I am sharing a glimpse of what is happening around HOMETOWN.
This is what’s keeping me away from blogging too.
HOMETOWN started without any formal office, we used KFC as workplace. As they had power all the day and let us sit.
Three days back, we shipped our first shoes to India. Randhir, our customer took the risk of ordering shoes from Pakistan. It is not conventional to ship something from Pakistan to India, because of the political tension between both Governments.
It was a moment of trust for him. I am proud and humbled to say the trust is well placed.
We often recall our childhood period as most beautiful days of life.
I recently learned a very powerful yet often unknown reason which makes being a child so cool. The acceptance of not knowing most of the things.
I am a child, I openly admit that I do not know it already mostly. So I would not hesitate to ask anyone. I wouldn’t be afraid to try. I would stay open to change my opinion, if I would learn something. I would be happy to tell other that this is what I recently learned. I wouldn’t feel bad, if I say, “I don’t know answer to this question.”
In short, realization of not knowing most of the thing. And then a confident mindset to learn, to change opinion, to change the way I see life, to change the way I treat my family, neighbor pet, and especially myself. These are such awesome things.
When this thought came to mind, it put a question before me. Can I again accept the reality that I do not understand most of the things in life, so I should learn. It would made this time of life sweater. And very importantly it’ll help us grow up, which seems to become very difficult today.
Do you think FedEx or DHL are utilizing the most advance + cost effective technology to run their operations? I doubt.
I’m building a startup in Pakistan, and we sell / ship shoes around the globe. From here, DHL, UPS and FedEx charges $50-$70 to ship a pair of shoes in US / UK. So we depend on a small local company which buys bulk space from big logistics companies and sell to businesses like mine at a cheaper rate.
From my tiny personal experience of working with logistics companies, I realize one thing. Like many other industries out there, logistics companies are far behind in using the innovative technology. They must do it for efficiency, to save money and time. If they do so, it is treat for us and for them too.
Technology has enabled us to communicate from any corner of the earth and beyond. And we are doing it. I* You can make payment anywhere in the world, and buy or sell too. But shipping, it is still expensive, risky and not fun. It badly needs to be changed at earliest.
And I believe a company like Google will do it, or may be Amazon, or Yours (why not?!).
Nothing is perfect, nor it is needed. By the time you think you’ve made it perfect, someone else has built (and improving) a product which is not perfect but still serves many jobs including what yours’ perfect does.
We can wait for few days, for big news to come and then we’ll share them with people we care, and who care back. This is what I have been thinking, and taking a little break from writing and then 3 solid months pass by.
Yesterday, I wrote this letter to the community around HOMETOWN.
I believe life is treating you well, and you are doing good in health and happiness.
Here at HOMETOWN, we’re going through the most exciting time of our life. I mean it, please give 3-5 min to read this email. I’ve tried to make it worth.
1. WON Pakistan’s First Startup Incubation Program
Yes, next month we are shifting to our new office. Out of 500+ startups, HOMETOWN made it to the top position among 4 winners. We’re very thrilled about this opportunity.
2. Now Accepts PayPal and Major Credit Cards
I can not thank enough to our customers like yours, who took out the time and paid us through Western Union. That’s what makes you our friend. We’re improving how we sell, communicate and all. So it comes as a good news that we’ve setup PayPal & Credit Cards as our payments gateway.
3. HOMETOWN featured as “Innovation Hero”
Provincial Govt of Punjab, and Google Inc, launched Innovation Campaign in Punjab, Pakistan. In there, they featured inspiring businesses and individual as ‘Innovation Hero.’ We’re so honored to be among the 5 heroes. Here is the complete story.
This is best. Every morning, we get up for two main reasons. 1) Are we establishing an honest and trustworthy connection with our customers? 2) Are we really growing?
Both of the reasons are equally important to us, let me tell you small stories.
Bill from Singapore, bought a Chappal from us to gift to his father-in-law. Now that is very exciting.
Tahreem from KSA, ordered for beSpoke shoes to wear on his wedding day. Later on, he asked that if we could add a different buckle with shoes. I said, why not! But then, I said, wait a little and we make another pair for you with different buckle and you keep both shoes with you. He asked, can I get brown colour instead of black, as I already have a black now. I said, all done!
“Waqas don’t lose money on sales. E-commerce is more about commerce and less about ‘E’ thing.”
