EP 296 – Ameer Jumabhoy – co-Founder at utu – We Recast Tax-Free Shopping as a Country Reward

by | Oct 4, 2023

The Asia Tech Podcast hosted ⁠Ameer Jumabhoy⁠, a co-founder of ⁠utu⁠, founded with the singular vision of enhancing the benefits of tax-free shopping and going beyond the savings of tax refunds for travelers.

Some of the topics that Ameer covered:

  • The evolution of tax-free shopping and utu‘s tech twist
  • VAT or GST refunds to upsize purchases and provide valuable experiences to tourists
  • The challenges of building complex digital wallets in the context of cross-border travel
  • The importance of superior customer experiences in luxury retail
  • The benefits of tax-free shopping for countries and the power of rewards

Some other titles we considered for this episode, but ultimately rejected:

 
  1. Unlocking Value: Tax-Free Shopping and the Rewards Revolution
  2. Revolutionizing the Travel Retail Experience
  3. The Intersection of Technology, Travel, and Rewards
  4. Leaning on Our Experience in Uncharted Waters
Read the best-effort transcript

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:05
Okay, let’s do this. Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. We are joined today by Ameer Jumabhoy. If I got that wrong, corrected for me, a co founder at utu, I do love the name. We can talk about it a bit, but I do love the name. You know, maybe Bono is going to join you guys like I don’t know, maybe you need to get

Ameer Jumabhoy 0:25
more like we’d probably get a lawsuit from Bono. No, no. So the name The name actually means ‘reward’ in Maori, right? So I love palindromes. And when we were trying to find the name for the company, my dad and I were like racking our brains and we couldn’t find anything. And I said, You know what, I’m just gonna go and Google Translate and like, find something and means reward. And then we chanced upon this. It has a double meaning, which we’ve only found out a few years later, but I think it might be a bit too dirty to say on your podcast. Let us on do that.

Michael Waitze 0:56
But I also like palindromes as well, I think it’s a really neat part of almost any language, you just have the similar sounds and something in the middle, right? It’s really super cool. Anyway, yeah. Let’s get some of your background now for a little bit of context.

Ameer Jumabhoy 1:09
Sure. So firstly, again, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here. I’m from Singapore. Born born here, I grew up here served in my national service over here. And then I went to the US for my undergrad. I was in Houston at Rice University in Texas. So did a bachelor’s in political science. And then I got really homesick, I had a great job offer from a private wealth management company, in the oil and gas sector. But at that time, my dad was going through a bout of chemo. So I wanted to kind of come home and and now he’s he’s doing great right now. In fact, he’s probably in better shape than than me but but but you know, I wanted to be home with family. So I turned on the office, I had came back to Singapore, got some great job offers from big tech. But I really wanted to work with my dad, he’s always been sort of an inspiration for me. And so I turned down those opportunities. So he said, Fine, if you’re not going to work anywhere, then you better report to the office on Monday. So I worked with him for two years, I didn’t work for him, I worked for another manager in a sales role. But I really started to understand the guts of the tax free business from that experience. And I’m sure we’ll go into to tax free as we talk through this podcast. After two years, I said, Look, I want to upskill myself, you know, digital technology, customer facing technology is starting to become really important. And it’s just not something that’s coming up in our industry. So I shut myself off back to the US. For my MBA at MIT. I focused on entrepreneurship and innovation was a brief crypto evangelist. And I’m an expert. Everybody was. And I’m a retired crypto evangelist. And, you know, when I came back, we started you, too. It’s a company that focuses on rewards, but we look at a very specific niche of it. We started by, you know, playing with technology that looked at local rewards, but realize that our heritage and expertise has always come in cross border travel travel, specifically in tax free shopping. So what we do is we really recast the concept of tax free shopping as a country reward. Right? Where governments are really saying, you know, come and shop in my country, and I’ll give you back your tax your VAT or GST as a refund, as an incentive for you to shop in my country. So that’s why we came up with this concept of country rewards. So we’ve taken the traditional tax free business model and reversed it into a rewards engine.

