Interview: Meraj Hoda, Vice President of Business Development – MEA, Ring
Ring products are being used across the region to keep communities safe, with innovative technology helping to uphold the company’s mission to ‘secure the neighbourhood’. We spoke to Mohammad Meraj Hoda, Vice President of Business Development – Middle East and Africa at Ring, about what the company has been up to and what its plans are for future growth.
Can you give us an overview of Ring and outline the company’s mission?
We started in 2014 with the mission of securing the neighbourhood – and that’s the mission we live by every day.
We’ve carried out research – in the USA – which has shown our products reduce crime by 50% in communities where they are in use. We’ve been building the business over the last four years and this year we were acquired by Amazon so we are an Amazon company now but are keeping the brand separate and independent.
Our mission remains to reduce crime in communities across the globe. We already have a presence in the UK and several European countries and this is our second year in the Middle East as a business.
What has been the impact of the Amazon acquisition?
Amazon and Ring have a shared strategy. One of the reasons they looked at us is because of our mission in driving security within communities, and we work very closely with the Amazon device team and see a lot of alignment with how Ring can work with Amazon devices. We’re working as one team to extend that into the broader region.
Who is your typical customer?
Property and homeowners. We serve consumers and those living in their own home – that’s the area we target most.
But we have seen a wider adoption among people living in apartments and similar buildings. And we’re also seeing more traction with small businesses – where people can’t be on site all the time and they’re using our products to monitor the property and respond to visitors.
Is that an area you would like to grow?
For now our focus is more on the residential side and this is where we see huge opportunity for us, so all our technologies and future technologies will be focusing on consumer and home security.
What are some of your key products?
We start with the front of the home with our doorbell – that’s the first product we launched. And we added a video to that which has a two-way talk system and a one-way video. So you can see and talk to your visitors.
We have an app that sits on your mobile and can communicate with the visitors from your mobile phone to the device.
Then we have a whole range of security cameras which sit around the home. So you have a doorbell as a first entry to the home and then you have cameras which come with a battery and Wi-Fi, which could be in any location outside your home and around your home.
In case you don’t want the hassle of re-charging the battery you can also buy a separate solar panel which keeps it charged.
How do you build cybersecurity into your products?
We deal more with the physical security side and use Amazon to host our services. So we do feel our product is pretty secure using the AWS platform.
As part of Amazon we make sure that all our products are compliant with security regulations and risks are mitigated. We are in the security industry – we don’t want our products to be vulnerable to security threats.
Can you outline your channel programme?
Our business model for the Middle East is very simple. We have just started our first year of business in the UAE. We have a value-added distributor in each country we go in. For example, we’ll have a distributor for the UAE and Gulf and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia we have a specialised distributor for that market. Then we funnel all our business through our regional distributor, our value-added distributor, and we engage directly with our retailer online and work with them but we funnel the business through our distribution channel.
We keep the model very simple and make sure we add the right partner where they add value to the Ring brand and Ring business.
Can you outline the business in Kuwait?
We have a lot of partners in Kuwait and we’re seeing a lot of interest with a lot of independent homes in Kuwait and people are buying Ring devices to go outside their homes and keep an eye on their gates when they’re away. We have seen a really strong adoption in the Kuwait market.
We have an in-country distributor called X-Cite Electronics, part of the Alghanim Group, which represents the Ring group in the region.
We do have a presence in South Africa now. We believe Ring is going to be complementary to South African neighbours. Crime there is on the higher side compared to some of the Gulf countries, and we are seeing a very strong adoption rate within the South African market.
I believe Africa is going to be key for us.
What does the next year look like for Ring?
Our products have a lot to offer so we keep improving them. So we’ll see a lot of software upgrades on our existing products. Since we have entered the market we have seen a strong interest from consumers – who we call Ring neighbours – who are interested in our products and we want to expand that across Middle East and Africa.
We also plan to expand our retail presence. We are working with a few specialised distributors and want to take their presence across the Middle East and grow in Lebanon, Jordan and other Gulf countries.
So we have a lot to do in terms of our channel expansion and getting Ring products in the hands of the people. We’ll be focusing next year on trying to drive more adoption of Ring products.
I believe we are unique in a way because we have simplified home security and put it in your hands – you use an app on your phone and it manages your home wherever you are, so it’s a great simplification of traditional surveillance security that we have achieved with our Ring products.