Somehow I always end up missing out on Google souvenirs at all the events I have attended so far; such is my bad luck. However, I always have gained a lot as far as the knowledge and experience are concerned. And this Google Business Group event was no different!
Google Business Group (GBG) Islamabad celebrated GdayX 2015 at SEECS, NUST on Tuesday. The half-day event was aimed at entrepreneurs, developers, designers and business people interested in learning and improving their skills in entrepreneurship and what the web can offer to their businesses.
There were four speakers invited to share the knowledge from their entrepreneurial journey and how Google can help grow businesses. These speakers included; Open Islamabad President, Owais Anjum, Freelancing Guru – Saad Hamid, Bramerz, VP Product and Ex-Google Country Consultant – Badar Khusnood and Ex-Google Student Ambassador – Awais Imran.
I was on time for the registration confirmation and event attendance at the GdayX venue. There were very few people arrived at the time so I seated myself in the seminar hall, and a nice tune from Ellie Goulding -“Burn” greeted my ears. I never understood the point of playing songs at such an event but then the song lyrics inspired me and suddenly, I understood the motivation behind it.
The GBG Manager Ahsan Mukhtar introduced GBG Islamabad as an outreach community program from Google running in developing countries. The purpose is to help and train businesses, startups and entrepreneurs for efficient usage of Google tools in order to grow their work online and transform the community around them.
GBG Islamabad has organized several training workshops and events in the past two years. They were appreciated on Google blog for training more than 800 women entrepreneurs who wanted to use their skills while being at home. Another achievement highlighted was the training of 100+ journalists across different cities in Pakistan including Peshawar, Quetta, and Muzaffarabad etc.
Ahsan also shared a video about Zack Matere from Google search stories to indicate how Internet and tech giant Google has helped people at the very basic level. Zack, a farmer in Soy, Kenya, searched for a way to save his dying crops, but he ended up with the desire to help local farmers and businesses access information. You can see this inspirational video here.
Why you need to take your business on mobile?
You may have heard a lot about Saad Hamid and Badar Khusnood if you follow local tech news closely. However, you may not have directly known about the event’s first speaker, Owais Anjum unless you are a big fan of Cricket. Owais is the founder of the popular cricket social network app – Cricout, President Open Islamabad and CEO of a product-centric company, emumba which he started in 2011. Before this, he got his MBA from San Jose State University, spent 6 years working for startups in Silicon Valley, and then, worked for Numetrics at Islamabad for which 90% of the engineering was being done locally.
The focus of his talk was “Why you need to take your business on mobile?” Owais stressed that the mobile platform is a rapidly growing market while he showed graphics for increasing number of people using smartphones these days. He told that about 100 million people in India are predicted to use Internet for the first time in coming years and they will access the service from a mobile device. This indicates the importance of the mobile platform in future.
You have gone mobile with your business and defined the target market but now the real play is how to acquire and retain customers? Google Adwords and Facebook categorization can let you reach consumers based on their age group, gender, device, internet, geographic location etc. On the other hand, push notifications and increasing number of sensors on the mobile can keep your product on the top of the consumer’s minds. Owais believes that each sensor on a mobile device can create a business opportunity.
Owais pointed out that a good marketing strategy will lead to less marketing expenditure over time without affecting the organic growth and user engagement. He mentioned that a good UI design will place proper call to action items for consumer engagement with the product e.g. Share this post or Buy Now. Additionally, he suggested that one should try to eliminate the middle man as much as possible to avoid the cut on revenue but it also depends on the nature of the business as well.
TechJuice Bonus: Highlighting Entrepreneurial Work In Islamabad
During the networking session, TechJuice grabbed the opportunity to ask Owais a few questions in the pursuit of highlighting the entrepreneurial work being conducted in Islamabad. He shared the latest stats of Cricout for the first 15 days of World Cup during his talk: 55,000 users spent about 42,000 hours on Cricout with an overall 7.5 million views on the web. We confirmed from Owais that whether they were expanding the app to other sports as well. He replied that they are partnering up with Telenor – a telco company for the first time to launch a Football app within Pakistan. However, they are planning to expand it within UAE as Football is a popular sport in that region. They are expected to launch the Football app right after the world cup.
