no Longer a Digital Desert:

compareit4me founder Jon Richards talks tech, talent, and triumph in the Middle East start-up scene

Randstad's Tom Southgate interviews CEO Jon Richards is one of Dubai's tech success stories. Founded by CEO Jon Richards in 2012, has rapidly grown into the Middle East's leading finance comparison site. Already active across 8 countries, assists thousands of people every day by allowing them to quickly compare anything from credit cards to insurance products, from a range of leading banking and financial institutions.

To learn more about what makes so successful, Tom Southgate met with Jon to find out how his company secures the best tech and e-commerce talent the region has to offer. 


Tom: What positive changes/trends have you seen in the E-Commerce market in the UAE in 2017?

Jon: "The increased willingness to pay online has been a very positive development this year.

PayFort, an online payments provider, is recording higher and higher numbers for e-commerce transactions – as of the end of May e-commerce payments are growing at 8% per month. That’s incredibly important when it comes to the growth of the e-commerce industry in the UAE.

Another point is that more and more e-commerce companies are receiving funding in the UAE. That means these companies can invest in customer acquisition, which also equals customer education, which will hopefully help grow the number of people who are buying online.

We’re also seeing great results coming out of Saudi Arabia – that market is really poised for an e-commerce boom, with all of the factors mentioned above playing out there. The difference, of course, is that the addressable market is so much bigger, making it really exciting."


Tom: Do you feel that there is the right talent in the region to support the current Tech boom?

Jon: "There is. We have a lot of talent now; it’s not like 2011, when I first came here and you were really hard-up to find people who knew anything about digital marketing, for example. It’s still a shallow talent pool, so, for some specialist roles, you may still need to look abroad.

But I think the digital talent coming out of Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt is amazing. And not only do they have incredible skills and knowledge, but they’re also enthusiastic about innovative products and ideas, meaning they’ll contribute a great deal to growing the market."


Tom: How does attract savvy digital candidates?

Jon: "I think our working environment helps. When people walk in for a meeting or interview, they see that we have a fun atmosphere – things like table tennis and electric skateboards and all those kinds of things. It means that the younger generation are more likely to want to come and work with you.

Also, I think we’re working on some interesting and innovative products. And, above all that, when I think about the higher purpose that we’re all working towards at compareit4me – saving customers time and money when it comes to taking insurance or banking products – the team here buys into the idea completely. We really do save people a lot of time and money, and that gives people an extra reason to want to come to work."


Tom: Who do you admire in the market for their innovation and service offering?

Jon: "When I think about what we’re trying to achieve, which is a multi-market, ubiquitous service offering, the person I’m inspired by would be Ronaldo Mouchawar at What he’s created is a product that spans across markets. He’s solved the localised issues that each one of those markets has, and that’s something we have to do. We look to examples like that when we’re deciding how we’re going to proceed in our regional expansion."


Tom: How do you see the future for the UAE and their progression into becoming one of the world's best known countries for digital and e-commerce?

Jon: "The UAE government and the companies that are based here have moved the market on significantly. It is easier to set up and do business here now, and the fact that there’s more talent here makes it even easier to run good, strong businesses.

But there are still a number of improvements that need to be urgently addressed – in my eyes. Things like visas are still a major problem – issuing visas can be far too difficult. And with the telecoms, the fact that Skype is a debatable issue just seems mad to me as a business owner. Overall, it’s great doing business here, but improvements can always be made."


Randstad MENA are actively assisting companies big and small to attract, hire, and retain skilled professionals the technology sector. If you'd like to know more about how we can help your business grow, or how to find e-commerce jobs in the Middle East, get in touch today.

Tom Southgate - Regional Business Manager

Tom has helped connect innovative and high profile businesses with the top talent in the FMCG and Manufacturing & Logistics sectors since 2016. 

Based in Randstad's Dubai office, Tom focuses on the hospitality, retail, food & beverage, consumer goods, media, and e-commerce industries. To find out how your business can attract and hire tech and e-commerce specialists, contact Tom today.

contact Tom

about is the Middle East's leading comparison site. Using its platform, users can compare bank accounts, credit cards, loans, cars and more in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman and Egypt, as well as compare and buy insurance policies from the UAE’s leading insurers.

Additionally, is committed to bringing more transparency to the region’s finance industry, and actively works to educate users so that financial literacy can be improved across the Middle East.


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