Riaz Salim is MBA from Institute of Business Management, Karachi. He exhibits 15 years of experience in IT sector at high positions. Riaz is a vibrant entrepreneur; he is the owner of khaopiyo.pk which is the premier food ordering website. Riaz caught up with Technology Times in a recent interview
Brief us about yourself, professional highlights and your interests?
I am an entrepreneur, a proud son, brother, husband and father of 3 loving children. I believe that anything you dream is possible. You just need focus, work hard and believe in what you are doing. Its this simple!
I am a family guy and beside work help my wife with her own school business and manage kids. Regularly play Table Tennis and 8 Ball Pool with my two boys and friends.
What is your inspiration, how did you get idea to establish yourself in tech as well as cyber entrepreneur?
Steve Jobs of “Apple” inspired me the most. I was always into business though my dad was in service. I learned a lot from my mom and her brothers with business background. They were my first teachers. Before establishing a tech firm, I had experience of running a design studio, a printing press and an Ad Agency.
What skills do a cyber-entrepreneur must exhibit?
To successfully run any business, you need to be hard working, should have courage to take risks, faith and a bit of luck. In Tech business you just multiply all four qualities at least 5 times.
We see many of trading sites claim big but when it comes to quality only few meet the commitments. Do you think the scenario is hurting the web space of Pakistan and it is difficult to filter out serious contenders?
Let people do what they are doing. They will phase out quickly. Technology has its advantages, one the consumers are young and vocal. Bad word spread faster, second business is integrated with other businesses so if you are not good your partners will leave you.
How much weightage do you give to consumer behavior in cyber venture?
Consumer behavior is key in online business. E-commerce is new to Pakistan – Will take couple of years to mature. So right now everyone is in learning mode in Pakistan. We should be happy that big international players are here and investing heavily in online businesses. This is creating the trends where consumers are willing to spending online. With new payment gateways stepping in to business will grow rapidly and so will consumers confidence in shopping online.
What are your main goals and how your online work is serving towards community at large?
We provide services and build products. We have a stream of new products coming up. We are also about to re-launch Khaopiyo.pk soon with mobile apps and a different business model. This is with aim to compete with heavy weights sister brands foodpanda and Eatoye.
We have contributed a lot in last many years with our work. Our products www.storyofpakistan.com is one of the most visited sites when you search about Political History of Pakistan.
We were first to introduce animated products for children in Pakistan.
Soon we will be launching a dedicated e-store for Urdu books with “The Bookgroup,” whose web link is www.urdubooksforchildren.com.
Beside this we have donated over rupees 3.5 Million worth of our development time to TCF Pakistan in last 3 years by supporting their development work on integrating over 1000 TCF schools under one web application. We are proud that we designed and developed their school management system.
What makes khaopiyo.pk distinct from other online food ordering platforms?
We are glad that we survived so far and competing. We want to stay and keep our costs lower. Sometime just staying there gives benefits in longer run. We are confident our re-launch will dent competition more and make consumers life easy.
What is checklist for young cyber entrepreneur before practically stepping into online business? What is the necessary homework to be done?
These parameters must be checked first before hopping onto the bandwagon of cyber entrepreneur:
- Be ready for hard work.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Stay within ethical boundaries.
- Be passionate.
- Research about your market / buyer.
- Promise what you can deliver.
- Ask your parents to keep praying for you.
Is technology knowledge mandatory for cyber entrepreneur or any other professional and layman can make mark in it?
It can be an advantage but certainly not a compulsion. I studied advertising and marketing yet enjoys developing software products. I am the only one in our team who does not understand a single line of code, yet I am the Team Lead.
Cyber Security is also a big concern in Pakistan, especially frauds, malpractices cases are in excess due to lack of awareness? Is it also hurts your business activity as people are cautious making payments and always have “fraud” thing in their mind?
Cyber security is a concern worldwide. Consumers are as safe doing business online here as safe they are in developed world. Laws on keeping personal data of consumers and its security need to be addressed in our legal system. This will come as market grows and already there is a huge debate on Cyber Crime Bill recently presented.
How much impact e-commerce is imparting on conventional business? Is it hurting the vendors sitting in market to much extent? What do you assess?
Not much now but very soon it will, so this is the right time to enter in e-commerce ventures in Pakistan.
What measures must be taken to promote cyber entrepreneur culture in Pakistan and where we are lacking?
Pakistan lacks entrepreneurial eco-system. But things are improving starting from activities at leading universities where business plan competitions are held and students are encouraged to interact with industry. However we still lack angel investors and VC funding in Pakistan.
What is the formulation of financial assets that one must have before setting up an online startup?
I always believe that money is second when it comes to establish a business. If you are a techy yourself, money is the third.
How mentoring of young entrepreneur could be done?
Expose them to business stories from school level. There should be a weekly class in all schools for children as young as 8-10 years sharing with them the stories of small and big businesses. A superstore owner in your own neighborhood is as successful as Wal-Mart owner. We need to expose our children to both. We need to tell them about both our local brands like Khaadi and international brands like Banana Republic.
What are your comments about Technology Times?
Media has to come forward and need to show other side of Pakistan. Pakistan is so beautiful and real. Our people, our culture, our places and our opportunities are all great. We need to show this to the world. I think Technology Times is taking lead in promoting positive Pakistan.
What are your suggestions for rising entrepreneur?
Think Pakistan. This is the place, which will provide maximum returns on your investment in next decade.