The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 8 months ago

VAT Refunds Don’t Have to Be Painful w/ Ameer Jumabhoy


Have you ever tried to get a VAT refund when traveling abroad?

Most of the time, it’s hard to tell if it's even worth the hassle. It’s a nightmare.

But it doesn’t have to be.

My latest guest is Ameer Jumabhoy, Co-Founder and VP of Consumer Technology at UTU, a company making painful VAT refunds a thing of the past.

What we talked about:

  • The problem with VAT refunds
  • How UTU is making it easier to get your refund
  • Why the industry has been slow to change

This post includes highlights of our podcast interview with Ameer Jumabhoy, Co-Founder and VP of Consumer Technology at UTU.

For the entire interview, you can listen to The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, we suggest this link.

We're talking about an industry thatthat goes back to, but it's an industry that has notchanged in terms of process. You're. Listening to the DTB revenueexecutive experience, a podcast, dedicated elpen executives, train theirsales and marketing teams to optimize growth, whether you're looking fortechniques and strategies wore tools and resources. You come to the rightplace. Let's accelerate your growth in three to one: welcome eveyone to the Bto b revenue executive experience. Ome Your host Chad Sanderson today we'retalking about an interesting business, ready for change and invation tax freeshopping. Anyone that's traveled overseas as seen or experienced theoffers of refunding sales tax to encourage tourism xports. But theprocess for reclaiming those refunds is painful. I can speak from experiencehaving purchased, maybe more watches than I should have from Germany lastyear. The offer was compelling, but in actually fifty percent of the cases. Ididn't finish the process for getting the refund just because it was such apain in my rear, so to help us were lucky to have a mere gimmaboy,cofounder and VP of consumer technology for Youto use in Singapore me. Thankyou so much for taking the time and welcome to the show, hey thanks, fomuch for having me chat it's great to be here and to share more about what wead you to are doing, but, first es wing to say, hope. You and your loved onesare doing well, as we ente Thi sbested period man, it's been a whild year. Dihisfit has been a dumpster fire oveyear for many yes, absolutely, but there arepositives coming out of it, and you know vaccines here and Dick. You know Idon't know how anybody could truly be upset during the holiday season. Ithink it just hopefully is a great ending to the year for everybody, and Ihope for you and yours as well thank yot. So before jump into the topic ofthe day, we always like to ask our guess a question to help our audienceunderstand them a little bit better and based on the year that we've had hi'verecently changed this question. So when you look back over the last year,what's the largest lesson you learned and took away from kind of the trialsand tribulations that we had this year? Yeah I'd definitely say that, whilethat has been a year, that's been incredibly challenging for so manybusinesses and lives. I think what I've learned is that it's so important totake the time to celebrate every little victory. You know even things we mighthave traditionally take in forgrounsed. As an example, I go to this littlelocal coffee shop near my office almost every day and I've gone pretty friendlywith the owner. Then I told him one day. You know that weare in Travl, teck andout of the blue. He made this nice design on my coffee, FORMD CAPPUCCINOand the design was of these wings and he wrote on my cup. You know, may twothousand and twenty one year return to tourism and for you to sor higher- andyou know it was just nice- it's a small gesture, but it just goes a long wayand times like this, and I started to really appreciate these things. A lotmore. It's been a year, I would say of reflection and a lot of introspectionabsolutely when we work with customers. WWE've implemented this process, evenin our virtual workshops, an whe. We work, customers of starting each daywith the gratitude exercise and when we urged them to go beyond puppies,rainbows and Unicorns, and to really dig deep and figure out what it is thatyou are truly grateful for because it has such positive impacts, and I thinkfocusing on the little winds is a big lesson for everybody from two thousandand twenty and going into to two thousand and twenty one. So Iappreciate you sharing that with us now for our listeners, how about we givehim a little bit of more context around Youtube Kand of what you do and wherethe idea for the company came from sor, so were kind of funny company inthes sense that my cofounder is my dad, which makes a very interesting dynamic,both at homeand of the office. So he has decades of experience in thetaxre shopping industry and he was heing building the two major players inthe space we started youtube together,...

