Interview with Armez co-founder: Ramla Kaleem Shah

Interview with Armez co-founder: Ramla Kaleem Shah

We recently did a feature on  Armez, a start-up that built laser tag in the lab of NEDUET, now deployed at Arena Multimedia Karachi and reached out to them for their comments. One of the start-up co-founders, Ms. Shah, was gracious enough to give us a detailed interview where we dug up Intel on how their team functions, their business vision and so much more.

Here goes one long interview with one extremely articulate, ambitious and brilliant lady in the business world:

Smashing Logs: You are all fresh out of universities and have your own startup. A lot of people are following that trend. What is your take on the growing trend of startups?

Armez: We think it’s important for startups to grow not because it sounds cool but because we need more jobs. Having been recently graduated, we see how tough the job market is and how the bigger companies only have few vacancies and so many applicants to choose from. Also, there are so many problems around that can be solved. Each startup idea, can solve a society problem and create job opportunities as well.

Smashing Logs: Tell us a bit about your particular industry and how big of a market is it?

Armez: Our target market is youth, children, gamers, enthusiasts, any one looking for an adventurous first person shooter game will join in. The industry involved in our business cycle are malls, entertainment venues and training facilities.

Smashing Logs: Who are the major players of your industry?

Armez: The major players are the entertainment resorts, people how have space and already running it. We are looking forward to deploying our game in various places, open franchises and also hoping to develop our own gaming zone according to the vision we carry.

Smashing Logs: You have been successful in your personal quest so far. Where do you see your industry in the next few years?

Armez: We have created a market need for the game, its getting popular and enjoyed by the customers. The potential is huge and since we have made our own systems we take full responsibility of maintenance deals as well, something the imported laser tag system will not give you here.

Smashing Logs: You have been working on this project for quite some time. When did you officially launch your startup?

Armez: We officially launched it in September 2016 in an event “ENVISION” by IEEE NED Chapter.

Smashing Logs: How many founders does it have?

Armez: There are 5 founding members, one director Prof Dr. Khuram from NED, and 4 Electronics engineers from NED University

Smashing Logs: Where is your base of operations located?

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Armez: We are based in RCAI (Research Center for Artificial Intelligence www.rcai.pk) NED University of Engg. & Tech.  Karachi.

Smashing Logs: Did your team had any initial investors?

Armez: We didn’t go up looking for any investment. Because we think customers truly drive any startup, the initial amount was all covered from founder’s own pockets and after building the prototype we directly started pitching to potential buyers.

Smashing Logs: How was the process of finding investors and funding your startup?

Armez: No process :p

Smashing Logs: So if i asked you how much funding have you received from external sources, your answer would be..?

Armez: Zero :p

Smashing Logs: There is a lot of comparison between your product and laser tag. But where did you get the incentive to pursue this particular idea?

Armez: The idea was proposed by our director Dr. Muhammad Khuram when we were searching for our FYP ideas.

Smashing Logs:  And how did you channelize this idea into a startup? Why did you think it would be important?

Armez: We didn’t want to see our FYP end up in dept. lib files only, so we decided that our project should be made as a well-defined product and it should reach some customers by the end of the year. With this thought in all our minds, we also were ahead of our gantt chart and along with research and development we were commercializing it as well.

Smashing Logs: What would you say makes your idea different?

Armez: Producing and manufacturing hardware is a very difficult job. The fact that we being in the undergrad level could make a durable and commercial product wins the entire deal. The laser tag systems are also available abroad, but ours can be customized according to Pakistani market needs. We envision to make entire game themes and mission like rescuing hostages, capturing the fort etc. We can model entire combat shooting games into real world scenario.

Smashing Logs: So you have your next steps in the business planned. What were the most difficult challenges you were faced with at the beginning?

Armez: The hardest of challenge was making the right hardware. The equipment should be durable with respect to the rough use by players. Since we were all from electronics background, the mechanical fittings of the gun were also a new field for us. Also being girls, we had to go to Sadr cooperative markets for getting the right things.

Smashing Logs: That does sound pretty tiring! How did you overcome those challenges? Was it support from experts, gaining experience or assembling an efficient team, or maybe something else?

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Armez: We have got some great support system. Family and friends have helped us get through our tough times. The mentorship and motivation from our director kept us moving.

Smashing Logs: How would you define your growth from the beginning till this moment?

Armez: In an honest analysis, our startup has had a good jump start. Getting the deal from Arena was a breakthrough and now other customers are also connecting.

Smashing Logs: What is your consumer/ customer base? Who are your users?

Armez: Our customers are the youth who are keenly looking for activities, any person who has ever liked and played games like Counter Strike will love its real world model by ARMEZ.

Smashing Logs: How would you define your revenue model?

Armez: We are doing B2B business dealings for now and the model is based on revenue sharing. We want to do partnerships with people who can provide us the space and setting of arena, and we will be developing the equipment with improved features in every version.

Smashing Logs: Laser-tag is extremely popular worldwide. Who do you consider to be your local and international competitors?

Armez: Locally, we are currently the only developers of this kind of equipment but internationally the game system is sold and deployed at a lot of places.

Smashing Logs: Any future improvements and achievements you are looking forward to?

Armez: We want to have a large space, with an area that keeps changing with respect to every mission. We are continuously improving and enhancing our equipment with new features.

Smashing Logs: In your experience, what is the most effective platform/source of adverting & promotion?

Armez:  For now, we are directly approaching the customers in person.

Smashing Logs: Then how do you gain visibility? If there are any publications where you have been mentioned, links would be appreciated!

Armez:  Our story has been published by a few notable sources.

You can read an article on us by the Express Tribune over here:

https://www.facebook.com/etribune/photos/a.280780001939033.89617.111457038871331/1771869712830047/?type=3&hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE

An article by Phone World over here:

Four NED Girls Tech Start-up Deploys Laser Tag at Arena

And one by Pencil Focus over here:

http://www.pencilfocus.com/2017/02/armez-tech-gaming-begins-now.html

Smashing Logs: Thank you for your time and this highly informative interview. Smashing Logs bids you the best of luck in your future ventures. Hopefully, you will get to interview you and your team the next time!

 

This interview has been edited by Rumaisa Ahmed. The content is property of Smashing Logs and cannot be copied without permission.

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Rumaisa Ahmed
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