Melltoo Remote Work Culture Help Its Women Employees Thrive in Their Jobs

Work experiences differ between different employees even as they execute the same tasks sometimes. I have worked at Melltoo for the past three years where I have seen the exponential expansion of our team from 3 people to 25 employees working in several departments: delivery operations, customer success, marketing, product development and quality assurance.

I often have conversations with my university friends in Tunisia about how work means different things to different people. All of us, males and females, do agree that work experiences are influenced by gender and sometimes class at least in Tunisia. I have seen many young job seekers in Tunisia, often females, be constrained by distance and poor transportation infrastructure when accepting a job or trying to perform well at a job. This is not unheard of in th region. Remote work allows me to be productive anywhere as long I’m dead focused on deliverables that matter.

I have been interested in everyone’s experience at Melltoo for some time. We first published a piece about working remotely and then another piece about collaboration while working around a remote work business models. Now, I want to explore the experiences of our female employees in our own unique “workplace.”

Four women in our team hold central roles chiefly our co-founder and COO, Sharene Lee, who manages the team. Asiya Shakirova, a startup veteran who worked with several UAE incubators, manages our brand online and our partners programme. Yesmin Choutri, Melltoo’s illustrator, is the skilled artist behind Melltoo’s visual branding (on the app, blog and YouTube). Heba is a customer service agent who had been with the team for over a year. Without them, we can’t do our work properly; and just like everyone, Sharene, Asiya and Yesmin, and Heba benefit from working remotely.

I spoke to them privately about their remote experience at Melltoo and what it means to them in their own words as professionals, parents and humans.

Sharene, Asiya, Yesmin and Heba represent different demographic segments that are now the new normal for innovative tech companies. Sharene and Asiya are both momprenreurs who manage both a dynamic career and a growing family. Yesmin and Heba are at the start of their careers, managing different operations. Yesmin executes her tasks skillfully while enjoying a fulfilling work-life balance. Heba speaks to our customers on a regular basis and is in charge of the regular user education cycle about our brand and our operations.

It is not often easy to lead a career in tech as female. Even Sheryl Sandberg, former COO at Facebook, still can’t make up her mind whether it is just enough to “lean in” or if the odds are just stacked against women. According to Pew Research Center, as many as 51% of working mothers in the US say they find it hard to advance their careers. This is the result of archaic work environments that require lengthy hours of work and physical presence in an office to get things done. Nearly half of working mothers would have to interrupt their careers at some point for family reasons.

When Sharene started Melltoo, she did not envision remote work as a possibility but as more people joined and proved able to work effectively by themselves, the choice has become more and more obvious. It was rather economically smarter for the young team to continue to work remotely, spend less on overhead and more on acquisition and user experience.

I asked Sharene about her relationship with work and her family whom I often hear on the other end of every other call. Family is important to me as work is.

“Being close to home and able to respond to my children’s needs allows me to focus better on my work. I know I’m not missing anything and I don’t feel a need to overcompensate after work,” she tells me.

“I think the most positive thing about working from home is being able to share what I do with my kids. Growing up, I don’t think I had a clue what my parents’ jobs were like. However, my kids do look over my shoulder, they overhear me in meetings, they are sounding boards for new ideas, they are beta testers and they are able to participate in my work life in ways that wouldn’t be possible if I were working from an office, she adds.

Because of societal expectations, women have to stop their careers when they become mothers to take care of their newborns. This interruption often puts a lid on women’s career advancement and pay expectations compared to men. It’s referred to as the “glass ceiling” – an invisible barrier that hold women back compared to men. This is also one of the strong reasons some countries are considering allowing working fathers to take some time off to take care of their families.

Asiya Shakirova is also a Melltoo mom. She joined the Melltoo team shortly after the birth of her second child. I asked her the same question about managing work and managing a family.

“When I first time heard about remote job, I really wanted it. When I left my last job because I was pregnant with second child, I realized, how much time and effort I was spending in office. I didn’t want to work like this anymore. So, when I received an offer from Morrad (our CEO), I thought this is the perfect job style for mom,” she wrote me.

Asiya had to hire other people to take care of her family when she had an office job back in Russia before, but she doesn’t see the need to today.

Yesmin Choutri, our illustrator from Germany, joined Melltoo not only as her first remote experience, but also as her first work experience. Yesmin is only going to university this year. Talent has no boundaries or age.

Yesmin and I now speak more frequently when creating illustrations that match our content and engagement campaign visuals.

