Today’s interview guest is Shahid Hanif, CTO and Co-Founder of Shufti Pro, one of the leading IDV providers in the market. Shahid was a tech enthusiast from his childhood. He used to do in-depth analyses of technological things and was eager to know how these things work. According to Shahid, he was an intelligent student in his school life and was a topper in the computer lab projects.

In 2015, Shahid completed his graduation in Computer Science from the University of Hertfordshire. After 1 year, he wrapped up his Master’s in Artificial intelligence at the University of Edinburgh. His passion for technology landed him in many tech ventures as a software engineer. Prior to Shufti Pro, he was a senior software engineer in a renowned private tech firm.

Shufti Pro is one of the world’s leading ID verification service providers, offering businesses all kinds of customer authentication services, including KYC, KYB, e-IDV, AML, OCR and Risk Assessment solutions.

Let’s dive into the challenges that he faced and the strategies he made to overcome those situations:

How did you get started in this business?

During my Master’s, I understood the potential of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and how these technologies can solve problems humans couldn’t even think of. Concurrently, one day I was signing up on a platform, and it prompted me to verify my face through the front camera of the phone, and I passed my face verification.

However, it took a week for the approval of verification. I noticed that the verification was based on a manual process and could possess loopholes. I knew AI could revolutionise this sector whilst lowering the authentication time, providing better accuracy, and eliminating ID spoofing and human error. Keeping these challenges in mind, I started Shufti Pro back in 2017, and worked hard to deliver top-notch IDV solutions.

How do you make money?

With our services, businesses can verify the ID of their customers, secure their platform from fraudsters and comply with regulatory authorities, and that’s our primary source of income. We’re a B2B SaaS provider and offer KYC and AML services to SMEs and large-scale enterprises.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

The company was profitable when it began helping other businesses deal with ID fraud, and the clients started trusting Shufti Pro. I initiated this project back in 2017 and worked hard on it. We used a multi-layered AI model to ensure that every verification performed is accurate to the highest level. At the start, we onboarded a few clients for the beta testing, and their feedback was satisfactory. We further improved the service, and today, Shufti Pro has gained the trust of 1,000+ global enterprises, and this is what I call profit.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

Never, when I started this project, the notion of failure never crossed my mind. I would also suggest to other young entrepreneurs that when they plan to do something, never think of failure. When you make up your mind not to fail, no power can make your start-up fail. Always trust yourself and work hard for the business, and it’ll succeed. I would like to mention a popular quote here that I sacredly believe in:

“Failing to attempt is the biggest failure of life”

How did you get your first customer?

Just like any other business, we also faced challenges in getting clients. No client was ready to work with a newly built SaaS provider, especially when it’s a matter of security and compliance. We decided to offer free demos, without any commitments, while in our industry, that wasn’t the practice. The clients started putting trust in our services and ultimately selected Shufti Pro for their IDV solutions.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

The targeted advertisements proved to be the best marketing strategy. We collaborate with giant online advertising companies to show micro advertisements to audiences who might be interested in our service. It provides better conversion rates, more leads, and a higher click-to-sales ratio.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

As a Co-Founder, I had and still making tough decisions in my professional life. Challenges and tough times are a part of the business, and that’s not the concerning thing, the thing that matters is how an entrepreneur copes with the situation and that’s what makes a person, a successful entrepreneur. As it’s said:

“Tough times are inevitable in business. But how you compose yourself during those times defines your spirit and will define your future”

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

In business, success relies upon care for customers and the delivery of quality services. Customers wouldn’t wait, if they find the services aren’t good or the business doesn’t care for them, they would shift to another brand. It’s easy for them! It’s the business that wants customers, providing quality services, and good customer support are the key items that influence the success of any business, and so do the people associated with it.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

The most satisfying moment for me is when Shufti Pro helps businesses safeguard themselves from ID fraud. We do regular surveys from our clients regarding our services and the majority of the results are positive, mentioning how Shufti Pro has helped them in deterring ID scams, that’s the most satisfying moment for me in business.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

My business is mostly based on AI, and artificial intelligence is a future technology. As this technology will improve and upgrade, so does the Shufti Pro. Our R&D is constantly working on improving Shufti Pro and aligning it with the evolving trends of fraudsters. We’ve partnered up with over 1,000+ global clients and continue to grow in future.

What business books have inspired you?

do read a lot in my free time, specifically on weekends, here are some of the best books I would suggest for young entrepreneurs:

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

What advice would you give to your younger self?

If I had the power to go back in time, I would advise my younger self to be patient and focus on the present.

Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?

I would be more than happy to help anyone who is courageous enough to think out of the box and is ready to challenge himself. Dropping my LinkedIn profile here, entrepreneurs can reach out to me, I’ll try to guide anyone to the best of my ability.

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