Co founder Pet People
Country Head Kaymu
DYL Ventures Founder
- Where are you from? Has coming from a business oriented family shaped your perspectives for running startups? Has your schooling, by any chance, played a significant role in this?
I am from Karachi. I spent about ten years in England for boarding school. After that, I worked in Karachi for a year before heading to China for my MBA. Then I came back to work at a Rocket Internet Venture – Daraz.pk
Yes, being a Dawood helped me shape my perspectives. I’m always focused on the bottom line of running a business – to simply break even and eventually make a profit in a very cost-effective manner. If you don’t have the right business model or the right market fit, you can never get a good ROI. This might be the case for Kaymu – and all Rocket Internet Ventures – whereas reaching this goal is more timely possible for Pet People.
In Pakistan, there are people who work hard and people who work smart as well. Personally, I believe in working diligently and intelligently – in other words, working efficiently. That way, you can grow more quickly – this is especially true in e-commerce businesses, where your goal is to grow with minimal costs. Through these tactics, Kaymu’s employee head count has increased 100% over the past year, but its revenue is growing at 400-500% since last year.
- You had the privilege of attending a university in China? Did you get influenced by what you experienced over there? 13% of the world’s most valuable startups, and the most valuable one (Xiaomi) after all, are based in China
I studied at the second oldest university in China, which the current president of China, Xi Jinping, attended. (Tsinghua University). I was intrigued by the level of entrepreneurship displayed by the vast plethora of students. This managed to attract a lot of students from abroad – out of 120 students in my batch, 55 were foreigners. It later occurred to me that the Chinese indeed have a superior work ethic to many other communities around the world. My professor would be up at 7 AM everyday, and juggled two jobs – working at a university and being a big wig at the Monetary Committee. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Beijing was booming. The city hosted events similar to Startup Grind in Pakistan occurring every 2-3 days!
- How did you begin your journey as a startup entrepreneur in Pakistan
After I came back from England, I became interested in tech news, primarily through reading TechCrunch, Wired, and Gizmodo articles on the daily. It was because of this that I decided to create a website by the name DYL Ventures, and decided to create a platform on WordPress to divulge important tech related news to interested readers in Pakistan. In terms of deciding a platform for which to create the website, Shopify was initially considered – but after witnessing its limitations, we decided to go with WuCommerce and WordPress.
How I got interested in startups?
At Daraz, I was looking at Mantra’s Facebook Page – they had 700,000 fans on Facebook, despite only having two outlets. We decided to bring them on board to Daraz.pk, with a huge focus on improving their sales. I then got started on conducting research on the startup ecosystem through DYL Ventures. Through what I found, I decided to create a new market niche of mobile users who could potentially use Daraz to purchase their items (There are 110 million mobile phone users in Pakistan). In due time, E-Commerce sites can end up leaping over retail brick-and-mortar stores in Pakistan. Omni-Channeling can become very popular in the future, as it can enable retailers to maintain their stores without physically expanding, while getting more customers and orders online through interested customers. The dilemma with retailers in Pakistan is that they are set up only in KLI (Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad) – customers in areas like Faisalabad and Sialkot aren’t able to obtain items from those retailers from a physical outlet in their respective cities.
- You are credited with being the founder of Pet People. How does your company (a) disrupt the current method of purchasing pet supplies and (b) solve pain points for those wanting to do so?
This story has a tragic beginning. My wife ended up misplacing one of her parrots because it flew away. It was then that I decided to help the recovery of pets with micro-chip technology. When we set up our website, we found to our amazement that there were a lot of customers who wanted to buy pet supplies – henceforth, we put our plans to develop the technology on hold. We then gave way to what would become petpeople.pk. Cash on Delivery is the main method that’s offered for customers, and the majority of orders are repeat.
In terms of identifying a clear pain point, It’s very hard for customers with pets to visit veterinarians or pet supplies stores to get their products for their pets – hence , the website really comes in handy to those willing to get supplies for their pets in a convenient manner. Although the market niche is very small, we are blessed to have many customers who are placing repeat orders.
- Are you planning to expand Pet People in any way? What are you currently selling and what do you plan to sell?
Our current product line consists of every possible item related to wholesale pet accessories from food products to grooming items to toys.
Our biggest market segment is cat owners, and followed by dog owners. 85-90% is catered to these two demographics. We provide a smaller range for birds and fishes. We are also able to make arrangements to provide our customers with items not available in Pakistan. Prescription medicine are only sold to veterinarians for the time being.
- DYL Ventures, some would say, could be considered a Gallup for Startups in Pakistan. How do you feel about the discrepancy of economic information in Pakistan – having done the startup ecosystem a huge favor by publishing the Startup Report in 2014
No one really has much that information in Pakistan. There are always instances of numbers being touted around, especially in regards to how big the e-commerce industry really is in Pakistan. Even when compiling a list of top ten e-commerce sites in Pakistan, I can base their position on orders/day with roughly 80-90% accuracy.
Another dilemma is the confusion in terming retailers as ‘ecommerce stores’. Some would say that marketplaces aren’t typical e-commerce stores. Even more would say that retailers that only have a Facebook store can’t be classified as ‘ecommerce stores’. A great majority would say that companies like PIA which have e-ticketing portals can’t be classified as e-commerce.
We need to distinguish e-commerce transactions from regular transactions
- Websites with no physical outlets
- Websites with physical outlets
- Businesses with only a Facebook Page
- Brick and mortar establishments with a minor online component
- Service related companies (Gas, Electricity) with online payment methods
- Donations completed online.
- Explain your association with Rocket Internet? Should other startups feel discouraged because of their resources and networking capabilities?
Rocket Internet: I was a product manager at Daraz.pk and then I came back as the Country Manager at Kaymu.pk
In terms of feeling discouraged: Absolutely not. Though Rocket Internet does receive a lot of funding, there is no guarantee that their ventures will get the same level of funding for the following months. Though we’re spending more money in marketing more than ever, we are experiencing a lower conversion rate than before. There is an undeniable growth pattern within all companies in the conglomerate – however, this has given way to acquisitions of other companies (EatOye by Foodpanda) and newer ventures in local spheres.
- Give a piece of advice to startup founders all over the country.
Give as much information to investors as possible
Pakistan is a minor player in the global startup stage
Investors need to be made more aware of tech related news and investor information
ProPakistani and TechinAsia are making efforts to do this on a domestic level
Even consistently published sub-par research can provide a forum for other startups to demand par excellence research. That should imply that e-commerce is growing quite a bit.