(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) HI-TRAC: The author's shorthand for Happiness Index, Infrastructure, Talent, Regulations, Access and Capital. The six pillars that make UAE a great place for a startup. This week's article is about the access to markets from the UAE.
What do you do if you find yourself with a bit of time on your hands. Your choice is usually based on your mood, the options available in your budget and the company that you can find. More often than not it's difficult to coordinate all three factors. Consequently, streaming channels or sleep win the battle. Another weekend or evening spent binge-watching.
The global leisure business is massive. There are no clear statistics on this economy because it's fragmented. For the UK alone the numbers are at above $250 billion in revenue from direct and indirect sources (derived number based on an Oliver Wyman report from 2012).
While there are many sources of information about options for leisure, it would be pretty nifty if there was one which could actually contextualise recommendations based on your mood. And possibly link you up with others who would be up for the same experience.
Tapping in to this opportunity is UP4WHAT (www.up4what.com). Started up by Mohamed Kassem (Co-founder and CEO) and Joseph Wahba (Co-founder and CTO), this startup aims to target the estimated $13.2 billion F & B industry and the approximately $5 billion events economy in the UAE alone (figures supplied by UP4WHAT).
UP4WHAT is an in5 incubated startup. It was established in 2015 and is an online-based events and venue management platform that derives its revenues from charging fixed fees and/or commission from event organisers and venues that receive bookings through the UP4WHAT platforms.
The business development focus of UP4WHAT is currently 75 per cent on B2B (organisers and venues) and 25 per cent on B2C (end-users). Organisers and venue managers use the platform to manage operations and planning through an easy-to-use interface. The capabilities provided by the platform support key areas such as guest lists, event tickets, cashless payments, human resource management and data-driven insights and analysis.
Another unique aspect is the true creation of a platform that integrates a number of function specific collaborations that synergistically create multiplicative value. Through these integrations organisers and managers get a one-stop-shop portal that provides them with integrated services. This includes ticketing through MuchoTicket.com, venue bookings via ReserveOut, wellness and fitness in partnership with Xtreme Wake, luxury options via Xtreme Yachts & The Lavish Comfort, transportation options in sync with Careem and rewards capabilities from YouGotAGift.com.
The UP4WHAT app and online channels were launched in September 2016. Since then UP4WHAT has attracted significant investment interest and has generated strong revenues for a startup. Over 4,000 users have booked through UP4WHAT, attending over 30 events and venues.
UP4WHAT currently has a physical presence in the UAE and Egypt and the app is available in 12 cities, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Manama, Bahrain, Doha, Cairo, Sahel, Amman, Mykonos and more. The startup has a 18,000-strong followership across all online channels.
B2B partners include Sheraton Dubai Greek, Sandy Beach Resort, Blue Marlin Ibiza, Oxfam, MuchoTicket.com, Heineken Sandbox, Ushuaia and Kalua.
Kassem believes in the viability of the model. He says: "As societies become more digitalised and tech-savvy, the sustainability of our platform is almost guaranteed. Our main focus is on digital, F & B and events, all of which are growing sectors, particularly here in Dubai and hold huge growth potential for startups. We are particularly excited about rolling out cashless payment on-site for all sorts of different events. Thinking blue-sky, we would also love for our platform to encourage people to socialise more. We believe that making the process as quick and easy as possible and socialising the event discovery journey will help achieve that."
UP4WHAT's key differentiation versus competition is its combination of the element mood-based discovery, booking capability and the incorporation of the social component. Most other applications in this domain are basic discovery engines. The app is quickly gaining traction in geographies outside the UAE. Egypt is the first market that UP4WHAT has penetrated in addition to the availability of content from 14 cities. The application quickly adapts to the local market. Kassem and Wahba have learnt from the ability of applications like Uber and Careem which create markets and opportunities for participants as they expand in to new geographies. UP4WHAT unlocks access to a new pool of events, venues and customers as the app's footprint expands.
The company is managed by a team of highly-skilled and experienced experts with 70 years of combined experience in the tech, creative and commerce disciplines. Wishing them all the best in their expansion plans.
The writer is founding partner at BridgeDFS, a bespoke financial advisory firm (www.bridgeto.us). He's a digital banking and digital banking financial services evangelist, practitioner, advisor and consultant. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy. He can be contacted at