Karachi, is Pakistan’s biggest business hub. To serve the logistic needs of  its huge population several companies have entered the arena. Despite the existence of several companies dedicated to this commercial task of transporting goods, customers continue to come across issues of high service charges, late deliveries and lack of customer service. Chotaay, a Karachi based Logistics service was founded with a vision to solve the existing issues and provide a service that Karachiites can be proud of. Chotaay is an on call logistics service. A young team of 3 individuals, Asil Deshmukh (a 20 year old IT student) , Ruqaiya Salat (a final year Media Sciences student) and Syed Wakar (a B.Com student) are the brains behind this creation. They wowed the startup world by providing the cheapest delivery rates in town.

Let’s hear from them. Their rapid journey, struggles and future plans:

Q: What do you think were the key factors that helped you gain so many customers in a short amount of time?

Chotaay started their service, catering to three areas in Karachi but only in a period of five months they have successfully spread their operations all over the city. 
A: Our services have spread through the word of mouth. We never spent or directed our energies towards big marketing strategies. The good reviews by our customers helped us spread all over Karachi in a short period of time. The reviews by our customers on our Facebook page says it all. Our major target has been to be a cost effective service for people along with being efficient. About 90% of our customers are startup founders or small business owners, so we personally understand their concerns as we can very well relate to them. We grew from 3-4 orders per day to 12-15 per day, now we deliver about 370 orders per month.

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Q: How did you manage the workload, were you expecting such a huge response?
A: Not really, we had not expected to go this big in such a short time. There were times when we were flooded with orders but we didn’t have the staff to manage it. Instead of panicking, our Creativity Head, Syed Wakar and Asil Deshmukh took matters in our hands. We personally went to our customers, picked the orders and delivered them, whereas backend work was being managed by our 3rd partner Ruqaiya Salat. After such an overwhelming response we hired more riders.

Now, at any given time we have six riders who are actively performing their duties, delivering orders throughout the city.

Team Chotaay

Team Chotaay. (R to L: Syed Wakar, Ruqaiya Salat, Asil Deshmukh)

Q: Since you are charging a minimal fee for your services, have you ever faced any difficulty regarding paying the salaries to your riders?
A: When you are charging a minimal fee you have to plan everything accordingly. To manage this we worked out a strategy. We have permanent riders and we also have part time riders, who work in particular hours. There are four permanent riders who work from 10am-12pm and two riders (other than these four) in each shift of 3 hours i.e. from 9-12, 12-3, 3-6. This way we are efficiently utilizing our available resources. By the Grace of Allah Almighty, it has never happened that we skipped our riders’ salaries. We ensure this every time; otherwise we would have been shut down long before.

Q: How did you manage to find dedicated team members, as sharing a vision and inculcating the same passion in your coworkers is very important for any startup to survive?
A: The key to get the passionate workers on board is to be as transparent as possible, we pay more to our core business team i.e. riders than what we three take home. Daily rewards and recognition has helped us a lot in retaining and keeping our riders happy and engage with our mission.

Secondly, how do we find the best riders for our services? This has also been possible through OUR contacts. The references are really helpful. There is a person we know who has a team for logistics who can be hired. We got some of our riders from them. We also posted jobs for riders on OLX, which was really helpful.

packages ready to be delivered by Chotaay

Packages ready to be delivered by Chotaay. Image credits: Chotaay

Q: Please explain the functioning procedure of Chotaay and how do you ensure quality work?
A: The orders can be placed on our website or on our Facebook page. If you are placing an order on our website then there is a short form that has to be filled with the required details. But as we mentioned earlier, most of our customers are startup founders who have time constraints, hence, they can just contact us on our Facebook page or give us a call and we fill the form on their behalf. The charges are according to the weight of the parcel/package. There are two types of orders, “cashless orders” and “cashed orders”. The cashless orders are the orders in which a certain package has to be picked from one point and transported to another. In these orders we ask whether the delivery charges has to be picked from the pickup point or dropping point. Cashed orders are those in which a certain product by a company has to be delivered to someone. In these cases, we make the prepayment on behalf of the purchaser to the company; we pick the order and deliver it to the person and then take the money from them and give it to the company.

We are the only startup who is making pre payments of up to 100,000PKR on behalf of our clients regardless of their delivery charges i.e. 99, 149 or 249

Q: What are the items that you deliver?
A: We deliver every legal thing. Be it keys, documents, Food, Clothes, Fashion Apparels, Grocery, Hajj forms, Booking forms, Medicines, Branded Cigarettes, and cigars. We also have a ticket booking service. You can call Chotaay and get your tickets booked for events, movies etc.

Q: Have you partnered with any company?
A: We have worked as delivery partners for various events; The MasterClass event, IBA Youth Speak Forum. We are also delivery partners with “MedicalStore“. Our contracts with certain fashion brands are underway; we will be their official delivery partners in the near future.

Q: What are your short term and long term goals?
A: Our short term goal is to expand in various cities; the first one on our list is Lahore.
We are working on our website which is near to beta release. The website will have speech recognition technology, so that our customer won’t have to get in touch through live chat, all the FAQ’s will be answered through a bot including booking of a delivery.
The long term goal is to make Chotaay an inter-city service.

Q: What message would you like to give to our young entrepreneurs who are students and founders of startups like you, how do you manage the work load and academics together?
A: That’s right. We have a very tough routine but “When we do something, we do it with all our heart.” People usually get a shock after knowing our age yet it has never been a constraint. We only believe in taking first step to cross the whole staircase. If anyone has an idea in mind,  he shouldn’t wait for the business plan, investment, and guidance. We say; just do it!

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About the author

Saneea Imran

Saneea loves to discover and document the booming startup culture in Pakistan. She freelances with Daastan and likes to talk about public health, nutrition and lifestyles.

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