Michael Waitze 3:36
Can you talk about how the tax free business actually works for people that aren’t super familiar with it? Right, like everybody travels, everybody pays taxes in countries they see the duty free shops in the in the airport. And frankly, there’s a counter there, right? So there’s some shops you know, this in Thailand and Singapore, wherever you travel, even out in about in the country, and it says they’re tax free to you get a receipt, but then you kind of have to check in right you have to go through immigration, go through security and then go to a counter somewhere. And then they’re also this this requirement if I remember correctly, because I don’t do it that often anymore, where you actually have to have the product and show them like see I bought this thing I don’t just have the receipt. Can you talk to me how what you’re doing kind of disintermediate a bunch of those steps or where you look to attack it because I find this a fascinating, fascinating business.

Ameer Jumabhoy 4:23
Yeah, so So let me just make a distinction. There’s tax free and there’s duty free so duty free is really after you pass immigration. So you’ll see big operators like do freaking power. Hindman does the guys who kind of take on the retail component after immigration. Tax Free really happens downtown. So let’s say you as Michael go to Italy, you go to Milan you buy a bag from Prada, right. And in Europe, they charge about 20% Vat VAT is value added tax. In Singapore we call that GST Goods and Services Tax. So I’m going to keep saying VAT because it’s more common, but it’s interchangeable and the whole concept of The refund was government started to say that look, if a container ship came up and picked up 1000 Louis Vuitton bags and left my country, it would be treated as VAT exempt. It’s very similar if an Airbus A 380. With 1000 people on board, each one picked up a Louis Vuitton bag, they’re eventually going to leave. But while they’re in the country, they’re staying in my hotels, shopping in my shops eating at my restaurants. So there’s a tourism multiplier effect that comes from the tourists dollar. So the whole concept was to say that if we can treat the individual tourist as an individual exporter, we start to become more attractive as a country that people want to visit, whether it’s for shopping, but we see benefits accrue throughout the entire tourism ecosystem. So that’s how the taxi industry really started. And it was a very cottage industry. I mean, my dad has always been traditionally in the tourism space, he was a perfume retailer in Changi Airport. And he was approached by these three Swedish guys who came to him and said, Look, you know, there’s a thing called VAT refunding in Europe, Singapore’s thinking of doing a GST refund, would you like to work with us and roll it out here. So my dad borrowed, you know, 100,000 bucks from my mom, which was her whole life savings, put it into this business. And they merged it, and they call the business global refund. Today, that business is known as global blue. And global blue is the number one tax free operator worldwide. So my dad has sort of seen the industry grow from Genesis, you know, he signed up many of the brands that still have contracts and global blue, he signed those original contracts back in like the late 90s. So we’ve got about 25 years of knowledge in the space to talk about the process. And what you’re saying is absolutely right, that, you know, there is some level of process at the airport. And it goes back to that concept that the customs guys need to see that you are exporting that good out of the country. So the reason why they asked you to show your goods, etc, is to make sure that you’re taking it out your tax free form that you show them and they stamp is nothing more than export documentation.

Michael Waitze 7:03
I didn’t know that this is really, really interesting. So I’m learning something. And I think most people don’t understand this at all. Can I just go back to this just to make it more explicit? If you don’t mind? Yeah, please love this image, you have of like saying, if a container ship comes in, grabs these 1000 bags, right? They’re just exporting stuff. And there’s nothing different between an airplane with 1000 people and an A 380, which is a great airplane, by the way, flies into Milan or flies into Paris. And then those 1000 people take those same 1000 bags and leave there in a way they’re exporting back to themselves. Self export. Yeah,

