One’s satisfaction may not simply derive from achievements from being assigned to hotshot posts or as somebody of importance in big companies. This is the case of Turochas Fuad, formerly known as the Managing Director for Skype Asia Pacific and Senior Manager of Southeast Asia Yahoo! Mobile. With his formidable and extensive background in IT management at several high profile companies, he finally decided to surf the turf of the entrepreneurship world.
Just recently he introduced Travelmob, an online social stay marketplace where property owners in Asia Pacific can list unique spaces to visiting travelers for short or long-term stays. It’s also a venture co-founded alongside Mr Prashant Kirtane, his long-time associate back at Yahoo! who excels in technicalities. For him, it’s a match made in heaven as the pair now hand-in-hand together to drive Travelmob to become the leading website for its kind in Asia Pacific.
Why choose traveling as the theme after all these years involved in IT business? He simply stated, ‘It comes with a bit of passion as well. I love to travel, a huge traveling fan. That couple with the fact that my background has always been online and mobile’.
If we trace back, his love for traveling is perhaps driven back since his childhood times. He remembered, ‘When I was younger, my parents sent me to Singapore to study English’. After that, he decided to pursue his degree all the way to the US.
‘When I was in the US, I had a big passion for all things technologic. I was very lucky to end up in Silicon Valley. I had a very hardcore internet background’, he told us. He then stumbled across the chance to work for Sun Microsystems and also his initial call for entrepreneurship that came for the first time with his WUF Networks, later acquired by Yahoo! a couple of years afterwards.
A few years working with Yahoo! brought him back to Southeast Asia again after two decades in the US. Serving his time with Yahoo! and Skype taught him to develop his passion more seriously than ever. There, he learned more on how to coordinate with team members in other countries and also on how to establish and manage partnership with operators, advertisers and publishers across nations. Not to mention of course, his IT managerial capabilities since back from the old days at Silicon Valley.
All this then culminated to the no-longer-uncontainable desire to create his personal endeavor. ‘I missed doing something on my own. So combined with Prashant, we came up with this idea together and we decided to pursuit it’, he said remembering how it all started.
Certainly starting an innovative venture like this would require a lot of effort to simplify and personalize the needs of both hosts and travelers thus ensuring the user-friendliness of it. ‘If you look at Travelmob, even though the whole process seems to be straightforward but it took a while to make this thing going but we’re growing very quickly and there are always challenges in response to that’, he admitted. For that he manages a simple interface, simple payment, good relationships with the hosts, and promoting the website anywhere he goes.
Based in Singapore, Travelmob now continues to grow and serve in multilingual service and its teams spread all over Asia, such as in Hong Kong, Bali, Thailand, and The Philippines. On how to manage his staffs, Mr T claimed that he handpicked them all by himself. ‘All the people that we hired so far, I personally interviewed them and made the final decision. I always believe in hiring people who are smarter than me, at least in certain areas’. He firmly believes that one must be able to put the trust on his people, ‘Because at the end of the day, a CEO cannot do every single thing. So you have to be able to delegate well but you sort of make sure that everybody is singing the same song’.
Mr T is also an avid believer in good communication and maintaining good terms with his team members. Aside from communicating online, he also finds the opportunity to visit them and see how they’re doing from time to time. ‘The best way to learn what people want and ways to improve your site or your product is to basically let people tell you’, he explained. Furthermore he said, ‘You can look at your competitors and try to look what else to be better but sometimes the basic fundamental stuff is to ask to people who use the site the most and say ‘Hey, what do you want to build next?’ and based on that you prioritize accordingly.’
If it’s about the motivation, he needs also to ensure that his team members are up for it. ‘Especially for a startup, sometimes goals will change. One week it could be this, next week it could be that’, he explained about the dynamics of this industry. ‘It’s not because we’re indecisive, it’s because we have to react accordingly. Sometimes you test and learn, but then you realize that it’s not working so you try a different way, further he added.
During his pastimes, he becomes a real fan of scuba diving as he has done that back in Bali and Bunaken. He also mentioned his travels to other countries such as his love for traditional life holiday in Chiang Mai, all the skiing and unique powdery snow in Hokkaido, also his quite recent safari for honeymoon back in Tanzania. Thankful of his adventures so far in the IT world and the real world with travels, ‘All of that came to me as a great opportunity. If you think you can create the best out there, you have to do it yourself’.
To be able to get this far, Mr T confessed that he idolized the way Silicon Valley moguls work and also his parents for being his source of inspiration. From them, he quoted a beautiful and inspirational saying, ‘You want to be a king of something but not a prince of everything’. Thus Travelmob was born and ready to take the world.
Name: Turochas ‘T’ Fuad
Age: Born in Medan, now at his late 30s
The University of Texas at Austin (Bachelor of Business Administration)
2012 – present: CEO & Co-Founder of Travelmob Pte Ltd.
July 2009 – April 2012: Managing Director, Skype Asia Pacific
June 2007 – July 2009: Head of Mobile – Senior Director, Southeast Asia Yahoo!
2005 – 2007: Director Business Development, Mobile Music Yahoo!,Inc.
2003 – 2005: President, Entrepreneur, Business Development at WUF Networks
2001-2003: Director Product Management & Strategy at Convito, Inc.
1997-2001: Electronic Commerce Manager at Sun Microsystems, Inc.
1995- 1997: Consultant at American Management Systems, Inc.
Images courtesy of Cognito PR Consultant