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Hunting the Heffalump: The case studies of six Pakistani entrepreneurs

Technical Report · July 2015

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HUNTING THE HEFFALUMP:


A CASE STUDY OF FOUR INSPIRATIONAL ENTREPRENEURS
“Entrepreneurship is like obscenity: Nobody agrees what it is, but we all know it when we see it1.” On a
breezy Thursday evening, in July 2013, this striking quotation caught Dr Azam Shahid's attention while he
was going through the literature on entrepreneurship, and served to mystify him even more. Dr Shahid, an
instructor of Entrepreneurship at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, had given his first ever
lecture as an MBA instructor the previous day. As the class progressed, Dr Shahid found himself swamped
with questions from the students.

Student X: “Sir, do entrepreneurs have a unique set of traits that makes them so ‘entrepreneurial’, and if they
do, are these traits innate or acquired?”

Student Y: “Professor, is it possible to condition oneself to view the world through an entrepreneurial lens,
and learn to think like an entrepreneur?”

Student Z: “Sir, is there such a thing as entrepreneurial thinking, a distinct form of rationality that sets
entrepreneurs apart from others?”

These questions were all too familiar to Dr Shahid. Time and again, probing questions such as these have
been raised by aspiring entrepreneurs, on the hunt for a magic formula for entrepreneurial success, and in
order to explore them, extensive research has been done. So far, however, no “one size fits all” theory has
been developed which offers an understanding of how entrepreneurs think and behave, and exactly what is it
that they do so well. Although at that time Dr Shahid had tried his utmost to address the students' questions,
on reflecting back, he felt dissatisfied. The puzzled expressions with which his students had left the class told
him that they were still baffled. Consequently, he had spent the last day deeply immersed in literature on
entrepreneurship, but his dilemma was far from resolved. Therefore, in an attempt to tackle these questions
and delve deeper into the minds of these elusive creatures, Dr Shahid took it upon himself to explore the life
stories of a few ordinary people who did extraordinary things, so that he could unearth secrets of
entrepreneurship and share them with his students. With this aim in mind, he and his Research Associate
shortlisted some of the most successful and remarkable entrepreneurs of the country, and embarked on a
mission to discover their life journeys. In order to do so, they personally contacted them and conducted in-
depth interviews with them. These individuals believed in finding something out of everything life threw in
their way, and managed to emerge unscathed from even the most difficult of times. Through his study, Dr
Shahid was able to capture the vision, passion, and persistence of these truly remarkable entrepreneurs, who
had an immense amount of experience and insight to offer. Before moving on to these incredible stories which
are the outcome of his study, an overview of the current dynamics of entrepreneurship in Pakistan has been
discussed below.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN PAKISTAN

According to the 2012 report of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the new business ownership rate
in Pakistan was 3%, which was lower than the average rate for Asia Pacific and South Asia (5%) and the
established business ownership rate in Pakistan was 4%, which was lower than the average rate for Asia
Pacific and South Asia (10%)2. Factors contributing to the poor business environment in Pakistan are rent
seeking and its three forms (corruption, bribery, and lobbying), lack of research and innovation, financial

1
Shaver & Scott, 1991, p. 24
2
Xavier et al., 2012, pp. 24-25

This case was written by Research Associate Yamna Imran under the supervision of Dr Muhammad Shehryar Shahid at the Lahore
University of Management Sciences to serve as basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling
of an administrative situation. This material may not be quoted, photocopied or reproduced in any form without the prior written consent
of the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

© 2015 Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences


Hunting the Heffalump: A Case Study of Four Inspirational Entrepreneurs 23-065-2015-1

constraints, poor legal framework3, poor infrastructure, weak economy, poor governance, energy crisis,
terrorism, and extortion. As if these factors were not enough, female entrepreneurs in Pakistan have to face
additional formidable challenges that hamper their progress and prevent them from realising their maximum
economic potential, due to which only 5% of the entrepreneurs in Pakistan were women in 20124. Recently,
however, there has been a growing realisation that entrepreneurs in Pakistan need to be nurtured as they can
play a pivotal role in revitalising the economy of the country and allocating jobs since entrepreneurship leads
to high growth rates and opportunity creation for the entire society, including the poor 5. The urgency of the
need for fostering entrepreneurship in Pakistan is increasing over time particularly due to its increasing
population size. Currently, Pakistan has a population of over 180 million, and a population growth rate of
2%, due to which Pakistan's population is expected to double in the next thirty-six years.6 Additionally, the
age-distribution of the population makes a compelling case for promoting entrepreneurship in Pakistan. At
present, the country is experiencing an unprecedented ‘demographic dividend.’ Almost 50% of Pakistan's
population is below the age of twenty, and over 60% is below the age of thirty, as a result of which the
working-age population is swelling and the dependency ratio is declining. This demographic dividend
presents the country simultaneously with an opportunity and a challenge. If these young Pakistanis can be
successfully absorbed into the labour force, the country's demographic dividend could boost economic growth
and prevent social and political unrest. As opposed to this, if this growing working-age population is not
absorbed fast enough, it will put an excruciating stress on the economy. Hence, since this ‘youth bulge’ is
expected to dominate the population for another thirty to thirty-five years according to current demographic
forecasts—and jobs are not being created fast enough—the need to promote entrepreneurial activities in
Pakistan cannot be stressed enough.7

1. RAZAK DAWOOD: A TRAILBLAZER

Introduction

Razak Dawood—the man who initiated the success of Lawrencepur, built the corporate giant, Descon
Engineering and co-founded one of the finest educational institutions of this country— earned his
undergraduate degree in engineering from Newcastle University, and later did his MBA from Columbia
University, majoring in finance. This is ironic because he was truly passionate about marketing, which
according to him is precisely the reason why he did not major in it. He wanted to major in something that he
found challenging and that he needed to learn. This provides an interesting insight into his personality; he is
self-aware and enjoys challenges, because he believes that they allow one to overcome one's weaknesses.

Dawood pointed out that his engineering degree had endowed him with an understanding of analytical work.
He, however, never practiced engineering in the sense that the kind of work he did was mostly related to
management and marketing. For him, the most significant part of his education, which truly made a difference
in his life was his MBA, particularly the marketing courses, many of which he audited because he was really
passionate about it. According to him, two lessons from marketing that he is using even today are product
differentiation and market segmentation.

Lawrencepur: “Excuse Me, But Where Are The Women?”

After completing his MBA, Dawood joined Lawrencepur on the insistence of his family. This was the starting
point of his journey in the business world. He noticed that there was very little focus on segmentation and
there were a lot of untapped segments in the market. Dawood realised that Lawrencepur was making suiting
material exclusively for men while there was nothing out there for women, making the segment of female
consumers particularly attractive.

He still remembers the first time he tried bringing the female line of clothing to store shelves. He came up
with designs in vibrant feminine colors and gave them the brand name of “Lyla.” Then, he visited the
prominent clothing retailers of Lahore, including present day HKB and the famous Bombay Cloth House in
Anarkali.8 According to Dawood:

The concept of women's own line was alien at the moment and I was rejected initially. After
a lot of arguments, the retailers agreed out of respect for my father, but told me that the
product was on consignment. I requested that they give me a special part of the shop that I

3
Haque, 2007, pp. 22-26
4
Xavier et al., 2012, p. 8
5
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/05/31/comment/editors-mail/entrepreneurship-in-pakistan/
6
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/02-Mar-2014/pakistan-s-population-to-double-in-next-36-years
7
Planning Commission Government of Pakistan, 2011
8
Anarkali Bazar is the oldest bazaar of Lahore, Pakistan dating back at least 200 years; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarkali_Bazaar
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painted and put streamers on in an effort to attract customers. By the end of it I had picked
6 or 7 shops.

