Shipped Our First Shoe to India

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.

Customers Testimonials

Fireside Chat with Sanjeev Bikhchandani of — #TiECon Lahore

“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 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 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 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 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 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.

9/11 A Decade After: Words of a Very Common Pakistani

I was in grade 7, studying at a local government school of my home town, at that time we had no furniture in classes and used to sit on floor of the room.

What I knew about America is that it is a big and powerful country, like another out one. And then that whole day, pictures of twin tower, Bush and American people were shown on the only national television, the only TV channel we had that time.

It was just start for common Pakistani, in past 10 years America is the one of the most common topics, people discuss here at every scale. Even on streets wall are written Go! America Go!

A lot has been changed since that time. 9/11 reviled the power and influence of extremists in Pakistan. They’re everywhere, training children to become suicide bombers, governing Pakistan, run newspapers.

I feel sorry about the victims of 9/11, but you can never understands how many common Pakistanis are being killed because of this.

It is simple, US wanted to win cold-war against Russia, they send weapons in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia (also considered very hold place for Muslims) provided the money. But the most dangerous weapon the used against Russia, was Islam. We used religion to motivate young men, to volunteer for the war. I know many mothers, who lost their sons in that war.

Pakistanis are now far away from Peace, and we are getting far this with every day, especially inner peace. People are scared, then they go to news, to get another fear. It is routine now.

Just five years ago, I wanted to be a soldier to fight against India, because it was taught in schools and society. But thankfully, I tried to re-learn about myself, about my ideology and they reason behind my existence.

One of the best things happened to me was to get admission at Forman Christian College University, Lahore. It is a missionary organization, by Presbyterian church US. I met with some american people first time in 2007, I did see the common American. A very brighter side of the people of US. There was a teacher, Jeanette Coufal, she was very thoughtful, and good human. People like her motivated me to be more than me.

It encouraged me to start Indo-Pak Peace Media, I really don’t know if it is doing much good. But somehow we are trying to bring people closer. We are trying to teach people that religion is someone’s very personal belief, and it shouldn’t be misused at all.

Of course innocents American paid the price, for what, US government did in cold war. Life of common Afghan, is far from the life.

And yes, here in Pakistan, we are paying, for what, General Zia did in Pakistan. Extremism is very long rooted in Pakistan because of their hidden agenda. And what spoil people more is the way media is driving them and how we, especially youth is following them blindly.

They are trying to bury truth deeper and deeper, but I also see the light. I am the light, I am the one of the first ray of this new light, new beginning. You are the light, if you’re someone open to re-learn and un-learn.

At the same time, I am not proud of everything I did in my life. I have made some of the most terrible mistakes you can imagine. But I believe it is never too late to get back to humanity. US should follow the same.

Peace for America, Peace for World, and most importantly Peace for You!

PS. I haven’t been very well (mentally) so could not write. But things are much better now. Will post regularly now.