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Up, Close and Artsy with M&M Bülow

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M&M Bülow – Painter & Photographer from Germany

Times of Youth: For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

M&M Bülow: M&M Bülow is the beautiful partnership between husband and wife. We even include the kids now, too. We create our stunning images with real painting and photography combined using our own little secret processes! We are incredibly passionate and dedicated to our art, photography and painting. This is our purpose!
I, Mike, have spent 20 years as a music producer (Universal Music ,Warner Music , MfS Rec , Flesh Rec. Sony Music ).My wife, Madi, has always been an artist, and like many, kept it hidden most of her life. Now, I couldn’t be happier working the last 5 years with my beautiful artist wife, seen together in picture (photo and painting).

Mike Bülow: Reiki Master / Teacher in : Kundalini Reiki,Usui-Reiki,Karuna Reiki , Lightarien-Ki-Reiki,

Times of Youth: How would you describe your work to someone who has never known about it?

M&M Bülow: Our work has come a long way and has lasted about 1 ½ years before we have expanded this technique. This way is not over yet. We are always looking for new materials, components and items that you would not take the usual way. In this way we came step by step to the current result. Further matters further, we have initially created on stones and tiles abstract fluid normally produced on canvases and have then photographed and edited quality.

Times of Youth: What sparked your initial interest in arts?

M&M Bülow: After 20 years of music production, it was time, new and creative ways. I discovered more and more my interest and talent for photography. In addition to the recent successful photo shoots with musicians and athletes (including the Berlin Adler) excites me especially abstract art and the unconventional. Together with my wife Madeleine, I tried with new painting techniques. We made it our imagination run wild and this gave us completely new perspectives in creating your own photo opportunities.

Times of Youth: At what age did you start doing all this work? Has your family always been supportive of this choice of career?

Mike: My parents were already musicians. I started writing music at age 13 years!

Times of Youth: Which of your projects are you most proud of and why?

M&M Bülow: We are satisfied with every step and breath. We are parents of two daughters 1 and 7 years old this is probably our greatest work

Times of Youth: Where do you see yourself in next 5 years?

M&M Bülow: (HERE AND NOW) Important for us is only the NOW! It’s all we need! But, OK we hope to see major exhibitions throughout the world. Until now, Salzburg, Berlin, London; now comes Ibiza and New York 2015


One word answers:

1) If you had to choose one lens which one would it be?

All Hasselblad objective and all Canon L objective is what we love!

2) What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?

Creativity and attention to detail 😉

3) What type of cameras do you shoot with?

Hasselblad & Canon 5D Mark 2 and coming soon 5Ds (Juni)

4) How would you describe your style? 

Our style is creating the play of colors, which is then held in place with a special photo technique. The viewer thus gets an insight into our abstract world of color. Each painting is unique and can not be reproduced. We think that our pictures correspond to any fixed standard, which causes only one feeling in the viewer. Anyone can interpret it in different things and lose themselves in other ways in them. Moods are to be controlled in warm and cold colors a little, but primarily decided by the viewers themselves. Strictly speaking, there is the completion of our images not only from the color used and the retained motif but, ultimately, with the thoughts and feelings of the viewer

Times of Youth: What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?

M&M Bülow: Brush

Times of Youth: Any message to your fans or followers via TIMES OF YOUTH?

M&M Bülow: That one should learn and master the technical aspects of a camera to make then his creativity. Only in the “front of the lens’, the focus should be on and not the thought of a perfect technical setting. The flair and an eye for the right moment of the shot are the most important thing in photography. The photographic fun and creativity should always be maintained. It is important that you, not the other, follows in the footsteps.

Times of Youth: Do tell us how fans can contact you to share their appreciation/feedback/suggestions.

M&M Bülow: photoart-mmb.com twitter.com/mmbuelow youtube.com/user/mykeyphotonen

Times of Youth is an International Youth Magazine read by the youth of more than 82 countries. Times of Youth brings the latest Youth Opportunities, News, Interviews, Fully Funded Scholarships, Paid Internships, Future Stars, Rising Stars, etc. For further details you can email us at: [email protected]

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Future Stars

David Uzumaki | Interview

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Times of Youth: Do tell our readers about your work in brief for those who may be unaware.

Sure thing. Well, my name is David Uzumaki and I am known as “8gaming” online. I have a Facebook page and also am YouTuber that does a variety of things. On my Facebook, I post video game facts and trivia that many people would have not known about before. On YouTube, I dwell deeper in the whole video game world of things. (‘Let’s play…’, funny moment videos, informative gaming videos, etc). Essentially it’s just me having fun with video games.

Times of Youth: When did you decide that being a gamer was your calling?

Quite recently actually. I’d say around 2013 when I started 8gaming. I’ve played for many years before that of course (the earliest I can recall is ‘Sonic on’ of the original Sega system and Crash Bandicoot and Tomb Raider on the PS1). I feel the creation of 8gaming made me a more focused gamer as I invested quite a lot of time in it subsequently increasing my love for the hobby.

Times of Youth: ‘8gaming’ is an unusual name. What made you choose it for your project?

I get this one a lot actually. It’s really simple actually. The 8 represents an infinity symbol so technically you can call me infinite gaming. It represents the never ending love for video games that we all have. However, originally the name was derived from “8fact”. A partner of 9gag who essentially does the same thing but posts more general content. I noticed nobody made an 8gaming page so took the chance to make it.

Times of Youth: How did you conjure up the idea of revealing gaming facts using web and mobile apps as a portal?

I got to give credit where credit is due. 8fact. As I previously said they posted general facts and trivia of life, I simply did the same thing but refined it to video games (which I recently expanded to YouTube).

Times of Youth: From where do you gather all these facts? How authentic are they?

Among the positivity of the ‘m8s’ (what I name my supporters). There is always the one or two who try to disprove everything I say. The facts are gathered in 3 ways:

I simply look for pre-existing facts that are already confirmed (but this is difficult to do now since I’m using everything up)

I use different apps and sites to try and learn something nobody has mentioned before or I would use the said apps to post current interesting information. An example is the built in Google Now Cards installed on my phone which provides me with information about things I regularly search. This sometimes provides sources for posts. I also use an app called “Flipboard” which allows me to specifically look for video game related news which I use on the page.

This is the more interesting method. However, I should tell you a bit more about me. I have a keen intrigue when it comes to Physics. As a hobbyist and in formal education. So I use this knowledge and the knowledge I already have of video games to “create” a fact. An example is when I posted about Portal 2 and compared portals to real life using the knowledge I know from physics. However, this is longer process when it comes to gathering information as I must 100% make sure what I say is 100% coherent in a short manner.

