By: Dalia Mansour
In an energetic, lively, cozy and work-motivating atmosphere, and at a workspace that has playstation, colorful comfy couches and Ping-Pong table, MEO was honored to meet the mechanical engineer Mohamed Ewis, (Co-Founder, CFO) of Yaoota.com, who gave us a close-up on his creative startup and went through a motivating journey of success, yes, it’s a success story for being really one of the most promising e-commerce platforms created by Egyptian talents.
Yaoota.com is an online price comparison site, went live only in June 2014. Founded by 2 colleagues yet friends and partners Mohamed Owis and Sherif Alrakabawy.
How did you come up with your startup idea?
Sherif had the prototype for this project five years ago, and we worked hard to make this dream come true. The idea originated from solving the problem of discovering prices, so it is not unique in terms of technique because we are automating an index. It is just a tool to help people use technology the right way. It’s not different from a phonebook or a catalogue, but it’s a program that collects all the available prices of any product, as well as, the best prices in order to save effort and time.
Would you tell us about Yaoota magazine and guide?
When we started Yaoota, it was just a search engine for solving a certain problem, we evolved it to another helping tool and something that people trust. Thus, it is our responsibility to offer guidance when we are asked the questions of “what should I buy?” So we need to respond to users’ queries.
And because we pretty much cover all the stores in the market, we know that almost all the products are here, plus their catalogue and updates. Moreover, we keep track of checking what peer shoppers bought and recommended. We collect it all and offer it to shoppers in a form of a guide, then, they can read it and make their purchase decisions.
Do you count customers’ reviews as your main source of information?
It’s very difficult to filter reviews that customers provide, as they might have been paid for it. That’s why we never rely only on reviews. It is a research like in term of quality, and we ask for experts’ opinion.
Customers ask us questions like: Can you give me the best way to buy a cooker? or I have a problem buying a television! These may seem like trivial questions, but if you invest enough resources to answer them, you’ll end up having a reasonable guide for customers. That’s our different approach.
What if a user tried a product and has a negative feedback about it?
We are sincere and aim at credibility and trust, and our role is to reflect that. There is an internal quality system applied as well, so, if somebody happens to have a fake product or as known in Egypt ‘high copy’, we do not include these stores in our website. We have specific people responsible for checking the products before they go live, and when there is a negative experience about any store, it’s automatically taken off the website.
Are the prices always updated?
Definitely, our main target is credibility and accuracy as I said before. Prices are automatically updated as soon as the providing store modifies their price.
Do you only target the Egyptian market?
Yaoota currently serves 4 countries, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and eying Nigeria. We serve 1mn monthly online shoppers as of March 2017.
In Egypt we grew into the definite source of trustworthy shopping advice due to our objectivity with over 800k social shoppers relying on us along their shopping journey.
How do you get your revenue? Is it through traffic or per click?
We have the stores that we partner with, we work with them on partnership basis, which is based on either the traffic that we send them, or a cost per purchase transaction. The other way is to help them to broaden their business and online sales.
What are your measures of selecting the online stores if someone wants to get included in your index?
Every reliable online store is welcomed. Yaoota has a quality filter process for stores to come on board. In Egypt there are around 500 online stores, out of them we have only 100 or 120 stores who are currently with us.
What are the deadly mistakes of an entrepreneur?
We’re all humans and all humans are prone to mistakes.
Yet my tips are:
- Never give up on reluctant clients. Professional persistence is a key to success. Just test the water again after sometime.
- Never think that you’re always right.
What has been the greatest challenge you have faced?
The biggest challenge was finding top tech talent to recruit. We try to make our work environment as healthy as we can to enable our employees to grow and build their career, but unfortunately Europe and Germany specifically are aggressively pursuing the talented calibers. We had 4 or 5 engineers snatched up by German companies. Proudly Yaoota now has one of the best pool of software engineers in the world
What is your advice for young entrepreneurs to overcome their fear of starting a business?
Just do it.