Following up with the PlanX Demo Day that took place this year in November IDG Pakistan caught up with some of the startups present at the event that day. Speaking with IDG Pakistan is Ali Airaj Ahsan, the Co-founder of MangoBaaz; an online information and entertainment company that generate content for the digital generation of Pakistan.
MangoBaaz is founded by Pakistanis across the globe according to Ali, who himself got his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; redefining digital advertising in Pakistan by studying user data to generate meaningful stories that connect brands with an engaged audience.
What sets MangoBaaz apart?
Even though some local blogs according to Ali publish content similar to MangoBaaz, but since MangoBaaz is not a blog they don’t consider them as competition and then there is BuzzFeed India which publishes content specific to Pakistan sometimes.
Ali speaking on what sets them apart from others, said. “We’re different because MangoBaaz is a locally based business. We’re a data driven company that’s constantly analyzing our audience so that we’re able to generate content based on their interests. Moreover, we have a very strong team culture which ensures that everyone absolutely loves their “job” at MangoBaaz”
Challenges and Opportunities
When asked about what challenges they have faced regarding their startup, Ali said. “As a startup, you’re always constrained by resources. One of the biggest challenges we faced was a lack of respect for intellectual property – we would regularly find (and continue to find) individuals copying our content without sourcing it. Moreover, we’ve faced challenges in explaining native advertising to brands in Pakistan – however, it’s a lot of brands are going digital and they are usually open to exploring new ideas which is extremely helpful.”
Talking about opportunities Ali said that opportunities are limitless and according to him that the thing about startups is that one creates opportunities for themselves. Adding more to this he said, “Every industry can be disrupted. For example, you have Patari that’s essentially disrupting the music industry. There’s Auto Genie which is disrupting the car maintenance industry. There’s Beauty Hooked which is disrupting the beauty services industry.”
Ali shared with us that when he was working on MangoBaaz the conviction that he was building something that Pakistan needed and the realization that people that there were people who believed in the vision of MangoBaaz.
Funding, mentoring and incubation
According to Ali, they are still in discussions regarding funding and they hope to have some good news in the future.
MangoBaaz were incubated at PlanX and Ali spoke about their experience there, “we’ve received more support, advise and mentoring than we imagined.” Speaking about the mentoring, he said that they have been introduced to a lot of mentors who give them feedback on their business objectives and help refine them. And through the sessions held at PlanX they get advice on the business dynamics of Pakistan according to Ali.
Participating at PlanX Demo Day
MangoBaaz had for the first time ever set up a booth, said Ali. “It was very exhilarating for us to have so many people come up to us and ask about MangoBaaz. We held a competition where people had to take shots of spiced mango juice and people absolutely loved it” he added talking about their experience at the event.
Ali also sends his apologies to the other startups present at the Demo Day in case they took up too much attention from them.
On a closing note
Ali on closing note encouraged the young professionals. “If you’re a young professional and you hate your job, quit and start/join a startup. This is the only time in your career when you can take such bold risks.” And asks everyone to support the startups they hear about including MangoBaaz as well of course. On further adding about the start up scene, Ali concluded with saying. “It’s very exciting to see so many startups popping up in Pakistan. It shows entrepreneurs channeling their ambitions to build phenomenal products that people will love to use. Hopefully this will help reduce the brain drain from Pakistan and redefine Pakistan as a country of leaders, not followers.”