from Bihar to Hyderabad to Dubai to become a digitally empowered man
October 10, 2016
Story of a Common Man….. www.ShakirAli.in
Stories are not manufactured or designed. They evolve out themselves and you never realize that your life is also webbing a story that may be of interest to others. I also could not realize myself becoming the protagonist of my own life story which became quite fascinating over the time. When I look back to my dramatic life, like that of many others, I can find all the elements that can compel me to share my unexpectedly ordinary yet happening life story with others.
We have heard of many rags to riches stories, stories of hardships, real stories of success and glam that motivates others. Why only big name and brands motivate you? If you are a grounded man with realistic ambitions, then why can’t the achievement of a common man impress you? However, I am not here to question your likes and dislikes. I am here to talk about me, talk about my own simple story….the story of a common man with common achievements but uncommon journey.
It all started on 27th August 1974 with my birth in the maternity ward of HFC Barauni Hospital to my beloved dad Janab Md. Asghar Sahab – a Pharmacist. I need to mention here that I belong to the most interesting place of everyone’s discussion in India, i.e. Bihar, a land of bold beauty, blunt language, rustic style, devastated agriculture, but hidden geniuses. Genius because this is the state which has flooded almost the entire major central government job positions in India and has given top Administrative officers. It never meant that I was going to be the next reputed IAS from Bihar because I was destined to do something else which no one was aware of.
My birth brought happiness in my family which comprised of my mom, dad, my elder brother Sabir, younger brother Shabbir, my two sisters Masharrat, Ishrat, and me, the youngest of all. They all choose the name Shakir for me which I find quite well going with the names of my siblings. Though I belong to the Muslim community, my appearance confused people for quite some time who mistook me for a Punjabi sardar boy. The reason was huge lock of hair on the top of my head tied in Punjabi style which resembled the Punjabi turban, also known as pagri. I remained the object of fun and ridicule for my cousins, bhabhis, and other friends in the street till my hair was cut for the first time in the marriage of my uncle. I was in standard three at that time and I still remember the relief I got after shedding those long, curly, tangled string of hairs. The relief was multifold because now I looked more like a boy and need not hide myself after shampooing my hair which made me look like a girl with gorgeous hairs. I am still not sure why my parents vowed not to cut my hair for so long. Perhaps it was a kind of “mannat” that negotiated my long hair for some kind of their wish to be fulfilled. In India, whatever is the religion, the belief of mannat fulfilling people’s wishes in return of some kind of commitment or sacrifice works very well. So this time, it was my hair that was kept on my head with great commitment and sacrificed for something that god bestowed to our family.
Now, it was the time for schooling, the phase that seems toughest of time for every kid for they don’t know that the actual struggle starts following the school and studies. I was also perplexed as why elders do all the fun and we little innocent kids are forced to do all the hardship juggling with dozen of books. Still I was very punctual in my school, though a little naughty. The chances of skipping the classes or ignoring studies were ruled out as my sister Ishrat accompanied me in the same class. She was one of those studious kinds for whom books and commands of teachers were everything. I appreciate her, even today I feel great about her sincerity that led to her professional achievements. Since she was much better than me in studies, I used to follow her blindly. Copying her style of study, time of study, and her notes were something I professed dedicatedly. My next hobby was imitating people which I just did for fun. Be it the famous film actors or my own abba, I enjoyed copying their accent, dialogues, and styles. However, to my advantage copying my sister’s activities led me perform better in my class.
I sprang up like an ordinary kid enjoying numerous street games with names that few would be able to acknowledge. However, to sooth your curiosity, I would coin a few like kabbadi, poshampa bhai poshampa, kit kit, ankh michouli, kho kho, and many more. In everything I did, Ishrat was with me; sometimes as sister, sometimes as friend, and many times as inspiration. My mischievous childhood brings laughter on my face when I go back to those golden days. At the same time, I feel a little disappointed when I find my own little daughters busy with gadgets and videos/ youtubes all days long. This change is the outcome of fundamental change in our lifestyle that has made the world a global village through web and internet and pushed our personal lives into a cage where we are fed with everything we need inside the bars only.
