In this series of posts, we will be asking entrepreneurs to share their startup stories — the ups, downs, failures and successes. Particularly, what they actually learnt about business from doing this.
Send me your startup story at osama at greenwhite.org — the more we share, the more success stories this industry creates, and the more investment we can all attract. Simple, right? Just remember to point your VCs to our startup success stories here.
Iâ€™ll share my experience here. It may be quite interesting for aspiring entrepreneurs.
We started in LUMS as six partners. We were working on a product
which we thought would fix all problems of electricity theft, power
losses and billing in Pakistan. We built a proof-of-concept and went to
some of the â€˜biggestâ€™ business men in Pakistan (donâ€™t wanna take
names). We estimated that we need 1.2 million rupees to start with and
that should be enough to fund us (we wonâ€™t take any salaries etc.)
So anyway, these big businessmen treated us like kids, smiled a bit and said best of luck.
We then built a prototype set-top box and went to CTI (Carrier
telephony industries) to build it as a product and market it. They were
interested but the bossâ€™s son was my class fellow but obviously nothing
came out of it. It was quite exciting though, meeting people, trying to
sell the idea etc.
Then we got a project from one of the friend of a professor at LUMS
(related to image processing). Then we got another.. then another..
Then we moved out and got an apartment (we ate, slept, and worked on
the same desks) and hired a couple of our batch mates as part time
programmers. Then we hired a few full time developers and then the
apartment turned out to be too small and we moved in to a bigger
Because we were quite a few people so there was no direction and
eventually we got stagnant. At that point one of my partners joined a
big MNC (think of the comparisons drawn between us and our class
fellows making more than 80k and us struggling to run the business),
another one joined his dadâ€™s business, and another one started his own
startup â€¦ and then we started focusing on improving the firmâ€¦
To cut the long story short, 3 years down the line we are now a teamof 50+ with more than around million $ revenues (growing fast) and offices in europe and pakistan. Bottom line – you can build a startup without an investor as well!
Regarding investors, i personally wouldnâ€™t wanna give you 1.2
million rupees. Thatâ€™s such a small amount that you can get it from
your family. In any case, investors know you canâ€™t do much with 1.2
million rupees and youâ€™ll be back for more. If you need a million $
then theyâ€™ll talk. I know VCs in Germany as well as the US, and i know
for a fact not many people are interested in small investments, simply
because small investments yield small returns. If you are a building a
business, any serious investor would like to see a proof of concept, a
marketing and sales plan, a competition review and how youâ€™d make money
(sell out or whatever). If you donâ€™t have all of this, you should
probably take a loan from friends and family.
Just my humble opinion and story