Behind The Brand: Jai Al-Attas of Loqules

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posted by James Willmott

Loqules, one unique idea that’s shaping action sports experiences for today, and the next generation. The idea was conceived in 2014 when co-founder and CEO Jai Al-Attas was in Osaka, Japan wondering around aimlessly looking for cool punk rock bars with no personal connection to the place. 2 years later, that’s no longer the case.

Built as a peer to peer marketplace to connect travelers with like minded local experts with great stories to curate amazing experiences, Loqules recreates the feeling you get when you’re in a new place doing cool stuff with cool people.

Offering everything from surf lessons with Taj Burrow and Otis Carey, to training days with NRL superstars, MMA training with Richie Vaculik and literally everything else in between including fine dining and music, the platform is definitely one to check out, and one to consider the next time you find yourself on the road or jet-setting abroad.

We caught up with the current CEO, Jai Al-Attas to discuss how the brand first came to fruition, what experiences are available, what’s next to come and so much more.

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Tell us how the Loqules concept first came to fruition and what it’s all about? It’s a really unique idea!
To fully understand why Loqules exists, It’s probably best to explain where we came from and how it led us to this idea. My best friend Mark Catanzariti and I grew up in Sydney; skating, surfing and listening to 90’s punk rock which was the soundtrack that fuelled a lot of our favourite surf/skate videos. That led us to starting an indie punk record label at 16 years old called Below Par, running it for 8 years before selling it to EMI in 2009. Throughout this time of our lives, getting to travel the world with our bands, going on tour and just having fun we realised that it was these experiences that shaped who we had become as people and those stories which were most valuable to us.

We started Loqules because we knew that experiences were much more valuable than the material things that we owned. The idea was to create a platform that stoked people out by changing the way the people experienced the world around them, essentially using experiences to improve people’s lives. Our customers get access to rad experiences with tastemakers they normally wouldn’t have, Our Loqules(the experts) can create a new revenue stream sharing their passions and with the community we #DoGood by donating experiences to charities and non-profits to raise money and awareness for their causes.

Tell us about some of the epic experiences Loqules offers?
Currently we have around 70 awesome experiences all based around the lifestyle space of surf, skate, snow, food, art, music, fashion and fitness. Some really cool experiences we have at the moment include getting to spend a week on a boat in the Mentawais with Taj Burrow to raise money for SurfAid to give back to the Indonesian communities that host us and another one in the US where you can spend a few days on the Vans Warped Tour, travelling on Kevin Lyman’s tour bus and getting a AAA pass to watch your favourite bands side of stage, hang out afterwards and really get a feel for what it’s like to be a touring musician.

Would you say you drew influence from the social media personalities and brands who do these activities which in turn grow their followers?
As our background is being in the music industry pre social media, we were able to witness firsthand the power that a positive experience can have on someone’s life. Something as simple as a fan getting to meet their favourite artist, an act that costs the artist nothing but time can be one of the most valuable moments in the fans life. I know that for me for example, I was making a documentary once on 90’s punk rock and somehow ended up living on Tim Armstrong’s (Rancid/Operation Ivy) floor for like a month. It’s one of the coolest things ever.

However the influence that social gave us, was that there were a whole subset of people out there with these niche engaged audiences that would be psyched to have an experience with them. We wanted to be the platform that empowers these tastemakers, to create businesses out of being themselves where their assets are their time, influence, knowledge and passion.

How do you people join the platform?
Loqules is a curated marketplace, so we have a team that approaches people that we think are crushing it and invite them to become part of our Loqules community. As far as customers are concerned, anyone can join and sift through the bunch of rad experiences in our marketplace.

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Can you tell us about some special experiences you’ve had yourself through the program?
One of the most special experiences I’ve personally had happened a couple of months ago at BOWL-A-RAMA in Bondi. We were doing an experience with pro skater Corbin Harris where you got to skate with Corbin and then be his VIP guest at the event the next day. Through Corbin, we were introduced to a 13 year old kid called Tom who suffers from this disease called Mitochondrial disease, which results in organ failure and an 80% fatality rate. Tom loves skateboarding but unfortunately doesn’t always have the energy necessary to participate. We invited Tom and his family to be part of our Loqules experience and secretly organised for a backstage hang out with Tony Hawk – none of the kids knew that they’d be meeting Tony up close and personal that day. So anyway Corbin gives them a backstage tour and then takes them into this tent saying “I want to introduce you to my friend… Tony Hawk”, the kids were so stoked and it was so cool of Tony to do that. We ended up teaming up with Tony’s foundation and donating the money raised from the experience so that he can empower youth and communities around the world.

That’s the stuff that’s really special to us, that we can use our platform to give back in a meaningful way and actually see the impact we can have on people’s lives. It’s a pretty good feeling.

Give us a brief history of Jai Al Attas.
Sure. Grew up in Sydney skating, surfing and listening to 90’s punk rock. Started a record label at 16 called Below Par Records, signed bands such as Kisschasy, Brand New and Yellowcard in Australia and sold the label to EMI when I was 24. Then I moved to LA to make a documentary on 90’s punk rock called One Nine Nine Four which was narrated by Tony Hawk, I got to interview all of my favourite bands from Green Day to Blink 182 to Rancid. Moved back to Australia, started a digital agency where I got to work with some really big clients like Disney Pixar, Playstation and GoPro before starting Loqules in 2015 and pouring all my energy into this.

Who else are the key stakeholders?
The two co-founders are myself and Mark Catanzariti, we’ve been best friends since we were 10 years old, started the record label together and even had a DJ group called “Best Friends DJ’s” where we got to close out Falls Festival one year with Purple Sneakers.

Where is Loqules HQ?
We have offices in Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne.

What’s one motto the Loqules team live by?
To do cool stuff that adds value. The value being to our customers, our Loqules, our people and the community.

Apart from experiences, what else do you guys offer?
Well the real value of the experiences are the stories, the moment and memories that we’re helping facilitate. If you think about buying a car, that’s something that will depreciate over time but if you think about a really rad experience you’ve had, that’s something that you’ll remember and talk about forever – these stories actually increase in value over time. They become part of who you are.

What’s next for the company? We can’t wait to see more!
Well we’ve been live for just over 12 months now and it’s been a whirlwind. We launched in Australia to see if this was a platform that people wanted and we’re proud to say that the people that do our experiences are stoked. 2016 is all about expanding into new markets especially the US, building our brand story and stoking people out. Our #DoGood initiative is integrated into our DNA, so it’s about creating experiences that not only help disadvantaged people but also allow us to create stories and send them into the world. It’s a really exciting time and we’ve only just begun.

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Want more? It’s your lucky day! We are giving away the opportunity to win a shaping and surfing experience with Haydenshapes and Pama Davies, with return flights and accomodation also included!

Enter here: https://info.surfstitch.com/loqules-competition