Interview With The Man Behind The Revolutionary App Pijjit

It’s always a proud moment when a fellow country man does something worth an applause.

Asim Zubair, is one such entrepreneur who recently launched his brilliant Startup, Pijjit, at OPEN’s annual Silicon Valley event

Pijjit is an app that makes shopping social.

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Asim is an accomplished global executive with a 20+ years of experience in Product Management, Venture Development and Marketing Strategy. He was previously a Managing Partner at mPlanet Ventures, had been a Director at Symantec, and a Principal at Infosys Consulting. Pijjit is his first project on a consumer side. Fortunately we got a chance to know more about his app personally. Read it all to know all the details about Pijjit and the entrepreneur behind it.

Q: How are you at the moment?

A: I’m good and yourself?

Q: I’m Fine, thanks-Tell me something about yourself, your education, where have you lived, where did you work?

A: I initially came to the US in early nineties, completed my engineering and then went back to Pakistan. I returned to the US in 1996 and held executive positions with companies like Cisco, Symantec and Infosys. Pijjit is my first venture on the consumer side and I’m very excited about it.

Q: Tell us something more about Pijjit what is it? What it does?

A: Pijjit is peer-to-peer social shopping and courier and shopping App that enables people to shop and carry things for each other. It brings the common practice of asking someone to shop or carry something for you into the age of social media. For shoppers, Pijjit enables access to anything, anywhere through a social courier. For travelers, Pijjit provides a way to make money and friends by helping people shop for what they want, or just by sharing available space, and becoming a social courier.It is a model that allows people to socially and collaboratively consume the resources around them.

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Q: So how did you come up with this idea for Pijjit because it is kind of a unique idea?

A: I actually felt the need for something like Pijjit for myself and there was nothing out there. I needed a particular kind of medicine for my father.  A friend was coming from Pakistan and I wrote him an email to bring back the medicine. Unfortunately, the email fell through the cracks and he didn’t buy the medicine. At that time it occurred to me that there has to be a better and frictionless way of shopping and getting access to goods than requesting favors from friends and family. I started exploring the space and it was quite disappointing to see that even in today’s time shopping is still very much limited to your local city, or at best, to your country of residence.  For example, it is quite difficult and expensive even in developed countries to shop outside of your city, but you can still do it through credit cards and PayPal. However, where e-commerce or credit cards are not prevalent it is extremely difficult for people to shop from or to those countries.

Q: So, can you please explain how does the app work actually?

A: Pijjit is designed to give users either access to goods not available to them locally, or allow users to make money by becoming social couriers when they travel or commute. The way the app works is quite simple where you can create three types of listing on Pijjit. One, where you want to Shop for something from somewhere, say an iPhone from the US. Two, where you want to simply Ship something to someone, for example baby clothes to your new born niece in Dubai. Or three, where you want to make some money as a social courier on your next trip, say from San Francisco to Lahore. To create a listing, the App walks you through inputting some basic information in a very intuitive way and in less than 30 seconds. Users can then either get matched or find each other by way of the App’s search feature. The App allows the users to communicate with each other, and when they are ready they can transact with each other within the App. Once the transaction is complete both parties rate each other.  The beauty of the app really lies in its simplicity and transparency. You can read a detailed profile of the user you are interacting with, find out his/her past transaction ratings, and know whether or not he/she is a verified user by way of their cell phone, email, and social media connections.

The beauty of the app is its transparency.

Q: Is there any way to assure people that it’s 100% safe and secure?

A: I don’t know any single marketplace or similar platform out there that would claim to be 100% safe and secure whether you’re shopping at eBay or Amazon or any other marketplace. So Pijjit is no different from that. It allows you to connect with other users and review their reputation, but you have to transact in a responsible manner. We have a detailed FAQ section that outlines our community guidelines on our website.

Q: The app says you can make money with Pijjit, how?