Anyways, coming back to my story now, my father used to be a FBI in our house. There was a time for everything, from meals to entertainment, studies to rest, to street plays, we had to be punctual and descent. Like all other parents, he was seriously concerned about our fitness and planned to send all of us for morning jogging in the huge playground close to our house. This is the disadvantage of being near to big grounds, everyone expects you to jog and run and maintain your weight and you truly don’t have an excuse. Now, I can tell my wife I have no time for gymming, but then I could not say I have no time, neither was the excuse for a gym as the huge ground always welcomes you free of cost. Listening to abba was the rule of the house, but what could I do if my sluggish body did not listen me. So while my brothers & Ishrat took rounds of the ground, I took soothing nap under the cool breeze of huge peepal tree. Ah…what a relaxing experience it was. All the modern days’ ACs would fail in front of that natural AC. However, I was always ready for an ear twist during his surprise visit in between the jogging time.
We were growing amidst all the colors of human emotions, fun, mischiefs, studies, celebrations, rules and elder’s guidance. In the judgment year of our matriculation, the only concern in my family was whether I would get through it or not. And to everyone’s surprise, I made it with good numbers, though little less than Ishart and why not, she was much ahead of me in studies. Actually, I was not that dull in academics but my performance was always judged relative to Ishrat’s which proved me inferior. After matriculation, something happened that I never wanted to. Me and Ishrat were separated on the command of our elders. Our strength was divided as she was chosen to study Biology and myself maths. The dreams of our family were put into our eyes and we were directed to follow a predefined pathway.
DURING 10+2 & GRADUATION
We were busy in our studies preparing for our +2 exams when something devastating happened to our family. My eldest brother, Sabir (he was 23 or 24), passed away and we were left stubbed by the cruelty of fate. It felt like suddenly someone had snatched the comforting shade above us where we found ourselves safe and aloof. It was a damage that could never be repaired. Nobody talked, enjoyed, and lived as earlier. We continued our lives but without any guidance or direction. Ishrat, who always excelled in studies, scored less marks than me in 10+2 and we all knew she was broken by the incident, as all of us. No news was pleasing enough to bring happiness in the family.
Time passed and we continued our lives. Ishrat went to Aligarh (AMU) and I went to Bhubaneshwar to pursue marine course. However, I did not like it at all and insisted for going to Aligarh for which my father agreed. He was with me in my decision and said that Aligarh is a vast ocean of knowledge where I will surely find the way leading to my destination. He aroused the confidence within me and sent me to Aligarh with his blessings where I found an altogether new world. My father took voluntary retirement and went to Karichak (in Begusarai District), our village in Bihar.
Me and Ishrat continued our studies in Aligarh where she supported me like anything. The foundation of our togetherness was need, scarcity, and mutual support, so it lasted long and both of us played crucial role in each other’s life. We completed BA after which she pursued MA and I went to Delhi for MBA. All our studies were financially supported by our next brother Shabbir and we owe a lot to him. This gradually shifted our entire loyalty towards him and we became answerable to him. I don’t know taking this much support from him was right or wrong, but this was the verdict of our fate and we accepted it.
Delhi---A New Start of Challenge
In Delhi, I was supported by family where I was tenant (Hazi Kareemuddin sahab) and his son Yousuf. They let me stay in their house, the rent of which I could not pay for many months. I wish great luck and life to them for their kindness. Delhi turned out to be a highly experimental place for me where I did a number of odd jobs from making tea in hotels to selling caps in front of mosque to giving tuitions to kids. Whatever it was, I kept on marching ahead following the guidelines of my father who always said, “don’t look back, keep going.” I did the same and realized how correct he was. Moving ahead into the future inspired me rather than looking back and repenting on things that should not have happened.
In the meantime, I got the news that Ishrat’s marriage was finalized. We have heard that marriages are made in heaven and almighty takes these vital decisions. Of course, Ishrat’s marriage was finalized by the God but family elders played the role of almighty taking decision on her behalf. It is Ishrat who accepted things as they came without raising any voice. Thankfully , the arrange marriage turned out to be a success and now she lives in Lucknow happily with her husband and one son.
Reviving My Childhood Dream
I continued to enjoy my stay in Delhi doing one or other small jobs to earn my living. My earning was never much to support any dream, but I started reviving one of my childhood dreams in this big city. When I was a child and the GM of our colony visited our place in his car, I just thought whether I would even have a car of my own. In Delhi, looking at people traveling in their expensive cars, I again started dreaming of having my own car which in no way appeared coming true to me. But this time I dreamt not only of having my car but also my own company. I wanted to have a company where I would employ people to work for me rather than me working for others. There was no base for this dream, no clues, no indication that I will ever have a company, yet I dreamt.
Birth of The eMerchant
In the year 1999 and 2000, I was working for Indian International House which dealt with brass product manufacturing and trading. There the thought of becoming a trader entered my mind, but the idea was different and in line with the online revolution that was surging in India. I wanted to be one who used the power of internet for trading, to become an e-trader or e-Merchant. This was the point where the seed of “The eMerchant” was sown. I started visualizing myself as an eMerchant and lived with this name. This gave me immense peace as now there was something that I had to achieve. The thought of becoming eMerchant gave me the path to follow and a destination to reach. I craved, I juggled my ideas, and I worked hard to give shape to the dotted thoughts which had to combine to create my “The eMerchant”.
My First Break Through
Around the year 2000, if you go back and recall, people were crazy about using internet and spending long hours in cyber café. I was also among them, but it was not for fun. I seriously surfed the web to find opportunities for me. I was not in a situation to buy a computer of my own, so it was the cyber café which fulfilled my need to be on system, though I had to pay good price for it. I was able to bear the cost thought a few freelancing jobs that I got online.
In the year 2002, I got a huge project from Australia worth 95 thousand rupees, which meant a lot to me. It was a moment that thrilled me with varying emotions. I felt proud, satisfied, motivated, and full of steaming aspirations which were obvious to surface. I got international remittance and I was in the sky. Though I had to spend almost half of the payment to pay for the rent of cyber café, I kept on bidding projects, grabbing them and completing them successfully. It went so smoothly that I never had to look back.
But how long to continue like this? I wanted to give it a shape and recognition. I talked to a few of my friends regarding the industry trends and the opportunities it had, but no one took interest. In fact, for them I was a boring guy. Still I am thankful to them for they tolerated me very well. Actually they believed that “if you don’t have money, you cannot start a company”, “you need huge investment to start a company”, “starting a company is a big decision that you cannot take alone” etc. I wanted to challenge all these which according to me are “myths”. I believe that “everything is possible if you are ready to work hard.”
I believe in “challenging the challenge” and “defining my own life.” And this is what I did. I did not do what others expected and I did what I wanted. I kept sailing against the wave and explored the growth of my profession in a cyber café. When others claimed that starting a company is not easy, I got more firm about my idea and concept of “The eMerchant” got more clearer in my mind. I was growing with leaps and bounds with a clear vision that one day will come when this brand “The-eMerchant” will be worth 1 million rupees. However, The e-Merchant still had to take a formal shape as a company which was till now only conceived in my mind. I was the e-Merchant, but as a company, this brand still was awaiting a formal origin.
With my professional success, the elders in my family took the decision of my marriage and I got married on Dec 25th, 2002. With the mercy of almighty and blessing of elders, life continued like a melodious tune with everything in proportion. I earned money, name, fame and peaceful family life. The most memorable days were the one which I spent with my mother & father at Macca & Madina during Hajj. Those 35 days were so peaceful and divinely blessed that I wish everyone get a chance to experience such wonderful days.
Move to Hyderabad
To make my life and living better, I continued looking for good opportunities and came to Hyderabad in 2004. Here I joined Ybrant as a SEO manager and shifted to SoftPro after one year. I still continued to do freelancing works and while being at SoftPro I booked the domain name www.the-emerchant.com in the year 2005. It was during this period when my job as well as freelancing work was at boom that I went to Hajj with my father. I remember, I came back on 2nd or 3rd of January 2006 after which I continued at SoftPro for a few more months. I really worked with wonderful people there and learnt a lot. This was the best time I spent in Hyderabad. In early 2006, I left the regular job because I was getting flooded with personal projects. I hired a few boys like Sumit, Rizwan, Ahmed Jabri, and others to work together in a small office for my projects.