Regarding their authenticity, I wouldn’t post something if it was false and this is something that those few people who say otherwise don’t realize. They can simply confirm the information by researching it themselves so I would never post something non-genuine.

Times of Youth: What is your idea of a perfect game?

One that applies real-life theoretical physics in a world of its own to a finite degree. A light example would be the idea behind Delsin Rowe’s (Infamous Second Son) powers being introduced into a real-world environment. Basically anything that is not about real-life but can be explained by real-life (which is why I don’t like Grand Theft Auto).

Times of Youth: Which has been your most favorite game of all time?

“The Last of Us”

Times of Youth: Any achievement of yours which you’re most proud of?

Definitely! I won a national animation competition twice in Ireland and got to travel to Microsoft to their Games localization division to spend a week with them including the Windows team. Although, I am also more proud of 8gaming as a whole. As one can deduce I am still trying to find myself, still trying to carve myself in the gaming world and I’m only in the early stages of that. There’s still a long journey for me ahead!

Times of Youth: Has your work ever been criticized? How did you handle it?

Yes. A lot. Specifically YouTube. For the main reason being when I first got into YouTube, I was clueless (like any other YouTuber). My videos were frankly sub-par and I was having a hard time getting peoples’ attention. This is due to the size of my Facebook page and people comparing it to my YouTube. They ignore the fact that my Facebook page was once small and are condescending regarding my YouTube. In the back of my head though, I know that the hard times will be over as I experienced it with my Facebook page. Recently, things have been going well with my YouTube and I’m in the budding stage of becoming something noteworthy. It’s only a matter of time until both my YouTube and Facebook are at the same level.

When it comes to handling the critics I simply shrug them off (or so I try) as I’ve been hardened from many in the past. You become so used to the positive comments that one negative comment will get to you. 99% of what they say is lacking in background knowledge and they ramble on about things they don’t understand. This goes for both my YouTube and Facebook. I usually block people who say things that simply don’t make sense and their sole intent is to loathe me.

Times of Youth: What advice would you give to the young emerging gamers who still have a long way to go?

Well, since I’m a young emerging gamer myself and am tasting small snippets of success, I’d say (and I know this is cliche) have fun. I feel my short time on YouTube has thought me this. People can sense when you’re not real. When you don’t like what you’re doing. Plus, it would be a waste of your time and you’ll ultimately get nowhere. Whether this is YouTube, Facebook or even just you as a person. The thing you have to do is find something you like and stick with it. There’s no real specifics I can discuss unless you’re super rich and can just advertise your image everywhere (and even that wouldn’t work so well).

Times of Youth: Any message that you would like to share for the youth via Times Of Youth?

Sure! I wanna first thank you for reading this far and I’ll like to tell you one thing. Don’t give up. Once again, cliche as ever but these sayings exist for a reason. Whatever it is you’re passionate about, you will fail and fail over and over again in the beginning. I mean, I still fail all the time. It’s the fact that you can learn from your mistakes and become a better person.
Side tip: Be original or originally recreate something that already exists, make it better.

Times of Youth: Do tell us how fans and admirers can contact you to share their appreciation and feedback.

I reply to ‘m8s’ on a variety of platforms. My personal Facebook page (David Uzumaki)
Snapchat: m8gaming
Youtube: 8gaming
Twitter: @8gaming
PSN: narutouzumaki16

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Future Stars

Levi Boulis | Interview

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Artist from United States of America


For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a 20 year old from Ohio exploring the world of art. I did not attend college or study art in a classroom past my high school. Through this journey, I’ve gotten to exhibit in London and Barcelona in the past year. Hopefully many more trips will be taken to exhibit my art through out the world. The opportunities I’ve gotten through art has also helped me grow as a person. It’s forced me to become a more outgoing person, which naturally I keep to myself. At first I was just making art because I loved it, and then some people in the art community took notice. So now It’s become a pursuit of a career.

How would you describe your work to someone who has never known about it?

My work consists of various styles and subject matter, as I experiment a great amount with my art. The majority consists of vibrant colors that highlight the emotion I feel from the subject matter. Some of the subject matter includes portraits, animals, water, and city street views. Older artwork was created mainly with charcoal, which has helped tremendously in creating paintings. My more current artwork is done in oil and acrylics on canvas.

What sparked your initial interest in arts?

There isn’t a specific moment that set off my interest. Most kids have a favorite thing to kill time, and mine just happened to be drawing. I continued to draw more and more, and as I got older I grew in talent due to the practice. In my last year of high school, I really began to take it more seriously, as I was taking many art classes.

At what age did you start doing all this work? Has your family always been supportive of this choice of career?

I’ve always been creating art. At 17, I started making the majority of the artwork that is featured on my website and captured the attention of others. My family has been very supportive during this adventure. They have even let me use a room in the house for a small studio space. I think most parents don’t take the news of their children wanting to become artists very well. To parents, the phrase, “I want to be an artist” can be interpreted as “I’m going to have no money”. But this thinking isn’t always true and my parents recognize that.

If not this, what else would you have taken up as your 2nd career of choice and why?

My second choice would be computer programming. I’ve always been interested in why and how the technology works. Since I have a great interest in this field, I’ve taken it upon myself to study it through free online resources and books. My hope is to integrate my creativity and experiences in art with my programming knowledge, to help other artists.

Do tell us how has your experience has been in your current field so far.

I can tell you right away, that it is not easy. There are plenty of times that I don’t want to do anything creative, or a project that is taking a lot longer than I had planned. Forcing myself to work on projects is very important, because practice is necessary to become better. Another challenge is having ideas. Writers may have writers’ block, but a painter has “painters’ block”. This field is also hard to make an income with, if you’re like me and just create original artwork. Others rely on selling prints or paintings. It’s possible though! All it takes is the right person seeing your artwork to really get things moving forward. All that being said, it has been an incredible experience. Unique opportunities have been made available that are just so exciting to be a part of. Getting to exhibit internationally has got to be my favorite part and also, meeting other crazy artists and people from all over the world united by the love for art.

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself as an artist, honestly?

Currently, I would rate myself a 6. It doesn’t seem very high, but there’s a reason for that. There is ALWAYS more room to improve, so I could never reach 10. Some artists are in the studio almost every day. Right now, that’s just not me. I have many things I am interested in. So I can’t dedicate every hour to my art. I have just set a new goal for myself to help me improve, create one new piece of work every 10 days.

Which of your projects are you most proud of and why?

I am most proud of my recent paintings of Barcelona. It challenged me to step away from just doing unrealistic colors and portraits for a time, and try to expand my talent. These paintings included more natural colors, and new subject matter. The biggest part of why I’m so proud of these paintings is I captured the atmosphere I felt while I was there, which is extremely important to me.

Where do you see yourself in next 5 years?

