Day in the life: Dubai online classified company aims for e-commerce heights
Adham Saleh is the founder of EZHeights, an online classified company he launched nine months ago. The 29-year-old Egyptian, who grew up in the UAE, left the Emirates at the age of 17 to study pharmacy at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. There, he started his first business, an events company that catered to overseas students. In 2008, he moved to London to do an MBA and practised pharmacy for about a year. On a holiday in Dubai, he was offered a job with GlaxoSmithKline as marketing manager for Middle East and Africa. After a stint as managing director of an Iranian company, he decided to focus on starting his own businesses, first launching eZayedrealestate.com, a property auction site in 2013.
I’m a bit of an early bird. I spend some time walking around the house thinking and reflecting on the previous day: How I achieved my goals, what I could improve today, what I could have handled better?
I sit down and catch up on some emails. I have a cup of green tea and see what tasks I have to do, what my day looks like and what meetings I have.
I hit the pool for a few laps. Then, at 7.30am I have a quick breakfast of cereal – very rarely a fruit – and read the sports section and the news. Then it’s off to work. My house is at Jumeirah Village Triangle so it’s about 20 minutes to the office.
Every day I have a conference call with my team in India. I have a big team of about 60 employees there who do all my IT support, so every morning we have a proper catch-up and brainstorm. Working in the e-commerce business, every day you are trying to come up with new ideas that improve the user experience, make it more user-friendly and make it simpler. It’s not like a shop where you maybe redecorate every two years. With a website you have to keep improving it on a daily basis. With EZHeights, I am focusing on quality. We have a manual approval process so no ad can be posted without us looking into it, checking prices, checking pictures. It has to be to our standards.
We have about 20 employees in Dubai in sales, marketing, legal, accounting, admin and HR. I do a lot of teamwork, especially with my sales team – there’s a bit of micromanagement there. Every day the whole team sits down for about two hours and we discuss the problems and successes we have. Currently, EZHeights is only in English in the UAE. We are going to launch in Arabic very soon and Saudi is definitely a big market. But my next big launch will be in India.
I often skip lunch as I get so caught up in work. The rest of the day I spend handling marketing, quality control, customer care – which I really emphasise. I’m not just planning on having this business for year or two, I want it to be here in 30, 40-plus years, so I’m building strong foundations. I do a lot of meetings; sometimes outside the office but most of the time people come and see us.
If I don’t have any evening meetings or events to go to, I head home to have dinner with my wife. If I am not too tired I will cook – it’s one of my passions. I’m really into seafood; my favourite dish to cook is buttered poached lobster with home-made pasta. If I ever open a restaurant that will be my signature dish. If I’m out for an evening event, it can be all sorts: e-commerce events, networking, maybe something real estate-related such as a developer’s launch party. After dinner at home I watch some TV and clean the pool. I also produce my own music – but that’s usually on the weekends. I do a lot of fusion – Latin, salsa and Arabic music mixed with western base to make it lounge-y. On the weekends I have no work at all so I have quite a lot of time for myself and my wife. I work really, really hard during the week so that’s why I take a good break on the weekends, otherwise you burn out.
It’s lights out. I don’t read many books but if I do its mostly business books or biographies of successful people such as Richard Branson.
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Updated: August 1, 2015 04:00 AM