A journalist friend has covered story in his blog, which i feel touched my heart....
The Man from Begusarai who conquered Hyderabad
Formal Start of The-eMerchant
In March 2007, my father passed away leaving me with one of his sayings that I would never forget; “time and tide waits for no one.” Really the time was flying and I had to take inspiration from him to continue what I had always aspired for, my own company, my “the-eMerchant”. Just after a few days of this setback, I gained all my courage back and rented a room to start my office. This was a single room that could accommodate six people to work together. This was the formal start of my company with a formal, still casual office. But I had a rocking team with me Nagaraj, Shekhar, Ram, Shabbir, Waheed, Rakesh, Shariq, Farooq, Narasimha, and others. This was the strongest team I ever had and the back bone of The-eMerchant. First logo was like
Life at The-eMerchant
Me and my team were known for commitment. We always met deadlines and were always successful in meeting client’s expectations. We worked, enjoyed, and grew together. There was no time table to follow. We worked day and night and the passion that I had for my company was instilled in my team as well. It was the team effort that led us grew like anything. We started with six members, but now we were 15 and needed bigger office space. In the year 2010, we moved to another premise in Khairatabad where the team size extended to whopping 40. It felt great as I was heading a group of 40 competent youth. However, the desire to expand and grow big was still surviving vigorously.
We had our first get together in Nakshatra Hotel in Secunderabad where we did lot of fun. I experienced the importance of personal touch in professional life with this event.
With big team size and big projects, I thought of adopting a formal approach in the company. I was trying to be stronger and systematic. In the meantime, one of my friends Vijya introduced Jeevan to me. In 2011, Jeevan joined and this was the turning phase of our company. We stared bidding for bigger international projects and technical. Now, we were around 50+ members. There was hierarchy in the company with appointments of team leads, project manager, HR, and others. We were at our full bloom enjoying the fruit of success. At least in Hyderabad, there was no such company with this strength specifically for SEO. Perhaps this was the dream, this was the position I longed for.
The-eMerchant Expansion Strategy/ Spree
I wanted to make my company a big brand. I had to spread this name all over which brings the idea of franchising eMerchant. In the year 2012, I dreamt of expanding our business in other cities of India through franchise business model. The concept was very simple. We had to grow our business. Since the US market was experiencing slowdown, we thought of grabbing the domestic market. For this, we were looking for associated from different parts of the country who could bag projects on our behalf, collect payment, hand it over to Hyderabad central team, and we were ready with a capable team to execute the projects. The associates only needed to meet the clients or hire sales representative to do the job. They need not own a big office or a technical team as we were standing to provide all the support.
In the meantime, in 2012, we were established as a private limited company. This thrilled my employees with more energy and they supported me in the best way they could. For me my team meant a lot. The way a chair cannot stand even without a single leg, I believed, a company cannot flourish without having every single member of the team happy and content. So I had introduced a number of fun events for my employees and other programs as well to keep them motivated. We had outings, team celebrations, employee of the month, and creative team of the month programs. This all led to health survival and growth of our company.
The Days of Recognition
In 2012, my company bagged first national award “Best Internet Marketing Agency of Andhra Pradesh” and I was awarded “Digital Marketing Man of the Year” which were followed by many more awards and recognitions. From the streets of Bihar, now I was walking down the red carpet of digital media industry. Yes, I became a reputed and well-known face in digital marketing. I was often called to address seminars and college fests. I got opportunity to be chief guest and speak on Techno fest organized by BITs and EAD division of IIT Kharagpur. Being non technical and addressing to pioneers of technical education was the biggest wonder I could ever feel for myself. It was to motivate technocrats towards Entrepreneurial Development programmes. These were the most exciting moments of my life. In early 2013, we organized first mega event. This was a public seminar on “Go Online” followed by a research paper done by me on “Barriers of ecommerce in MSME segment of India.” These events got good response in the industry and were covered by all the famous National English and local new papers. I was in the news…in the media. My efforts were showing results and color of my life got more vibrant.
