Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Mumtaz Kazi and I’m the founder of iDigitize. We are a unique company in the tech-savvy world as our focus is to help companies leverage the full potential of low-code/no-code technologies which they are usually scared of due to huge investments. We, at iDigitize provide a way for organizations to invest less and gain high ROI quickly.
We are an academic partner as well as an industry advisory committee board member for universities in the middle east region. iDigitize is also a part of the Dubai Smart Cities initiative and a Microsoft Partner!
Our flagship services are process automation, training, and analytics. We provide services right from our free brainstorming sessions, to automation, development, and training. Yes, we do provide training for Microsoft products. Our staff is Microsoft Certified!
We go beyond and ensure that the client's processes are digitized and automated and they have the right insights from huge chunks of data to make the right strategic decisions at the right time.
Our customers are global. We are happy that in less than a year we got an opportunity to deal with MNC companies and provide training to 1000+ participants at a time!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I have worked for over 8 years in the airline industry and joined healthcare during Covid-19. I worked on Microsoft Power Platform for 2 years and realized what wonders it can do. I started to see how much time automating/digitizing a process saves, and how to create reports/dashboards and influence financial decisions.
I come from an IT background and worked in the finance department for the healthcare sector, very closely with the CFO, and learned a lot about how things work. My CFO was very kind and patient and taught me about financial analysis. This gave me a jump start and I started to do a little research and learn on my own as well. I eventually ended up creating 40 + financial reports in less than a year. Which I was surprised at and realized only when I was preparing my handover.
Yes, I ended up resigning from the company as I thought if I can make a difference in such a short span of time in this company, why not spread the word about the Power Platform to the world and let them benefit from it. At least the staff will be able to go home on time while the robots perform their task and they can focus on what humans are best at: CREATIVITY and IDEAS GENERATION!
The Dubai Government was going digital at that time and as per the market research, there were a lot of companies who wanted to go into it but were holding back due to budget constraints. So, I thought about helping them out and took a big leap of faith to start my own business.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I started doing a SWOT analysis (believe me it helps!) and prepared long-term and short-term strategies. I was fortunate to get my brother-in-law on board who is an expert in processes and has experience in Health and Safety as well.
We listed down all of the services and mapped them into a matrix depending on the market and our strengths. The next step was pricing. We had heard that the “Demand for a product determines its price”. But our main aim was to ensure that we provide cost-effective and efficient services. Eventually, we came up with the best price which would be a Win-Win for everyone.
It was time to look for business partners. We used a few contacts and landed trustworthy and long-term partnerships which initially provided us a boost that is very much needed for a startup company.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I obtained my license in April 2021, created my website on Wix.com in May, and resigned in June when I landed my first customer which resulted in a revenue 3x of my current salary at that time. It gave me the confidence to move forward.
Since it's an online business, you don't have to worry a lot about financing. It's just the annual licensing cost that you need to worry about.
Marketing started as soon as the license was obtained. I contacted my friends and previous colleagues. They helped to spread the word through their families and the companies which they work for.
LinkedIn played a major role in marketing!
However, we landed our first customer through word of mouth! And then one thing led to another and now, our work speaks for itself! We now get calls, messages, and emails saying that they have seen our work at xyz company and would like to avail of our services!
The biggest lesson that I have learned is that you need to have a clear goal and clear strategy. Technology world keeps changing and you need to be aware of the market and new products/services being introduced.
At the same time “learn to say no”. When you receive a requirement from a client, you might get too excited and say “Yes, this can be done”. But hold on before you commit. Think about things like: will you be able to deliver on time? Do you have the resources? Will it result in affecting the quality of the end product? If Yes, even though you have the right skill set, you have to put your foot down and say No. Never compromise on the quality of the product/service. Be patient and honest with your clients on the timelines.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Two things have worked to attract and retain customers:
- Word of Mouth (Work speaks for itself)
- Social Media especially Linkedin
I have tried to market using YouTube but that didn't work to attract customers for the business. Audience was just looking for free learnings and to services. Have tried advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well but again, the audience on these platforms are not looking to obtain services that would digitize/automate their processes.