In 5 years, I see myself with a more professional art studio space. Getting the right atmosphere to create my art is very important to becoming better. I hope to be exhibiting at 2 international exhibits a year by that point. Teaching art classes might be something I see myself doing as well. Referencing what I had talked about earlier, I hope to have developed a website to really help artists get discovered and connect them with job opportunities.

What is one question nobody has ever asked you— that you wish they asked you?

“What were you thinking about/what mood were you in while you created this piece of work?” is a question I at least don’t remember being asked before. Most people ask questions such as, “Why did you use this color?” or “How long did it take?”. These questions don’t really have answers that provide any depth to a work of art. Sometimes I choose a color, just because it looks good. The question about what mood or what I was thinking about while painting a particular piece can provide something more than just the visual aspect, and add a better understanding of my work.

Any message to your fans or followers via TIMES OF YOUTH?

I would encourage everyone to pursue their passion relentlessly. I even know many people who have given up on what they love, simply because they doubt themselves. It’s not fair to yourself to limit yourself by fear of failure, and it’s also not fair to everyone else who is prevented from witnessing your unique talents. I firmly believe that choosing a career that you are passionate about will allow you to maximize your potential, because when you’re passionate about something, you will work harder towards it.

Do tell us how can fans contact you to share their appreciation/feedback/suggestions.

Anyone can contact me through my Facebook art page, “Levi Boulis Artist”, or through my website www.leviboulis.com

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Future Stars

Sundas Jabeen | Interview

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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)
Maintenance Services
Web and Blog administration
ERPs ( Point of sales, school management, hospital management, clinic management, restaurant management)
Virtual Assistants
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.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DevstrokeTech

Questionnaire was filled by Founder of Devstroke – Miss Sundas Jabeen

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Future Stars

Dr. Musstanser Tinauli | Interview

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Times of Youth: In brief, could you enlighten our readers about yourself for those who may be unaware?

A Big Hello to the readers! My name is Dr. Musstanser Tinauli. I am the CEO of Fori Mazdoori. I would like to define myself as an innovationist committed to the idea of creating sustainable, smarter and safer Cities. I believe in slow-change in a bottom-up way. You could also know me as a traveler. I travel whenever I can as I believe its is the best teacher, it teaches you, it changes you. I am very reachable and easygoing person –  I have been told often by the youth that my sessions are enlightening and highly motivating.

You put me in a room with 50 people and we would come out with several good ideas with high societal impact. I can help particularly young people think differently.  I have given several keynotes and workshops (focused on innovation. design thinking, social innovation, social entrepreneurship and smart Cities) in flagship events of the American Embassy such as Global Entrepreneurship Week and International Youth Alumni Conference as-well as with several prestigious Universities (such as Punjab University, NUST and Kinnaird College Lahore). I have also been a TEDx speaker.

One of the best projects that I have ever lead would include Trash Track at MIT – a project that made the concept of “Internet of Things” a reality and also presented the world with a scenario where 100 percent recycling was a possibility.

I have a couple of degrees including a PhD in Design from Politecnico di Milano, Italy; a Masters by Research degree from Multimedia University, Malaysia and a Bachelors (CS) from Muhammad Ali Jinnah University. I have also worked in different capacities with academia of various Universities including Qassim University (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), University of Sydney (Australia) and Multimedia University (Malaysia) and Politecnico di Milano (Italy).

Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup? 

The startup is named Fori Mazdoori within Pakistan, and Skill Bazaar for rest of the world.
We are available online through forimazdoori.com and skillbazaar.co (currently in beta) as well as our iOS and Android apps.

Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?

Fori Mazdoori is a labour welfare system designed to transform how a person finds work. It bridges the gap between an employer and a worker by providing an easy to use ICT-based platform for searching and hiring everyday workers such as drivers, maids, electricians, and plumbers, among a host of similar blue-collar / non-formal professions. Finding the right help at the right time is a cumbersome task and considerable effort is required to track down people with the desired qualities even through existing contacts. Fori Mazdoori provides fast and easy access to potentially millions of workers through the web and mobile apps. It enables users to not only search for nearby workers but also provides a mechanism for adding new workers who do not yet have access to modern technologies (welfare). By completing the feedback loop through employer reviews and leveraging social media, Fori Mazdoori provides access to quality workers that you can trust.

We are a social enterprise registered as a private limited company and help truly empower the youth, women and the underpriviligaed communities. We are particularly a ray of hope for women wanting to find jobs through our system when their norms, culture and tradition discourages them from using the ways of men to find jobs.

Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members of your startup??

Fori Mazdoori is the brainchild of Dr Musstanser Tinauli, an acclaimed innovator and researcher whose core interests lie in creating sustainable, smarter, and safer communities. Dr Tinauli has been associated with various universities and research labs around the world in different capacities and has led some very high profile projects including Trash Track at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, USA. Dr. Tinauli can be followed on twitter @musstanser & facebook(mustanswer1).
At Fori Mazdoori, he is joined by his two other co-founders; Surayya Obaid, a development management specialist with years of experience in the development sector ; and Shaji Ahmed, a technology and design specialist who has led multiple large scale research and development projects in both the government and development sectors.

Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against its competitors, what makes you different?

Fori Mazdoori is primirarly targeting the informal job sector. We present a model where workers do not need to be actively seeking jobs instead the onus of recruitment is always on the employer (similar to LinkedIn). The workers (with a mandatory access to a simple phone) just need to ensure their most updated profiles are available in our system.

The employers in our case are primiarily individuals or households, and not companies or head-hunters. We cater to the low-income and shot-term job market where requirements for candidates are not as stringent.

Moreover, our target audience (in case of workers) are mostly offline, do not have ready access to modern technologies (smart phones), and are not very highly educated. Their access to the system is ensured through pseudo profiling either by their employer(s) or someone they may know with a smart phone and/or internet access. We enable the workers to get incentives of using social-media by allowing our community to create and maintain their pseudo-profiles that enables them to be found, contacted, and employed. These profiles lets the world know who they are and what they can do. If and when they improve their economic status to where these individuals can afford smart phones and get online, they gain access to control their own profiles.

Strong community engagement is key to the success of Fori Mazdoori. The act of profiling a worker translates into increased employment opportunities for the workers. Our users not only feel a sense of accomplishment but are also rewarded for their contribution in generating employment in both monetary and social terms.

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?

Dr Tinauli is a design thinking and smart-cities specialist. The need for a potential service that could facilitate the blue-collared workers was identified in a couple of his co-creation sessions. That point onwards Dr Tinauli made it his mission to create a system that would truly empower the largely illiterate community and help them get access to better jobs.

Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?