...born out of a belief that the industryneeded to go towards BTC and really create and curate human experiencesaround. What you pointed out earlier is a rather painful VAT refund process, soso that's kind of what got us into the space and what we do are a couple ofthings: product wise and what I would say. Most importantly, we start bygiving an eighty five percent refund versus what you get today, which isabout sixty percent with the current system, with the cooperation of storesand brands were able to actually deliver a full hundred percent value ofthe refund for a second sale in store, and what kind of has allowed us to godown this direction. Are the European Union statues that really say that thetax credit belongs to the tourist and with no Europe pushedwards, premarketand customer choice? We've been able to deliver this entire package and a easyto understand mobile experience? I know that's Wat loaded people often ask meOrdo, you have a thirty second elevator pitch FORWR. You guys do its a verycomplicated annitionthustry a and I don't so maybe maybe that's a fortyfive well, we can. I mean, let's step him through it right, because I thinkanybody a lot of our audience, a men of course we're going pre covid, but Imean I had a hundred and sixty eight thousand air miles last year, many ofthe our listeners traveled internationally as well. I myself oftentake advantage of those tax free shopping experiences either for giftswhich I'm really hurting for the holidays this year, just because Ididn't travel international, but also because I have a watch issue. I really,I don't know why. I need, as many watches as I have, but I always buythem overseas when I go, but let's start with kind of a basic descriptionfor the audience of that tax freeshopping industry. What what is itkind of give the the will start and kind of go step by step? What is theindustry? How does it work? What was what was it design to do? Okay, so thevt refund industry or taxbe shopping industry started because countries sawan opportunity to promote tourist exports and spending within the countryby refunding value at a tak or what we know is VAT and the logic for this kindof came in the following way. If you take a cargo ship that goes to, Italypicks up a thousand hand bags and leaves that's counted as a vg freeexport, and if you kind of check it one step further, it's not dissimilar to athousand passengers, each of whom buys a handbag and leaves the country Byaplane its just a different media. So what they said is okay: Let's extendthis concept of that free exports to the tourism market, but there's anadded benefit from tourism. What we calld a multiplier fact that touristsare not just coming to shop in newr country, but theyr visiting yourattraction. The thing Yo etells, Tha eatin your restaurants, so there aremore economic activities that Accru from tourism. So if you think about it,it really is an added benefit to the tourism retail industry, becauseYoureurope and most of the world' refund eight five percent of them a donin Europe. Europe has been very pro customer choice and hence they haveallowed the free market to handle these refunds. But, as youv pointed out, chat,it's caused over the years, a very difficult user experience wheretourists are finding that they're getting very little for their refund,roughly sixtey percent, of what they do and Thae's a whole manual paperbaseprocess, which I don't know if that'll be interesting for your audionce tolisten to but ow, it's painful. It's papuls hell it Papla, I'm even scaredto start talking about it, because it's paiful and ha that that's what we'rereally trying to to take away. Is that problem of doing a few things onegetting less than what you deserve to taking away the qeuing up of touristsand multiple counters at the airport and three seeing and finding ways forus to work with governments to help to digitize the experience to make it atruly ente and process that people can...

...enjoy? I don't see why shopping andthis kind of last mile piece of the touris shopping experience should bethis difficult because you're groing on holiday, you want to be in a good Moov.You want to leave in a good mood, and I can't tell you the number of faces oftourist ave seen more just upset, because they've either potentially evenmiss their flight or are running. You know from arasoms to to thei gate tomake that sight, and it's just something that we're trying to solve inour own way. Well- and I remember I mean literally last year, I bought atag hour watch and I they. The gentleman was attempting to explain tome the three places in the airport. I was going to have to go and I'm like. Ijust basically said you know what I like the watch enough, that I don'twant to deal with that and just split like I was like I'm out, and so I'mcurious. This is, it seems to me to be such a huge potential economic driverfor the for the countries that embrace it. Why do you think this point? It'slagged behind other industries in terms of embracing a mobile friendly customerexperience, centric approach yeah. So I think the first thing I would say iscountries are taking a forward thinking approach and I'm starting to see manycountries actually embrace the digital piece on the custom side and that'ssomething that we're very appreciative. For so Italy francs, for example, thosegovernments are pushing towards ligetization for their governmentprocessor. I think where say the bottle neks have started to come in have beenon the tax pre operator side, and these are private companies who are fairlysizeable in our industry. There are two large companies that control you knowninety plus percent of the market, and I think you know to go back to yourquestion. Why has this industry like behind others? I see that two reasons.The first is tat the industry was born in so we're talking about three iphone presmartpone and the only place to get refund phons the tourist was in shops.Sho. Current processes have been built on top of this logic, so paper folmsare still handed out in stores. This will change and has started to change,but I think that saguays into the next compolente of this question, which isthe business model so because of various costs associated with runningyou know these manual systems we've been talking about the operators andyou can count them or less Tan than one hand, have liberally taken more fromtourists as the years have gone by so you know th. The second real issue isthis intrenchment in a business model that may not be the right one in aworld that has gone be to see that has gone mobile and that has leverageddigital tools to empower people to make choices. So that would really be it,and so, when you think about so so as I approach it from the the touriststandpoint right from somebody who's going through these shops, I go to toIreland or Singapore or whetever, and I spent a lot of money in the country aswell, seeing the sites and doing that, but also that tax free shopping is very attractive. But what I have neverunderstood is where's the intersection between the brands. You Know Tad, I'mgonta use, watches tjust, because that's what I know I don't I don'tcarry bags so so tag and Omega and and all of these types of brands where'sthe intersection between the brand, the government and the consumer. In termsof I mean it seems to me it's very convoluted and creates a friction point.So do you have to not only get the governments on track with this ore? Is this where youhave to also marry brand influence as well? So this is where it gets reallyinteresting right. So, on the custom side, in order to operate a VAT refundsystem, you need to be integrated with the customs of that specific country,and you have to work with the governments to be able to do that and,as I said, government has started taking a very proactive view on thisand and not duditizing fairly quickly...

