Yasir Nazir is Graduate in Software Engineering from University College London. His family business gave him jolt to skip onto the transitory pattern of getting a charge out of big business. Yasir is learned with mechanical movements and rising examples, subsequently he setup an online store in 2010 with the title “Iamextreme” (Beegeek now). Starting now and into the foreseeable future, he had no reasoning back and surging his business with each going day through his acumen. Yasir shared his thoughts with Technology Times in a recent interview
Brief us about yourself, academic background professional highlights and your interests?
My name is Yasir Nazir and I am the founder of BeeGeek. From an early age I had developed a keen interest in computers. I still remember my first PC that my family gifted me as a birthday present in 1995. From that day on, I was hooked onto it and that interest drove me to study in Computers as well.
I managed to complete my bachelors in Software Engineering from University College London but due to some personal issues, I could not pursue my career in the field that I loved so much and had to come back to look after the family business.
Then in 2010 when I finally had time, I started working on setting up an online store aimed at PC Enthusiasts, which would offer unique products from the most sought after brands that were not present in Pakistan. That was what brought IAMEXTREME (which was later renamed to BeeGeek) to life. My single goal with this project was to go for customer satisfaction, keep the products at an extremely competitive rate, and aim for low margins and high volume.
The phenomenal response that IAMEXTREME got from its clients led to rapid growth, in a span of 3 years we were operating in 3 major cities of Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad). In 2014, with market trends changing and focus shifting towards mobiles and tablets, IAMEXTREME was renamed to BeeGeek and we expanded our product lineup extensively.
From being specific to Gaming PCs we started offering Mobile Phones, Tablets, Gaming Consoles, Photography Equipment, Televisions, and Audio Hardware. The reason for changing name was to compliment the variety of products that we were dealing with. This project is my greatest accomplishment and it is extremely close to my heart.
What is your inspiration, how did you get idea to establish yourself in tech as well as cyber entrepreneur?
Since an early age, technology has always been my interest. I always wanted to pursue my career in technology but I could not take time out from the family business to start something of my own. Being a gamer, I was active on our local gaming forums and was constantly looking at how people wanted a specific computer product that was not available in Pakistan and had to resort to getting it imported by themselves either via a relative or a friend. I myself used to import majority of the hardware for my PC from abroad.
Therefore, in 2010, I finally started working on channeling my interest in Computers into a business. I contacted various companies whose products were really sought after but were not available locally. Since majority of these companies are based in Hong Kong and China, I used to wake up at 6am everyday so that I could get in touch with the right people as soon as they got to the office (due to the time difference).
Then my first breakthrough came with a company called Xigmatek, they were the first amongst many that I had contacted who showed interest in Pakistani market and wanted to collaborate. So on 16th May of 2010, my first shipment from Xigmatek arrived and that was the day IAMEXTREME started its business.
What skillset cyber entrepreneurs must exhibit?
I always say one thing to anyone who shows interest in starting an online business, “Go for it if you really love doing it because thats when youll do it well”. I have seen countless e-commerce stores pop up since I started, but eventually they closed shop because they were not passionate about the business itself. See if you love what you do, only then you will work hard for it.
Even if you do not know the basics, if you are dedicated towards it you’ll learn to improve yourself and make the business successful. Therefore, I believe that the single most important aspect a person needs to have is to “love” what he wants to do.
What are your core products and specialty?
Our specialty is still what we started with and that is Gaming Pcs. Every person who works in BeeGeek is a gamer. They know whats new, whats in demand, what do our customers want and all of us work really hard in offering the latest in Gaming Hardware.
However, with trends shifting more towards mobiles and tablets, we are focusing more on this line, the business model that we had with computers, we are now applying it on mobile phones and other small products we offer. We were the first E-Commerce store in Pakistan who had the Apple Watch in stock only a few days after international release and we are aiming to achieve the same with other products as well.
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?
