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“Our upbringing in a place like Kashmir has made us men of character and this is what keeps us going.”
By Aashiq Hussain Andrabi
SHARK Tank India, Season 2, lately got a surprise package from Kashmir when two friends operating a logistical service on the tough terrain of the landlocked region showed up with an idea. Their pitch and poise wooed the sharks—showbiz investors—to invest Rs. 90 lakh in their company, FastBeetle.
The sneak peak of the pitch showed the founders—Sheikh Samiullah and Abid Rashid—narrate their story on national TV.
The duo’s logistics-cum-messenger brand bridges the gap between customers and Kashmir-based entrepreneurs. They operate their “impeccable delivery service” by standing tall against mainstream providers of the same service.
The duo’s “indomitable determination” was hailed across the spectrum with viewers pleased to see a Kashmiri business model emerge as a big winner.
Days after his Shark stint, Sheikh Samiullah back home talks business in a freewheeling chat with Kashmir Observer.
You recently bagged big at the biggest investment show – Shark Tank India. How was the experience?
As an entrepreneur, it has been a journey full of excitement and challenges. Securing an investment from the Sharks on Shark Tank India is a significant accomplishment for our organization. It is a testament to the hard work and determination of our team. We were able to achieve this success by having a clear and well-researched business plan that highlighted the potential of our product or service, presenting ourselves as a credible and professional team, and effectively communicating our passion and vision for our business.
What does this showbiz boost mean to a Kashmir-based startup?
We feel proud to be considered as torchbearers for all the entrepreneurs of the valley. Our success on the show serves as an inspiration and motivation for others to work against the odds and take risks to make their ventures successful. We believe that our pitch and journey on the show, not only showcases our product or service, but also the hard work, determination and the spirit of entrepreneurship that can help others to take the leap and make their dream a reality.
Tell us something about FastBeetle?
We, as entrepreneurs, had the intent to revolutionize the traditional implementations of logistic services. So, we brought up the idea of FastBeetle, a messenger, courier, and logistics company that combines the realm of technology to provide efficient and reliable services. We started our journey from Srinagar in October 2019 and within months, our company expanded its reach to international shipments. Our innovative approach helped us to quickly establish ourselves as the most reliable and fastest logistics company from Jammu & Kashmir. We have been able to help our clients to save time and money, and make their shipping experience more seamless. Our goal is to continue to improve and expand our services to meet the needs of our customers, and to become a leading logistics company in the region and beyond.
But how did you come up with this idea?
I had been working in an e-commerce company in Srinagar where I noticed the struggles that people in the region faced when it came to logistics. They had to deal with long wait times, inefficient processes, and high costs. On the other hand, my partner Abid Rashid was a tech-enthusiast who saw how technology could be used to improve logistics and make it more efficient. One day, we met and started discussing the logistics challenges in Srinagar. We both realized that we shared the same vision of revolutionizing the logistics industry.
That’s when the idea of FastBeetle was born. We decided to combine experience in e-commerce with knowledge of technology and set out to create a company that could provide reliable and affordable logistics services. We started by identifying the pain points in the industry and then worked on developing solutions to address them. Our hard work and dedication paid off when we were able to launch FastBeetle in October 2019, and within months, our company had expanded its reach to international shipments.
How did your Kashmir upbringing prepare you for the challenging world of entrepreneurship?
Growing up in humble families in a place like Kashmir instills a strong sense of character and resilience in an individual. From a young age, we were taught the importance of hard work, determination, and the value of family and community. These small lessons, whether it be from our schooling or parenting at home, have had a significant impact on shaping who we are as individuals and how we approach life.
Our upbringing taught us that nothing comes easy and that success is the result of perseverance and dedication. It also taught us the importance of having a strong moral compass and standing up for what we believe in, even in the face of adversity. These values have been instrumental in our journey as entrepreneurs and have helped us to overcome the challenges we have faced along the way.
We believe that our upbringing in a place like Kashmir has made us men of character and this is what keeps us going. We’re proud of our roots and are determined to make a positive impact in our community and beyond. We believe that our story is an inspiration for others, and we want to continue to be an example of how with hard work and determination, one can achieve success, despite the odds.
What sets FastBeetle apart from other startups in the same industry?
One of the key things that sets us apart from other start-ups in the logistics industry is our deep understanding of the rough terrain and specific needs of the region. Being from Jammu & Kashmir, we have first-hand knowledge of the challenges that come with shipping in the area and we have tailored our services accordingly.
We have a strong understanding of the geographical barriers and the lack of infrastructure in the region, which has allowed us to develop innovative solutions that are specifically suited to the needs of the area. We have used technology in a way that is optimized for the rough terrain, ensuring that our deliveries are fast, reliable and cost-effective.
Our team’s knowledge of the region and its unique challenges has enabled us to offer a level of service that is unmatched by our competitors. We have been able to help our clients to save time and money, and make their shipping experience more seamless. Our goal is to continue to improve and expand our services to meet the needs of our customers, and to become a leading logistics company in the region and beyond.
Can you share any specific metrics or data that demonstrate the success and growth of FastBeetle?
We started FastBeetle with just two local businesses as our clients. From humble beginnings, we have grown significantly over the past few years. Today, we are proud to work with over 1500 MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) as well as some of the biggest e-commerce giants in the country.