...when it comes to the brand. It's kindof interesting because, as I said, the brands have traditionally been theplace where the tax refund operators form has been handed out to tourists.But again, this is we're talking about a concept that goes to preiphone whatwe actually did over the summer and what I would say is Youtube has usedthis year quite wisely, is to really drill deep and understand theregulations around who owns the tax credit. And so we raise a inquiry tothe Italian anteaches and monopolies. Commission and my apologies im notgoing to even try to pronounce it Italian because I don't potentially anyof our Italian audience. But we raise the inquiry to ask you know to whomdoes the tax predit actually belong? And what we found out is that, based onthe European Union regulations that tax credit is owned by the tourists and thetourist is free to choose or not to choose a refund operator, so thatunlocks the EAC, O C opportunity. Where today, what we're saying is you knowGime, I the tourist. Yes, you can get your refund from the shop, but youdon't necessarily have to use a refund operator who gives you that piece of paper, because it is justa credit and it's a credit that you own, so you should theoretically be able toassign it to any operator who gives you the best deal right. Don't forget this is aboutdriving tourism exports, it's about getting people to spend more in thecountry. So what we do when working with brands-and this kind of goes back to through the whole value chain is we want to work with the brands bydoing two things? One is we want to help tourists to receive more of theirrefund right, but we also want to help browl brands to sell more becauseyou're going to just by that tag, foy or Wan Non Right. Let go back to yourexample right. What? If I told you, Chad, hey on this tag, hower watch you'going to get the full value of your refund, and you can use thisimmediately to buy a wallet that I'm going to set sell you that's alsoTanhoa Walla O. I know Tanhoye doesn't necessarily make Walet no, but I'm Wei,I bin. We want you to spend more at Ti, hower right, so I've achieve theobjective of the Bradut to sell another item. I've achieved the objective ofthe tourist is to feel like they have gotten more for their shopping in termsof the refund amount and I've achieved wit. The government wants to do just tokeep money being circulated in the local economy, so I've actually thenaligned everybody's incincentives in a nice intersection through a mobileexperience, so complicated answer I know, but the ijust really stitch thesethree actors together to bring a lot more value to each well andI think for anybody who's experienced and some I'm sure some listerners arelike WTF like what, but for anybody in the audience, who's traveledinternationally and you've done this more than once I', because I know Ihave over the let's just not talk about how manyyears, but a lot of years that I've traveled internationally every timethat I get that little piece of paper, I literally do a mental calculation. DoI want to go through s? Is it a refund enough that I want to go through allthe steps necessary? Whereas to your point, let's I mean: Let's change it ifit were a different brand and right there in a mobile experience rightthere in the shop, I can receive that credit. I would eighty five percent ofthe time be more inclined to add to my initial purchase, so the size of mypurchase goes up. The bundling for the brand goes up, the economic impact forthe country goes up and the question I've always wondered because I mean Ithink you and I have probably been in digital about the same amount of time.Why in the world, did somebody not figure this out before I'm kind ofcurious? And I know I'm off scripture,... this is a totally unscriptedquestion, but but from your perspective, what's kept this from happening beforenow? I think you know again we're talking about an industrythat that goes back to S, but it's an industry that has notchanged in terms of process, but the people who have helped to build up theindustry have changed to where I would really kind of SEM, very thankful tohave somebody like my dad who's actually owned and built both the twobik companies in the space right and he's essentially taken his experienceand knowledge to Crot. You know these products, like our hundred percentrefund proposition right to be able to understand that the right of the refurdbelongs to the tourist and then it's a question of saying: How do you rewardthe tourist for a second span? So it really takes a nuanced understanding ofthe industry annoone's understanding of how the industry got here to be able tocreate a different suite of products that are built for today's world, and Ithink really. The Secret Saurce is because my dad understood the conceptof the fact that the tax credit belongs to the tourist that has allowed us tobuild the concept of the hundred percent reton, the second sal andreally, theoretically, if you think about it, start to harmonize and takeadvantage of the tourism multiplier effect by bringing in a whole host ofother actors into the refunding ecosystem. You know, such asrestaurants, attractions and allowing them to give tourists a reason to shopor spend their money at these attractions at these restaurants. So soI think it's really a question of experience chat more than anything whenI think you have, then the perfect combination right somebody who grew upin the industry helped to find it within your father and then somebodywho I'm going Ao assume and if I am incorrect, please I mean no dipect forcorrect me, but somethody grew up in a digital world and understands that itreally can break down. Those friction points between individuals andbusinesses and those experiences- and I think, that's a great confluence ofexperience, talent and insight that I think youtube benefits from that. I'mnot seeing as a tourist in any of the other solutions or attempted solutionsthat are out there, and so when I think about how you go to market when, whenyou go to market, to get the tourists on board to get the brands on board, doyou have do you have a partnership group? Is it partnership based? Is itreally pushing the mobile platform like what does that go to market strategy?Look like yeah, so the the go to market strategy I' like to think of allplatform as multisided. There's a BEA TO B component and there's a BCcomponent and each needs to be treated differently. Yet we think that thehuman experience across both sides needs to be empathetic, firstly andempowering. Secondly, on the beach beside, we hold a dee belief as acompany that it's going to be local people who understand their own markets,and so we have tended to higher local and contribute to the local economy bybuilding local partnership teams. So we've been spending a lot ofbour time,building lean small technologically enabled sales teams for onboardingtourists and Useir education. You know, I think social media is great for sure,but it's a little bit of a scatte Gon Approach. Sometimes so you know what we believe in ispartnerships with companies who believe in our mission and are looking to makea difference in the human experience of cross border travel as well yea. Youknow I have to. I have to tip my hat to Ye ma, because I was literally, I wastalking to Stevhen, denny or earlier today he's one of the CO authors ofunfiltered marketing and they did a four year. Quantitative ResearchProject on people living in a digital world kind of all of a sudden, givingup trust like there's this declining sense of trust, with institutions as aresult of th, digital and and one of the things that we talked aboutextensively, was this concept of...

