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The Surpluss aims to be ‘Airbnb of business’ in Dubai

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Disruptive tech: The company uses the Airbnb concept to pair up companies with extra resources
  • Startup finds partners to share manpower, space, energy and materials
  • Focus is on sustainability
  • Aim is to find 10,000 subscribers within next 12 months

Just like Airbnb offered an alternative to hotels and Uber challenged the taxi market, Dubai-based Rana Hajirasouli says she wants to “instigate a paradigm shift” to disrupt how companies manage their business resources, while playing a key role in the circular economy.

Hajirasouli plans to launch The Surpluss next month, and the best way to explain how it will work is to look at some examples of its recent test studies.

A small female-run fashion startup was looking for help finding workspace and managing its logistics.

The Surpluss team matched it with a steel manufacturing company, which had unused space in its warehouse and drivers who had some downtime twice a week.

The fashion firm was able to expand its operations, while the hosts generated extra revenue by monetising its unused space and manpower.

“In the same way that Airbnb has normalised staying at a stranger’s house, we want it to be the norm for businesses to thrive [by] resource sharing, from people, to spaces, to energy and materials, to benefit both the environment and their bottom line,” Hajirasouli said.

Rana Hajirasouli, founder of The Surpluss

As well as office space and manpower, The Surpluss plans to match up all types of businesses that could potentially partner together.

Another example is a tyre pyrolysis company which was producing tonnes of air pollution and other waste products every day.

The Surpluss matched the company with a small construction chemicals company that produced heavy-duty flooring, which was able to use the tyre firm’s waste material as a raw material for its products.

The tyre company generated new revenue and was able to reduce how much waste it sent to landfill, while the construction chemicals company made savings on its raw materials costs.

Hajirasouli came up with the idea for The Surpluss while she was studying for a Masters’ degree at Cambridge University in the UK. 

Her startup was established in October 2021 and currently has around 100 companies involved in its initial beta testing phase. 

The business has been wholly self-funded so far and is set to officially launch early next month. Hajirasouli is aiming to ramp up from 100 founding partners to 10,000 members within the first 12 months of operation.

“We actually have a waiting list of 500-plus companies internationally, and that number is growing. We’re not only targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), we have micro-SMEs all the way to publicly listed companies.

The Surpluss employs 10 staff but using artificial intelligence Hajirasouli forecasts she will only need to expand the workforce to 25 to manage next year’s target.

The business model is based on a tiered subscription system where companies pay an annual fee to get access to the community in order to find potential partners.

“I hope that The Surpluss will instigate a paradigm shift, creating [a] new reality for businesses,” Hajirasouli said. 

As the main objective is to promote sustainability and help reduce waste, The Surpluss is classed as a climatetech firm.

Climatetech is a burgeoning sector. According to New York-based research company HolonIQ, climatetech startups generated a record $26.8 billion in venture capital funding in the first quarter of this year. HolonIQ forecasts that this will rise to $40.4 billion by the end of 2022. This is compared to $14.9 billion raised in 2019 and $6.1 billion in 2016.

There are currently 47 climatetech unicorns around the world, collectively valued at over $131 billion as of June 2022, according to HolonIQ. The UAE is aiming to see some of its startups join the list of global climatetech unicorns in the near future. 

PepsiCo in December 2021 announced the launch of the Greenhouse Accelerator programme in the Middle East. Launched in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, 10 companies were chosen to take part, with the theme for the first year being sustainable packaging and circular economy solutions.

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