Check more media clicks at "Shakir+Ali+eMerchant" in google.
The Coffee Campaign
Do not get confused with the name. It was the name of our campaign that aimed at bringing more and more number of businesses online. It followed after the huge success of our another mega seminar. It was also called GoDaddy campaign in which we added as much as 300 new clients in one month time. The concept was “By the time you finish your coffee---Your website is ready”. That is why it was also known as the coffee campaign.
These seminars, name, and media coverage were not enough to stop me. I was extremely drifted towards the thought of having my franchisee in at least 10 mega cities in India and to have a team size much bigger than what we had then.
I dreamt of a life in which I travel to different cities for my office expansion and business meetings and the dream came true. I flew at least 300 times in a span of 3 to 4 years for various meetings, seminars, and other business purposes. I appeared as if I had spelled a life and the time and luck was chasing it. Everything was falling in place. The son of a Pharmacist was among the industry elites carving his own reputed niche. I thank to God who gave me a life which I was living to the fullest.
This was the time when I remembered the saying of one of my friends from Delhi. He had told me, “If you are planning a business of your own, get ready for laborious days and sleepless nights.” He was so true. This came so real to my life. I was definitely enjoying my thorough engagements in business activities which were only moving upward, but it is also true that I was busy like anything. My body, mind, and soul, everything was occupied in my company. If I was awake I was either sitting on my system or attending a call, if was on bed, I would dream of further expansion and business strategies. Life was revolving round the business and this really kept me full of spirit. After all, this is what I had aspired for.
Association With Social Cause
With enough of digital marketing business, I was looking to get associated with something that gives me more exposure. During this time, I was in touch of one of my friends Mr. Ram from Solus Media who turned out to be a great support for me. Together we conceptualized a social awareness campaign on eWaste which is a matter of great concern for the environment. Computers and laptops have become the essentiality of every office and every household. But there is no proper method of discarding them in an environment friendly manner. So our approach was to develop some eco-friendly way of using or discarding the ewastes. With the help of a few JNTU students, we made crafts out of the old and damaged spare parts of computers. We designed skulls, snakes, shoes, home, heart, owl and many other crafts using the computer wastes. We did a few events around the city and organized exhibition of eWaste crafts. Our aim was to make it a mega event, but could not get any sponsor for it. So despite having a lot of expectation from this event, it could not hit the industry headlines. However, it created some buzz in electronic and print media. A few traces of my association with this cause can be found on youtube and google if you search for ewaste+shakir.
In 2015, we also organized events for underprivileged children during New Year and Sankranti celebration. All these were supported by my friend Ram who walked every step with me. Believe me, the peace I got after being associated with such events made the joy of my success multifold. I wish god give me enough strength to share my happiness with the society like I was doing during this phase of my life.
eMerchant Digital Academy---A New Wing To Fly
I believe that whatever we are today is because of the society. If your social atmosphere is not conductive of positive changes, you can neither flourish nor can you dare to dream big. So it becomes our moral responsibility to return what we have gained from the society in whatever form possible. In my opinion, knowledge is the biggest resource that can be given to society which can never be destroyed or finished. It only strengthens the society and makes it more capable. So my next step was to gather all my expertise in digital marketing and share it with others through an academy. I initiated an academic institution called “eMerchant Academy” which gave me a new platform to perform and excel.
I am passionate about quality learning and know its importance, so I took this Academy as my top priority and enriched it with resources that truly add value to the knowledge to people joining the course. We trained entrepreneurs, startups, students and working professionals on depth of Digital Marketing and helped them to implement it for their benefit. There are many small companies and startups who cannot afford to outsource full-fledged digital marketing. Through our courses, we enable such people to start and carry their marketing campaigns.
I got chance to train the best Government MSME officers on Cluster Marketing. Later my academy had students from MBA background, working women professionals, business owners, and others who were keen to get visibility on the web for their professional success.
eMerchant Academy became my passion. I was enjoying it and I am still enjoying it. Because of this academy I got to meet a few world class academicians whose presence motivated me and I wished to take this academy to new heights. I was also made advisor for a few NGOs to make them understand the importance of digital marketing and its benefits.
