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Just a few days ago a story about a 16 years old British Pakistani teenager has made rounds in local media who has supposedly rejected a £5m offer for his website. It has since gone viral and have already made life miserable for many of the teenagers across 2 countries being constantly scolded by their parents for wasting their time on internet when that chap was busy making a multi-million pounds site. I am having the feelings that we will soon see this guy on various local TV channels, all boasting how difficult was for them to get hold of him for an interview and how their reporter almost died in the process. But all of these media outlets and their reports have failed to report the part of news where that guy wakes up from his dream.

Ok, I am being sarcastic here. Obviously he wasn’t dreaming and must have been real busy developing a website, a story of a website capable of making fools out of main stream media spread over 2 continents. Instead of getting into website development, I would recommend him a career in advertising, news media or even better if he joins politics in Pakistan. He can get a confirmed seat from any of the large parties here and that will, for sure, last longer than this stunt.

With that being said, let’s analyse this story from technical perspective and see how “authentic” it is.

This news story was first published almost 5 months ago on 23rd Jan in mirror, the sun and daily mail with few hours difference and got picked up from there next day by rest of the world including Daily Pakistan. Yes, they did publish the same story on 24th Jan. According to that article, site was due to be launched on 28th Jan but the guy had received an offer from an “American” investor which he turned down in last December just before Christmas. Wait a minute! So the offer must have been made before December and he waited to disclose it to media for a full month. (Also makes me wonder if it was his holiness the Santa Claus himself wanting to buy that site so he could make real-time price comparisons while buying all those gifts for upcoming Christmas. You know, this stupid inflation, it’s up there as well.)

Anyways coming back to the offer. For some, it is not new to get an offer from an investor but there are certain stages of every business from a mere ‘idea’ to get ‘established’. For the regular 9-to-5 job crowd, that equation can look like this.

idea –> minimum viable product –> beta (test) launch –> launch –> survive –> shutdown/grow  –>  established business.

That guy claimed to be working on this idea for the last 6 months so let’s assume he was at least on MVP stage when he received the offer in an email from a Nigerian Banker ready to share a fortune left by a dead sheikh from an ‘American investor’ running a global data driven firm (wondering what kind of data firm that would be) and was impressed enough (really? and I mean really?!?) to make such an offer.

Without getting into how that MVP must have looked like back then, let’s check the current site which is 4 months old already. Must be a treat to look at something worth £5M, huh? So here are some of the observations & amazing features of this site including the ones shared by the guy in his interviews.

  • It has that classic 90s look. Boy, nice choice. Old is gold.
  • It has a couple of hundred listings (or needs) in total. That is 50 listings in a month since launch. Quite a busy site, I must say. People are loving it.
  • Almost all of the listings are one-liners. May be we should call it twitter for listings. But nice idea to keep it precise, after all who would like to read pages on someone else’s needs.
  • It has an amazing price comparison tool the guy spoke about repeatedly in all his interviews which helps you save money but that probably is still not launched.
  • It also updates in real-time about current prices of insurance on different goods again as advertised everywhere but I guess he forgot to add that information in the code. Must be an honest mistake.
  • The seller alert service, I am sure since there are millions of buyers adding their grand total of 50 needs on monthly basis there must be an equal number of sellers as well who must have created millions of alerts by now. But here is a problem, there is no location mapping tool. And boy I am already getting sick of those thousands of upcoming alerts to buy something from every part of the world. Please have mercy on my soul, I am a poor family man and haven’t been offered your kind of money yet to go on a world wide shopping spree.
  • Oh, yes there is an integration of Google maps, my bad. let’s see where it takes me, well clicking on location takes me to generic Google maps. Yay, time to celebrate free traffic for you Google!
  • Why use a real name, a real email, a password strength calculator, sick of typing all this and making combos when a single ‘0’ can work for all fields.
  • Why authenticate account even over email? All of our users are nice folks. Go to OLX, you scammers.
  • There is a comments section box. Sorry, I forgot to check how it works if it does at all.
  • BTW forget uber, careem & lyft, as weneed1.com has also launched taxi booking service.

