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From start-ups to franchise business: Young guns of Kashmir take a leap of faith

Post by on Saturday, July 31, 2021

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Adnan Shah
Being associated with the fashion industry since his college days in Bangalore, the 33-year-old Adnan Shah from Saffron town Pampore decided to bring finest and popular clothing brands to Kashmir. Adnan worked as a model in Indian fashion e-commerce company – Myntra – giving him enough insight to venture into the industry.
Adnan during his college days in Bangalore got involved in the fashion industry and started working as a model for big brands for about 6-7 years.
“It was during my shoot for Myntra where I learnt about the clothing industry, especially surplus garments,” said Adnan.
Adnan later completed his MBA from Cardiff University in 2012 and came back to Kashmir with the intention of joining his family business.
“When I came back to Kashmir, I went out shopping one day and realized that most of the apparel outlets are selling surplus items at MRP rates.”
Adnan said, “I told the shopkeeper that the item is 2 year-old and should be sold as surplus. However, his response was very rude. He asked me to buy it at MRP or leave the store and that is when I decided to venture into the apparel business.”
In the year 2013, Adnan opened first outlet – Fashion Fiesta – at Lal Chowk. By offering unique products with good customer services, the young entrepreneur’s business grew manifold and today he owns 24 outlets across JK under his franchise (25th store is coming up in August at Jawahar Nagar) but he has also ventured into the food and gaming sector.
“It took me a year to start my second outlet at Rajbagh. With good services and products my sales grew. In 2016, I came up with a franchise model which proved very successful,” said Adnan.
Adnan always wanted to create employment opportunities for the youth of Kashmir.
“At present we employ 106 people across our existing 24 outlets and I expect this number to go up in coming months as we are coming up with more outlets and other ventures as well.”
He said, “The satisfaction to be able to provide employment to 100 odd people is immense.”
Adnan’s stores provide high end brands which are not available in Kashmir like Ck, Superdry, G-star etc at a very reasonable rate.
The young entrepreneur believes nothing comes overnight and one needs to work hard and remain focussed to achieve desired goals.
“I got success when people approached me and asked for a franchise of a brand built by me. That was around 3 years after I started my first outlet. Once a brand name is built, profits will follow automatically. So I think one should focus on earning a long term reputation rather than earning quick profits.
Adnan has recently started a departmental store by the name KIRYAAN and a cafe called MEKKAH CAFE along with his cousin in Kupwara.
“I am also working on my dream project THE PAVILION which is a gaming zone and we are expecting to inaugurate it in the first week of September.”
He has been working on this project for the past 3 years.
“It’s going to be the next big thing in Kashmir where people can experience a lot of virtual reality games, ten-pin bowling and adventurous stuff,” said Adnan.
Mir Shariq Mushtaq:
Mir Shariq Mushtaq after dropping out of college didn’t lose hope but with sheer hard work made inroads into the business sector.
The 28-year-old businessman from Srinagar started with a small by providing designing service and grew into a full-fledged in-house manufacturing facility earning good livelihood and also providing employment to many.
A resident of Baghat Srinagar, Shariq completed his fellowship in Adaptive Leadership and Strategic Negotiation and also received professional certification in intellectual property rights.
Shariq started his first start-up in his high school by the name media mail wherein he primarily provided design services to small businesses houses.
In 2012, Shariq won the “best business plan” competition for funding by an international development agency called Mercy Corps. The competition was organised in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir government.
“We submitted our business plan at that time and the concept was to create a one stop solution for any business, startup or MSME by providing them all the support regarding the advertising, branding, printing, the technological part with any other aspect which is important for any startup. Media Mail was awarded the best business plan and that was the beginning of my new journey.”
Shariq currently has a diverse range of more than 100 products in service with his primary core sectors being advertising, signage manufacturing which he started in 2014 and later upgraded in 2016.
He believes that the scope of advertising is huge as Kashmir has a lot of potential in the market.
“I always emphasize on the point that Kashmir has the potential of being an export based economy but we are an import based economy,” he said.
 “The products we are importing have the potential to be manufactured locally. The manufacturing units that come up, one thing they surely lack is branding and advertising strategy.”
Shariq said branding is good for a company as it taps good market share solely.
 “I have keen interest in start-ups of Kashmir, I keep a vigil on the upcoming start-ups or even the start-ups that are already existing in the market. One thing I have noted is they lack in the branding part. They have the best of the products, they can compete anywhere be it the national market or at the international level but the presentation is lacking. Awareness is needed, otherwise the scope of advertising is huge,” he said.
During Shariq’s whole journey he has learnt that an entrepreneur has to struggle a lot while starting their business. “So it is a difficult journey, having seen people struggle and start-ups fail despite them having a lot of potential to succeed.”
Shariq is currently working on another start-up which is trying to simplify the whole legal and compliance part of start-ups.
 “Our upcoming start-up is specifically making it all simple and easily accessible for any aspiring businesses in Kashmir. We are hopeful that it will be launched in the month of August,” said Shariq. 
Shariq has received his first award (Tata first dot award by Tata group) and national entrepreneurship network in 2015.
His family has been supportive throughout his journey especially his father.
However, Shariq had to start from scratch again as 2014 floods took away everything from him and he was left with nothing.
 “I was not even able to cover my losses in the insurance claim,” he said.
Shariq is involved in the start-up development and providing the branding and marketing support to the start-up here as a social responsibility.

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