Ameer Jumabhoy 7:34
exactly. Exactly. So you know, that is that process of the airport, I think those processes will eventually become digitized. And I think we’re starting to see that movement happen. I think where there has been a bit of friction in our space, is, you know, and if you could permit me to use a very simple numerical example, right? I’m gonna use easy round numbers. You know, you buy a bag for 2000 euros VAT rate is 20%. So government’s saying, Look, Michael, you can get back 400 euros. If you go through this process, then you’re only really getting a fraction of that. And I think this is really where majority of the customer complaints come in, you know, a wider have to stand in line. Okay, assuming digitization takes care of that won’t be a problem in five years time. But to why do I get such a little amount of my refund? Yeah, why is that? So you know, there’s just a huge amount of processing fees that get charged by various stakeholders and the anatomy of a refund. If I were to go into it, we could probably do a, you know, a Harvard case study on it. But um, but but but trust me on this one that a sizable chunk gets taken out in fees. Where we come in is we started our lives by saying, look, let’s try and disrupt that process. But going through disruption, we realize if you’re disrupting somebody has to lose from that disruption, right? Yeah. And that’s probably not the best way to make friends and influence people

Michael Waitze 8:53
is to take stuff away from them.

Ameer Jumabhoy 8:56
So we said, Look, is there a way where we can introduce products that do not make anybody worse off? Realizing that there’s serious market inefficiency in the refund process? Can we take control of the entire value chain and supersize it for everybody? Okay, so the two products that we have that do this, and let me let me detail them. The first one is a product we’re calling utu privileges. Okay, and let’s go back to that bag example out of that 400 euros you’re getting about 240. Okay, and this 240 euros is leaving the shop and leaving the country. Okay, you’re taking it back home to Bangkok, Singapore, whoever you’ve come from, you’re taking that back home with you. We’re saying look, rather than just buying that bag, so can I get you to buy the wallet as well? Right and in order to get you to buy the wallet, I need to give you an incentive, synonym for incentive reward. So I’m going to say so you know, lovely bag, this 240 Euro refund. I’m going to give it to you as a 480 Euro tourist privilege. If you spend it with me again, and you’re going to say how much is the wallet? I’m going to say so you know, it’s a 600 Euro Wallet. So you just have to top up this little amount, are you okay to do that? Right. And so what I’ve just done is I’ve helped the shop to sell more. Okay, I’ve helped you to have a phenomenal shopping experience. The VAT refund operator chosen by the shop is not worse off. Because now instead of processing fees on just the bag, they’re also processing fees on the wallet. And government is also happy because money is being recycled in the local ecosystem,

Michael Waitze 10:35
as opposed to me taking it back to Singapore or taking it back to Bangkok or taking it back to New York, right. So you basically take the money that would have been my refund and turn it into more GDP per capita for that country where it’s meant to be bought. Yeah.

Ameer Jumabhoy 10:47
Correct. But also providing you with with a delightful experience and you feeling like you got tremendous value from your trip abroad, which is, you know, all of us want to have a good good holiday, right? Yeah. So that’s the first product and that goes live. By the time this podcast is released, I’m sure I would have put something out on LinkedIn. But we’re launching this in five countries before the end of the year. So you know, that’s how I’ve been traveling like a bit of a crazy person. The second product is our utu airmiles product. And what we have on our app is a virtual Visa card. And today, many people are choosing to get the tax refunded to a credit card or you know, a revolute card or whatever kind of card you have, right versus taking physical cash. So what we’re seeing is look rather than nominating say your you know, Bangkok bank card or your you know, Chase card or your DBS bank card as your refund method, nominate are you to tax free visa card to receive your refund, and we’ll upsize you up to 40% more of the value in airmiles. So, going back to that example of the 240 cash refund, right, I’m going to give you, you know a huge amount more, if you choose to take that in the form of KrisFlyer miles or Emirates miles or Qatar Airways miles or a core hotel points. So we built up a great ecosystem of partners that so so think about the two products we have that add value. One is while you’re shopping in store. The second one is when you’re getting your refund, processed by the refund operator as per normal, we can upsize you in both cases, instead of getting a 60% refund to 40 out of the 400 that you’re getting today. I’m actually giving you 160% refund because you can do both the tourists privilege and the miles up sighs

