Dubizzle Q&A – American Bedu
*Attributed to Sim Whatley and JC Butler, co-founders of Dubizzle.com
There is a new web site for individuals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. American Bedu had the opportunity to interview the creators of www.dubizzle.com and is pleased to share this interview with American Bedu readers.
- When and how did the idea for a site like dubizzle.com come about?
When we moved to the Middle East in 2005, we were both very excited to get set up and started looking online to find things like apartments, cars and second-hand furniture. We both spend a lot of time online and were used to having such tools in other countries we had lived in. After a few months we still weren’t finding a lot of great leads, and that made the moving-in process a lot more difficult. It was that experience—coupled with our ongoing job search—that first got us interested in exploring the potential of starting a site like Dubizzle. Six years on, we’re still at it!
- How were the dubizzle creators able to acquire and organize all the data?
We began by looking at how to make Dubizzle as accessible as possible to end users, with the overall functionality and design of the site being built from there. Keeping the space clean of fraud and spam was also something that we knew would define our success moving forward. By providing our services free to the end user—and making sure that we prioritized quality over quantity—we were able to build a strong network of partners in those early days of growing the site’s content.
- What criteria did you use when establishing the web site?
One of the things that we wanted to do from the beginning is make all of Dubizzle’s content available in Arabic, English and French—opening our services to the widest market possible. We also left ourselves open for new additions to the site, both from a business and creative perspective. However, the most important task for us has been establishing an eclectic and passionate team to drive Dubizzle forward. The fact that we have grown organically—and that we are a young, tight-knit team of entrepreneurial thinkers—has made Dubizzle a fun project for us all.
- Was it easy to establish dubizzle in Saudi Arabia? Were there any special challenges or restrictions which needed to be overcome?
Every country is unique, and with every new market we enter there are different challenges and opportunities. Coming into KSA really forced us to examine our core values; not only what makes Dubizzle unique, but how we can make the site better. That being said, we love the challenge! As an online company we were able to set ourselves up quite differently than your traditional enterprise, and so far we’ve seen a lot of success in cities like Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Khobar.
- What are the average users per day to the site?
Within KSA alone, we get almost a million page views on a weekly basis and more than 30,000 visits and 22,000 unique visitors a day. Our listings are also growing by double digit percentages month on month, which is a good forecast of where we’re going in the future.
- What are the most popular features or categories of the site?
Categories such as jobs, residential property and automotive classifieds always rank high on Dubizzle, although looking back at our history we have had a huge diversity of classifieds listed on the site. Our goal has always been to make Dubizzle the best local marketplace to buy, sell and find anything—connecting people within their own community. As long as a user’s listings are not against the law or unethical by local standards, they are welcome to sell whatever they like and at any price they like without paying any fees to the site.
- How is a site such as dubizzle.com changing the face and use of social media in the Kingdom?
As a community-based website, engaging with people in KSA via social media channels is extremely important to us. Whereas some organizations fall into the trap of just sending out mass messages via social channels, at Dubizzle we really strive to engage users in a fun way that encourages them to tell us what they like about the site and how we can make it better. In that sense, conversations in social media today are able to inspire businesses in ways not previously seen on a wide scale.
- Who are the typical users of dubizzle? Saudi nationals? Expatriates?
The majority of people using Dubizzle are in the 21-45 age range, but besides that there really isn’t a typical “profile” of those visiting the site. We see lots of expatriates as well as KSA nationals; young professional all the way up to CEOs. The fact that all our content is available in Arabic, English and French also attracts people from a wide diversity of cultures and backgrounds. In short, everyone is welcome on the site!
Where do the creators of dubizzle hope to see the site by the end of the year?
At the moment we are 100% focused on becoming the number one online classifieds site throughout the entire Middle East and North Africa region. We have also looked at a number of additional ways to expand the site’s services and offer new tools to our users– but that is something that we’ll have to save for the next interview J
- Will dubizzle remain a free site?
Dubizzle is and will remain completely free to the end user. Unlike other online portals in the region, we have never charged consumers for using Dubizzle either to buy or sell items, and do not plan on changing that in the future.
- Thanks for taking the time to share with American Bedu! Are there any additional comments you’d like to make in closing?
We believe that utilizing the power of the web can make it easier and more efficient for people to do business within their own community—creating value for both buyers and sellers. We are very proud of Dubizzle’s rapid growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so far and look forward to growing our local relationships with business and individuals across the country.