The man who changed the face of travel shopping in MENA
CEO and co-founder Ross Veitch is all set to make Wego the only travel app on your smartphone
Ross Veitch is one of most sought-after digital entrepreneurs today. His startup venture, Wego, may have been too early for southeast Asia in 2005, but as he looks down the memory lane he admits that it was actually the reason why he made it big in the Mena region. Call it a blessing in disguise or fait-accompli, Veitch has a determination to succeed and continues to move forward with confidence saying "what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger".
Veitch had a passion for travel and the web - even before Internet. So, it was only natural for Yahoo to head-hunt him to set up their operations in southeast Asia in 1997, the end of the first dot com boom.
Even though he was doing businesses in Australia - being the first person on ground for a tech giant like Yahoo, the biggest Internet company in the world, it gave Veitch the necessary experience and his first taste of the entrepreneurial world.
Veitch remembers the time as a stepping stone on the journey that led him to co-founding Wego. "Being the first person on ground you basically do a bit of everything, we were building all the products and meeting all the business partners and relevant heads of state and ministers. It was an accelerated master's degree in the Internet," he remarked.
Veitch credits Yahoo for this. Not only did he learn his processes and work patterns while being exposed to the best practices in the industry, it was also during this time that he was exposed to some interesting ideas and projects that he eventually started keeping a list of.
Amongst those 30 to 40 ideas that he had, as his journey with Yahoo came to an end, was a travel Meta search engine - one site that has the entire travel market at one place. According to Veitch, an idea like this had to be shared with the rest of the world, which had already proved its popularity in the US.
Not calling it a risky and an impulsive decision, thanks to his investments and share holdings in Yahoo, he reiterated that he was on a very steady ground as well as confident about his product. What initially seemed like a miscalculation, when they launched in southeast Asia, ended up being the reason they were right on time in the Mena region.
It is quite evident when one chats to Veitch, that he thrives on interaction with like-minded people. He credits a big part of his success to being surrounded by inspiring people who motivated him to follow his passion.
It is thanks to this part of his personality that he has been an investor to many for the past 15 years.
"I don't claim to be a start-up guru but having made mistakes myself and seen a lot of things I can at least help them avoid making the same ones".
His biggest advice was to keep one's investors and bosses updated about what ones thinking and all that is going on - and more than that to try to understand their objectives and the work from their point of view.
Reminiscing on how different things were back in his start-up days, Veitch said that thanks to technology and cloud drives today, it is much easier to get a prototype done without a huge amount of capital investment.
"If you choose your idea carefully you can focus on building the business rather than raising money, you don't have to reinvent the wheel." he added.
With expansion plans already in motion, Veitch wants to spread his business in India and sub-Saharan Africa, while continuing to thrive in Mena and southeast Asia. Wego currently has two headquarters - Dubai and Singapore.
According to him, "Being in close proximity of people that you are doing business has great benefits both tangible and intangible, and I don't think the role of big city hubs for businesses is going to go away anytime soon. If anything, it is becoming stronger and we see cities across the globe becoming more and more active and prominent as business hubs."
With Expo 2020 Dubai round the corner, Veitch predicts that it will do tremendously well. With the world coming to Dubai, he will make sure he has the best travel shopping options available for everyone.
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