Business Solutions Provider in Kuwait: Relax Solutions

“Everywhere we used to see challenges that needed solutions, and for all the problems in the world, there are solutions. We wanted to start giving solutions to the people and to charge them for it.”

Interview with Habib Koya, CEO-MD of Relax Solutions

Habib Koya, CEO-MD of Relax Solutions

You are a fairly new addition to the business landscape here in Kuwait. Could you give us an overview of your main activities? What is the ideology behind Relax Solutions?

How did Relax Solutions Company start? We three friends used to spend most of our time meeting in coffee shops, as we are representing a lot of social communities here, mostly non-profit organisations. We used to help a lot of people and spend a lot of time on that and then more people began to come to us asking for help. We thought why shouldn’t we charge them? Everywhere we used to see challenges that needed solutions, and for all the problems in the world, there are solutions. We wanted to start giving solutions to the people and to charge them for it. That is how this started, and why our company motto is “Solutions are Unlimited.”

Our first clients were a small company that wanted to open a restaurant, and a larger one that owned an Indian gold brand that wanted to have a base here in Kuwait. The gold brand were a well-known in Kerala, India, and they wanted to set up here but they didn’t have anyone to facilitate that. We found a location for the restaurant and we tried to facilitate and present market studies by using my market information and market knowledge.

Solutions are Unlimited.

My friend, Mr Abdul Rahman, and I started this company together. He is now the Chief Operating Officer. He has broad experience in real estate and property management and has been in Kuwait for the past 25 years. My experience is in retail / food and beverage, so we thought that we should start providing these services related to those sectors.

At the same time, I identified another huge potential in the market which is medical tourism. Whenever I used to travel to Bangalore, India I used to see a lot of Kuwaitis travelling. The reason that they travel for the most part is for medical treatment. The Kuwaiti government pays for treatment abroad to Europe or America. Today as far as India is concerned it has all of the latest technology and some of the best doctors in the world. Globally you can find Indian doctors  who are doing really great work. So we also stepped into that sector; we said why don’t we start sending people to India for their treatment? There are two kinds of treatment, one is hospital based conventional treatment where you have operations etc. and the other side is pure Indian Ayurveda treatment, which is a traditional medical treatment. From Kuwait, most people like to get that treatment because it is an oil massage, milk massage etc. it is very pleasant and they like it a lot because they feel younger after it.

Every market has fluctuations; there are times when it goes up and times when it goes down and so I thought that rather than having just these specialities that we should build more pillars to balance our business. We took on a dealership for Triton Oil which is lubricant engine oil. It is an oil that has been produced only in the last 6 or 7 years in Dubai. The managing director, Mr Nizar is a family friend of mine, so we are starting Triton Oil up in Kuwait in March. There are also a lot of other areas that are required of us, for example people need help setting up new businesses here. There are many youngsters in Kuwait that want to become entrepreneurs and they have a small amount of money provided by the government for them to develop their business and they are very enthusiastic. The Kuwaiti situation is changing, the youngsters are becoming much more entrepreneurial and they want to enter business. The role we play at Relax Solutions is that we provide solutions for them, they are very smart and have good money but they have a lack of experience because they are just out of university. We have gone through the journey of the business world and we know from experience how to do business transactions so we can help them and stop them from making mistakes.

Relax Solutions
“Solutions are Unlimited.”

There is another brand that we have just signed up and it is called Ice Cream Lab. It is a brand from Los Angeles and they use liquid nitrogen to make the ice cream. We have taken it on for management in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman. It is a very lovely brand. I was in Saudi Arabia yesterday with the franchisee, and we shall be launching it here in Kuwait very soon. That is something different. We have an investor here in Kuwait who would like to open the business but his background is not in the food business so we compliment his experience. We step in. We do everything from A to Z, the only thing we don’t do is we don’t manage their finances. We manage the financial reports but not the liquid cash because that is a place where a lot of integrity issues come up. We tell them how to manage their finances and where to utilise the funds etc. but it is done directly by them.

We have a branch in Dubai with the Triton company and in Oman we have another with a very close friend of mine, we also have branches in Bahrain and Qatar; Bahrain is with Mr Anarath Ahmad Hajji, a successful businessman, who left India in 1970 or 1971 to Bahrain on a ship without knowing anyone, and today he is a well-recognised businessman in Bahrain.

I have also opened my own company as a branch Relax Solutions Private Limited Company back in India. In India I have three partners, I have a managing partner and I have a regional manager for the Indian market, the two partners are Mr Karim and Mr Ismail and the Indian regional manager is Mr Mohammed Nabeel. They are managing over there and we send our clients from here to India for a treatment. Our facility is from the airport of Kuwait back to the airport of Kuwait; we are solely responsible for them. We even help them with providing them with the visas for India because we have good connections with the Indian embassy and the Indian embassy promotes medical tourism and general tourism.

Whatever kind of business comes to us, I do not say no to it! If we are able to perform, at the end of the day the most important thing is to exceed the expectations of the customer and to satisfy the customer.

What would you say is your strength? Is it your connection with India?

No. My main market is Kuwait. The Indian side of it is to do with the medical tourism. In India, I have my own garment factory, I produce shirts and garments. Relax Solutions is an independent private solutions company but medical tourism is being promoted there, and there is a branch that takes care of that. What makes us different is that we have capable people in every area, the general manager of our company, Mrs Elaine Hanlon, has almost 30 years of experience in the medical field, in nursing and hospital management. When it comes to food and beverage, I have been brought up in that sector; I started my career in 1992 when I had just left school. I have been in the food industry since then and I have passed through all of the designations required. When it comes to my COO, he has been in this country for a long time and so he knows many people here in Kuwait and he specialises in real estate. He knows that sector very well. Our business development manager, Mr Waleed Al Dawai, is a Kuwaiti with experience in the banking sector and is very good at customer service, he is also an interior designer and so we can also offer personal shopping for customers. He runs his own service independently under the same umbrella. Today, customers don’t have the time they used to, they don’t have the time to design their homes, and so we tell them that all they have to do is tell us the colour combination they prefer etc.  To complete our team, our Operations Manager, Ms Mira Claridad, has a background in Retail and Brand Management.  

How do you find your customers?

This man is very well connected to the market so there is lots of word of mouth promotion. Secondly we are getting a better footing day by day in social media. Instagram and Snapchat are the most important tools of marketing over here so we are getting into that. As I said, I have been representing non profitable organisations over here for a long time and I also represent the Indian embassy so we have connections in the market which means people talk about us and we get customers that way.

Has your business been affected by the economic situation in Kuwait recently?

It is affected in certain ways because the real estate market is really slowing down at the moment but there are two faces to that; firstly I benefited in fact because there were a lot of people who wanted to cut down their costs by cutting down on having a marketing manager, an operations manager, and an area manager and decided to pay just my company to take care of it all, because my company’s policy is to have minimal fixed management fees and we take a certain percentage from the net profit after the depreciation. It is better for them that I work to develop their bottom line. At the same time, going forward it is becoming a very tight market today in terms of real estate. When we re-rent apartments or give the companies their buildings it is quite difficult to collect the money they owe because the financial situation is really slowing down. It hasn’t been that bad and as far as the Kuwait government is concerned they have been balancing their financial situation. Finally, I believe our success comes from blessings and prayers of parents and family.


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