Along with other certifications and programs, I wanted my academy to issue MBA degree in digital marketing and ecommerce as it was the demand of the age. For this, it needed affiliations and approvals from concerned authorities. I tried my best but alone with no connection and support from anyone in the hierarchy, I could not do it. However, I am still up to this with an optimistic approach. A day will come when eMerchant Academy will offer MBA degrees to its students.
Status of Franchisee Business Plan
While I was occupied with eMerchant Academy, my sub-conscious mind was still working on the franchisee model. I was still on with my thought of making eMerchant Digital a synonym for digital marketing. Thought of digital marketing should be accompanied with the name of eMerchant Digital. This is what my mind was relentlessly working on. I had to spread the wings of eMerchant in every state of India and every continent of the world. This seemed a challenging task to do but as I wrote earlier I believe in challenging the challenges. So I again dared to dream it and deployed all my strength to give it a shape. Moreover, the growth and position I got also seemed unrealistic at some point in my life, but they turned out to be real. So taking inspiration from my own life story, I decided to move ahead and used best of my marketing skills to grab business associates in other cities.
During all these episodes what I experienced was a little demotivating. People used to talk much but when the time of action came; their performance was much below the expectations. Taking money on false commitment of work was easy for everyone. I also fell prey to such people who promised big but delivered nothing. Later on I realized that I was becoming a victim due to the lack of proper business plan and a plan of action. There were no accountable parameters on which I could judge whether a person was committed or not. However, I was in no mood to give it up like that. I kept on trying. It did not matter for me whether I earn anything from franchisee or not. What kept me going was the belief that if I succeed in convincing one, others will also fall in place. One right choice of person who blindly believed in the potential of eMerchant will definitely open up ten more doors. With this hope my search for franchisee associates continued.
First eMerchant Franchisee
Time passed with me implementing new marketing skills to get Franchisee partner for my company. With the help of one of my friends, Subhash, I was able to crack first franchisee in Aurangabad which was followed by more franchisee associates in Bangalore and Mumbai. It gave me moral boost up because now people had confidence on my business plan. They wanted to get associated with the brand which I nourished with my hard work and commitment. Within two years, with the blessing of almighty, we set up offices in Lucknow, Mumbai, Aurangabad and many sales associated in Delhi, Jaipur, Bhopal, Dubai, Australia and other locations.
There is a Baraunians Group (Our KV Alumni) on FaceBook which connects all the people from Barauni living at different places. Mr Umesh - a lawyer by profession, of that group helped me a lot to make the legal contract and agreement copy for franchisee.
Things Falling Apart
While I was marching forward with my business expansion, some string was getting loosened unnoticed by me. It happens when we get too busy with a certain thing leaving other crucial things unattended. The same was happening with me. I forgot to check the foundation on which I stood. I had a considerably big team size which needed continuous guidance and supervision. Even after creating hierarchy, teams and the leaders needed motivation and regular checks which I failed to continue due to my engagements in meetings and travels. Procuring projects was led by the marketing team and communication with clients was done by project managers. Even if clients wanted to contact me, I passed their mails and calls to team. In a way, I was completely cut off from client relationship and project progress. Even I did not spend time to guide my team which led to gap between them and the clients.
The results were obvious. We lost a few important clients due to their dissatisfaction. It was not about project or money loss, I lost the precious long build relationship. Even the scenario provoked some of my key persons to leave the company. They found more competent opportunities outside and chose to leave eMerchant. I was losing qualified resources or pillars of my company. By November 2014, I lost the most crucial overseas clients and even more important employees who had been a part of my struggle, growth, and success. This was the biggest damage to me and my company.
Still, there were people and clients who wanted to talk to me, but due to unavailability of human resources with me, I started avoiding them. Clients wanted to ask about the status of their projects which I was unable to answer due to lacking from my side. No serious work was going on in the office. I had no words of persuasion for those who trusted me and handed over their projects to me. Due to my own guild I stayed away from them. People started believing that I am ignoring them due to my callous behavior. Slowly the distance grew and it is still there. Now, I feel I should have confronted them with the truth of my situation. Instead of avoiding them and making them have wrong assumptions about me, a rude reality of my helplessness would have made them stayed with me. It would have given peace to my inner self as well. But whatever happened was perhaps destined to happen. I could not stop anything. I could not recollect the things that were falling apart in front of my eyes.
