PlaceMe.Pk is the new startup in town providing affordable accommodation to students. Here’s what its founder, Muqsit Khan, had to say:
- What made you choose this field? Were you passionate about it from the start or did you just had an epiphany?
The idea of such a startup came when we were attending Startup Istanbul. We stayed in Turkey for one week and realized that there should be a dedicated online system for students who want to share a room or bed space. The idea was then implemented after 3 months.
- What’s your business model? How do you plan to make/sustain revenue in the long-run?
Initially, the services are free of cost for both parties (student/host). But we plan to make money through online booking and providing advertising space via Google Adsense.
- Who do you consider your competitors and how do you plan to beat the market? What’s your unique selling point?
Currently, we have 3 competitors, Jovago, OLX and hostelspk.com. Jovago is focusing on the public while we are concerned with the student market only. OLX is too complex a platform to use when searcingh these hostels as there are lots of categories like cars, buy and sell, pet etc in a generalized form and they don’t have detailed listings for hostels. Hostelspk has limited information in each ad (phone number, name and address only) for the listed hostels while we have a complete list of facilities, map, rout, gender, contacts and other relevant information for each hostel.
- Have you valuated your company? What’s your current and expected market share?
- What’s your target market and why did you choose this market?
We are targeting students and hostel owners, since there was no dedicated system for them to communicate with each other.
- Do you think that Pakistan will have enough demand for this product/service in the next 5 years? If so, have you done any demand analysis?
Yes! With the spread of 3G/4G technologies, we have seen a huge hike in internet users in Pakistan. People are now increasingly using towards online services.
- Do you think that your service/product will woo the investors? Can it bring international investment in Pakistan?
We believe that if your idea is unique and the customers are dependent on it, your business will flourish. The investors will definitely take interest since our startup is catering to a very lucrative hostel market in Pakistan. We hope the investors will invest sooner or later.
- How do you plan to innovate? What is your five-year growth plan?
We are trying to reach out to hostel owners to teach how beneficial is PlaceMe for them. In the future there will be dedicated dashboard for hosts where they can monitor their revenue, place new hostels, examine traffic and reviews, and communicate directly with the hostel seekers. Currently we have launched webView application for android while the goal is to make native apps for both Android and iOS for better reach-out and easy usage. We want to implement an SMS-Gateway to avoid fake ads, notify hosts and students about any changes in the listings, send them coordinates through SMS for better routing, and let them know about special offers frequently.
- How many team members are there at the moment? Are they fresh out of college/undergrads or are they experienced professionals? How do you plan to scale your team in the next 12 months?
There are 2 co-founders; I am a software engineer from Peshawar, and have won the mBillianth Award 2014 in India and P@Sha ICT Award 2014 in Pakistan. I was also selected in the top 15 at Startup Istanbul 2015 Turkey. I got featured on Samaa, ARY News & Mashaal Radio too. Babar Akhunzada, the other co-founder is a security researcher listed in well-known companies of the Silicon Valley for reporting vulnerabilities, and got selected in Startup Istanbul 2015 Turkey for our startup SecurityWall. Besides that, there are about 8 team members who are experts in marketing and media. In next 12 months we are willing to hire students on a part-time basis in major cities of Pakistan, who can help us collect information about various hostels.