Ulugbek Yuldashev is the founder and chief executive of awok.com, an e-commerce site based in Dubai that he launched in April 2013. Hailing from Kyrgyzstan, the 30-year-old moved to the UAE in 2006 after spotting potential in the Middle East wholesale and retail markets for electronics.
I am married and have three children – two sons, aged five and three, and a daughter who is six months. If it’s a school day, the boys usually leave before 7am; if not, we have breakfast together. I just take tea. I watch the news for 10 minutes – mostly Euronews – then maybe some Russian news too. I set up my first business in Kyrgyzstan in 2004 and started coming to Dubai to purchase goods because that was where we could get the cheapest prices. I moved here in 2006 and started my first company here in 2008, selling electronics wholesale. Then in 2012 I started to see the opportunities online.
I’m in the office, which is just 200 metres away from where I live in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. I go through my emails and then analyse data to see how many sales we’ve had overnight and how many people have visited the site. Then I plan the rest of my day. At about 9am, I call the purchasing department to find out more about what products people are buying, what stocks we have, whether we have to make any bulk purchases. I have more tea.
I talk to the digital marketing team and find out what’s going on with any dedicated campaigns we might be running. For example, to celebrate our second birthday, customers had the chance to buy a Toyota Corolla for up to 90 per cent off. We look at the feedback from customers and see if there are any problems with the website. This takes about 90 minutes.
I talk to the development department to discuss the website. We have a huge amount of applications in development for interfacing with customers. So we discuss what applications they are testing.
This is normally when lunch happens. I order in – usually my national food. I am from Kyrgyzstan but my ethnicity is Uzbek, so I order from Chaykhona No 1 – typically shashlik (a kebab) or polov (a rice dish). This takes about 20 to 40 minutes then it’s back to work understanding the numbers and figures.
I schedule in interviews for this time. The company has grown very fast to more than 200 people in two years and we are continuing to expand, so we are hiring across all departments. We also created our own logistics team. If I order a laptop and have to wait seven or 10 days, that’s unacceptable for me; we deliver within 12-24 hours. We also have our own depot for stocks so when customers order an item it’s available with us. We plan to expand across the region at the end of the year. We have the interviews in our offices. I like to understand people’s backgrounds; I am looking for commitment, dedication and, of course, the strength of their experience in their relevant field.
I have more external meetings with suppliers or service providers. At 5pm I speak to the marketing department again. I liaise with them several times throughout the day, trying to understand the figures and the numbers and where the business has to go. Then I speak to the developers and the purchasing department again.
I leave the office quite late. Sometimes I go home directly and sometimes I go out with my friends usually to the bowling centre in Al Quoz or we play table tennis. I feel under pressure the whole day, so this is a chance to have a little bit of fun. If I go home, I play with my kids for 30 to 40 minutes – they want to show me what they did in school and they’ve normally brought me something they’ve made. My wife cooks our national foods but she also watches cooking shows on TV and is getting me to try European foods – so sometimes it’s a surprise.
I watch the news and then I read books, which is my passion. Normally I read about other people. The most recent book I finished was Sam Walton: Made in America about the founder of Walmart. I don't go to the gym unfortunately but I used to be a big tennis player and I would like to start this again. At the weekends I spend time with my family – although I still go into the office for two to three hours to check our numbers and to make sure the website is OK – but we do some things like taking the kids to the Global Village or the zoo. Bedtime is usually some time after midnight.
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