Pakistan is one of the most favorable country in terms of adopting newer technologies, even though the tech infrastructure in Pakistan is just gauging up, there is almost a 100 percent adoption of newer technologies, especially in the digital media. There are new applications being developed, businesses are moving online, most importantly the academia. Imran Hemani and Safeer Hussain have ventured together for a brilliant startup which they call IBA Bookery. This portal allows IBA students to post, sell and buy academic papers, books and other related accessories. It is getting a good response because earlier students had problems finding course material, research papers and books. Now, it’s online.
Imran and Safeer had this idea in their fourth semester when they were in a technology entrepreneurship program, but it didn’t work initially because it needed more attention and grooming than what it was being given. Later, when they started it all over again, they weren’t sure whether it will receive a good response, considering their previous experience. But it had a good impact.
It wasn’t a big investment for them, as Imran Hemani says, “After we had developed the web portal, we bought a cloud space along with a domain and deployed the project. And we didn’t market it at all.” However, on 18th August, when the project was officially launched and marketed on Facebook, it soon began receiving great response. Currently, IBA Bookery has 600 users, and most of them are active online. The site got 32 thousand hits in first two months of its launch. Safeer said, “Just after an hour or two, after we marketed IBA Bookery on Facebook, people started sharing and liking the posts and links and within a few days everyone knew there is an online Bookstore for IBA students. We also contacted the faculty and invited all every student of IBA.”
This project is the very first of its kind, starting from a university level, and it has a promising future. But how does it work? The idea that these two young techpreneurs developed in the technology entrepreneurship course was a commissioned model. For every transaction of the book, they got a certain percentage but now it’s a completely free model – a consumer to consumer model where people can enlist their books for sales online website’s book catalogue, and interested people can contact the sellers directly. There is also an option for those people who do not want to reveal their identity. In that case, the buyers contact web admin and go through the deal. Imran Hemani explains, “At the moment, it’s a free project but we are attempting to convert in into a revenue model, allowing it to work and sustain in a normal fashion.” People can also sell the books for free and donate. Or they can quote the price as they like. Safeer Hussain added, “To make it more efficient, we have also mentioned a field in the form where people can describe the condition of the book as they are hard copies it is tough for a buyer to judge the condition of books and relate to quoted price.”
It has now become easier for students and faculty members to browse through the online catalogue, post and buy and collaborate. The platform used is WordPress but Imran and Safeer are now planning to make a customer portal using PHP to add designs and features to expand the portal. “We need to have a content management system for efficient performance. In terms of marketing, we are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms,” said Imran.
IBA Bookery got hits from more than 59 countries and received positive feedback from all over the world. A US tech incubation company in Seattle also offered them incubation and mentoring. And now they are planning to go bigger, bonding with other universities including CBM, SZABIST, Iqra and other universities. Currently, though anyone can access the portal, Imran and Safeer are majorly focusing on empowering the IBA students network.
Furthermore, other universities and colleges have been contacting Imran and Safeer to add their networks to the site and make them brand ambassadors. So in the near future, it has a very promising scope. “Usually people hesitate to go to website so there is a great challenge to motivate the students who actually go to the website and post their books because most of the students are not interested in posting online. So this is a great challenge for us to actually motivate the students to participate. We are thinking of integrating our website with Facebook because everyone is on Facebook.” said Imran.