Careem, a ride hailing app similar to Uber based in the Middle East, calls its drivers "captains". It might seem like a trivial point, but it underlines the company's focus on understanding the local markets in which it operates to stay ahead.
Founded in 2012, the start-up operates in 27 cities across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and raised $60 million in November. But it faces a threat from Uber, which has raised a total of over $14 billion to-date.
But Careem's founders are confident that its local expertise will allow it to grow a big business and it all starts with the drivers, or "captains".
"Most of our captains, they come from relatively humble backgrounds and many of them particularly in the Gulf, have come from outside of the Gulf, here to work … and in many cases they haven't got the training or the education how to do their job in the best of ways," Magnus Olsson, co-founder of Careem, told CNBC in a TV interview.
"We … believe we have a great product … at the end of the day you're sitting in a car with a captain that drives you, 80, 90 percent of the experience depends on the captain … if we want to have a great experience we need to care for them and make them partners in our success."
Olsson explained that Careem gives the drivers training, listens to them and evolves the product based on their experiences. In some markets, they even offer medical insurance. Mudassir Sheikha, the other co-founder, said that where possible, Careem will offer internships to the families of drivers who are often living in very tough conditions across the region.
"We make sure we look after them," Sheikha said.