Local startup Pashash is the latest Google Umbono funded project and is in the process of developing a brand new app that helps people share real shopping with their mobile phones.
Bandwidth Blog had the opportunity to chat with co-founder Faheem Kajee to tell us more about the new app, the experience of creating a startup and the motivation behind it. Faheem even offers up some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make their mark on the local app market. So listen closely.
Tell us more about Pashash and its aim?
Pashash is an iPhone and Android app which lets you share and discover the coolest stuff and the best buys wherever you are.
Where does the name ‘Pashash’ come from?
The word “Pashash” itself is local, South African slang for something that is cool. You could say that “Those are a Pashash pair of jeans” or “the sale on muffins at Woolies is Pashash.” Although we’re targeting global markets with our app, we like the idea of giving it a bit of a local flavour.
What was the motivation behind Pashash?
Going to the store down the street or to the shopping mall has always been an immensely social experience. Real-world shopping is about more than just purchasing something. People want to share the things that they buy, express their tastes, be the first to find something or just help their friends find a great deal.
Pashash lets you take everybody with you every time you go shopping in the real-world.
How did the idea for Pashash come about and do you have any partners in this project?
The idea for Pashash was actually hatched a few years ago with a friend of mine in our final year at the University of Cape Town. Like most students we were value conscious, and felt major buyers remorse every time we heard that we could have bought something somewhere else at a cheaper price. We tried to get funding to develop the idea further but couldn’t really get the backing we needed at that stage.
Fast forward a few years of experience and I got the chance to pitch the idea to the Google Umbono angels. Â A month or two later I placed a short video on the internet looking for a technical co-founder and after a bunch of interview and CVs, I met Lawrence who seemed to bring the right combination of mobile experience and creativity to the team.
Can you tell us about your and Lawrence’s backgrounds?
I used to invest in international tech stocks for the Sanlam Global Bank Ideas Fund. Wanting to get involved in a more hands on business, I moved to the World of Avatar where I analysed potential aquisitions for the group and worked extensivley on the purchase of Mxit.
Lawrene is a Computer Science graduate from the University of Cape Town . He’s worked in the property, communications and gaming industries Â – all in mobile app development.
Who do you consider your competition or do you believe that Pashash is the first app of its kind in SA?
Internationally our biggest competition comes from an application called Jotly which aims to rate Everything.
Pashash, in contrast, is focused specifically on Sharing Real Shopping. We therefore organise posts in the most useful way for users who are going shopping. For example, we are the only app that allows users to enter the price of an item they see, making it possible for others to compare and find the best deals for what they are looking for. We think that’s really cool.
A couple of small startups are attempting to help people discover shopping deals in the real world. None of them has really gained significant traction yet.
Any developments in the future for Pashash or other ideas for more helpful apps?Â
Pashash is powered by its users. If we can get users sharing their great shopping finds on the platform, then there will be a strong value proposition for others to come in and discover the kind of things they are looking for. We think that this is going to be a massive competitive advantage that is going to allow us the ability to grow internationally without significant marketing spend.
The challenge for us at the moment is creating an application that makes the sharing experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.
In the future, our focus will shift more to discovery features of our application such as building a sound recommendation engine and integrating mapping functionality.
Do you have any advice for aspiring tech startups or entrepreneurs who are looking for funding and aspire to be selected by Google Umbono?Â
The best advice I can give to aspiring startups is to try and assess what the key set of questions are that you need to answer in order to assess the market viability of your product. Once you’ve got these, try figure out what is the cheapest and quickest way you can test these assumptions.
This kind of testing can be used to give both you and your potential investors much more confidence in your idea. At Pashash, this kind of philosophy has become an integral part of the way we run our business.
Can you explain why it’s so important to you to “really try to make as many people as possible feel a part of this startup”?
Right now, we’re doing everything we can to get as much feedback as possible on our ideas. We launched an alpha application to a bunch of testers after just one week of development and are constantly engaging with our communnity through out blog and social media to help understand how we can make the application even better.
For people out there it’s great too because they are actually hving a real influence on how our app changes. It’s also a nice opportunity to see inside a startup and go thorugh this amazing process with us.Â Pashash will be launching in Â public beta in the next couple of months.
Thanks to Faheem for taking the time to answer Bandwidth Blog’s questions and providing insight into the development of the Pashash app.