A Pakistani startup aims to make women's life easier

1:48 AM by Adnan A.Siddiqi · 0 comments

Pakistan is one of many countries where entrepreneurship is not common among IT professionals. Majority of Pakistani IT professional prefer to stick with 9-5 job. Due to current job issues and other political disturbance is causing more unemployment here yet there are few people who are still following their dreams. is a startup which helps women to select cloth and design and order to the tailor. The designer wizard helps to select different things like shirt,Dupatta etc. The best thing is that it also mentions the cost of the entire package.

A good attempt by Ayad80. This application still has lot of room for improvement and I expect it would get more success in future. Best of luck guys!

Reforming Email system

1:30 AM by Adnan A.Siddiqi · 0 comments

My wife is not a regular Internet user. She is not aware about many things which are obvious for netizens. For instance log into email system and sending/reading email, Copy/Paste stuff etc. The things which she can do better is either sending e-cards or searching TV shows on Youtube.

Though most of the time she sends me card, I often send her one and then give the URL of the card(the one I get via email) via IM. Often I make mistakes that I forget to put http:// in the beginning and she gets failed to open the cart. These things often irritated me specially when she is visiting her mom.

So, same thing happened a couple of days ago when I sent an e-card on her email address. Now I was in trouble because the link I wanted to send via Yahoo! Messenger was not going thru for some weird reasons. I asked her to open Yahoo! Messenger again as it will send notification about new mail which could automatically open the desire email. Anyhow it took 5 minutes to complete the cycle. This exercise made me to think whether email system is really so difficult or its just my wife is being so dumb that she can't figure out a simplest system? For me, checking an email is the most easiest thing to do on Internet and this could be because I am a very old Internet user who have been using it fore more than a decade or I am a guy having degree in Computer Engineering but that is not the case with my wife. Allow me to clear that Internet is not so common in many countries so in my country,Pakistan hence majority have no idea how to use it. What is obvious for me is something which is very difficult for them to operate. So, the question is, are we really using very typical and scientific email clients which non-Internet users can't understand? The answer is Yes. Allow me to explain Why.

1-Login/Registration Mechanism: First of all you need to  signup with particular Email service. Usually they ask you so many lame stuff which makes no sense at all. For instance asking my childhood city or about my darling teacher. I mean, Come on! Why the heck one would consider such things as secret that he/she prefers to chose them as Secret Answer? Even if someone makes an account for your wife or for your non-tech savvy parents then every time they have to go thru painful login mechanism.

2- Reading/Writing: As I said above, for many people and societies this would not be an issue but here I am talking about general public of different countries who are not so aware with technology. Even if one gets able to log into system then finding a desired email is not easy either. Specially when SPAMMERS are your friend.

3-Attachments: Now this is something which is too much for them. You are asking such people to open a window, search desired file and then attach and send it?

These are few which I've mentioned here. Keep these in mind one can figure out that postal mail system is way easier than email. It's slow but easier. You get your envelope, open it and read the mail. You know it's yours because you are being address in it. Though there is no security as anyone can open it up but fine, usually it's taken care by most of the people. Heck! even sending sms is more easier than sending email.

So how could the entire process could be made User Friendly for every one? I am not sure but I think that introducing some physical device for each person could make it easier to use for people who never use Internet. Take the example of Square, the mobile payment solution. This is something which could be called revolutionary. Just hook the device with your iPad or iPhone and you got your own POS terminal. So simple. We need something similar as email clients as well because people like to get physical. Having a physical device with option of thumb scanner as your login, one would not need go thru painful process of checking emails. With a built-in scanner, people would not need to exercise typical file attachment process. The most important thing is that those who don't know how to use Internet will have their own email account, the account which they can use more easily. I am not sure how much am I making sense, the point is, we have to come up with solutions which are for EVERYONE rather than few individuals, communities or societies. The reason SMS is more popular and widely used because it's learning curve is very small while this is not the case with email systems.

May be in near future we experience some unique email message system which would not require painful login process and my wife will not need to think much while checking my greeting card.

Lessons given by Twitter Inventor

12:21 AM by Adnan A.Siddiqi · 0 comments

Just watch this video of Twitter Inventor Jack Dorsey who is really a nerd. The best thing which I found in his interview that he says that an idea should not be in head only,it should be either on paper or write some code and then shelf it and show it on right time. Watch this amazing interview.

Using Easy Paisa for businesses

11:36 PM by Adnan A.Siddiqi · 0 comments

Before I discuss about Telenor's mobile Payment initiative , easyPaisa (EP) in Pakistan, allow me to share the demo video how this thing works.

As the name suggests, Easy Paisa or 'Easy Money' in English makes payment channel much faster and smoother by sending money via Mobile. The method you saw above is quite successful yet in Pakistan. Even several of my friends are using for different purposes. For instance, "BC" money payment to other city.

So far EP has been able to get attention of individuals. It's kind of Pakistani version of mobile "PayPal" but unfortunately it has not gained much attraction by the SMEs and home businesses. Pakistan is one of those countries where mobile penetration is quite high. By introducing SMS based payment system, Telenor has really became pioneer of mobile payment system in Pakistan. EP provides two channels of money transfer; via EP outlet or EasyPaisa Shop who could be any shop or business in Pakistan and Tameer Micro finance bank. Telenor also claims to provide EP based corporate solutions but there's no such stats available how many businesses are actually using it.

