Interviews

Game Changers – Waqar Shah, CEO of WaqarTech

Balance, in work and at home, has kept Waqar Shah centered & focused on the final goal. We sat with him to learn about his service and product ventures, the value of time and the path to growth.

How did you land the first customer?

I joined British Telecom’s company iO Global Ltd in February 2007. iO global was founded by Brendan D, an Irish entrepreneur, who has a very long legacy in the field of innovation & technology. I left iO global in January 2009 and started WaqarTech Limited after setting up the venture in Pakistan and in the UK at the same time. Recession hit many companies in Europe in year 2008, therefore Brendan D also moved on and started building new products and services, for which he approached us to provide engineering resources in Pakistan. The journey started after a few months of WaqarTech’s birth and got it’s first international corporate client. It was my experience in iO global that gave confidence to Brendan D to risk and invest in Pakistan. The relationship flourished and it opened more and more opportunities and Brendan D introduced many European clients.

What did you do in the first 30 days after launching?

I spent time with the team in Karachi to bring them up to European programming and coding standards. After 6 years hard work and putting in a lot of effort, the engineers in Pakistan are still struggling to work to European and American programming standards and to work on big complex mega projects. However, we have our core team in place and they are very happy.

Have you ever lost a customer?

Losing a customer is not a norm in our line of business. Most of the time customers will move on when they are done with the innovation that they needed at competitive rates, or they have struggled to find a customer for the service they have built – so they close the project down. We work in such an agile fashion, that we hardly lose any customer or upset them. The longest project we have served is 6 years and it is still active in live support & development phase. We show real value for money to our clients and never break the trust. IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) is a core part of our business, which gives more confidence to our customers. IPR are signed by our UK company and takes all the responsibilities.

How do you balance time between Supermeal in the UK and WaqarTech in Pakistan?

With this question, you have hit the nail on the head and I was expecting this. Supermeal is the biggest risk I have ever taken in WaqarTech from its outset and I guess these are the qualities of an entrepreneur. I discipline myself and stop wasting time on things like social media and smartphone etc. I have a trusted and reliable team and delegate tasks to them so I can focus on the broader picture. At times it will become very hard to manage multiple businesses, but then you start prioritizing what is more important.

Why will your firm beat similar competitors?

We do not have competitors. Internet space is a joint consortium and together we all make it a fun place to work in. Whoever has better skills, will generate better leads. Winning mega projects can get political, but we are not bothered with that. We just focus on our day to day innovation and research & development.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I breathe. Joke aside, I spend time with kids and family. Most of the time I will be exercising my brain with different dynamics.

Who inspires you from the local scene?

I will start by stating not by Steve J, Bill G, Mark Z, Larry P etc. None of them nor any other entrepreneur inspires me. I have a business role model that is my grandfather and spiritual role model. There are very few, or possibly no major Innovation and Technology producer in Pakistan. What I mean by this is that a lot is imported; our cars, mobile technology, appliance technology, media, multimedia, mobile operator technologies, software technologies; almost every major brand is imported. Pakistan’s market is missing technology exporters on a global scale. WaqarTech with time, will fill that gap.

How will you market and grow the business in 2015?

We are synergising with many likeminded businesses and growing the technology. We have already started the Supermeal.co.uk service in Birmingham UK and in year 2015, we will expand nationwide throughout the UK. Challenges are very tough, but our technology is ready to face these challenges. We built it keeping scalability, innovation and growth in mind. We are also expanding our software, outsourcing wing in WaqarTech Pakistan as we have made new partners in the UK to become our Sales Representatives on a shared revenue model. In 2015 we are also starting the development of our new office in Karachi which will accommodate 250 people. The development will be a 7 floor commercial building, with incubation units on one floor, an entertainment and sporting floor with facilities like table tennis, console gaming, gym, Jacuzzi/showering space, auditorium and much more. Alhamdulillah!

Thank you for your contribution to the green flag Waqar, we wish you all the best for 2015 for both ventures.

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