Junaid Siraj holds MBA degree and has 20 years rich experience of IT Management in Multinational organizations. He is an instrumental cyber entrepreneur who is owner of Consultoria Pvt. Limited, a parent company of Berryme.pk which is the leading cyber shopping portal of Pakistan. Junaid shared his entrepreneurship journey with Technology Times in a recent interview

cyber entrepreneur

Tell us brief highlights about yourself?

Junaid Siraj:I hold Masters of Business Administration along with more than 15 industry standard IT certifications. I have 20 years of International IT Management experience. Have serve in North America and Middle East with multi-billion dollar large scale enterprises. My specialization is Program and Project Management, Cloud Computing, VoIP and Data Center Technologies. I enable businesses for next level by use of technology. Thereby creating a competitive advantage, lowering Total Cost of Ownership and maximize profits.

Why you chose cyber entrepreneurship?

I strongly believe that gone are the days where integrated technologies and complex infrastructure were considered to be nice to have goodies and a mere cost center by having to invest all resources on conventional strategies that proved to be cost centric, limited reach and for a shorter time span.

Speaking about the economical and prevailing unrest for the last 3 decades in Pakistan, business of all sizes particularly SME market is being impacted severely. With ever increasing operational costs, limited turnover, confined target audience and diminishing profits have posed a greater threat to industry which is fighting its survival.

There is an ever increasing demand for exploring into alternative means of doing business that is able to overcome challenges along with offering sustainability, increased market reach, lowered total cost of ownership and maximize profits.

Today, Information Technology has evolved into a new dimension. Cloud computing is the answer that has redefined business ethics enabling businesses enjoys economies of mass scale.

It not only promise cost effective solutions to businesses of all sizes, overcome todays challenges but provide them with an equal opportunity to taking their businesses to next level with better market positioning and able to sustain ever growing business needs.

As an overseas Pakistani having to live most of my life abroad, I felt the greater need of serving my country with just the right and cost effective cloud based solution that is able to create a difference, easing off the challenges of small and medium sized business owners. I am confident the efforts I am putting in will contribute towards serving the greater cause.

Where do you see yourself after 5 years?

I would like to serve my nation by making use of my experience that I have gained over past 20 years. My success is directly linked with the success of my brothers and sisters who are willing to and have invested all their efforts in contributing towards Pakistan economic growth and prosperity.

How you recognized the need of creating a cyber portal like Berryme.pk?

Pakistan is an emerging market having a cyber footprint of approx. 30 million users with $40 million (Rs.4 billion) market size. It is expected to face an enormous growth in near future with the introduction of 3G and 4G technology. Having all the potential in place we are faced with a dilemma that we are confined into a so called shell with no reach to developed markets when it comes to an ordinary citizen of Pakistan.

BerryMe.pk is a product line of Consultoria (Pvt) Limited. The primary purpose is to serve the bigger cause that is to enable and assist small business owners promote their products, expand market reach which otherwise is a challenge due to lack of resources.

Today, we proudly serve more than 30 small and medium size business owners and numbers are increasing on daily basis as the message is spreading across.

At the same time allow ordinary Pakistani mass an access to products from international markets which otherwise is not possible via conventional means. BerryMe offer products both from both from USA, UK and Middle East right at our customer door steps.

What was the turning point of your career that led you to take Berryme.pk to the level it attains today?

Being a Pakistani, the time I had spent abroad always twitched me with the feeling to serve Pakistan. I got an opportunity when I went to Pakistan looking into businesses and found myself startled with the amount of dishonesty and the curb to gain money at any cost has made Pakistani business men so dishonest.

I thought of having my own line of clothing to export but I saw lots of hurdles in doing so henceforth I discussed with my family and came up with this great idea of having our own brand which would support all the small and medium businesses in the country.

The idea of promoting other business vendors with less or no opportunity along with my own prosperity was so exhilarating that it kept me going with so much excitement. Today, I feel honored to be able to make so many lives worthwhile.

My family, friends, and so many happy faces gave me all the strength and motivation to be able to be where I am and I will be tomorrow, by the grace of Almighty Allah.

How Berryme.pk is different from other cyber shopping portals and how it has changed the trends of shopping in Pakistan?

Initially, I was surprised to experience what other cyber portals offer, how easy it is to claim market leader by having to offer free shipment embedded in product cost at a higher margin, offer outdated and sub-standard products with no quality standards and lowest possible customer service with the exception of few. Additionally, majority of the vendors (sellers), we are engaged with are not happy with the service levels.

We do not claim to be market leaders but we believe in 100% transparency and our strengths are set standards and processes in place with strict quality control and guaranteed customer satisfaction. We do not treat our vendors as mere sellers but our partners. Their success is ours.

Adhering to our principles we are able to successfully create awareness, interest, desire, action and continuity in over 95% of our customers with less than 1% returns. Furthermore, with the introduction of ASK BerryMe, we provide personalized services to our customers by having to arrange products of their choice from internal markets at their door step in minimum least time possible. The average lead time is 5 working days from USA and 3 working days from Middle East.

How did you manage to cope with the difficulties that hindered you in attaining your objectives, both professionally and psychologically?

Among the professional challenges is that Pakistan is totally operating in a silo. We are not being able to use services like international payment gateway solution. Transferring of transactional funds is next to impossible in this country. There are however workarounds in place having high risks. I would not at all recommend going into that direction. I feel there is a huge opportunity lie ahead if State Bank of Pakistan is able to facilitate making it possible tie up our local banks with international payment gateway solutions like Pay Pal which is by far the best, easy to integrate and a low cost solution.

I have seen initiatives by some of our local banks in collaboration with foreign gateway providers and more are in pipe line but the mindset and maturity level is still not there. There is an urgent need to understand the business model and differentiate between physical retail and cyber virtualized world.

I would like to leverage this opportunity and share my experience is that one has to be very careful in selecting the right gateway solution provider. The underlying technology that is being used has the potential of defeating the whole idea of keeping the cost of ownership minimized. You may end up with high investments without which integration is next to impossible.

One of our major psychological challenges is that we are perhaps limited to this part of the world is the business ethics and transparency. But Allah helps those who are pleased with what they have and continue to strive with all good faith is the key to success.

Can a small online business could also be setup with small investment?

I strongly agree with the statement. Any home based and small business owner is able to start a setup with a small investment. In terms of opportunities, Sky is the limit.

I would like to use this forum in offering to all small and medium Size business owners a highly robust, industry standard and low cost e-commerce Online Solution with 99.99% uptime guarantee that will help lower operational cost, expand market reach and help maximize profits.

My aim is to assist all such business owners concentrate on their business without having to worry about the underlying technologies.

What factors do young entrepreneurs must take care of before setting up an cyber business?

Although, there are numerous factors involved which are essential to any form of business but I would rate passion, honesty and will to succeed are keys among all. Second to none are people, processes and technology.

I strongly believe that cyber business is a step towards self-reliance keeping in view the current unemployment situation in Pakistan.

In a bigger picture, this business has the capability of not only promoting a healthy competition, open new horizons but potentially address major challenges of Pakistan that is flight of human capital along with lowering the un-employment rate and socio economic issues, collectively.

What future of cyber entrepreneurship do you see in developing countries like Pakistan?

I foresee, unlimited opportunities waiting ahead in our country. All you need is to take the first step and convert the opportunity into practicality.