A Conversation with the Founders: Owais Afaq, on why Karachi was the first choice to create Mikaels Labs’ dream team of developers.

“Oh, Karachi, Pakistan… are they professionals? XYZ is a much better option in my opinion”. You keep listening to these eyebrow-raised discussions in summits and conferences where tech business executives discuss their development teams. Most of the companies prefer to build their development teams in Asia for multiple reasons. India is currently in the lead with the largest army of developers. In the midst of this, Mikaels Labs decided to establish their development office in the heart of Pakistan, Karachi. Let’s dig in on the whys and hows of this project in a conversation with our CTO, Owais Afaq.

Having settled in a place (Tallinn, Estonia) that gave birth to companies like Skype and Taxify, why did you decide to take a chance on hunting development talent in Karachi?

Why not!? Pakistan has a better pool of talent than any other country in the world! I speak from experience; I’ve travelled extensively and still, I tell anyone who asks that Karachi is the ultimate hidden gem when it comes to finding development talent. Even without any academic qualifications or IT-related degrees, Pakistan continues to churn out top-of-the-line developers. All of them are self-taught and working on cutting edge projects, even when compared to developers in countries that have the resources and programs available. So setting up our development office in Pakistan was a business decision we are all very pleased about!

When it comes to employee management in this sector, what do you think is it the best way?

I never liked this term “Employee,” especially when I, myself, was one. When you’re running a company, the first thing you need to understand is the importance of having energetic, talented, honest people with you during the journey. These individuals will ultimately make or break your business. To your question, this industry is a notoriously challenging one, where client pressure, long hours, looming deadlines, etc. put a toll on your work/life balance. At Mikaels Labs, our philosophy is to hire people who we can treat like family members and vice versa. We give them the freedom to enjoy their life when there is less work so when it comes to crazy days where we really we need them, they are able to work their magic with significantly less stress.

How do you manage the culture at Mikaels Labs with this freedom; does your ‘family’ ever take it for granted?

They don’t. It may sound surprising to some managers out there reading this, but it’s the truth. As they say, you miss 100% of the chances you don’t take; so anyone who isn’t willing to take a chance on an employee will never know what they’ve missed out on. Ultimately, it comes down to the hiring decision. (Another important reason why our Human Resource Manager is a Psychologist). She helps us hunt down the best people, who are honest and passionate about their work, to join the Mikaels Labs family. All we need to do is to treat them with respect and allow them freedom, a positive work environment, and the opportunity to be involved in exciting projects and, more often than not, they prove to be the right choice.

What are the expansion plans of Mikaels Labs and will there be more development offices around the world?

For now, we only have one development office in Pakistan and we’re focused on expanding our team with hand-picked AI experts, data scientists, and UX developers. By the end of the year, our goal is to be the fastest-growing Tech Company in Pakistan, with our roots in Tallinn, Estonia. Another goal is to create a culture where everyone has the creative freedom to make the most of their skillset in the work they do for Mikaels Labs. We are not just here to exist, we’re here to create an enterprise that everyone will want to work for.

How do people get in contact with you?

People can reach out to me by email owais (at) mikaels.com or connect on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/owaisafaq/