Hassan Siddiqi is a digital strategist in charge of steering a start-up called YallaMotor.com, which will provide car reviews and price comparisons.
The venture is being backed by Bayt.com, which has helped three other Web start-ups. Here, Mr Siddiqi, 29, the business head at YallaMotor.com in Dubai, talks about why UAE residents need yet another online portal that gives advice on cars.
What brought you to start-ups? Have you been involved with them before?
It was always my dream to be a part of a start-up venture and have a business of my own. But this is my first.
What kind of research went behind YallaMotor.com?
Bayt.com had a Bayt classifieds but it was mainly used as a training module. It was a useful tool and we thought why not use it [as a model]. That was in January. [Later] we found there was a real vacuum in updated prices and reviews on cars and there was a huge demand for such a site, which can bring experts together. Our aim is to crowd-source local guidance on cars.
How is YallaMotor different from other car-review websites and motoring magazine sites?
Reviews in magazines are based on detailed road tests and are technical from a car enthusiast's point of view. But a vast majority of people are not interested in technical details but in better deals and a broader picture. [We] will give easy to understand reviews, customer feedback and price comparisons. There is a whole segment of women car drivers we are looking to serve.
The website was launched in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt simultaneously on August 5. What are your plans now?
[We hope] to spread across the Middle East. We just started with the three biggest markets. The website is also going to be bilingual. The English site will be for expats in the UAE and Saudi and the Arabic site for Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Some [content] will be translation and reviews and customer feedback will be [adapted] to the culture of the place.
How many people does your site employ?
We have a team of two, although we have leadership and management support from Bayt.com. I look after business growth, content and marketing and Aatir Abdul Rauf looks after the technical side. We have also hired a community manager in Egypt, who looks to build Arabic speaking consumers [through] social media.
How do you generate revenues?
Mostly by online ad sales, target advertising, sponsorship of content and advertorials.
You say you look after both content and marketing. How would you resolve any conflict of interest?
We're handling editorial ourselves hence my name is on the reviews. We have our ad sales team at Bayt.com who help us with sales, which is separate from our editorial decisions. Eventually, we plan to have our own teams in both areas once we expand further.