An advertising campaign hyped the launch of the line and enabled it to be priced at a premium. Finally, the
brand was launched and proved to be so successful that the stores that were dubious about stocking the product
initially never seemed to have enough of it.

Lawrencepur did not stop there. They continued segmenting within the women range by introducing different
classes of products. Eventually they launched a line for children as well. In those days, the concept of
readymade garments was alien, and everything was unstitched. Moreover, the market for children was almost
negligible. Hence, in order to help mothers come up with ideas of how to make dresses, Dawood got Sears'9
catalogues and used them in the shops to inspire them. Similarly, they introduced a line for lawyers too that
would cater to their specific needs.

Dawood Hercules

All was not perfect for Dawood, as he soon had to leave Lawrencepur, a city he adored so much. For him
moving from a rural area to an urban area was painful. He loved the peaceful city of Lawrencepur, with its
open fields. However, due to a rift between Hercules chemicals and Dawood chemicals, he was called to
Lahore to sort out the problem and join Dawood Hercules in 1972.

Other than the rural-urban difference, another big change for him was that he could not employ his marketing
skills anymore because according to him, “Fertilizer was the one product where demand far exceeded the
supply already, so marketing was unneeded.” This was very different from his tenure at Lawrencepur, where
he was so heavily invested in marketing. Nevertheless, he learnt some valuable lessons from his experience
here such as corporate battles, the importance of legal structure, the importance of government structure, and,
most importantly, technology.

Establishing Descon came less as an opportunity for him and more as a result of a family split, due to which
he was asked to leave Dawood Hercules. However, at Dawood Hercules, Dawood saw the process,
machinery, and technology that enabled and assisted production. He wondered why the machines were
imported and not made in Pakistan. To analyse the feasibility of this thought, he asked a lot of questions and
went into the minute details of the structure of these machines, after which he reached the conclusion that
their production in Pakistan was very doable. This insight was the building block of the engineering giant that
Dawood founded in 1977, now known as Descon Engineering Ltd., a company that evolved from employing
four engineers at its inception to 16,000 employees at present.

While leaving Dawood Hercules, he asked who would want to join him in his new venture. At that time,
Dawood was not sure if he would even be able to pay the engineers. Eventually, 4 engineers decided to join
him. And so Descon came into being. The four engineers sat down in an open room, because Dawood could
not afford to have a private room for each employee. The chai-wala10 functioned as their informant and typist
as well. As Dawood recalled, “This here was a group of people with a high energy level, who had a ‘conquer-
the-world’ attitude. Outside the door was the promise of tomorrow.”

Descon: “Fishing Stage”

Dawood’s family name, his Dawood Hercules network, his educational experience, and Lyla, all helped him
greatly in starting his own business. Nevertheless, according to Dawood, in the early stages of your enterprise,
“you never know.” However, he claims he never had any fears despite everything as according to him, faith
in oneself and optimism are prerequisites for being an entrepreneur since an enterprise is essentially a leap of
faith. He does not deny that he faced a lot of problems indeed, but insists that problems are to be treated as
an adventure.

When Descon started, it was not even offering the right product, but it kept evolving by learning from its
mistakes. He termed this the “fishing stage” of Descon. One of the first things they tried was consultancy.
However, Dawood thought that they were “barking up the wrong tree,” as there was no potential for growth.
Hence, after two years, Dawood decided to change the course altogether and venture into contracting. Then
the question regarding which segment of the market they were to target arose. According to Dawood, “Your
vision always evolves. You can never think of an end-game. You have clarity about the first few years but

9
Sears is a leading integrated retailer offering its wide range of home merchandise, apparel and automotive products and services
through more than 1,320 Sears-branded and affiliated stores in the United States and Canada.
http://www.searsholdings.com/about/sears/
10
A young man who makes and serves tea.
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Hunting the Heffalump: A Case Study of Four Inspirational Entrepreneurs 23-065-2015-1

then it gets dark, and as you move down, it starts getting clearer again.”
It was in 1981 that Dawood and his team sat down and laid down two important points that formed the basis
of Descon's vision: they wanted it to be global and they wanted it to be a long-term player. According to him,
Pakistanis do not understand the concept of long-term. Everybody wants short-term gain. He explained that
if you become a long-term player, your strategy—including your decision making—changes altogether,
which leads to a different approach to business.

The first time Descon went overseas (to Abu Dhabi) in 1982, they bid 30% lower than their competitors,
which even confused the Arabs as they knew Descon would not be able to make money off that job. However,
according to Dawood, he was not interested in profits initially. To him, it was the long-term that mattered.
He focused all his energy on this project to deliver exquisite results, which paid off in the end when the Arab
company appointed Descon for all its future projects. Upon winning this contract, Dawood recalls telling the
CEO, “Sir, the money I didn’t make was my entrance fee to hear what you just said.” Dawood considers such
losses “investments.” According to him, this is exactly how a long-term player functions.

First Big Break of Descon

In September 1981, the National Refinery was putting up their expansion project. The contract was given to
the Romanians, who were looking for somebody to do the mechanical civil work. Descon volunteered to
work on this job. According to him, “The Romanians asked how many cranes do you have, I said none. The
project required about 30 cranes; I said I will buy them. I even gave them a bank guarantee. I asked them to
trust me, because if I don't bring the cranes, they can cash the guarantee. Many people deterred me from
taking this massive and risky project, provided at that time we had only 12 engineers. But the hand of God is
unbelievable, just then an Italian company was finishing a Fauji Fertilizer plant. So they were laying off all
their staff, which included the engineers, the field workers, and the guys at the forefront. We interviewed
everybody getting off the job, we gave them the appointment letters on the spot, and called them back in 6
months. We got a readymade team.”

Post-Startup

The unique selling point of Descon was that in its initial years, there was no company that offered general
contracting services. There were many small electrical and mechanical companies, but none that offered all
of the services. Apart from the nature of the company itself, what differentiated Dawood as an entrepreneur
was his approach; small contractors had a bad reputation and were called thekadaars. According to Dawood,
his aim was to “bring professionalism into engineering.”

“That's Not Enough”

The composition of the venture evolved with time. Starting off as a general contracting and construction
company, Descon eventually added manufacturing of various machines such as boilers, heaters, and pressure
vessels. However, Dawood did not think that it was enough. They, then stepped into design, adding value to
their business as they went along. Dawood, however, kept insisting “that's not enough.” They continued to
include technology, and eventually got into Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC).

To progress even further into technology, Descon teamed up with the Japanese because the technology they
had was not available in Pakistan. At that time they had about 200 engineers. This partnership taught Descon
a lot, and sure enough, it increased Descon's size and the number of engineers employed there. Descon also
appealed for license technology from Mitsubishi, but was denied. However, they tried again ten years later,
and became an official licensee of this technology.