“Melltoo team is like a family, everyone is kind, respectful, friendly and always there to help anyone. Sharene invited me to join Melltoo even though I knew nothing of graphic design but she believed in in my potential for art and I accepted the challenge. I taught myself and learned how to use Photoshop, illustrator, create graphics, GIFs and videos,” she wrote me on Slack.

The friendly environment around our virtual office often makes it easier when new members of the team join our operations. Melltoo has a very low employee turnover with 90-plus percent of employees having worked with us for at least a year. The level of friendly communication encourages more people to participate regardless of their personal character if they are introvert or extrovert. There are no physical meetings where some people may want to assert themselves physically in the room or shout more to fill an empty space to impose their opinions (me by fault of my height and deep voice). All voices that go through the microphone are equal, men and women. Yesmin, who is a shy millennial, has enough room to suggest edits and opinios of her own to her work freely without any friction.

Heba Mahmoud, our customer service agent, challenged her own expectations with regards to remote work. Living in El Minya in Egypt, a city in Upper Egypt dominated by the agriculture sector, Heba had her own preconceptions when asked to join the customer service team.

“I haven’t expected to love the remote work or that I’ll enjoy the work behind a screen and to sit for 8 hours without feeling bored,” she says.

It is best said that Heba surmounted these fears. She has been with the team for over a year. She is a valuable member of the transactions management team.

A remote job in Heba’s case does not only allow for time flexibility, but is also a gainful job opportunity that offers income stability and upward mobility to young professionals in the Middle East. The state of youth unemployment in Egypt and the vast Middle East region remains staggerly high (~30%) and jobs are scarce.

When given flexibility, our female employees have encountered fewer obstacles to give their 100% to their jobs. The magic formula is work autonomy, good communication and an explicit agreement that despite our geographical remoteness, we are still gathered together via online platforms to brainstorm among each other and get things done. Such is the female experience at Melltoo.

Without Sharene’s leadership, we wouldn’t have gotten ahead with $1.2 million in private funding so far. Yesmin is the creative genius behind many Melltoo characters “Melltoo Man” and the rest of the Melltoo family character.

Asiya has successfully run 3 major engagement campaigns since Spring, as well as our partners programme.  Heba continues to interact and answer our user queries on a daily basis and not surpass our 8-min average targeted reply time. Special shoutout to the former women of Melltoo, Soukaina Rachidi and Yusra Bagsheir.

Share Melltoo Ads On Instagram And Win A Valuable Eid Gift!

Eid Mubarak!

Winning on Melltoo doesn’t end yet. Share an item you’d like to win from Melltoo to your instagram account, tag @melltoo and your friends to enter our Eid competition. Terms and conditions apply.

As always, we’re happy to reward our existing users and invite new users to enjoy the Melltoo experience of convenient and conscionable shopping on a peer-to-peer classifieds platform.

Our Eid campaign focuses on brand awareness and utilizing social traffic to acquire new users on the app.

#Share2Win Eid Campaign

Steps

  1. Share the preowned item that you wish to win from Melltoo to Instagram
  2. Tag @melltoo and at least 3 of your friends
  3. Mention your Melltoo user ID in comments

Terms and condition

  • Share the preowned item that you wish to win from Melltoo to Instagram
  • Tag @melltoo and at least 3 of your friends
  • Only registered* Melltoo users are eligible 

Attention!

  • Your instagram account must be opened during the competition
  • Maximum item price is AED 500 (If above, you can pay the rest. You can also use your free credit to pay the difference)
  • You can’t wish your own item or item of your family members
  • Competition ends on July 1, 2017 at 12.00. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on July 2, 2017
  • If item has been sold by the time competition ends, winner can select another item with same price or less
  • The prize is non-transferable and can not be exchanged for cash

* A registered Melltoo user is a user who has verified address, email address and phone number

Building a Non-Stop Machine: How Melltoo, The No-Meetup Classifieds, Built A Location-Independent Business

At Melltoo, we work as a distributed team. It was not the plan, but we started out this way and kept growing from a team of 2 to 25. And in this time, we have not felt like we are disadvantaged, in fact, we have executed and grown much more rapidly then our peers.

We are not a team by virtue of sharing office space, but rather by a strong belief in our mission and by working toward common goals. For many of us, Melltoo is a unique opportunity to work within a rapidly growing market while not physically being in Dubai. It is also a great way to make an impact from wherever we are in the world, by contributing to the sharing economy and helping make resale and resuse part of the product lifecycle and in turn build a more sustainable future. Every single of one us finds meaning in our work.