Fori Mazdoori believes that ICTs can be leveraged to improve the lives of billions. In the modern world, basic physiological human needs can only be met through a consistent means of employment. ICTs have the power to deliver on this need, but only if they can be harnessed in yet unimaginable ways. Fori Mazdoori is one such endeavour.

Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?

The directly addressable market is anyone who is online. They in-turn have access to tens if not hundreds of people who are offline but are connected through mobile devices (feature phones). Hence, anyone who can be contacted through a mobile phone can potentially be profiled.

Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?

Fori Mazdoori connects workers (help providers) with employers (help seekers) through ICT-based systems using the web and smart phone apps
Users (employers) can search for individuals (workers, other users) with specific skillsets
Users can create their own profiles or profiles of those individuals who are offline, but connected via feature phones
Offline workers can now be located, contacted, and hired for any kind of work
Employers can rate and review worker performance

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from? What was the inspiration behind the business?

I have been focusing on the creation of smart cities and sustainable communities for about a decade now. After working on and participating in several smart-city events around the globe, I realized that a smarter world cannot subsist without a smarter Asia, and for which South Asia would have to become smarter and more sustainable.

South Asia is home to a significant portion of the world’s population as well as poverty. Access to better employment opportunities though technology could strongly contribute towards poverty alleviation, which in turn could improve their perception of what is possible through good use of technology. A connected South Asia could pave the way for a smarter and sustainable world.

Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?

I have no business background or have a history of family businesses, but as a preacher of innovation and social entrepreneurship I wanted to do something that could change the world. Startups have the power to change everything, I believe mine would too!

Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?

Fori Mazdoori is the first-to-market and has so far received the following awards as a recognition of our innovation:
Winners (Utility) at Apportunity 2015, Telenor, September 2015
Best Startup at Startup Expo Islamabad, May 2015
Top 15 Startups of Europe and Asia at Startup Istanbul, November 2014
Runners-up of the National Innovation Grants Challenge 2014 by Pakistan Innovation Fund (PIF) in collaboration with Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF)

Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?

I was able to raise the first round of funding through the support Simula Research Labs (SRC) in Norway, where I was employed as Innovation 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 had good early traction including 1,000+ app installs, 2,000+ registered workers, social media outreach to more than 10,000 users, and a conversion rate of about 25%.

Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?

Moving to Asia after being spoiled in Europe was biggest challenge. Also I miss having a salary.

Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?
2016 hopefully will be a big year for us. We are planning to raise some Round-A funding to continue our development and expand the outreach campaigns. Opening up the platform to other more accessible countries is also on the cards.

Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?

We have planned for multiple revenue streams, including but not limited to transactions, advertising, and subscriptions. In some projections we also estimated profits ranging from 100-200 percent. With a lean start and low overhead, we are all set to become financially viable within a short span of time. Given the potentially large number of users and our progressive activities, it shall be nothing less than an ideal investment opportunity for investors to join us. I would like to say, “join us, and I promise together we will change the world”.

Times of Youth: Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?

Only you and you alone can make it happen –Your belief in yourself and your idea is all that you require rather than anyone’s approval. Yes, you will need a team to pull it off but your intensity of self-belief will drive the success of your idea. As an entrepreneur you need to hypothesize weather an idea will fail or fly but no projections can truly give you the end-results. The end-results would be a consequence of all the things you do once you embark on your new journey. Even if you fail in your first idea, your knowledge and experience would increase your worth and value exponentially. So, just do it! If you believe you can, “you can!”.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ForiMazdoori/

Questionnaire was filled by Founder of Fori Mazdoori – Dr. Musstanser Tinauli

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Future Stars

Aditya Sharma | Interview

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Times of Youth: In brief, could you enlighten our readers about yourself for those who may be unaware?
Aditya is an Engineer from DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering (Bombay) He left his job as an Analyst (at an Investment Banking firm) to start The Souled Store. He eventually felt the need to launch a platform for startups to market/reach out to their target audience in an interactive manner. That’s when Frapee was born. Aditya is usually found drumming in his free time.
Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup?
We go by the name ‘Frapee’.
Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?
Frapee is a first of its kind mobile gaming aggregator in the Indian market, that enables users to earn discounts/cashbacks while playing games. We provide points or ‘Frapees’ to users for winning on these games (at no costs whatsoever to the user), which can be redeemed against free coupons or exciting discounts of 100+ e-commerce and retail brands we have collaborated with. To simply put it – More Gaming, More Earning, and more shopping. By doing this we are helping the supply side (game developers) monetize their products and the demand side (users) to achieve tangible benefits in their leisure time.

Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members?
Our team comprises the following members :
  • Aditya Sharma, Vedang Patel, Rohin Samtaney (The Souled Store) – Co-founder of The Souled Store, Bachelors of Engineering (Mumbai University)
  • Siddharth Shah  – Founder, SP Shah Consultants (UAE), MBA (Wharton), Bachelors of Technology (IIT-Bombay)
  • Gautam Udani  – Founder, Infini Systems Pvt. Ltd.,Master in Information Systems (N.J.I.T.)
  • Yuvek Mehta  – Analyst, Microsoft technologies (Redmond), Bachelors of Engineering (Mumbai University)
Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors, what makes you different?
We are the only mobile gaming aggregator in India, which is integrating niche, existing games in the market onto one platform. Our concept offers a strategic advantage to game developers of monetizing their games due to reduced marketing costs through economies of scale, direct access to the right demographic market segment (age : 17 – 30 years), and social media sharing of these games through our platform.
For the users, we provide tangible incentives of brands (at no cost) in return for playing games, an activity which they enjoy. In comparison, competitors that offer brand incentives (eg. Niffler, Zomato) require users to engage in brand promotional activities in some form (eg. surveys, posting product images etc.). Thus, as a platform, we are far more engaging to the users than our competitors.
The marketing efforts are primarily done by Frapee for all our games and brands, and as such, there is no cost to the brands, games or the users in this shared aggregator model.
Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?
The idea originated from two needs we brainstormed about. Firstly, we are passionate ecommerce enthusiasts, always looking for pain points in the market. We identified an existing requirement of hundreds of the smaller, funky ecommerce startups to project themselves to the youth to create product awareness and to enable purchase. Even if they spend on digital promotions, the ads don’t always reach the intended users or are not enough to differentiate from other competitors. Secondly, being game lovers, we came across quite a few games through accident, which we loved playing but realized that they are not popular enough or big enough to spend on marketing to acquire users.
Combining these two needs, after a few model-iterating sessions, we came up with the concept to combine both the e-commerce and gaming industries and bringing them to the intended target users.
Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?
Our aim is to achieve 100 games, 50,000 active users and 300 brands by the end of 2016. Conceptually, we want to create this culture, where everytime someone thinks about shopping online or playing games, they first think of using Frapee to meet their needs. In the long-term, our ambition is to become a global gaming aggregator to capture other markets which we have identified, such as UAE, Russia and USA.
Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?
The total addressable market comprises people, primarily in the 17-30 age group, who have smart phones. There will be 400 Mn smart phone users in India by 2016, out of which nearly 65% are estimated in the age group 18-34. Furthermore, 40 Mn people will be shopping online by 2016. The rate of growth of downloads of shopping apps and gaming apps is 77% and 66%* respectively, giving us a huge opportunity to tap into this combined e-commerce and gaming market.  
Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?
Key features of Frapee are listed below:
  • Access to user-friendly, niche games on one single platform
  • Ability to invite friends and follow their activities on the platform
  • Sharing brand discounts and games to earn even more Frapees (free promotion for brands and games)
  • Leader boards with features to track your friends’ position on the board
  • Lottery that provides free Frapees to one user per day
  • Redemption of Frapees earned to receive discounts or free coupons against the brand(s) of choice
Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
Three of the four co-founders are serial entrepreneurs with successful, VC-funded and established startups in their respective industries (financial services, e-commerce and software services). We also bring a wealth of experience in terms of establishing systems and managing teams, having worked in PE research, MNC banks and MNC technology firms prior to founding companies. The passion to work on our own, satisfy a consumer pain point and directly impact the consumers with our own, creative solutions were the primary factors enabling us to leave our jobs and starting up.
Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?
Major milestones since our launch 4 weeks ago are –
  • 900+ downloads, without any marketing efforts being initiated yet
  • 80 brands with 400+ discounts or free coupons
  • Increase in #games from 2 to 9 within one month
Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?
While we have an in-principle approval from an angel investor with funds waiting to be used, we are still bootstrapped and self-sustaining with the founders’ initial capital.
Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
The most daunting challenge so far has been on the supply side, to convince identified game developers to share their games onto our platform on account of initial absence of a relationship and concerns about a possible hit to their branding if user experience on our platform is negative. However, after our launch, we have more than tripled our games portfolio, convincing some of these developers through our successful launch, increase in their games’ downloads/ usage and the user experience of Frapee’s interface.
Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?
Team size :- We envisage our team to grow from its current strength of 12 to 30 by 2016 end, with growth in specialised functions for customer support, brand collaboration and business operations.
Product :- As mentioned above, we are looking to onboard ~100 games and 300 brands by next year. We are also looking to launch an iOS version of the phone given the requests we have received from a lot of our Indian friends and networks aborad, and continuously improve our existing UI with cool, additional features such as multi-player functionalities.
Users :- By using digital, print media and word of mouth promotional campaigns, we are looking at achieving a user base of 50,000 realistically within a year.
Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?
Since our concept is a first-in-market, Frapee’s brand value is a unique asset to us, and will be to the investors. Also, cash flows and profits are continuous – through revenue sharing from brands and page-space on the home page of Frapee to brands to reach out to users more widely. We do not have any inventory risk or variable costs, except platform maintenance and a one time marketing push, associated with these cash flows, making us a high return – low risk proposition for investors.
Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
‘Make what you can sell, don’t sell what you can make’
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HScomics/


Questionnaire was filled by CEO of Frapee – Mr. Aditya Sharma

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Future Stars

Hassan Sohail Siddiqui | Interview

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Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup? 

HS Comics – which created Pakistan’s first super hero comic book called “Pakistan Man”

Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?

My startup is basically a creative art company that has created Pakistan’s first super hero comic of “Pakistan Man” a super hero character comic book that is inspiring, educating and helping the youth to be more creative.

Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members of your startup??

My name is Hassan Sohail Siddiqui and I’m the creator and founder of this startup, I’m also building a team but it is still in progress.

Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors, what makes you different?

My Startup is completely different from a lot of other startups and similar companies in this region simply because a super hero comic book has never been made and released before my startup. Our focus is the young generation and helping them bridge this huge gap in Pakistan where no comics or fun things to read are available for the youth.

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?

I have been drawing and making small comics since I was very young. I used to draw characters for my friends and cousins all the time. After I graduated from my university I decided to try and launch this comic book character I had drawn when I was a kid and that’s how this startup was born.

Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?

The vision for this company is to have creative and fun entertainment for the young generation and also change the image of Pakistan around the world. Children also learn from fiction characters and storybooks so we are trying to educate the young generation, teach them the use of English language and also tell them about their social issues through the use of a fun comic book, which has super heroes to inspire the youth.

Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?

Our market is the young generation ages ranging from 8 year old to 15 year old. But also people in university,colleges and even older people enjoy this comic book because of its unique style and humor.

Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?

Our key features of this product are to motivate and inspire children towards the joys and rewards of reading for pleasure, imagination and information. Giving them education of what’s right and wrong, Social issues, Helping the youth be more creative with creative writing and drawing; English language learning, art/murals; comics and cartoons; digital literacy, arts and crafts activities

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from? What was the inspiration behind the business?

I created this startup in 2014, but I have been drawing and doing creative arts and making comics since I was 10 years old. I loved reading comic books and I was inspired to make my own as soon as I graduated because there was no Pakistani comic book available in Pakistan. The youth in Pakistan didn’t have their own super hero who could inspire the people. I had the idea of Pakistan man when I was very young around 11 years old and I remembered this idea from my childhood and decided to make and publish my own comic book.

Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?

I don’t have a business background I was a student and I completed my BBA in marketing from Islamabad. I had no idea about startups or the business world. But as soon as I graduated I wanted to create and publish my own comic book without any prior experience and that’s how I got into the world of business and dealing with every day situations that a startup has to face.

Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?

After I launched my Pakistan man comic book it has managed to create attention in the media as well as made some great achievements only being a year old startup.

We have managed to sell more then 2,500 copies just in Islamabad

It is the only Pakistani comic book to be ordered by multiple universities in USA for their libraries.
Including “Harvard University” and the biggest library in the world “the library of Congress”

It was voted in the top 100 startups in Pakistan in 2015 (Startup magazine)

It has been featured in Big newspapers and magazines including: Dawn news, Express tribune, The National (Biggest newspaper in the UAE)

Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?

Initially I didn’t receive any funding because this was a brand new startup and nobody knew about it so I had to put my own money in to get started and a good friend of mine also helped with some of his money and we pooled together and got started.

Times of Youth: What early traction has the company gotten (sales, traffic to the company’s website, app downloads, etc., as relevant).

In these early stages of the company we have managed to sell more then 2,500 copies just in Islamabad. The sales are mostly through book store sales, event sales and any event or festival that is happening in Islamabad where we have a stall of Pakistan man. Our App and website is still in development so we have generated no sales from e-commerce so far.

Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?

