Co-founded by Emirati entrepreneur Maryam Hassani, the mobile app fills a gap in business networking technology. In an interview with WAYA, Hassani shares the app’s goals, its unique digital solution, and the team’s future plans.
Can you tell me more about the startup, your customers, and the journey so far?
Maryam Hassani: Zealous is a networking app that caters to goal-driven individuals in the tech space, enabling them to easily connect and meet with like-minded professionals in their vicinity. Our platform takes a human-centric approach, utilizing innovative features such as geolocation and calendar integrations to streamline the entire networking process.
Traditionally, networking is a time-consuming and often random practice, requiring extensive research, attending events, and relying on chance encounters. Zealous reimages the experience by seamlessly integrating networking into people’s daily lives. With our app, users can network on the go, effortlessly connecting with those nearby who share complementary goals. We believe that networking should be an integrated part of one’s lifestyle, making it convenient and accessible even with busy schedules.
The idea for Zealous began in June 2022 with the vision of eliminating the ambiguity, hassle, and awkwardness typically associated with networking. Since then, we have been hard at work, continuously iterating and improving the app based on valuable user feedback. We have organically built a strong community of over 350 early adopters who have embraced the potential of Zealous to revolutionize the networking experience.
In May of this year, we proudly introduced the Zealous app to the community during our launch event. The positive response and enthusiasm from our growing user base have been incredibly rewarding, motivating us to further enhance the app’s functionality and user experience.
With Zealous, our mission is to empower individuals in the tech industry to build meaningful connections with ease and intention. We are committed to driving networking innovation and transforming the way professionals meet, refer, and stay connected in the digital age.
What inspired the idea for Zealous?
Maryam Hassani: Throughout my five-year journey in the vibrant ecosystem, I recognized the need for a more effective and efficient way to meet and connect with others, especially within a rapidly growing tech scene like in the UAE.
Having immersed myself among startup founders, community managers, and other ecosystem members, I deeply understand the challenges faced by members of the tech community. I observed that many talented individuals with immense potential struggled to make meaningful connections due to the inefficiencies and discomfort associated with traditional networking methods.
Particularly in the tech startup space, networking plays a crucial role in seizing opportunities. I witnessed talented individuals missing out on suitable job prospects or failing to connect with the right people due to their introverted nature or busy schedules. The process of discovering the ideal events and spaces for meaningful connections can be time-consuming and daunting.
Even for those who are more extroverted, networking can feel like a full-time occupation. It involves identifying the right environments and networks, filtering through numerous individuals who may not lead to relevant connections, and participating in tedious admin tasks all throughout the process. This process often consumes a significant amount of time, which is a valuable and scarce resource in today’s fast-paced world.
Motivated to reimagine the networking experience, I founded Zealous with the goal of leveraging technology to help people connect and create opportunities seamlessly. I aimed to build a platform that would eliminate the barriers and challenges associated with traditional networking methods, making it easier for individuals to forge meaningful connections and unlock their full potential.
Which market are you targeting at the moment?
Maryam Hassani: At the moment, our primary market focus is the UAE tech startup scene. We aim to grow our user base within this vibrant ecosystem and establish a strong presence in the local tech community. To effectively target our market, Zealous engages with four key personas that form the foundation of a thriving tech ecosystem:
Visionary: These are individuals who have tech startup ideas and are looking to develop or grow their ventures. They can range from first-time entrepreneurs embarking on their journey to seasoned serial entrepreneurs.
Creator: These are individuals with technical skills, such as developers, designers, and data scientists. They are instrumental in building and shaping tech startups from a technical standpoint.
Amplifier: These individuals possess the expertise needed to take tech startups to the next level. They could be marketers, growth hackers, or individuals with extensive networks and industry knowledge. Their role is to amplify the reach and impact of tech startups.
Mobilizers: These are the individuals who have the necessary resources and connections to bring tech startups to life. They can be investors, ecosystem enablers or individuals with access to incentives and funding opportunities that can propel startups forward.
By connecting these diverse personas, Zealous aims to create a dynamic and collaborative community that nurtures the potential of each individual. We foster an environment where collaboration, knowledge sharing, and collective pursuits can thrive.
What is Zealous’ added-value to the networking scene and businesses operation in general?
Maryam Hassani: Zealous revolutionizes the way connections are made and maintained in the tech space. Traditional networking methods heavily rely on manual introductions and chance encounters, which can be time-consuming and unreliable. With Zealous, professionals can effortlessly connect with relevant individuals who align with their goals and objectives. By leveraging geolocation and real-time notifications, Zealous ensures that you never miss an opportunity to meet potential collaborators, clients, industry experts, or even just friends! This streamlined approach to networking enables you to expand your network, forge valuable partnerships, and access new opportunities for growth.
The application also enhances process efficiency and productivity. Networking is often viewed as a separate activity that requires dedicated time and effort. This can be challenging for busy professionals who juggle multiple responsibilities. Zealous breaks away from this conventional approach by seamlessly integrating networking into your daily life. By sending notifications when relevant individuals are nearby, Zealous enables professionals to connect and engage in meaningful conversations without disrupting their workflow. This creates a more efficient and organic networking experience, allowing individuals to tap into a broader network of resources, knowledge, and potential collaborations.
Zealous addresses the persistent networking challenges faced by tech communities, particularly in emerging tech scenes like the MENA region. By offering a convenient and on-the-go networking solution, Zealous eliminates missed opportunities caused by limited time or travel constraints. It empowers founders, entrepreneurs, and professionals to easily connect with like-minded individuals, break down barriers, and foster collaboration.
Zealous brings immense value to the tech startup space by revolutionizing networking practices, integrating seamlessly into daily routines, and removing barriers to meaningful connections. It empowers members of the tech community to maximize their networking potential, seize new opportunities, and drive business success in an increasingly interconnected world.
What milestones have you accomplished so far and what are your coming plans?
Maryam Hassani: One of our recent milestones is the signing of a partnership with Creative Zone, a leading organization that supports entrepreneurs and startups in the UAE. Through this collaboration, Zealous will provide affiliated entrepreneurs and startups with a unique and unparalleled networking experience. By joining forces with Creative Zone, we aim to encourage and promote intentional, effortless, and rewarding tech networking within their community.
Looking ahead, our plans involve further expansion through strategic partnerships with prominent tech communities and event organizers. By forging fruitful collaborations, we aim to extend our reach to other emerging tech markets. We are committed to embracing and engaging with members of the tech community in these new markets, enabling more individuals to connect, collaborate, and drive innovation.
Additionally, we are continuously working to enhance the Zealous platform based on user feedback and needs. Our roadmap includes implementing new features and functionalities that will further streamline the networking experience and provide even greater value to our users.
Our focus is to create meaningful connections, foster collaboration, and empower individuals in the tech space. We are excited about the upcoming plans and milestones that lie ahead as we continue to grow, innovate, and make a positive impact on the tech startup ecosystem.
Hook for caption: We are committed to driving networking innovation and transforming the way professionals meet, refer, and stay connected in the digital age.
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