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18-year old CEO of local .com bats e-commerce for a six"

iCricketer.com takes cricket from pitch to the desktop and the cell phone.

iCricketer.com, the official Standard Bank cricket Web site for the 2000 Australian tour to South Africa, is run by one of the youngest CEOs in South Africa, 18-year old Hamza Farooqui. He has single-handedly created a Web site that attracts on average three million hits per month. He has constructed a media syndication where iCricketer.com supplies content to the likes of ETV, Radio 702, Highveld, and Cape Talk and has offices in South Africa as well as Pakistan and servers in the USA.

In an electronic driven age, it is the large enterprises that are forging ahead in the electronic commerce arena. Which to some is surprising. The management style and business model of the yester-year simply cannot be replicated to build a successful electronic brand nor can it be used to create a winning business to consumer electronic commerce model that is profitable.

According to Hamza Farooqui, the teenage CEO of iCricketer.com, building a successful electronic brand, or in this case, portal site, lies in the convergence of technology: "Our success lies in the integration of Internet technology and media. We have worked to provide end-users with access to cricket content via various channels including the Internet and via a dedicated Cricket Call Centre. We are currently in negotiation with numerous key industry leaders to supply our subscriber base with cricket scores via WAP."

Farooqui goes on to explain that iCricketer.com is not another run-of-the-mill portal. "We are different," states the Johannesburg born teenager. "We make the Internet work for us. Many start-ups attempt to use the Web solely as a revenue generator. Instead, we have used it to create business opportunities - revenue follows naturally."

To see iCricketer.com emerge as the top cricket portal has been Farooqui's goal since the age of the 12. He explains that business innovation will satisfy consumer demand. The fact that iCricketer.com has no major investors but continues to grow its user-base and run profitably is evidence of this.

According to Farooqui the iCricketer Group has three distinct areas of focus namely technology, syndication and online. Delivering quality content on new customer facing channels, like the introduction of WAP and the introduction of live media streaming, sits in the technology division of the Group. The creation of relationships whereby content is delivered to the broadcast media is the responsibility of the syndication division and growing the online user base resides in the online division.

iCricketer.com is currently recruiting a board of directors and has recently appointed Mr Morris Garda as executive director. Mr Garda, a former cricketer himself, is now also a selector for the National cricket team with the United Cricket Board of South Africa.

"Let's get down to the fun stuff," says the 18-year old. "We are planning some exciting online events to mark the 2000 Australian tour to South Africa. Users will be invited to bid for cricket memorabilia, such as 20 limited edition cricket bats signed by the South African team for the World Cup 99 as well as various signed cricket gear.

"We are working to make the Web site as good as being there. We already have the technological capacity to media stream matches directly to users desktops but are finding it a challenge to secure distribution rights. Those busy executives who are unable to make the matches need not worry about missing any of the action though, as scores on the site are literally updated on a ball-by-ball basis. A data feeder scores every single ball, all the catches, spills and thrills," he concludes.

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