Most people don’t fully understand what working remotely is about. Great ideas don’t always happen in closed spaces. We live in a world with excellent communication technologies (slack, hangouts, appear.in, jit.si Meet, etc.). Idea generation takes place when there is communication, it really doesn’t matter if it’s spoken, written, in person or asynchronous.

Achieving work-life balance in the 21st century

After all, working from the same place every day can be really depressing. With Melltoo, I have had the opportunity to travel to several destinations around the globe while launching major feature updates, such Melltoo Pay&Ship in October 2015. I still remember this experience as one of the most fulfilling work-personal experiences in the past three years. Perhaps, it is the change of routine that helps me schedule both work and “me” time evenly. One thing for certain, I did not feel overwhelmed by either work or travel, as compared to other times where I woke up every day and did the same exact thing over and over. Being able to work-travel also opened my eyes to new things and experiences that I’ve been able to import into my work.

When given the chance, many office employees welcome the option to work remotely. There is even a new “workation” trend, where you are able to fulfill your passions outside of work, while still successfully fulfill your job duties without being limited by physical space. These trends along with digital nomadism is responsible for a new work philosophy among Millennial workers and Gen X-ers. Southeast Asia and cheaper European and Latin American cities are filled with transient digital nomads who hop from city to city looking to feed both their soul and portfolios.

Parents also prefer working at home when available to them. Santosh Binwal, Melltoo’s quality assurance manager, works from home due to family reasons.

“I needed to work from home due to some family conditions. Melltoo gives me this chance. There is no hard timing and pressure. All members in our team are like family. Everybody helps one another. Top management are transparent with all team members and everyone knows what is going on. No hidden things,” Santosh wrote me when asked to contribute to this article.

For the uninitiated, here are three myths about the nature of distributed teams that need debunking.

Myth #3: Working remotely is freelancing

Working remotely is not akin to freelancing. We’re bound by KPI’s, tasks and objectives. Our commitment to the company is very real. In fact, everyone on our team, except several new hires, have been with us for at least a year. It’s all about organization and setting clear, achievable goals. Working remotely does not negate the development of company culture. In fact, I would argue that working remotely has shaped our company culture into one that emphasizes results and execution over office politics.

Many of our customer service agents have been working remotely with Melltoo for over a year. In fact, many are polyvalent and perform several tasks within our broad CS-Operations team. They have witnessed many changes to our processes from the way we verify and book orders to how we treat claims and cancellations.

Timing is especially crucial for a company like ours which prides itself for great customer experience we offer to our users. We schedule our working hours within peak hours of customer interactions. Typically these peak hours fall within people’s resting schedules. Our team is experienced enough to anticipate peak days and hours before they occur in synch with our marketing campaigns schedule.

Our CS team has been through different growth stages. They helped shape CS processes and performances in the past year resulting in a decrease in our CS reply time from hours to 10 minute per query. Everyone continues to learn on the job while also supporting themselves in a handful of small cities in Egypt plagued with a higher-than-average unemployment rate. Fortunately, our team’s professionalism and fondness for team work has kept them in their jobs year after year.

Myth #2: Working remotely is isolating

While this may be true at times, it is still preferable to working in an open office which tends to be awfully distracting with chatty coworkers, background noise, and office politics. According to a Harvard Business Review Research on work satisfaction in open-floor work spaces, the results are not great. The main complaints are noise, lack of cleanliness and constant interruption. In fact, the study reports a loss of 86 minutes per workday due to distractions.

From my own experience, as customer experience manager and content writer, I am able to focus better with a silent background while being the only person in the room. I do my work first and then I schedule calls and meetings around it. Hours of optimal productivity also differ from person to person. Allowing people to work asynchronously improves productivity while increasing job satisfaction. So, while working remotely can sometimes be lonely, it actually helps getting the job done, especially in creative tasks that require a lot of concentration, like coding or writing.

At Melltoo, we recognize the need for social interaction. It is something we constantly work towards.

Rahul Choudhary, our technical manager, recently moved to Melbourne, Australia. Just like the rest of the members of our team, he is not restricted by location to do his job. He fashioned his own communication style with his team of 10 people.

“One of my most important roles is to communicate with the tech team and get things done. I usually talk with the team on phone or skype. Text chat is only used to keep records. So, if there is something that needs to be present as reference, then I put it on Slack or email. Voice call makes it easier for everyone to explain & to understand,” he wrote to me on Slack.

Slack is our favorite channel of communication.

Myth #3: Working remotely decreases productivity

Wrong. As I mentioned above, working alone has the benefit of reducing distractions and boosting productivity.

