UAE: This UV sanitisation app combats viruses like no other
Ajay Salla took Covid-19 challenges in his stride and launched a game-changing enterprise — his startup Zapp UV Sanitization Solutions
Ajay Salla has managed to turn a Covid-19-triggered adversity into an opportunity, thanks to his excellent business acumen.
The 44-year-old entrepreneur, who belongs to the Parajiya Soni community that traces its origin to the western Indian state of Gujarat, came to Dubai — a city that he has been familiar with since his formative years in the late 1970s — from his native Mumbai on February 21, 2020, to try his luck in his family business of bespoke jewellery.
Little did he realise that life had other plans for him, as the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world over the next couple of weeks, and lockdown restrictions became the new normal in no time.
Soon, his business expansion plans across the Arabian Sea went into a tizzy.
Fortunately, Salla, who has entrepreneurship in his genes, was unfazed by the healthcare emergency and quickly went to the drawing board for a course correction and to chart out an alternate plan.
“I immersed myself in research and immediately got going with an alternate plan that could be tailored to the consumers’ growing need to combat the raging viral outbreak,” he says. “I managed to hit upon a novel concept of ultraviolet (UV) sanitisation technology, which helps people to overcome the contagion and live in a safe and secure environment,” he adds.
The UV technology, which was used as a disinfectant in operation theatres (OTs) in hospitals in the 1970s, is a sign of the viral times. It’s a technology, he says, whose time has come because of its ability to fight all kinds of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes the contagion.
Salla’s feat is a paean to Dubai’s ease of doing business. It took him as little as 40 days to build his business — from incubation to implementation — and roll out the mobile application (app), Zapp UV Sanitization Solutions. (The app is recommended by the United States’s Food and Drug Administration and is in compliance with the technology of recommended Germicidal UV-C that cannot penetrate earth’s protective ozone layer).
For now, Salla is all praise for Dubai. “Dubai is incredible. Few cities in the world offer such facilities to incubate a startup in such a quick time. I registered my company in less than a fortnight and in 40 days, we hit the ground running, despite the Covid-19 challenge,” he says.
Though Salla has invested 60 per cent more in his startup, as compared to his initial plan to expand his family jewellery business, which would have taken up to four years to break even because of the sluggish economy triggered by Covid-19, he is happy to be on the top of his startup game.
He promises Zapp to be a game-changer startup for the UAE and the wider region, as few can match his appetite for growth.
Plans are afoot to embark on an annual subscription model for UV-compliant services. These are services that only a few are offering in Dubai, such as an UV-C-compliant driver/butler/cook on call for a paltry annual subscription fee of Dh999. Consumers, including individual households and corporate entities, can avail Zapp’s services.
Salla weighs in on his services’ high points.
“The market is awash with traditional chemical sanitation practices, but the solution is UV-C, as empirical studies have shown. Even the US Army is using the UV-C technology,” he says.
Salla is quick to add that he has been overwhelmed by the Dubai residents’ response and is considering extending his footprint to the rest of the UAE and the other five Gulf Cooperation Council countries at a later stage.
“We’ve received positive response from our customers about the product and technology. Many of them have acknowledged that UV-C wouldn’t fade away over the course of time,” he says.
Salla is also making the public aware of the generational shift in technology. He is tapping into the generational differences in the workforce, as people embrace change with new technological advances and make sanitisation an intuitive automotive service in their daily lives.
“The technology has only 30-minute downtime, as compared to conventional methods. Besides, it offers maximum safety and healthy living adapting to the new normal without excessive use of chemical and human reactions,” he adds.
Salla maintains that his company holds an edge because of superior automotive ways of sanitisation, which has helped attract corporate entities because of certain inherent advantages such as advanced technology — so far, 60 such machines have been imported from the US — coupled with chemical-free, ecologically-friendly and 100 per cent safety for professionals at a workplace.
The consummate entrepreneur is busy reaching out to restaurants, schools, clinics, hospitals and individual households to avail his services.
The company’s vans are doing the rounds in Dubai and the UV-C service is available on call.
He is also looking forward to the upcoming Expo 2020, which starts on October 1, where several companies are likely to be aligned with the Covid-19 precautionary measures.
Salla, who launched Zapp in his native Mumbai last November, wants to ramp up the services gradually back home, as he chalks out elaborate plans to make the app a household name across the world.
He wants to emerge as the only technology-driven company that offers sanitisation services and plans to get listed on Nasdaq in the US.
Initially, he is eyeing to ramp up the valuation to Dh100 million and then at a later stage to $100 (Dh367) million.
He has unleashed a social media blitzkrieg and out-of-home (OOH) advertising to achieve his cherished valuation goal.
And UV-C appears to be the most sought-after hi-tech that might just be powering Dubai win over the Covid-19 challenge ahead of Expo 2020.