Michael Waitze 12:31
Yeah, there are really two questions here for me. Um, there are more, but I want to cover these two first, how do you benefit from what global Blue has been doing for the past 25 years? I’m just picking a number, right? And then more importantly, what had to change technologically to actually make this possible? Because this was theoretically possible 20 years ago. But what was the change that you saw your dad saw where you went? Oh, you know what? We can actually disintermediate this was it the building of the revolute business was it building of the TransferWise business where they did all this sort of interesting finance. We call it like FinTech stuff, didn’t mean like what had to change.

Ameer Jumabhoy 13:08
So I think on one hand, it was a mental shift within our company to say that look, led global blue LED planet led all these other tax refund operators, they do their job in refunding tax, and they do a good job in that let them continue doing that. Right. We want to build products on top of that infrastructure, because there’s still a tremendous amount of unlocked value. The second thing is, I think the benefit of experience, if you really think about what our business model is, it’s about smooshing together, the knowledge of rewards, with the knowledge of tax free, yeah. And something that, you know, I really do admire about my dad, which is why I’ve always tried to learn from him. And now as a co founder, it’s a different dynamic, but the learning doesn’t stop. Right Is that Yeah, he he is somebody with a lot of vision. And he has a lot of vision within our industry, which is, again, a niche industry, but sizable enough. So I think it’s one a mental shift in the company to leaning on his experience and vision. And three, I think it was really that when the tax refund industry started 25 years ago, you may not have had a mobile phone, and probably I don’t even think mobile phones existed and right, it’s probably pages still. So the tools were not there to actually engage the customer. There was no tools to be able to facilitate, you know, these kinds of interactions of upselling to the tourists providing a delightful shopping experience. Now with mobile technology, all of these things have started to come together very nicely. And I think the pandemic as well gave us the time to really dig deep and find an identity within ourselves to say that, you know, let’s chart, you know, through an uncharted territory, let’s go through Blue Ocean, versus trying to do a disruption story. Let’s create new products that nobody’s doing, because we’re the only people who know how to do that.

Michael Waitze 14:58
You can do So does the YouTube app have a digital wallet associated with it? Because I agree with you, I think all this stuff is going to happen on I’m going to use phone is just a metaphor for whatever that device is you’re carrying in your pocket, right? Does it happen digitally? Now, you know what I mean? Because like you said, before, you’d go into a store, then you’d fill out this, which we didn’t know before. It was like export documentation. But now you could probably just QR code the whole thing directly into my wallet. And even if I’m going to take advantage of these rewards immediately, if I have a digital wallet, that can track and record all this stuff it’ll even make when I go through and have to report all this stuff. But if I decide to do that, 1000 times easier. How does the app itself work? If you can just run me through that? Because then there’s a follow on to that that I think is maybe even more interesting, but go ahead.

Ameer Jumabhoy 15:44
So right now we’re trying to figure out the licensing around wallets. The thing around wallets today is that they tend to be very domestic, right? So for example, so you know, your grab wallet can only sort of be used within even Singapore, I don’t even think I can use many features of my grab wallet, even within Southeast Asia. Yeah, exactly. Okay, I could be wrong on that. But I do know that every country sort of has its own wallet ecosystem. To build a cross border travel wallet is fairly complicated. Yeah. So while we’re in the process of doing that the way the app works, and if I were to go back to this 2000 Euro bag example, what we do is there’s an interaction between the shop and your app. So you have the YouTube user app, and we issue the shop with a YouTube partner app, just like how you have an Uber driver, we use our app, the YouTube Partner app can issue and redeem the YouTube privilege benefits for the tourists. Right. And what we tell the tourist is look, because that VAT refund money has to be refunded by a verified VAT refund operator, right? I’m going to charge you to get the benefit of that 480 YouTube privilege, I’m going to charge you via the YouTube app, the 240 that 240 You go and claim back from global blue or planet or whoever it is? And I’d prefer you claim that back to the EU tax free card. So I can also give you my mouse upsides, right. So that’s sort of how the interaction between privileges and Miles works. But you’re absolutely right in saying that, you know, if we could figure out how we could manage sort of the cross border wallet concept, it would make things a lot smoother. I think one more thing I’d say is, you know, we have the benefit of being born in a very modern age, I think the tax free industry, because of where it’s come from, has had so many stakeholders to deal with the bad government, they’ve got retailers, and they’re very clear that the end customer for them is the retail community, right, we’re very clear that our end customer is the tourist. So, you know, I think the focus is very different. And I think the fact that we’re born in a digital age gives us that ability to think in a mobile first way.