We have come a long way since our early days, when we were delivering just 5 shipments a day. Today, we handle an impressive 5000+ shipments every day, and our services have been recognized and trusted by many businesses. We have been able to achieve this by constantly improving and expanding our services, and investing in technology to provide our clients with the best possible experience.
We have also been able to create jobs and improve the economy in the region, and we are committed to continuing to do so. We are proud of the progress we have made and we are excited about the future. With our team’s passion and dedication, we are confident that we will continue to grow and make a positive impact in the logistics industry.
Since starting a venture is never easy, what were the biggest obstacles your startup faced, and how you overcame them?
Entrepreneurship is a challenging endeavor, and we have faced our fair share of obstacles along the way. One of the biggest challenges we faced was the tough terrain of the region. The mountainous and remote areas of Jammu & Kashmir made it difficult to provide efficient and reliable logistics services. To overcome this, we set up warehouses and hubs in strategic locations that would ease last-mile deliveries.
Another major challenge we faced was the lack of reliable internet connectivity in the region. We had to develop technology that could work offline or on slow networks, to ensure that our operations were not affected.
Another common issue that we faced was the availability of the right human resources in smaller cities. We tackled this by training our team members as per the requirements of the industry, and providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their roles effectively.
Despite these obstacles, we were able to overcome them and establish ourselves as a leading logistics company in the region. We believe that these challenges have made us stronger and more resilient, and have helped us to provide better services to our clients.
Having a competitive edge is crucial for any startup’s success and survival. How does FastBeetle plan to maintain its competitive edge in the market?
In order to stay ahead of the competition, we believe that it is important to continuously adapt to changes in technology and upgrade our operations. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and streamline our processes, making use of the latest technologies and tools available to us. This allows us to provide our clients with the most efficient and reliable services possible.
We also believe that it is important to be flexible and open to change. This means that we are always looking for new opportunities and are willing to pivot our business when necessary. This means being open to new business models, new product offerings, and new market segments. We have been able to successfully pivot our business a few times and as a result, we have been able to expand our reach and attract new customers.
By keeping an edge always through these means, we have been able to establish ourselves as a leading logistics company in the region and we are confident that we will continue to do so in the future. We are continuously improving, expanding and adapting our services to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers and to stay ahead of the competition.
How’s FastBeetle giving back to the community and making a positive impact?
FastBeetle was started with the intention of empowering the society and making a positive impact in the region. One of the ways we have done this is by creating jobs for the local community. By providing employment opportunities, we have helped to improve the economy and the standard of living for many people in the area.
Another important aspect of our mission is to uplift local artisans and promote their products. We have created a network to sell locally-made products, which has helped to support the local economy and preserve traditional crafts. This not only provides economic opportunities but also helps to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the region.
We are committed to continue working on these major points, as they align with our mission to empower the society and make a positive impact in the region. We will continue to create jobs, uplift local artisans, and promote locally made products through our logistics services. We believe that by doing so, we can not only improve the lives of the people in the region but also contribute to the development and preservation of the local culture.
As company that handles sensitive user data, it’s imperative to ensure that proper measures are in place to protect it. How does FastBeetle address concerns about data privacy and security for its users?
At FastBeetle, data security is of the utmost importance. We understand the value of the information that our clients trust us with, and we take every measure to ensure that it is protected. That is why our technology is developed in a way that all the data uploaded by any user is encrypted. This means that it is scrambled and converted into a code, making it unreadable to anyone who does not have the proper decryption key. This ensures that the sensitive information shared with us is kept secure and confidential.
We also take security very seriously when it comes to our networks and website. We update our security protocols on a regular basis to protect against any potential breaches or cyber-attacks. We use a combination of firewalls, antivirus software, and other security measures to ensure that our systems are secure and that our clients’ data is protected.
We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of data security and we will continue to invest in the latest technology and security protocols to ensure that our clients’ information is always safe with us.
Collaboration and partnerships are key to driving growth and innovation in any industry, can you tell us of any partnerships or collaborations that FastBeetle has established or plans to establish in the future?
To that end, we have partnered with some of the biggest names in the logistics industry, to help us expand our operations outside of our region. These partnerships have helped us to tap into their resources and expertise, which has allowed us to provide better services to our clients.
In addition to these partnerships, we have also formed alliances with major e-commerce giants for last-mile and mid-mile services within our region. These partnerships have been instrumental in helping us to expand our reach and attract new customers. It has also allowed us to provide our services to a wider audience and offer our clients a one-stop-shop solution for their logistics needs.
We believe that our partnerships are a win-win situation for both sides, as we can bring our local expertise and knowledge of the region while they provide us with the resources and expertise to grow our business. We are always open to new partnerships and collaborations that can help us to grow.
Lastly, what would be your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own successful business?
Trust your instincts and pursue your dreams, despite any obstacles or negativity that may come your way. Starting a business is not easy and there will be challenges, but if you truly believe in your idea and are willing to put in the hard work, you can achieve success.
It is important to listen to your inner voice and have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Do not let fear or doubt hold you back. Believe in your idea and be willing to put in the time and effort to make it a reality. And don’t forget to always be open to new opportunities and pivot your business when necessary.
It’s also important to surround yourself with positive people who will support and encourage you in your journey. Block out any negative voices and focus on your vision.
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