“Failure doesn’t mean the game is over, it means try again with experience” says Mr. Paras Shahdadpuri, the inspiring business leader, who single handedly established NIKAI, one of the most successful international consumer electronics brand in the midmarket segment.
Mr. Paras’s entry into the business world was late compared to many. He was a high ranking government official till his early 40s when the inner call for new adventures and challenges hit him.
To those considering becoming entrepreneurs, Mr. Paras Shahdadpuri insists that a well-reviewed business plan, monitoring its execution and taking course corrections where necessary are critical to survive and succeed.
I welcome Mr. Paras Shahdadpuri in my blog and share with you, my readers, our conversation.
- What are the biggest market opportunities in the consumer electronics industry do you see in the upcoming 5 years in the Gulf region?
The Gulf region is growing at a fast pace, particularly UAE and Saudi Arabia, by shifting to a diversified and knowledge-based economy. This factor gives an indication to a very promising and good future of the electronics industry in this region. If to talk about UAE only, this country is led by big vision and strong leadership. I think this place has very huge potential in economic growth and surging shopping tourism. Also with the upcoming Expo, the number of visitors to UAE is expected to grow up to 20 million a year which means more expats and more tourists will create higher demand for the consumer electronics industry.
Additionally to all the above we see significant change in customer purchase behavior. Gone are the days when people used to buy one TV and keep it for 10 years. Today people want change and keep pace with new trends. Technologies become cheaper and cheaper every year which give the option and affordability to the consumer to discard the whole items more often and buy new ones and not in a single quantity but in multiple quantities. For example, TV for every room, every family member, maid, driver etc.
- How do you build and maintain awareness of Nikai brand? What has been your most successful marketing campaign?
Marketing is very continues process whether you do it on the radio, television, print media or online. We do it smartly which means planning and carrying out activities with an integrated approach of using both ATL & BTL advertising media to get the maximum advantage. If there is certain push required for any product for a limited period of time, then we do tactical campaigns across different media and in partnership with big retailers like Carrefour, Lulu, Sharaf DG, etc. It is important to be very versatile and not limit to only one channel of advertisement.
As for our successful campaigns, we have recently done promotion on Facebook and Instagram portals and got extremely good response. Important part of our marketing is maintaining and sustaining the positioning of Nikai brand as “Mr. Reliable”. Reliability is not about providing only good quality or only good service. It is comprehensive reliability which is providing all of the things together: very good quality, very good pre-sale and after-sale service, timely delivery and reasonable price. And I am proud to say that customers, who used Nikai brand once, turn themselves into our repeat customers due to the happy experience they had. About 60 million Nikai products have been sold worldwide over a period of time.
The fact of having one of the biggest range of consumer electronics and appliances also adds value to the Nikai brand promotion and sales. Many international brands like Philips, Toshiba, Sharp, JVC, Hitachi don’t have as big range as Nikai brand has. In the region, Nikai is among top 5 brands with biggest turnover in many Power Retailers.
- How Nikai Group has responded to the rise of e-commerce?
We utilize Internet with innovative marketing campaigns to expand awareness of Nikai and increase sales by keeping brand live all the times across various channels like Facebook and Instagram.
Among our recent socially inspiring campaign which we ran online was “Home for Eid”. We wanted to help poor people who are away from their families by giving them as a gift different electronics, small & big appliances. Through this campaign we attracted a lot of attention to Nikai brand, made thousands of less fortunate people very happy and as a result it affected very positively consumer behavior.
Another significant campaign which we ran during the Winter season was “MY MOM’s Favorite Recipe”. This was intended to target the women between the age group of 25-40 and engage them on their CULINARY SKILLS. The campaign helped us increase our following among our target audience.
- How 3D technologies will impact the consumer electronics business? How fast we will see this impact in the Gulf region?
From the consumer side, so far many people are aware of 3D effect in TV which works with special glasses. However now there is a new technology coming up that allows experiencing 3D effect without glasses. This new technology, whether you want to use it in the cinema or at home, requires special software development. I don’t feel it will have a great immediate future in the consumer electronics. The main reason is the cost of the software production which can go much beyond 100 million dollars. We decided to focus our efforts on manufacturing good quality products rather than invest in such expensive technology which will not cover up the cost of manufacturing 3D products unless we sell the software internationally.