Some Honest Confessions
I had a career graph full of struggle and a lot of sweet memories as well. Throughout my journey, there were people who supported me whole heartedly. Before I could think of ways to express my gratitude towards them, I was led back by the unfortunate decision of my life, my slowdown, which I believe is short-lived. I would call it slowdown and not a downfall because I know what led to this situation and I also know how to revive and resurrect myself.
During this unconfident phase of my life, I could not attend or reply back to people who always backed me with their support. I feel sorry for not replying to Ms Chavi (friend); Mr Raman Garkhil (Baraunians batch mate of Shabbir Bhaiya) who always helped me when I needed, but I could not act the same way. I also wanted to support Mr Prem Chandra (Baraunians – Batch mate of Late Sabir Bhaiya) who is in Assam and has lost his sight due to diabetes. But I could not even contact him. Believe me, I am not that thankless to use others to climb high but would forget when they need me. But at this point of my life, I could not afford to touch them. I am sorry for my unacceptable approach, unacceptable even for me. I beg pardon from all those whom I could not answer. All these incidences increase my agony of not being able to touch anyone’s life and could be of any use to others.
During this phase of my life when ambitious people were trying to get rid of me, there were still a few who stood with me. My story would go incomplete if I don’t mention them. The blessings of my mother and Musharrat Baji gave me moral support to face the hard time. The love of my better half – a good friend - Abida, Daughters Mariam, and Khadija gave me strength to fight with the situation. Ishrat and Faisal made me feel that I am not alone. And my incredible team mates like Farooq, Narasimha, Shekhar, Jeevan, Vijay, Rinki and a close friend Nabi gave me company to find solutions and ways to overcome this hurdle. I must say here that there very few blessed with this kind of support when a company is running out of penny still the employees stand to face the circumstances till the last ray of hope. Though most of my team members had left the company to pursue their professional aspirations and earn livelihood, a few were still trying to bring my sinking boat to the shore. They kept on juggling with me for quite a long time to establish ourselves once again in the industry. I own a lot to them both morally and financially and they will remain in my heart with great respect.
Life Lessons I Learned
Everyone’s life teaches something. People learn from other’s life as well as their own life and this learning continues forever. I have heard “wise people learn from the mistakes of others and foolish learn from their own mistakes.” I don’t know I fall in which category but I am sure I learnt a lot from my life. One thing also I will acknowledge here that there are friends who never make you feel the absence of enemies and there are also such friends who make your life beautiful and worth living.
The first & biggest learning I had was “Commit only that much which you can take care of”. Yes, try to measure your own depth and commit based on team strength. Perhaps I was doing keeping my understanding that is why things could not be handled and brought in shape when I tried to.
Second, “there is a very thin line between being over enthusiast and over confident, identify what you are”. I could not realize when my over enthusiasm which impressed everyone turned into over confidence which made me fall being unable to fulfill the commitments.
Third, “do not treat good resources as commodity.” I had to retain the good resources with me but I used them as commodity and expected them to cater me as and when I needed. Resources are the most delicate asset that needs passionate approach, timely appreciation, and acknowledgement of their resourcefulness to make them feel how important they are for you. I never considered it important and I never had time for these all.
Fourth, “everything that shines is not gold and every stone is not precious.” Identifying useful resources and rewarding opportunities is important to save your time, money and effort. I lost a lot of time and money behind unpromising people and offers which could have been spent on my company.
Fifth, “strong marketing skills along with strong technical skills can be a deadly combination to succeed.” This is where I suffered badly. I have both the skills but mastery over none which brings dependency on others and keeps my success on stake.
Sixth, “do not forget the people who had been with you during all the thick & thin.” I do remember my companions and I express my gratitude towards them.
Seventh, “in tough times you actually come to know---Money Matters.” Yes, after all a big fact. Money matters to get you respect. Money matters to establish your name. It matters to gain importance for your ideas and thoughts. It matters to make you presentable everywhere.