...extreme credibility and a value basedapproach and having companies that actually do have a value based backingfor the way that they execute, and that to me sounds like exactly what you'redoing, and I just wanted to recognize it and applaud it, because I think itis going to set the stage for the types of brands that companies engaged withas we go into two thusand and twenty one and beyond, not only because ofwhat we've been through, but just because the digital medium itself cansometimes be a little bit convoluted. Shall we say and notparticularly trustworthy. So I just wanted to recognize that and applaudthat for you bringing to life a value base. What I'm doing is a value basedapproach to the business feeding the local economies, making sure that youare enabling the tourist and you're speaking my language when you talkabout you know that customer experience so so hat's off to you for that N. Ijust as a tourist myself just wanted, take the opportunity to say thank you.Thank you. You know chat. What what I really do believe is business is donebetween people. It's done in a handshake, that's how it was donetwohsand years ago, it' still how we should do things today, and I thinkthere is so much value and so much learning we can get from each otheronce that handshake is made that you don't get. You know through socialmedia or even sometimes, to some extent- and I know one zoom right now throughzoom, when your quality time with people being able to understand theirpain points and for them to understand your pain points really help to developa better relationship and from that comes better solutions that we can,then you know bring to market as well. Absolutely, absolutely all right. So,let's Change Direction here, a little bit. We ask all of our guests kind oftwo standard questions towards the inderveach interview. The first issimply as a CO founder of YouTube. That makes you a prospectfor a lot of people, so I'm sure, like many others out there you're gettingrequests more and more request for time on your calendar and I'm always curious.We know that referrals and introductions are obviously the mosteffective way to get into organizations to talk to people, but when somebodydoesn't have that when they don't have somebody walking in the door and sayhey, you really need to talk to this person. What do you find to be mosteffective at capturing your attention and earning the right to time on yourcalendar? WHOA, Chad, 'a pretty loaded question Iill TII TAT. It is laned, so you know you know. hthere are timeswhen I put to other people and there are other times when I'm being pitchedto so. In the second scenario, what I really appreciate is someone who hastaken the time to learn about my business and perhaps play around withmy ap or read my website before they make their opening pitch, and I saythat I say that, because I'd like to think that I take this same level ofCarewhen, I am pitching to pospective brand. For example, you know I askedmyself questions while doing my presales research, such as what are theissues that is this brand facing in thei tourism retail business. Can Mytechnology help them? What are the stones under their feet? And you knowwhat is perhaps preventing them from thinking differently about the taxrefund space? What is the customize pitch that I can make to them? Let metell you an experience I had this morning in fact quite timely or where Iwas pitching out business to a top ter bench, a capital firm and the firstthing. The person I was speaking to said was hey. I love your Uirou x andive spent the past half in our checking out your at, and I can't tell you howmuch this meant to me, because I could tell this individual was a real pro,even though I was pitching to him about our business and that just puts youknow things on the right foot. It develops that sense that pay the otherperson cares about me and I care about them, and I think it's so important notto lose that as we, you know, make our relevant sales pictures. Well, let's,let's talk about your AP for second, because I have to say now just betweenyou and me, our Audienceis, putting on ther yeur must right now, I'm notreally a teal guy and we use a lot of tea. We use a lot of teal in our stuff,but I do have to tell you your APP is...