Industries which will benefit more from 3D printing in the Gulf region will be mainly construction, medical, retail.
Also, I must congratulate Dubai government and HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on giving a strong push to make status of Dubai as a leading hub of 3D printing technology in the world by 2030. This is where more employment will be created and more electronics will be sold.
- If you were to start a business today in the UAE and had a capital of AED 200,000, what industry would you choose and why?
It depends on the idea you have. If you have AED 200,000 and you want to be an entrepreneur, but if you do not have a tenable idea, it will take only 15 days to consume that money. So my advice is that either you have a big business plan which requires a lot of investment initially or you should have a big solid idea which may not require big investment in the initial stage.
As for the ‘right’ industry, it can be any field as any business will be ever saturated in life. There will be always a pie in consumer electronics, textile, garments, FMCG etc. Whether the pie is big or small, it will all depend on how smart, hardworking and strong you are, how good you plan, execute and track your milestones.
- How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
First of all any idea you should think of very well and make a proper plan. When you have a plan, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses whether you can do it. Once you have a plan, put it down onto a paper and segment it into various small stages. Track every stage properly. Monitoring is the most important thing in business. If you don’t monitor it properly, you will fail, and if you fail at every stage, then you are a bad entrepreneur.
At the end there is some possibility of failure. But the question – what is failure? Out of 100% are you failing back to zero or are you still getting 70% and fail for 30%? If you still got your 70%, it is also fine. Although you failed for the final figure of 100% but you worked very hard and you reached a certain level.
You should see how much success you achieved in that project and how much is the failure. When you were hit badly by that 30% failure, that became your experience. That experience next time in your new initiative will help you to climb further again. If again failure – no problem, third attempt. Then success is inevitable. However, I must caution that when you keep attempting on the same idea and keep failing, then you should also learn to give that idea up and embark on another idea.
Many time young people have good ideas but they don’t have experience to anticipate problems. Life is about anticipating the problems. You should make S.W.O.T. analysis. If you did this and still failed miserably, believe me that was a bad idea then. Don’t be ashamed of accepting the reality and change it. No need to stick to the wrong idea. But if you achieved 70% out of 100% you still would need to analyse what went wrong, where I made a mistake. During your next attempt make sure you don’t repeat that mistake. You should be very fair to yourself and have courage to give up an idea also, if it is not working.
We know many good stories of successful entrepreneurs but we don’t know millions of bad stories. I too experienced a failure. We started a software development company and we lost big money. It was in 1999, when IT industry was booming in the US. We set up a marketing office in New York and big production office in India. It did not work and I could have gone for it further but I didn’t because the costs went beyond my capacity. At that stage, I pulled up the courage to give it up. I failed and I have no shame in that. But I gained experience, though at a cost. I started related business and Humdulillah, I succeeded thumbs up. In many places I have failed but what I have tried to do was to climb back which is the most important thing for any business person. Entrepreneurs can’t have always very safe haven, he takes risks, he plans his strategy very well, he acts on it and ultimately he should see success. Success is the right of every entrepreneur.
- What advice based on your own experience would like to give to people who want to start business in the Consumer Electronics / FMCG industries?
In any conventional business, such as consumer electronics or FMCG, there are not many entry barriers. However, any business needs good planning, capital, innovative strategy etc. There are so many small to medium sized players in this sector. I must say not all in these sectors are making money. So before finally taking the plunge into this sector, I would urge any investor to do his homework well. This in no way means that this sector is closed. There are always opportunities for new entrants with innovative ideas, adequate funding and strong leadership.
- What is one thing most people don’t know about Mr. Paras Shahdadpuri?
Well, I have to think about it J I may look sometimes stern and difficult, but I am a soft-hearted person. I believe in a very democratic and open style of leadership. Any project I want to do, I would share it with my team. The more profit my company generates, the more I share it with my employees. I believe in openness, but at the end of the day discipline is important. Without proper discipline, nothing in life can sustain. For me discipline is a part of the democracy, a part of the openness and a part of the transparency.