Brandsynario conducted an exclusive interview with Hassan Latif, Director Finance – Polani Group Technologies to know more about the force behind Hello Karachi!

Q1. Please tell us a bit about your journey at Polani Group Technologies.

The journey for Polani Group Technologies (PGT) started as Polani Travel UK in 2007. At that time, Polani Travel UK was a steadily growing UK based company with its roots firmly grounded in the ethnic Pakistani niche market. Trading from London UK, the company had a strong call center base in Delhi, India and strong, complementary relationship with its parent company Polani Travel Pakistan.

It was during a social discussion between the directors of Polani Travel UK, in which it was highlighted that it was a great shame that companies were setting up their call centers in India and not giving a second thought to Pakistan. It was the director’s beliefs that Pakistan had a wealth of talent and resources and to tap into this resource and invest in Pakistan was a perfect scenario.

At that point, Polani Travel UK began consideration of the first multifunctional travel call center in Karachi, Pakistan. From concept to live operations, Polani Travel UK took two months to set up the call center, which was an incredible effort from all involved in the project.

Within 6 months, all departments (Sales, Admin, Accounts, Ticketing, HR, legal, IT) were fully functional independent of the UK and India call centers. This base allowed Polani Travel UK to rapidly grow and with 18 months it established itself as the biggest Pakistani travel company in the UK, with annual turnover eventually hitting the 40 million GBP mark.

During this journey, Polani Travel UK realized that it was also capable of managing similar projects for third parties and consequentially PGT was born.

Q2. How did you come up with the idea of launching Hello Karachi?

During the setup process of PGT call centers in Pakistan, the UK based directors found that there was a succinct lack of information available to the general public. Simple details such as TV program schedules to a range of business details to public health locations were extremely difficult to find.

In addition, we found that opportunities for marketing in Pakistan were very limited and only accessible to multinational companies with an ever increasing budget. Out of these common problems for the general public and small to medium size enterprises (SMEs), the concept of Hello Karachi was born.

Backed by the Polani Brand, which is very strong in Karachi and its B2B links we naturally inclined towards Karachi as the first city we would target.

Q3. What is the aim behind this project?

The objective of this project is two-fold. Initially, we would like to provide a customer service for all individuals of Karachi. The aim is to create and establish the brand which is the first port of call for all Karachites.

Once we have achieved this target, we would like to transform the business into a marketing tool in which we can offer SMEs marketing products such as social media, SMS, email shots and SEO so that they too can reach the local public at an affordable rate.

Q4. How do you think Hello Karachi is beneficial for a common man?

Hello Karachi is most beneficial when you are not connected to internet for any XYZ reason whether you are driving, hanging around with your mates, at the university and you are desperate to find some place, product or service with no luck, that is the time to dial 111 800 800 the easiest way to locate what you have been looking for.

Our data is 100% verified and we can tell you if the product/service is available anywhere else around you. Even if you are online the data available on Google is not always absolutely reliable, so in that case to connect with 111 800 800 and find out if the information there is correct as we hold verified information to cross check with.

For all emergency services Hello Karachi is the contact bank to call to as one cannot remember or have saved all emergency services numbers all the time. For Anything, Anytime, Anywhere call 111 800 800, All your Needs are just a call away.

Q5. How has the public response been so far?

We are very happy with the public response so far. Whenever the company has gone into the field with its marketing/branding projects the feedback has always been highly positive. When fully explained, the concept of the business is very much appreciated and the overwhelming response is that people would use the service. Getting this message through to the mass public has been slightly more difficult to achieve. Having said that, our inquiry numbers are seeing a steady increase and we have a firm base of customers who are using our service as their first point of contact, which is a highly pleasing sign.

Q5. Digital media and online sources are quickly taking up the conventional media, do you think launching a telephone-based service is a risky choice in such changing times?

The statistics for telecom users in Karachi put together with the relatively low penetration of the online search market is evidence enough that there is a huge market for a telephone based service. In addition to this the cultural trend of using the telephone as the first port of communication is still very strong.

Q6. How is Hello Karachi different from PTCL’s service?

It’s absolutely different from PTCL is a way that Hello Karachi 111 800 800 provides you with all sorts of information like landline numbers, addresses, nearest landmark to the addresses so one can locate them easily, Travelling by bus? You can ask for full transit info, Verified Mobile numbers of the business as most of the businesses use mobile phones instead of conventional lines.

One can ask for email addresses as well as social media pages of the trade they are searching for. We can also provide you product availability check for various businesses registered with us and all this is available 24/7/365 days. While PTCL at max; gives you a landline number and the address that number is allocated to.

Q7. Apart from Hello Karachi, Polani Group Technologies has many other projects under its umbrella. Please tell us a bit about these projects.

Operating out of Pakistan and India, PGTs strength lies in the call center campaigns and data collection services it provides to overseas companies.

In addition to this there is are a number of E-commerce projects that PGT is involved with. One of the most exciting, new projects we have launched is our UK based Digital Marketing Company, We have great optimism that we can grow this start-up rapidly using our experience and strengths in the market and eventually roll the project out to a number of countries.