Ansar Shah is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Foortal, which is an innovative kind of business in the food services in Pakistan. He is not only successfully running his business but also has expanded it with launching a new chain of restaurants across Pakistan which has no doubt opened new and innovative options to take businesses to new heights. During his recent interview with the Technology Times, he spoke in detail about his business. Following is the excerpts of his interview.
Q: Tell me about yourself and Foortal?
A: Foortal is an online food ordering service facilitating food lovers to find a variety of restaurants on the go and place online orders at their ease and under the budget. Ordering food was never so easy and fun before. Foortal helps you to order food from anywhere across Pakistan.
Q: What was exactly the motivation behind starting this service?
A: We started out as a technology company in 2008, but soon realized that the Pakistani market had collapsed after 9/11 incident and we had to bring out some products or services that should be self-sustainable so as to avoid any chaos in future. Since it is a known fact, Pakistani people being fond of eating and there are multiple options to be opted as high number of restaurants, Foortal just bring them all in one hood and hence is delivering a portal where you can find food online. Waqar Shah, Co Founder of Foortal, spent much of his time abroad and apprehended that Pakistani food is being relished out by foreigners and there is a need for a portal specifically for food so as to take up investors to Pakistan that could grow glory for Pakistan.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: Number of clients at Foortal ranges a huge circle, but as an average most office people use it regularly, and we bring out a strategy to reward e-points for school childrens, college going students so as to stimulate them to use Foortal.
Q: What and how has been the response from people?
A: Since the online food culture has been at ground in Pakistan, but so far it has been responded fantastically back by people who have used Foortal as a service. We have seen critics though as of having low marketing campaigning.
Q: Whats the best part of the next thing you are doing for Foortal?
A: Buoyed by the response from the customers, almost all of the services we have spoken about are looking to expand to other areas and cities. The plan is to expand its reach out of Pakistan to countries like UK, UAE and Saudi Arabia, but the next best thing is to bring it out in UK very soon.
Q: Are there any other food portals like foortal available in Pakistan? If yes, what makes you distinct from them?
A: Yes, there are many of them, in fact after the Foortal inception and its success many people have opted for this business. Food Panda is there in parallel to Foortal, but since its a German based service, and Foortal being the first Pakistan based food portal, it really distinguishes us from them. Although we do not consider any one as our competitor as we proudly say “Any technologist would see the portal and understand why its different from rest of the other food portals including popular and old one Foodpanda“.
Q: How are you looking at the strategy to expand the reach of Foortal?
A: Since marketing is at low for it, and we are making strategies to expand like introducing “Refer and Earn” and ” Get Reward” facilities to people which no any other food portal offers, we believe it is surely going to augment our reach in Pakistan.
Q: Any latest achievement by foortal?
A: Yes, after Foortal success in Pakistan, foortal.co.uk has been launched with 15 restaurants in its pilot testing phase.
Q: Any suggestions you would like to give to the people who are working to start their own start-up?
A: Yes, I would like to say that being an entrepreneur you have to see problems in your society and city, and you will have to try to bring out new solutions to counter them. Technology, of course, is most of the times needed but what is most important is to have leadership qualities that would sustain you throughout your venture. As I quote: “It is necessary for a leader to be an entrepreneur but it is essential for an entrepreneur to be a leader.”