 

Hopefully now you have enough rundown of the site to estimate its worth yourself. Please suggest if you know someone from Pak Wheels, they should contact this guy, as almost 2 decades of hard work and dedication could only help them fetch less than half of the amount this guy was offered in less than 6 months of his work and that for a site which was not launched yet. Actually, the whole startup industry of Pakistan should be paying heed to this tech guru.

 

Now regarding the other claims he has made that included learning java programming at a very young age on his own and getting so good in it to develop a video game when he was just 12 by the name of project 2006 and making a financial app by the name of who knows. Well, I could not find any detail on that app for obvious reasons but I have some interesting info regarding that game. His story about the game/app and how he made more than £30,000 in few months hit media in Jan 2016. the story covered his past accomplishments, more precisely accomplishments he made over 3 years ago but since the boy still remembered the name of now expired domain he used for that video game, it seemed enough to editor to get the story published. Probably no one bothered to ask him for a preview of the video game. But problem is that, the game itself was not developed by this guy as he claimed but he was actually a moderator of a private server for one of the largest free opensource mmorpg (massively multiplayer online role playing games) of its time still having over 2 Million active users. It was released & maintained by a company called Jagex. If that guy’s claim is right then, they should change their name to JackAss or die with shame for stealing RuneScape from a 12 years old and launch it when he was probably not even born yet, i.e. in year 2001. They must have been time traveling, I suspect.

Image of Project 2006 Site's taken from internet archives.
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Project 2006 Site’s snapshot taken from internet archives.

Image of another popular private server of RuneScape. http://rs-remake.com
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Another popular private server of RuneScape. http://rs-remake.com

 

 

 

 

 

One can find thousands of RuneScape private servers on this site. http://www.rsps-list.com/

So how come that guy was able to create the illusion of a wonderful success story and hit that big. Well just check his story title again and you will realize why & how; That story title alone had 6 powerful engagement points:

  1. Young Age: 16 years, we all get excited when a kid accomplishes something. We are made that way.
  2. Massive Offer: Well, £5 Million is such a gigantic amount that it is bound to draw attention especially if the kid is shown to have the kind of nerves it would take to reject that.
  3. Nationalism: Actually multiply that with 2. We all want to be associated with a success story. And here is a chance for 2 countries to write home about their very own talented kid.
  4. Technology: Yeah technology, more than 99% senior journalists and readers would not understand that but would love to write or read about it. Go on kid, it’s a safe bet.
  5. American Investor: Now, who would take time to verify a claim about a foreign investor from other part of the world when they actually did not make any investment at all.
  6. Rejection: Money never received so nothing to show off. Also don’t forget the brownies point you get with rejecting such an offer.

So this is all he needed to make a fool out of media giants twice, spread over two continents. And for that, one must give the boy some credit. The way he presented ashes as phoenix is a remarkable success story on its own and for that hats off to the kid. This should be added as a case study in advertising curriculum across the globe.

Now You can call me jealous, paranoid or whatever you may want to but it drives me crazy to see our media trolling over faux nationalism when real national talent is constantly looking up to them, hoping to get some exposure. To all such journalists I want to ask something; how could you be so naive to accept some BS as valid claims and put your own news integrity at stake? How could you let yourself fooled not once but twice by same guy? How about the journalistic code of conduct where it asks to verify the information before publishing it. How about putting your egos aside and verifying your news from a domain expert if you lack the required knowledge yourself?

This attitude is extremely counter productive both for media and tech industry as real investors and technology enthusiasts, who know this stuff, will never buy such stories. This will earn you bad reputation as a fake news publisher and this will put the whole tech industry into shame by building a wrong perception about the talent it has to offer. It will give others chance to make fun of our country or both countries. For God’s sake, next time you get such a story, get it verified before jumping on the bandwagon trying to win a rat race of breaking a news. Because, times are changing, and believe me or not, that breaking news story you just broke can very well break you instead.

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