Five Minutes With.. Abed Bibi And Husain Makiya, Co-founders, YouGotAGift.com

YouGotAGift.com’s co-founders discuss the inspiration for their gift card business, growth areas and plans to expand to regional and international markets.

Where did the idea for YouGotAGift.com come from?

Like many business ideas, YouGotAGift.com started out with us looking for a way to solve a problem. Two years ago, “The birthday girl told us through Facebook don’t bother to get me any gifts. Just get me gift cards for certain brands,” and with no time to go and get the gift card, we searched online to see if there was a way to buy one. Now here we are solving the issue for people living here that want convenience and those living abroad that would like to send their friends and loved ones gift cards on any occasion.

What do you consider to be your key growth areas?

We have three key growth areas, first the offering to the end user, convenience, social, from anywhere, across borders and much more. Second, corporate users or reward programmes for employees and loyalty programmes from banks, telcos and airlines. The system can track every transaction and knows where the card was spent, with a review and feedback on customer service for merchants.

Another growth area is B2C, which is not yet common in the region. We are now able to white label the solution in 24 hours and turn any shop, hypermarket or store into an e-commerce store for gift cards. They can have the e-gifting solution available in no time, it will generate more traffic for them and they can target their clients and push them to buy gift cards online. We have major clients like Virgin implementing the solution, and many other stores.

What have been some of the challenges of founding a business in the region?

At the start we had many challenges, and some still exist. First was how to educate the market and explain how we had a cool, fun and acceptable way to send a gift card to loved ones. We believe it is much more appropriate to give the choice to the receiver of the gift, this will enable him or her to choose what they like and want from a particular brand.

Next we had to to convey the convenience, allowing the user, let’s say before going to dinner with friends, to choose a gift card, select the design, write their message, upload a photo if they want and then schedule the date and time for it to be sent by SMS or email. The host can then receive the gift while opening his or her door to the buyer, while the buyer saves a trip to the mall and the hassle of choosing the wrong gift.

We know it is challenging to change the gifting culture, but as we speak more and more people are using our site and feeling the convenience, and we are happy with the repeat customers.

As we grow now into other countries more challenges are appearing, but our transactions are growing fast, people like to gift and online employee rewards are becoming a trend in every corporation, it is a multi million-dollar business.

Do you have any expansion plans?

We have an expansion plan that we have already started implementing. We are now in Lebanon, Qatar, KSA, and on the way to Kuwait, Bahrain and soon London and Singapore.

Are there any plans to seek additional funding?

As we grow, yes we may need additional funding. We can now achieve growth faster and expect a quicker return on investment.

Are you hiring?

Yes we are always hiring while expanding. Our motto is “keep hungry, keep foolish” and we are in the need of smart, innovative, and hardworking staff who feel ownership and have an entrepreneurial mentality.

What is your leadership style?

We like empowering employees and encourage them to enjoy work and have fun. We want them to be innovative, make mistakes (but not repeat the same ones), help their colleagues and love what they do, while doing what they love.

In my spare time I like to…?

In our spare time we like to search for art pieces, visit galleries, listen to music and read Rumi or Shams Tabriz poems, we also enjoy weekend sports and the beach.