Q: Brief us about your professional career?
A: Before getting my first taste of entrepreneurship, I worked at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and Allianz. I then decided that I wanted to take on more responsibility, be in the drivers seat. In 2012, I founded ePetWorld, an e-commerce business catering to the pet food segment, which grew significantly in Germany. Carmudi is more about replicating that success on a global level. My passion for entrepreneurship has allowed me to take bigger strides and make a notable impact.
Q: Tell us about carmudi.pk. What, why, and when?
A: Carmudi.pk is an online classifieds that allows users to buy or sell cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles online in the most convenient fashion. Similar business models have worked very well in mature markets such as the US and Germany. But there is a growing demand for such platforms in less developed markets. So our expansion into Pakistan was a very logical decision. There are around 13 million vehicles out there on the streets of Pakistan. At some point, they need to be bought or sold. Thats where Carmudi comes in. We launched five months ago when we started with a mere 1,500 listings. Today we have skyrocketed to more than 20,000 listings with over 240,000 Facebook fans.
Q: What makes Carmudi.pk distinctive from its competitors?
A: Here at Carmudi we live for cars. In order to be the best at something it requires undivided attention. An expert cricket player will not be that if he was to pay as much attention to say soccer or tennis. The same applies to Carmudi. We concentrate on being leaders in the field of cars and then think about moving into other sectors.
Q: How do you see the potential of online businesses in Pakistan?
A: Rocket Internet and its affiliated companies are changing the face of e-commerce in Pakistan. We are a major driving force behind this sector. Carmudi is changing not just how people shop but when they do it too. Most of our traffic comes between 9pm and 1 am in the evening. And lets not forget that the potential stemming from 3G/4G will allow people to browse the online marketplace as quickly and conveniently on the street as they can at home.
If you look at the past one year, Pakistan has seen a reach of over 30 million internet users. Thats phenomenal! This figure alone adds up to more than Venezuelas entire population. It is estimated that the overall e-commerce spending is in the range of $4 billion annually in Pakistan. This is not just a passing fad. Online businesses are here to stay. In fact, it is projected that 80 percent of Pakistans online consumers plan to buy a new or used car in the next two years. This speaks volumes for the growth of online platforms such as Carmudi. In my opinion, at least 25 per cent of traditional business in Pakistan will soon be converted into online business.
Q: Are you satisfied with the cyber laws of Pakistan? Any suggestion in this regard?
A: The recent proposal from the Pakistani government to push through the cybercrime act will create more confidence within the online community. Pakistans online users have had negative experiences whilst shopping online in the past. That is why, building trust is key in online business. At Carmudi, users do not have to worry about deception or fraud because the platform provides trusted listings, legitimate dealers with ample information to enhance the shopping experience.
One recommendation is that all of us should take responsibility. Cyber security cannot be allocated to any one sector. We need to act proactively on multiple levels, from academic to organisational to governmental level. The initiative needs to come from across every industry.
Q: Any suggestions you would like to give to people who are working to start their own start-up?
A: Build a solid team! The idea is less important than one thinks. Execution is the key factor. In Pakistan, we are fortunate to have the brightest of people on board with sound academic backgrounds from institutions such as LUMS and LSE. Its the people that are the driving force of a company.