Rahim Fazal recently spoke at Startup Weekend Alexandria about starting his first company, with his cousin when he was 16. He sold it a couple of years later for $1.5 million. This and later successes- including that of his current company, Involver, a wildly successful social marketing company, have taught him the following important lessons:
1. Always focus on the customer. It doesn’t
matter if you think you have a great product, what only matters is
whether enough customers think that.
2. Know yourself. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Concentrate on what you’re good at and partner with others who are good at what you’re not.
3. Choose investors like you choose your wife. You wouldn’t just marry anybody would you? Only those who share a background, have values and objectives aligned with yours are marrying material. The same goes for investors.
4. Cash flow is more important than your mother. Cash flow is like oxygen- without it you’ll die. You must manage your money well.
5. Acquire, engage, monetize, acquire. At the beginning, focus on getting users and don’t worry about revenue. Then keep yours users engaged and coming back for more. Then, finally, focus on figuring out how to make money from your users.
Rahim Fazal founded involver.com. He was ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of their “Top 30 Under 30” entrepreneurs in the US in 2008, and was listed as one of the “Top 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators” by iMedia in 2009.