In addition, work productivity is measured by motivation, not location. Remote workers are by default a motivated bunch of self-starters; you won’t survive very long in the remote work environment if you aren’t. There is no one to tell you when to start work and no one to prevent you from stopping. Without self-motivation, you won’t get anything done, which is a one-way ticket out of the job.

In my opinion , there is nothing more exhilarating than taking the lead and achieving the goals you set out for yourself.

Santosh has worked on multiple app iterations including major feature updates and changes. He relishes increased responsibility.

“I am motivated by taking responsibility. In Melltoo, there is a high responsibility on me that the application should be Bug Free and Users can use it without any hassle. One more thing, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and I am proud to say ‘I am working for Melltoo,'” he wrote me when asked about routine and execution in the job.

We, at Melltoo, have worked remotely since day 1 and we’ve been thriving and growing for the last three years. We don’t clock in, we don’t clock out, we travel, we work. In this time, we’ve served hundreds of thousands of buyers and sellers, raised several rounds of funding and continue to grow the business while working cohesively as a team from many places around the world. We haven’t missed a beat.

It has been a routine of mine to experiment with new automation processes along with our operations QA manager, Hesham Mustafa, often at the wee hours of the morning. We’re both night owls and I prefer test sending messages to users outside of rush hours to see what works best. We never found the need to sit together at one place at one time, we just communicated constantly as we worked together on developing a rationale and method of automation.

Hesham, who is a chemistry graduate, took a liking and commitment to learning and customizing codes and API’s from our tech team to fit the needs of our operations team.

No one on the team is really second-guessing their experience at Melltoo. He wrote:

“Everything I do now I have learned on the job, which was made possible because I could choose where and when to work and didn’t have to waste my time and energy going to and back from a certain work place. In addition to that, I was given the space to innovate and apply my ideas which was a huge motivation to do even more. I’ve thought of it as a hobby that I enjoy more than a job that I would have to do just to get paid,” he writes.

In just a few months, we managed to automate a large chunk of our operations at Melltoo. We have about 10+ people who collaborate daily on operations, from the product development team, CS team, Operations and QA. We’re not bound by strict schedule but rather the simple logic to serve our customers in the ways and in the hours they need us the most.

Ramadan 2017: Melltoo No-Meetup Classifieds Supports HH Sheikh Ben Zayed’s Year of Giving

“The UAE’s President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has declared 2017 as the Year of Giving.

‘Giving’ is a value we cherish and saw personified in the UAE’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed. We continue to see this philanthropic legacy embodied by his sons and ingrained in the DNA of our society. Through my humble experience, I believe giving is not limited to monetary donations. Rather, “giving” is defined by the differences we make: the differences in someone’s life, in a society, or in a nation. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy is not measured in the generous donations he made to the less fortunate only, but in the impact he has had on our lives and our country forever. This is our goal for the Year of Giving – to make a difference in the lives of those we care for, and in ourselves.”  –Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Melltoo Marketplace embraces the vision of our national leaders and looks forward to Ramadan 2017 as an opportunity to start making an impact on society.

We invite you to join us in giving back and helping those those among us in need.

Here is how YOU can help:

  • List your pre-owned items to sell. Make the world a more sustainable place by re-selling your stuff.
  • We will sell your stuff for you. We will promote your items to buyers, pick up and deliver your items as well as transfer your money to you.
  • Make a difference in someone’s life. Melltoo will donate 1% of all sales proceeds during Ramadan 2017 to provide food for the needy with the help of Emirates Red Crescent.

Remember, every action, no matter how small, counts. Start selling now.

Download our app and list your items immediately via melltoo.me/downloadapp (this link will take to your phone’s app store).

As with every year, we will glad to have our buyers continuously shop on our app to save money while reducing the need to produce more and increase waste. During the entire month of Ramadan, earn free credit daily (up to AED 500) with us and buy preloved electronics, fashion, and more for you and your family.

How it works:

  • Answer our daily trivia questions in-app. Learn more about Ramadan, charity, and culture in the UAE
  • Earn credit for correct answers. The answer to each trivia question is a promocode that earns you credit to spend.
  • Spend your credit when you want. Accumulate credit and spend it when you want to purchase pre owned electronics, fashion, and home items (Terms and Conditions apply).

You can only play this guessing game and use the promo codes on the mobile applications.

Start earning credit now: melltoo.me/downloadapp (download the app and create an account)

Remember, every time you buy something, 1% of the sales proceeds will be donated to Emirates Red Crescent.

Help us give back to society. Join us and together we will make a difference.

If you want to read about Melltoo’s vision and plan to contribute to the UAE’s sustainability efforts and goal to reduce waste, read our latest blog post: Melltoo Manifesto, Vision and Values.

