Business success — Powered by Namecheap
The last three years have been anything but normal when it comes to business. Lockdowns, job uncertainty, and global recession have altered buying habits, prices, and product availability. This has changed the fates of many businesses — just look at your nearest high street or mall. But what about those who embraced these changes? Who saw opportunity in them, or who found determination from the adversity and used it to create something new?
We spoke to two of our previous Powered by Namecheap winners, Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui of Joraywala (an online clothing store based in Pakistan) and Deborah C. of Madly Audio (a boutique audio store based in Canada), to see how they conceived their businesses and overcame the challenges they faced.
For those who aren’t sure, Powered by Namecheap is an initiative that awards free hosting, domains, and other Namecheap products to deserving businesses to help them progress as they take their first tentative steps.
All businesses need a pinch of inspiration to see them take flight. For Joraywala and Madly, it was no different. Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui of Joraywala explains:
“When the coronavirus made people jobless all over the world, my family also came under its grip at that time. It was a tough test for us, and it was very important to find a source of income that remained intact, even with the restrictions. The objective of starting Joraywala was to establish a brand, which would provide clothes to the poor and middle classes that, usually, only the rich can afford. We also hope to help poor children with our profits — because children are the foundation of a better society.”
Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui and his wife borrowed money from their family to start their e-commerce clothing business in 2020. With no experience in online retail, they learned everything from YouTube tutorials.
“I was associated with the media industry, I wasn’t even aware of the e-commerce era. YouTube videos still play a very important role in our website today, helping us overcome the problems we face in e-commerce.”
Deborah of Madly Audio, meanwhile, explains,
“My inspiration came to me when I acquired an old 1970s stereo system that belonged to my dad. He had passed away, and my brothers and I each got to choose one special item to keep. This was the one I chose. That piece held so many memories for me, but had been silent for years as the electronics inside had broken. But to me, it was the most beautiful thing. When I brought it home, a friend and I gutted it and rebuilt it. The joy of hearing it play music again brought me to tears. It was then I realized how important a connection there is between the memory, the music, and the piece. What we bring into our homes is special, and I want to be part of delivering that to people.”
It was this catalyst that started her down the path of Madly Audio, a company providing “boutique, beautiful, design-forward audio pieces for the home, pieces that are as important as furniture because they reflect the style and personality of their owner.”
A change of direction
For both of these businesses, their launch was not only the birth of a new idea but also a complete change of direction for its founders, who both worked in TV prior to starting their stores. Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui explains,
“I was associated with the media industry, having served in almost all the major TV channels in Pakistan, I was not even aware of the e-commerce era.”
Meanwhile, Deborah’s career
“spanned over two decades, predominantly in operational and strategic leadership roles within the corporate media and television industry, as well as the non-profit sector. While I always had a personal passion for audio, music, and art, it wasn’t my professional background.”
This similarity is interesting because, at first glance, it seems almost counter-intuitive. Most of us have considered starting our own businesses, perhaps when between jobs or otherwise in search of something new, we probably start within our comfort zone — that is to say, an industry we’ve worked in before. But perhaps the fundamentals in business apply to any industry, so if you have an innate sense of what good business is (in the case of both our businesses, from a career in quite a technical industry), you can apply that knowledge to anything you feel passionate about, even if it’s not something you’re an expert in.
Teamwork all the way
Neither Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui nor Deborah works alone, though. Both realize the importance that a balanced skillset brings to their businesses. With Joraywala, it’s his wife, Munazza Zeeshan, and for Deborah, it’s her business partner, Armando Reyhez.
Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui explains:
“My wife supported me in those difficult early days, encouraging me not to lose heart. She helped me realize that there was enough scope for the business to continue after the coronavirus was over — which we weren’t sure about to start with.”
For Deborah, the skill of her business partner allows them to create many of the products they sell.
“With a professional background in architecture, design, and high-fidelity audio solutions, the mastermind behind all our designs, from the aesthetic to the technical and everything in between (and the original visionary behind the business), is my brilliant business partner Armando, without whom Madly simply would not exist. Our partnership combines our unique skills and backgrounds, ensuring a balanced approach to building Madly, rooted in a shared vision, philosophy, and unrelenting passion.”