The New Dawn
This is towards end of 2015, a big day for me. Big day because the dream I had been weaving for last 15 years has come true today. The brand I was building, “The-eMerchant”, is ready for partial auction and people have come forward to own it. A number of people want to become a shareholder for this name and have put value for it. Yes, now the name which I was carving, crafting, and nourishing since a decade and half has come to a position where it is attracting investors. Now, I have got first level of private investment done for my company.
One thing I have realized is that if you keep on trying for something with full faith and commitment, it will show results, sooner or later. For me also, things started falling in place. I met a person who wants to be a part of eMerchant and is willing to invest in it. This was the first ray of hope for me. We had a few rounds of discussion and finally that gentleman got convinced about the potential of eMerchant and its future plans.
Even before the beginning of my business, I had dreamt of establishing a brand that will get popular and people will provide valuation for it due to the goodwill of its name and that happened. Though, I wanted this to happen after achieving significant global recognition, but my current situation demanded this to happen now. I am glad that eMerchant finally made it at its toughest of time. No matter how much I got for sharing this brand with an investor, what matters for me is that I was able to, rather my brand was able to get noticed and create that impact. At the same time, I admit that being a first generation entrepreneur I had not the handful experience to run the business. My mistakes were actually my ignorance.
Anyhow, in last two to three years, e-Merchant Digital Solutions Private Limited has got its valuation done and finally in 2015, first series of investment is starting. Though investors had shown interest in 2012 and 2014 as well, but someone nothing could be materialized. But now, looking at the demand of the time, we have settled down with this third investment opportunity by end of 2015.
With new investors joining the company, we are diversifying our skills sets and adding new dimensions to its existence. We are featuring our company as a complete technology solutions company rather than only digital marketing company.
I used to be the sole owner of this company which is now being shared by someone. Still I am happy because Almighty has fulfilled my dream of establishing a name, brand, a company that gets huge recognition, name, and popularity. It is this popularity that brought investor for my company at a time when others had lost any hope. This name itself is going to be the revitalizing element for my company. I will revive with all my strength and vigor.
Sometimes journey becomes more important than the destination. It’s about how you want to take the things and for me what I got at last was less important than how I finished it. I lived a life I wanted to. I experienced the grandeur of a life that has all the elements of human emotions, actions, and expectations. It has been a balanced blend of struggle and excitement; confidence and skepticism; faith and mistrust; success and failure. I thank God for all that he bestowed on me.
Inspiration For A New Start
In words of Swami Vivekanand .….
ARISE – AWAKE STOP NOT - UNTIL THE GOAL IS REACHED……
This is the guiding principle of my life. My story does not end here. I am gearing up for the second inning of my life because I am awake and I will not stop. I am dreaming again to achieve all those that are meant for me. I will define my own life that is still awaiting the pleasure of touching the horizons of success. God is with me and his blessings are enough to give me strength to stand once more and march forward. The end of first inning of my life is actually the beginning of a new inning that will definitely be more captivating, engaging, and successful.
The Happy Beginning
My life, profession, and dreams revolve round digital India. Whatever I do or plan to do will always be a part of “Digital power….Digital India”. With my current engagements in eMerchant, which focuses on Technology solutions and digital marketing, I am exploring new avenues to start my enterprise in the field of Academy. Taking Academy to new heights is my passion and dream.
This time, I am ready to take off with more radical ambitions improvised with the learning of my past life. As per my plan and calculations, I have to get settle in the Academic field by the age of 45. My plan of action is ready for a flawless implementation. I hope God will shower his blessings on me as he has always done.
I am also writing a book “Digital Media for Common Man” which is half done. I want to enrich it with all the essentialities and technicalities of digital media and make it accessible to common man. If time supports then, it will get published by the end of this year. Along with all other engagements of my life, this book is also a priority.
It feels nostalgic, yet great to see the end of my first inning. But, this end is the beginning of a new inning. The story that I am finishing here is only the start of a new one.
"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." — Winston Churchill
I have to infuse life in my dreams which I will do with my hard work, confidence, and commitment. I will come back soon……………
The Movement Just Begun - It’s your turn now!!
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Stories by Shakir Ali