Usman Butt is the Founder and CEO of RepairDesk, a cloud-based POS and inventory management software with professional expertise in product development, sales, business intelligence, and customer engagement.
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Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Usman Butt: I began my entrepreneurial journey when I was fresh out of college and helping my brother at his cell phone repair store. While working there, I faced numerous issues related to managing workflow and inventory. Repair jobs were assigned to workers verbally and customer records were never really kept. This ended up in customers facing delays when having their cell phones repaired, and our repair specialists forgetting issues related to the cellular device they were working on. It was complete chaos.
Having an IT educational background, I quickly realized our store needed a POS and inventory management software just so we could breathe easily. Our ideal system would keep track of our customers, their devices, and our cell phone repair specialists. Before developing a software solution for our store, I looked around to see how other repair shops in the market were managing their workflow and found out that they too were facing the same issues.
That’s when I realized there was a prevalent problem in the market, and I knew how to solve it. I planned to consult renowned SaaS (software-as-a-service) experts around the globe, hire the best IT specialists in the market, and develop a cloud-based POS software so that no repair store would face the issues we did while running our cell phone repair shop. The main issues that I intended to address through the cloud software solution were POS, Repair Ticket Management, Inventory Management, Customer and Invoicing, Employee Management, Marketing, Field of Service Management, Reports, and Multi-Store Management.
I had this dream of helping people around the globe and highlighting the fact that when it comes to technology and innovation, we Pakistanis don’t fade in comparison to other technologically advanced countries. This goal kept me going through everything and today, RepairDesk rubs shoulders with some of the leading cloud-based POS software for cell phone & computer repair shops around the world. When I look back and remember all the hardships I had to face back then, I find that I have absolutely no regrets. I would gladly do it all over again if I get another chance to develop a similar software solution that can help millions worldwide.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Usman Butt: Planning was easy but executing turned out to be an entirely different story. While there was no lack of talent, but there were financial problems as well as communication barriers that we needed to overcome. After consulting famous SaaS experts, I carefully planned my project and then worked with the best IT professionals in my area to develop a beta version of RepairDesk which was released worldwide. Within two months, we had more than 100 repair stores using our cloud-based POS software for cell phone repair shops.
Improving the software depended on feedback and troubleshooting client issues but unfortunately, most of our customers were in different time zones and we had to provide them with remote services. Everything depended on having a good internet connection, which was a rare commodity in Lahore, Pakistan back then. I remember there were times when I had to stand outside in the streets at 2 AM to get better internet reception so I could offer remote assistance to our customers in the USA. I had to burn the midnight oil, sacrifice my sleep hours and neglect my social life to make RepairDesk a successful project. Suffice it to say, it took more than I could have imagined, and I was determined to give it my all.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Usman Butt: Thinking of starting a business and actually starting it are two different things, let alone worrying about sustaining a business after starting it. You need to have a proper plan in place, along with the relevant skills and adequate funding. Most startups with excellent business ideas fail because they either don’t have the right skill set or aren’t financially strong enough to keep going.
Also, when starting a new business, you should always think about how your product or service is going to help make people’s lives easier. There should be proper research behind it. Don’t go around making up your own problems and creating solutions for them; find solutions for existing problems around you and work at fixing them. Hire experienced people in your team and work with them daily to develop a product that the market needs and the world will love you for it!
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Usman Butt: Fortunately for us, the pandemic didn’t have an adverse impact. In fact, we were able to grow quite exponentially because we quickly adapted to the situation. Everything went online so right around then, we released our online payment feature that really helped a lot of cell phone repair shops sustain during tough times. We also launched RepairDesk Capital shortly after to help small repair shops grow.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Usman Butt: I would say the product Flexibility and Affordability.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Usman Butt: Reading books and putting to action everything I learned from them. Making friends with your customers, The more you talk to your customers, the better you’ll run your business.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Usman Butt: I’d like to think so. I often talk about my personal journey to my team and tell them about where I came from and what I learned. Being ambitious, pragmatic, focusing on solutions, and delivering results is what I believe in religiously, and when I talk to my team about all these things, I want them to absorb all of it and believe in those values. If I want to create a company culture where everyone is achieving their goals, leading by example is the best way to do it, I believe.
How would you define “leadership”?
Usman Butt: Leadership, to me, is giving to your team. The people that you work with need a lot to create something amazing – they need opportunity, resources, guidance, motivation, direction, and someone working with them. But most of all, they need a raison d’etre – a reason to come in every day and do their best. As a leader, it’s your job to give them all that, to impart them with your experiences, and provide them all that they need to grow. Leaders don’t command; they enable. If you want good leadership in your workspace, you need to learn all that you can and create an environment where the people working with you can do all that they can. It’s that simple.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Usman Butt: I’d say thinking of starting a business and actually starting it are two different things. Then you will also have to consider sustaining a business after starting it. A proper plan in place, along with the relevant skills and adequate funding is vital to breathe life into a business idea. You should think about how your product or service is going to help make people’s lives easier. Never make a problem on your own and start creating solutions for it. Look for existing problems around you and work at fixing them. Hire experienced people in your team and work with them daily to develop a product that the market needs.
What’s your favorite “business” quote and how has it affected your business decisions?
Usman Butt: “It’s not a key result unless it has a number.” (Marissa Mayer)
I learned early on that in business, what matters most are quantifiable results. It’s the only way to measure how well you’re doing and how far you’ve come. Your goals should be clearly defined, ambitious, and time-bound if you want to achieve anything. I’ve steered our business decisions to follow the SMART methodology for this very reason. It gives us a clearer picture of what we want and exactly how much our efforts have paid off. When they say “it’s a numbers game”, they really mean it!
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Usman Butt for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Usman Butt or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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