David Tobias, Founder, VoucherSkout shares with us his view about entrepreneurship, being an entrepreneur himself and unveils details of his innovative mobile application delivering 50% discounts at leading hospitality, entertainment and wellness venues.
According to you, what does the entrepreneurial ecosystem bring to the economic development of a country?
I prefer to think of entrepreneurs as individuals rather than the collective “ecosystem”. Just the word ecosystem in my view has become cliched and therefore an anathema to the “entrepreneurial spirit”. Successful entrepreneurs are innovators, risk takers, rebellious by nature, and the antithesis of anything vaguely resembling a cliche. Entrepreneurs risk capital (theirs and / or others), to introduce new products and services into economies, which in turn creates jobs, and increases competition through innovation. As we all know, competition is healthy, with consumers usually the ones benefiting most as a result.
The ecosystem, as a collective, (even though I don’t like the phrase), is fundamental to the dynamism of any country’s economy. A 2015 report from the World Economic Forum found a relatively small number of breakout companies were the dominant contributors to a healthy, early-stage company sector, across most economies. Indeed, in the survey of over 350,000 companies, all founded within the last 5 years, the top 10% contributed a massive 84% of total sector revenues.
Of course, it doesn’t just stop there either; the results for job creation followed a near identical pattern. In short, entrepreneurs, and therefore the ecosystem, deliver increased choice to consumers, create jobs and employment for the economy, and in turn generate wealth for themselves, often which gets reinvested all over again in other new ventures.
How would you assess entrepreneurship in the UAE?
I think entrepreneurship in the UAE is thriving. You only have to take a look out of the window and see how many of our “home grown” brands, all beginning as meagre startups, are absolutely thriving today. Seeing these success stories in such abundance, undoubtedly gives entrepreneurs the confidence to take risks.
That said, I think there could be more done to encourage entrepreneurs to take the plunge here. Being able to setup a company and have a trade license issued without the need for commercial office space would be helpful. Subsidized utility and telecom costs during a company’s first 2 years of operations would also be useful. I think business internet costs, and utility rates more generally, are unduly excessive here, and merely place an unnecessary burden on startups, at the one time when they most need help.
This sector is always associated with innovation; how would you explain that?
There are essentially three ways any company can compete in a market. The first is on price; to be cheaper than the competition, but that’s usually a one-way street to insolvency. The second is to be better than the competition, providing a superior product or at least delivering it with higher service levels. The third, and by far the most effective, is to innovate. This means ripping up the rulebook on a current business model and really discovering a whole new way of doing of things. Ten years ago, who would have predicted the largest taxi operator on the planet (Uber) wouldn’t own a single car, or that the biggest trader of hotel rooms (booking.com), wouldn’t own a single hotel. That for me is what entrepreneurship is all about. It’s about tearing up the conventional business models and finding a whole new and improved way of doing things. If it’s not disruptive, it’s not really changing anything, and that makes it hard to dislodge the incumbent players. This sector has to innovate in order to be disruptive and that’s why innovation is the very heart of this sector.
What is the concept behind the mobile app you will be launching soon in the UAE?
VoucherSkout is a mobile application delivering 50% off discounts at leading hospitality, entertainment and wellness venues. Our premise is simple: 50% off the best the UAE has to offer.
VoucherSkout builds on the fundamental difference between percentage based discounts and 2 for 1. The 2 for 1 model incentivizes consumers to spend less to maximize their savings. In contrast, a percentage based discount actively encourages consumers to spend more. VoucherSkout turns strangers into customers, empty seats into revenue, and encourages consumers to enjoy more, more often.
What are the main features of VoucherSkout?
VoucherSkout hand-picks the UAE’s best, to be part of their merchant partner program. In turn, partners enjoy free membership, with no inclusion fees, revenue shares, advertising or other hidden charges.
For our users, VoucherSkout is free to download and comes packed with 50% off discounts. Users pay-as-they-go for the discounts they actually want; rather than pre-purchasing bundles of vouchers, many of which they may never use. We do this through a straightforward “in app” purchase at the time the user is receiving his discounted bill at one of our many participating merchant outlets.
We have created the first business model in this sector where consumer and merchant both win. The consumer gets 50% off discounts, often on their entire bill – not just their main meal. The merchant gets free footfall and loyal customers, provided for free by our extensive marketing channels.
Can you share with us details about the companies, restaurants, hotels you will partnering with?
Currently, we are focusing on the region’s 5 star hotels, there are two reasons for this:
- 5 star hotels and experiences are synonymous with Dubai and the UAE and really highlight our “best the UAE has to offer”.
- We want people to enjoy more – If a consumer can go to a 5 star hotel, enjoy pool and beach access, a spa and all their meals for the day at 50% off, that is a happy customer. We call it a day-cation, the perfect way for families to relax in Dubai on a weekend.
We have signed multiple outlets from multiple locations with many more in the sales funnel. We have signed a number of hotels from the following brands: Rixos, Sheraton, Oberoi, Pullman, Novotel, Ibis, Crowne Plaza & Hyatt. In addition, we have some extremely exciting upmarket independent outlets at the DIFC, and Souq Al Bahar.
Last but not least, we have also locked in a vast selection of quality restaurants and many high end day spas and tour operators.
What is your modus operandi to become a leader in your field?
That’s simple, we have to always keep innovating, constantly searching for ways of improving our product and doing things better. The beginning of the end for any organization like ours, is when we sit back and think “mission accomplished”. We must never allow ourselves to fall victim to that kind of mindsets. An obsession with constantly striving to improve, innovate and be the very best at what we do, must be our mantra and engraved in our DNA.
About David Tobias
David Tobias is the Founder of VoucherSkout. An experienced advertising professional with over 25 years Gulf based experience, 20 of which as Managing Director of Dubai based Acumen Advertising.
Equipped with a significant amount of entrepreneurial flair, and a proven track record of success both in and outside the advertising industry.