E-commerce is one of the most competitive industries with up to 26 million online shopping sites across the globe. Making its way into the scene in 2016, Idealz “flipped the script in online shopping” and offered a unique platform to consumers. With every purchase, you get the chance to win prizes. These prizes range from cars and luxury watches to cash, electronics and lifestyle items.
In this conversation, Founder and CEO Jad Toubayly shares the inspiration behind Idealz and the key factors driving its winning story.
Economy Middle East: Idealz is a trailblazer in the region. What inspired you to set up this unique shop-and-win platform?
Jad Toubayly: It was evident that the world was, and still is, rapidly going digital. This presented significant opportunities in a lot of sectors. Many of the analog functions of our daily lives were turning digital at an unprecedented rate. I get asked this question often and my response remains the same: I wanted to make my mark in this massive digital movement happening in front of us. I wanted to build a scalable, defensible and profitable business that I can be proud of.
Economy Middle East: What have been the most important milestones that Idealz has achieved since 2016?
Jad Toubayly: Since the establishment of Idealz in 2016, we have had a number of notable accomplishments that have firmly established us as leaders in the industry. With more than 7,000 winners and prizes exceeding AED 180,000,000 in value, Idealz has garnered participants from over 150 countries worldwide. This wide global reach reflects Idealz’s vision of becoming the preferred destination for shopping and winning both regionally and internationally. A milestone worth mentioning would be our exclusive partnership with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment. We entered into it in 2019, and it remains in effect.
Economy Middle East: What key factors do you believe were responsible for Idealz’s success? What do you envision for its evolution in the upcoming future?
Jad Toubayly: The growth of various industries played a big role in fostering the startup ecosystem. Yet, the need to innovate remained a constant factor. In an intensely competitive market, innovation was and still is the key to sustaining a competitive advantage. Modern startups securing funding could no longer rely solely on dreams and mission statements; the reason why I prioritize sound unit economics and practical viability. We made sure from the outset that the business model was not only capable of generating positive unit economics but was also capable of scaling them to meaningful levels.
Currently, we are actively driving Idealz’s expansion both regionally and internationally through franchises and white-labeled partnerships. Presently, four franchises are secured and progressing, with an additional two in the pipeline. The choice of franchise locations is influenced by various factors, primarily the geographic distribution of our existing international customer base.
Economy Middle East: Transitioning from the finance industry, what aspects of e-commerce drew you in? What motivated your entry into this particular sector?
Jad Toubayly: Over the past decade, the startup scene, particularly in the Middle East, has undergone substantial changes. When I established Idealz in 2016, the UAE and the broader region were immersed in a promising entrepreneurial atmosphere. Dubai’s ecosystem stands out on a global scale, excelling both professionally and personally. The emirate was perfect to give Idealz the best possible launching ground and the outcome couldn’t have been better. Dubai is progressively setting the global standard across various aspects, especially in the startup scene and it keeps proving that through the success of Idealz. When we talk about e-commerce specifically, the unit economics formula was and remains relatively simple, and barriers to entry were relatively low. It was an opportunity to enter the startup scene without having immense capital requirements.
Economy Middle East: What innovations do you see emerging in the e-commerce sector in the foreseeable future?
Jad Toubayly: Innovations in the e-commerce sector are probably going to follow the innovations happening across the tech sector in general. This will include greater use of AI and AR. Shopping experiences will become more immersive allowing customers to get a better feel of the products they are buying such that returns and exchanges are minimized. I would also expect further advancements in payment, building on what Buy Now, Pay Later has done to the e-commerce sector. Logistics, which remains the analog function within the e-commerce formula, will also go through substantial innovations allowing for faster and more precise delivery on a global scale.
Economy Middle East: Turning a business idea into a startup is probably the most challenging phase of becoming an entrepreneur. What would you say to someone who’s got this big idea?
Jad Toubayly: I tend to shy away from giving advice as what has worked for me may not necessarily produce similar outcomes for others. However, I often share this perspective: Instead of comparing yourself to others and striving to outdo them in their pursuits, embrace creativity and innovation. Make sure your approach is financially sound and has a clearly defined path to achieving positive unit economics, and then relentlessly pursue it until you succeed. The startup scene is very challenging and demanding, and the ingredient of perseverance is very much required. At Idealz, we consistently think of the word “FOCUS,” which for us means “Follow One Course Until Successful.”
About Jad Toubayly, founder & CEO of Idealz
Jad Toubayly is the visionary founder and CEO of Idealz, an innovative e-commerce platform that has revolutionised the online shopping formula. With his unconventional thinking and approach, he has seamlessly blended online shopping, winning and social impact together, creating a unique win-win-win formula.
Prior to founding Idealz, Toubayly had a successful entrepreneurial track record, having started and exited several businesses in the tech, services and industrial sectors. His diverse professional background has equipped him with a well-rounded understanding of business dynamics and innovation. In parallel with his entrepreneurial pursuits, Toubayly holds over a decade of experience in tier-one investment banking. He started his career with Ernst & Young within their transaction advisory services team, showcasing a strong aptitude for numbers and financial acumen. From there, he joined Deutsche Bank as a Global Markets credit and derivative structurer. He later joined JP Morgan as part of their Sharia-compliant credit and derivative structuring team with a global mandate.
In his current capacity as CEO, Toubayly has steered Idealz towards achieving significant milestones, including an exclusive long-term partnership with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment. He is currently focused on expanding Idealz’s geographical reach beyond the MENA and GCC regions, leveraging a global franchising and partnership model. Simultaneously, he remains committed to enhancing the brand’s social impact, collaborating closely with organisations such as Dubai Cares to provide quality education to disadvantaged children worldwide. To date, Idealz has funded the construction and operation of 14 elementary schools across Nepal, Cambodia, Malawi, and Senegal.
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