Open Islamabad was a major partner for Code for Pakistan Islamabad Civic Hackathon. Last time, when we were at the event, Sheeba told us that Open Islamabad will be handling the launch of Islamabad Civic Innovation Lab. We asked Owais about the progress and location of the Islamabad Civic Innovation Lab. He told us that the lab will be located at Ufone towers in Islamabad and headed by CTO of LMKR. Additionally, they have also started the sessions for the winning teams of the hackathon but he encouraged other people to join as members and work towards solving community problems.
We came to know about another product from emumba – Patients with Power while going through the website. Patients
with Power provides a better communication channel between health care personnel and breast cancer patient to decide the course of action for treatment. We asked Owais why do they not promote this product as much as Cricout? He replied that the target market for the product is USA and it is also in very early stage. There are two hospitals in USA that are using this product, and they also need financial assistance for this product though they have diversified it for Lung Cancer as well. He further told us that U S Food and Drug Administration had approved their product and in order to launch in Pakistan they would need approval from local authorities.
There is a greater need for an even improved version of such a product in Pakistan. Last year, while attending Breast Cancer Awareness Session, I came to know that the most common type of cancer in Pakistan is Breast Cancer for females and Lung Cancer for males. Every year 1 out of 9 women in Pakistan are affected with Breast Cancer and about 40,000 women die because of it. I know from personal experience that hospitals in Pakistan have deplorable condition in terms of proper guidance, doctor-patient communication and treatment facilities for breast or any other type of cancer.
Learning From The Master: How To Be A Freelancing Guru?
Saad Hamid, a community manager for Elance-oDesk, started off with an ice-breaker question regarding the infamous #Dress which became an internet sensation last week. He mentioned it as an example of how things can escalate over the internet. The focus of his talk was how freelancers can use google tools in a more effective way while working online.
Saad cleared the usual stigma attached with Freelancing that one can work from anywhere, anytime and get rich quickly. Freelancing is about having the right discipline of working online. It is not about working less and getting rich quickly. Before starting out as a freelancer, one should ask whether they are skilled, disciplined, can communicate and effectively market themselves. One of the problem Saad faces with university students is that most skills taught to them are not applicable in the freelancing world. The most common freelancing skills in Pakistan are IT, customer services, admin work, writing, blogging etc.
Most people ask from Saad that what is the smallest skill required to enter freelancing and to that he answers sending emails. You are ready to be a freelancer if you can write emails. He admitted that freelancers in Pakistan are making 50,000 to 100,000 just by sending out emails.
Saad shared the latest stats regarding the top skills and payment per hour for these skills. Writers can make up to $20/hour from skills like screenwriting to blog writing. Admin support pays low but it can be a good starting point for learning professionalism and it includes skills like internet research, sending out emails, data entry etc. Then, designer and IT skills are one of the top paying categories for freelancing. You can get paid as high as $25/hour and this amount can increase with experience. Saad urged the freelancers to move to oDesk if they are using any other platform because moving forward only oDesk will be supported for updates.
Saad then mentioned a few tools that freelancers use such as Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Script, Freshbooks or Quickbooks, Google Fusion Tables, Google Calculator, Google Calendar, Google definitions, Google converter, Google Time Zones etc.
Google Docs can be helpful for research and its documentation without hassling with tabs or drafting invoices for freelancers. You can also make your own YouTube out of your personal videos within Google Docs. According to Saad, the only use of Google+ is that Google backs up all of your photographs for free in a nice timeline. He mentioned another great use of Google Calendar for freelancers i.e. they can use it for sharing project timelines instead of wasting their time on excel sheets. Gmail Tasks is an efficient way to keep track of important emails and Google Keep is an effective tool for keeping notes or tasks. Freelancers can use Google Forms to get the expectations from clients while Google Diagrams can be used for infographics or wireframes for web development.
During QAs, Saad gave importance to oDesk tests for freelancers since these tests can verify their skills and they are more likely to get hired.
