Many of you may already be familiar with this story, but we decided to narrate it once again because no matter how many times it’s been told, it never gets old.
This is the story of how Markhor came to life, with the strong will and perseverance of two young individuals from Okara, Pakistan, their diligent team and craftsmen, and the generosity of 508 beautiful souls.
(Hometown's workshop in Okara)
— Waqas Ali, co-founder, Markhor.
Waqas and Sidra already had things underway, having sold their footwear (made locally in Okara at the time by the name of ‘Hometown’) in 17 countries worldwide when they decided to take a bold step forward. After Sidra stumbled upon Kickstarter on her Twitter feed in 2012, she and Waqas began researching about this platform and came across the term “crowdfunding”.
Crowdfunding, as the name suggests, is a practice of raising money or funds for a project from a large number of people who each contribute a relatively small amount, typically through the Internet. Kickstarter is based on the same concept, a global platform where individuals share their projects in hope to get enough funds to kick start their venture.
However, for a company to run a Kickstarter campaign, it needs to be registered in the U.S. This was a hurdle for Waqas and Sidra, for the company was not registered at that time. So in order to change this, Waqas decided to travel to the U.S in early 2014. Yes, it took two years for the duo to formulate a plan, bring the idea together and gather a team to work on it. When you need to make an effort, it takes a lot of time and energy. Something that we believe in even today.
The trip proved to be a delight, for Waqas got to meet his heroes from Acumen, Zappos, Warby Parker, Everlane, DODOcase, and Delighted!
Meanwhile in Lahore, Sidra and newly hired product designer, Noor (now Markhor’s Creative Director) were busy working on their new footwear line. This collection is one you can find on our online store today as well. It included the Mark Loafer, Lagom Loafer in black, Solemn Derbies, Kaptaan Chappal in tan, Quetta Style Chappal in classic brown and trendy orange.
(Markhor Kickstarter footwear collection)
Things were coming into form but one question lingered in everyone’s mind. “When should they launch their Kickstarter campaign?” What would be the “right time”? A plan had to be formulated regarding this. Sidra, being the incredible leader that she is, decided to head the matter and set a launch date, which she announced on her Twitter on July 5, 2014.
With the deadline set in September, 2014, there were only 2 months to get everything ready. This meant getting the collection made, photographed, editorial shot, campaign layout finalised, campaign video made and uploaded on Kickstarter. The team worked around the clock during this time, taking no breaks whatsoever and even working on Sundays.
(Sidra’s tweet regarding the kickstarter launch)
September 22, 2014, 8pm PKT. The day finally arrived. Waqas and Sidra, uncertain and scared of what the future held for them, crossed their fingers and pressed the “Launch Your Campaign” button on Kickstarter.
After a funding period of 45 days, Markhor got a total of 508 backers and successfully raised $107,286. With this, it became the first company in South Asia ever to reach $1 million on Kickstarter.
— Gareth Hodges, a dear friend of Waqas & Sidra, and the first backer for Markhor’s Kickstarter campaign.
All the hard work and sleepless nights had paid off. Waqas, Sidra and their team were beyond ecstatic but there was still work to be done. It was time to give back to all those who had made this fundraising possible.
As a thank you to the backers, each pair had customised messages engraved on the sole. Also, Markhor Journals were sent out with each pair. Another interesting fact was that the green ribbon on the Mark Loafer represented Markhor’s gratitude towards the 508 backers.
(Custom initials engraved on Markhor soles)
The estimated delivery time for the pairs was set as April, 2015. If the team was able to meet the deadline of the launch, they could meet this deadline as well. And they did. Markhor was successfully able to ship the pairs all across the globe in the set time. But there was a little surprise in the delivery process as well.
We strongly believe in evolving interactions with customers (friends as we call them) into genuine relationships. So, Waqas personally hand delivered pairs to backers in California, U.S at their houses, a wonderful moment that we got to record on video as well. This experience made us carry on the hand delivering tradition even to this day.
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