The biggest challenge for any startup is to work hard every day and be consistent. Most startups fail simply because the person and owner does not try hard enough and gives up easily. So that is one of the biggest challenges is not to quit and do something unique, which no one has done before.

Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?

The vision of this company is to build a long lasting company that continues to provide entertainment to the youth and continue launching more issues and other creative products in the future. We are currently making a team so there will be an art department, marketing department and other people working in the company in different sectors. The revenue is hard to predict in this early stages of the startup but we have not been in loss since the beginning of our startup we have always broken even and made some profit every month. So we hope to keep doing that in the future as well.

Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?

We have been cash flow positive since our second issue launch in a matter of a few months after starting a brand new startup and we have steadily made a profit. Any investor that invests in this company would be getting his profit hopefully in year two of our startup as we are growing the company and we are planning monthly issues with lots of sponsors and schools, universities on board which will help us make more this company even bigger and better.

Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?

Anybody who is thinking of starting a new business should know that it is a lot of hard work so you should be prepared for that and also to do something unique which no one has done before. Another thing, which is very important, is to find what you love to do and build a business around that and don’t try to copy others. You will be successful if you do what you love and work hard and be prepared not to make money at least in the first few stages of your startup.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HScomics/

Questionnaire was filled by Founder/Creator of HS Comics  – Mr. Hassan Sohail Siddiqui

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Future Stars

Ruba Athar | Interview

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Times of Youth: In brief, could you enlighten our readers about yourself for those who may be unaware?

I belong to Karachi Pakistan, I have done my former and latter education in the British System O-levels and A-levels in pre medical subjects. After which I completed my BBA Honors in Finance and Marketing from an esteemed business institute of Karachi. I started working in the financial sector at a tender age and have gained over 8 years of experience in this sector and also learnt a great deal about business. my father has always been my teacher and will continue to do so as he is a successful businessman and leading financial consultant. During this course I also started acquiring knowledge on Middle Eastern studies or Religious Studies and last year completed my M.A. In the Middle Eastern studies with first division, now ready to peruse my M.phill in the same field. Since the last three years I’ve been operating my startup Tools To Bake and currently ive been married to a loving husband and have settled in Islamabad the capital city of Pakistan. My passion is to work actively in the business sector and to help others as well, My startup has been a big part of my life and will be in the future aswell.
Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup? 
Tools To Bake (TTB)
Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?
Tools To Bake is the pioneer of online stores in Pakistan selling only bake ware goods. We sell both local and imported brands on our website; choose your product, place your order and it will get delivered right at your doorstep. It was founded on the 1st of May 2012, since then it has been working as a strong supplier of bake ware tools all over Pakistan. The main focus is to facilitate and make baking easy, enjoyable and innovative. With just one single initiative of providing bakeware goods TTB branched out into three subsidiary companies;

 TTB Wholesalers- Tools To Bake operates as a wholesaler in order to extend its services to other esteemed organizations in the industry facilitating the field of culinary art by providing ease of access to good quality baking tools available with great ease.
 TTB Culinary art School- In August 2012 Tools To Bake launched its first fully owned subsidiary by the name of “Learn To Decorate”, where we teach new baking skills and techniques and train young bakers to create master pieces.
TTB Ventures- In October 2012 TTB launched its second fully owned subsidiary by the name of “TTB Ventures” where we develop feasibility reports for young entrepreneurs in the industry and help them setup their dream business in the world of culinary art. With the help of our research we give them a cutting edge of how to enter the competitive field of home based bakers.
Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members?


This venture is a brainchild of three sisters, all three work as the active directors of the company

