1. Where are you from and where did you study? Would you say your ‘education’ or ‘schooling’ had a more prominent role in determining the work you do today?
No. I studied in Karachi and I don’t really consider what I have studied but more of what I have learned outside of school to play a prominent role in what I do today. I started working as an SEO analyst at the slender age of 18, for which I operated as a freelancer and even created a few websites – namely one involved in selling yoga products – vitalshop24.com. That’s when the floodgates for my entrepreneurial spirit in IT opened. Through this, I gained valuable knowledge in community content management.
2. Did you learn any important skills for the sake of necessity or passion? How are you using those skills today?
I’d say for both. My passion for SEO increased incrementally as I got more involved in work. Nobody invests money in an activity that can’t yield results properly. People are searching more and more for products online based on their preferences. Knowing SEO is practically “the name of the game” when it comes to acquiring high traffic a successful e-commerce website – especially a startup. As associate manager for Tradekey – after being promoted from senior executive – the company received higher ROI on its projects; Tradekey is a B2B Marketplace.
3. How did you come up with the idea for Dastkari, and how did you bring it to life? What struggles did you go through with Dastkari.
I came up with the idea after pondering on the dilemma of my mother’s friend, who was selling homemade handicrafts online through Facebook, but with very little success. I then perceived this as an opportunity to partner with someone who can make a quality product, for I was someone who could sell something online. By utilizing my SEO expertise to the fullest, I brought the idea of Dastkari.pk to life. I then applied to the P@sha Launchpad in 2014, with no MVP, and a dormant Facebook page with barely a thousand likes. 4 teams had won (Sitback.pk and Dastkari.pk had been tied for Social Innovation). I received Rs. 50,000, hired a developer to build the website, and Dastkari was brought to life. However, I did encounter difficulties with a hectic work life of 9-5 alongside being a startup founder. 4-6 months was spent in developing the website and I still feel there is a lot more work to be done.
4. What pain points does DastKari solve, and how can it be considered disruptive
Every crafter has his own challenges that are unique – but the one universal problem is that though many handicrafters are talented, they experience a lot of difficulty in selling their products. Even with the introduction of marketplaces and Facebook, there seems to be very little traction between customers and handicraft sellers. There are even a lot of Pakistanis who are averse to visiting the areas in which these vendors operate – they can be considered ‘desolate’ at best.
5. Guy Kawasaki has termed banner ads as a dead medium. How important is it for e-commerce websites to use Google to promote themselves in this country?
Indeed. User has no necessary intention of buying a product that has an ad on a popular website that gains a lot of traffic. Google now has intricate algorithms that can track a user’s behavior through his activity on particular websites. Google now hires Ad Raters to give “qualitative” feedback on the quality of Adwords results on search queries. Facebook however, is something the entire Internet population of Pakistan is on – even those who don’t know how to use Google.
6. What other online marketing channels could e-commerce sites use to their advantage?
Facebook. Google Adwords, Search Display/Display Marketing, SEO. SEO is free, low competition. Display Advertisement is ideal for first movers in the startup space. Facebook is best, brings the return on the investment, and gives you a channel to educate your client in the most. Likes should increase, and will give monetary value in the future through effective content distribution. Dastkari’s aim to train Pakistanis to create crafts and sell their products, and to promote Pakistanis about the arts and crafts community. CraftersGate is an professional organization that brings these individuals together to promote the scene in a larger.
7. Offline marketing tools are used by a few startups:
Namely Rocket Internet Ventures, in a country where internet penetration is 16% and primarily in Karachi, a city that comprises 60% of total billboard spending and usage. Would you say this a logical/effective tactic for companies to pursue
Not all companies have the budget of Rocket Internet Ventures to go in to TVC’s and Billboard Advertisement. More effective way of promoting your startup is through branded events such as Startup Expos, events about the Industry, and even your own hosted events. Buyer and supplier acquisition are easy obtained in these events. It’s hard to consider educating the offline audience and bringing them online as well.
Cash on Delivery – only in Karachi.
Myself. Still trying
10. Bulk of orders, customers – areas, income bracket, order quantity, order value, foreign/non:foreign
North Nazimabad, PECHS, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Defence. The customers that have ordered seemed to belong to the elite-class of the city, which normally involved clutches. The Indie Arts and Crafts Show earlier this year was a great avenue for us to showcase our skills and get these customers
11. Any plans for expansion?
I plan to have at least 50 vendors on my website before the Crafters Expo 2015 in December. While we are in our beta version right now. I have hired people who have created video tutorials to further educated the community at large on how to create cherished handicrafts at home.