Whenever Indo-Pak relations are being discussed usually the theme of religious intolerance crops up far more often than anything else. But every now or then, despite the geographical, cultural and religious divides that exists between the two, miracle stories happen.
This is one such miracle story. The story behind Mazkara.com, the brainchild of likeminded entrepreneurs from both sides of the border – Mohammad Ali Akmal (Pakistan) and Prasanjeet Deb Gupta Roy (India).
It was in Dubai in March 2015 that these two friends decided to start their glam-tech startup under the label Mazkara.
In case you’re wondering what Mazkara is all about, it takes the whole idea behind professional beauty and grooming services in your area and offers the best deals and offers to customers who are nearby. Think Yelp but only for beauty salons and spas. Unlike Yelp, Mazkara offers online booking of appointments at your favorite beauty establishment and also allows you to make mobile payments with just your phone.
On May 1st 2015, Mazkara Web was launched, which went on to become one of Dubai’s super-popular spa guides online. With an authentic feet-on-the-street model for data collection, its no wonder that Mazkara became the largest online salon and spa management database in Dubai. It currently serves 50,000 unique visitors monthly and handles upto 500 appointments every single day.
A mutual friend who introduced Ali and Prasanjeet to each other also owned a restaurant chain in Dubai. As luck could have it, both Ali and Prasanjeet were working to integrate an online restaurant reservation feature and functionality for the same friend.
Prasanjeet was so impressed with Ali’s experience, attitude and work ethic that they continued to remain friends once their project concluded. When the idea for Mazkara came to Prasanjeet, he knew exactly whom to discuss this new project with.
The salon and beauty industry is rather reliant on deals, at least when taking into account the customer side of things. The result of this cutthroat competition has meant that Mazkara Offers section lists all the deals and offers in the personal grooming and wellness space, making it one of the largest aggregator of offers as well.
Mazkara is looking to expand to the Indian market in the future, starting with Pune. With a potential of $4.8 billion, the beauty industry in Indian shores represents an enticing prospect for this glam-tech startup. But there are various cultural and business barriers in Indian cities. What took them 3 months in Dubai may as well take them 6 months in Pune, according to Prasanjeet who had to spend a lot of time and effort to convince skeptical beauty parlor owners to be listed at Mazkara.
The startup is also rolling out its iOS and Android apps with GPS capabilities making it easier than ever for consumers to find salons and spas in the vicinity. A cloud-based business app is also in the works, enabling connection for thousands of more salon owners to reach their customers easily via online appointments, enabling mobile payments and more.
We can only hope that instead of bickering over ancient history, this new generation of Pakistanis and Indians join hands and reap the fruits of technology to collaborate in fields of arts, commerce and culture like Ali and Prasanjeet did. After all, if erstwhile rivals like China and Taiwan can do trade in triple (trillion) digits, then perhaps we subcontinental neighbors can emulate our all-weather friend as well in this aspect as well.