This exact scenario is hurting our market a lot. In my opinion what other vendors are doing by stating that they are lets say the largest E-Commerce store in Pakistan is just making themselves look foolish. People these days have access to the internet on their phones; they have access to online stores all over the country. Customers do not care if a store is the largest, they want to buy the product that they want and get the best experience from that purchase.
What good would stating that you are the largest store in Pakistan if your customer is not satisfied with the way they are dealt or they have an issue with what they purchased. Instead of bragging about your product count, you should be working on how to provide the best shopping experience for your visitor so they purchase from you again.
We might not have the most extensive product range on our site at the moment compared to others but we make sure that every customer who buys from us is satisfied. What happens then is that the same customer who wants something another website has but we do not, they specifically contact us and request us to procure that product for them. They WANT to buy from us even though we might not have the product listed on the website and that is what I think other business owners should focus on more.
I’ve seen a lot of websites bragging about how they have over 20,000 or 50,000 product SKUs but when a customer calls to inquire about any one, either its obsolete or the employee does not have information about the product that the customer wants and this hurts your business because they would simply move on to the next website that comes up on their search list.
I really dont understand why most stores claim to be the biggest when they really arent. I remember when IAMEXTREME was renamed to BeeGeek and we grew our product lineup, a friend suggested that BeeGeek should have a tagline, “the largest E-Commerce store in Pakistan” and I could not stop laughing. I told him we are not the biggest and even if we were the biggest, we would rather have our customers say it than saying it ourselves which kind of makes us look silly.
How much weightage do you give to consumer behavior in cyber venture?
Customer behavior is everything these days. You have to know what your customer wants, what their interests are. Social media has played a key role in helping us understand this. We are constantly finding better ways to provide our customers a hassle free and easy way to purchase products.
We monitor our visitors interaction with our website and find areas where they are having trouble and try to eliminate or make those areas better so that the whole buying experience is as smooth as possible. Our customers communicate with us via various channels and provide feedback on what they like, what they dont, how they think our business can be better and were always improving on those suggestions.
What are your main goals and how your online work is serving towards community at large?
Our main goal is to provide the best shopping experience to our customers, we dont focus on expanding our product lineup as much as refining what we offer and making the whole experience for our customers better. We are working on eventually converting BeeGeek into a market place where we will open our doors to other vendors who can sell their products on our portal. We strongly believe that our customers should be spoilt for choice when they visit us when it comes to what they want to buy.
What makes BEEGEEK.NET distinct from other online stores?
The feature that makes us distinct is the dedication that we have towards our customer satisfaction. These days offering a unique product is extremely hard, every store is selling the exact same thing that youre selling so how do you convert the visitor into a customer?
By providing them the easiest and the best shopping experience. We have made ourselves extremely easy to get in touch with, our customers have a wide range of portals where they can get in touch with us and inquire about a product they are interested in buying. From Live Chat to Twitter, Facebook, Email or a Phone Call. We go out of our way to provide customers what they want.
Once a customer called us and wanted a specific mobile phone the same day, which had to be sent over to Islamabad from our Lahore office. We delivered that product to the customer at 2 in the morning just because he did not want to wait till the next day.
We also have a Reward program for our customers where they earn points on every purchase and those points can be redeemed in shape of cash discounts on their future purchases.
Another thing that everyone at BeeGeek strongly believes in is not lying to our customers. Many customers come to us asking why we do not offer warranty services on Mobile phones like other stores claim, and instead of lying or misleading them; we paint a clear picture about our terms and conditions before the customer purchases so they know what they are buying and what they are not.
We do not believe in false promises, it might bring you a sale, but it really hurts your business in the longer run when you cannot fulfill your commitments.
What are the variables that govern the dynamics of successful cyber business, in your experience?
In my experience, it is the way you treat your customer. If you cannot fulfill what you say you can, you will not last long. It is not as if the person whos visiting your site doesnt have any other option, these days if they wont buy from you, they will buy from someone else and maybe at a better price. You have to be honest about your dealings, you should know what youre selling inside out because you might not convert a visitor into a customer who comes to your website asking for help regarding a product that they have which wasnt bought from your store, but if you help them out, they would surely consider coming to your store for their next purchase.
