The entrepreneur duo and childhood friends from Srinagar have started valley’s first logistics service- FastBeetle giving much needed relief to the residents, business community and addressing the local shipping needs.
Sheikh Samiullah and Abid Rashid, both 30, started an online courier service to provide door-to-door delivery service and meet all courier needs of the clients, no matter how big or small they may be.
“It was mid 2018 when I started doing the research on how people were struggling to deliver their orders, especially women entrepreneurs and farmers from different parts of the valley. I spoke to my friend and decided to open a courier company through, which I could also serve my people,” said Samiullah, who has studied Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Kurukshetra University, Haryana.
“We opened up the social media accounts and started a promotion. In the meantime, I told Abid to work on the app. We got over 200 merchants and especially women entrepreneurs as our first customers. We launched the app officially on 25th July 2019, almost two weeks before the abrogation of Article 370,” he said.
Samiullah said since all the communication lines were down and restrictions on the movement of people were in place, we couldn’t operate. “We had taken the orders but we couldn’t deliver them to the customers. After a few months of the lockdown when things started limping back to normal, we started receiving the calls confirming since when we were resuming our services but that was a time when we had almost lost all the hopes to resume. But in February 2020 when 2G services were restored, I told Abid let’s give it a try again but thanks to almighty things are going well since then,” he stated.
He said that they are currently serving the districts like Srinagar, Budgam, Anantnag, Baramulla, Sopore, Ladakh and now opening their office in Jammu. “We have been picking and dropping the orders like calligraphy and cakes from Sopore. We are giving the service that is only available in metropolitan cities. We will extend our services to other areas too,” said Samiullah, whose company has started delivering the parcels abroad now.
FastBeetle has three types of apps. One is a customer, another is Merchant and the third one is a rider app. This is a 2G app which can work on less Internet speed too. In the app, the customer has to mention the pick up and drop location and the delivery boy will reach the exact spot. One can also monitor the location of the delivery boy through ‘live tracking.’
He said more than 800 Instagram and offline shops have collaborated with them. “My aim is that my customers should feel satisfied by the kind of work we are doing,” said Samiullah who has resigned from an e-commerce company.
FastBeetle not only accepts the cash on delivery but in case of return of a product by a customer to the seller, which happens a lot in these kinds of businesses, it does not charge extra.
Samiullah said that it was not possible to open the new venture without the support of the investors. “They are playing a crucial role,” he said.
Abid said that coronavirus proved to be a blessing in disguise for them. “We got to deliver medicines, oxygen cylinders and refill them, and dinner to homes and hospitals. Last year in Ramadan, we picked up a parcel of apples of over fifteen tons from the farmers in Pulwama who were unable to deliver due to COVID lockdown.
Recalling the Article 370 abrogation time, Abid said that they suffered a loss of minimum Rs six lakh rupees while the maximum could be more thus being a new venture. “Mobile Internet and broadband services were shut down and it was a tough time for us. We paid the half salaries to the employees that too from our own pockets,” he said.
He said their work completely depends on the Internet. “Our life will be paralyzed otherwise,” said Abid who has studied M. Tech from National Institute of Business Management (NIBM) New Delhi.
When asked how they work when there is Internet shutdown, he said, “We take orders on SMS and phone calls which is a hectic process,” he said.
He said that FastBeetle has reached the Line of Control (LoC) villages in north Kashmir’s Uri sector. “This area is far off from the main city and there are no parcel delivery facilities like Amazon and Flipkart. But we have started our services there too and we are getting an overwhelming response from the people,” he said.
Currently, over seventy employees are working with FastBeetle but Samiullah hopes that the Internet is not snapped anymore so that they can generate more employment for the educated youth of the valley. (IndiaTimes)