elo formerly known as Export Leftovers was founded by sheer chance, when one day my father called to tell me that one of his clients in Canada has filed for bankruptcy, this left us with a huge amount of sweat shirts. I had no time to think or plan, so I winged it. Firstly, I made a shopify website and a facebook page, then I took photographs and wrote detailed product specifications along with size guides. Miraculously, we managed to sell 10,000 sweat shirts in three months time. Those first few months were a hell of a ride which made me realize that entrepreneurship is in my blood.
No doubt, in the past few years e-commerce had grown vigorously in Pakistan. However, customers still had certain reservations about shopping online mainly concerning price efficiency, product quality and lack of trust. Our top priority was to gain their trust which is why elo became the first website to offer 30 days’ return policy in Pakistan. I strongly believe that keeping customers satisfied with your product or service is non-negotiable. In the beginning, due to people being weary, we had requests from our customers asking us to send them product videos. This is when we started making videos of our products which eventually helped us gain their trust.
We started with only two people in 2013 and today, we have a team of 107 amazing employees at elo who have worked tirelessly to deliver our products to more than half a million customers across Pakistan. We have tried and tested every marketing outlet from print to social media and radio to sms. eCommerce is a very Impulsive market and the results are instant – but we found that the most effective marketing method was word of mouth.
At first, we only sold leftover goods from my fathers’ factory but now we work with more than 50 different factories and we continue to expand, looking for opportunities to grow. We have now increased our product range from apparel to home textiles, makeup and other goods. We were the first company in Pakistan who listed its API on Shopify and added APIs of major courier services on it.
As we move forward, we are now also focusing on our own brand ‘Polo Republica' which uses the excess leftover material to make apparels, jeans, bedsheets and even bags. With Polo Republica we are focusing on local sizes and carbon emission-free production.
There are so many young people who aim to become entrepreneurs but are unable to start because they have so many questions and fears which eventually become their biggest hurdle. I believe it’s great that entrepreneurs are so ambitious and dream big, however, for me entrepreneurship is about making small targets and achieving them with weekly or monthly deadlines. For me, elo is a small target and Polo Republica is the bigger goal.” - Umar Qamar CEO Elo and Polo Republica