Despite the economic slowdown, Pakistan’s information technology sector recorded an average 15% growth during the last three years, the former managing director of the Pakistan Software Export Board, Zia Imran, had said in an interview with The Express Tribune, citing the country’s talented workforce and rapidly growing entrepreneurship trend as the main contributors.
In order to document the stories reflecting this growing trend, The Express Tribune interviewed an IT professional, who even worked with the world’s largest brokerage firm, before starting his own company because of losing his job.
“Before launching his own company, one should work with start-ups and learn how to build a company from scratch,” suggested Farzal Dojki, founder and CEO of Next Generation Innovations (Next Geni) – one of the many successful start-ups acting as catalysts for the growth of Pakistan’s IT industry.
It is the experience of working with start-ups that helped Dojki’s company, which develops software and deals in business process outsourcing (BPO), excel in a short time.
Launched in 2009, Next Geni's revenues may not be very high, but the company, which employs 29 people, recorded an impressive growth of 300% in the last two years.
A computer science graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, Dojki, between 2002 and 2004, worked for Merrill Lynch – the world’s largest brokerage firm back then.
Dojki, who also holds a masters degree in information systems from New York University, then joined Bearing Point – a consulting firm based out of NYC.
“I had to come back to Pakistan anyway because my siblings had settled abroad and I wanted to stay with my parents,” he said.
His interest in working with smaller companies and with even smaller teams took him to three start-ups as an employee. He relates the success of Next Geni to his experience of working with the start-ups.
In 2005, he joined C Track, which was launching Tracker Direct Insurance. Working for Tracker was an interesting experience, he said, adding it taught him how to build a start-up from scratch.
He then worked for another start-up Pixsense – a company started by two Pakistani boys based in California, for developing mobile phone apps for pictures and their immediate sharing. He worked for them from Karachi.
This, too, was a very good experience as Pixsense was a good company and had clients like Vodafone, Dojki said.
The third start-up he worked for was Amana – a mobile payments company just like easypaisa. The company closed after being hit by recession.
After he remained unemployed for six months, he decided to launch Next Geni. However, it took him a while before the company made some progress.
Being a new company with no prior experience, it was not easy to find clients in the beginning, Dojki said, as this usually happens with all BPO start-ups. “It was the connections of friends and family that earned us our first five contracts.”
“iTeleport, a high flying start-up based in Silicon Valley, was my first customer,” he said. “The company was run by a Pakistani boy and my friends and family connected me with him.”
After they got first few contracts, things went rather smoothly for them. Once struggling to get contract, Next Geni is now expanding its footprints in Europe and may also launch an office in the US.
“We recently opened an office in the UK. We wanted to make sure that we can also sign contracts from our UK office especially,” he said, “because some clients feel more protected in doing business from a place like London – one of the world’s most sophisticated cities for business and finance.”
“We don’t yet have an office in the US, we are virtually present there though,” he said, adding, he frequently visits the US for getting more business.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.