LUMS

The journey of Lahore University of management Sciences (LUMS) began simultaneously with Descon's
initial years. Dawood was teaching marketing at the University of Punjab in 1974 after he had completed his
MBA from Columbia. He taught there for eight years until Syed Babar Ali,
a Pakistani businessman, educationist, philanthropist, and former finance minister of Pakistan, approached
him asking whether he thought there was a need for a superior business school. Since Dawood did not think
the current curriculum was enough, he joined hands with Ali, and they pooled in Rs. 2.5 million each to build
the school. Ten people signed the initial documents and applied to the government to request permission to
build a business school. The government rejected this proposal and agreed to let them establish a university
instead of a school. This foundation would not have been possible without a partnership, since it required
capital and educational experience. This old LUMS campus (made up of 4 to 5 houses) is still standing
opposite Heritage Homes in Gulberg (but not as a university), whereas the current campus of LUMS is located

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in Defense Housing Authority (DHA). Initially, the army allowed only a three feet gap for entrance to this
campus.

The vision here was to create a higher quality institution which was integrally merit-based. The curriculum
was designed wholly by Razak Dawood and Syed Babar Ali, where they used their experience of education
abroad as a benchmark of quality. Moreover, they interviewed the first two to three batches of students
applying to LUMS, themselves. Dawood recalls that they were just as nervous, if not more, as the
interviewees. Interestingly, the first student who enrolled in LUMS, was a lady. As time passed and LUMS
progressed, they added the undergraduate programme and separated the business school from the school of
humanities. LUMS is also the pioneer of the four-year undergraduate programme in Pakistan. The other
institutions at the time offered two-year programmes but now the four-year programme introduced by LUMS
is the standard all over the country.

Vision and Values

Success, to Dawood, has many dimensions. According to him, it is “not directly proportional to the size of
your wallet or bank account.” There is success as a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a citizen, and a member of the
society. Success lies in creating an institution. Real success is, then, striking a balance in achieving success
in all these dimensions. He said, “Suppose if you win the whole world . . . but lose your soul in the process.
That is not success. The Quran has laid out some things for us to do. Even if we win the whole world, but
don't follow the rules, we cannot be successful in the true sense.”

Dawood also laid great emphasis on being a long-term player. In every project that he undertook, he was not
worried about making money, but about building a reputation and bringing in professionalism, which proved
to be the entry ticket to his eventual success. Long-term thinking also translated into how he dealt with
challenges and mistakes, and how he managed his business. Dawood focused on building a sustainable
institution rather than a company, and according to him, the key to developing an institution is to develop
sound and connected HR (human resource) policies. In addition to this, there needs to be some segmentation
within the business. For instance, Descon has one company which does EPC for gas plants only, while another
separate segment is responsible for power plants.

It may sound clichéd, but Dawood gave a rather real example related to the importance of believing in
greatness: when Descon's joint venture with the Japanese came to an end after ten years, the employees were
flustered. But Dawood said, “So what? We can do the work ourselves!” He said, “We Pakistanis don't dream
enough. We daydream, but we must dream greatness. We have got to think greatness all the way through.”
Additionally, he believes in keeping your cool in the face of adversity. According to him, even if he is worried
about business, he manages to remain composed. He said, “This is short and simple. Always maintain a cool
exterior and don't let others see you worried, or else you are open to being put down.”

Towards the end of the interview, Dawood laid out a world map that marked the locations of all of Descon's
offices. He drew his finger in a straight horizontal line across the map and declared fondly, “This is my vision.
To establish Descon across the world, so that the sun never sets on a Descon office.”

2. HAMZA TARAR: AN INTERIOR MAGICIAN

Beginning of an Artistic Journey through Life

“I am my business, I am CasaHamza”—Muhammad Hamza Tarar, the chief executive


officer and creative director at CasaHamza.

Muhammad Hamza Tarar is the pioneer of CasaHamza, a top notch interior designing brand. According to
Tarar, art had always fascinated him, and he began to make tables out of cardboards when he was as young
as four years of age. Moreover, while growing up, he would accompany his mother for shopping whenever
the house underwent renovations, and took a keen interest in picking out pieces of furniture for the house.
Hence from the very beginning, Tarar had been an excellent observer, possessed a fine taste, and had been
aesthetically charged. However, Tarar is of the opinion that his advent into the world of interior designing
was entirely accidental, since he never really intended to become an interior designer, and with a finance
degree, he would have probably ended up in the banking or the financial sector. Hence, it was something that
he stumbled upon accidently, and which eventually enabled him to live the “American Dream.”

Initially, Tarar enrolled into the Aitchison College, and then went to the University of Miami for a bachelor's
degree in marketing and finance. He had always been an exceptional student, and graduated with a CGPA
(Cumulative Grade Point Average) of 4.0 from his university. During his freshman year, he helped a friend

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design an apartment in Miami that was meant as a present for his girlfriend. At the housewarming party,
people loved what he had done, and he was approached by two other people who were highly impressed by
his work. They wanted him to renovate their houses as well. After that, there was no looking back.

During his sophomore year, Tarar was working as a full time interior designer while simultaneously pursuing
his degree in marketing and finance. He ended up making his first million dollars in his third year. “My
mother thought I was probably dealing in drugs. An 18 years old making a million dollars is unheard of,” he
said jokingly. He was charging $100,000 per house as his fee in Miami. Tarar then became a part of Fendi's
design team as he was making use of their furniture while renovating peoples' houses. Thus from the very
beginning, he had thought of targeting the elites. He started to design for Fendi's showrooms all over the US.
Being associated with such a top-tier fashion brand built his credibility, and his popularity accelerated. Tarar
ended up becoming the first Pakistani, and the youngest interior designer, to be published in the Florida
Design Magazine.

Taking the Plunge

Soon after he graduated, Tarar travelled to Milan to meet Bernard Arnault, a French businessman and an art
collector, who has been serving as the chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy, a French brand
house that owns brands like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Kenzo, Christian Dior, and Celine. Tarar wanted to bring
Fendi's furniture to Pakistan, since he wanted to introduce Italian furniture in the country. He stayed in Milan
for six months, and learnt about furniture manufacturing at Club House Italia in Forle, a city about two hours
from Milan. There he learnt to work with stainless steel, leather, and the machinery that would be required to
manufacture the furniture in Pakistan, since he intended to start his own furniture line here. He brought eleven
Italian brands to Pakistan, and simultaneously started his own furniture line. Initially, he was only carrying
Italian furniture and bringing it to Pakistan, but many people tried to dissuade him. “Who will buy a sofa
worth one million rupees in Pakistan,” they would often ask. However, there was no stopping him.

From the very beginning, Tarar calculated his affordable losses, and had a marketing plan in place. His degree
in marketing and finance helped him tremendously in targeting his specific market, advertising, and deciding
which magazines to target the most depending on which ones had the greatest coverage of his market. He had
planned to spend most of his money on marketing, since according to Tarar, “it's all about marketing.” If one
markets the products well, it creates a demand for them. In 2007, when he wanted to launch his business, he
spent around Rs. 2 million on marketing. Whatever money he had earned so far went entirely into setting up
his business. He did not have to seek financial assistance from anyone or seek any partnerships, since from
the age of seventeen he had started to earn thousands of dollars. Due to the extensive advertising that he did
through magazines and billboards, a hype was created in Pakistan. Editors of many renowned magazines
began to interview him. CasaHamza was created as a luxury brand that targeted the elites of Pakistan.

Once he had built this image of a luxury brand, Tarar thought of opening a furniture line of his own that
would match the designer furniture in quality, but would be relatively cheaper. He then set up his own plant,
trained his workers, and imported the required machinery from Milan. He was the first in Pakistan to work
with stainless steel and introduce high gloss finish. Thus, he brought the concept of customised modern
furniture to the country. At that time, competition was not very fierce since most of the furniture showrooms
were selling traditional furniture, and modern interior decor was a novel concept, and therefore very
intriguing.

