A budding entrepreneur with social cause
For 22-year-old Mir Shariq Mushtaq, creativity is life and life is creativity. Shariq who is a budding entrepreneur is not just focused on advertising and branding but rather passionate about many larger issues such as employment generation, environment and politics.
Sitting in the cool confines of his Media Mail Advertising Services office at Baghat, Mir Shariq, who was last year conferred with Tata First Dot National Championship, a student start-up competition, recounts his business journey which started by designing business visiting cards.
“The first order I received was that of Rs 200 on which I made a profit of just Rs 30. I didn’t have enough money to pay the outsourcing agency that was printing the cards for me,” he says.
At present, Shariq has witnessed a growth to an extent that he has added multinational companies to his list of clients. “It all started by self learning designing and website designing through YouTube. I began my business by occupying a counter in my dad’s art gallery at Dal Gate for just Rs 3000. Within next two months my turnover crossed Rs 2 lakhs,” Shariq says.
But it was the ‘2013 Startup Kashmir Youth Business Plan Competition’ which Shariq sees as a turnaround in his journey of entrepreneurship. His business plan was chosen among the successful ones.
“Being declared among the winners in the services segment in the competition was a huge achievement, here was a time when I spent 21 continuous days in office to complete an election related assignment and did not even get to see my parents for all this while,” says Shariq, who started his business all by himself but at present has a team of nine members.
Even as Shariq expanded his business two years back by setting up a corporate office which got damaged by floods later, the turning point was when the milestone of large format printing on flex and other materials was achieved by his company. “ I was just a 12th standard student when I started off and had never imagined to touch new heights. My entrepreneurial zest is great but I have also continued with my studies and am continuing with my graduation at Amar Singh College,” adds Shariq.
Apart from his mainstream business, Shariq is providing a platform to young entrepreneurs to provide a boost to their start-ups with moments such as ‘Start-up Kashmir’. “I regularly help entrepreneurs to make business plans. While I don’t have a professional degree yet, but I keep reading research documents about entrepreneurship. I am fond of passing on the knowledge,” he says. Shariq’s innovation “Kashmir Get Online” is a social enterprise that develops and delivers websites to start-up’s at an affordable price.
Shariq is also actively involved in cleaning Dal Lake and developing women’s empowerment by helping widows and half-widows to stand on their own. Going forward, Shariq is hoping to expand operations of his company in Delhi and Bengaluru which according to him are top two happening start-up hubs. “I dream that one day Kashmir becomes a great venue for start-ups to do business. There are many procedural problems here at the moment. It takes one year to get a TIN number. Forget the registration process and getting NOCs from different departments which frustrates the youth and leads to brain drain,” laments Shariq.