How do I get into product hunting

This German founder wants to conquer the world of the rich in Dubai

It doesn't always have to be Silicon Valley. Or Berlin. At least that's what Andreas Skorski thought. And founded the startup The List in Dubai. Above all, this wants to make use of two factors in the country: the internationality and the wealthy clientele.

The List is supposed to bring exclusive luxury products online. On offer: a Chinese secretary from the 18th century or hard-to-get Hermes bags. Crazy people can even buy a private jet via the platform. "I've seen beautiful things all over the world - but then they could hardly be found on the Internet," says the 25-year-old. While mass-produced goods can now be conveniently ordered with a click from Amazon or Ebay, the Nuremberg native stated: the more exclusive the products, the less likely they will be to find them online.

So it's about luxury e-commerce. And thus an industry that is predicted to have a lot of potential. For example from McKinsey, who expect the sale of luxury goods on the Internet to triple by 2025 - and thus a total volume of 70 billion euros per year. Skorski believes that Dubai is exactly the right place to work on this growth market. "Small market, great purchasing power - Dubai is a good market to enter," says the founder.

Another peculiarity of the country is almost even more important to him. “90 percent of the people here are expats, i.e. foreigners,” emphasizes Skorski. Nowhere else can one observe the purchasing behavior of so many different nations as in Dubai. That should later help with the expansion into other countries. First, The List should expand in the Middle East, then maybe expand to India or the USA. The founder is certain that the headquarters will always remain in Dubai.

Skorski ended up in Dubai by accident. His mother, who worked in the medical field, went there - he had previously lived in Berlin. Today he says it was “a good decision” to follow her.

His idea for The List works like this: There is a monthly listing fee that the retailer has to pay for each product - the company does not collect sales commissions for it. The startup adjusts the presentation of the products according to the wishes of the customers, at least to a certain extent. "You should still realize that you are with The List," says Skorski.

Probably the best-known competitor in the luxury segment is Net-a-porter from London, which was taken over last year for almost 800 million dollars (725 million euros) from the Yoox Group. Mytheresa from Germany, which was launched in Berlin in 2006, has positioned itself in the business. The List is supposed to differ from both, explains Skorski, that The List stays away from the fast fashion market and relies on timeless items. That means: furnishings, photographs or clocks.

Compared to providers specializing in the respective areas such as Chronext, Skorski sees himself as having an advantage, "because customers who specifically choose an expensive watch are certainly candidates for beautiful furnishings". And vice versa. In Dubai - and the whole of the Middle East - Skorski still believes he has no direct competitors worth mentioning.

The List started "lean". “First of all, it's a platform and we don't have our own warehouse,” explains the founder. “We first have to find our business model and fine-tune a lot.” Accordingly, the team is also manageable: the company currently has twelve employees, but soon there will be twice as many. While dealers are mainly addressed from Dubai, the programmers are based in Germany and Poland, explains the company boss.

So far, The List has been bootstrapped, says Skorski. He contributed the capital for the beginning himself, before moving to Dubai he had made some money selling a marketing agency he had started. In order to attract the first customers to the platform and thus generate the first sales, he had come up with the following: Anyone who brought enough friends to the platform via social media received a voucher for later purchases. That was paid for by The List.

Skorski is currently in the process of raising external capital for The List. With the new money, The List will then go from being a mere agent to an e-commerce provider. Then customers can also buy the goods directly and have them delivered by The List. Before that can happen, however, the necessary IT and logistics must first be set up - by no means small. At some point, the startup's product hunters will find the coolest products in the world's high-end shopping streets and bring them onto the platform, Skorski dreams.