Badar Khusnood Shares Mind Blowing Facts
The next speaker was Badar Khusnood, Google Country Consultant for Pakistan for eight years until recently when he joined Bramerz as VP Product in December 2014. This was his first Google event after joining Bramerz which is a small digital media company of 70 employees based out of Lahore. The company manages the digital presence for many businesses and about 20 newspapers within Pakistan. The focus of his talk was “Why businesses need to adopt digital platform?”. He shared a video highlighting the importance of digital media and there were some mind-blowing facts included in the video. We highly encourage you to see this video below.
There are 17 million people in Pakistan using Facebook among which there exist several fake accounts and it can be a challenge for promoting the brand just on Facebook. Another challenge Badar pointed out was the disconnect between brand marketers and consumers since the former is using print media to capture users who are on digital media and their brand is not available online. Additionally, TV and newspaper ads cost several hundred thousand rupees, but it is just a broadcast for which payment is done in advance with no actual return.
Badar believes that streamed video platform will be the next frontier for marketing brands in coming years which will even surpass the social media marketing. While explaining the marketing strategy for Dominos Pizza in Pakistan, Badar told that sales oriented content timing is very crucial for online marketing. He also explained another very important concept, ROBO – Research Online, Buy Offline which means if a consumer did not find your product in top ten search result, your brand lost great number of offline sales. He added that businesses need to focus on what they want consumers to do with their product rather than on tools needed for marketing. Therefore, you need to be careful with what tool you choose to represent your business online.
Badar ended the talk with a picture of him along with the youngest employee at Bramerz – a class 7 Beaconhouse student who is a security consultant at the company. He goes to school and comes to work in evening to find bugs for the company. Badar said, “Your age does not matter, your GPA does not matter but what matters is your passion.”
Creativity: How To Explain 100 Google Products In Under 10 Minutes?
The final speaker of the event was Awais Imran who was among the pioneering batch of Google Student Ambassador for the year 2013-14. The goal of his talk was quite ambitious since he was to cover 100 useful online tools from Google. I found myself thinking how he will cover 100 tools with little time left in the event and with this kind of pace. Nevertheless, it was informative and enjoyable presentation with a rather abrupt and creative end.
Awais mentioned Google Alerts as a way to monitor one’s name across the web. This tool will send an alert as soon as your name comes up on any news website, blog, discussion forums etc. This tool can also be used for creating alerts to monitor different types of interesting content over the web. Awais then brought up a world map with little dots representing flights across the world. This was to lead to the next Google tool – Google Flights which is extremely useful and I did not know about it before. Google Flights can be used to search flight details of your local airports based on destination, time, price, class, type of flight etc. Awais joked that you will always find Pakistani flights in delay over here.
“How many of you have watched Inter-Stellar lately?” Awais asked from the audience before moving towards the next Google tool. He himself had watched the movie twice and for him it created an increased fascination with stars, galaxy, and the universe itself. He said,
“Whenever it rains and the sky is clearer, I make myself a cup of tea and view stars from my house rooftop. And then I think and pray …… (audience laughs), anyways, it is a very humbling experience.”
He related his experience with the next tool, Google Sky which allows you to view celestial objects, including stars, constellations, galaxies, planets and the Earth’s moon. You can even view an historical sky at a specific point in time.
Awais moved towards the fourth tool and showed the pictures of our infamous cricketer, drop…. uhh, Umer Akmal, Cristiano Ronaldo, IEEE SEECS society chair – Akif and Awais’s cousin. He pointed out that all of these pictures had one thing in common, hair style which is a trend and that led to – Google Trends. This tool can be beneficial for keeping an eye on search trends in a region and then tailoring any e-commerce marketing campaign for gaining more users.
Awais then asked a question taking into account the number of engineers and computer scientists in the audience, “What is four in binary?” And the answer came, “100”. There you go! This is how you explain 100 Google tools under 10 minutes.
You did not think I am going to explain 100 Google tools over here. Did you?
Image Credits: Haris Nadeem