 

How We Built A Live Product and A Community While Maintaining Our Remote Work Culture

I work for Melltoo, a startup based in Dubai. I live in Tunis. I work with people who live all around the world, UAE, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Ukraine, France, UK, from so many nationalities, Singaporean, Algerian, French, Pakistani, Indian, Ukrainian, Russian, Egyptian, Spanish, Moroccan and American. We represent a diverse group of people working toward a common goal of building the biggest peer2peer marketplace in the Middle East. We dubbed it the no-meetup classifieds.

At Melltoo, we work as a distributed team. It was not the plan, but we started out this way and kept growing from a team of 2 to 25. And in this time, we have not felt like we are disadvantaged, in fact, we have executed and grown much more rapidly than our peers.

Most people don’t fully understand what working remotely is about. Great ideas don’t always happen in closed spaces. We live in a world with excellent communication technologies (slack, hangouts, appear.in jit.si Meet, etc.). Idea generation takes place when there is communication, it really doesn’t matter if it’s spoken, written, in-person or asynchronous.

How to successfully execute ideas when working remotely

Yes, we probably have too many google docs we jam ideas into, but we shelve each one as soon as we’re done with it. As a team, we’re task-oriented and we rally behind the ideas of any team member and accompany them to execution. Our workflow is managed with objectives and deadlines.

At Melltoo, we have iterated on our product, operations, and processes unceasingly over the past 3 years. We’ve also launched scores of different marketing campaigns. Typically, someone comes up with a new idea, perhaps from something they read or heard about that makes sense in our context. The idea is pitched on slack generating a lot of discussion and feedback, then the DRP (direct responsible person) drafts an extended pitch on a Google Doc and asks for contributions as a follow up. Objectives, a timeline, and a to-do list are key components to any pitch. Finally, a team call takes place and doubts are clarified and voilà: From idea to plan to execution.

This process allows us to distribute tasks across various teams within Melltoo, from tech to marketing to operations. To date, this has been very successful, evidenced by the weekly flash sale campaigns last year that we revamped into seller-focused campaigns (rather than category-focused); or the “guess and win” campaign during the Dubai Shopping Festival this past January.

Good communication is key

My daily routine includes checking slack every other hour to read conversations across various topics. I chime in if I have a question or something to add, otherwise let people speak uninterrupted when they need to. This is different from the office spaces which I have some modest experience with where other team members will need to constantly interrupt my work and concentration to tell me something (relevant and irrelevant).

Communication is different between different team members and departments. To each their own.

Rahul Choudhary, our technical team lead, relies on direct communication to get things done which includes fixing bugs and launching new features on time.

“One of my most important roles is to communicate with the team and get things done. I usually talk with the team on phone or skype. Text chat is only used to keep records. So, if there is something that needs to be present as reference, then I put it on Slack or email. Voice calls makes it easier for everyone to explain and to understand,” he told me in our conversation.

Personally, I prefer texting which may be is due to my generational obsessions with looking into screens, but I will admit that text often distorts the message and takes more time than necessary.

In a private conversation about this very post, the head of our operations also told me that he calls people outside of work to check on them. It’s a recurrent theme.

“I use phone calls and whatsapp for social communication outside of work with my team members. We share jokes of the day and have a good laugh among each other. We are not missing out [on social interaction].”

Mostafa Mohammed, our head of operations, joined our team in Jan 2016 and has gone through different stages of growth, hyper-growth and the slower growth of the summer. Like many of our team members, including myself, who enjoy working from multiple different locations, he is attached to his job at Melltoo not only because of the learning potential and missions he is tasked to execute but also because of the “remote” part.

“I like my job and am self motivated since I can travel anywhere anytime and work in new places from time to time,” he also added.

In essence, our daily work at Melltoo has as much shaped our experience with work in the 21st century as we have shaped the company culture. Like Hesham Mustafa (our Operations QA Manager from the previous piece) puts it, our team does not have to worry about benign problems such as commuting to and from a job and the waste of time and energy that comes with or figuring out food options and other related costs while away, enclosed in a space at work. This very nature of our work has sustained our business and our growth for the past three years. We invite you to try it too, perhaps for few days at a time!

Building a product through iterations

Vitali is a UX designer. He is from Ukraine. Vitali joined Melltoo to revamp our design and help us communicate better with our users. The role of a UX designer is to figure out the best flows and processes while minimizing user interfaces, the best UI is no UI.

