Toine Rodenburg has a unique perspective on Internet-based technology. He’s both an investor and innovator, a keen observer of trends and emerging opportunities. Here, he shares his insights, based on experience that dates back to the early days of the dot-com boom.
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to the company you helped lead and grow, MyMalls?
Toine Rodenburg: MyMalls is a cross-border shopping facilitator focused on the Caribbean, Canadian and Latin America markets. Customers receive a physical shipping address in the U.S. or Europe for all of their Internet purchases. Its mission is to cater to the online shopper’s shipping needs, and has grown to become one of the leading premium shipping companies for the Western Hemisphere.
MyMalls partners with DHL Express and Fedex and Sea Freight companies for international shipping, eliminating the worry, hassle and regulatory complexities people often experience with these types of international purchases. Our logistical infrastructure includes two large warehouses that we established in Florida. Customers have complete control over their packages from the time they arrive at our warehouses to the time of delivery at any address in their home country.
In addition to shipping, MyMalls offers a large collection of lifestyle products in partnership with leading stores in the U.S. In fact, we retail hundreds of fashion brands, from both established and emerging designers along with fast, international shipping worldwide. Web stores and boutiques that sell through MyMalls include some of the world’s marquee brands, such Mango, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, DKNY, Miss Selfridge, Forever 21, Stylebop, Steve Madden, Neiman Marcus, Forzieri, Sears, Macy’s, and many more.
Q: How does the process work, from a customer’s perspective?
Toine Rodenburg: The first step is to sign up for a free MyMalls address. There are no recurring costs; the customer only pays when MyMalls ships them a package. An online calculator helps estimate costs before placing an order. The customer can then shop at his or her favorite online stores, using their personal MyMalls address when placing the order and checking out. After the order has been processed, the customer receives a tracking number and invoice.
Our warehouse team will receive the package, measure it, and inspect it to make sure all items are accounted for and in good condition. MyMalls then stores the package for up to 60 days. The customer can use this time to wait for other packages to arrive at our warehouse and benefit from our repack and combine services.
Once payment is completed, the package will be picked up by our shipping partner. It will be shipped by air or sea, cleared by customs and delivered at the final destination, which in most cases is the customer’s front door.
Q: You are plugged into investment opportunities worldwide. Based on your networks, research and intuition, what do you think will be the next big trend in technology, online or otherwise?
Toine Rodenburg: I like that kind of open-ended question, because that’s how I view opportunities and our dynamic Internet-based global economy. The possibilities are open and unlimited. Here and now, in this moment, it’s just a wonderful time to be a person with dreams, imagination and ambition.
Honestly, the development that excites me the most right now is AI – the amazing ways artificial intelligence is being applied. As with almost all technological innovation, it’s a double-edged sword, of course. AI will be able to manage some of the repetitive work that currently provides a livelihood for many people, but it will also make possible a vast expansion of economic activity, creating new industries and opportunities that will employ many more, at a higher standard of living.
AI is also a great way to free up time for the big-picture tasks that are so important to keeping any enterprise growing. AI can handle business correspondence, and even compose a memorable toast for your next business conference. AI can manage your contacts and your schedule. And that’s now. Just imagine what it will be able to do in five or ten years. I would clarify that: Don’t just imagine what it will do – invest in it.