The majority of people in the Middle East heard about Ahmed Al-Zaini, because of Foodics. With Ahmed’s creativity and Innovative thinking, he became a very successful entrepreneur with a lot of ambition. Al- Zaini has been granted prestigious regional leadership awards including, Endeavor as a high-impact entrepreneur in 2018, and presented him with the Forbes Award for Entrepreneurs Shaping Saudi Arabia’s Future in 2015. In 2019, he enrolled in the Harvard Business School executive program for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial studies. By 2020, Al-Zaini completed the THNK School of Creative Leadership’s short program on organizational leadership.

Al Zaini is a strong believer in the F&B digital transformation scene, so he co-founded Foodics in 2014. Foodics is a Saudi Arabia-based retail and food technology startup that improves the customer-owner relationship and the restaurant management experience. The company focuses on information technology and provides innovative, high-quality, and cost-effective products and services, as well as investment opportunities.

The technology that the company provides to the food and beverage industry boosts sales and operations. Foodics is one of only three businesses granted a financial technology (fintech) license by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), which enables the company to accelerate product development.

Al-Zaini told Arab News that his long-term objective is to develop tools, data, and insights that will assist restaurateurs in making the right choices while he lets them concentrate on their products. He also added, “When you own a restaurant, you need to concentrate on the quality of the food and the speed of service. We educate them about their company’s shortcomings and the areas where they should concentrate their efforts to grow and develop.”

How does Foodics platform work? Simply, restaurant owners can benefit from Foodics’ all-in-one SaaS and POS management platform. It’s a true ecosystem enabler because it lets restaurants instantly connect with all ecosystem partners to get access to capital, payments, food delivery, accounting services, and bookings, among other things. In essence, he enabled restaurateurs to concentrate on expanding their operations while developing tools and providing them with access to data and insights that will assist them in making sound decisions. As a result, their products are suitable for traditional dine-in restaurants, cafes, fast food restaurants, bakeries, food trucks, and cloud kitchens alike.

In order to provide owners with a true one-stop platform for managing their businesses, they have always included a finance option in their vision. As they were recently one of three businesses recognized by SAMA as a Saudi Fintech company, which opened the door for huge opportunities and innovation. This allowed them to achieve their growth strategy of revolutionizing SME lending. They wanted to facilitate lending faster and with more flexibility than the majority of regional lending institutions. Consequently, they established Foodics Capital successfully.

Foodics is mapping out plans for growth in the future and is trying to find new creative ways related to the transformation of their company. They want to have the ability to export their services outside of KSA to the MENA region and abroad. They are well-positioned to expand further and are concentrating on entering the Kuwaiti and Omani markets, having successfully expanded into Egypt last year. Their objective was to have 500 employees by 2022 and are actively looking for exceptional talent with design thinking and innovation to join their team and grow with them.

During Covid, Al-Zaini had a market strategy that gave Foodics unexpected opportunities in 2020. He was determined to provide the ecosystem with the best possible support during the crisis. Therefore, he made his team proactively fast-tackle the new development of the “Foodics PAY” product. This new prototype platform allowed restaurant owners to access a payment solution integrated with their POS, enabling them to accept cards and digital payments securely, while syncing to their bank account within the same day. In addition, they helped integrate them into the online delivery aggregators to secure an increase in their order volumes.

At that time, they also wanted to enable faster and more flexible lending than most of the lending facilities in the region. To that effect, they successfully set up Foodics Capital, in partnership with the KSA-based Maalem Finance, a provider of Shariah-compliant consumer and SME financing.

Through the use of digital technologies, Foodics hopes to have new business model opportunities that will impact the food and beverage industry and assist business owners in overcoming anticipated and unanticipated obstacles. Foodics’ goal is to be a true one-stop shop for restaurant owners, handling everything from supply orders to customer relationship management to payment acceptance and processing. And as Al-Zaini said, “Our goal is to be the number one provider of ecosystem-specific solutions.”

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