Among Vitali’s first projects, was a revamp of the Melltoo referral program, a strong engine of growth for us. Vitali implemented two new flows to the process that did not exist before. User can now check if their referees had indeed accomplished all the necessary steps to receive their reward or remind them to go through these steps.

These two simple actions in-app have helped lower the inquiries about referral tech bugs and referral programs and consecutively freed our CS time to focus on operational inquiries which are more complicated in nature.

“We need to be aware of the limitations that we have. Limitations of time, limitations of people, and limitations of technology. And, one of the most important work we do is to prioritize what we need to do,” says Vitali.

 

Vitali works directly with the technical team. He prioritizes direct conversations and calls to clear out detailed plans before the UI team starts to draw new screens. We regularly prepare multiple versions of any given flow, get user feedback, before we decide on which one to implement.

 

Raghvendra Pandey is a backend engineer at Melltoo. He is also the hero of our user support team. When I was part of the CX team, we often communicated through a project planning tool in writing on a user case basis. Raghvendra works on the server team and specializes in database optimization. He has been with Melltoo since the early days. He interacts with all members of the Melltoo team (leadership, user support, operations, UX and frontend development).

 

“Communication among the team is very nice. The team is highly co-operative and collaborative. Management’s communication with the team members is also very good, it helps us understand our role in the greater organization. Melltoo is a great place to work and I have enhanced my professional development a lot since joining.”

 

In the end, becoming a location-independent business requires underlying commitment between staff and leadership. It is neither easily attainable nor too hard to pursue. It has become a trend in a new work culture dominated by millennials, who account for nearly 50% of the workforce today. The recipe for success begins with clearly communicating to every member of the team the company’s vision, mission and strategy. Distributed teams require a high level of independent decision making and good decisions cannot be made if the big picture is not well understood. Processes and workflows are also important since they will reduce  communication errors.

 

We are proud of being a part of this new work culture. We encourage you to get in touch if you and your business decide to give distributed work a try!

Why We Built A No-Meetup Classifieds In the Dubizzle Era

When we first launched Melltoo in 2014, we saw ourselves as classifieds on mobile. Everything was moving to mobile, except classifieds. Online classifieds were still just electronic notice boards. We saw the opportunity to bring classifieds into the post-smartphone era and to take advantage of hardware capabilities like geolocalization, instant messaging, and push notifications. The rise of social networks also brought about a paradigm-shift, every product became social, so why not social classifieds?

To be clear, we didn’t pick classifieds from a long list of industries needing disruption after, classifieds has always been in the blood of the founders. Morrad Irsane, co-founder and CEO of Melltoo grew up around buying and selling second-hand. While raising a family of 13 children in France, Morrad’s mother regularly re-used clothes and hand-me-downs were standard. During their annual summer break in Algeria, she had a thriving side business reselling clothing she collected from France.When Morrad invested his savings to launch Melltoo in 2014, he was reviving an old family tradition. Morrad envisioned a mobile app he could take with him anywhere, with a built-in chat so he would never miss a deal.

Finding ourselves

As with all first-time founders, we thought that we would build it and they would come. Launch an app and everyone would use it. We were wrong.

While we grew in our first year, it was a struggle. We had to get creative. We experimented with many different user acquisition models, content marketing, social media, app store optimization, SEO, spamming, even offline events. Name it, we’ve probably done it. In fact, our downloads were healthy with over 500 new users daily with almost no marketing spend.

But, there was no WOW moment. Users came, they tried, they left. Meh. “The app is cool, but…”

While our first iteration was not a huge success, it gave us plenty of opportunity to talk to our users and this is what we discovered.

User Objection 1: “I would like to use your app, but I don’t have anything to sell.”

When someone says this, it isn’t because he doesn’t have something to sell, it’s because he doesn’t want to sell his stuff. Search a bit more and you’ll discover that what he’s really saying is: “I don’t need the money so I don’t want the hassle of selling my stuff.” Yes, selling via traditional classifieds is a hassle. In some cases, it’s downright torture. The main problem is meetups. List something for sale, get a bunch of phone calls from strangers at all times of the day and night, get lowball offers and then take time out to meet with multiple buyers before one finally buys (or not). If you don’t need to, why would you?

User Objection 2: “I don’t trust buying second hand, there are too many scammers.”

Web classifieds are no-man’s land. Anything goes. List something for sale and get an offer from the wife of the ex-president of some unknown country on a continent halfway around the world. People ask you to ship them stuff cash on delivery. You get spammed. Who do you trust, who can you trust?

User Objection 3: “Your app is cool, but nobody is talking to me to buy my stuff.”

