We talked to Haseeb Ahmad of Jaamiah about Pakistan’s smartest education portal and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Haseeb Ahmad: Thank you for asking. It’s been a very difficult year for me. I lost my mother and brother in March 2020. In the second wave, two of my teachers and a few relatives also have died due to COVID19. There is just suffering everywhere I look but still keeping myself together because there are a lot of more people I need to take care of. I hope and pray this will be all over soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Jaamiah.
Haseeb Ahmad: I’m from a remote area of Pakistan, Southern Punjab. I studied to be a Biologist and did my master’s degree in Bioinformatics but ended up in the problem-solving business. Now, I’m a full-time entrepreneur and have a cosmeceutical startup as well, along with this one.
As I’m from a remote area of Pakistan, I went to the Capital (Islamabad City) for my graduate studies. I learnt that students there have way more opportunities in front of them just because they have better awareness, especially in career selection. Understanding the available higher education options for a better career is crucial. So, I founded Jaamiah.com – An EdTech startup that was initially started just a directory of Educational Institutions that help students find the best University. In efforts to make it sustainable, I worked on a business plan guided by the Business Incubation Centre at COMSATS University Islamabad. Now, we have one MVP, and the other two EdTech products are in the development pipeline.
How does Jaamiah innovate?
Haseeb Ahmad: We, at Jaamiah, believes the equal opportunity for higher education for every student. We saw the solution in the Digitalization of the Education Sector of Pakistan. Our platform allows University administration and potential students to interact more effectively. Along with that, Our ERPs are helping educational institutions to manage their campuses with ease. We launched a dedicated community forum name Muawin where students can ask questions related to admissions, and our team of experts, with the help of University focal persons, respond to them.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Haseeb Ahmad: We were at a very early stage and about to receive our pre-seed fund when the first wave hit. It delayed the development of our first MVP by at least three months. As we are in the EdTech business, it was the time our product was needed, which we couldn’t deliver to our potential customers. But we continued our necessary operations from home and completed the development of our first MVP before the second wave.
Our startup is still growing through financial troubles, and there are limited investors in my country that can fund us. So far, we are surviving on the first grant that we received from the University’s incubator. But the future looks bright, and the team is very motivated as well, as the demand for our products has increased in the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Haseeb Ahmad: Past months have been challenging for Jaamiah.Unprecedented decisions needed to be made for such an unusual situation. Two of our team leads left the startup due to financial constraints. Our team shrank from 16 members to 4 only. But this is the time when we are being tested for success. Anything that we learnt is to continue working hard no matter as there is a cost for success which has to be paid.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Haseeb Ahmad: I’m very thankful for the support and love of my family, friends, team, and fiancee.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Haseeb Ahmad: In recent months, state-run telecommunication announced a subsidiary that will be developing the same products as us. Except that, we don’t have much competition. We have the benefit of early development, and they are well-funded. It’s going to be a tough competition.