Initial Obstacles—Bring it on!

Tarar's biggest fears at the time of the launch were that first, it seemed that his products are too expensive for
the Pakistani market. Second, he had planned to launch CasaHamza in the month of July, which was risky
since most of the people whom he expected to show an interest in his products are generally abroad during
the summers. However, since he had already spent more than a year socialising and networking with people,
he felt that he should not waste any more time, hence, he decided to take the plunge.

Initially, Tarar had to overcome numerous hurdles. Particularly, networking was an enormous concern for
him. Since there were no networking groups in Pakistan, Tarar tried to socialise with people whom he thought
could help him with his work. When he opened CasaHamza, he invited all the big furniture makers to his
store, unfortunately however, more than half of them did not even attend his calls, and out of those who did,
only a few eventually showed up. Managing his finances was another huge stumbling block for him initially,
and it had become very tough for him to keep track of his spending. He mentioned that although a huge
amount of money was flowing in, much more was being spent, particularly on marketing, which consumed
more than half of his revenue. Therefore, he hired a chartered accountant to monitor his cash flows, which
made the money issue simpler.

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Creating a Buzz

It was never an easy job for Tarar to attract customers initially. His line of products targeted the rich and elite
class of Pakistan; therefore, reaching out to them or getting in touch with them was extremely tough. His
main concern was: “How do you meet these people?” However, Tarar had a plan: he threw the largest and
most lavish party at Dish, an expensive restaurant at M. M. Alam road, back in 2007. He invited more than
400 people to the party, which took place almost six months before the launch of CazaHamza, in order to
create a hype. Through this party he was not only launching his products, but introducing himself as a brand
new interior designer in the industry as well. Consequently, people started inviting him to their places—brand
marketing of CasaHamza had just begun.

After that, Tarar started visiting different people's houses, and noticing their furniture, and the kind of designs
they admired. Many of them already had Italian furniture at their places. Tarar used to tell them about the
kind of work he had done in the US, and his efforts to bring the culture of modern furniture to Pakistan. This
excited them tremendously, and they started to take an interest in his products and showed immense
admiration for his work. Eventually, people started to contact him personally, and book appointments.

Tarar believes that marketing is the main ingredient behind the success of his business. From the very
beginning, he wanted to target the elite and the affluent in Pakistan. Having a major in marketing, he did not
find this task very difficult. According to him, “If someone could buy a handbag for four hundred thousand
rupees I thought people would be willing to buy a Versace sofa for one million rupees.” However, in a society
like Pakistan, where traditional “brown coloured furniture” embellished every other house, he had to create
a demand for modern furniture. He appeared in several TV shows as the media industry was booming, and
acquainted many people with his ideas. He designed the sets of several shows, and also designed for several
major fashion shows. Soon, people wanted to transform their houses from a traditional to a more modern
Italian based set up. He helped them get rid of the perception that only brown coloured furniture looked well
in houses, and propagated the idea that black and white interior decor could be far more interesting. In his
initial years, his marketing budget was around Rs. 2 million, which he believed was integral for the success
of his business. He did not advertise his brand CasaHamza; rather, he advertised himself like many fashion
designers do. He spends more money on advertising his face for the company, rather than featuring its
products.

His service was, and still is, highly customised. CasaHamza does not sell furniture; rather, it offers an interior
decorating service which is greatly personal in nature. This sets Tarar apart from many furniture outlets,
which sell individual furniture pieces and articles. After spending a huge amount on marketing, he then
continued doing free marketing. For instance, using his connections, he started doing segments on morning
shows for free. He used his face for the promotion of the company, appeared in renowned magazines, and
became available for every big event in the country.

A Trendsetting Strategy

Selling furniture placed randomly in a room was something Tarar disliked greatly. Therefore, his initial focus
at that time was to provide people with a look of properly furnished individual rooms. In order to execute this
plan, he rented a five story building in XX DHA, on the service lane next to Khayban-e-Iqbal, and furnished
each story with a different set up, including living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, etc. Therefore, he is
considered an innovator and trendsetter in his field. Within six months of his launch, every other furniture
shop in the area had revamped the way they placed their furniture. Tarar was able to tempt customers to avail
his services, since he provided them with an opportunity to furnish their houses with the most unique and
exotic kind of Italian furniture, that was not only aesthetically appealing, but comfortable and long lasting as
well. Moreover, Tarar is of the opinion that people are very sensitive about their homes, so taking into account
their own personal tastes and opinions matters a lot at the end of the day. Therefore, since the beginning and
till now, he provides personalised services for his customers.

Something for Everybody

Tarar diversified his business and introduced a new line of furniture which was comparatively less expensive
and more economical, and also came up with various packages. For instance, in one such package, the interior
design of a one canal house was done by him for around Rs. 4.5 million, which included curtains, chandeliers,
furniture, etc. “All the residents had to do was to bring their clothes, we covered for everything else,” he said.
In another package, for which he charged around Rs. 3 million, he would do the entire lounge and the couple's

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room. He would also gift the bride a designer lehenga11 from one of Pakistan's top fashion houses, makeup
package from Ather Shahzad, two tickets to Dubai, a Rs. 50,000 spa package, and a diamond set from Damas.
These economical packages became increasingly popular, and CasaHamza, which was previously associated
with the elites, gained fame among those in pursuit of cheaper and more affordable packages. Currently, Tarar
offers two packages: CasaHamza ECON, a relatively cheaper package, with furniture manufactured in
Pakistan, and CasaHamza LUX, which is his branded, expensive, and luxurious package. Therefore, he now
caters to both the groups, people on lesser budgets, and those who crave a luxury house. According to Tarar,
this scheme has proved to be a raging success.

The Sweet Taste of Success

Tarar's success arrived soon. Just on the second day after the launch of CasaHamza in Lahore, a customer
bought every piece of furniture that would possibly fit in his house, which enabled Tarar to earn a profit of
Rs. 15 million! Since then, he has designed over 563 houses, residential projects, and several commercial
ventures including Tony and Guy, Depilex, and Sante. He has also set up office buildings and multi-designer
stores in various cities of Pakistan, including Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad. Within the first year of the
launch of CasaHamza, he had already made sales worth millions of rupees, and has been experiencing a trend
of perpetually rising revenue ever since.

Starting from just one outlet in Lahore in 2007, Tarar now owns several stores and restaurants across the three
biggest cities in Pakistan. In order to further expand his market, by December 2014, he plans to launch nine
retail stores of CasaHamza, which include two in Karachi, two in Islamabad, three in Lahore, one in
Gujranwala, and one in Gujarat.

Competitors and “Leeches”

Tarar is now considered one of the leading interior designing names of the country. CasaHamza was the first
furniture shop to be opened in XX DHA, on the service lane of Khayaban-e-Iqbal, and this lane is now known
as “The Furniture Lane.” Since 2007, almost twelve to fifteen furniture shops have opened up on this lane.
Moreover, on observing Tarar's work, many of the furniture makers of the country have transformed their
furniture, and have adopted a more modern approach. Most of them are Tarar's seniors, who have inspired
him throughout his life. According to him, CasaHamza, and other leading interior designers in the industry
such as Ahad, Zamana, and Omer Nabi, have their own style. For instance, if a customer wants a “glitzy
glam” or “whitish” room, he would contact Tarar. On the other hand, if a customer is interested in getting his
home done in a traditional way, he would go to Ahad. Hence, each one of these leading interior brands have
their own forte, and they all maintain friendly ties with each other.

