Hometown is looking for interns — anywhere from the world

For new comers, I’ll come straight to the point.

HOMETOWN makes high-end leather footwear for men. We’re based in Lahore, Pakistan and are a year old startup. Our idea is to help Pakistani craftsmen make great products and sell in a remarkable way. We combine craftsmanship, story-telling and technology. We believe in keeping humanity into our business, therefore we ask for help when we need it. This is where you come, and will spend two months with a diverse group of  people.

 

The positions available are mentioned below. Ideally, we are looking for college students or dropouts who can work from home / campus at least for three days a week. The candidates should be able to work quickly, efficiently and without much supervision.This is an unpaid internship, but we believe in freedom of work and ideas. So if you’re about passionate in working a startup / social enterprise in the above mentioned areas, do come. You’ll get valuable skills, experience and networking. Please take 5 min to know about Hometown Story, why we write a handwritten letter, how we started from a small town of Pakistan and made it places like Acumen, and receive testimonials from our customers like these.

1. Leather Shoes / Accessories Designer:

You’ll work with our design team, give feedback on upcoming collection of shoes and leather accessories.

2. Designer

You will shape the future of Hometown. Designer will work with almost everyone in our small team, from craftsmen to founders to customers. We’re not looking for someone who’s design starts and ends in Photoshop. Instead someone who starts from notebook, and willing to do it differently and learn from customers’ feedback.

3. Front End Developer

We’re re-vamping our web strategy. You’ll help us design our platforms for stories and shopping portal by working along our developer.

4. Story Teller

Story telling is an ingredient part of the kind of brand we’re trying to build. As a story teller, you’ll make sure story of our team, customers are part of our all messages. You’ll review the content of our new website, build the content strategy and help the word out.
To apply, send a brief note of interest along with your work sample / résumé at bolo@hometownshoes.com by June 30th.

Shipped Our First Shoe to India

I am sharing a glimpse of what is happening around HOMETOWN.

This is what’s keeping me away from blogging too.

HOMETOWN started without any formal office, we used KFC as workplace. As they had power all the day and let us sit.

Three days back, we shipped our first shoes to India. Randhir, our customer took the risk of ordering shoes from Pakistan. It is not conventional to ship something from Pakistan to India, because of the political tension between both Governments.

It was a moment of trust for him. I am proud and humbled to say the trust is well placed.

Customers Testimonials

Cheap Global Shipping

Do you think FedEx or DHL are utilizing the most advance + cost effective technology to run their operations? I doubt.

I’m building a startup in Pakistan, and we sell / ship shoes around the globe. From here, DHL, UPS and FedEx charges $50-$70 to ship a pair of shoes in US / UK. So we depend on a small local company which buys bulk space from big logistics companies and sell to businesses like mine at a cheaper rate.

From my tiny personal experience of working with logistics companies, I realize one thing. Like many other industries out there, logistics companies are far behind in using the innovative technology. They must do it for efficiency, to save money and time. If they do so, it is treat for us and for them too.

Technology has enabled us to communicate from any corner of the earth and beyond. And we are doing it. I* You can make payment anywhere in the world, and buy or sell too. But shipping, it is still expensive, risky and not fun. It badly needs to be changed at earliest.

And I believe a company like Google will do it, or may be Amazon, or Yours (why not?!).

To firm my belief, I read this today on Think Quarterly. See line 5 of paragraph 6 here.

HOMETOWN is Growing Fast and Becoming Better Each Day

We can wait for few days, for big news to come and then we’ll share them with people we care, and who care back. This is what I have been thinking, and taking a little break from writing and then 3 solid months pass by.

Yesterday, I wrote this letter to the community around HOMETOWN.

Hey friend,

I believe life is treating you well, and you are doing good in health and happiness.

Here at HOMETOWN, we’re going through the most exciting time of our life. I mean it, please give 3-5 min to read this email. I’ve tried to make it worth.

1. WON Pakistan’s First Startup Incubation Program
Yes, next month we are shifting to our new office. Out of 500+ startups, HOMETOWN made it to the top position among 4 winners. We’re very thrilled about this opportunity.
2. Now Accepts PayPal and Major Credit Cards

I can not thank enough to our customers like yours, who took out the time and paid us through Western Union. That’s what makes you our friend. We’re improving how we sell, communicate and all. So it comes as a good news that we’ve setup PayPal & Credit Cards as our payments gateway.