Lesson 1: Peruse the startup literature and it is littered with the idea that founders must be “obsessed with the product.” There is no doubt that a great product is important, but a great product that nobody uses is still a flop. It is much more useful to be obsessed with the customer.

Lesson 2: 2-sided marketplaces are among the most difficult businesses to build. You need buyers and sellers, but buyers don’t go where there are no sellers and sellers won’t go where there are no buyers. What do you do?

Armed with this knowledge, we began to realize that classifieds didn’t simply need to be moved from web to mobile and the problem wasn’t one of technology and UI/UX. The problem was that classifieds was broken. People have stopped trusting classifieds and hate the hassle involved. They use it only when necessary, which meant when selling a used car or home and large items that needed to be disposed of, such as furniture. Anything less was simply not worth it. And just like that, we saw an opportunity to re-imagine classifieds, no-meetup classifieds.

MELLTOO IMAGE POLICY – Increase Your Views On The App!

We are really happy that you are using Melltoo to sell your stuff, make extra cash and clear that clutter.

We need you to take note of the policies pertaining to images listed on the app –  this will help you sell faster, and sell more;

DO:

  • Take photos of the actual item for sale and not copy/paste images from somewhere else.

You may think that they look the same, but your item may have imperfections or flaws that don’t appear in a photo copied from somewhere else. Buyers are purchasing an item based on the photo listed and have the right to return an item if it does not match the photograph listed in-app

DO NOT list PHOTOGRAPHS OR IMAGES THAT ARE:

  • Irrelevant or inappropriate.
  • Poor resolution.
  • Appear sideways or upside down.
  • Unclear or blurred images.
  • Images copied from websites or search engines.

DO NOT:

  • Add additional text or graphics to photographs.
  • Create photo montages – you can upload 3 separate images to your listing.
  • Upload images that do not represent your item accurately.
  • Upload photos of items that you do not have on hand or that are for pre-ordering
  • Duplicate listings – one listing for a single item is enough! Others will be deleted.
  • List NEW items purchased specifically for resale in order to make a PROFIT (classified as business selling)

IF YOUR ITEM IS BRAND NEW OR SEALED

Please take a picture of the item that you have IN HAND , READY TO BE SOLD – if possible, remove items from the box to photograph

 

Want help taking pictures? We’ve got you covered here 

Business selling is prohibited on Melltoo! Need clarification on the Melltoo policies for selling? Take a look here 

Not following our image policy could lead to all listings being removed and a user ban – and we don’t want that!

Any questions, you know you can ask us anytime in app via our chat option – and we thank you for being part of the Melltoo family – long may it continue!

Buying Maternity Clothes in Dubai

If you ask new Dubai mommies-to-be what the hardest pregnancy-related item to buy is, they’ll probably say maternity clothes. Unfortunately, in the UAE, there is a limited choice of maternity clothes that mommies can buy and there are only a few places that you can buy them from. However, even when new mommies are able to find something, it’s usually unfashionable or astronomically expensive.

So, what do you do if you want to look fashionable during your pregnancy, but you don’t want to break the bank? Buy yourself some pre-loved maternity clothes! Here is a list of 6 things that Melltoo thinks that every mommy-to-be should look for when they’re shopping (on the app or Facebook groups ) for maternity clothes in Dubai! If you have maternity clothes you want to sell, post them on Melltoo and we’ll handle the promotion, payment and delivery for you!

The “Insh’Allah List” for Maternity Clothes 

 

1) Maternity pants: whether you’re working or at home, try to buy maternity pants for every occasion.

Maternity pants

Sell your maternity pants on Melltoo  

2) Skirts: both long and short ones are ideal for the UAE heat and you can continue to wear them after the baby is born!

hijabi skirt

Sell your skirt on Melltoo 

3) Maternity jeans/leggings: not only are good pair of either comfy, they’re also easy to “fashionize.”

Maternity Leggings

Sell your maternity jeans/leggings on Melltoo

4) Cardigan or jacket: the right cardigan/jacket can make even the plainest t-shirt or jeans look fashionable.

Maternity cardigan

Post your cardigan/jacket on Melltoo

5) Maternity tops: when it comes to tops, don’t sacrifice fashion for comfort! Buy yourself fun and chic tops!

Maternity-Tops-5

Sell your maternity tops on Melltoo

6) Loose Dresses: as your baby bump gets bigger, wearing dresses will become more practical and comfortable.

Hijabi dress

Sell your maternity dresses on Melltoo

Like what you see? Keep up with Melltoo by visiting our website, liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter and Instagram (@helpmesellUAE), so you can learn just how easy buying and selling in the UAE can be! 