A: It’s a great question. Pijjit gives the users the opportunity to become what I call “social couriers” and charge a bit of money for their services. So, for example, if you are taking a trip from Karachi to New York and are willing to become a “social courier” and fulfill the shopping request of a user in New York who wants some herbal medicines from Karachi, then you can get paid for offering such a service. Similarly, if you are traveling domestically the trunk of the car typically has a lot of empty space. As a “social courier” you can put this space to good use by carrying something for some one. For example, a user had recently created a Carry listing on Pijjit where she was looking to charge $50 for carrying anything weighing up to 50 pounds from San Francisco to Los Angeles. By becoming a “social courier” you are not only monetizing your extra and unused space, but you are also making social connections in cities and countries where, otherwise, you may not know anyone.

Q: How is Pijjit better than usual courier services and how it’s affordable?

A: The regular courier services are quite inflexible. For example, while sitting in San Francisco, if I want to get Gulab Jamuns from Pakistan, any standard courier like DHL or FedEx or UPS will not ship it to me because they refuse to ship such food items. Also, the cost of shipping a kilogram of gulab jamuns would be at least 3 to 5 times the cost of the gulab jamuns itself! And then there is the hassle of filling out all sorts of paperwork. On the other hand, with a service like Pijjit, it is very easy to have a social courier bring you some of your favorite eats at a reasonable cost. I know for a fact that it costs approx. $90 – $100 via FedEx to courier a simple letter weighing less than 1 pound from San Francisco to Hong Kong. In contrast, there are three daily flights between these two destinations, with plenty of people who have ample excess luggage space, and who should be willing to shop and carry items for each other.

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Q: Do you think Pijjit is next big thing?

A: Pijjit can facilitate cross border commerce, give users access to goods and vendors that might otherwise be inaccessible, and allow users to make money while creating social connections. I’m quite excited about its prospects, but time will tell how successful we will be in getting users to discover and download Pijjit and then transact on the platform. If we are successful in doing this then we will be creating a new marketplace that has the potential to be very huge worldwide.

Q: What are your future plans and what are your expectations from Pijjit?

A: Right now it’s very early days for Pijjit as we just recently launched it. We have to see how the users adopt the platform and equally importantly how they use it. New use cases are beginning to trickle in. From my side, our biggest push would be to acquire users, to get them to transact, and get the learnings and improve the app. Pijjit is on Android at the moment and our technology roadmap includes an iOS app as well as a fully functional website where users can transact. Our technology road map and feature set are quite extensive.

Q: It means your idea is technology independent?

A: Pijjit is a peer-to-peer marketplace, but I believe technology enables people to use it in a frictionless way.  Technology makes it smooth and very easy and brings all the elements that are required for people to trust and transact with each other and that’s what Pijjit is all about.

Q: How many people are working at Pijjit LLC at the moment?

A: I founded Pijjit in 2013 and have been busy building the app. I have a team of developers who have really done a fantastic job in building our platform. We also have a number of interns helping us out in different parts of the world. I am looking to bring on board my head of products as well as my head of marketing pretty soon. The team will continue to grow as we get user adoption.

Q: You’ve been in the field for some 20+ years. Why have you chosen entrepreneurship over a successful career?

A: Silicon Valley is a very infectious place.  After I got the idea for Pijjit I was researching the space for approx. 3 months and I just couldn’t shake it off. It was just too intriguing for me and I could not  let it go. To me entrepreneurship is not about having everything in your control, but rather knowing what you don’t have in your control and then trying to successfully move towards your goal with all the known and unknown variables. The fun part is in figuring out every step of the way that advances you to the next level and gets you closer to your ultimate goal. Juggling all the balls and all the titles to execute the project and bringing a product to market that you can be proud to put your name against is really a humbling and gratifying experience at the same time.

Q: Do you have any message for young entrepreneurs?

A:: Don’t look life in the rear view mirror. If you have an idea, work on it. Even if you don’t have the financial resources start chipping on it in small bites. Don’t wait for the world to be perfect.  Just go for it, but with due regards to the risks associated with it. And don’t be afraid of failures. Believe it or not, failure is a great thing. It is the best teacher!

So, what do you guys think of this very interesting app? I am quite impressed. Keep up the good work Asim and the team!

Feel free to visit them at the given links for more info:

Don’t forget to download this awesome app, and do promote it!

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