However, there are some furniture makers that are not competitors; they are copy cats. These people generally
visit his showrooms, work for him, and after a while they start their own businesses, copying his ideas.
According to Tarar, they are not competitors; they are “leeches.” For instance, one of his ex-employees has
designed a restaurant, Olé, where everything, including the pillars, chandeliers, sofas, and curtains are his
designs. Moreover, every time he used to put his pieces of furniture at his stores, the next day every other
furniture shop in the area would have copied it and put it up for display. Therefore, Tarar has stopped putting
his pieces of furniture in his stores. According to Tarar, these copy cats produce hideous copies of such
beautiful products that it completely destroys the creativeness of these products, which greatly bothers him.

Running a Business in Pakistan

Tarar spent his university life in the US, and designed some houses there too. However, he is of the opinion
that running a business is not easy, irrespective of whether it is in Pakistan or abroad. He believes he just got
lucky initially, since he was studying at a private institution in the US, where no student had a car less than a
Jaguar. His friends loved the way he had decorated his dormitory, and asked him to do theirs too. Word of
Tarar's flair for designing spread swiftly, since people in Miami are extremely rich and had no issue with the
amount of money he charged for his services. However, in Pakistan he faced the greatest difficulty in
networking since in US, there were networking groups for interacting and socialising, whereas in Pakistan,
there was no such thing. Hence, he faced a huge networking barrier initially, since social media was not
widely used in Pakistan.

11
A form of ankle-length skirt, usually worn by women on formal or ceremonial occasions.
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“Do it with Passion . . . or Not at All”

Tarar has always been fascinated with aesthetic and artistic objects, and is generally very observant. The first
night he landed in Miami, his sister took him to a hotel, Tela nos, by Philip Stark, from whom Tarar derives
his inspiration greatly. According to Tarar, Stark did mind-boggling and “crazy things.” He believes that this
is how art is; a single room can be an art installation. The theme of Tela nos was Alice in the Wonderland;
there was a hedge outside the hotel with a little door just like in Alice in the Wonderland, and while on the
one hand there were forty feet long sofa backs, on the other hand the tables were very small. There was also
a gigantic chess table, and chairs inside the pool, which looked quite abstract and interesting. Tarar was deeply
amused and loved this piece of work. He got hold of some architectural magazines and articles, and
throughout the first few months of his college, learnt a lot about interior designing. He then began to come
up with his own concepts, and discovered that he had a good aesthetic sense. He believes that throughout his
journey, it is his passion that always drove him. He firmly believes that “if you really want to do something,
do it with passion . . . or not at all.” Tarar also gave a word of advice; if anyone wants to become an
entrepreneur, he must start with something small, and then make it big, since according to him, spending too
much money initially is foolishness. Also, he believes that one must do some research beforehand.

The Essence of a Lifetime

Tarar believes that one of the critical lessons that he has learnt from his career is, “Don't get used.” According
to him, when he started spending huge amounts of money on marketing during the initial years of his career,
people starting asking him for all sorts of favours such as sponsoring their events, lending pieces of furniture
for their TV shows, making VIP lounges for their events, and designing sets for live TV shows. However,
soon he realised that he was being exploited, and resolved to discontinue giving such favours. Furthermore,
he learnt not to spend too much, and to always know how much money he should keep in his business. He
believes that cash flow and managing one's accounts properly is what keeps the business humming along.
Therefore, one's money calculations should never go wrong, and one's finances and marketing budget should
always be balanced.

3. JAVED IQBAL: A RAGS TO RICHES STORY

Introduction

Jaidi is a name which every Lahori is familiar with. It is the pioneer of brands in the Paan12 business, which
revolutionised the way in which the Paan market operates. The mastermind behind Jaidi is a humble
individual named Javed Iqbal, who is currently just thirty-six years old. A married man and a father of four
children, he set out on his relentless pursuit at the mere age of fifteen.

Start-up

Iqbal recalled the days of his childhood and the time when his journey as an entrepreneur began. It was in the
year of 1992, when fifteen year old Iqbal took it upon himself to do something for his middle-class family.
Not too fond of academics, he wanted to enter the real world by setting up a business from an early age. His
family belonged to a military background. His father, Malik Awan, was a prisoner of war, and had fought in
the battles of 1965 and 1971 for Pakistan. Since they did not support his ideas, Iqbal was left alone to pursue
his unique passion for Paan.

Initially he was fearful as everything seemed murky and he had neither a strong education, nor his family's
support to back him up. It was his immense passion, he said, and his vision to revolutionise the Paan market,
that helped him through. It upset him a great deal when Paan shops and the workers there were looked down
upon and ridiculed by the society. He wanted to change that and so he did—Iqbal turned an investment of a
mere Rs. 2000 into a renowned business with the worth of a whopping Rs. 250 million!
Iqbal did carry out some research before setting up his Paan shop. He went around to different Paan shops
and observed how they were operating. “Never enter a business without proper research,” he emphasised.

Name and Location

Elaborating on the motivation behind the name, “Jaidi”, Iqbal said that he used to play cricket with his friends
quite often and once they randomly came up with this nickname for him. Iqbal thought that it had a certain
appeal to it, so when he set up his business, he named it Jaidi.

12
Betel leaves filled with various delicacies.
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The first hurdle that Iqbal came across was the location. Although the prime locations for Paan shops were
Fortress and Liberty, Iqbal knew that he could not compete with the already well-established ventures over
there. Therefore, he went on to set up a Paan shop in H-Block, Defence Housing Authority (DHA). It was a
relatively new residential area in the early 1990s and had a great prospect for new businesses. Offering a
relatively untapped market and an area unfamiliar with such delicacies, DHA was a golden opportunity.

Challenges and Innovations to Overcome Them

Back in 1992, Jaidi was nothing more than a small cabin set up on a four square-feet piece of land right
outside a CD shop. Just like every other business, the start-up was the most taxing phase for Iqbal, and he
quite often missed out on the daily rental payment of Rs. 100, simply because he could not afford it. With the
business struggling, he put up a small section of cigarettes in his shop since Paan and cigarettes are
complementary to each other. Additionally, he also introduced the tobacco flavoured Paan.

Two years into the business, Iqbal was finally able to hire his first employee, a Chacha13 who always stood
next to his shop and would only leave for prayers. One day, Iqbal asked the Chacha to go and hand over a
Paan and a few cigarettes to his customer in the car parked in front of his shop. Besides paying Rs.10 for the
Paan, the customers tipped Chacha an extra Rs.10. Chacha, delighted by this, went up to Iqbal and asked
him to hire his services. Iqbal complied, and Chacha became the first ever employee at Jaidi.

As Iqbal put it, 1996 was the most troublesome year for him. Financial problems had still not alleviated and
Jaidi was not making enough profits to cover the rental costs. On the verge of selling his business for Rs.
20,000, Iqbal was persuaded by his friend not to go ahead with the transaction. Around the same time, the
Cricket World Cup of 1996 was in full-swing and Iqbal, being the out-of-the-box thinker that he was,
exploited this opportunity by setting up a small television outside his shop. On each match day, people came
in huge flocks to watch cricket which brought Jaidi into the limelight. When this came to Pakistan Tobacco
Company's (PTC) attention, they approached Iqbal and offered to sponsor his business. Knee-deep in rough
waters, he took up the offer immediately and PTC helped him buy out the CD shop at a rent of Rs. 4000 per
month. From a cramped, dirty cabin, Jaidi had now taken the shape of a small, well-kept shop that sold multi-
flavoured Paans and every single brand of cigarettes.

