M. Usman Ali Sheikh is a graduate from FAST-NUCES. He was a highest achiever in O and A levels. Usman belongs to opulent family with business background, and knack of entrepreneurship has been inbred. He is the owner of prominent e-commerce site shopon.pk. Usman is enthusiastic entrepreneur who shared his views with Technology Times in an interview
Tell us briefly about yourself and highlights of your career?
I have been brought up in a pretty lavish environment, to be precise I have lived a life for which and average human being would be willing to give their arm and a leg for it. I belong to businessman family and so my father has been renowned businessman of his time with my family already into the textile manufacturing sector my career has been pretty good. Entrepreneurship has always been my passion since my early days that drove me to seek opportunities where I could invest some capital and put in some effort for a sizeable return.
How do you stepped in the cyberspace?
It was totally accidental I never planned to go in the e-commerce industry. I have been a die-hard gamer throughout my school and college life and so I looked for original games at a cheaper price which I couldn’t find in Pakistan as result I started importing my favorite titles, one day I needed some cash and so decided to sell my games on online forums which I did not play anymore.
I couldn’t sell any for 6 straight months. Later on, I looked for more opportunities and when I made my first sale I realized that a game which I had bought almost 1 year ago gave me a profit today so there was immense opportunity gap and I started to import few on demand titles for people who contacted me. They got cheap games and I made some bucks that’s how this all started and then there came a time that I became the largest seller of games online.
Where do you see yourself after 5 years and who was your inspiration?
To be honest 5 years is a long time for me I plan according to the situation. I think after five years we will be mastering the entire supply chain channel for gift cards and prepaid cards and also video games.
The industry according to me is going through the same dot com bubble which struck USA in the 2000s so that’s the prime reason we are cautious about our steps we plan to make our each day better from the previous and I think thats the right way to progress. Learning from our mistakes and adding value to our customers wherever we can.
How you recognized the need of creating an online portal i.e. shopon.pk when already big online stores are in vogue?
Shopon.pk is totally different from other stores. As our tagline says “Shopping Rediscovered,” we really mean it. We have over 2000 digital products including the itunes and google play cards, we are not going by the way others are doing, (buying it from the market after they receive an order and sell it at higher price) we are trying to change the dynamics we believe we do not need to offer everything if we cannot keep it. We are going slowly but the product and services we provide we fulfill them. I myself have been providing supplies to these big online stores and trust me things need to be improved.
At what level you want to take your shopon.pk, being an entrepreneur?
To me Shopon.pk was my dream when I entered into video game industry. Everyone is inspired by the story of amazon and everyone wants to make an amazon here in Pakistan I think for successful businessman and there should be no specific vision as Dhirubhai Ambani Founder of the Reliance group once said your vision should be growth and improvement you should not stop to a place where you think it is the limit there is actually a whole sky cover from that point too so for me there’s no limit or specific level Shopon.pk.
How shopon.pk has changed the trend of shopping in Pakistan and to what extent?
Our digital delivery has been a landmark and trendsetter. We deliver you within 15mins of payment (digital products) thats faster than pizza delivery. The other thing is our customer service we are always reachable and we will reply to you every now and then and I think we have been doing great in winning the trusts of our customers and these two things really lack in our competitors.
How did you manage to cope with the difficulties that hindered you in attaining your objectives, both professionally and psychologically?
Difficulties are always there in every task you intend to perform its just that you need to be steadfast I have had a lot of issues as everyone would have but the prime reason for some success today is that I never stepped back if I have thought of doing something I will do it beyond the thinking of everyone else and that’s in my personality.
What is the role of initial capital in startup?
Investment is not an issue you need to work things out in your mind if you have less capital. When PS4 was first released I didnt even have money to process the 1st order but I had the determination to do so and now that I buy them in bulk frequently. I personally think if you have more money than required then you end up wasting it so not having enough resources can also turn out to be your advantage.
What factors do young entrepreneurs must take care of before setting up an online business? Is current scenario encouraging for aspiring cyber entrepreneurs?
Every day, we witness websites and facebook pages coming up selling something; this trend needs to be stopped as it is damaging the e-commerce industry. Every new comer who has got a few bucks would spend his summer vacations eating up something on the internet. I think they should partner with websites initially as I did, this will help them to gain experience and know customer handling and once they come to know about the trends then they should start their own venture and then it would be much more successful.
What future of e-commerce do you see in developing countries like Pakistan?
There is a huge opportunity with 13 million internet base now which was 3.5 million last year it’s a huge potential for e-commerce and Pakistan has had the fastest growth in the world for e-commerce which is said to be more than 20% per year, I think these 2 reasons are quite enough to state that there is huge opportunity in this industry and Pakistan is yet to see the best of it.