Michael Waitze 17:51
Your end customers, the tourists, right? The guy and the gal that are getting on a plane and going somewhere in shopping. But in the same way that grab has, you know, guys like I am to get into the car, the other sort of stakeholder is let’s just say the driver. And in the same way, you’re building this two sided app, those stores, in my mind also feel like they’re your customers, right? Because they’re using your app to facilitate more sales. In one way you’re becoming a distribution channel for their products, right? Because because you’re giving the benefit. And you’re giving them the technological ability to give that benefit instantaneously to your client. They’re like just the flip side of your client. And if you if you think about it that way, it actually unlocks a bunch of other opportunities that we can talk to talk about in a second. But I’m just curious what you think about that, at some level?

Ameer Jumabhoy 18:40
I think you’re absolutely right. And I think that where we started the business before we launched utu privileges was with our mild partners. And I think you know, what I will say is every airline, and every hotel group that signed on, to work with us, is extremely forward thinking in the way they think about serving their customer in the way they think about creating opportunities that generate loyalty, right? So we actually started with the customers and saying that, look, let’s address a wide range of customers to be able to show them they can be rewarded in a way that works for them. Yeah, then it becomes a lot easier to go to the store, right? Because you can say that, look, I’m working with all these great partners, they really believe in what we’re doing. Why don’t you guys join on for the in store shopping experience and be a beneficiary to Right, right. It’s a new paradigm shift in the way you think about shopping tax free worldwide. But you know, there needs to be, I think a general acceptance and it’s been education period. And that’s what that’s what I’ve been doing right now is spending a lot of my time working with brands working with retailers, giving them insights into how the world is going to change in this industry.

Michael Waitze 19:46
So one of the things that I’ve learned a lot about recently, right, it’s there’s a ton of focus and I think technology enables this right so there’s a big opportunity as well and let me get to it in a second. I want to know what you think there’s a whole idea around customer experience how How do we make the customer experience better? But then the flip side of that is the thing that I’ve just introduced is how do I make my partnership experience better. And I think that companies like yours that focus on both sides of that if you focus on the partnership experience as well. And think of them as like, not your customers, but really like they’re your business partners, almost like their internal, if you can nail the PX, right, which is what people are starting to call it, then you’ve really, like I said, you’ve unlocked some other stuff. I want to know if you think about yourself as a fintech.

Ameer Jumabhoy 20:31
I think there are elements of FinTech in what we do. But you know, I was sitting with a very significant retailer yesterday in Bangkok, for lunch, and what we were saying to each other, you know, we came to a very common place where we said, look, technology is great. And technology enables optimization for in store experiences, cuts down waiting times, and all of that. But the essence of our business is still that retail community. And that is a very people business completely. Now, I could have done yesterday’s meeting on Zoom, it would have been very possible to do that. But I don’t think the impact of the discussion we had yesterday at lunch would have been as much if I hadn’t actually gone there, right? It is a very people business, the essence of it is still, if you think about tax free shopping, a lot of it is still in the space of luxury, right? And with luxury, you know, why do people pay a premium to buy automobiles that have hand stitched? Steering wheels? Right, you do it because there is that perception that this is quality, and with quality? There’s a personalization aspect. And it’s so important to I can’t stress enough how important that is, especially in this business. So I’ve actually told my sales teams, you guys are not salespeople, you actually relationship managers. Sadly,

Michael Waitze 21:44
we talked about actually doing this recording in person. Right? Yeah. And it makes such a big difference. And I always say that people make visceral connections with other people. We talked about this during our prep call, the idea that everything is happening virtually now I think, is really going to backup more, because people know, when they’re done. Like, I want to shake your hand, I want to pat you on the back. You know what I mean?

