Qasim Zafar, one of the founding member of Savaree, has today announced through a blog post on Medium that he is leaving the startup. Earlier this year, in February, Savaree just completed one year of operations. There is a constant stream of updates that have been coming out from Savaree end e.g Ahmed Khan, ex-MD Rocket Internet’s Kaymu, unexpectedly joining the startup after resigning from Kaymu, Savaree revamping the application and doing an official launch, and now Qasim Zafar leaving the startup.
While talking to TechJuice, Qasim mentioned,
“There is no one specific solid reason for leaving Savaree. A lot of things happened during the past year which made me rethink about my future and of Savaree as well. ”
Qasim explained further, “There was a conflict of vision between the cofounders. Me and Madeeha, as co-founders, had different future in mind for Savaree. In addition to that, the team failed to make any pre-defined processes to manage things in the absence of the team leaders.”
Qasim also mentioned several mistakes that he, now, has sworn not to repeat in future. In his farewell note on Medium, he mentioned mistakes such as lack of focus on key metrics, absence of book-keeping, setting non-realistic targets and then not being able to achieve them.
When asked about the role of Ahmed Khan, CEO of Savaree, in the whole picture, Qasim denied any comment on that.
Savaree is one of the most popular, widely known and widely covered startup in Pakistan. From the day of its inception up til now, it has been covered and talked about on major local and international news media outlets. It has been incubated at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, accelerated at invest2innovate and currently is housed at PlanX for another phase of acceleration.
If things are running haphazardly and the startup is making such a slow progress then, why it kept on getting acceptance everywhere and why didn’t all of these well-known entrepreneurship bodies help in identifying these root problems? Qasim pointed out some of the basic requirements for a functioning startup that should have been told to follow religiously from day one.
Rumor has also been abuzz that Ahmed Khan is not playing any major role being the CEO of the startup. At such a crucial stage when the startup needs his undivided attention, he is busy being Entrepreneur in Residence at LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, and working on a stealth startup of his own.
This is what Qasim’s official announcement read like:
“In February of 2014, I walked into the Lahore Civic Hackathon organized by Code for Pakistan as a final-semester college student with no inkling of what was to come. Following the usual pitching round, I was confused as to whether I should join up with a team of senior developers working on a community-backed blood bank registry or two other newbies who wanted to bring ridesharing to Pakistan.
Ridesharing in Pakistan? Who in their right mind would ever do such a thing, I wondered. Especially given the security situation in the country. But I realized that I had shared rides to and from college for four years now. Still a difficult idea. Nevertheless, I decided that I was game and the challenge doing such a thing would entail was appealing. I would go against the flow, I proudly told myself. There is a strange charm in feeling that you are different, that there is something in you that is not in others.
Over the next 48 hours, notwithstanding my Ubuntu installation failing, we hacked together a prototype for what I suggested should be called ‘Savaree’, a name I’m still proud of. We ended up winning the hackathon, and several industry bigwigs encouraged us to pursue Savaree full-time. And so it began.
Fast forward 1.5 years, and a pivot and technology partnership and some growth later, I am leaving the company. I have learned a lot, grown a lot, and had the opportunity to meet some truly inspiring people, but now I feel it is time to move on. There are several factors that have contributed to this decision, but I would like to highlight some of the critical aspects that I feel we should have focused more on. I have learned tremendously from these and will try my best to do more at the next thing I decide to put myself to.
1. Bookkeeping, Metrics and Analytics
You’ve probably heard more than enough of this, but it really is true that if you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it. You don’t have to track everything, because while more metrics help, that will only confuse beginners. Just focus on a couple of key metrics and work on improving those. With time the metrics and the analytics will automatically become more sophisticated. But if you don’t know where your clientele comes from, you won’t know to increase operations in that part of the city. Oh, and don’t forget to create official invoices and other documents and store each and every transaction.
2. Realistic Deadlines and Expectations
This is extremely important: Every team member must know what their milestones are and how well they are progressing to meet them. If someone is having difficulty meeting their goals, then have a talk with them timely so that the issue can be fixed. Another, equally important thing is to give tasks to those that can complete them: if the person in charge of product development is having a hard time deploying on schedule, maybe the expectations are unrealistic. Or maybe that person is better at something else and some role reshuffling is required. Either way, dealing with this is important.
3. Take What is Rightfully Yours
You are running a business, and you need to make sure that you charge appropriately. This is doubly important in the beginning, when revenue is small: you cannot, in any case, let any of your revenue slip. Don’t sink the boat before it has even sailed. It is tempting in the beginning, especially for service-based startups, to forgo some revenue because the margin is so small that you feel demanding your two cents is pointless. It isn’t.
4. Shared Vision and Exit Strategy
This is THE most important thing in a startup. All founders must be on the same page with regards to business strategy and vision. If half are working towards an early acquisition while the other half would like to be with the company for life, then things will at some point cease working out. This is also true if half are willing to pivot to a more lucrative segment while the other half are determined to stick to the original plan through to the end. It is important that you decide and decide early what the strategy will be. After that, make sure that it is clear who is in charge in case a deviation from the original plan is necessary.
These are some of the most important takeaways for me from Savaree going forward. I hope to try my best to make sure that I give these things the importance they require at what I do next. There are several exciting opportunities before me, and I would like to take a two to three weeks to thoroughly explore each of them before deciding what my move will be. It is an exciting time to be, and I am determined to make the most of it.”