Private jets, personal chefs, VIP nightlife, chalets and chateaux. For each member of the high life elite, there are those that make all that luxury happen. Visionary entrepreneurs Yuri Rabinovich and Vadim Slavin are focused on the consummate professionals who make the improbable possible, every day. VERITAMO is their innovative B2B platform that offers instant access to thousands of world-class services and experiences sourced among the independently vetted suppliers and buyers.
It was a serendipitous partnership. Rabinovich was leading research in complex event processing at IBM while Slavin was in charge of modeling and simulations at Lockheed Martin. The two met at a start-up pitch event (where else would ambitious recent Silicon Valley transplants socialize?!) and over the next few years acquired several successful ventures under their belt. Once an investor from the duo’s seed funding mentioned a quality gap he had experienced in luxury shopping customer service. The a-ha moment led to what came naturally to them both – research. They started with “just walking around Union Square in San Francisco and visiting all the high-end boutiques to gain insight into the luxury shopping experience” and quickly realized that the initial idea of a shopping concierge app was too limited. Rabinovich noted that the opportunity existed across all the luxury service verticals: hotels, restaurants, spas, transport.
VERITAMO was launched in 2014 and has since connected hundreds of companies in 40+ countries. From USA to UAE, it is one of the fastest growing worldwide networks powering the global luxury travel and hospitality industry. We caught up with VERITAMO co-founders to find out about their plans for 2017 and beyond.
Angela Han: What is the landscape of the luxury services industry?
Yuri Rabinovich: We see the most growth in corporate concierge services. Major banks and corporations that want to keep their staff and clients happy focus on employee loyalty programs as well as rewards for high net worth individuals (HNWIs). Both require strategic tailoring to their respective needs.
Vadim Slavin: That’s the challenge: to keep your list of providers and suppliers fresh and relevant. Big companies have their own databases, but too often they are sourced from Google searches. Can this info be trusted? Who are the people that will reply, provide services and be accountable? In this discerning industry, there’s just no room for mistakes. Before VERITAMO, there was no platform that connected vetted high-end buyers and suppliers. An archaic system of gatekeepers with transparency issues did not exactly inspire confidence and trust.
AH: What are the advantages of using VERITAMO?
YR: Nobody wants to lose a client, that’s why many companies try to incentivize their clients with more and more unique experiences. However, they lack access to global service suppliers. They want to deliver, but can’t always figure out how to do it right.
VS: It’s common to hear: “Oh, I got a guy for that.” We are the guys creating a space for those guys. This network is designed to help ensure that key clients receive excellent care. Soon enough we will have “a guy” for everything! Buyers gain access to world-class services. Suppliers benefit from increased visibility. It’s all about relationships.
AH: This industry deals with complex financial transactions worldwide… How does VERITAMO handle this aspect?
YR: Trust is a big component when it comes to payments. There are plenty of hearsay stories about inefficiency, risks and downright disasters. For example, providers usually request wire transfers. However, when you need to quickly rent a villa for hundreds of thousands of dollars, it could be an issue. Meanwhile, credit cards aren’t always acceptable solutions because suppliers fear charge-backs.
VS: VERITAMO addresses these issues by providing tools that make transactions such as quotes, invoices, and payments efficient and organized. Our goal is to solve cross-border payments so that when a client travels, everything is no-hassle. Commissions is another challenge in this business. That’s why we are introducing a special commission distribution feature to help both buyers and suppliers stay on track.
AH: What is the verification process like for your suppliers and buyers?
VS: We are an invite-only platform. Our members must go through a vetting process similar to how a bank vets their clients. We analyze enough information to be able to understand how large the company is, how vested the owners of the company are in their business, and how vested they will be in rectifying potential negative situations. By checking off a list of criteria created by industry experts, we end up with a dynamic score that’s visible to all users. We’ve seen buyers select higher-priced suppliers just because their reputations are stronger.
YR: What’s in a name? VERITAMO is Veritamo Amo in Italian which means “love of trust”. That’s what we are creating. At the end of the day, all people want assurance in their interactions.
For all the digital communication, people best build personal connections face-to-face. Understanding the importance of meeting in person, Rabinovich and Slavin launched VERITAMO Connect Europe 2016, a lifestyle management conference in Monaco. It brought together global industry experts to network and share industry trends, best practices, and HNWI client expectations. The event was so successful that VERITAMO will host two summits in 2017: one in March 6-8 in Dubai, UAE, and the second in October 4-6 in Monaco. “We do these conferences because it’s the best way to face all the issues in the industry,” said Slavin. “What we are hoping to solve for our clients is what they are telling us needs fixing. Thus, we are building exactly what they want.”
AH: So how does VERITAMO work?
YR: Our B2B messenger connects businesses to each other on the company level as well as individual expert level. We get a request, dispatch it to multiple sources, get instant responses from companies that can service it. 24/7. 365. Stress-free.
VS: This is unprecedented in the industry. “Traditionally,” you’d have to identify your own suppliers, send them emails, leave messages, wait till someone gets back to you… all the while without any or few guarantees. This just doesn’t work today when clients are constantly on the move and time is of the essence. With VERITAMO, it only takes one submission. One and done.
AH: What happens if you receive a request in a location you don’t service?
YR: VERITAMO always approaches local lifestyle management companies first, since they can broker any service with local suppliers.
VS: If we don’t have someone in a particular location, we will go out and find the right supplier there. Requests have already taken us to remote parts of Australia, South Africa, around Eastern Europe... We strive to bring more suppliers from all over the world on board. It’s exciting!
AH: What’s the most challenging part of your work and the most rewarding?
VS: Our core concept is trust. We are here to ensure that no faux pas ever happens. Communicating that trust, providing assurance, and building all the different components into the system is our biggest – and most rewarding – challenge. It keeps us on our toes.
YR: The most rewarding part is giving our clients access to things and experiences they could previously only dream of. It’s that WOW moment when they get the power of being connected. It’s awesome!