Recently HandyMama.co won $15000 worth of investment from Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm Fenox at the Founder Institute Pitch Night (you can read more about it here). SD Asia spoke it the Founder and CEO of HandyMama.co, Shah Paran and got to know more about his hardships, inspirations and how HandyMama.co got to where it is today.
1. How does it feel to get the funding? What went through your mind when they announced your company’s name?
It was fantastic! I can’t express it in words. Truly it was an amazing feeling when the judges declared HandyMama as a winner. Honestly speaking, I knew that if it’s one company to win the fund, it was HandyMama because I was confident from the day one that my idea and my ability will make things happen. I believed in my capabilities and passion towards my dream. The result was expected.
2. Why do YOU think you won?
I worked hard to bring some early traction as this is one of the major criteria to blow investors’ mind as a startup. So, I had worked hard, I ran, walked, I did what I was meant to do to secure the fund. And I was confident.
3. What ignited the spark in you to start your own business? How did the idea for your business come about?
This one is one of my favorite questions :). I always love to talk about why I chose to become an entrepreneur, why not something else.
Well, I worked a couple of years for people. I worked to fulfil someone else’s dream, not mine. But I always wanted to do something meaningful, something that contributes in people’s lives, and something that makes me happy.
I believed that the world can be changed through entrepreneurship and I always wanted to be a part of that change. That basically ignited my spark to own a business that takes me close to the people.
It’s an interesting story how did HandyMama’s business idea come to my mind. It was March, 2014, I and one of my friends were started our first real business after doing a lot of online stuff like freelancing, blogging, affiliate business, etc. We took a big office at Nikunja-2, Khilkhet, Dhaka, before building our business (Bigger mistake#01)! One day, we needed an electrician for some electric wiring, fitting our new ceiling fans, and setting up anew generator at the basement. Same day we needed a plumber and a cleaner to clean the entire office as the house owner didn’t ever care when we asked him to get these things done for us. It took our sweat, money, energy, brain to get all things done accordingly.As an online professional, suddenly I thought that what if there’s a platform where I can ask someone to do my stuff or something like that. Then I started Googling and found tens of foreign companies who have been doing the same thing! I spent countless nights, pages of papers, mugs of coffees for this idea but didn’t dare to step forward as I was already building a business.
4. What challenges did you face while running HandyMama and how did you overcome them?
Challenges? One of my favorite terms, honestly speaking.
From the day one of FI program, I had to digest the same feedback from the mentors that- “your idea is very good but execution will be challenging.” I knew that, this whole idea is a complete package of challenges.
I knew that I am going to step into an uncertain world that’s full of challenges. However, the challenges were everywhere. It took nothing but my passion, dedication and devotion to overcome all those challenges. You know, I just begun my journey so there will be countless challenges out there to be crushed every day. And I am up for it.
5. Describe/outline your typical day.
I am not a big guy to talk about my day (smiley emoticon). But yeh last 4 years I have been trying to organize myself and I failed many times. Though I have an office, but my day is pretty much depends on important meetings, outdoor works, and other important schedules. But now HandyMama is on and my day starts with HandyMama and ends with HandyMama.
6. What advice would you give to young people who want to become entrepreneurs?
I am a young entrepreneur myself and I want to give a message to the aspiring entrepreneurs.Guys, don’t wait, start right away. Try to solve a problem, business is byproduct. If you don’t believe in your idea, just stop wasting your time.
Passion, Dedication and Devotion– are three basic principles that youmust have to become an entrepreneur.
7. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Communication, leadership and skills of good decision making.
8. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
WEBisis Media; an online content marketing company was my first venture with a friend. We invested around 2 million taka in the business. We could sustain only 7 months and had to shut down the business at one point. We didn’t have a proper business model and we didn’t even bother of it. Besides, we made a lot of mistakes in decision making, hiring, HR management, and office management. And most importantly our partnership didn’t work out the way we wanted.
From that failure I learned a lot of things from team building to team management, business communication to decision making, leadership to general management and more. This failure eventually taught me what are the mistakes that can ruin a business, when and how to hire and fire, how to motivate employees and how to create resources for a business.
9. How do you define success?
By success I mean GROWTH. Success doesn’t necessarily mean how much money you have made, rather it means how much value you have added in your life, in someone else’s life.
10. What book/movies has inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I am very choosy in reading. I don’t read random materials. It maybe my personal preference. I used to read business and personal development materials. I can name a few books that have direct impact in my life. The books I used to read are- Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston,The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peal, Awaken the Giant within by Anthony Robins, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill,7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey, Crush it by Gary Vaynerchuk, How To Win Friends And Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie, Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferries and more.
Founders at Work,The Power of Positive Thinking and Awaken the Giant within– these three books inspired me most and helped reshape my dream and the way I think.
11. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Solving a real problem and being able to help people is my favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur.
12. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
My parents live in the village. I have been out of home for last 12 years. In the last 6 months, I went to home only twice for 36 hours to see my newborn niece and my sick grandfather. I borrowed money, I disconnected with old friends, I walked miles, and I had to hear a lot of criticism. These are only a chunk of my sacrifices to become an entrepreneur. But I am not yet that successful the way I define success.
13. How are your views on entrepreneurship different now, after you’ve graduated from FI?
I learned the term ‘Entrepreneurship’ from my school text book. There were case studies of successful Bangladeshi entrepreneurs.But I discovered modern entrepreneurship after joining the Founder Institute’s program. I think, this is one of thestructured and most efficient entrepreneurship program in the world.If you want to become an entrepreneur not having business degrees, I recommend the Founder Institute for you.
14. From the FI speakers/mentors, who inspired you the most?
From the mentors, Mr. FahimMashroor of BDJobs.com, Martin of Bikroy.com, and Mr. Riyadh Hossian of Magnito Digital were very inspiring ones to me. But the two FI Directors were very helpful, kind and supportive throughout the program.
How has the FI helped you?
You know, the Founder Institute is one of the leading startup incubators in the world. They have created lots of successful entrepreneurs throughout the world in the last few years.They have a proven track record of producing successful ventures worldwide like Evernote and Udemy. Their program structure is robust, modern and yet super effective for the aspiring entrepreneurs and it helped me a lot.
This program helped me to shape a simple idea into a meaningful business. Without their powerful program I would not be able to build my company so fast.
Check out his 3 min pitch for Founder Institute assignment: