Loqules CEO Jai Al-Attas helps companies deliver intangibles that retain talent
By Andy Vasoyan
How much would you pay for a good story, a positive and enriching experience?
You could argue the best things in life are free, but startup CEO Jai Al-Attas has a different perspective.
“I was in Japan with my girlfriend at the time and I wanted to go out and have a fun time that night, maybe see some music,” Al-Attas recounts, “but I didn’t know anybody, and I thought, man, I’d totally pay somebody who knows the area to hang out and do something memorable.”
Thus was born the idea for Loqules, where locals (same pronunciation as the company name) would give a curated experience that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
Al-Attas founded the Playa Vista-based company with his lifelong friend Mark Catanzariti; together they already had a smorgasbord of one-of-a-kind experiences under their belts: the two had started a successful record label in their native Australia when they were both just 16.
“I was 13 years old and sneaking into pop-punk music shows, selling CDs out of a backpack,” Al-Attas says, “and then at 16 we started the label, and then a few years later I was going around the world, touring with bands. It was an incredible experience.”
After eight years of leading Below Par Records, Al-Attas and Catanzariti sold their label to American industry titan EMI, and Al-Attas set out on a new project making a documentary about the musicians that helped shape his life.
After he sold the label and made the documentary (interviewing bands like Blink-182 and Green Day, and getting Tony Hawk to narrate in the process), Al-Attas says “It was first time I had some real money, so I bought a bunch of stuff! I bought clothes, I bought an expensive car … now it’s just stuff, but those memories and connections I treasure.”
That’s the approach to experience that Al-Attas is bringing to his current iteration of Loqules, which, in classic start-up fashion, went through a sharp about-face after its inception.
“Even though there was a lot of interest, we knew we had to sell a lot of experiences. So we switched our aim to businesses.”
Especially in the technology sector, businesses have already used various perks and intangibles like the sprawling Googleplex campus, Apple’s fleet of buses and Snapchat’s multi-building setup in Venice to hire and retain talent amid a shortage.
Al-Attas says that to connect with millennials — a group he “borderline” qualifies for and “makes up 45% of the workforce” — companies have to do more.
“There’s only so many Apple watches you can have, you know, only so many stock options or so much stuff you can buy. So what millennials want now is an experience, and they want their company to care about them. We’re really in the experience economy.”
The experience economy allowed Loqules to fully pivot to business-to-business, a move Al-Attas credits with allowing them to start donating experiences on behalf of companies that want cultivate a socially responsible image. It also allowed them to connect with some serious influencers and tech companies — big names that lend themselves to, well, pretty cool stories.
“We’ve got an event coming up with Uber,” Al-Attas says, “and we’re working with Chef Louis Tikaram from [hip WeHo restaurant] E.P. & L.P and New Way of Life to make great food for formerly incarcerated women.”
That might make a story by itself, but Al-Attas has more: “Actually, one of the chefs who’ll be helping out at the event started at New Way of Life! She was in their program and came to some of the cooking workshops that we donated. She worked hard, and the executive chef brought her on. Now she’s got a job she’s passionate about.”
With events that have included pro surfing lessons, making street art with a well-known artist and a spar-and-lunch with a pro UFC fighter, with companies like SalesForce and Citibank, Al-Attas says that Loqules is well positioned to operate in the new economy.
“We’re looking to scale our experiences and move to other cities,” he says. “If we can help all these people have an experience they wouldn’t normally have, and we can help underserved people while we do it? That’s great.”
Connect with the company at loqules.com