Introduce Yourself & Tell Us About MeraFuture?
My name is Dr. Zunaira Saqib and I am the founder and CEO of MeraFuture. I have been associated with Academia for the past decade. I also hold extensive HR consultancy experience with Pakistani National and Multinational Companies.
Merafuture is Pakistan’s first AI-based Career Counselling Company for intermediate students (A-Levels, FA, FSc). Our services include the Artificial Intelligence-based Multidimensional Career Counselling Test (MCCT), which helps students understand their full potential and choose an undergraduate degree accordingly. The multi-dimensions are Personality, Interest, and Subject knowledge, which are combined to help the students understand themselves and draw better conclusions for a matching degree. The students attempt the test to get a detailed Career Assessment Report (CAR) matching them with various available fields and degrees in Pakistan. We also offer one on one career counseling sessions and career mentors talks.
How Did You Know When You Had The Right Idea?
It is very unfair to expect that an 18-year-old will make a firm and clear decision about their career. They are just kids and they are confused about the world around them. It is quite a common sight in academia to see these 18-19 years old students struggling with their degree choices. Most of them select a degree because of their parent’s and peers’ pressure. Some select it in hopes of landing a stable job in the future. Some also select their degree as a makeshift arrangement because they are unable to get admission in medical or engineering degrees. Most of the time the makeshift becomes their only option and they pursue it as a career. These students struggle to do well in studies and adjusting socially at University. Eventually, they graduate and end up in jobs in which they are inherently unhappy.
I wanted to help these students in the selection of their undergraduate degree. It was a simple idea; evaluating students’ aptitude and matching it with various fields and degree options in Pakistan. I wanted to help students understand themselves better and take informed and better decisions about their careers. To make the decision process unbiased and objective, AI was going to be used.
What Sacrifices Have You Made To Become An Entrepreneur?
I won’t say I have made a lot of sacrifices. I have a wonderful support system at home and my friends and colleagues were very appreciative of the idea so they helped me pursue it further. Of course, career switch at any stage of life was going to be a struggle, but especially when I could see a stable job with good future prospects, it was quite hard.
An entrepreneur leaves the comfort zone of a good salary and stability to enter into an ambiguous world of startup, but it also comes with its own rewards, so I am happy to pursue it.
What’s Your Approach To Marketing?
Marketing has extensively changed in the past one decade or so. Social media has taken the major share of marketing from mainstream media. Our target audience is very young and gets most of their information from social media. We are extensively using this medium to communicate about our services. We are also using social media to help students understand the concept of career counseling and offering free career advice through career videos and blogs. Our website also offer extensive University search by field, degree, and city.
How Do You Plan On Growing MeraFuture?
We aim to become Pakistan’s top Career Counseling Company which is accessible to everyone in Pakistan regardless of their location, school, income status, and future aspirations. We are building long term partnerships with Schools and College around Pakistan to grow our business.
Tell Us About A Time Where You Had To Take A Risk In Your Business?
There were no doubts about going with AI to predict students’ aptitude from the very start. However, building an AI system requires heaps of data points which was a struggle from day one. Being a startup with few resources we had to work day and night to get enough data points for the AI. There were always fears that the AI model will not work and we won’t achieve enough accuracy. However, our AI team was able to build an accurate model with the data. It was a huge achievement for us as we achieved the milestone in less than 10 months of operations. It was always a risk to go for this approach but it definitely paid up.
Did You Experience Failure? If So, What Did You Learn from It?
Failures are part of the process of starting and running a business. We also faced many issues in building up the website, the AI model, and data collection but we have been able to deal with these as a team.
What Advice Do You Have For Aspiring Entrepreneurs?
There is no such thing as easy money no matter how good your idea is. You need to work very hard to build a product/service from scratch. Usually when entrepreneurs have an idea, they get super excited about it (I did too) but the excitement can be short-lived if you are not willing to work hard with it. You have to be patient with the product building process and deal with failures.
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV0GsJYDJTlau0n2p3a5P4Q
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