3. HOMETOWN featured as “Innovation Hero”

Provincial Govt of Punjab, and Google Inc, launched Innovation Campaign in Punjab, Pakistan. In there, they featured inspiring businesses and individual as ‘Innovation Hero.’ We’re so  honored to be among the 5 heroes. Here is the complete story.

4. Customers’Stories
This is best. Every morning, we get up for two main reasons. 1) Are we establishing an honest and trustworthy connection with our customers? 2) Are we really growing?

Both of the reasons are equally important to us, let me tell you small stories.

Bill from Singapore, bought a Chappal from us to gift to his father-in-law. Now that is very exciting.

Tahreem from KSA, ordered for beSpoke shoes to wear on his wedding day. Later on, he asked that if we could add a different buckle with shoes. I said, why not! But then, I said, wait a little and we make another pair for you with different buckle and you keep both shoes with you. He asked, can I get brown colour instead of black, as I already have a black now. I said, all done!

You can read Tahreem’s comment on our customers’ testimonial page.

5. Borrow Books from HOMETOWN
I love books, and especially remarkable books. At HOMETOWN, we have initiated this activity, we let our friends in Lahore borrow books from us, read and then return back. More detail here.
6. Better Address
In addition to hometownshoes.com, you can now access us by any of the following URL

All this is made possible because you guys trust us, trust a lot. It encourages us to work more harder and in a smarter yet humble way.

Life is treating us better each day, now our parents ask about in which countries we’re shipping our shoes and who’s the customer. It is very beautiful, to be in all this.
Please tell me if there is any way, I and my team can interact with you in a better way. We are learning, and doing.
I appreciate your time to read this, and feel this. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Fireside Chat with Sanjeev Bikhchandani of Naukri.com — #TiECon Lahore

“Waqas don’t lose money on sales. E-commerce is more about commerce and less about ‘E’ thing.”

This is the first thing I learned yesterday from Sanjeev Bikhchandani, while he handed over me his business card. He is founder of naukri.com a company he founded in March 1997, now he serves as the founder and executive vice chairman of InfoEdge India, a traded Internet company valued at $700 Million.

I and Sidra, were especially interested in his story of building a company from scratch. And we learned quite a lot.

Today he was talking to young (& some old) entrepreneurs, at an event by TiECon Lahore. This was actually a conversation between Sanjeev and Monis Rehaman (CEO of Rozee.pk). The conversation was very interesting and thoughtful, that is what you expect when two leaders of recruitment portal sit together. Sanjeev shares his experiences and lessons to entrepreneurs distilled from his experience of building naukri.com and other startups where he advises and invest.

See the points below, I am just putting them in bullets:

  • The best way to build a company is: find an unsolved problem and build a business around it. That is the best way.
  • Don’t start startup just for the sake of big valuations to raise maximum funding. It’ll lead you to nothing, instead focus on building a pure business first.
  • Great companies are built out of competitions.
  • For the first 6 months of naukri.com I hadn’t any computer. I was doing a job at 5k and a computer was priced at 100k those days, so I was using this computer of my friend. And he would let me use it from 10pm till 4am.
  • I was fortunate to have customer insight of the business I was starting, so it was a big advantage at then. If you get to have a customer insight, then you don’t have to spend lot of time and energy on market research.
  • Avail the opportunity to max. Example: I had data of the HR managers of 100s of companies, so we built a mailing list and started writing them why naukri.com is right channel for them. It worked!
  • Know the value of money, spend it wisely in business. We rejected an investor who was encouraging us to spend all his investment in advertising, and that too within 6 months. So we instead, found out someone who had approach like us and accepted their investment.
  • I learned how hard it was to raise the revenue through Internet, in early days.
  • When the company was expending, we hired really good guys. Things didn’t end there, I accept the reality that I shouldn’t be the only one to make all decision, as I was doing for past few years. We gave this new talent the decision power and supported within company. This all lead to progress.
  • I approached to a guy who could build a software for us, it was his first time to make such a software to integrate with our site, and I had no money to pay him. So instead of spending time on raising money, I shared equity with him. It worked very well.
  •  I was approaching to the right kind of people at right time. Like, when I needed a programmer: I did not go for any big name or someone working at large company. They wouldn’t work for me at that time, so I went to people who were working from home office. They did the job.
  • Along side, I am engaged in building a first of its kind university in India, which is focused on Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and it offers students a 4 year baccalaureate program and lets students choose their final subjects after two years of study.
  • Entrepreneur is about making choices and then working hard to make your dreams come true, if I would been doing the first job I did. I couldn’t afford the kind of education for my daughter, what I’m providing now.
  • I make milestones for myself. In 5 years, I’ll be at that stage of business and life, and in next 5 I’ll be somewhere better, and so on. That’s how I see it all.

