x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Adding a whole new dimension to gift cards in the Middle East

The Life: Husain Makiya and Abed Bibi co-founded online gifting platform YouGotaGift.com in April, and they talk about the growing trend in the UAE.

Husain Makiya, left, and Abed Bibi are partners in YouGotaGift.com, an online system for giving people presents. Sarah Dea / The National
Husain Makiya, left, and Abed Bibi are partners in YouGotaGift.com, an online system for giving people presents. Sarah Dea / The National

Husain Makiya and Abed Bibi founded the social gift-card platform YouGotaGift.com to tap into the growing market for online gift-giving. Mr Makiya, 41, a British Iraqi, and Mr Bibi, 48, a Palestinian Lebanese, are not new to start-ups and say that without their background it would have been tougher to break into the trend

What previous enterprises were you involved with?

Husain Makiya: I cofounded Zawya and managed its operations for over a decade before selling it to Thomson Reuters. I am now a partner in HoneyBeeTech (HBT) Ventures, where I direct start-ups.

Abed Bibi: I am also a partner at HBT Ventures. Earlier I was a partner and co-founder of Wolff Olins brand consultancy in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.

How does YouGotaGift.com work?

HM: Once you pick a gift card and amount from a top brand, you pay online and the receiver gets a gift code delivered via email or Facebook. You present the code to the cashier and redeem your gift. Currently, it can be redeemed only in the UAE. You are also alerted of your unredeemed gift cards within the validity period of one year. The minimum spend is Dh100. Our average transaction is Dh500. Also, we are a reseller of gift cards, and can use our solution for your brand.

What is your business model?

HM: We work on a revenue sharing basis. We make a commission of up to 20 per cent per transaction.

How is YouGotaGift.com different from others?

HM: Gift cards exist in some stores but the fundamental difference is that we bring convenience to consumers. With us, the card would be delivered to you by email or Facebook. Moreover, the mall cards have restrictions attached to it, such as they tell you which stores to go to. We add the personal element with a message and photos that add a whole new dimension.

AB: We are also developing group gifting. We have developed gifting for weddings where people can put money into a single prepaid gift card from Visa acceptable worldwide.

How many stores do you have on board already, and what is your target?

HM: We have 26 stores and by end of this year [plan to have] around 70 brands across all different segments. We are targeting 25,000 registered users by then. In nine months, we will launch in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar.

How do you choose the brands?

AB: By popularity, especially for the young.

How mature is the UAE market for online gift giving?

HM: People now have more means and have got used to convenience. So, there is a huge opportunity. The digital communication base is growing in the UAE with 80 million smartphone users and between 60 million and 70 million internet users.

AB: We live in a place full of expats. They would get it immediately. Cross border gifting is also something we are tapping into.

* Sananda Sahoo


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