Interview with Salman Kureishi, Co-Founder of mikensmith.com

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mikensmith.com is a renowned name when it comes to ecommerce in UAE. People in the country recognize the name and have, over the time, come to trust the brand value that is associated with it. As a result, mikensmith.com has become one of the largest online shopping websites in the country, especially for mobile phones.

The website gets almost 30 orders and more than 3,000 visits per day, majority of whom are returning customers. mikensmith.com now houses more than 500 products.

Idea came from the investing partner Mohsin Mahomed, which was well executed by Salman Kureishi & Abdul Vahab. All of three partneres sharpened the USP, built it out and took it to market.

Katherine Husmith of TechnologyAce contacted Salman Kureishi to find out more about him and how mikensmith.com came to be. Katherine asked lots of questions and got some really interesting answers. Read on to find out!

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur and start your own business?

Absolutely! All three of us are very entrepreneurial and each of us brought our own unique type of skillset and experience to MikeNSmith.

How did mikensmith.com start?

Well. We are still in the starting phase considering we have only been live for 2 months. So it’s very much a challenge to take the business to profitability and beyond. We got our first customer within 3-4 days of going live and Moshin himself delivered the product to him and I called him and asked him a bunch of questions about how he found us and what he likes and does not like. We gave him a free phone too :).

For a company trying to make its name in the market, impressions matter. What steps did you have to take to make mikensmith.com a brand?

We kept that aspect of the business in mind from the very beginning and we crafted the brand and the website according to that. A lot of companies start an ecommerce venture with a scratchy website and then change the design etc. a few times within the next 3-4 years. We foresaw that and tried to do a good job to begin with. There are still tons of things we want to improve but I think it is built on a solid platform in terms of both the technology we used and the thought we put into the branding.

Did you ever get any external assistance for your startup or is mikensmith.com a fruit of your sole labours?

We need specialized support for specific stuff like doing specific art work or working on a new feature or widget and generally if our in-house staff can’t do it, we outsource it. We have a network of great freelancers all over the world and they do a great job whenever we require their services.

“When I became part of this business, I know I had to make it come true. I trusted myself, my abilities and my instincts.” – Salman

What are your future plans for mikensmith.com?

Currently only in the UAE but we are ambitious and will be rolling out to Saudi Arabia where the disposable incomes are higher. We know for sure that to conquer Saudi Arabia we would need an Arabic website and that will be rolled out too very soon.

“Currently only in the UAE but we are ambitious and will be rolling out to Saudi Arabia where the disposable incomes are higher.” – Salman

As a successful entrepreneur, what do you have to say about the bussing trend towards entrepreneurship in UAE?

It’s great. There are many programs that introduce investors to entrepreneurs and also there are a lot of tractions in the entrepreneurship training space which is great thing to see.

Have you acquired any businesses recently?

No. Maybe in 2-3 years :).

mikensmith.com houses some really expensive gadgets. Is there a fixed method through which the prices are determined?

We benchmark our prices against the market but we always try to be competitive in terms of pricing. I believe for most of the fast moving mainstream products, MikeNSmith is right up there amongst the most competitive stores online in the UAE. We also don’t charge for shipping and offer a free 1 year warranty which sweetens the deal even further for our customers.

Some people face problems in getting their gadgets delivered on time. Why is that?

That’s usually on the delivery companies. They almost always get it right, but sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s the case with almost any company and industry.

Any attacks on your website?

No.

What is the current number of employees that are working for mikensmith.com?

Five, including one developer & one procurement champ.

What is the next big step for mikensmith.com?

There are tons. The Arabic site, the rolling into other GCC countries; some more cool features on our site which I won’t disclose now for competitive reasons and the inclusion of some very unique products that no one is doing here in the UAE and GCC.

Who inspires you?

Me, personally, it would be Steve Jobs and Nikola Tesla.

Your favourite brand?

Apple

One thing that would make your life easier?

Beaming internet down to the Earth free for everyone everywhere – all the time.

One trick you learned in your business?

Be first and innovate at light speed. Innovation is the only thing that keeps business with low funding to edge out the competition. It’s our oxygen.

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