But even the support of incredible business partners doesn’t mean being in business is without challenges.
Problems are universal
Indeed, trying to inspire a shift in how people approach or view a product can be a challenge. Google Glass is a famous example that tried to change how people viewed something (in their case, quite literally), and it didn’t catch on. And perhaps this example isn’t so surprising, as it sought to alter something as fundamental as how we see the world around us. Similarly, in 2020, Quibi also tried and failed to change how we view short video content and lost its investors hundreds of millions because its content failed to resonate. Humans tend to stick to our perceptions of things. Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui also mentioned facing a similar challenge around customers understanding their proposition — conveying that their clothes (which would usually be very high in price) are much more accessible.
“The primary challenge in running an audio niche business, like Madly Audio, is building customer awareness and differentiating ourselves in a saturated market. While many retailers sell audio equipment, our distinction lies in the products we offer, our design (and creation) of unique speakers, and our deeper philosophy that choosing audio products is akin to selecting pieces that reflect one’s personality and desired atmosphere in their living spaces. We encourage customers to approach audio shopping as they would approach furnishing their homes.”
Additionally, Joraywala is facing a huge challenge due to the cost of inflation.
“We do not include any products in our catalog that are expensive. If you look at brands from Pakistan, you will find the prices talking to the sky. Designer suits are very expensive in Pakistan and out of reach of the middle class. We buy copies of designer suits from the market and offer them to customers on our website at a reasonable price. Special care is taken to closely evaluate the price with our competitors before finalizing the price of the suit, so that our prices are competitive. We feel good talking about this because it is a very special point for us: The middle class is disappearing fast in Pakistan due to inflation, and it is a big challenge for us which we feel every day. Due to inflation, the purchasing power of people has been severely affected.”
As if that weren’t enough, they must also keep on top of ever-changing fashion trends and stock products in various sizes, adding extra pressure to the business. Despite their challenges, both of these businesses are constantly evolving to find new and innovative ways to set themselves apart and keep their customers coming back.
Keeping things fresh
For Joraywala, this starts with keeping tabs on the competition. As Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui says,
“We keep track of successful websites around the world, and try to improve the user experience as much as possible by coming up with new ideas. I also integrated social media platforms into my website, which was a very difficult task for me — but with constant hard work and dedication, we’re now a fast-growing brand.”
Providing customer service and maintaining a store on WhatsApp has opened Joraywala to a new market.
“We take pride in providing exceptional customer service, which includes promptly answering customer queries on our website, and using Installed Talk to provide real-time assistance that aims to ensure customer satisfaction. We’ve also leveraged WhatsApp to create a comprehensive (and regularly updated) catalog of our products. One of the things that makes us unique is our straightforward return and exchange policy. Even if a customer is not satisfied with the fabric of their order after watching a YouTube video or chatting with us on WhatsApp, we will refund the cost of the suit without any additional conditions or requirements to purchase another product. We believe that customers should only make purchases when they are completely satisfied.”
Meanwhile, Madly focuses on providing something truly unique that their customers simply can’t get from somewhere else.
“Recently, our focus has been on product development, especially the imminent launch of our own speaker brand, MACO™. MACO™ embodies our core values: exceptional sound quality, impeccable craftsmanship, artistic design, and enduring materials.”
Deborah is currently preparing to raise funds to invest in new products.
Final words of wisdom
To finish, we asked both of our businesses what advice they would give to others considering a new business, even in these tough economic times.
Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui offers this:
“This is what I tell everyone. If I can build an e-commerce website from scratch, anyone can achieve their dream. Every big business starts with a dream. People around you will give you examples of successful people: “he grew so fast, he earned a big name, what did you do?” What gives you the ability to fight yourself is your only competition. Success kisses your feet when you step out of your comfort zone.”
For Deborah, it’s about creating a lifestyle you love:
“Stay passionate and persistent in the face of challenges, collaborate with a partner whose strengths complement your own, and most importantly, relish every moment of the journey and find genuine enjoyment in what you do!”
We’d like to thank both Joraywala and Madly Audio for their time, and wish them every success in the future. If you’d like your business to be ‘Powered by Namecheap’, you can submit an application now.