Ganesh Venugopal is the chief operating officer of Uber Technologies, a business that was formed in Dubai a year ago to cater to the region's growing videogaming sector. Mr Venugopal talks about the company's strategy.
q You left the IT industry to work in this sector. Why did you help launch this company?
a We realised the gaming industry is very nascent. It's very highly disorganised. Earlier, there were 20 to 25 brands and every month you'd find different names coming from China. Even though the price points were good, the quality was not taken care of, so we tried to make a change and got quality brands here.
q How did you reach that conclusion?
a Because of the research we did. We benchmarked against the European and US markets, which are very mature … to see what kinds of products and software are available. When we did this study more than a year ago, the Middle East and the UAE, in particular, [came up as] a very opportunistic geography.
q What percentage of people have a gaming console in this region?
a Twenty to 25 per cent. This region is probably the only region in the world where for seven, eight or nine months it is hot enough for people to stay at home, and outdoor games tend not to be a very popular activity.
q And what's the ownership like in the US or Europe?
a Seventy-five to 80 per cent. In fact, in those places you'll find multiple consoles. A family might have an XBox and a PlayStation 3. They have reached a penetration where they're going for a different brand of console, whereas here we're talking about any console. That's how nascent the industry is here.
q So how does your company fit into the picture?
a We wanted to be a one-stop shop. That was our aim. We wanted to satisfy each and every gaming need a customer had.
q You've become a gaming distributor to retail outlets? Why?
a Retail is always the first step, because you get established. Retailers are more organised, with big floor and big space and where they allow customers to compare products. So what we did was signed up with two big German brands: Speedlink, which offers IT, console and PC accessories; and Roccat, which is professional PC accessories such as high-end headsets and touch surfaces that are mousepads.
q What approach are you taking in setting up a strong presence with those brands in retail shops?
a We signed up with these brands across the Middle East and North Africa and have exclusive rights. We chose the brands that were number one in Europe in volume and market share. We wanted to get customers in the Middle East to experience these. Accessories are now available across retail outlets - Virgin, E-City, Emax, E4U. Now we have started focusing on gaming desktops, which will be live … This will be available through retail, and our website Uber.ae.