Teen techie Wasif Rashid Bhat.
Awarded by NASA and United Nations, a teen from apple town Sopore is using his digital marketing acumen for his tech exploration and expansion endeavour.
DUROO, Sopore – When distressed dozens in his hometown were cursing the constant crippled life, a 13-year-old sensed a chance in the looming crisis.
It was the fall of 2016, and the summer protests were reluctant to thaw in the valley.
Amid the street curbs and chaos, Wasif Rashid Bhat decided to live by the classic Wall Street belief—‘Invest in Distress’.
His ideology reflected Kashmir’s drift towards a new form of entrepreneurship that was a juncture primed for innovative thoughts and minds.
The boy changed the worldview of his birthplace towards a high tech-universe, with just an earphone and an old model android device.
And shortly, this teenager boomed on to own a Digital and IMEX marketing company and inscribed his name as “Kashmir’s youngest entrepreneur”.
Five years later, in the main town of Sopore, in a gleaming new building, that is mainly uninhabited, one office space is occupied by an enterprise called “Your World”, a digital and network marketing company whose mission is to “create an entrepreneurship infrastructure for a new progress movement of Kashmiri youth”.
The CEO of the company has lately been at his home in Duroo, a place of which he thinks has now grown unified and modernised by technology.
At 17, Wasif looks enthusiastic and exhilarated while making a telephonic deal.
“Can you believe it,” Wasif softly speaks, “this earphone and mobile helped me to boom my career in 5 years!”
A splash of laughter overtakes his mood when Wasif calls his earphones and an old Samsung device as his business partners.
Outside his bedroom-cum-mini-office window, the busy streets of Sopore are once again tranquilized by the lockdown.
At peace with the growing silence outside, Wasif is presently known as the youngest profiting entrepreneur in Kashmir and is being discussed among the high-profiles of this business.
It was his vigorous self that boomed Kashmir’s tech industry soon after the 2016 seething summer. He did exactly what an entrepreneur giant usually does but at a very young age, “Polarisation and Homogenisation at any time, is the best time to invest”.
Undoubtedly, Wasif’s entrepreneur skills at such a bleak age have proved almost all of his deals a profitable encounter, but he still isn’t satisfied.
“My larger aim isn’t gaining a huge profit,” he starts speaking about his future idea, “I wish to flip the entrepreneurship scene of Kashmir by letting more and more youngsters become a part of this campaign.”
Maybe, this same motive has made Wasif a new ideal for the juvenile generation of learning entrepreneurs in Kashmir.
Even though he still operates with the same earphone and mobile, he isn’t the old Wasif anymore.
Time has changed and so has his lifestyle and status in society. He’s currently employing more than 80 people—an amalgam of school and college students and a few graduates—in his “Your Dream” company.
“Entrepreneurship is not an elite endeavour,” he exclaims with a smile. “Anyone, with good communication skills, a sharp mind and social awareness, can become an entrepreneur at any point of life.”
Wasif credits his father for his sharp marketing acumen.
Now that Wasif is all of seventeen—a reasonable span of years for an entrepreneur—he can make bold decisions.
Few months back, he tried to move his business to the international standards and tried to earn himself a name among the world’s young entrepreneurs. Even though the move didn’t bring laurels for this teenager, he’s still diligent in extending the scope of the company and earning it international recognition.
But since it’s still a one-man show, he tried to associate his company with a few investors and partners with some reluctance.
“I don’t want to associate my company with anyone else because then my ideology of a tech-future for Kashmir is looted against the reimbursement of profits,” Wasif continues.
“To some extent, the market—and, in fact, the very notion of the market—has been created by the businessmen who exploit it.”
In any case, Wasif’s clients are buying his know-how and his reputation. They want him in person to finalise a profitable deal for them against his 3% share.
But for somebody like Wasif hailing from a conservative society, going this far in life was just an unimaginable happening at one point of time.
He was born in Sopore’s Duroo village to a well-to-do family of Abdul Rashid Bhat, a man who Wasif marks as his ideal and supporter. Growing up in a family of fruit merchants, the boy was grooming to be a self-starter.
“I knew I was going to be a businessman but it was clear enough that I wouldn’t be participating in my father’s domain,” Wasif says. “My aim was simple — I had to do something else.”
By the same token, it isn’t difficult to say to what extent Wasif’s father has reflected on the teenager and to what extent his fruit-trading skills have molded his son.
Such a model is the basis for Wasif’s commercial-tech industry, habitually venture-backed and thus run to produce profit. And it shaped the entrepreneurial landscape into which the teen had started to evolve.
The teen is an employer of around 80 youth.
In 2015, since Wasif’s parents were both working in the fields, he spent his afternoons after school in the orchard, doing homework or playing while breathing the fumes of a business launch.
That year, his father took him out of school and flew him around to meetings, to show him how the wealth of connections is made in business. Wasif was 12, going on to 13.
By mid-2016, Wasif had started to put his techie talents to profit by investing in the digital market but by then the clouds of uncertainty had started hovering over the valley. The internet blockade barring broadband services hammered the augmenting Digital-Market of Kashmir.
But unlike the techie giants, Wasif sensed an opportunity and immediately introduced “Your World” platform.
To begin with, he developed an online “Import-Export” portal that promised a profit for the dealer, buyer and Wasif. Online trading had started to emerge as a phenomenon. So he knew, with his entrepreneurial zeal, the investment would surely gain him some profit and a techie reputation.
The idea kept on booming and he was soon down to a couple of deals and was too busy making money to waste time in his family orchards. His decision of leaving his family business crystallized altogether when he discovered that he was making an average profit of half a lakh per month.
“When I told this to my parents, they gave me a rather strange look,” he recalls.
Two years after his first IMEX venture, at 15, Wasif introduced many connections (both local and international) in 2018, that helped many young teenagers to understand the complexity of IMEX and Digital Marketing.
The two things had immediately benefited his idea: His father’s business meetings and the young scientist award from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), an independent agency of the U.S. federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and space research.
The self-starter being felicitated by Kashmir officials for his tech feats.
That year, he was once again operating with his old duo but going ahead wasn’t that great at onset. An investment in a new marketing venture proved to be a loss.
“A disquieting aspect of a society like ours is that one of the most important criteria of each individual’s behavior is the way other individuals are behaving,” Wasif, who was lately bestowed with a United Nations award for his “Techie-Kashmir” dream, recalls that disturbing phase of his life.
“And in Kashmir, the mere publicizing of a successful entrepreneur’s acts stimulates newbies to act in the same way. I did the same and suffered a loss.”
But he doesn’t really regret that loss.
It was soon after this loss that Wasif’s idea migrated from screen and went towards the public. His company was now offering a more organic database of contacts searchable according to the person’s profession.
“It was a tool for everything,” Wasif says about his dream App. “I had the contacts of masons, carpenters, grocery stores, butchers, doctors—all stored at one relay station.”
But, the interface was never introduced for the general public because of the unavailability of an investor.
“In near future, I’d be able to actually provide services that will be used by people all over the world and all these services would be set-up by Your Dream,” Wasif says about what he envisages his company doing after a decade.
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