Ameer Jumabhoy 22:06
Michael, look, Zoom has called people back to the office zoom. Please don’t come to the office is now calling people back to the office. So look, I think, you know, I do think at some level, you know, digitizations, great flexibility is great. I think this is these are all things that needed to happen. But at the end of the day, I still believe that fundamentally, we’re all social creatures, and we all value one another and we all value, the benefit of interaction. Absolutely. Now it doesn’t need to happen every day. But you know, two or three times a week is great. Or more, I agree completely, more or more,

Michael Waitze 22:42
I want to introduce a concept to you. And then I want to see what you think. You talked about hand stitched steering wheel leather, which I love, by the way, and I got on my last car, so I completely bought it. I love it. When you’re buying luxury products, right? When you’re traveling on the A 380 And you’re going to Milan or you’re going to Paris, you’re buying things that are expensive, right? The lot of the a lot of the tax free stuff, you’re right, you’re exporting things, because you want to buy them in Paris, it just feels better, right? But they’re also very valuable. And the reason why I asked you about the FinTech earlier was that whole world is changing so rapidly. And part of the FinTech experience is actually ensuring your goods so that you feel safe when you buy them. You may may, you may or may not have considered this. But the YouTube app is actually the perfect place to embed insurance in that luxury, good transaction. It’s just another way for you to make your customers happy because that’s where the customer joy comes from. Not only did I buy this, but now I feel safe with it. And it’s not just somebody stealing it or losing it. It could get damaged. Someone could spill coffee on it. I once bought a really expensive pair of gloves. And then the waiter literally like Oh, accidentally dropped coffee on it. Oh, no. Yeah, no, I’m not a I’m not the type of guy that gets really mad. Like, I thought it was funny because I felt so bad for the waitstaff, right? Because I know at some level, the restaurant could punish him for that. And that made me really sad. But it’s an accident. Yeah, it’s an accident, I completely get it. But again, back then there was no way to embed insurance in those gloves, but you’re dealing in this whole industry, and the insurance is a trillion dollar industry, or more. And if you if you consider them another one of your partners and built a good partnership experience with them, you may find it’s another value added service that you can offer inside the YouTube app. That’s why I asked you if you thought about yourself as a fintech. Sorry, go ahead.

Ameer Jumabhoy 24:37
You know, you’re absolutely right in saying that where our product could go is to become multi service for tourists, right, especially when they’re shopping tax free for expensive items. But what really happened to us is we actually launched our first version of the YouTube tax free app in Okay, imagine the timing on this right November 2019. Okay, and November 2019, and we’re like You know, we’d work two years, we built all the, you know, back end systems, etc. And then eight weeks later, like the world shuts down, right. And so we really struggled through COVID, we took a very tough decision, over COVID, that whatever money we had raised pre COVID would go into keeping our staff employed. Yeah, which meant going to market would be extremely tough when COVID ended. And that’s exactly how it played out. It’s not been an easy ride at all. And it takes me back to a lot of my lessons at MIT, which, you know, they were saying that look, solve one problem, fix the problem, get it right, and then move to the next thing, I see us still being very much at the beginning of the travel retail journey, you know, and there’s so many things we want to do, right? There’s talking to the retailers with the YouTube privileges, and say, the tourist doesn’t want to spend the shop, we’re talking to duty free operators spend it there, right, the miles program has, you know, a huge number of airlines and partners to sign up. So So I want to get this concept of get more Yeah, from your travel shopping, I want to I want to really solve that double down on that show that we have the capability to lead in that aspect. And then what I want to do is I want to add on, you know, the flight bookings and hotel bookings, and insurance, and all of that can come afterwards. But I gotta nail my core business. But you’re absolutely right. I mean, I think that that’s very astute of you to realize, like what the potential is, I just think we’re not ready for it yet. You’re too fast for me. You’re too fast for

