In 2017, when there was little acceptability of electric scooters in Kashmir, a 29-year old – Umar Farooq Bhat, envisioned something which people at the time were not ready to acknowledge, that was to introduce electric scooters in Kashmir.
He thought of the future technology which was new at the same time cheap i.e. scooters operating on batteries without any fuel cost. Though the concept had gained popularity across the globe, in Kashmir people had certain apprehensions about it.
To convince customers to opt for electric scooters was a tough challenge. However this idea turned into a business opportunity for a guy from downtown Srinagar.
Umar after working on the idea got a dealership of Hero electric – a company which manufactures electric scooters. His vision of bringing clean and cheap technology to Kashmir has worked wonders. He established Global Motors which deals with electric scooters in Bemina here.
Though his journey has not been an easy one, it has been full of challenges, by virtue of his hard work and grit he made inroads and finally tasted success.
So how did the journey start, Umar says that it was his passion from childhood to do something different, out of the box. All entrepreneurs do different things, they fail but successful ones continue to toil hard. I did the same. I am no different from any other guy from Kashmir, all that I did was to believe in my idea and it finally worked.
It was in 2017, when I was travelling abroad in connection with my family business; a new technology of electric vehicles which were operating in many foreign countries got my attention. I came back to India and In Delhi also I saw a few electric scooters.
I thought why not bring it home to Kashmir, these scooters are a cheap source of transportation plus these vehicles are eco-friendly. After this idea popped up, then followed an arduous task of research and development.
“I believe that every entrepreneur should do thorough research before venturing into business. I did the same. I had full support of my family and father, who is in the handicraft business. We export handicraft items to foreign countries. But I wanted to do something new, so they backed me. Finally after a lot of running around electric scooter manufacturing companies, I choose to work with Hero electric which is a brand name in the electric scooter manufacturing segment.”
Was the going easy for Umar after getting a dealership of Hero electric scooters, he promptly replied NO.
It was not an easy journey, you won’t believe it when we started selling electric scooters, there was no acceptability among people about this technology. Some people used to stare at us during our marketing campaigns saying how a scooter can run on battery. It won’t work here in Kashmir. They used to mock us.
“Infact such was the situation that in the first four years of our business journey we sold only 12 scooters. But now the situation has changed. Our bookings are full; customers have to wait for months to get electric scooters. Demand has increased due to awareness about the product and also upgrading of batteries by the company which makes it suitable to operate these scooters even in minus 40 degree temperature.”
“The surge in demand has been due to consistent efforts by our team to educate the general masses about electric scooters. Now the customers who purchase it are sending their family members, friends, relatives to buy these new technology scooters which run on battery.”
Another factor which has led to an increase in demand for electric scooters is a surge in fuel prices. In three years, the customer gets his investment in electric scooters back, while in petrol run scooters they have to continue to pay for the fuel.
Umar, who has done Bachelors in Commerce from Islamia College of Science and Commerce, believes that self employment is the key to addressing growing problems of unemployment in Kashmir. “I often come across people who say that doing business in Kashmir is tough, which I don’t deny too. But the difference between the successful venture and failed one is the consistency and innovations which can help you to remain afloat in this situation.”
I have started my business from ground zero, when there was no market for electric scooters, people were not aware about it. But one thing which I had learned from outside India when I travelled abroad was that e-vehicle is the future. “There were hardly any takers of this concept when I started, but I believed in it like there is no other business opportunity available for. I toiled hard and the end result is that people are now making beelines to buy these scooters.”
One of the key aspects of entrepreneurship is that you should have self-belief. I often see people starting something new, but then quickly giving up after a few failures. Failure is the part of success; we should take it as a stepping stone for our success.
Any advice which you want to give to young and budding entrepreneurs of Kashmir? Umar says that my advice is to work for common people. They should choose that line of activity where people will also benefit. Monetary benefits aside, young entrepreneurs should work for the betterment of society and environment.