Ruba Athar
Zahra Athar
Daniya Athar
Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors, what makes you different?
What is special and different about TTB is that we are heading towards developing a one stop baking solution for all our clients unlike any other existing business of this nature. TTB has bridged the gap between the culinary field in Pakistan and the advancement at which the rest of the countries in the world have reached within this field.
We provide the Pakistani market with the latest baking and decorating equipment available, imported products like Wilton, PME. We share the latest baking techniques, help provide food consultancy to top restaurants and hotels and Innovative ideas to home-based bakers.
TTB aims to help bring forward all the talent our people have where culinary art is concerned. TTB is strongly moving ahead creating opportunities for other entrepreneurs as well as those who have entered this field providing a healthy competition for TTB and lucrative market of bakeware goods. It’s an avenue which allowed the women of Pakistan to present their talents of baking, before TTB there was no such avenue for people who shared the talent of baking and decorating.
Why TTB is indeed a wining model is for the reason that if you study and share our business model it is enough to motivate all those talented men and women in Pakistan who don’t have enough options to set up industries but have enough talent to start off their home businesses which bring about good earnings and which do contribute to the economic flourishing and import export health of Pakistan.  With just a simple idea of making imported American bakeware tools available for people living in Pakistan TTB has opened doors to the culinary field in Pakistan matching international talent and standards. Restaurants, hotels and local bakeries along with home-based bakers and developing culinary schools, get inspiration from TTB.  Not one but atleast 10 other individuals followed TTBs model and have flourishing online businesses in Pakistan selling bakeware goods. Because of TTBs efforts the brand name WILTON an American company is now known by a major niche in Pakistan who are contributing to the culinary division. Many women have been taught the talent of baking professionally and have been given the confidence to setup their baking business. TTB lets home-based bakers use its platform to reach out to the market and publicize themselves and also help these individuals create business models which would facilitate them in the future. With the efforts and contributions made by TTB and the sustainability it has reached, Pakistan’s culinary art industry is indeed heading towards a promising future.
Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?
As mentioned earlier this venture is a brainchild of three sisters. Being bakers and having a baking experience of over 10 years the three of us sitting around our kitchen table with just the passion of baking in our heart and smart phones in our hand started this venture. Initially it was started as we saw a gaping hole in the market where culinary goods as in utensils were concerned, tools were not available.  Pakistan being rich in culinary skills was very poor in culinary supplies people who baked were dependent on traveling abroad to fulfill their wish list of items needed to pursue their passion and talent. We saw this gap and filled it up.
Secondly once we had the tools and the expertise it didn’t take us more than half a day to establish a culinary academy to teach enthusiastic passionate students, this further led us helping these individuals establishing their business.
With this research and our educational backgrounds in business, marketing and finance our venture took shape.
Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?
Tools To Bake’s vision is “To operate as an effective wholesaler in order to establish a strong distribution network in the world of culinary arts in Pakistan. To teach new and innovative ideas and to create individuals who are true professionals in the field of baking. To establish young entrepreneurs in the world of baking and to operate the first ever online store of bake ware goods in Pakistan. Our vision helps us to see ourselves as a one stop baking solution for all customers”.
Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?
Initially we started in a niche market for women, housewives, middle to upper class age bracket 30-50 years, but within a span of short time our clients can be found in leading Hotels, Restaurants, culinary art schools, café’s, leading bakeries, social forum’s and other famous home-based businesses which have been setup my TTB itself. In other words TTBs practices gave rise to its own niche market directly or indirectly related to culinary division. TTB has a long list of clientele across Pakistan.
Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?
The key features of my product and service can be understood by the following scenario.
Once you join the “TTB Family” by simply clicking the LIKE button on our Fb-page or by sending in an SMS  as an individual you experience the following benefits;
You now have access to culinary tools from America that is we deal in Wilton products www.wilton.com along with tools from all over Pakistan, China and Korea. You can simply place an order and pay Cash on delivery on receiving your product. You have an option of making your purchase by using the following avenues: Online shopping on www.toolstobake.com you are able to enroll yourself in the 4 courses which take you from being a basic baker and decorator to a professional one giving you a cutting edge in the existing industry.
You sign up at TTB Ventures and get a free feasibility report made for your new business which you have been thinking about for years but have not received any facilitation in order to implement it. Counseling sessions with TTBs team gives you the encouragement and confidence along with the strategy to move forward. We understand your hidden talent and bring it forward. Facilitating you towards your venture. After your business has been setup you are introduced at the platform of TTB in order to market your business and TTB helps you throughout your venture. You are also given an opportunity to display TTB products at your business page in order to share the profit of product selling.
These five stages have created many home-based entrepreneur’s in this period of 3 years and have facilitated many bakeries and restaurants in food techniques. Thus, creating a niche within the business sector of Pakistan. TTB opened doors to the niche market catering to culinary artists and many other small online stores sprung up after TTBs efforts.
TTB also opened doors to food designing and food technicalities about which more and more people are now becoming aware of.
TTB opened the doors to home teaching and decorating we encourage and motivate our students to further teach and spread their talents in order to facilitate more house wives towards entrepreneurship.
Being technologically savvy TTB has educated many housewives to use smartphones for online shopping with great ease. Women who are afraid to use the internet shop online with TTB with great ease and joy
TTB has now started giving off its product franchise to leading bakeries and will continue to do so in order to make state of the art baking products available all over Pakistan.
Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I am BBA Honors in finance an MA in Islamic Education, and currently starting my Mphill in fall 2016. Being a daughter of a successful business man and Financial Consultant I have been trained and exposed to the financial market and business trends since a very tender age I have over 10 year of active and passive experience in the field of Business and Finance.
The element which got me interested in startups was the ability to believe in the talents I possessed and the exposure I had attained in my formative years, then effectively utilizing this talent and experience in the right direction with confidence. Startups are packed with falvours of success, starting something from scratch and then actually excelling at it gives you a feeling of self-actualization unlike any other work field.
Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?
TTB has had an eventful 3 years where the growth has been constant and promising.
One of the main achievements was being selected as a top 100 startup company out of thousands by Pakistans First Startup Expo 2015 and then being awarded fist place in the category of “The Best Home-Based Business Of The Year.
TTBs main target was to cater to the culinary division in order to facilitate product availability to culinary artist whether they are home-based or present in the professional culinary industry. And to bridge the gap between the local culinary industry and the foreign industrial practices. And it has been successful in achieving this target. The evidence showing the fulfillment of TTBs targets lie in the following coverage of social and print media.
TTB has been interviewed by a number of social and print medias discussing its achievements targets and goals the list of evidence is as follows.
TTB was interviewed by the famous magazine “Womens own”, discussing its achievements (article is attached with the mail)
TTB was approached my MasalaTV by Shireen Anwars show masala mornings where the achievements and business model were highlighted for a duration of four shows. (pictures can be seen on FB page)
 TTB had a mainpage coverage in Tribune newspaper highlighting the concept of “TTB Teaparty”
TTB was interviewed by Dalda food magazine “Dalda Flavours” to highlight its innovative ideas in the field of culinary arts and now TTB writes a permanent desert column in “Dalda Flavours”, (Articles are attached with the mail)
TTB helped to design and arranged products for National Institute of Culinary arts and hotel management. www.nicahm.com  (information can be provided on request)
TTB was also invited to judge at the famous Karachi Eat food Festival this year in order to share their culinary experience and techniques.(information is present on the internet)
In terms of revenue/profit and market share it is important to know that soon after its inception TTB expanded and branched out into adjacent revenue streams by the name of TTB ventures, TTB culinary art school, TTB wholesalers these three avenues together with the main business of being an onlinestore of bakeware goods brought it a sustainable cashflow and helped TTB spread far and wide across Pakistan.
Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Initial investment was made by the three of us out of our own personal savings the goal was to startup with a minimum principal amount and then to generate a rolling investment over the years.
Times of Youth: What early traction has the company gotten (sales, traffic to the company’s website, app downloads, etc., as relevant).
Being technology savvy the speed of execution; time taken from the general idea to setting up operations to generating revenues, to creating subsidiary companies, is significantly less than most businesses, and so with the help of my website and social media forums the reach was significantly more than if I had used any other form of traction. Another pipeline project would be to make an app for TTB.
Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
the biggest challenge as a startup owner is to keep my startup afloat and alive. Startups have a very erratic growth the exponential rate at which they grow they also die at the same rate sometimes even faster, a number of factors are the cause of that death the first one being boredom as it can set in very fast at any given time. The challenge for me has been to fight for my startups survival for atleast the first 5 years. Coming into my third year I have given my startup a steady base and now need to focus on a steady growth curve, once my five year barrier would be crossed my startup would be strong enough to stay afloat and grow.
Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?
If you talk about a year from now the current year that is, I would say my company would look like a solid venture having a very strong base showing a promising future full of immense potential.  I have tapped a market which still needs to be developed, and my focus is to be the pioneer of developing this market. This year 2015 I have already launched a subsidiary company in Islamabad the capital city, and my base company is in Karachi the metropolitan city of Pakistan.
Product wise I see myself expanding into other product ranges as we order selected ranges based on research of growing pastry trends in a years time I want to introduce some new baking trends and want to expand my product range further.
In terms of team for now, I wont be expanding my team but my eyes are set on my brother who would be graduating from Monash University and I feel he has the potential to further uplift this venture.
Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?
TTB is a stable and fast growing business with a lot of opportunities attached to it and many business prospects which are in the pipeline at the moment. We know that TTB operates in a niche which has not been explored before and has not been exhausted but infact is an area having a lot of potential and growth attached to it especially in the coming future.
 Investors who want to invest in TTB would enjoy profits by simply having a cut in the sales on a product item. For eg. TTB already has a customer who buys Tools on wholesale prices, he then keeps a market price for the product this is where we ensure a stable price so that our end consumer does not suffer and makes his sale keeping the profit it makes over his sale. Just as any FMCG market operates.
Apart from this other business prospects are also open to be further discussed as per interest of the investor.
Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
My advise to all those who want to start a business would be that the first and foremost step before stepping into or starting any venture or startup is to do a proper market research. Spend all your time effort and initial capital at this research as this would be the answer to your success till the very end and also it would give you information about different expansion avenues. Focus on your core team, it should consist of people who you trust and who would stick through you as there would be a lot of rough patches which you and your team would have to pass through. Know your talent, your strength and your weakness, know yourself inside out before making this decision, you don’t have any support net to fall back on its going to be a one man show only. Utilize your references or contacts well, as initially your startup will arise by word of mouth. Erase the fear of competitors from your heart, you will always find someone who has thought of your idea before you. Know that you are different, believe that you are more capable and focus on your niche to break through and then use your hard work to eventually stand out. When boredom sets in fight it and enjoy your work, be happy and passionate about it.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ToolsToBake/


