Not too long ago, 19-year-old Mohammad Jawad TM from Kerala’s Kannur went to his bank with about Rs 5 lakh in savings to apply for a home loan with an aim to fulfil his childhood dream of owning a house. To his utter dismay, Jawad was told that the loan cannot be approved because of his age. Cut to the present, and the dejected youngster owns a BMW car and a company with a turnover in crores. Yes, he also has his own house – without a home loan!
The bank’s rejection fired up the youngster who now owns TNM Online Solutions – a web designing company. Jawad started working day and night, took more projects, expanded the team and in the next 6 months, got his own home without a single penny from the bank.
A few months later, he also bought a BMW car and his company made a profit of over Rs 2 crore last year. Jawad also runs TNM academy that provides professional training in areas like web designing and digital marketing to youngsters.
In a conversation with FinancialExpress.com, Jawad opened up about the rejections in life, struggles he faced at a young age and the success he tasted.
“It all started with the first computer I got from my dad when I was studying in fifth standard. Before that, I was living in Mumbai with my dad for two years. He was the editor of a Malayalam newspaper at that time. Every day I used to go to his office and sit in front of the computer. So, my dad figured that I am good with it,” he said.
Interestingly, Jawad got his new name ‘TNM Jawad’ from a Google suggestion. “At that point, the user ID with my name wasn’t available, and instead Google came up with the suggestion ‘TNM Jawad’, and the name stuck,” said the 22-year-old.
Initially, Jawad used this computer to play games and surf websites, just like other children. With Facebook not so popular, Orkut was his go-to website. It was around that time that he started wondering how these websites are created.
“I asked my cousin who works in Dubai how to create websites. He told me about a tool which was a free website creator. So, there I created my first website about my hometown – Kannur. From there I started learning about blogs and got to know about other platforms that allow you to create websites,” Jawad said.
In Class 10, Jawad had a friend called Srirag who studied at the same school. They were like head techies. “People used to come to us and ask their doubts about computers. Also, when we used to go to the computer lab, we both were like leaders.”
Jawad came up with a proposal to start a blog where they could give free mp3 downloads and articles.
“Back then, I didn’t know anything about business – we were just two school kids having fun. We decided to take ‘Ja’ from Jawad and ‘Sri’ from Srirag and named it ‘Jasri’. However, we were not aware of ‘.com’ or ‘.net’ and didn’t have money to buy a domain. When explored, we found that ‘.tk’ is a domain which is available for free so we named the website ‘jasri.tk’,” he added.
After completing Class 10, Srirag moved to Abu Dhabi for his higher education and Jawad also switched his school. It was around that time when he started searching for options to generate revenue through websites. Even though he got Adsense approved, Jawad didn’t make a single penny because there wasn’t enough traffic on the website.
Things were difficult on the personal front too as Jawad’s father lost his job and their dream of owning a house seemed shattered.
“Even though my father was doing well, we were living in a rented home. He bought two houses but both of them were sold because of some financial crisis. In 2012, he lost his job and things were difficult for us. Every day I used to come home from school and ask my mom if there is a good news,” an emotional Jawad recalled.
“Then, I started to realise that I should also start making some money. I got to know that there is an opportunity for web designing companies. It was then I took the domain TNM Online Solutions.”
He started promoting himself on social media and introduced various packages like Rs 2500 for a five-page website, Rs 2000 for a four-page website, etc. Jawad used to get enquires but not work since he didn’t have any experience. “Also, at the end of the day, I was just a 16-year-old boy,” he added.
“My father had saved Rs 1-1.5 lakh. That’s all we had. I went to him and asked him if he could give me some money to start an office in Kannur. He straight away asked me to go ahead, let’s see if we can get something right. With that money, I started my first office when I was in 11thstandard,” he said.
Meanwhile, he joined an IT academy in Kannur to learn more about website designing where Jawad had two teachers – Jibin and Dinil – who later became his employees.
Jawad got his first job from his teacher Shoma Vilas who saw one of his Facebook posts and enquired about it. “I told her okay ma’am I will do it for Rs 2500. That was my first payment,” he recalled.
Within the next few months, TNM Solutions started to get quality enquires but people were still asking for a portfolio. Since Jawad didn’t have many clients back then, it was getting difficult to turn people into customers. So, he decided to develop a good portfolio in the next one year.
Things took a dramatic turn for the youngster after he participated in the YES Kerala Summit for young entrepreneurs that gave him and his venture the visibility it needed.
“My father was working for a small Malayalam newspaper back then. A reporter from that newspaper was there at the event. He took my interview and it was printed in all the editions, including the Middle East. I took the paper cutting and posted it on Facebook. For some reason, that went viral. I started getting calls from Dubai, Qatar and even the United States,” he said.
As his work started to get recognised, the then chief minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy called Jawad to his office. “I submitted him a proposal for a Kerala based institute but the plan was dropped that time. Then, I-T minister Kunhalikutty (now MP) came to know about me. In fact, he calls me even now two or three times in a year,” Jawad said.
He started taking photos with these ministers and started branding himself. He posted those pictures on Facebook which helped the business grow.
However, life wasn’t done with rejections. Jawad faced another rejection when he decided to pursue BBA after finishing his Class 12 and went to one of the best colleges in the state but was told that 85 per cent wasn’t enough. The principal asked Jawad to meet the manager and try for management quota since he had the letter of recommendations from all the ministers.
“That manager told me that there are people who are ready to spend more than Rs 2 lakh for this seat so why should I give it to you? I had no answers and left for home,” an emotional Jawad remembered.
He decided not to join any college and completed his BBA through distance learning. Jawad then got to know about Search Engine Optimisation and started quoting around Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000 for SEO packages.
Today, the 22-year-old works with 900 clients from over 18 countries and has opened an office in Dubai. He has also expanded his Kannur team to 36 people.
He dreams to turn TNM Online Solutions into India’s largest web designing company. one day