Times of Youth: In brief, could you enlighten our readers about yourself for those who may be unaware?
I am CEO of this company. My name is Sundas Jabeen and I am a software engineer. I started working as a freelance writer when I was 16 years old. Before that, I use to write poems, stories and content for my school’s newsletters and magazines. I also contributed for free in national digests, newspapers and magazines. When I finished my college, I got admission in Software engineering on my best friend’s advice. At that time I never knew it would suit me so well. I so loved this field that I started learning from online trainings, did many courses from distant learning universities from abroad, participated in many events, competitions and was able to bag National Youth Icon award in 2012. Since then, I earned many titles as Youngest Entrepreneur Award Best Female Entrepreneur, Women in business – Face of Pakistan award etc.
Apart from social aspects, I started grabbing development projects and became a full time freelancer. At a very young age, I have been working for brands like Zara (UK), Dell (UK), Silicon Valley Innovation Center (USA) and hundreds of small to large companies from all over the world. I use to share projects with my friends too. With an intention to create employment opportunities in Pakistan, I made a company. Initially I had only few people from Pakistan and most of them from abroad. But by now, most of my team is from Pakistan.
I am Microsoft certified and also a trainer. I conduct workshops and seminars to train people about how they can earn money online using internet. I keep people aware about high tech solutions and how to make technology common in Pakistan, starting from their homes. I run a blog named Likho Pakistan, where I post tutorials and motivational material for the ones who are planning to launch a startup or looking to raise funding. In coming year, you will see another startup of mine that will create a big impact if everything went well. I am a pure patriot and I always make sure to represent a positive Pakistan. I play my part to contribute to a better Pakistan and I also encourage others to promote a positive Pakistan.
Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup?
Name of this innovative startup is “Devstroke”. We say it like “Devstroke – Innovation at its best”. The name comes from two different words, Development and Stroke. Just like an artist creates a magic with his strokes, we digitalize businesses across the globe with our development stroke.
Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?
We are a design and development company, innovating the traditional design and branding in different parts of the world. Devstroke started in December 2014 with a vision to create a first in its kind entrepreneurial firm that gathered talented and creative young entrepreneurs and freelancers at one platform. We are a team of certified professionals who are experts in their own respective fields and possess a great experience as a freelancer or entrepreneur serving people all over the world. We are now united as TEAM DEVSTROKE and provide state of the art IT services to the people all over the world. Our success lies in our ability of being multi cultured and able to bring out the best solution within the budget. Working with Devstroke will be a unique experience for employees as well as clients as they will meet a team virtually connected from different parts of the world understanding them the better way and uniting different ideas to come up with a magical masterpiece.
Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members of your startup?
I am the founder and sole proprietor of Devstroke. We have Project Managers, designers, developers, writers, virtual assistants, book keeper, spokesperson, legal consultant, strategy analysts, business development team, auditors, coordinators, helpers and event organizers (They help us conduct workshops and seminars for learning in different cities). We also have a lot of members (freelancers who attend our training) that we keep on recommending to our clients for their freelance jobs that fit their skills.
Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors, what makes you different?
We provide everything at one place. From brainstorming to testing, we have people from all over the world with different skills. We never say “NO” to anything just because it is NOT our domain. If there is anything that is relevant to your company’s digital identity, we offer it. We are making it affordable for people to digitalize. Big companies are offering good services but they charge a high amount so their target market is rich customers. Small companies are asking for less fee but they are doing the things the traditional and old way and their target market is the customer with low budget and NO idea of latest techniques. We not only make our customer realize the importance of using the latest techniques, we provide them those quality services in the same rates that they pay to get the obsolete ones. We want to make sure that everyone gets the best solutions and make most out of their websites. If your website is not bringing you leads and business, it’s not the fault of your business or idea, it’s a fault of your website. With us, you don’t need to pay something you cannot afford to get the services you deserve.
Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?
I was already developing websites and was a writer. I had contacts with good designers, app developers and SEO experts. I had a huge network of freelancers from different parts of the world who became my friends during my freelancing tenure. I wanted to unite them at one place and grab more projects. Doing that, Allah almighty helped me and we got more than expected projects. This was the time when I wanted to hire more freelancers. I hired Pakistani people because I wanted to create employments here. I noticed that expert freelancers were already getting projects and they knew all the tools and techniques that are being less practiced in Pakistan. I made them managers and hired those struggling ones who were not able to get the jobs because they were not yet ready or didn’t knew much or were simply taking freelancing wrong. I, along with managers, trained them, told them what to do and what not to do. How to apply, how to behave and everything they wanted to know. We then conducted many events and taught people how to become successful freelancers. They are now earning well and teaching their friends. This way, they not only work for us, they get even more projects and create opportunities for their friends and family too. This way Devstroke is changing the vision of foreign clients about Pakistani Freelancers.
Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?
My vision for Devstroke is to be a Pakistan Based international Company in IT industry. I want to expand the setup to other countries and promote the “made in Pakistan” label. Also, to contribute my part towards Pakistan’s economical and digital development. To bring business in Pakistan and empower the current businesses. To make technology common and affordable and to take the Pakistani Businesses to reach international market.
Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?
We have a huge market. Anyone, selling anything or selling nothing at all is our lead. We tell people how they can get benefit by turning their passion into money. Suppose you like cooking and I will make you a blog where you would share your recipes, get followers and generate revenue. Would you be able to resist? See, you are my lead too.
Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?
We help you grow digitally. We do industry analysis, market analysis, research and follow ups to make sure you are making most out of your digital identity. We offer,
Web development (HTML5, WordPress, PHP, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, Foursquare, Wix)
App Development (Android, HTML5, IOS, C#, ASP.NET, JAVA, Unity 2D, Unity 3D)
Design Services (Web design, graphic design, print media design)
Writing services ( Articles, web content, blogs, press release, seo content, product reviews, product description, biography, ebooks, reports)
Internet Marketing (SEO, SMM, SEM, Email Marketing, Content Marketing)
Web and Blog administration
ERPs ( Point of sales, school management, hospital management, clinic management, restaurant management)
Skill Training through seminars and workshops
Testing Services (Scrum Testing, Agile Testing, Unit Testing, Integration Testing and System Testing)
Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from? What was the inspiration behind the business?
I always wanted to something extra ordinary. I wanted to strengthen myself because I was told that girls are fragile. Growing up as a girl, circumstances were always different. On one hand, women empowerment was rising, people were offering more jobs to girls etc. On the other hand, parents were not satisfied with their daughters earning money. On one side, it was a proud to see our women rising, on other side harassment was a big threat. Though society was changing in favor of girls but parents were still afraid. I wanted to be an example.
I wanted to change the perspective of parents so that they can proudly get their daughters educated and allow them to rise and shine. My parents didn’t wanted me to join any office. They didn’t wanted me to work along with my studies because they felt I don’t need to earn because they are earning for me. I wanted to change this mind set by telling them that it’s not about earning, it’s about being able to help others and be a responsible human. I took this path to stand out while sitting at home. Today I am running a company and planning projects that can make a big impact on entire nation. My parents are now proud of me. Alhamdulillah, I am glad that I have made many housewives, single mothers, students and widows freelancers. They now earn by sitting at home. Few are Devstroke’s employees too.
Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I am bought up in a family with business background. My family and friends encouraged me throughout. I always wanted to do something big but I never thought it will be so early and this good. I started freelancing to bare the expense of my university. I wanted to feel financially independent. Eventually, things turned this way around. I always helped people, even before the startup. When I learn something productive, I teach it to others too. So, when I got much projects, I thought to share them. When people completed projects for me, I was never satisfied and I use to refine them my way. The difference was due to the level of technology in abroad and here. Then, I thought to make a company and get everything done in a modern way. So I trained my team accordingly. I always hire the one who is determined and wants to learn, not the one who wants to count their hours and get the salary. This way I got the most productive team. However, it took much hard work to achieve this level of productivity.
Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?
We were founded in December 2014 and within 5 months, we were labelled as one of the Top 100 startups of Pakistan. I get a lot of invites to attend various organizations and conduct learning sessions. My team as well as clients are very happy with us and this is what I consider the biggest achievement. They own Devstroke and Devstroke owns them.
Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?
We had no physical office. I only invested few hundred dollars to get my website ready and register the company. Initially, for projects, I used freelancing platforms to grab projects. Those clients became our happy customers and outsourced their entire development departments to us. We work 24/7 and this is the reason most of the companies have outsourced us their work. Apart from companies, many individual clients contacted us for their websites and referred us. The only thing that get us clients is quality of our work and my best ever Team, specially my project Manager.
Times of Youth: What early traction has the company gotten (sales, traffic to the company’s website, app downloads, etc., as relevant).
We have been able to get trusted by people and companies all over the world. They gave us their projects. Most of our clients are recurring and long term. We are capable and ready to deliver as much work as a client needs. There is no limit when it comes to Devstroke.
Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
Luckily, satisfying the clients was never the problem for me. The biggest challenge for me was to gather the best team. I knew the importance of good team since the start. It took me months to gather the cream at one place. It was very difficult to find the gems. You always have to dig deep to grab one. Now, I have the best team. I value them, encourage them and I feel glad that they all love Devstroke and are working here because they find it a better place to grow and achieve.
Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?
In a year, I see Devstroke innovating the local Pakistani Market. We are already working for foreign clients. In the year 2016, we are planning to cover and digitalize the local market. We will reach empower maximum local businesses and launch them with a great force in the global market. Making Pakistan go Global will be our New Year resolution for 2016.
Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?
Investors can help us reach our business in different parts of the world and then, they can sit back and see us innovating businesses in that area and generating a decent profit. Devstroke have a best team, ability to handle load, ability to learn new things and adapt to new culture, and ability to say YES to every challenge. What else would a client need? All we are expecting from investors is to connect us with potential market and clients in different developing as well as developed countries. This way, we will be able to connect technologies and techniques from all over the world to one place i.e. DEVSTROKE.
Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
For anyone who is looking to start a business, I would say that if you are not doing something because you think it’s not the right time, please do it. There is no such thing as “the right time”. The moment you think of something indicates that God wants you to do it. I will also say that if you are afraid of risks, there is no such thing as “risk”. If you play wise, and use your brain the smart way, there is no risk in anything. You never need investment or money to start a business. You have internet, it’s worth treasure. Use it to minimize the risk and always trust the right people to build a team. In a long span, a stranger might be more helpful than your best friend. So take wiser decision, minimize the initial costs to as low as possible and wait for the public’s interest in your product/service to make any big investment.
Questionnaire was filled by Founder of Devstroke – Miss Sundas Jabeen