Michael Waitze 26:28
it. That’s my job. My job is to think like that your job is right is to get the first product, whatever it is nail it. Because that’s how you build in the same way. That you you just you made a decision when you were building the company COVID happened, you said, look, we’ve raised this money. But we don’t want to lose all our employees. And in the same way that when somebody spilled coffee on my on my gloves, it wasn’t really his fault or my fault. And I didn’t want him to get in trouble in the same way that you did the same thing with your employees. You said, look, COVID is nobody’s fault. Yeah, and you’ve dedicated yourself to building this stuff together, we’re not going to kill everybody, we’re going to let everybody go just because some exogenous factor happened. And in that way you build loyalty. So the next time you ask your staff to go above and beyond, they’ll do it happily, because you’ve done it for them. And in the same way, when you build a product, as long as you get that product, right and nail it, then your users, your customers as well will go, Well, the next product is going to be pretty amazing, too. Right? I think that’s how you build that loyalty into it. No?

Ameer Jumabhoy 27:26
Absolutely. I mean, look, it goes back to what we were saying earlier, right, that at the end of the day, business is still done between people. And I think when something as a sort of Black Swan, as COVID happens, yeah, you got to you got to figure out what’s the right thing to do. And we just felt the right thing to do was even though we were not making any money, there was no revenue coming in, we felt tremendous loyalty to our people. And you know, today, the level of speed and execution of products has just been amazing to see, it’s been amazing to see the team come together, you know, teams that have known each other for a while we acquired another company a few months ago, they brought in fresh perspectives as well. And to just see how everybody’s gelling and pulling in the same direction for me is, it just makes me feel very proud of what we’ve accomplished, despite, you know, the world throwing so much negativity at the travel industry.

Michael Waitze 28:17
Yeah, it’s its comeback on steroids. And I think this is just a testament to the this idea that you had earlier that like people want to interact with other people and they want to travel, they want to learn new things, and they want to they just want to do more. I want to do this, I want to suggest to you that we stop now. From not because the conversations not interesting, but because I want to have you back on in a few months after you’ve launched these products just to see what the market reception is, and also what you learn from putting them out in the wild. Right? Because this idea of there are things that I know, I know. And then there are things that I think I know before you launch a product, there are a lot of things you think you know about how people are going to react with it. And I just wanted to come back in a few months and say, either a we got a 100% right or B we got an 80%. Right. Here’s what we learned. Is that cool with you.

Ameer Jumabhoy 29:02
I think that’s really cool. I what I will say is I’m pretty sure no company ever gets it 100% Right on day one. What I do think is I’m feeling both extremely excited, as I said, like, we’re going to be launching five countries for you to privileges before the end of the year. With utu air miles, the new products that are coming out in the next few days are going to be extremely exciting and those work in 50 countries. We’re heading into very uncharted territory, as I said earlier, and I think that’s both extremely exhilarating, extremely exciting. But I will say there is also a little bit of nervousness, right. It’s it’s when new things are introduced to the market, especially in an industry like retail, which perhaps has not traditionally been a fast mover when it comes to technology. Things can seem a little bit scary. So I think our job is to really humanize our products show that we’re adding value to our stakeholders. And then your let’s revisit this conversation hopefully being posted. We can do it next time. And we’d love to share more about about the lessons learned because I’m sure there’ll be many.

Michael Waitze 30:06
Ameer Jumabhoy, co founder of utu. Thank you so much for doing this man. Really awesome. There’s so much more to do, but I really appreciate it.

Ameer Jumabhoy 30:13
Thank you and thank you for having me on.

 

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