What is checklist for young cyber entrepreneurs before practically stepping into online business? What is the necessary homework to be done?
First and foremost, get into it if you really love doing it. Once that is done, then research the market. See what others are doing, how they are doing it, what is it that theyre lacking. Look at every aspect as a customer and see what could be done which would have convinced you to buy from them. Once you have a list, then start working on it for your own business and make sure you dont do the same mistakes others are doing.
Read various blogs on how to bring your store in front of the customer. Be open to criticism; use it to improve your work. You must know that a person who will come on your website will probably have a million other options they can purchase from, so listen and study what your clients are doing on the website, find out the trouble areas and work on removing them.
Any business in my opinion requires dedication and online business is no different. In fact, online businesses might be more demanding because technically they are open 24/7 so you have to love what you do.
Is technology knowledge mandatory for cyber entrepreneur or any other professional and layman can make mark in it?
I wouldnt call it mandatory, but its definitely what you should have if you want to get into this business. The less dependent you are on others the better you can run your business. If you dont know the basics, then you cant really guarantee that your business is going to run smooth. I know many e-Commerce store owners who dont know a thing and they have hired people who basically set everything up for them and run the whole operation as well. Technology changes every day, if youre not keeping up with it. Its only a matter of time before you fall behind and it gets too late to recover.
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?
Not anymore, there was a time when I used to have clients whose parents would call us and inquire whether were legit or not and would rather come and purchase from us in person rather than online, but I guess with time, people have realized that they are more secure when purchasing online and the business owners have more to lose if they dont fulfill the order.
Cash on delivery has played a key role in bringing confidence towards online shopping. People know their money is secure until the product comes at their doorstep and they have nothing to lose if the business fails to complete the order.
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?
I think E-Commerce has started affecting the vendors who have physical stores in the market. I would not say it has influenced a lot, but it is starting to make a dent. People still prefer going to the shop, holding the product in their hands, and then buying it even if they get the same product for a cheaper price without having to step a foot outside. It is just like that now, people who want to buy something and get it as soon as possible prefer going to the physical stores. Until the delivery times by the shipping companies are improved, we have a long way to go before E-Commerce can really affect the physical store vendors.
What measures must be taken to promote cyber entrepreneurship culture in Pakistan and where we are lacking?
I think education is where we are lacking. Our literacy rate is still very low and in order to progress further, I think the government should take serious measures. I think people need to look at E-Commerce or other Internet based businesses as a serious means of income, because I still feel people think that you cant really earn big bucks with online business. Universities should promote entrepreneurship more; work on students who show interest in being entrepreneurs.
What is the formulation of financial assets that one must have before setting up an online startup?
It really depends on what kind of startup you have in mind. If its E-Commerce, you dont really need a lot of capital to get going (provided you have the basic knowledge on how to get your store up and running). But you do need to factor in some key things before you start like your monthly expenses, and the profit percentage that your product will carry, the amount you want to spend on marketing and your team.
I started my business with 400,000 Rupees and now with the ALLAH’s help BeeGeeks monthly revenue is in millions.
What is the role of innovation in success of an online business?
In e-Commerce, innovation should be focused on the shopping experience. What can be done to make the customer buy from you easily so they can shop repeatedly? I believe many people do not focus on this area whereas they should.
How mentoring of young entrepreneurs can be done?
I believe the whole tech culture of Pakistan has improved a lot in the past 2-3 years. With some universities having incubators for promising entrepreneurs, helping them along the way to set up their venture is a really good thing and I think it should be promoted by other who are not into it as yet. In addition, I believe that people who are into this business should be easily approachable, as I myself always help any one who shows interest in starting an online business. Young generation needs people to guide them in the right direction and I believe we (people who are already in the business) can help them better than they can help anyone else and we should.