A successful startup starts with an innovative idea; it’s all about recognizing the void in the society and replacing it with something smart and convenient. Hamza introduced a genie for all the car users who miss the date of their car oil change, skip car wash because they were too busy or sometimes lazy. Hamza introduced an online workshop called Auto Genie which takes care of everything that relates to your car.
Q: Please tell us about your journey at Auto Genie and how did it all start?
A: We have a family business of goods distribution, our company operates in more than 30 cities in the country. As a child, I was always interested in cars so as I grew up, I started looking after the company cars. I started to automate the data on excel sheets about the cars maintenance records and mileage costs etc. As I got more involved into it I did some research and found that similar models for cars existed in different companies around the world. I was doing very basic work; I started to learn those things. That’s how Auto Genie started; we are four co-founders who shared the idea. We put our own money into it, to upgrade the technology, to pay the salaries. I had some cell phones and gadgets; I sold them and put the money into the business.Through our social PR we reached the customers and brought almost 100+ workshops from Lahore and Islamabad to work with us. But soon, we evolved into a different model. I am not really a techie guy hence faced some problems regarding that. I invested my days and nights to bring it where it is today.
I could have joined my family business easily and lived a relatively easy life but my love for cars made me do all this. Now, I am known for Auto Genie, as the “car guy” in the industry. I feel like I am living my dream.
Q: As you mentioned earlier that you lacked knowledge in the tech side. So how did you cope up with that?
A: I faced many problems related to it and we realized that hiring an experienced techie for this would be very costly for us. One of the co-founders, Abdullah is a CS grad, so we hired a freelancer to assist him; together they were able to handle the tech side. Later, we made a small technology team. As I am dealing with all the operations of the company with Rabee (co-founder), I told them what they should be doing and they executed it. After a period of 1-1.5 years, I could confidently say that we have developed our tech side that can be compared to any other foreign automobile startup like ours. All the tech features are self made except for a few that we purchased.
Q: You are the youngest entrepreneur to raise a hefty investment of 1 hundred thousand US$. What factors do you think helped you achieve such a milestone and what challenges have you faced up till now?
A: The biggest challenge was my age. I met with different investors and they posed questions like will you be able to take the business pressure? How will you manage the responsibilities? What you will do with the funds? Etc. We had to filter the investors and then I kept on meeting them over and over. The plus points were the traction that our company had achieved in one year. We also had the early mover’s advantage. Our team members have the spark, the skills, the vision and the passion. We know our objectives well, we have our goals defined. If you have these things nothing can beat you. These were the things which made us successful in raising our investment.
After Auto Genie, a few other companies have also emerged who are providing similar services like ours. It feels good to have competition around. It means this industry is developing and there are more chances of improvement.
Q: What are your future plans for Auto Genie?
A: We are aspiring to be one of the leading brand in Auto Maintenance sector. For that, we have plans for expanding into the major cities of Pakistan. Possibly on crowd-sourcing model, but this issue is still under debate. We are working on establishing some dependable assets.
Autogenie is also selected for ATX-PAK exchange program, and I will be travelling to the United States for yet another amazing experience.
Q: You also represented Pakistan at Startup Istanbul. How was that experience?
Q: As you are running your own company you have to dedicate a lot of time towards it. How supportive is your family, did they really like the idea of leaving the family business and starting something of your own?
A: My family is very supportive. Both my mother and father didn’t pressurize me to join our family business. They take pride in my progress with Auto Genie.
Q: Any advice that you would like to give to the young entrepreneurs regarding raising investments?
A: Yes. Every startup wants funding and investment but very few of them actually work to achieve it. You should deserve first and then desire. Your traction is your biggest proof that your business is worth investing. There are investors in Pakistan but you have to invest your time and make sure you hit right. Our startup founders need to be more practical in their approach.
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