As Zohr drives toward national expansion, the on-demand tire services startup is already finding success in Dallas, replicating the metro-wide experience it made popular in hometown Kansas City, said Komal Choong.
“We’re getting great responses from our early adopters,” the Zohr co-founder and CEO said. “So we’re very optimistic that it’ll continue to grow, just like it did in Kansas City, but at a much faster pace here in Dallas.”
Though 500 miles apart, the cities boast strong parallels in terms of demographics and customer base, he said.
“Dallas has a very similar vibe, culture, mindset and hospitality compared to Kansas City,” added brother Anoop Choong, co-founder and COO of Zohr.
Both metros offer significant support from within affluent suburbs, as well as from the plethora of “transplants” between the two cities, he said.
“[It seems like] every other person I talked to here in Dallas is from Kansas City, or vice versa,” Komal Choong said.
Click here to learn more about why Zohr was selected as one of Startland’s Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2019.
Taking passion beyond toys, to the consumer
Zohr, which means strength in Arabic, was the brainchild of the two brothers — car enthusiasts since childhood.
“As kids, we would ooze over car magazines and play with toy cars,” said Komal Choong. “We didn’t grow up in a very well-off family — we’re from an immigrant family. We tried to do as much as we could with what we had.”
During their college days, the two bought and sold cars and car parts to help pay rent, he said.
“As we grew up, we actually started to work on real cars, and not just toy cars,” the hobbyist-turned-CEO said.
Flipping cars made the brothers realise a need for making the auto repair and replacement process more transparent and convenient, said Anoop Choong, who dropped out of college to dedicate all his time to Zohr.
“We thought to ourselves: why can’t something like a tire shop come to the consumer?” Komal Choong said about the e-commerce and tire-logistics company.
Driving toward the ‘tire shop of the future’
Having a local physical presence in each market is a precursor to delivering quality service, Komal Choong said. Zohr operates from centralized warehouses where tire-related products are received, technicians are dispatched and trucks are stored overnight.
“One of the biggest pain points we faced with repair facilities was that the timelines were never predictable,” he said. “So we solve this by keeping very reasonable timelines, so that customers who need something done immediately are not alienated by our timeline.”
Zohr, which initially was bootstrapped, launching in 2015, has raised about $2 million to date with the largest investor being San Francisco-based Trucks Venture Capital.
While Zohr heads door to door, city to city, repairing and replacing tires, the industry itself is undergoing a transition, said Komal Choong.
“The mobility space is going to be seeing a lot of change in the coming years with autonomous vehicles, electrification and changing ownership models,” he said.
Such trends translate into more vehicles on the road and more tires that will need to be replaced, he added.
“Unlike other traditional tire stores, we are building what we think is the tire shop of the future,” he said.
Zohr is likely to add a new city to the map by the end of this year, with three to six cities and more lines of service likely in the works for next year, said Komal Choong.
“At the end of the day, we’re still car guys and being car enthusiasts allows us to push forward and still kind of enjoy the work we do,”said Anoop Choong. “There’s a lot of challenges, a lot of roadblocks, but I think one thing that keeps us going every single day is simply being able to engage with the community.”
This story was produced through a collaboration between Missouri Business Alert and Startland News.