We are living in the era where becoming successful means being more open. Unfortunately Telenor/EP has not opened the doors for outer world to take advantage of this service for local businesses. When I recently tried to find out further about this utility, I first looked the ways to access their system "legally" via APIs. So I goggled but no luck. I contacted Telenor but I just got a formal answer from Marketing Department that they would get back to me once they have a "feasible" answer. What I believe that Telenor is missing a huge market by not opening its APIs for developers. This could really initiate m-commerce in Pakistan or even web-commerce. One of the reason true e-commerce did not become successful in Pakistan was due to absence of some decent payment gateway or online revenue system. In 2000/2001,Hilinks, the first Pakistani portal did launch a system of online payments by introducing payment tokens but due to poor management it could not give a penny in return. After that there was no significant player in that field.

Imagine if Telenor opens it's system for application developers to access their system not only via Mobiles but via web as well. It would definitely give small/medium industry to promote their products. If a business is already using EP for payment system, consumers can order stuff online via Mobile or Web. Possibilities are endless and I have just discussed in brief how this system can bring revolution in local market. I can just wish that they make sense and try to expose their service further.

KYC(Know your customer) for shop keepers

2:52 PM by Adnan A.Siddiqi · 0 comments

Those who work in banks will be fully aware of the term KYC(Know your customer). Here I am discussing in context of knowing your customer's preferences rather than scanning their authenticity.

Like others I also have experienced shopping in Pakistan. Since I live near a market, it helps me to observe how much shopkeepers take care of their customers. Usually if you visit a shop, say a shoe selling shop, you know what kind of stuff you are looking for. You already set some preferences in your mind while looking for the stuff which is closed to your match. Now if you trust a shop because you like your products and you continue giving them businesses, it is duty of the shop to help you save your time as well offering you the most relevant and best product. Instead of you go back to square one and waste your precious time to scan all shelves, shopkeepers should have a system so that they can proactively bring up the relevant choices to you. This is something which is similar to what you experience on online shopping sites like Amazon. Now how it could be implemented in real world shopping. Here are few steps which I propose. Since I am talking about a shoe shop therefore I would be using it as an example.

  1.  Record customer dislikeness: When you enter in a shoe shop first time, you have no idea of varieties they are offering. All you know what kind of shoe you are looking for. You have few inputs like color(black,brown etc),type(moccasin, sports shoe etc), price range etc.  Usually now in Pakistan shop keepers keep the price tag intact with items hence it makes life easier. Now if you finally select your item, you pay the bill and walks out. That's it. For you the life cycle of buying a shoe is over. Unfortunately the same process is used by shop keepers as well. They sold the stuff and forgets their customer. Even if you become a regular customer of the particular shop, the shop keeper can't tell you what kind of stuff you like. This is kind of a first step towards Umair Haque's Betterness Models. Unless you treat your customer like your family member, you will not be able to gain trust and for that either you need to spend days and nights with your customer or find a way to record their likeness or dislikeness in a system. Someone might say that it would be enough to record their likeness, that is, recording the kind of stuff they bought. I would say that it's much better to record their dislikeness as well because when you are in a family, you're usually aware of dislikeness of your loved ones  too because that helps you to prevent things which they dislike rather than only do things which they like. So when you're sales person is busy in showing different varieties of shoes, you would see various NOs from customer's end. At that time if their NOs along with Item number can be recorded then it would be helpful in future. You don't need a typical gadget for that purpose. You can even do this on a piece of paper which is easily available or you can use mobile to jot things down. By giving used Palm pilots which are easily available under Rs.10K in Karachi. 
  2. Assign and ID: When your customer pays you bill, assign a Customer ID(a user-friendly name) would be much better to them or either give it in form of a card or just give it on a piece of paper and ask them to keep it safe for future purchase. On other hand you note customer info,shopping details and both their likeness and dislikeness in your system. The system should have kind of intelligence that in future it can propose relevant items when customer steps in. I would propose to ask the customer his ID at the time he gets into the shop. I know it's quite hectic but then I am talking about lower common denominator. The salesman would have customer ID and now he would just be showing those shoes first which would be matching customer's taste. The most important thing is attitude of the sales person. He MUST be showing different items like he would be showing his family member. That's the key. Using technology only and behave bad with customers is not going to save you at all. There's need of a perfect combo of both humanness and technology.
  3. Trend based inventory: Since all preferences are being recorded in a system, you can build your inventory based on users' choice. It would not only help to put the right items but will also help both customers and business to grow.
  4. Promotional Campaigns: A customer will never like to be bombard with SPAM messages for new offers via SMS messages. The best way to use SMS technology to send messages during the season he usually buys new shoes. That kind of SMS campaign would be quite natural as he would already be planning to buy newer shoes. Also occasional campaigns like Eid etc can also help to bring the customer back. Since customer's history is already being maintained, there would be a clear picture to learn about your customer.

These are few suggestions which local business owners or anyone in the world can adapt. I particularly discussed Pakistan because here technology is not being used in a way it should be. Resources are available but they are being misused due to lack of awareness. If a business can afford hi-fi technology then entire business model could be automated. Do give your valuable feedback about the post