile marketing at all. Now, with 50 percent of their installs coming through paid channels, mobile tracking and fraud prevention are vital in helping them scale. And with over 500m in funding, there’s no stopping them.
Stephanie: So what exactly is Careem and how did it get started?
Rakesh: Careem was founded in Dubai in 2012 by Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson, two former McKinsey consultants who wished to develop a local venture with a unique regional vision. Transport is a lifeline to everything and Careem was created to provide reliable and affordable urban transport to people in the region.
The brand was later joined by a third co-founder, Dr. Abdulla Elyas, when Careem acquired Jeddah-based address coding service, Enwani, in 2014. In 2015, Careem acquired Morocco-based car booking service TAXIII. And most recently, in 2016, Pakistan start-up Savaree.
A successful home-grown app and car booking service, Careem is currently the region’s leading car booking app and operates in over 50 cities across MENA region Pakistan and Turkey. In the last four years, the company has witnessed 30%+ growth month-on-month, having delivered millions of successful rides with tens of thousands of ‘Captains’ (drivers) since launch.
Careem considers their drivers as their most important assets and as members of the family, which is why they are called ‘Captains’. Careem also offers their Captains driving educational training and career advancement opportunities. Careem implements a strategy of bringing services to markets that are built around a deep understanding of local needs, including call centers for customers and Careem Captains, providing flexible cash payment options, the option for families to use Careem Kids cars with pre-installed car-seats and providing customers with the ability to pre-schedule important rides.
Careem aims to facilitate the lives of people in each market it operates; in Saudi Arabia, Careem is the preferred service among women by providing them a reliable means of transport and in Egypt, Careem has helped most Captains that were left unemployed following the drop-in tourism to find employment to support their families and educate their kids.
A pioneering company in the region’s nascent ‘sharing economy’, Careem’s mission is to make people’s lives simpler by revolutionizing the transportation and logistics industry in the region.
Adjust’s support has been awesome. I hate to admit that we even had late night Skype calls to make sure everything we integrated was perfect. There was no room for failure on our end. You really went the extra mile to make everything run smoothly and get us to where we are today.
When did you start working with Adjust? Was Careem doing any mobile tracking before that?
Rakesh: I had worked with Adjust at my previous company [Rocket Internet], so getting Adjust integrated was the first thing I did when I joined Careem back in 2015. I knew that once we were integrated we’d have a lot more insight into things like the best-performing channels and length of time to get positive ROI - both of which would help us scale and spend our budget on the things that made sense.
When I joined we weren’t really tracking mobile, so that meant we weren’t really spending on mobile. In order to get budget you need to prove the value, it’s a sort of a catch-22. This is why integrating Adjust was so important. Ultimately I wanted to be able to benchmark all our organic installs against paid channels, and to track things like LTV and ROI. The Engineering and Product Team from both Adjust and Careem side had a perfect marriage, they made our integration easier.
We scaled fast after integrating, we started tracking everything from signup to journey complete so we could see the user funnel and optimize our campaigns towards it. We hired more marketing and tech experts and also built a solid backend to handle the callbacks we were getting and also validate mobile transactions.
You’re also working with our Fraud Prevention Suite - can you tell us about that?
Rakesh: I’d say about 40-50 percent of our signups are coming from paid channels - as I said, we’re scaling fast and we need to make sure that our budget is being used effectively. We buy on a cost per first ride model, but that doesn’t mean that we’re immune from getting burnt - fraudsters are smart!
We first switched on the Fraud Prevention product in late 2016, and so far it’s really helped protect us. Before, when I’d see suspicious activity I’d stop the campaigns immediately and start the process of trying to get my budget back. In a way, this product has validated what we were already seeing (and trying to stop) and has given us the proof so to speak, to have a meaningful conversation with the partners we’re working with.
All in all, we’ve probably saved around 20 percent of our ad budget; we’ve been able to re-invest that in the channels that deliver us the most active users.
Thanks Rakesh! Mobile ad fraud is one of the biggest issues in our industry, but we believe that education is the first step towards getting rid of it for good. Check out our mobile fraud guide to learn more about the most common types of ad fraud, how it eats into your budget, and how we can work together to eliminate it.
Careem is the MENA region’s leading app-based car service and newest tech unicorn. Careem was co-founded by Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson, who had both previously worked as management consultants at McKinsey & Company. They started operating Careem in July 2012 as a website-based service for corporate car bookings, and evolved to become a transportation network company with car hire for everyday use. To date, they operate in more than 50 cities in 11 countries across the MENA region and have over 6 million users. Careem’s app eliminates the struggle of finding a cab on the street. With just a few taps in the app, passengers are connected with drivers for a fast and safe trip. To date, Careem has raised over $421m in funding; they continue to add exciting services to their app like Careem for Women, Careem for Kids, and monthly bookings - unheard of by other taxi services.