Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

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KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 10 December 2019

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.
 


Saudi transport forum puts global spotlight on Kingdom’s booming rail sector

Updated 28 January 2020

Saudi transport forum puts global spotlight on Kingdom’s booming rail sector

  • The Railway Forum sought to enhance strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors

RIYADH: An international conference highlighting the development and growth of the Saudi railway sector on Tuesday opened in Riyadh.

The two-day Railway Forum, organized by the Saudi Railway Co. (SAR) under the patronage of King Salman, is being held at the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel with the title, “Joining Tracks for a Closer Future.”

The gathering aims to create an international platform in the Middle East for the active exchange of knowledge and expertise between local and international rail industry experts and stakeholders while promoting the growth potential of the sector in the Kingdom and regionally.

Speaking at the forum’s opening session, Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, said the global railway industry was witnessing strong growth with increased investment.

He pointed out that an aggressive rate of industrialization was expected to develop the international market even further while the need for fast, reliable, risk-limited and affordable means of transportation was becoming a necessity.

The sector was working to keep pace with population growth and increased world demand for transportation in general and railways in particular, which were faster, cheaper and safer, the minister added.

Al-Jasser told delegates that the Kingdom was undergoing bold developments in all sectors to realize the Saudi Vision 2030, and the railways, in which Saudi Arabia was investing heavily, were expected to play a key role in turning the country into a global logistics hub.

The Railway Forum sought to enhance strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors, he added.

Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of the SAR, said he hoped the event would generate new ideas to help further boost the Saudi railway sector.

He pointed out that SAR now had huge fleets connecting various cities and more than 47 million tons of minerals had been transported to date, taking around 4 million truckloads off the roads.

Inaugurated by King Salman in September 2018, the Kingdom’s Haramain high-speed railway was one of the most modern and fastest means of transport in the Middle East, added Al-Malik.

It was the first electric train of its kind in the region covering more than 450 km and connecting five stations in Makkah, Jeddah, King Abdul Aziz International Airport, King Abdullah Economic City, and Madinah.

All the stations included facilities such as lounges for business-class travelers, a center for public transport, helicopter landing sites, parking lots, civil defense stations, mosques and commercial spaces to meet passenger requirements.

The forum will be divided into sessions discussing the global vision toward 2030, urban rail, logistic railway benefits, safety and security, and future rail.

It will also offer a unique and active stage for industry stakeholders to share knowledge and expertise, discover new trends and find potential investment opportunities.