Exclusive Interview with Junaid Saleem of Kamata Pakistan & TripKar

What’s your background? What role did it play in your entrepreneurial spirit?

I belong to Bahawalpur. My schooling is from Sadiq Public School, Bahawalpur and BSc (Hons) and MBA from LUMS. Though I have no entrepreneurial background in my family but I think my education played a lot of role in grooming my entrepreneurial spirit.

I must say that my education did not prepare me to become an entrepreneur but it helped to embrace new challenges, to transform myself as per market needs, to keep on learning new trends and to take risk in life which is essentially the pre-requisite for an entrepreneurial spirit.

You started Kamata Pakistan as a service for hiring blue collar workers. How did the venture fare?

Kamata Pakistan as a technological platform in blue collar job market of Pakistan was a first mover. Though model was proven in other parts of the world but this concept was foreign to Pakistani market. So, initially a lot of resources were required for the education of the market and building the brand name and I think we were successful. The fact that after Kamata Pakistan a lot of start-ups came into this market proves that the Pakistani market has accepted this concept.

I think the concept and idea of Kamata Pakistan is very attractive but the execution is extremely difficult as supply side of the market is uneducated. There are a lot of operational issues which may become the deal breaker as opposed to a venture in any other market.

Kamata Pakistan was able to place hundreds during its tenure and was fully ripe for next round of funding to scale its operations but unfortunately because of the macro condition of the country we were not able to close the deal with international impact based funds. I think the situation in the country is changing rapidly and in near future we can close deal for Kamata Pakistan and scale its operations.

There has historically been a problem with hiring workers from such backgrounds, in regards to background checks. How does Kamata Pakistan tackle this issue?

Background checks are very important while hiring blue collar workers in Pakistani market considering the security situation in the country. For this we have partnered with a background check company which does complete screening including residential confirmation, previous employment track record, feedback from previous employers, criminal records checks etc. Moreover, we ensure that we do CNIC verification and put feedback of two references in the CV of all workers.

Your current venture, Tripkar, isn’t a new idea. What makes your startup stand out from the rest?

We are one of the few ventures in Pakistan’s travel space that covers the whole supply chain of the market. By supply chain I mean we cover from providing information of travel places and hotel properties to the completion of a booking transaction.

Very soon we will capture post travel part as well i.e. reviews of travelers about a place. Moreover, this venture is backed by some top entrepreneurs of the country who have successfully launched many companies, made them successful and got exist from a few.

What about payment methods and online security?

Currently TripKar is offering online transfer through a bank and payment through debit and credit cards. Online transfer is handled outside the system where a customer can generate a temporary booking number and send us payment through online banking and then his booking is confirmed.

Debit and credit cards payments are handled on the system which is secured by Cyber Source payment gateway – a leading payment solution in the world through Habib Bank Limited. Very soon we will be launching cash on delivery as well.

How has the response for TripKar been so far?

The response is excellent. There is a huge appetite for such a product in the market and the market is big enough to accommodate multiple players. We have started receiving bookings even before our product was live. Now, we will ramp up bookings through effective marketing strategies and making user experience excellent for our service.

Do you have any other plans for Tripkar? Are you planning to expand its services in terms of travel ticketing and tour planning?

Our vision is to make a one stop shop for all travel requirements of our customers. Without it we will not live upto our tagline which is ‘Trip Kar Asani Say’. Hotel booking is just the start. We plan to include different modes of transportation at our platform. I think this is just the start and there is a long road which we intend to travel to complete our mission and promote tourism in Pakistan.

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