I have been using LinkedIn since my college days and thought of posting there. I posted on LinkedIn and scheduled free events where I talked about iDigitize. Eventually started offering free bite-size training sessions which helped in spreading awareness in the market. People now knew that we exist!
We started receiving invitations from companies to visit them which in turn turned into signing long-term contracts! I created events and delivered speeches at online webinars which attracted a lot of professional customers. My website traffic increased and started receiving lots of inquiries and calls.
Establishing good relationships with every customer/potential customer is very important. You never know when that potential customer might turn into your top 3 customers list! Attending events, and conferences and giving speeches have helped me to bring iDigitize into the market.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
From landing our first customer to being a Microsoft Partner, associated with 2 prestigious Universities, part of the Dubai Smart Cities initiative, and dealing with MNC clients all in less than a year, I would say we are doing pretty well.
Ticking off our goals and KPI’s in line with our strategy. It feels good to tick off something you have worked hard to achieve. It motivates you and gives you confidence.
Our next target is to be Microsoft Gold Partner which we are very close to achieving. Our gross profit looks good. I can meet my expenses as well as invest an amount back into the business. This gives me a lot of satisfaction.
We are also planning to launch a product on Microsoft Marketplace in another 9 months. The product will help HR departments serve the performance development needs, analyze the data and make decisions accordingly.
Our top 3 revenue comes from training, process improvement, and implementing data strategy.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Honesty is very important. Don't be scared to tell your clients that you are a start-up company. You might think that you would lose the client if your client thinks you are a new company. You will be surprised at the reaction you will get! This will also help you when MNC clients ask for your profit and loss statements.
A good decision that I made was to establish partnerships with companies that are in similar industries. This reduces competition, you get to use their resources, and helps to market your products as well. It also helps to gain experience by observing what kind of business model works for them and what doesn't.
Not all the leads will turn into customers. Don't get disappointed when this happens. Learn from it and move on. It might not work out at that time, but hey, you just gained a new contact in your CRM. I have had leads that didn't work out initially but since we have been sending them posters every other month, they did contact us for a service and now they are our customers!
Being organized is very important. Google Calendar helps me to balance my personal and professional life. I have reminders to run personal errands, attend meetings, do tasks, etc. It helps and keeps me on track! I even kept a reminder to meet my friend once as the initial year of a new company keeps you on your toes!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Microsoft Power Platform is the tool we use for our services. It's a low-code/no-code platform that helps to create applications, workflows, etc. without writing huge lines of code. Thus, reducing the cost of the product/service.
We have our CRM created on Power Platform which we use to record all our leads and customer details. Wix.com helped in creating our website, SEO, and email marketing.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Bill Gates has been my inspiration since I was in middle school. I always wondered how he has been able to create a computer that is now at everyone’s desk. His videos and articles have always made me curious and motivated me to learn more about computers. He is what has led me to go into the field of IT.
Steve Jobs is another person I have always admired because of his creativity and innovation. His ideas have changed the world. He is someone I read about and watch videos on when my mind is blank. He inspires me to not be scared of thinking differently or bringing about a change.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Start something which you are passionate about. Don't just go into it because everyone is doing it or it's what the market demands. Think about Steve Jobs. How he made touch screens a necessity when no one was even thinking about it. He created a demand for it when there was no demand.
I often see that people give up because either they have the technical skills or operational, not both. This is where SWOT analysis helps. Understand your weaknesses and involve the right people to overcome them. Another thing I have seen is that people start something and if they see that it's not working in 6 months, they give up. Patience is the key here. You need to wait to see your returns. It's just like when you sow a seed and water it. You need to keep watering and provide manure to see the result.
Follow your passion, it will never fail you. Yes, the struggle will be there. Nothing comes on a silver platter. Don't give up, keep going. Keep learning as it's a journey. You will eventually reach there!
Where can we go to learn more?
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