Fascinated by the outcome of his decision to place a small television for cricket lovers during the World Cup,
Iqbal started making special arrangements for special occasions, such as Eid,14 Basant15 and Independence
Day. He was always thinking of ideas that would help him maximise his customer base. He would decorate
his shop in green and white lights on Independence Day which attracted a young and vibrant crowd, which
was the target market segment of his business. Iqbal soon realised that people were as concerned with the
outlook of his shop and product as they were with the quality of the product itself. He could not do much to
change the quality of his Paan, so he focused on the presentation and hygiene of his shop and product.

Always on the hunt for new ideas, Iqbal came up with a smart business strategy which set Jaidi apart from its
competitors. Other outlets only had Meetha16 and Tobacco flavoured Paans, however, Iqbal decided to take
it up a notch and introduce new flavoured Paans. According to him, Jaidi now boasts about twenty-five to
thirty different flavours of Paan—a feat unmatched anywhere else in Lahore.

Iqbal was always looking for ideas that would enable his product to appeal to the aesthetic sense of consumers
and soon he realised that this could be done by improving the packaging of the Paan. Therefore, he outsourced
the entire process and started importing custom-made wrapping for his product from China, which was a
unique and a cost-effective way to present his product in trendy and appealing wrappers. Iqbal emphasised
the profound impact of such minute intricacies.

A Move to Sponsorships

Eventually, Jaidi started offering soft drinks upon the arrival of several sponsors such as PepsiCo. and Coca
Cola. With a reasonably strong financial framework, Iqbal was the first person in the vicinity to have a large
television screen set up in his shop so that his customers could enjoy watching TV while buying his products.
This idea took off again in the 1999 Cricket World Cup when people would just stand by his shop, gazing at
the screen, while continuously ordering Paans, cigarettes, and soft drinks.

13
Literally translates to ‘uncle’, can be used when addressing older men.
14
A Muslim festival.
15
A kite flying festival celebrated during spring.
16
Literally translates to ‘sweet.’
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Juices and Milkshakes

Jaidi soon ventured into the domain of juices and milkshakes. According to Iqbal, he went out with his friends
to juice shops quite often, and felt that their juices were ridiculously overpriced. Unhygienic conditions, in
which the juice was made, also discomforted Iqbal since he had a deep liking for hygiene and quality. He
went over to several outlets in the city to observe the operations, taste the product, and develop a network
that would help him set up his own juice business. Finally, equipped with substantial market knowledge and
insight after an extensive research of four years, Iqbal incorporated an entire section of juices and milkshakes
into his product portfolio. He was not afraid of failing and taking an initial plunge into this river of uncertainty,
but at the same time, he was sensible enough to analyse the market beforehand. He said, “Before jumping
into the unexplored ocean, one must gauge its depth.”

Upon finding out that other vendors earned 50–70% profit on the sale of juices and milkshakes, Iqbal made
it a point to keep the prices relatively lower in order to attract a strong clientele for the new products. His
immediate focus was to set up a loyal customer base, which would not wander off to other outlets when he
gradually increased prices. Eventually, Jaidi built a reputation of offering products that gave its customers the
best value-for-money.

The success of his juices and milkshakes venture enabled Iqbal to save up enough money for setting up a cold
store for fruits. This enabled Jaidi to have a continuous supply of all types of fruits throughout the four seasons
since he had a substantial backup of these fruits at all times, and would otherwise even import them if the
need arose. An employee was responsible for the purchase of such items in bulk and Iqbal emphasised that
he himself remained in contact with the suppliers and the market.

Additionally, the shop was further extended and renovated five to six years back to give Jaidi a contemporary
and fresh outlook. With large glass windows, a plasma television, and an immaculate setup, Jaidi finally took
the form that he had dreamt of, stated Iqbal. He works there from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., even though he does not
really have to. Having a strong passion and love for his business, Iqbal went on to say that sitting idle at home
leaves him dissatisfied and he wants to remain engaged in the work that he loves.

He said, “Sitting idle makes me exceedingly restless.”

Iqbal has put in place a stringent process for hiring employees. Potential workers have to go through several
procedures before being hired, such as the interview, screening process, employee profile, bio data setup, etc.
This rigorous process ensures that only the best people are hired for the job and guarantees a quality check of
the employees, which facilitates greater efficiency of the business.

Jaidi further expanded into a catering business for various functions, such as weddings, college events, etc.
According to Iqbal, Jaidi is also the sole supplier of Kulfa17 ice-cream to the Pearl Continental Hotel in
Lahore. This shows how well-organised and streamlined Jaidi is, keeping in mind the strict and exhaustive
process through which any external vendor has to go through for a hotel like the Pearl Continental.

Upcoming Plans

With his brother Hafiz Muhammad by his side now, Iqbal stated that he plans on expanding his business into
more competitive areas such as Fortress and M.M. Alam. When inquired about the late timing of his
expansion plans, he immediately replied, “In order to meet your competitors head-on, you need to first earn
a name for yourself.” Unlike other companies which start focusing on expanding their businesses prematurely,
Iqbal is of the view that it should be undertaken only when one has a strong foundation in place, and that can
only be achieved step by step rather than overnight.

Iqbal further stated that he wanted his business to attract so many customers that it enjoys the same reputation
as other well-known local restaurants such as Cuckoo's Den, Butt Karahi,18 etc. and become a renowned
tourist attraction within the city. Even currently, Jaidi is often visited by foreigners within the area who are
left licking their fingers because of the unique taste of their Paan and the supreme quality of their juices and
milkshakes.

17
An ice-cream flavour popular in Pakistan. It consists of whipped cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, coconut and nuts.
http://www.khanapakana.com/recipe/1a724734-90d1-4f7b-ae39-e4db8621be8e/kulfa-ice-cream, accessed July 2015.
18
Popular restaurant in Lahore, specialising in traditional food cooked in a wok (karahi).
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Iqbal's children are studying in different schools within DHA and once they are done with their studies, he
plans to utilise their technical skills by integrating computerised information system within the business
framework for greater efficiency. Jaidi also has a Facebook page and has over 1000 followers.

Towards the end of the interview, Iqbal shared his ultimate goal: coming up with Tetra Pak Jaidi juices in the
market and creating a monopoly for them. On being asked if he believed he could achieve such a goal, he
responded in a crisp voice, “I was alone in my struggle for Jaidi and not even my parents supported me. They
told me that selling Paan would get me nowhere and that it would not even be enough to feed myself. With
just Rs. 2000 in my pocket, I have built this empire. I am now the richest man in my family. I have proven
everyone wrong. And there is no reason to believe that I cannot do it again. It all depends on your spirit!”

