There’s much uncertainty in the startup world of Pakistan today. While some startups are on a mission to create ‘the next big app’, others are chasing big valuations and stuff that doesn’t matter.
But what makes me happy and hopeful are startups like MARO Tandoors. What is MARO Tandoors? They call themselves the first hygienic tandoor in Lahore and while I am not sure about the hygienic part, I definitely believe the startup takes the credit for bringing very unique products to the market such as nutella naan and pizza naan. But what makes them unique is that they have managed to start a fancy tandoor startup movement. Now, all thanks to MARO we have Naan Dukaan, Naan Stop, Naan Dhaaba, Naan Factory and Naan Warka (coming soon!)
If these reasons are not enough to impress you, just take a look at the brilliant social media marketing campaign by MARO Tandoors that they did on their 1-year anniversary celebration. “Here’s why people keep coming back to MARO”
Here’s my take on what makes them so great and what entrepreneurs in Pakistan can learn from their success:
- Think like a business: Essentially MARO Tandoors is not a “startup” in any way. I think the secret to their success is that they are technically a traditional business which projects itself as a startup and that’s great because it just works. Startups that think like businesses win over startups that think like startups any day.
- Build on top of existing ideas: Food in Pakistan – it’s everywhere and everyone wants it. Therefore the beauty of an idea like this is that you don’t need to carve out a new niche or explore a new market. You know that people out there are hungry so if you are ready to offer them something with a good quality, good value and good branding, they’d be ready to take out their wallets.
- Embrace the Remix: There’s a great TEDTalk by Kirby Ferguson, “Embrace the remix” where he makes the case that every idea is basically a remix of another. Remixes (in the startup/business world) are basically ideas that serve an existing market and are quick to setup and experiment with. If you think of it, MARO tandoors is basically just a remix of the old-school tandoor business and that’s exactly what makes it even more compelling to the customers.
And now for the revolution part. I see a startup revolution in Pakistan where entrepreneurs will start remixing old-school businesses by using technology as just an enabler (whether for service delivery, operations or marketing). It wouldn’t be about ‘the next big app’, it wouldn’t be about building the next building the next billion dollar company – it’d be about creating value.
I want to see a startup revolution in Pakistan where we get to see new naan tandoors not just in Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi but all cities of Pakistan and it doesn’t come filled in with just nutella or pizza but also strawberry jam (you can thank me later for the idea!). This revolution is definitely coming and it starts with a naan tandoor!