The young mind that digitalized the media industry, Mohamed "Apo" Afzal spent a lot of years under the radar in the media industry. His name was never on the headlines or spotlight, however he is the man to be credited with revolutionizing the way Maldivians read news and stay updated. on current affairs.
Apo now lives in the technological hub of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But it was never his intention to settle down there when he dived deep in search of new opportunities. Apo traveled to Malaysia to spend some time as the lead developer of a car-sharing platform "SOCAR".
The plan coded in his brilliant mind was to come back to his family in th Maldives; but this code mixed up in his mind when the endless opportunities rained down onto him in Kuala Lumpur, and leading him to ultimately decide to alter the course of his life.
"I was given the opportunity to work in Malaysia by the CEO of SOCAR. SOCAR is the only ride-sharing platform in South East Asia. So I thought to myself, I have had the chance to work in the media industry so maybe I should try to explore new things. This is why I took up the offer," said Apo.
Apo started to venture and learn new things when he was promoted as the lead engineer of SOCAR within just three months. He had earned the chance to lead his team and this resulted in him learning to plan things accordingly and produce results on time. Apo also discovered everything about a professional career while working there. All this time, he had been coding his own plans.He wanted to create a new concept and start something new.
The opportunity finally dropped on him when he and some of his colleagues had a discussion at a coffee to have beverages served through an online platform to people leading a busy life. The discussions with his colleagues who had previously worked in "Uber", evolved into a massive business idea when the coffee ended.
This idea turned into fruition last January when coffee shops under the name of "RAGE" were unveiled in different locations across Malaysia. The co-founder who modernized the idea of the business is the man born from the media industry of the tiny nation of Maldives.
"The idea was to enable people to order coffee while at work. The idea of opening up an outlet also came through this. Now people can order for a drink, through RAGE's app while at work. They can also just drop by to the outlet and get their beverage without waiting, or have it delivered as well," said Apo.
Three months have passed since RAGE was born, and it now has outlets in eight different locations. Apoa says that the business is being updated based on the data of customer preferences they receive from the "DrinkRage" app. The outlets are also opened in locations with heavy office presences. Locations such as KL Central, Damansara and LRT station are some of the locations of RAGE coffee shops.
"The difference is that we develop the business based on the data we receive from customers through the app. We have different drinks available at every outlet, which is decided based on the demand we receive from the location. Availablity of beverage types differs. We also open up outlets in locations where demand is high," said Apo.
The DrinkRage app brings a lot of new things to the fingertips of users. For instance, it allows users to plan and hold community events through the app with friends and colleagues.
One of the most unique aspects of the DrinkRage app is that it allows users to customize their own beverage. The whole concept of DrinkRage was to abolish the old-time perception of coffee trends in the world, modernize and revolutionize the experience. Providing people the chance to relax and get a beverage during the bustling office life, according to Apo.
"Our customer base keeps on growing day by day. Things are made a lot easier because customers would have to insert the card just once, they can then stay at the office and order for a beverage. The nearest outlet will deliver their beverage within 20 minutes, Or they can always come down to the outlet and have their beverage when it is ready," said Apo.
Apo has now seen his life which was once filled with worries transform into one of tranquility. The business of Rage keeps on growing day by day and he has now adapted to the modern city. The most important thing he learned during his long journey was to never quit. If someone wants to start a business, they should do it when they are well prepared and with a good plan. Instead of making sudden rash decisions, plan ahead and decide things, says Apo.
"You might decide to do something when you wake up in the morning. But instead of that, plan on it and think about it. Don't act on an idea the moment that you have it. That will help you to not quit after a short while of starting something," Apo said, reflecting on his own experience.
Apo said that his head still fell at the thought that Maldfivian start-up businesses are still not granted the environment or opportunities they need to thrive.
The fact that policymakers still do not care about that results in brilliant young Maldivians getting fed up with their country and start to travel the world in search of those opportunities that their country failed to provide for them.
"The road to starting a new business in the Maldives is extremely narrow. The people's mentality is also very different. Maybe people do not prefer to invest in new businesses. Everyone wants to control everything, that is the ideology that people must let go of. Policymakers must take on a new path of thought. There needs to be an environment for startups to thrive in. I will aid Maldivian startups even though I am far away. I want to help them stand up." said Apo.