The average Pakistani job seeker has traditionally relied on classifieds, word-of-mouth or connections to hunt for available job opportunities. In recent years, online job portals and professional networks have made the process easier than ever.
ProPakistani recently sat down with Faheem Mumtaz, the founder of one such jobs portal which also happens to be the largest in Pakistan. We discussed his journey, PaperPK and various dynamics of the job market in Pakistan.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your early years, and professional career.
I graduated from Punjab University Lahore and did my Masters with major in E-Commerce, which was still in its infancy in the 2000s. I started my career as an Internee with a software house based in Islamabad named “Netsolace”, which is now known as “Broad Peak”, and was being run by Mr. Tariq Farid as its CEO, who is also behind Edible Arrangements, a highly successful venture in the USA.
During those early days, I was guided and instructed by Mr. Tariq Farid as he taught me the basics of business startups over the internet and how to succeed in the online transactional environment.
After some time, I realized that I am not a job oriented person and wanted to start my own business. I founded PaperPK, which initially had a small office-based setup with five to ten people.
The turning point in my entrepreneurial career was in 2015 when PaperPK was incubated in LUMS Centre of Entrepreneurship and I met Mr. Khurram Zafar who opened my eyes to the opportunities available online.
At that point, I started to adopt a competitive mindset in my business and by the grace of Allah within a year we are amongst the top in our field.
What motivated you to start PaperPk?
I was inspired to start an online Job Portal because such a solution didn’t exist back in 2007.
Most of the individuals after completing their education scan various newspapers so that they can find the job opportunities that are available according to their education and qualification. Scanning hundreds of jobs in various newspapers is a really difficult and time consuming process.
I realized this and started by collecting and filtering all the jobs that are published in newspapers and scanned and posted them on the website so that job seekers could select and filter the jobs they wanted.
The idea was really innovative during those early days and got a lot of traction with job seekers. We found out that they prefer visiting a website for available jobs and vacancies instead of buying different kinds of newspapers.
Who is your closest competitor?
Most of our traffic comes from Punjab and our biggest competitor there is Rozee.pk, which has a huge budget, a highly qualified team and an established structure. Aside from Rozee, all the other job portals are just copying the basic structure and idea of PaperPk so we are not bothered by them.
Your thoughts on Rozee?
The overall structure of Rozee is huge and they are spot-on in terms of their efforts. I respect the efforts that Rozee put in capturing the Pakistani jobs market. This effort has been backed by large amounts of money and building a huge infrastructure and a very large team.
They have invested millions of dollars to achieve this position. PaperPK, however, has become a top job portal with minimal efforts. We had about 10 to 15 employees and lacked resources at the beginning.
Can you give us some hard stats regarding your daily traffic and your user base?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to internet traffic. However, we can provide you with a generic estimate of what we experience. We get around 75,000 to 120,000 sessions per day and over the past year, we’ve averaged around 80,000 sessions per day.
Our users aren’t only limited to cities and we get a lot of interest from smaller cities as well.
On Alexa, we are still the top jobs portal in Pakistan. On Similarweb, we were ahead in July and August. In September, Rozee crossed us but that was due to a storm in the US, which affected our servers for almost 2 weeks.
How many people find jobs through PaperPk?
We monitor how many people get jobs from our portal through the feedback of job seekers as well as the employers. However, many job seekers and employers don’t post any feedback so there is no concrete figure. But the success of our portal over time without any proper and concrete marketing speaks for itself.
Is PaperPK a profitable venture?
We are turning a considerable profit with a workforce of 15 full time workers.
How do you monetize your platform?
We are monetizing the platform by using the portal as source of providing services and third party tools such as Google Adsense. We also utilize banner ads and commercial direct ads for various companies whose target market are the young unemployed individuals, job seekers and students.
Are there going to be any major changes in UI, UX and any added features?
We continuously evolve our design and add new features and functions to PaperPK. Soon we are going to launch a test system for job seekers. For employers, these tests will serve as a barometer to choose the best resources for their organization.
What makes PaperPK unique?
PaperPK has a simple and straightforward approach of providing all the information to Job Seekers. Our interface and navigation is not as complex as other job portals and we use a three click approach so that our users can access all the information instantly.
In addition to metropolitan cities, we keep in mind the job seekers of small cities as well. We focus on jobs in both the private and government sectors and list all job opportunities whether they are white collar or blue collar so that we can cater to the needs of all kinds of job seekers.
With 3G/4G subscribers growing in Pakistan, do you think it has contributed to your platform’s success? If yes, then by how much?
Mobile users used to account for 10% of our visits and that number is up to 50% now. We’ll be launching a Mobile app to provide a better experience to our mobile users soon.
Based on your claim that PaperPK has crossed Rozee in daily traffic, can you be a bit more specific?
Rozee was considered as a pioneer and torch bearer in the field of online job portals. They have invested millions of dollars, possess a sizable workforce and work with advanced technologies for their portal.
Being on top is always a good feeling especially when you beat someone that has invested more resources, time and efforts in the same market place. We are proud of our team of 10 members who made it possible sitting in small city of Sargodha with an average setup.
Interesting fact is that most of the members who drove PaperPk.com to this level are not even highly technical or have over the top skills. We pride ourselves on our diversity. About 5 out of 10 members of our team are female who have helped us achieve this success and peak with effort, hard work and dedication.
After achieving this milestone, we have become the most visited jobs website in Pakistan. We want to be the most useful website tool for employers to hire the right talent time and in a more efficient way.
A word of advice for Pakistani entrepreneurs out there?
In order to achieve accomplishment in any field you need to show dedication. You must know how to make intelligent use of your available resources and to generate income with minimum resources as well.
There is no need to be afraid of the challenge from big and established brands. Change is the spice of life and as long as you are adding value to the market with your business, no one can beat you.
One thing you must keep in mind is that your budget is an important factor but it is not the key to success. The real reason behind success is how you communicate with your target market and how fast you respond to the requirements of it.
When I started my website with limited resources ,it was just a single person’s venture.
I was focused and determined in my goal to make PaperPk into one of the most popular jobs website in Pakistan. After 8 years and an initial investment of Rs. 1500, today I have achieved this feat with sheer hard work and support from my team and there’s much more to come.