This is the first thing I learned yesterday from Sanjeev Bikhchandani, while he handed over me his business card. He is founder of naukri.com a company he founded in March 1997, now he serves as the founder and executive vice chairman of InfoEdge India, a traded Internet company valued at $700 Million.
I and Sidra, were especially interested in his story of building a company from scratch. And we learned quite a lot.
Today he was talking to young (& some old) entrepreneurs, at an event by TiECon Lahore. This was actually a conversation between Sanjeev and Monis Rehaman (CEO of Rozee.pk). The conversation was very interesting and thoughtful, that is what you expect when two leaders of recruitment portal sit together. Sanjeev shares his experiences and lessons to entrepreneurs distilled from his experience of building naukri.com and other startups where he advises and invest.
See the points below, I am just putting them in bullets:
The best way to build a company is: find an unsolved problem and build a business around it. That is the best way.
Don’t start startup just for the sake of big valuations to raise maximum funding. It’ll lead you to nothing, instead focus on building a pure business first.
Great companies are built out of competitions.
For the first 6 months of naukri.com I hadn’t any computer. I was doing a job at 5k and a computer was priced at 100k those days, so I was using this computer of my friend. And he would let me use it from 10pm till 4am.
I was fortunate to have customer insight of the business I was starting, so it was a big advantage at then. If you get to have a customer insight, then you don’t have to spend lot of time and energy on market research.
Avail the opportunity to max. Example: I had data of the HR managers of 100s of companies, so we built a mailing list and started writing them why naukri.com is right channel for them. It worked!
Know the value of money, spend it wisely in business. We rejected an investor who was encouraging us to spend all his investment in advertising, and that too within 6 months. So we instead, found out someone who had approach like us and accepted their investment.
I learned how hard it was to raise the revenue through Internet, in early days.
When the company was expending, we hired really good guys. Things didn’t end there, I accept the reality that I shouldn’t be the only one to make all decision, as I was doing for past few years. We gave this new talent the decision power and supported within company. This all lead to progress.
I approached to a guy who could build a software for us, it was his first time to make such a software to integrate with our site, and I had no money to pay him. So instead of spending time on raising money, I shared equity with him. It worked very well.
I was approaching to the right kind of people at right time. Like, when I needed a programmer: I did not go for any big name or someone working at large company. They wouldn’t work for me at that time, so I went to people who were working from home office. They did the job.
Along side, I am engaged in building a first of its kind university in India, which is focused on Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and it offers students a 4 year baccalaureate program and lets students choose their final subjects after two years of study.
Entrepreneur is about making choices and then working hard to make your dreams come true, if I would been doing the first job I did. I couldn’t afford the kind of education for my daughter, what I’m providing now.
I make milestones for myself. In 5 years, I’ll be at that stage of business and life, and in next 5 I’ll be somewhere better, and so on. That’s how I see it all.
Wow! Thank you Sanjeev and Monis, that was quite a learning + inspiring session. Fellow participants, if I missed anything, please include that in comments below.
Personal Note for my blog readers: This post might come as a surprise. I’m doing fine and HOMETOWN is making remarkable achievements. I’ll be making my remarks later this week. 🙂 Thank you.
There comes a time in life, when you prepare yourself for a big day. You have thought about this time for years. And now you finally made it in a series of events.
For some it is getting admission at a remarkable college, or marrying with right person, for some it could be buying the first shoes for their parents.
Here at Hometown I and my team are in the middle of such moment right now.
Launching HOMETOWN! Oh WOW! Our first collection includes, ready to wear men shoes, wallets and belts and a special Pakistani footwear, called Chappal.
So no matter who you are, what you wear (canvas trouser, jeans, kurta or anything in between), and in which part of the world you live. You can surely shop one thing or two, or just come over, see what we have been doing, tell us what we should. More, you can also get custom shoes just made for you.
HOMETOWN came into exist for two main reasons, I and my team wanted to play our best shot so far, and to make use of exceptional skills of our craftsmen.
We short-listed several products, tried to find what can be done, and what will work best. For example, we failed 24 times, to make one of our Chappal. And now when we see it, we feel like, you know how it feels.
They say, journey of one thousand miles start with one step, it can be short, or slow, but it is probablly the most important. We have taken it, you’ve taken it, if you are reading this post and I so believe together, we’ll learn how to live a better life and celebrate all what it has to offer.There is so much more to say, but I’ll let our products and service communicate that with you. Thank you so much for being with all the time, and if you have any thing to say, I force you to write in comments on Hometown Blog or here.