In his own words..
The ideation of ‘Khyber Dodai’ came about from a very medieval and largely misunderstood concept
known as ‘failure’. My understanding of ‘failure’ is different altogether. I believe there is no such thing as failure, only new opportunities. We launched Khyber Dodai in April of 2016 but the journey began in 2012. Khyber Dodai is simply a culmination of experimentation, learning and awareness – and failure.
I along with my brother was running ‘Café Rooftop’ in the most happening locality of Islamabad. The café scene was rising and we identified a gap in the market beginning with the location pioneering the concept of Rooftop hospitality. We did a remarkable business with Café Rooftop for three years. The average waiting time to be seated was 45 min+. Those were the good days. And like all stories, nothing lasts forever. Haha! The government banned sheesha and soon we started to lose our customers. Everything started to fall apart. We tried to manage our decreasing footfall but nothing honestly worked. Soon we had to shut down due to pounding expenses. We put a lock on the door and had to let go off all staff.
All those who celebrated us as winners were now labeling us as ‘failures’. We did not quit the lease of our location and kept on paying its rental. Our USP was never sheesha; it was always our rooftop location. Today, you see Islamabad sprawling with rooftop eateries, we pioneered this culture and the customers loved it.
Entrepreneurship is simply about one singular concept: ‘identifying a problem and fixing it’. Every little experience that we had gained from Café Rooftop was the foundation of Khyber Dodai. After almost four months we opened our doors to customers at Khyber Dodai. We identified a market gap. Traditionally, shinwari restaurants do not cater to the large audience segment of ‘families’. At least in Islamabad, there was no shinwari restaurant before us which provided a comfortable space for families to dine at. We remodeled the entire place, sought the best kitchen staff, and traveled all around Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finding specialty resources for our cuisine.
We opened to a raving customer response at the same location. It has been three years now, business is great – Alhamdulillah. I started my entrepreneurial journey when I was 17 as a freelance content writer. Since then one thing led to another and another to another. I have tasted countless setbacks, but one thing that always kept me going was the ethos that if I can do it once, I can always do it again. Running a restaurant is a hard job, but there is nothing easy in life. Everything demands a certain kind of mindset, dedication and willpower to rise stronger when you fall. I shy when people tag me as a ‘success’. I am still that young boy who is true to himself and loves to follow his heart. And I am starting. There is a long way to go in life.
Failure is not fatal.