Wow! Thank you Sanjeev and Monis, that was quite a learning + inspiring session. Fellow participants, if I missed anything, please include that in comments below.

Personal Note for my blog readers: This post might come as a surprise. I’m doing fine and HOMETOWN is making remarkable achievements. I’ll be making my remarks later this week. 🙂 Thank you.

You Are Either Problem Solver, Or Not Entrepreneur At All

First time entrepreneurs or young one like me, or most of us often ask this question to themselves, and people we meet around.

In the picture above is ‘Sharo‘ who for the first time is going to start her company.

And when she puts her questions before people who claim to have good experience in business. They answer it like this.

Or worse, here she is again:

Everyone is answering entirely from his/her own experience.

In this picture, she wants to learn what possible challenges, opportunities, and environment she will encounter on the road of entrepreneurship. Or in other words what advice you have for someone who’s thinking to cross the wall.

For answers, she goes to Tom, Ravi and David, all three of them have some experience in their fields.

Their answers are: TREES, MOUNTAINS and WATER.

Which means, Tom thinks she should learn how to survive in forests.

While Ravi believes, she must learn mountain climbing and how to survive in extreme hot and cold temprature.

And David recommends to focus on swimming and boating, which can help her to cross streams and rivers on her way.

What you think? What should she learn? Three of these skills, or every possible thing she can learn?

Here is what I think.

As a human or more specifically as an entrepreneur, we never know what challenges we shall have behind the wall of our comfortzone. And successful people have this one habit, they go behind the wall with a problem solving mindset and face everything on the way.

They do not assume specific environment, conditions, or challenges. Though each of them is jack of some trades, and master of one or two.

But this is their mindset which matters the most.

Today, I briefly talked with my team that, do not assume that all the challenges and opportunties will be the same as we percieve them now. Things are changing all the time, so does the challenges and opportunities which it brings.

Just make sure, you’ve allingned yourself well with the changes and you have this confidence that you shall solve every problem which would come between you and your destination.

Got it! Have problem solving mind? Oh WOW!

Set for Shipping

Just now when I was coming out of my washroom, I saw an ant moving on the sink. At first it did not look like an ant at all. I thought it is anyother comparatively bigger insect. But when I got closer, it was an ant holding a piece of food bigger then itself. I think we become what we carry.

We can carry anything, a camera, a hope, some anger, business idea, a flower, thoughts of revenge, a regret or anything out there. Some time you can even carry an idea which could connect 850 million people. In short, everyone of us is set to ship something.

I often whisper: “A lot gets changed, and it’ll be changed more by time.”

Lately I have been in lot of changes, mostly positives.

Now on this blog I want to talk about what I am doing, rather than what I or you should be trying becoming.

As some of you know, I am trying building a startup. A real business where I have to convince people to buy my product (mostly shoes). In fact I am learning how to make physical products from scratch. And how to ship when it is hard.

Now I am realising this more than ever that why someone like ‘Sheeda Dabay Wala’ (Sheeda box maker) is smarter than guys with an MBA from a leading business school.

Entrepreneurship is fun, but at the same time, probably the most sensitive fun one could ever have. For example, yesterday someone stole my motor bike from the parking. This bike was gifted by my brother to help me in my business. And now it is with me no more, but then no matter what, let’s keep shipping.

Let’s keep shipping for what we set overselves.

In coming days and months, I shall write how I am building the business and what is important which I am learning, relearning or unlearning.

My focus will be more on the business and workable side of the world rather than just preaching how to be a better human. Better human is important, but one can help more people if you have the idea of getting something physical out of that.

In short I am all set now. The site name is changed from ‘Waqas A Day’ in to Waqas Ali.

And yes, now we have a tagline/message:  “Set for Shipping.”

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