4. MUSARRAT MISBAH: A MAKEOVER FOR THE MAKEUP INDUSTRY

Introduction

Musarrat Misbah, a makeup artist and a human rights activist, is one of the few leading female entrepreneurs
in Pakistan. This is quite a feat for a woman in the predominantly patriarchal society of Pakistan where
successful businesswomen are rare. Misbah lived a comfortable albeit not a luxurious life at her parent's
home. Born on 25 November 1959 in Karachi, she is the eldest sister amongst six sisters and two brothers.
Her family always laid great emphasis on good moral and ethical conduct. Her father, Misbah-ud-din Khan,
was a successful businessman in Karachi who owned the first shariah19 complied pharmaceutical company
in Pakistan, and her mother, Anisa, was a social worker and philanthropist. It may be hard to imagine, but
Musarrat Misbah, the creator and owner of Depilex, a successful beauty salon, clinic and institute, did not
always envision herself opening a business venture of any kind. Rather, she always wanted to become a
doctor. However, the turn of events was such that she got married at the early age of 17, due to which she
could not complete her intermediate education (twelve years of schooling) and her dream of becoming a
doctor remained unfulfilled. It was only after her divorce when she had to raise her small son, Khurram Khan,
as a single mother, that she felt the need to go out and earn a living to provide for herself and her son, instead
of relying solely on her parent's resources. Though she was passionate about earning her own living and
providing for her son, at that time she had no clue how she would achieve this goal. The easiest option for
her would have been to get married again, but she decided against it.

Misbah eventually got her undergraduate degree. It was Misbah's father who one day came to her with
advertisements of diplomas related to beauty and skin care in the UK and urged her to apply. She applied to
five schools and decided to register in the first school that offered her acceptance. Though she had to leave
her son with her parents while she completed her diplomas in the UK, it was a sacrifice she was willing to
make in order to pursue her new mission to start a business venture. During her stay in the UK, Misbah gained
some work experience by doing relevant internships and worked with beauty salons and clinics. This taught
her a great deal about the management and operations of this business.

Start-up

When Musarrat Misbah came back to Karachi in 1980, her father set up a hair salon for her in a small
apartment on Tariq road. That was the inception of Depilex, a name very well known in England for its
cosmetic products and equipment. Due to her entrepreneurial knack, she thought it would work. Though her
father equipped it with the necessary infrastructure, it was up to Misbah to cover the running costs of the
business. Initially, she did look to form partnerships with other people. However, soon she dismissed this as
one of the worst experiences of her career and from then on chose to work alone. She did not have a formal
business plan per se and initially relied on word-of-mouth promotion. She would visit all the apartments in
her building, knock on peoples' doors and inform the women in the neighbourhood about her professional
beauty salon, Depilex, which was a pioneer in its field.

Challenges

When asked about the initial hurdles that she faced, Misbah narrated an incident that took place when she
was in the early stages of promoting Depilex in the neighbourhood. While she was going from door to door
in the apartment building, a lady told her that she was a bad influence and brought shame upon the women in
Pakistan, and slammed the door in her face. This came as a shock to Misbah, who embraced this as her advent
into the practical world where she would continuously have to endure obstacles like this, particularly in a
society which in the 1980s was not very welcoming towards budding businesswomen. However, Misbah kept
her spirits high and continued to greet the lady warmly whenever they ran into each other. Eventually, one

19
Code of law derived from the Holy Quran and traditions of the Holy Prophet.
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day that woman visited Misbah's salon and was surprised to see the professional environment of the salon
and was even more surprised to learn that Misbah was highly qualified and educated in her field.

Another major challenge for Misbah was that she had to face considerable difficulty when it came to dealing
with revenue and income tax information, the technical knowledge of running a business, and the customs
department. She was riddled with these problems after the first year of her business, therefore, she sought
professional help by outsourcing her finance and IT departments. Over the years, however, she learnt how to
manage these departments herself and hired her personal staff for these departments as outsourcing them was
costing her more than she could afford in the beginning.

Another obstacle for Misbah was that she embarked upon her venture at a time when the trend towards
grooming was minimal in the country. As her parlour progressed locally, Misbah started promoting Depilex
in popular magazines of the time. These included ‘The Mag’, ‘SHE’ and ‘Akhbar-e-Jahan.’ She also offered
to do makeovers of models posing in magazine shoots free of charge in return for credits in these magazines.
A similar barter strategy was seen in her deal with the Pakistan television network as well where Depilex was
given makeup credits in shows like ‘Neelam Ghar’ and the ‘Bolan Awards’ in return for free makeup services
for their actors and hosts. Before the inception of Depilex, there was no concept of getting professional
makeup done, and the artists and models used to apply their own makeup. With her creativity, Musarrat
Misbah changed the norms of the society and created a demand for her services.

Among other problems, Misbah also had to deal with the Pakistani culture of people asking for favours
because of the influential positions they held in society. Getting forcible requests of free services is nothing
unusual in her business. However, things got out of hand on one occasion when a group of ladies walked into
one of her salons, and racked up quite a bill. When the time came for payment, they refused, since they were
related to an influential personality, who talked to her on the phone, and threatened her of dire consequences
if she did not waive the payment. However, Misbah stood her ground and got the payment but at a high cost.
The tax authorities made her life miserable for the next three years and she had to ask influential contacts to
intervene. In hindsight, she realises that it was a mistake on her part. The expedient thing would have been to
waive the payments and consider it a cost of doing business.

Over the years, Misbah also learned the hard way to protect her brand name. A few years back, a man took a
stay order on the name “Depilex”, and started using it for his own business. When Misbah started fighting
the lawsuit, the other side employed numerous delaying tactics to ensure that the case dragged on for as long
as possible. After four years, the high court ruled in Misbah's favour and commented in the ruling that the
plaintiff should not have used the name for the few years that he did. The matter is now pending in the
Supreme Court. There have also been instances of people using Depilex's name in the US and other countries.
Therefore, Misbah now ensures that the name and logo of Depilex is registered in a foreign country before
handing out any franchise.

Growth

With the passage of time, trends began to change as more players entered the market and the market dynamics
turned in favour of these salons as actors and models began to rely on professional salons. Hence, Depilex
and the others started charging for their services, but being the first and the most credible, Depilex remained
the market leader.

The next goal Musarrat Misbah set up for herself was to start a training institution of skin care, beauty, and
makeup application. When asked about her motivation behind this, she replied that she wanted to impart what
she had learned, and many around her by virtue of their humble backgrounds could not learn without spending
a lot of money on foreign diplomas in health and beauty. With this aim in mind, she started teaching. She also
affiliated Depilex with various international organisations including City and Guilds and made her employees
and students sit in such exams and achieve various prestigious foreign certifications while sitting in Pakistan.
Most of the distinguished makeup artists, hair dressers, and photographers of the current generation have been
taught and trained in Depilex under Musarrat Misbah.

Misbah has not only earned a sound reputation for herself and Depilex, she has also changed the dynamics of
our fashion and grooming industry. At the time when Pakistan's film industry was booming and theatre was
being introduced, Depilex offered their services and monopolised backstage makeup and hair department. In
addition to this, Depilex was also responsible for grooming the Pakistan International Airline's air hostesses.
Today, Musarrat Misbah's clientele includes celebrities, politicians, and the VIPs of the country. She has also
had the privilege of working with renowned personalities such as Lady Diana and Jamaima Khan. Depilex is
acclaimed not only nationally, but internationally as well, and Misbah's makeup artists are often invited
abroad for their services on various occasions.