...quite impressive. So if anybodylistening does not understand the concepts of what we're talking aboutwhen how this taxree works, if you download the out ou APP you're going tonotice that there's videos in there that very simply point out how thisworks, how it's going to benefit you you want to talk about seamless andfocused on you as a tourist, were a traveler highly recommend that youdownload the APP. It is very slick very well designed, I mean the joke insideof the designer community, and those hat. Listen have heard me says: beforeswe can argue about, should it be blue or should it be teol, but the design ofit itself is extremely informative, extremely easy to access and so reallyhighly recommend anybody who's. Not Following what a me- and I are talkingabout download the APP itill answer- a lot of your questions. So I appreciatethat Responsob Yor, thank you for sharing that. So, when you think aboutsales and marketing people in general, and you think about one piece of advice,just just one yeah you could give them that you feel like would help themcrush their targets. What would it be and why so you know I really love sports chat.You know I played sports in school yeah, not just ports. You come on now, Ithink, you're being a little, I think, you're holding back there. Myunderstanding is, you were pretty impressive. No, you know I just always grown up with a sportcolture in my family. I used to play soccer for my school and what I loveabout sports in general and almost every single game you play is thatthere are constantly changing dynamics and I genuinely believe that successcomes about by being able to adjust and adapt to these other changing dynamics.So I would say if I would have one bit of advice- and maybe these are a fewwords of advice- I'm going to take a little bit of a liberty. Oh please dobe flexible, adaptable but most importantly be empathetic when you'retrying to make hin close a sale, and I think that this whad empathetic becomeseven more important as we look to a just to post covid world. You know oncewe get back to a point where we're all healthy. We we're all meeting eachother again, just remember, to be empathetic an and understand what theother person has gone through, what they're going through and kraft aspecific response that will help them, and I think your sales target will comeabout through that, because I always believe that you hit your targets bymaking the right decisions, absolutely love it and could not agree more. Imean I can't thank you enough or taking time to be on the show. It's beenabsolute pleasure. Thank you again for taking time so close to the holidays. Ireally appreciate it and just again want to say thank you no and thank you so much Chad. This hasbeen a great discussion. I'd like to take this opportunity just before youknow we close to wish everybody who's, listening health and safety for thisbest of season, and I hope that two thousand, an twenty one, will be a newchapter for all of us and I can't wait to meet. You know some of you perhapson your travels next to Europe when you're, trying out our tax free systemabsolutely, and so, if there are, I people that are interested in learningmore about Youto or or speaking with you, where do you? Where would you like,is to send them sure? So you know listeners can followus on Youtu's social media and we're on pretty much every major platform. Butif people are interested in listening to my rants about my soccer team ore,doing terribly tha and the occasional nuggets of wisdom- or I don't even knowits wisdom but bu thoughts about our industry, you can find me on mypersonal twitter handle as well perfect. I thank you so much mere. I can't thankyou enough. Hey thanks, Chad and happy holidays, happy holidays to you, myfriend, all right, everybody that does it for this episode. You know the drillbe to be revizaccom Shur, the episode with friends, Family Coworkers. Letyour kids listen to it. Instead of getting their faces stuck in screensover the holidays, everybody have a wonderful holiday season, a great newyear n until next year. We have how you...

...selling associates, which will nothing,but the greatest uccess you've been listening to the btobrevenue executive experience to ensure that you never miss an episodesubscribe to the show, an itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank youso much for listening until next time.

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