5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Designer Handbags in Dubai

If you have a cherished designer handbag, you probably know how important it is to take care of it in order to keep it looking fresh and new. That being said, many of us don’t know how to do so, thus causing unnecessary and irreparable damage to an otherwise pristine designer handbag! Here are 5 simple tips from Melltoo for fashionistas who adore their handbags in Dubai and want to keep them stylish for years to come.

Tip#1: Be Pro-active about Bag Care

The easiest way to keep your bag clean and in good shape is to be mindful about where you put it and how you store. Furthermore, you should also be cautious about what you put in it. Make sure to store any cosmetics that you carry in a makeup bag and make it a habit to carry dry ink pens, so you can avoid any unpleasant accidents and unnecessary emergency cleaning fees!

Tip#2: Store Properly So You Don’t Have To Restorewalk in closet

When it comes to taking care of your bag, where you keep it is just as important as how you keep it. Shoving your bag in a closet or throwing in on your bed, as your kids jump up and down on it is not the best way to keep it in pristine shape! Designate a specific hook or shelf area in your closet with ample space between bags (if you have more then one) so you avoid denting your bags with the weight of other objects.

 

Tip #3: Keep your Bag Cool by Keeping it Cool

The worse thing you can do to a designer handbag is store it incorrectly! What do you mean store it incorrectly? That means putting your bag in a room that is too hot, too cold, too humid or too dry. Although we don’t really have a problem with the cold in the UAE (unless you’re talking about our arctic air-conditioned rooms) it can get very hot, humid and dry depending on where you are, so make sure to keep your bag in a cool, ventilated room.

 

 Tip #4: Don’t Get Bent Out of Shape About Your Bag’s Shstuffed hand bagape

If you want to avoid ruining the structure of your bag, stretching the leather and breaking the zipper, avoid over stuffing it. Having said that, even when you’re not using your designer handbag, you should keep it appropriately stuffed with paper or a cushion, so it doesn’t lose its natural shape. If you’re buying a preloved handbag from a Facebook fashion group or Melltoo, make sure to ask sellers about any dents or structural problems that their bags might have, so you know what you’re dealing with when you get it.

 

Tip #5: Always Spot-Test a New Cleaning Method

If you’re going to try to clean your bag for the first time, make sure to test your DIY cleaning method on the inside of your bag or a place that no one can see it. Before cleaning it, do you research and make sure you know what kind of material you’re dealing with, so you can buy the right cleaning products for your DIY cleaning attempt. If you’re afraid to treat a stain or clean your bag yourself, there are several places in Dubai that can help you deal with that.

 

Like what you see? Keep up with Melltoo by visiting our website, liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter and Instagram (@helpmesellUAE), so you can learn just how easy buying and selling in the UAE can be! 

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Selling on Melltoo

Are you posting on the app for the first time? Here are some tips for what (or more importantly) what not to do when you’re selling on Melltoo. Once you’re finished posting your item for sale, we will handle the headache of promoting, payment and delivery on your behalf. Selling secondhand in the UAE has never been easier!

 When “framing” the picture of an item you want to sell…

Make sure to:

  1. Take pictures using natural light
  2. Wear an item or use a model to showcase an item when possible
  3. Arrange the photo and item(s) so they are attractive

Avoid:

  1. Taking pictures at night
  2. Taking a picture with flash
  3. Taking pictures of multiple items at the same time

 

 

 

 

When choosing the background for the picture of an item you want to sell…

Make sure to:

  1. Use a table or a wall with a solid color as a background
  2. Use a hook to hang bags or clothes on a wall
  3. Clean the surface before displaying your items

Avoid

  1. Taking pictures of your items on the ground or on a floral background
  2. Using a white background or a screenshot to advertise your item
  3. Using a dirty or reflective surface as a background

 

 

 

 When buying an item…ios-chat-to-buy-classifieds-dubai-app

Make sure to:

  1. Ask detailed questions about the item you’re buying
  2. Do research on the item and know it’s original price
  3. Negotiate a fair price with the seller

Avoid:

  1. Giving out financial information to sellers
  2. Asking for an unreasonable price on an item
  3. Don’t chat with a seller about an item unless you’re really interested in buying it

 

 

 

When selling your item…2

Make sure to:  

  1. Write a good description with lots of details
  2. Use relevant hashtags
  3. Set a reasonable price for your item

Avoid:

  1. Spelling mistakes and incomplete descriptions
  2. Asking for an unreasonable price for your item
  3. Selling counterfeit items