Five minutes with: Karim Helal, ProTenders

Karim Helal, founder and CEO of ProTenders, speaks to ConstructionWeekOnline about the advantages of using ProTenders during the tendering process

Karim Helal, founder and CEO of ProTenders.
Karim Helal, founder and CEO of ProTenders.

Can you tell me a little about ProTenders, and its origins?

ProTenders is a company which started out around five years ago – with the main goal of providing something for every sector of the construction industry.

Regardless of the size of your company or project, we have all the tools and data you will require to streamline the tendering process, find the most suitable partners and essentially grow your business.

Our ProTenders system provides a full 24/7 A-Z guide, where companies can get online, showcase their work and generate leads.

Whether you work on 1 or 1,000 tenders per year, ProTenders’ e-bidding solution means more efficiencies and greater savings for everyone, while reducing risk by moving to a fully digitised streamlined platform accessible from wherever you are.

We’ve simplified, how companies can market themselves, expand their reach and be found by developers.

We envision a construction industry in which the barriers to efficient, open collaboration have been removed, so that companies in every sector of the industry can improve their profitability.

Our system primarily allows project owners and developers, architects, engineers, main contractors, subcontractors, and equipment and material suppliers to handle more work –while keep costs to a minimum.

We have completed around $14billion worth of business so far and we have worked with some of the biggest developers in Abu Dhabi. We are now looking to grow in other regions of the GCC such as Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

What are the advantages associated with ProTenders?

Our easy to access online system provides real-time information on who’s building, who’s not building and of course what they are building.

It also helps to cut costs and provides top level security with all information being encrypted.

Our system tracks even the finest of details during tendering – meaning companies are not required to recruit specific persons or departments for this process, they can keep IT spends to a minimum and they do not need to provide in-house training because we take care of that.

Are there costs involved in your process? And, if so can both large and smaller companies afford to meet these?

We have carried out a massive study which compared our prices to others. For the price of a full-blown profile on our website, which covers everything from your products, projects, equipment and team, you will pay less than what you would for a small Yellow Pages advert.

Our goal as a company is to have volume, we want to have all companies registered with us because the more you have the more your community becomes vibrant and the more the system becomes useful for everybody involved.

The price of profiles in our directory is used as a way for us to keep on improving our products – but also as a way for companies to keep on receiving value out of what they are paying.

Are you currently working outside the UAE?

When the crisis happened in the UAE around two or three years ago, we decided to expand our business operations.

So far, we have grown in Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and most recently opened a new design centre in Canada.

What made you move your main design hub to Canada?

We are becoming more and more of a data hub so our ultimate goal is something that we can’t develop in the UAE. The data that we require to create customer profiles requires a lot of mathematical and technical knowledge from data scientists – and those kind of people can’t be sourced here.

Also, we are currently targeting North America so our base in Canada will help provide the opportunity for our company to grow on a global basis.

The UAE is great as a regional hub and for starting and growing businesses that are very brick and mortar. However, as the only B2B company that I know of in the UAE, we require talent that just can’t be sourced here. Bringing that talent here, for us, would be a limiting factor.

This is why we have selected Canada, where there are a lot of students, engineers and data scientists – and it is also easier to access funding.

Our long-term goal is to be based in Silicon Valley – and that is what we are now working towards.

What are your expansion plans over the next few years?

Our plan is very simple, what we have built is very unique and we are now in a massive growth phase – so our goal is to become much more regional within the next six to twelve months. This will obviously still include expansion within the GCC - but we are very interested in Turkey.

We will continue to follow our customers as they continue to grow from region to region in a bid to help them streamline their projects.

While our core developers are based within the UAE, our audience is not and our customers aren’t necessarily based here. This is why we know we have hit a nerve in the market because anyone looking to do business in the UAE is coming to us to advertise what they do in a bid to be found by developers working in the region.

Finally, do you have long-term expansion plans in place for the company?

Long-term, we may looking at expanding Protenders from a B2B company - to include B2C. We might start looking at integrating with other property based outlets in a bid to provide customers with endless information.

We are also currently working on a new project, which we can’t reveal too much about at present, but all will be revealed at the Big 5 event in November.

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