Long before Mohammed Khanani actually founded his company, he already knew the idea for the business he would eventually found. But, before launching the product, he felt it was essential to get a handle on the ecosystem in the sector.
Eventually, in 2011, he set up an electronics trading company with both wholesale and retail operations. He later set up an entire wholesale trading division to be largest exporter of used phones to Pakistan based companies.
After successfully being recognized as one of Pakistan’s fastest growing cellular recycling and distribution companies, the startup electronics e-commerce platform Bytes.pk was formed.
In light of shifting macro policies, I sat with him to learn the game plan and here how to run a successful business in Pakistan.
If interest rates rise, how does it affect your strategy for business development?
As of now, we haven’t taken interest rates into account as we feel it does not have a direct impact on us.
This is primarily because our target market is more low to mid-end and they do not use banks much. We also currently do not accept credit cards. The current vendors we work with are also very annoyed with banks and don’t make much use of them.
What is really going to have an impact on us is if the 0.6 per cent tax comes in effect. Currently with 0.3 per cent a lot of vendors accept cheques with great difficulty as they complain it will cost them to take the money out of their banks.
That would make paying in cash a logistical nightmare.
What’s the most important thing you’re working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
Currently the most important thing I am working on is an after sales support system. One of the biggest issue consumers in Pakistan have is they do not get good after-sales support.
We will launch the new program in 1-2 months and it will include same day warranty claims, phone trade in options and very extensive warranty coverage. We are hoping to expand this to 300 cities also and will also be looking to put our own service centers in various cities to reduce the turn around time.
Once the new system is ready I assure you there will be no after sale support that will be able to come close to ours.
We are not looking to provide support just to help you when you have problems but to enhance your experience with your device in general. For example when you buy a device from bytes.pk you will be able to get access to a lot of apps for free.
What’s the hardest decision you’ve made so far?
When I started bytes.pk one of my key long term goals was to build our own smartphone that would offer amazing value.
Unfortunately two weeks ago I had to shelf the plan because new manufacturers are coming on board and with the current manufacturers dropping their price, the market has become very price competitive.
We were almost ready to take our device into mass production. But it no longer made sense from a business point of view and thus we have scrapped the project for now.
How do you develop talent, help people grow to the next level and be their best?
I feel that the best way to let people grow is give them a freedom to make decisions and learn from their successes and mistakes.
At bytes.pk everyone has a lot of independence. All department heads have complete autonomy to make decisions so long as they adhere to the company’s core values.
We had a big challenge at the start as we had two very diverse groups of employees. We source office staff primarily from a less educated and lower income background as compared to our main office staff. But by giving both teams an equal standing and pay scale — plus ensuring that every member gets equal respect regardless of pay and background — we were able to create a diverse team that works very well together.
What are the key company milestones for the next 6-12 months that need to be achieved?
In the next six to twelve months our goal is to begin building our own logistics network.
One of the biggest problems we experience is in last mile delivery with numerous issues happening where the customer claims the courier is not delivering and the courier claiming the customer is not home.This is one of countless problems we have when using a third party delivery company.
We are working on a plan to build a logistics network of at least 10 stations in more rural areas as part of our aim of empowering the masses.
Another key aim of ours is to launch our first active virtual reality headset. Currently all our bytes VR headsets require your mobile phones to display but we have started work on one with its own led displays that would work with your PC. We hope to launch it within a year.
Some other [milestones] we want to [reach] is to triple our product offering and we want to grow our sales by 500 per cent at a minimum.
Though honestly, we think with the current market position we will probably have to cut our growth goals.