Mohammed Abdul Gafoor, a student from Malappuram district in Kerala, recently won this year’s Global Student Entrepreneurship Award (GSEA) instituted by the Kerala Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization. The “studentpreneur” won the prestigious award for the successful business model of his startup “FIX IT” which he launched in 2020 with a paltry investment of Rs 5,000.
The company, which offers almost all household-related services, has reached a value of Rs 30 lakh in just two years, Gafoor claims.
Gafoor, 20, is a second year BCA student at SAFI Institute for Advanced Studies, Vazhayoor, Malappuram.
After winning the state-level award, Gafoor made her entry in the GSEA Regional Finals held in Visakhapatnam. GSEA is the premier global business competition for student entrepreneurs organized by Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). Competitions are held in over 50 countries.
The history of FIX IT
Gafoor started his business amid the Covid pandemic and lockdown in July 2020 when people in his locality struggled to find workers for jobs like plumbing, gardening and coconut picking. Gafoor then created a directory of people qualified in these jobs and advertised them in and around Kondotty via flex boards and short videos. It was such a humble start.
The company has now grown into an aggregator of household services spread over three districts of Kerala – Malappuram, Kozhikode and Palakkad. It employs 72 people in its three offices and has an extensive network of skilled and unskilled workers. Its services are available with just a phone call.
“We help people hire workers from their own locality and payments are made on an hourly basis. It is a great help for people because it is difficult to find people for such jobs these days. Even if you find someone, you often have to pay them a day’s wages, even for a small job,” Gafoor said.
He said that for skilled jobs like wiring and plumbing, he only employs authorized workers with the necessary licenses. In addition, a police background check is carried out before registering a worker in the company’s network, which has more than 300 people.
Gafoor said it took about three months for his business to stabilize because people feared this new model of hiring workers. The company derives its revenue from commissions on payments.
FIX IT also has its expansion plans and hopes to launch its services statewide by switching to an app-based model.
Business in his blood
Entrepreneurship is not entirely new to Gafoor. His father Abdul Gafoor is an NRI-turned-businessman who runs a power tool and hand tool store after returning from the Gulf. Her mother Kadiumma is a housewife. He also has three sisters.
The GSEA course
Gafoor heard about the GSEA competition through a business professor at his university. The entire competition was held online, with the exception of the regional finals in Visakhapatnam.
At the end of the competition, he was approached by two US-based venture capitalists, but he decided to wait for the next phase of growth before accepting funding.
Gafoor was presented with a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh by EO Kerala Chapter Chairman, Issac Alexander, who is also Managing Director of Avenue Hotels, and Vinay Kynadi, Managing Director, Silver Sands and Founder, Venture Way, in Kochi.
The first runner-up in the state-level competition, Hishavdas, also competed in the regional-level competition in Vizag. The first runner up at the state level gets Rs 50,000 and the second runner up Rs 25,000.
“We had a lot of student participants in this year’s GSEA despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and I am confident that we will have more participants and winners in the next edition of the GSEA. The success of the event is powered by our sponsor Federal Bank and our strategic partner Venture Way,” said Abhishek Bhat, Chairman of GSEA and Managing Director of Bhima Jewels.
Vinay Kynadi said Venture Way has always been at the forefront of providing student entrepreneurs with the right ecosystem to take their business idea to the next level.
EO-Kerala, established in 2018, has 26 members with a median turnover of Rs 200 crore. Overall, it was founded in 1987 to empower entrepreneurs by facilitating their personal and professional growth. Founders, co-founders, owners, or the majority shareholder of a company with gross annual revenue of US$1 million are members of EO. Membership is by invitation only.