The digital gold rush has been under way for quite some time. To ensure their relevance in the ever-changing digital economy, tech entrepreneurs spend hours and days adding new tools and multiple functions to their digital products, often dubbed ‘the first-of-their-kind’. However, few question the real value their products offer to customers.
Not so Omran Yousef, founder and CEO of Idea Prodigies, a Dubai-based software development company.
During his illustrious career in the customer service industry, spanning from banking, wealth management, and retail to property development, Yousef witnessed time and again the detrimental effects of this digital noise on both customers and business. This is why MyHUBBER, an app that offers all-in-one rewarding, social, shopping experience, was born.
“I took only parts of the existing apps that people actually use on a daily basis, such as chat, comment, share, and so on, and merged them into one app. In addition to that, everything is geo-located,” Yousef explains. “But having said that, if you tell me that they all already exist and that I just merged them, I can say that I made it very unique because I also merged du, Etisalat, DEWA, Salik, and similar.
“Everything that you actually use the app for, regardless of whether you purchase something or just post, the points that you earn here are different. This is not one of those loyalty programmes where you have to spend a huge amount of money in order to get small change. No. As soon as you get 10 points on MyHUBBER, that means AED10.
“I do not have any tricks. Our points are automatically cash for you, your savings, which you can immediately use to pay DEWA, Salik, or something else.”
Yousef explains that today’s customers look for faster, better, more efficient ways to manage their busy lives, but end up jumping between devices and mobile apps. MyHUBBER, with its six features, is conceptualised to allow them to connect with everything from one place.
The official launch of MyHUBBER is this month, but that has not stopped more than 20,000 local merchants from already coming on board. One meeting with Yousef was enough. “Most SMEs are struggling in the market today,” Yousef says, adding that the app can be easily integrated with any third party system. “They can hardly bear the cost of their rent, for example. Also, most big players have closed a couple of branches. Why? Because they just need to save at the moment.
“This is what we offer to all of them. If we look at medium-sized companies, for example, they all have a budget of around 10 percent to 15 percent of their gross sales from the last year to inject into marketing for the next year. What happens is that out of this money they do not get that much income. It is because for all those 10,000 or 20,000 messages that they pay to be sent out, they do not get any profiling system. Why should they buy a database from some company when half of the contacts are from tourists?
“I have created that now. With our dashboard, a merchant can choose the target audience according to the criteria they select, such as male, female, age, area of the UAE, nationality, and similar. Once you submit your preferences, my system sends a message only to those users that you have selected. Not anyone random.
“So, I am both saving them marketing budget and I am facilitating the kind of reach that they have always had difficulties to achieve. We can now reach their right audience.”
The valuable insights come from Yousef patiently conducting two years of in-depth research, discovering gaps in the market, learning by trial and errors, and listening to the needs of his future customers. For that reason, he explains, the app was fully developed in-house. “Nothing has been outsourced,” he says. “We have built every single code from scratch. There is nothing that we have used from a third party. That is why everyone is asking me why it took me two years to do that. Because it is a huge app.
“I have been posting images on Facebook and Snapchat daily just to show to people what is happening in our company so that no one can say that I have taken this or that from an outsider. Most people announce something as a first Dubai-based company and then later on they admit that it was outsourced. Everything I have has been developed here.”
Furthermore, the extensive research and development efforts, happening simultaneously with building the app, served an additional purpose – to ensure that each feature of the app corresponds to actual market demands. “I did not want to reach the launch with something that is already out of trend,” Yousef explains. “I wanted to make sure that the system is built in a way that whenever something new happens in the market, we can quickly adjust and develop it.
“One example is our scan camera that opens from the side menu and allows a MyHUBBER to take a photo. The photo can then be turned into a video, showing that this or that shop has a sale going on or similar. Also, because of our HubNearby option, the app sends you a message where that shop is. If you don’t like to receive those, I have made an option to turn it off. So, you can search manually which merchant is having a sale or similar today. Therefore, MyHUBBER is the first classifieds app with which you can not only post an image, but also post a video.
“We also have an e-receipt. In case a MyHUBBER loses the receipt, the transaction has already been verified between the three – user, merchant, and our admin. The most important reason why I built this is because it enables the system to produce a full analytical report.”
MyHUBBER is supported by AJSM Investments, an investment firm founded by HH Sheikh Saeed bin Obaid Al Maktoum in 2012.
The renowned company recently announced its strategic approach to investing in technology and supporting local entrepreneurs. Less than a year later, it is celebrating the launch of MyHUBBER, one of its first technology investments. Yousef reveals the reason behind this success. “You can talk to an investor and explain all of this to him, and if he does not get it, he will nevertheless expect you to make him money quickly,” he says. “But Sheikh Saeed understands what technology is, he has gadgets that are still not in stores in Dubai. He has added so much value to our project, he grabbed two or three of our mistakes. He really believes in technology.“
With a wide range of local merchants and companies on board, the MyHUBBER team is already eyeing expansion into Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.
However, Yousef’s goals are much bigger.
“Our journey is just starting, but I dream that all GCC operators will use MyHUBBER as a compulsory app,” he concludes.
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