LITTLE might be known about Imran Khosla, but not so for those who frequent courts or those in the information and communication technology industry. His is a story of a young entrepreneur who has refused to sit and just wait for jobs to come but has decided with the little cash he has to start off his own business that is now giving birth to new ventures beyond what he had imagined.
Now in his late twenties, Imran set up his first electronic shop which also sold computer accessories in 2008. “After hearing lots of stories about graduates who have had tormenting search for jobs to no avail, obviously that was not the route I wished to take. I wanted to create my own job, and be my own boss, this was the inspiration that threw me into the world of entrepreneurship, and four years on, I tell you all is well and you cannot believe it I have over ten employees, and whose turnover is running into fortunes now,” Imran says with a cheer.
His journey into business started when he realised there was no one to employ him as an interior designer after studying for the course since he had no experience in the sector. After completing school, Imran used to hold briefs backing up his father in local courts as an interpreter in most jurisdictions involving Indian Dogri speakers (speakers of Hindi, Urdu, Punjab, and Gujarat).
“The money used to go to my dad’s account directly but he often gave some percentage of the cash to me, and from the little savings, I started dreaming of starting an electronic business. So I could buy some few electronics like an Ipod or music players and sell to my friends and this become a tradition on a monthly basis that enabled me open up my first shop called Digidunia at Imenti House with about ten items,” he says.
Fear, self-doubt and unclear market at the beginning, Imran says, were almost driving his business to a wind up. He could barely make much sales and the financial resources at that time could not sustain paying up the bills.”Uncertainties and sometimes unsure of where to get the finances to fuel the business was the major hurdle and at this time I was almost contemplating to shutdown but a voice of holding on kept pushing me to persevere. After serious marketing of the few products I had, on its fourth month, the business went belly up and could stand on its own and i even hired three people to assist with its operations,” he says with a smile on his face adding that lack of self motivation and confidence and allowing the mind to listen to negative voices like ‘you won’t make it’ is the main reason many of his peers don’t see their businesses through to their first anniversary.
After one year, the business had expanded to the point that the premise could not contain it anymore. So he decided to open up an extra branch on the same building. At this time, he says he had gone into massive savings with less expenditures and opening up a new shop was not a big deal. With just one year experience, no mentor in business, he admits getting through the legal matters on company incorporation was not an easy task, but it served him a chance to test his courage and drive to push on.
“You know at this time, I was a young man who has just started making some money for himself and that feeling of contentness sets in coupled up with social pressure that faces many other youths and a compelling desire to burn up the money on entertainment is just one of the most difficult challenge to overcome,” he says. “But I realised youth was not a time of life and party, but a state of mind, not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees, though a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions and the freshness of the deep springs of life, that you must work now to have to enjoy later,” he advises, quoting Samuel Ullman, a former American businessman and poet.
Just a month ago, Imran has opened up a World Digital Electronics shop that he believes will help steer the government’s dream of digital migration.The Communications Commission of Kenya plan to move the country from analogue TV to digital broadcasting by 2013.
“We want to be part of this switch over to the digital edge, the reason we are specialising in selling quality fully giant digital LCDs, LED TVs, and the set top boxes which enables receive the digital signals. Apart from that, we are dealers in car stereos, home theatres, hi-fi systems, speakers and subwoofers and latest play stations. If you thinking about entertainment, we are offering that solution at unbelievable prices,” he explains citing marketing strategies of his products and penetrating the already saturated electronics business in Nairobi as his only major challenge.
In his parting shots he calls on the institutions of learning and government to encourage young people to start their own business and give incentives for innovation instead of only concentrating on equipping them with skills to land them a job. To avoid humiliation in life, he calls on youths to avoid being too ambitious but to set realistic goals as well as being enterprising instead of waiting for huge pay cheques through employment. “To those like me still staggering in business, financial discipline, hard work and valuing staff is key to succeeding in business,” he says.
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