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Soon after Depilex had gained a sound reputation, Misbah diversified her business and launched a beauty
clinic. She had a panel of doctors who would come and visit her salon on assigned days. She had a psychiatrist,
gynaecologist, and dermatologist as well as other specialists on the team. This was important because if
someone came up to her with weight concerns, there was a limit to the extent of her offering a solution, since
their issue might have been due to psychiatric reasons, which only a psychiatrist could have resolved. Women
would also come to her with their unmarried daughters, who had gynecological or psychological issues but
were afraid to go to proper hospitals due to fear of social stigma. Her clinic provided a rather comfortable
environment for these clients, since she had managed to convert her business into a one stop solution for
them.

Misbah's initial office was on Tariq road, Karachi. Then she opened up a few more branches, but these
branches were not sufficient to cater to the increasing demand. She recalled that brides would come from far
off places like Azad Kashmir just to get their makeup done for their big day. This is when she realised that
she needed to open up more branches and now Depilex has a network of over thirty branches across the
country including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Peshawar, Sargodha, and Sialkot. On
average, each branch has a working crew of twenty to twenty-five qualified people.

As the demand for Depilex grew further, Misbah felt the need to expand her customer base and so started
franchising her salon to her most trusted and long-time employees, mostly females, who had been with her
since the advent of her business. Misbah would further train them, provide them with the premises and
equipment, and tell them to deliver back a certain percentage of the profits, while the remainder profits were
to be kept by the owner of the branch. However, as with any business that delves into franchising, the question
of quality assurance arose. Therefore, in order to ensure that the brand equity is not diluted, strict quality
control standards are maintained and the owners of the franchises need to meet stringent criteria pertaining
to not only hair and beauty service, but also branch cleanliness, customer service, etc.

Seeking to expand further, Musarrat Misbah came up with the idea of opening Depilex Men in 2003. She
realised that there was a huge population of men who were very particular about their looks and appearance
and were willing to spend money on grooming services. Thus, she is a pioneer of the men care industry in
Pakistan.

Leaders Go First, Copycats Follow

As far as competition is concerned, she believes that she has no competition. Rather she is a competition for
everyone else since no other beauty salon has more than one branch in Pakistan, whereas Depilex has branches
in Gujranwala, Mirpur, Gujrat, and also in Dubai, UAE, Chicago and the UK. Over a span of thirty-three
years, Depilex has established over thirty branches across the country and has evolved into not only a beauty
clinic, but an institute as well. Musarrat Misbah, being the pioneer of professional beauty salons in Pakistan,
enjoys a great deal of comfort in becoming a brand name today and states that the market is bound to copy
her ideas and innovations. However, despite this, Misbah prefers to invent and innovate in her field and
continues to provide various certifications to young women and men who wish to learn the art of makeup,
hair, and skin care. Apart from this, she also teaches them to have a good moral standing and a proper code
of conduct. She learnt these values from her parents and considers them an integral part of one's life if one
wishes to succeed.

Smile Please!

Depilex Smile Again Foundation was also founded by Musarrat Misbah in 2003. The foundation treats
victims of acid attacks. Till date she has treated 526 to 527 patients. She takes great pride in giving a "new
life" to these women. She stated that the idea to start this foundation came to her when one day in 2003 a
young girl clad in a burqa20 entered her salon and asked for help. She states: “I thought she was a beggar so
I told her to leave. But she persistently kept asking me to help her and then she removed her veil to reveal her
badly disfigured acid burnt face. It was as if the earth had left my feet me and I sat on the couch completely
shocked and astonished. This completely changed my life and I made it my mission to help these acid burn
victims.”

This was the start of her philanthropic career. She feels that one should be grateful for all the blessings of life
and must never complain about minor issues experienced in everyday life. After the initial shock of seeing
the girl's mutilated face, she decided to establish the Smile Again Foundation and made it her mission to do
whatever she could to help instill these victims with confidence through psychiatric therapy and plastic

20
A long garment worn by Muslim women to cover themselves in public.
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Hunting the Heffalump: A Case Study of Four Inspirational Entrepreneurs 23-065-2015-1

surgery. Her initial step for setting up this organization was an advertisement in the newspaper urging such
victims to gather at her salon. The response was overwhelming. About forty-two girls/women came right
away for treatment. Smile Again provides treatment to acid attack victims all over Pakistan by providing fifty
free cosmetic surgeries annually to people who cannot afford it. Smile Again works to make these women
feel hopeful again and teaches them to be brave enough to face the world and try to find work at places like
customs department, call centre operators, etc. where physical appearance is insignificant. Yet if these women
face difficulty in finding work elsewhere, Misbah trains them at the Depilex institute to become beauticians.

Misbah admits that most customers are “reluctant to be around an acid burnt victim and complain that they
come here to relax. My reply to such clients is humble that they can attend another salon since I do not have
an option to send these acid burn victims to any other place. They work for me and are a part of this
organization.” According to her, now that the organization Depilex has an extended business and is earning
huge revenues, she can afford to lose such clients who do not want to be attended by these victims.

Apart from this, a certain fraction of the profits earned from Depilex is spent on the treatment of these victims
and for creating opportunities for them. Donations from customers and other people are also used to send acid
burn victims abroad for plastic surgeries. She said: “Smile Again has now spread to all four provinces of
Pakistan. It has changed me in every regard. Before I used to wear jeans but now I dress in traditional Pakistani
clothes such as shalwar kameez and do not wear jewellery as often. It really has made me simpler in life and
I do not really care about worldly things or earning higher profits after setting up Smile Again Foundation.
My business is on auto pilot now and my focus is now solely on Smile Again and my daughter Rida now
handles the runnings of the Depilex salon and institute. It has changed me in almost every aspect.”

Upcoming Plans

Her future plans include conquering the area of Sindh, since it is still an untapped market. She sees more and
more franchising in the future and expansion of the business both locally and globally. On top of everything,
she sees herself working towards her Corporate Social Responsibility Programme, something she is
tremendously passionate about. Her concluding message to young entrepreneurs was: “First of all, whatever
field you choose you have to have the knowledge and qualification and once you acquire that you need to set
yourself goals, set your goals according to your priorities, be organized in your field to get better and to be
successful. Success at times comes easily, sometimes it comes with difficulty, sometimes luck also plays a
role but if you are working hard, are consistent and love your work then nobody can stop you from achieving
what you want.”

SOMETHING TO CHEW ON

Having taken a stimulating voyage through the lives of these entrepreneurs who were at the top of their games,
Dr Shahid now strived to connect the bits and pieces to be able to grasp the big picture and comprehend the
predominant traits and cognitive processes of this breed. However, it was proving to be much more difficult
than he had anticipated as these entrepreneurs exhibited a wide array of characteristics, attributes, thought
processes and philosophies, which compelled Dr. Shahid to ponder over some intriguing questions: While
reflecting upon the personality traits of these successful entrepreneurs, do some noteworthy patterns and
similarities emerge? Did they possess any exceptional qualities that set them apart from the rest, and if they
did, what were these? How did they make decisions, and how does that contrast with a managerial mindset?
What is that one thing in their lives that these entrepreneurs never compromised on? And most importantly,
is there even such a thing as a distinct entrepreneurial mindset? With all these nagging questions already
looming over his mind, Dr Shahid found himself staring at another narrative, given as follows, that he had
just come across in the literature, adding further to his state of limbo.

The entrepreneurial Heffalump is a variegated sort of animal, which appears in different


habitats and in different forms. It also appears to have undergone some evolutionary
changes or mutations since the first reports of its existence were made public by Heffalump
hunters in the past. So it is not surprising that there is disagreement about the nature of the
beast21.

21
Wilken, 1979, p. 11
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