Questionnaire was filled by Founder/Owner of Tools To Bake (TTB) – Miss Ruba Athar

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Future Stars

Bilal Mumtaz | Interview

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Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup? 

Sehat

Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?

Our startup is an online pharmacy with a supplementary call centre, that delivers medicines to customers all over Pakistan (200+ locations). Sehat also offers home vaccination services in 4 major cities of Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi)

Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members?

The founders are Nadir Mumtaz, Yusuf Mumtaz, Akbar Mumtaz, Hyder Mumtaz, and Bilal Mumtaz (part of the 4th generation of the Fazal Din Family, a healthcare conglomerate operating in Pakistan since 1948).

The Key team members include Nadir Mumtaz (CEO), Yusuf Mumtaz (Director of Cold Chain), Shoaib Qureshi (General Manager), Faheem Sarfraz (Head of Pharmacy), Talha Hassan (Head of IT), and Nadeem Abbasi (Head of Procurement)

Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors, what makes you different?

Our startup stands out against brick and mortar pharmacies by (1) offering nationwide delivery (2) procuring medicines directly from the manufacturer (3) offering a multitude of different payment methods, including mobile banking, online banking, credit card payment, and cash on delivery and (4) speedy delivery within the hub of our operations, Lahore

We also go a step further by standing out among notable e-commerce sites selling similar products. This is in the form of creating noteworthy salient features, such as (1) order scheduling (2) store credit deposit (through prepayment methods)  (3) same day local delivery and (4) prescription verification for relevant items on our portal (other e-commerce sites don’t abide by the laws set forth for retail sale of such items)

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?

The idea from the startup came collectively from the five founding members of Sehat. They felt that since their family was already heavily involved in the pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan, and that they were already successful in their respective healthcare ventures (namely medical equipment agencies), that it was only logical for them to bring their family business to the e-commerce space

Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?

Our vision for the company in terms of horizontal expansion include satellite warehouses in five major cities in Pakistan within the next five years, and allocated ATM’s for medication. Vertical expansion plans include diagnostic labs for drug testing. In terms of more immediate product oriented goals, we plan to expand to (1) optician products (2) beauty/wellness products and (3) consumer household items

Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?

The actual addressable market is repeat and recurring prescription medicine users. This has translated into roughly a third of the population of the country

Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?

The key features of our service include the following:
Timely delivery of medicines all over Pakistan
Pharmacist-controlled verification of prescriptions for prescription drug processing
Multiple payment options for ease of use and convenience in purchasing medicines
Supplementary call centre (0800 73428) and website (www.sehat.com.pk)
Superior packaging materials for delivery
o Namely cold chain packaging materials for temperature sensitive items, which maintain the temperature of the parcel between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for up to 48 hours during delivery

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from? What was the inspiration behind the business?

The idea for the startup came from the father of the five founding members – all five are brothers. The inspiration was to create a portal that provided authentic medicines to Pakistanis all over the country, and to end the trade of spurious drugs in the market (30% of all medication in the the trade is deemed ‘fake’)

Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?

I myself am a Finance Major from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and what actually got me interested in startups was my first job – a part time gig in sales at a Groupon-esque startup based in London, Ontario called Scratchd. I learned the ropes of making sales in a ‘do-or-die’ quick paced environment .It was from then on I was up to the challenge of returning home to Pakistan to help build Sehat in December 2013 – the website was officially launched in April 2014.

Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?

Our major product milestones have been our Twitter Following – one of the top 5 among startups in Pakistan -, our inclusion in to notable Pakistani Tech Magazines list of Top Ten Early Age Startups with Huge Potential, our corporate clientele (which are among the top 50 performing companies of Pakistan), and our home vaccination program (initially started as a collaborative effort with a renowned multinational pharmaceutical company). We are also the first startup ever in Pakistan to create an anthem for the Pakistan National Cricket Team (De Chakka).

Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?

This has been a family funded venture from the start.

Times of Youth: What early traction has the company gotten (sales, traffic to the company’s website, app downloads, etc., as relevant).

We have managed to dominate SEO for medicinal products among e-commerce sites in Pakistan, which has lead to the bulk of our orders. We have also managed to supply medicines directly to corporate clientele either through (1) medicinal sales to their dispensaries, (2) direct medicinal sales to their employees, and (3) vaccinations of corporate employees. We have also managed to get exclusive PR deals with renowned Pakistani newspaper companies and tech blogs to further promote our brand. Through extensive Facebook campaigns, we have managed to increase our customer base by 400% in the past six months.

Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?

As a startup owner, the biggest challenge has to be dealing with our supply chain team. Medicines are not items that can be obtained on a Just-in-Time basis, so our supply chain team has to work around the clock to obtain medicines not available from other retail outlets not just in Lahore, but in Pakistan as a whole.

Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?

In a year, the company will hopefully have a website development team and an upated ERP. We will expand our product line to consumer household items and beauty/wellness products, and we will be making a profit with our (1) organic customer sales (2) corporate/institutional sales and (3) home vaccinations

Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?

Investors in our idea can help us make a profit by improving our system to further speed up order processing, and by giving us a reasonable marketing budget to promote our brand offline to all corners of Pakistan. A revamp of the website is also necessary, and collaborations with telecom/payment partners all over the country will further consolidate our brand. They can also invest in stationing doctors at our premises so that customers can receive prescriptions from us and purchase from us as well

Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
 
 If I could give someone  a piece of advice who thinks about starting business, I would urge him/her to have a very hands-on approach to his model. Careful Financial Planning, Proper Marketing Strategy, and a ‘never-say-die’ attitude are key, but ultimately, a sound business model revolves around a product that is not only disruptive, but has a lot of demand – that’s the tricky part about building a business from the ground up.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sehatpharmacy/ 

Questionnaire was filled by Founder of  Sehat – Mr. Bilal Mumtaz

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